Simplified Smart TV via Raspberry Pi 


The original goal here was to create a simple to use Media Player to show converted family movies on the 'big screen'.   Over time (and during pandemic lock-in) MoviePi's role expanded to provide access to a couple of free streaming TV and Movie services.  

Tailored for users 95+ that know how to use their VCR!

Migrated to new site fall 2021 

December 2022:  Final recipe cleanup, moved to WiFi only world

Jan 2023:  MoviePi was replaced by a Roku, much easier + much more content!  :-(

Background & Capabilities

The original plan was to load a USB stick with MP4 movies and provide a simple mechanism to play them on a non-smart TV.    The Chromecast concept (casting from a tablet) didn't work well for  my elderly end-users so I ended up creating a contraption that operate similar to the VCR/DVD they were used to!  The latest gizmo serves-up family moves (mp4) from the internet (googledrive) rather than the thumbdrive and provides access to a couple of free streaming services - Crackle, YouTube and National Geographic.

Level of Difficulty & Prep Time

Pretty simple project, no programming required.

Minimal Raspberry Pi or Linux know-how required ...

... BUT ... Kodi configuration takes some getting used to. 

... AND ... Google Drive and YouTube Add-ons were amazingly complicated.  Reserve an extra hour+ for these! 

Probably an hour's worth of work without google add-ons


As always, built using junk from my workbench collection.

MoviePi 1:

MoviePi 2:

*Note:  Affiliate Links, I may get kickback from Amazon if you click/buy!


Originally created using  OSMC_TGT_rbp2_20190105 which was Kodi v17.  MANY problems with upgrades and maintenance using OSMC.  Switched to in 2021.  Much better
... BUT ...  requires a dedicated RPi.

Step By Step

Kodi Download/Install

**** June 2021:  Switched to LibreELEC.  Seems MUCH more stable than OSMC image used in past ****
*** Notes to self based on instructions from - ***
*** See Also:  Official Kodi HOW-TO:Install_Kodi_on_Raspberry_Pi ***

That's it ... probably 10 mins from start to finish 

Kodi Add-Ons

Via Keyboard/Monitor:

Install Add-Ons  (< 10 Mins, if you pay attention)

Main Menu/Settings->Add-ons/Add-on Browser/Install from repository:
(Hint1:  Exit sub-menus via dot-dot/up-level *not* ESC key!)
(Hint2:  Search for Add-ons if classification is not intuitive)

Look and Feel:

Via Search:

Kodi & Add-On Config

STILL via Keyboard/Monitor:

Touchup Kodi Settings

Main Menu/Settings (Gear ICON)
(Hint1:  Use ESC to navigate in settings!)
(Hint1:  Exit sub-menus via dot-dot/up-level *not* ESC key!)


Look & Feel

Nearly done!  Some touch-ups to make this thing as simple as possible!

STILL using attached Keyboard/Monitor:

Visit Kodi Settings AGAIN!

Add-ons - Favorites
Navigate to each Add-on, Launch and Right-Click to Add to Favorites (we'll put favorites on the main screen in a sec)

Interface - Set Main Screen Buttons

Navigate to settings->Interface->Skin->Configure Skin

Our four button MoviePi currently look like this:

Family MoviesTV Shows  |  Movies  | YouTube  

Update & Cleanup

Almost done .... 


Force Kodi to update - this will take a while because we started with an old/outdated image with functional Lirc (MCE Remote)

Check/Update All Add-ons after Kodi Update

That's That!

Touch-ups and Tweaks

Jan 2022 Update:  Streaming videos choppy/buffering!

Ack!  Lesson Learned:  Turn off Automatic Updates!

An update in Jan 2022 seemed to cause streaming videos to pause/buffer ... a lot!   Basically unwatchable but my parents are so used to my contraption quirks that they didn't mention it!  Fixed, still running on a RPi2, but not easy

Waaay too much debugging .... ended up being the latest version of Widevine - looked like an auto update forced the update of an add-on called Inputstream Helper and a DRM gizmo called Widevine CDM.   The answer for me was to go through the update, then rollback Widevine to version 4.10.2252.5.  There was a LOT of chatter (and misdirection on the interweb), this forum post led to the fix:

Took the opportunity to rebuild & retest the recipe using LibreELEC-RPi2.arm-9.2.8.img on a better SD (16g)

Lesson Learned: