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Turn your TV into a Smart TV with Raspberry Pi: a step-by-step workshop



Raspberry Pi is a low-cost computer the size of a credit card. Raspberry Pi allows us to immerse ourselves in the world of makers through a large number of projects. One of the simplest and most popular is possible turn television into a smart TV to access the internet, many other channels and services. In this workshop we will see how to do it step by step.

Before we begin: what we will need

For this project it is necessary to:

  • A Raspberry Pi, preferably model 3. protect it from shocks.
  • TV with HDMI
  • HDMI cable
  • Minimum micro SD card of 4 GB.
  • Internet connection
  • Keyboard and mouse with USB port
  • 2.5 Ampere micro USB power adapter.

Although not necessary, it is recommended to use a sheath to protect the plate against possible collisions and falls. If you buy it separately, make sure it is compatible with your model. A good idea to avoid leaving something is to get a kit that includes everything needed to install the Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi: from college to movement maker

It is the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a non-profit organization born in 2009, that has encouraged this project Encourage children to learn computer science at school from all over the world with affordable computers.

Despite its small size, Raspberry Pi allows you to perform basic tasks such as desktop computers: surf the internet, spreadsheets, word processors, play high definition videos and even play certain games.

Raspberry Pi

By looking at the Raspberry Pi, we can identify the typical elements of any computer: a SoC, CPU, RAM, audio and video port input and output, network connectivity, SD slot for storage (what will be a hard drive), clock, socket for power, connection for low-level peripherals …

Like other computers, it will be necessary to connect input and output devices to interact: screen, mouse and keyboard … besides recording the operating system for Raspberry Pi on the SD card. After connecting to power, a small computer will operate.

In less than a decade, the Raspberry Pi has evolved and updated with new models. The bottom line remains the same: inexpensive compact computers, but progress has improved the user experience thanks to the incorporation of stronger hardware, more ports and connectivity. For example Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, available from Raspberry Pi 3 which allows more nimble interaction.

The latest model to be launched into the market is the Raspberry Pi 3 B + model, a dish with the same price, but faster and dual-band Wi-Fi.

Although there are many projects that we can do with Raspberry, it is usually used for 5 things:

Being the first three the simplest, most common, and affordable. In the workshop exactly we will turn any television into a Smart TV by installing LibreELEC.

About distribution: features and installation

Score

For this workshop we will use it a distribution that integrates Kodi. Now, what is Kodi? This is a free application previously known as XBMC (XBox Media Center). With Kodi it is possible to turn a computer or television into a multimedia center with a clean and clear interface.

Because Kodi code is free (under the GNU / GPL license), Internet users can Access your source code to adjust it to any operating system or device where they need it. This is the reason why Kodi has versions for Windows and GNU / Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, Raspberry Pi and practically everything else you need.

In addition, Kodi is a completely modular application, that is, that we can adapt and adapt to our desires. Not only the interface, but also by adding an add-on or add-on that maximizes its usefulness. Exactly add-ons are your strong point, because it allows us, among others, to watch TV channels over the Internet, display weather forecasts, listen to the radio or connect to services such as Plex, SoundCloud or YouTube.

LibreELEC, OpenELEC or OSMC?

Although Kodi can be installed in Raspbian (the distribution that converts the Raspberry Pi to a computer), the simplest and most common is to install an official distribution integrating it This distribution stands out for its simplicity and intuitiveness, making it optimal for equipment such as television. We are talking about LibreELEC, OpenELEC and OSMC.

Each has advantages, but we will choose LibeELEC, a distribution born from the OpenELEC bifurcation (the most veteran) and This stands out for its design, stability and overall, for its support. In free distribution, it is key to find those who have an active and strong community behind to offer solutions to problems that might occur.

In practice, there is a multiboot solution that allows you to integrate multiple operating systems (distributions) at the same time, but at the moment of truth It's easier and faster to use multiple SD cards, each with its own distribution.

How to download and install LibreELEC on microSD

Screenshot

Downloading LibreELEC is very simple: we can do it from the official site or from the "Downloads" section on the Raspberry Pi page. Download the latest stable version, not a beta test version.

Distribution comes in an image format (extension .img or .iso), although the usual thing is they are compressed (with the extension .rar, .tar, .gz) that we have to decompress after downloading. Pay attention and download the version for the appropriate Raspberry Pi model. For example, if you have Raspberry Pi 3 download that reads "Rp3".

Version

After downloading, we must decompress and burn it to the micro SD card. The first thing is to insert a microSD card into the computer, either through the appropriate slot or, if you have an SD slot, with an adapter.

Eyes, because it carves cards with distribution images not as simple as dragging a file. If our operating system is Mac OS X, we will need the Apple Pi Baker program and if we use Windows, we will do the same with Win32DiskImager.

Apple

When inserting a card, we open the appropriate program and make sure to select the SD to be recorded. It is important to pay close attention, otherwise we can record via another storage device, formatting it accidentally.

After we selected SD, in the IMG file we clicked and searched for image files from the distribution. When we have both, a warning will appear telling us that everything on the card will be deleted. We receive and the recording will begin. This procedure will take several minutes, since then we can extract the card.

Procedure

1. Connect everything

It's time to assemble everything and make connections. Carefully insert the Raspberry plate into the case, because the holes are made with precision, so we must be patient and introduce them little by little.

Once installed, we connected the HDMI Raspberry cable to the TV, keyboard and mouse on two USB ports and finally introduced a microSD card. If you are going to use the internet wired, connect an Ethernet cable. We insist: do it carefully, the Raspberry Pi is small and we can damage it if we force it.

We turned on the television and connected the Raspberry Pi to the current. On TV we have to choose an HDMI input to see what happens to our small computer.

2. Initial basic configuration

We will see white text on a black background and finally LibreELEC interface, in English. Distribution will detect Wi-Fi networks. We choose ours and enter a password.

Language

Even though you can use it in English, you can also change to other languages ​​such as Spanish. For this we have to click on the gear icon and from there follow the route: Interface Settings> Regional> Language.

Don't worry if at first you only see English text. The distribution only integrates English by default, so when you connect to the internet when you receive an update, it's all a matter of waiting a few minutes.

3. Installation of add-ons

Add-on is Kodi's main asset for its functionality and flexibility. There are everything: sports, series, movies, music, programs, personalization, news, world channels … We can install it in several different ways, as we will see below.

From Kodi's official repository

Install

In the main menu, click Add-on. There we will see a list of all the add-ons installed. Click on the open box in the top left, which will take you to the Kodi add-ons installation menu. We chose "Install from repository".

Repo

Now we can find the addon that we want to install. You will see that they are classified by categories: images, music, programs, personalization options … and in them all in alphabetical order. For example, we will install YouTube, available in video add-ons.

Video

Once found, we give you to install. This process will take a maximum of a few minutes and we will be able to continue navigating through Kodi in the meantime.

YouTube

When finished, a pop-up window will appear on the top right where you will be notified that your addon has been installed correctly. From then on you will appear in the add-on menu.

From the .zip file

To use this option we must first allow third party installations. For this, we go to the gear icon and from there: System settings> Add-on and enable unknown source options.

Unknown

Now we repeat the process from the previous point, we go to the main menu Kodi and in the column on the left we click on Add-ons. Once again we see all of our addons listed.

Now click on the open box to access the installation add-ons menu. In the list of options we see click "Install from .zip file".

Zip

At this time the browser will open which allows us to access additional files in the .zip format that we have on the hard disk. We marked it and it will be installed as in the previous point.

4. Application to control your smart TV with your mobile

After the initial configuration where the keyboard and mouse will be very comfortable, the ideal is to forget about this device and use the Raspberry Pi with the application via mobile.

To allow this, we must go to Settings> Services> Control and enable the option "Allow remote control via HTTP".

From here, we can install on our Kore smart phones, official Kodi controls, for iOS and Android. There are other applications, but this is the official one, has a good and very complete interface.

When you have installed the application and you activate the Raspberry, your mobile will detect it via Wi-Fi and you can use it.

Kore Inteface Kore for iOS

With Kore you can control Kodi, view information about what you are playing, change playlists, see what's in your library, access IMDB, play YouTube videos, enter text, change the application interface, including options


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