Monday, July 13, 2015

Domeier Neighbors - Adams, NE DP3P

Monday, April 13, 2015

Raspberry Pi 2 as Plex Media Player with RasPlex - Complete Guide and Setup


Background

       Currently I am using a custom windows HTPC for main media player and whs 2011 server hosting Plex Media Server. It plays everything I throw at it flawlessly and you can see previous posts on that setup. I do have a few issues with display and sleep/wake issues where it doesn't all show up on screen. This isn't a big issue for me as I know a couple of buttons to try that will wake it up, but the wife gets confused sometimes and complains. I will probably work on that in the future, but with the new raspberry pi 2 I decided to give it a go and see how well it works. We are moving shortly and will add second tv in bedroom so this would be perfect device to add to second tv.

What parts to order

Buy a preconfigured Kit

    

Or

    

Optional Remote

        

Optional for initial Setup (USB Keyboard)




  • You can choose to stick with the bare Raspberry Pi 2 (make sure its the newer 2 version). To be honest, for all you get with the kit its worth it even if you don't end up using all the parts they give you. I went with Canakit because of the black case. 
  • Of the optionals I added the FLIRC so I could use it with the Logitech Harmony Smart Remote. This is optional based on your setup because some people will be able to use CEC with their TV's. The CEC path was just too laggy for me, however the power management would have been nice that comes with CEC. I will discuss how to setup with FLIRC to work with Harmony remote below. Some people go with a Windows MCE Remote USB dongle which would work as well. I already have one connected to my HTPC so I didn't want interference of signal and difficulty of setting up 2 MCE remotes in harmony software. 
  • You will need basic usb keyboard for the initial setup, but won't need it again after that
  • The Canakit comes with a cheap class 6 8GB microsd card that seems to be working fine with my setup, but I am planning on upgrading to a class 10 16GB/32GB card
  • It also comes with a cheap wifi usb dongle. If you want a faster/better dongle than you can upgrade to Panda 300Mbps here

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1. Go to this website and download RasPlex for whatever you operating system you will be using to install Rasplex. I have a mac so chose OSX.

2. Open up GetRasPlex program



3. Enter your computer's password into the terminal window that opens up. This will open up a graphical interface of RasPlex



4. Insert your microSD card into an adaptor and plug it in to your computer

5. Under 'Select Your Device' choose Raspberry Pi 2

6. Under 'Select Version' choose 0.5.1 (currently the most current build)

7. Under 'Select Device to Flash' choose your memory card that you inserted

8. Click Download (this will download the version you selected)

9. Once its done downloading you should be able to select 'Write SD Card'

10. Once its done you can remove the SD card and put it in the Raspberry Pi memory card slot

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11. Go to this FLIRC website to download the software to program remote

12. Open up FLIRC



13. Now you need to choose how complex you want your remote to be. The basic standard setup would be useful is you want to use an Apple Remote (from Apple TV). I chose to use Kodi as it is similar to Plex. Go to Controllers at the top of the screen from menu bar and select which device you want to use.

NOTE: Before you continue you should have already programed your harmony remote to use with Plex and have that activity working and active when setting up FLIRC remote. Harmony has a special device for plex so when setting it up choose Plex as the manufacturer as well as the model.



14. Grab your harmony remote (make sure the plex activity is active on the remote) and program the remote by selecting the button with the software and then pressing the corresponding button on the remote. Their should be feedback from the software that says pairing complete.

        - I paired Up, Down, Left, Right, Enter/Select, Fast Forward, Rewind, Info, Back, Home (Exit)

15. Unplug FLIRC from computer and plug it into USB port of Raspberry Pi

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16. Use Plex app instead of remote control




  • The Plex app is available for iOS, Android and even Windows Phone. It is both a Plex client (so you can stream movies to your mobile if you wish) and a remote control for other Plex clients. 
  • Tap the Choose Player button — it’s the rectangle with the WiFi symbol in one corner — and select the player you want to control; in my case it’s plexhometheatre on rasplex. If I had Plex running on any other device it’d also appear on this list.
  • Once you’re connected, if you select a movie or TV show in the Plex app on your mobile, it will play on your Raspberry Pi. You’re also able to pause, fast forward, rewind or change what you’re watching from the app.

