Media Center in my camper

Discussion in 'Campsite Electronics' started by griffin55, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. griffin55

    griffin55 It always works sometimes

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    I have small kids so I wanted a simple, reliable way to have movies and tv shows available when we're camping. Especially on rainy days! I also wanted something that can store easily in our popup without a huge mess of wires.

    My solution was use a Rasberry Pi as a media center running RaspBMC mounted to the back of a 23" flatscreen. It takes some technical know-how to run this setup, but I figured this might be interesting to some people.

    Here are the parts:
    1. Raspberry Pi mode b - http://www.adafruit.com/products/998?gclid=CMqGqNDJ8r0CFfFFMgodRzIAqQ
    2. 8 Gig class 10 SD card running RaspBmc - http://www.raspbmc.com/
    3. 1 ft. HDMI cable from http://monoprice.com
    4. Windows Media Center remote with USB receiver - http://www.amazon.com/Ortek-Windows-Infrared-Receiver-Ultimate/dp/B00224ZDFY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398117595&sr=8-1&keywords=windows+vista+media+center+remote
    5. 32 GB USB stick to transport movies/tv shows
    6. Cheap, POWERED 4-port USB hub for the remote senor and USB stick (and keyboard/mouse if I want).
    7. VESA moount for the Raspberry Pi - http://www.adafruit.com/products/986
    8. power strip
    9. TV

    I got a cheap TV from Walmart since it just sits in camper all summer (I keep it home in the winter). I mounted the Pi to the wall mount bracket holes on the back of the TV and velcroed the USB hub to the back as well. All of the power is plugged into a surge protector, so I just plug in the whole unit and I have a quick, full functioning media center. For storage, it just gets wrapped in a blanket and lies on the cushions when I collapse the camper.

    I yank the USB stick to and take it home to rotate movies for the next trip. Everything else stays in the camper.

    Here is a picture of the mount: https://www.dropbox.com/s/sn9i9xdi5t1hamh/IMG_20130513_205754.jpg

    Here is the whole setup in action: https://www.dropbox.com/s/j1fl8jhyt9xnwlf/IMG_20130525_133627.jpg
     
  2. pupateer

    pupateer Native Texan

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    That's pretty cool! We just use an iPad or laptop for movies, we usually play cards if the weather is bad.
     
  3. griffin55

    griffin55 It always works sometimes

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    Thanks. Yeah, it's cards for the adults. It's hard to keep a 6 and 4 year old occupied with cards in a rain storm though...
     
  4. jwrober

    jwrober Member

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    This is certainly a personal opinion, but we have strict rule in our family about anything techie during campouts. Im and IT guy by trade and when I go camping its a rule in our house that there is NO TECH ALLOWED.

    Let your kids get muddy and hose them down. Movies can wait, memories of mud pies and wrestling don't.

    That all being said, I might do this in my bed room to connect to my media center upstairs! Thanks.
     
  5. griffin55

    griffin55 It always works sometimes

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    I'm a software architect with a no tech rule as well. This project was more for me to do something with a Raspberry pi than it was for me to have an electronic babysitter. In reality, this setup has been used exactly twice. Once during a storm, and once just by me when I didn't feel well. The reason I used cheap parts was because my family is usually too exhausted from the beach or playing all day to use it frequently. It's nice to have, not required to have.

    I posted because I thought people would be interested since this is the electronics section after all.

    I don't mean to come off as being snarky or offended - just want to stay on topic. :)
     
  6. craigbaker

    craigbaker Member

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    Well since I am an IT guy too and also have the same kinds of rules about electronics. Our solution was to let the kids carry personal electronics in the car during travel. Generally they get locked in the car, but we do allow them during really bad weather (only has happened a few times).

    With that said, I love the idea. I have been toying with something similar for an electronic picture frame and weather station display. My thought is to use a 20"+ LCD with DVI or HDMI input, then either HDMI or HDMI-DVI cable to connect the RPi to it. The whole project would be to break the monitor out of the case and build a picture frame case for it where I could tap the power for the RPi off the monitor's power supply. This would allow me to have 1 visible cable running to the digital 'picture frame'.
     
  7. Ac52engine

    Ac52engine New Member

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    I like it.


