Tutorials

How to Build a Raspberry Pi Media Centre - Raspbmc version

By: Edgar Pisani

Note: the developer of RASPBMC stopped developing it and have moved on to the development of OSMC. RASPBMC doesn't run in a Raspberry Pi 2.

You can only go through this tutorial if you have a Raspberry Pi Model A, A+, B or B+ and don't mind installing a distribution that will not be upgraded in the future.

There is a version of OSMC for the Raspberry Pi 2 but it is still in alpha mode. I have personally tried it and even though it looks promising, you can't even set up wireless adapters with it!

For the time being, OpenElec or XBian seem to be the most viable alternatives if you have a Raspberry Pi 2.

OpenElec is included in NOOBS which makes it easier to install.

XBian has Raspbian running underneath, which makes it easier to fiddle with.

Please check the XBian version of this document, which is the current one.

 

Did you know that you can convert the Raspberry Pi into a media centre?

There is a distribution called Raspbmc that is an optimised version of XBMC/Kodi for the Raspberry Pi. XMBC/Kodi transform any computer into a media centre.

There are thousands of XBMC plugins you can download to stream Internet TV through your Raspberry Pi. You can also use it as an Airplay, LDNA or uPNP player, making the functionality of the Raspberry Pi very similar to that of an Apple TV, but open and free, with no iTunes!

1. Get the parts you need

You will need: A Raspberry Pi Model B+ with 512MB of Ram, a 8GB micro SD card with Noobs (then you can install Raspbmc or OpenElec), a HDMI cable, a power adapter, a usb keyboard and mouse for the installation, a network cable or a WiFi USB adapter and a router connected to the Internet.  You might also need a Raspberry Pi enclosure and a remote control, however you can use your iPhone, iPad or Android device as a remote control.

You can get any of the following kits and then add a keyboard:

Raspberry Pi Noobs Kit Transparent - WiFi

Kit includes: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, Noobs 8GB micro SD card with Adapter, Raspberry Pi black enclosure, HDMI 2m cable, USB power adapter - 5V 2A, USB type A to micro B 1m cable, Network RJ45 1m cable and WiFi USB adaptor with 5dBi antenna: better reception equals faster transfers and no hickups with HD movies, making this adapter ideal for media centres.

$100.80 In stock.
Raspberry Pi Noobs Kit Black - WiFi

Kit includes: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, Noobs 8GB micro SD card with Adapter, Raspberry Pi black enclosure, HDMI 2m cable, USB power adapter - 5V 2A, USB type A to micro B 1m cable, Network RJ45 1m cable and WiFi USB adaptor with 5dBi antenna: better reception equals faster transfers and no hickups with HD movies, making this adapter ideal for media centres.

$101.80 In stock.
Raspberry Pi Noobs Kit Frosted - WiFi

Kit includes: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, Noobs 8GB micro SD card with Adapter, Raspberry Pi frosted enclosure, HDMI 2m cable, USB power adapter - 5V 2A, USB type A to micro B 1m cable, Network RJ45 1m cable and WiFi USB adaptor with 5dBi antenna: better reception equals faster transfers and no hickups with HD movies, making this adapter ideal for media centres.

$101.80 In stock.
Raspberry Pi Noobs Kit Rainbow - WiFi

Kit includes: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, Noobs 8GB micro SD card with Adapter, Raspberry Pi rainbow enclosure, HDMI 2m cable, USB power adapter - 5V 2A, USB type A to micro B 1m cable, Network RJ45 1m cable and WiFi USB adaptor with 5dBi antenna: better reception equals faster transfers and no hickups with HD movies, making this adapter ideal for media centres.

$107.80 In stock.

And then you can add a wireless keyboard, like these ones:

Miniature Wireless USB Keyboard and Touchpad

Add a miniature wireless controller to your computer project with this combination keyboard and touchpad. We found the smallest wireless USB keyboard available, a mere 152mm x 59mm x 12.5mm! It's small but usable to make a great accompaniment to a computer or Raspberry Pi. The keyboard itself is battery powered. The keyboard communicates back to the computer via 2.4 GHz wireless link (not Bluetooth).

$33.15 In stock.
Wireless Keyboard + Wireless Mouse + Learning TV Remote

The perfect media centre remote control. It combines a wireless keyboard, a wireless mouse and a learning infrared remote control. The wireless keyboard and mouse use a 2.4GHz USB dongle. The learning infrared allows the remote control to learn the commands from your existing infrared TV / Amplifier / DVD Player / Blue Ray Player remote controls. Simplify your life with a single remote control.

$52.00 In stock.

You can also check our catalogue for other options.

3. Connect to your TV, and finish software installation

Connect the Pi to the TV via HDMI cable. Plug in your USB keyboard and mouse or the USB adapter of the remote control into one of the USB ports of the Pi. Connect the Pi to the router with the Ethernet cable or plug the USB Wi-Fi adapter into one of the USB ports. Pop the micro SD card with Noobs into the Pi's card reader and connect the power adapter into the micro USB socket to turn it on.

When Noobs start, select Raspbmc. You can also select OpenElec. Raspbmc is XBMC/Kodi installed on top of Raspbian. OpenElec is stripped down just to run as a media centre. There are hundreds of pages comparing both of them and different opinions on which one is best. This tutorial continues assuming you have installed Raspbmc.

4. Set up XBMC

Follow our tutorial First Boot Configuration for a Raspberry Pi Running Raspbmc to learn how to set the language, country and timezone.

Then you can follow with the tutorial Network Setup for a Raspberry Pi Running Raspbmc to learn how to connect the Raspberry Pi to the network.

Once you have finished with the basic settings you can set the audio output to HDMI, then set up a media library, you can go to wiki.xbmc.org to find out how.

5. Install XBMC/Kodi Video Add-ons

The great thing about XBMC/Kodi is that by installing add-ons you can extend its functionality. Is like apps in a phone. You can get add-ons to watch ABC iView, or listen to the radio in Pandora, or watch Internet video strings.

Please check the XBMC/Kodi tutorials to get the most out of your XBMC/Kodi installation.

6. Use your phone as a XBMC Remote control

There are a couple of apps that will allow you to use your phone or tablet as an XBMC remote control. The most widely used are XBMC Remote and Yatse.

7. Get Video Codecs

If you are planning to watch avi or video files that are encoded in MPEG-2 or VC1, you will need to get MPEG-2 license keys and VC-1 license keys.

The license keys are unique to every Raspberry Pi. To be able to get the license keys you will have to find out the 16 digit serial code of your Raspberry Pi's CPU.

To do so, in XBMC/Kodi go to System->System Info->Hardware

The following images illustrate this process:

XBMC/Kodi System
XBMC/Kodi System -> System Info
XBMC/Kodi System -> System Info -> Hardware

Make a note of the 16 digit CPU serial number and then go to http://www.raspberrypi.com/license-keys/ where you can buy the license keys.

Once on the keys website, click on MPEG-2 license key, once in the product page, enter the CPU serial number you copied before and add to cart.

Then click on VC-1 license key, once in the product page, enter the CPU serial number you copied before and add to cart.

Proceed to checkout and pay for you video licenses.

Eventually you will receive an email with the video keys.

To enter the video keys in your system go to:

Programs->Raspbmc Settings -> Select System Tab

Then scroll down until you find a section called Advanced System Settings.

Enter the keys you received on the email in MPEG2 Codec License and VC1 Codec key.

The following images show where you have to go to enter the keys:

XBMC/Kodi Programs
Raspbmc Settings
Raspbmc Settings System

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