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17. Network - You can plug in Wifi adaptor that comes with canakit or use ethernet for better performance. Note-I have read of usb issues when using wifi adaptor and other usb devices at same time

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18. Power on raspberry pi by plugging the power cord in



19. Go through initial RasPlex Setup


  • Select your regional settings (most likely ‘English’ if you are reading this!)
  • Setup networking – you will need to select you wireless network and login. Wired networks should not need any configuration. If all is working well, you should be assigned an IP address by your router or DHCP server
  • Calibrate your screen – You will be asked to setup the corners, subtitle location, etc.
  • Login to your ‘My Plex’. You will be asked to use your computer (or any device with a web browser really) to navigate to plex.tv/pin and input you pin and connect.
  • Pre-caching – you will be asked to ‘pre-cache’ much of the meta data from your Plex server to improve performance. You will need to reboot after install is complete for this to take effect.
20. Optional - Overclock Raspberry Pi to speed things up. 
         There are two ways to do this. Locally with microSD card attached to computer or through ssh. 
  • SSH
    • Make note of your Raspberry Pi IP address which can be found in “System Settings – > Connections”
    • Use your choice of program to ssh into your raspberry pi (I prefer terminal in OSX)
    • type 'ssh root@(ip address of raspberry pi)' without quotes 
      • ex. ssh root @192.168.1.12
    • Enter your RasPlex password (default is rasplex)
    • type  mount -o remount,rw /flash
    • edit /flash/config.txt using nano: nano /flash/config.txt
    • I chose to go with High settings (don't mess with turbo). Look for the image below and replace with what level you choose
    • Hit 'control + X' on keyboard
    • Type 'Y' to save file
    • Hit 'Enter' on keyboard to confirm overwrite
    • Type reboot and hit enter in terminal to reboot raspberry pi

overclock
  • Local
    • With the MicroSD card still connected to your computer, navigate to it using Windows Explorer or Finder.
    • Change the arm_freq, core_freq, sdram_freq and over_voltage to match the recommend values you want (see image below).
    • Open the file config.txt in a text editor. Under Overclock mode settings you’ll see the recommended overclock configurations. Beneath them is where you change the settings. I set mine to High.
    • Eject the MicroSD card and insert it in the Raspberry Pi.
overclock

21. For some reason the CEC adaptor and my FLIRC were being interfered and the responsiveness of the remote just wasn't up to par. So if you are having remote issues and you see a CEC adaptor enabled when loading RasPlex I recommend going disabling CEC.
  • Go to Preferences of RasPlex
  • Go to input devices
  • Select the CEC adaptor
  • Turn off all functions of CEC by unchecking all items
22. Other options for speeding up RasPlex

