When the Amazon Echo first came out I was looking at them in earnest, but decided I couldn’t justify the expense for something that I may lose interest in or not really make use of. A friend had an Amazon Echo Dot and combined that with a smart Lightwave RF lighting system in his new apartment I had to admit it was a very nice feature. But still I held back.
Then I discovered that you could install Alexa onto a Raspberry Pi!
As I have more than a few Raspberry Pi’s and a spare, here or there, left over from upgrading others, I thought I’d give it a go.
Probably the best way to get Raspbian up and running over Wifi is to use an out of the box supported Wifi adapter. But as things move on faster Wifi becomes available and not all of the USB adapters are ready to play.
One that I bought recently was one with a Realtek 8192eu chipset. This is supposed to deliver 300Mbps Wifi, but comes at the price of not being natively supported by Raspbian.
I could go install the build essentials and try to compile the driver myself. But that seems like a lot of work.
So a little digging around and I found it’s pretty straight forward to get going and it’s not a problem unique to me. Someone else has already created the necessary drivers all I need to do is install them.
I’ve been a fan and user of OpenELEC on my Raspberry Pi’s for some time. It’s always performed great and was pretty straightforward to install and use. But it seems the developers are struggling to keep up with the releases of Kodi.
This isn’t necessarily a problem. It’s not like I need a new Kodi when the version I have works just fine. But I ran into OSMC and it has a newer version of Kodi and promised to be just as straight forward.
Following on from the previous post about setting up a Home Media Client/Server setup I thought I’d put together a “how to” for building your own Raspberry Pi Media Centre with Kodi and a list of ingredients.
Buy a Raspberry Pi SBC
Which one? The fastest and best at the time is the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. The Pi 2 Model B will do, but why not take on the latest and greatest?
A couple of years ago I decided to get the TV connected to something other than satellite and cable. It seems that in this environment XMBC was the daddy of all things media and a few generations on it’s now called Kodi and is truly an awesome media player.
The way to use Kodi to stream media to the TV over HDMI was either to buy a pre-built Kodi device or build my own using a Raspberry Pi. Don’t let the build your own side of things put you off – it really is more simple than you can imagine. All for under £50 you can build a very capable HD 1080p media player.
Case for the Raspberry Pi
8GB Micro SD card
2A Micro USB Power Supply (same as your phone uses)
You can even buy the SD card preloaded with Kodi so no need to copy it on yourself. That said I chose to download and install OpenELEC (Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center) which is a pre-made Linux Operating System containing Kodi and ready to go.
Now you can use wireless from the newer Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, which has it built in, or by using a USB adapter with a Model 2 B, I really wouldn’t recommend it. Wi-fi just doesn’t have the bandwidth for full HD in my opinion (unless you run 802.11ac). So get the Pi hooked onto your Ethernet network.