    2010 Coleman Bayside
    2007 Chevy Trailblazer
    Me, wife and 3yo

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  8. Doyle

    Doyle Member

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    Cool setup. I'm thinking that with three young kids, I'm going to need some sort of rain plan. Toys, colouring, board games, etc would maybe last a few hours max with my crew. They are real outdoor kids - it's just on rain days we struggle (even at home on weekends/summers). Even with electronics, their attention span might be one, maybe two movies. I think for rain days it will have to be some sort of combination of games, crafts and movies.


    Sent from my iPhone
     
  9. HiFiDave

    HiFiDave Singin round the campfire

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    Got our pi done today. Put a bunch of "add ons" in etc. I put mine in a box to help keep all the dust out something we get a lot of around here. Got a 64 gig flash drive so I can load all kinds of stuff on it. If we can pick up wifi, I can plug the pi into our router and watch internet T.V. Love this little device and so glad I don't have to drag around the power hungry laptop to have a media center function.

    Raspberry Pi rocks! [8D]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. davej

    davej New Member

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    Nice job! Already have one Pi at home for the kidlet's use as an XBMC frontend for a whole house MythTV system. Been thinking about a portable Pi based setup for media distribution for the Android tablets we typically use while traveling

    Sent from my Le Pan S using Tapatalk
     
  11. Ridge-Runner

    Ridge-Runner New Member

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    That's a little over my head. We just take a TV/DVD combo and some movies.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    '02 Chevy Suburban
    '99 Coleman Westlake
     
  12. chrisxs5

    chrisxs5 Test

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    I love how this is going because:
    I am a tech guy as well and have the no tech rule as well. I figure if the weather gets bad and they get bored we can all hunker down and just watch nature run its course. Now I do have my company laptop with me and ensure I have connection, but thats because I still have pay the inflated gas prices to get to the gc.

    Now on the flip side I have a Rpi as well. I keep it in my bag at all times for use. I have never seen that mount before and really like it. So will order me one. but here is the conclusion I cam to form the thread.

    Work in tech = no tech while camping
    Not in tech = some tech is ok
     
  13. swordfish

    swordfish Well-Known Member

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    I am just trying to understand.
    Is this Raspberry Pi thingy for not having to use a laptop?


    [Love tech. Not a place to share rules]
     
  14. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    I am a Tech guy but I try to have as few rules as possible. If my kids want to watch TV that is fine but they probably wont unless it is raining.
     
  15. Heritage

    Heritage New Member

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    I am NOT a tech guy and I have no idea what y'all are even talking about haha!

    (Raspberry Pie does sound pretty good though)
     
  16. Ryanincc

    Ryanincc Truth is poetry. Most Americans do not like poetry

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    Count me as one of the lost ones here. What does this whole thing do?
     
  17. MichelleMS

    MichelleMS Member

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    From what I understand. It's the thing that looks like a piece that came out of the inside of a computer, one of the boards. No covering. You cn add USB and HDMI devices. It's like a tiny computer but no operating system do you can configure it how you want and with what you want on it? Now I'm going to have to go google it! Lol!
     
  18. chrisxs5

    chrisxs5 Test

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    A Raspberry Pi is a Computer the size of a post-it pad (the long ones). The Hard drive is a memory card. It only connects via HDMI and has a mini USB plug for power. Also an extra USB which most use for a WiFi adapter. You would download an Operating System (OS) from a website and load it on your memory card. Some OS's are designed to be a media center with Netflix and the such.

    They are very small and very portable and have a large following, which equals to lots of different operating systems and accessories. Being that small allows them to be attached to places a regular computer cant; like the back of a TV.

    They were designed to aid in the teaching of coding to school age kids.

    They sell for $35. Then you just need to get a minimum 4g SD card and the cables. You can buy them anywhere on the internet, but I would only purchase them from Rpi themselves to continue to support their education efforts.

    Check out http://www.raspberrypi.org/ for more.
     
  19. swordfish

    swordfish Well-Known Member

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    Does sound delicious. I am watching my blood sugar. I would try it with moderation.
     
  20. griffin55

    griffin55 It always works sometimes

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    Looks nice. Hopefully you won't have heat issues with the enclosure. I haven't had any heat issues with the Pi before, but i've only ever run it for short periods of time or with and open air enclosure.
     

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