  • Precaching - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
    • Precaching is recommended by RasPlex. It copies a cache of images, thumbnails, and metadata to the client side in order to speed up menu browsing. To ensure that all the images, thumbnails and meta data is copied to your Raspberry Pi, you can force ‘precaching’.
    • To do this browse to the left to access the settings menu. There will be an option to ‘control precaching’ then select yes to begin the global precaching. Note that if you are connected to Plex servers with large libraries or to remote Plex servers, it will take sometime to download all of the images and metadata. Once this is complete, you should notice browsing your libraries to be quite a bit faster.
rasplex performance
  • Disable Background Slide Show
    • I’ve find that while all the media displayed in the background looks pretty good, it does tend to slow browsing the menus and your media down. To disable the slide show go to: “Preferences -> Appearance -> Advanced -> Settings -> Disable All Slide Shows”.
rasplex performance
    • It is also possible that you can switch to a lighter weight skin, but this is not something I’ve explored. 
  • Disable Unwanted/Unused Services
    • Many users have reported that disabling some of the services you are not using, like samba, SSH, cron, etc can speed up RasPlex. I’m not sure I noticed much difference, but if you aren’t using these services anyway it certainly can’t hurt to disable them. You can review the services running by navigating to the left and then selecting “System Settings – > Services”. There are also some other services such as AirPay and UPnP which can be disabled if you are not using them under “Preferences -> System -> Services”.
rasplex performance
    • It has also been reported that disabling sending anonymous performance data might help performance. Again, there wasn’t a perceptible difference for me. You can disable by clicking left and going to: “Preferences – > System – > Advanced – > Allow Plex collect anonymous data to improve your experience”. But if you don’t see an improvement and don’t mind sending some data back to Plex you may contribute to the project by leaving it on.
24. Install Media Codecs (If needed to play some content on Plex)
  • What You will Need 
    • An MPEG-2 (~$4)and/or VC-1 license(~$2) purchased from the Raspberry Pi store.
    • Access to the command prompt on the Raspberry Pi 
  • First, I will walk you through getting the serial number off the board and purchasing the licenses you need. After that, I’ll show you how to manually add the licenses to your Pi.
  • Purchasing the Licenses
    • In order to purchase the licenses you need, you will have to retrieve the unique serial number for your Raspberry Pi board. This number is not printed anywhere on the circuit board but is instead stored in the hardware; it must be retrieved using the command prompt.
    • Retrieving the Serial Number: First, visit the command prompt via an SSH tool such as Terminal. 
    • The default password for RasPlex is rasplex.
    • Once at the command prompt enter the following command: cat /proc/cpuinfo
    • Your Pi will spit back 11 lines of text, but the only one of interest to us is the last line labeled Serial. Copy the unique 16 digital serial number (partially obfuscated in the screenshot here).
    • Because the license is granted to each specific Raspberry Pi board, repeat the above process for all Raspberry Pi boards you wish to purchase a license for.
    • Once you have the the serial number for each individual unit, it’s time to purchase the licenses from the Raspberry Pi foundation.
  • Purchasing the License: Visit the Raspberry Pi foundation’s purchase page for the MPEG-2 license and/or VC-1 license.  Enter your Raspberry Pi serial number in the appropriate blank beneath the price. Add the license to your cart. Repeat this process for all the licenses on all the units you wish to add the codecs to.
  • Although the foundation indicates that it could take up to 72 hours for your license to arrive via email, we received ours in about 24 hours. When your email arrives it will include a code for each license formatted like such:
    • decode_MPG2=0000000000
    • decode_WVC1=0000000000
    • The 0000000000 portion of the license is your unique 10-digit alphanumeric license code.
  • Installing the Licenses
    • Now that we have the license codes, it’s time to add them to your Raspberry Pi and get to enjoying enhanced media playback.
    • type  mount -o remount,rw /flash
    • edit /flash/config.txt using nano: nano /flash/config.txt
    • Cut and paste the formatted license entries you received in your email below the lines that include the # (This denotes a note in computer code so the OS knows to ignore anything after this point. Therefore when you copy the licenses make sure there is no # before them.)
    • Hit 'control + X' on keyboard
    • Type 'Y' to save file
    • Hit 'Enter' on keyboard to confirm overwrite
    • Type reboot and hit enter in terminal to reboot raspberry pi
    • You can verify that the licenses are installed correctly by ssh into your pi and type the following
      • vcgencmd codec_enabled MPG2 
      • vcgencmd codec_enabled WVC1 
    • Should say license is enabled

Friday, February 13, 2015

GoPro: Holiday Season NYC 2014

Add TV Backlight to help with eyestrain at night and make your home theater look more professional!

I purchased this Antec TV Backlight  on Amazon and applied it to the rear of the TV. It automatically powers on when plugged into the TV's USB port. It gives a nice glow behind the tv and also supposively makes it easier on your eyes when watching tv at night.



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Moved to small studio in NYC and wanted media center to be clean with no wires and extra storage. Designed it on ikea's website and built for around $700.

besta tv media center plan

First I bought Besta Vassbo Doors with middle square indents. Looking back I could have saved $5 on each door and got the Vara, but I thought the guideline to cut out center would be helpful. I bought Jig Saw from ikea to cut out the inserts on 6 of the doors to give the cabinets room to breathe for my electronics and also for remotes to work through. I then bought speaker fabric from amazon (I bought 3 rolls and used 2). I had sand paper laying around to smooth edges.

 besta vassbo door


staple gun

Then cut approximate size of cloth to cover all edges. Take staples gun and start with corners and fill in rest. You can also use glue to keep the edges down in between staples. Just make sure its snug fit but don't pull to stretch as it might tear.

besta vassbo door

Finished look from the front

besta vassbo door

What it looks like on the besta unit. I also chose to leave out the back thin inserts in the besta unit to give room to breathe on back side and also give plenty of room for cords.

Besta Hack - Door


















I have a large media server that fit perfectly into the Besta shelf unit. I cut one large hole on side facing windows to give open space for access to rear panel and fans of server. I covered it partially with our Mohu Leaf OTA Antenna .

Photo 25 

Photo 24

I needed airflow coming into the server so I bought 2x Cooler Guys USB 120mm fans with mounting brackets. I also wanted to keep dust out so instead of grill protector from kit I bought these cheap filters on ebay. I then aligned the fans to be exactly where the 2 large fans on server case are. Cut out the holes and mount the fans. Now I have excellent airflow through case.

Photo 23

Next issue was the subwoofer. I wanted to keep it hidden so I tried hiding with besta shelf. It wasn't quite tall enough, but wife was okay with look as its mostly covered. I cut out large insert in back to allow subwoofer to fit through as it was also too long. This gave besta shelf no support and would bend out since its not on the ground. To fix I used one nail to fasten door to both sides and hid them under speaker fabric and it works fine now.

Photo 26


Finished product. I liked the look of white cabinets with the black doors. We went with high gloss black doors because I think it looks nicer but you could save money and get plain black/brown. For speakers I sold my surround setup and got lucky on ebay with finding Definitive Technology SSA-50 for $200. It does a decent job in small apartment, but not even close to quality of old 5.1 Polk setup. It looks nice and fits in the media center. Wife added Ikea Fillsta table lamp for extra lightning. For cable management I purchased cable tiessticky mounts for cable ties, and TV wire cover. Too mount the tv one could go with simple mount or one that moves and swivels. I have used both types in past. This time I went with swivel version to be able to slightly move tv towards our couch since they were offset. Its also MUCH MUCH easier to plug cords in.

Besta TV Hack

Ikea Shopping list - for those interested in parts I used

Thursday, February 12, 2015

FRIHETEN sofabed/couch Hack - Add bass to your couch for ultimate movie experience!

FRIHETEN sofabed/couch Hack - Add bass to your couch for ultimate movie experience!



I live in a tiny studio apartment in NYC and brought a large subwoofer with me. I was able to hide it well with my previous ikea hack. However, its hard to get much use out of it due to the amount of bass it produces (aka neighbors don't like it).

I recently went to a movie in NYC with AMC's new Prime experience. They put a speaker/subwoofer under your seat so you "feel" the bass. I did some research and it seems people have already done this in their home theatres. There are several companies with different products depending on how much money you want to spend. I decided to go cheap since I don't have a full blown home theater setup.

I first purchased 2 of these Dayton Puck Tactile Transducers on Amazon for $19 each and later ordered 2 more for my ikea FRIHETEN couch. This couch is perfect because there is already plywood on the back, which allowed me to drill a hole to fit the pucks in without having to purchase 2x4's and making my own mounts.

To power the Dayton's I purchased the recommended Lepai LP-2020A+ Amp on Amazon according to reviews. I went to hardware store and bought 24 wood screws (#6), 4 wood screws with washers (#8), electrical tape, and wire caps. At home I already has some zip ties and sticky squares that I got from amazon for cable management as well as some leftover speaker wire.

On Amazon I ordered a 15ft serial cable (subwoofer) cable and a serial splitter (you may need 2 of these depending on if your receiver has only 1 subwoofer out port).

The final touch, which is optional, was to add a 50hz FMOD low pass crossover which I got on Amazon through partsexpress.

The build

1. Use the premade cutouts that come with the Dayton pucks to draw onto the wood. I chose to evenly space 3 under the lateral part of sectional and one under the vertical (storage) part.

2. Use some type of powerdrill to drill out enough wood for the pucks to fit in nicely. (notice on this couch the rear wood is only about 1/2" thick so I was very close to drilling all the way through)

3. Using 6 of the #6 screws, screw in the pucks into their holes that you made and make sure they don't budge.


4. Use the speaker wire to wire the speakers however you wish (this is the most difficult step and will vary depending on how many pucks you use, what ohm the pucks you got, what ohm your amp will run on). I purchased 4 of the 8ohm pucks. I put each set of 2 in parallel and then connected to separate channels (L and R). This gave me 4ohms into each channel (if speakers are parallel you divide by 2, if series you add them together).



5. I chose to put Amp vertically under the storage section so it was closest to power outlet (power cord provided for amp is really short). This is also convenient because when you flip up the storage section of couch you can easily flip the power switch and also make adjustments to volume/bass/treble.

6. Drill hole in bottom of storage area for subwoofer cable and power cord to exit


7. Drill hole in side to allow speaker wires to connect to amp in storage space.


8. Connect splitter to subwoofer cable and L and R from splitter to Amp

9. Connect other end of subwoofer cable to FMOD crossover and crossover to subwoofer out on receiver. The crossover prevents unwanted bass sounds during movies so couch isn't shaking throughout whole movie and only during scenes that are meant to produce bass.

10. Power on amp

11. Test it out by either plugging in serial cable to amp and other end into phone and play music with bass or play movie through receiver. (note when playing music with serial cable through phone you will get actual music + bass out of the pucks, but when connected to receiver you will only receive bass).

12. Don't tell your wife what you did and play a movie to see her surprise :)


NOTE: There will be alot of adjusting settings on receiver and amp to get it perfect for movie watching. I leave it off for watching tv but turn it on for playing games or watching movies.


Test video so you can get an idea on the bass that the couch produces




Equipment Needed