Simplified Smart TV via Raspberry Pi

Overview

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!

MoviePi: VCR-like Gizmo to smarten up Dumb TV's

Original: Mid-2019
Last Update: June 2021 (rebuild, cleanup recipe)

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

Hardware

As always, built using junk from my workbench collection.

MoviePi 1:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 (Arm7), 4 USBs, Ethernet + WiFi

  • An old Microsoft MCE Remote (see pic above)

  • Originally 64g USB Memory Stick (local storage)

  • 16g Micro SD

  • 2.5amp Power Supply

  • HDMI Cable

MoviePi 2:

  • Raspberry Pi 2 (Arm7), 4 USBs + Ethernet

  • EDIMAX WiFi Adapter (optional)

  • An old Gyration MCE Remote*

  • 16g Micro SD

  • 2amp Power Supply

  • HDMI Cable

Software

Originally created using OSMC_TGT_rbp2_20190105 which was Kodi v17. MANY problems with upgrades and maintenance using OSMC. Switched to LibreELEC.tv 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 -
https://www.technadu.com/install-kodi-on-raspberry-pi/8258/ ***
*** See Also: Official Kodi
HOW-TO:Install_Kodi_on_Raspberry_Pi ***

  1. Download appropriate image for RPi hardware from LibreELEC download page @ https://libreelec.tv/downloads_new/

  2. Flash to Micro SD - Etcher is easy

  3. Add to Pi (insert SD) and Boot ... OSMC comes right up and begins guided install
    (Use Use Keyboard, Monitor and Ethernet for initial install)

    • Select Language & Timezone

    • Set Device name (MoviePi, for me)

    • Enable SSH (for remote access)

    • Read/Accept License

  4. SSH in and change default passwords (default uc/pw=root/libreelec)

    • IP address is in: Settings:System Info

    • ssh root@<IP Address>
      (ssh-keygen -R <IP Address> to remove dup ssh key - if necessary)

    • passwd command to change password

  5. <possibly more linux tweaking/hardening to come here>

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

Kodi Settings

STILL via Keyboard/Monitor:

Touchup Kodi Settings

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

Settings:

  • Interface Settings->Skin Pellucid

    • Configure Skin: Stop video playing on return to menu -> ON!

    • <I HAVE had to reboot after skin change ... may be necessary>

  • Add-Ons: My add-ons->Video add-ons

    • Crackle: No need to config. Launch to test.
      It may install additional add-ons before it works (e.g. Widevine CDM)

    • Google Drive: Little more tricky

      1. Launch addon. The first time will force gdrive logon/credentials

      2. Add an Account, you'll need a browser running during this one - ipad/phone or nearby computer

      3. Should now be able to navigate thru gdrive - ours contains mp4 videos

    • YouTube: This one may make your head spin!

      1. You'll need a Google API Key. Refer to guide @ https://www.videoconverterfactory.com/kodi/youtube-api-key.html
        WHEN you get stuck in steps below ... it has pictures of the screens!

        • Visit the friendly Google Cloud Platform Console via https://console.developers.google.com & Login

          • If you don't already have an API Key, create a New Project ... THEN ...

            • Enable APIS and Services

            • From API Library, click on YouTube Data API v3 & ENABLE

            • Click on CREATE CREDENTIALS

            • Fill in project info and click on What credentials do I need?

            • OATH Popup: Set User Type as External and click on Create, then SAVE

            • Credential Wizard, click Refresh and click Create OAuth client ID ... then DONE Button

      2. NOW, add your API keys to YouTube Add-on. Guide @ https://github.com/anxdpanic/plugin.video.youtube/wiki/Personal-API-Keys

        • Settings->Add-ons->Youtube->Configure

          • API->Enable API configuration page (this web interface will allow copy/paste of keys!)

          • HTTP Server->Select Listen IP and use IP Address of Kodi Server

          • Goto: Http://<ipaddress>:<port>/api (Default port is in HTTP Server settings)

            • Paste in API Key, API ID (aka Client ID) and API Secret (from google clown console)
              (Psssst: API Secret is buried in "OAuth 2.0 Client IDs")

      3. Finally, boot Kodi! It will make you feel better too!

      4. When you launch YouTube Add-on the first time, you will will be 'guided' through connecting the device to Google

        • go to https://google.com/device

        • Enter code displayed on Kodi screen

        • <We use a special google email/user for youtube and google drive so traffic/behavior is not attributed to any specific person>

  • Have a bourbon, you'll need it!

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:

  • Screensaver: Bing: Photos of the Week

  • Skin: Pellucid


Via Search:

  • Media sources - Google Drive

  • Media sources - Crackle

  • Media sources - YouTube (this guy has small set-up wizard )

    • Language and Region: English/United States

    • Use Geolocation

  • Originally used National Geographic but something broke

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)

  • Crackle: I create a favorite for Movies and another for TV

  • Google Drive: Navigate to desired Google Drive Folder (or folderS) and add to Favorites

  • YouTube: Little harder to choose, start with single favorite to top level of YouTube or to keep it simple and use: "New Search"

Interface - Set Main Screen Buttons

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

  • Select Menus and Edit Home Menu

  • Delete everything! Our MoviePi is as simple as possible. Season to taste

  • Add buttons for Favorites saved in previous section via Add->Set Label and Change Action

Our four button MoviePi currently look like this:

Family Movies | TV Shows | Movies | YouTube

Update & Cleanup

Almost done ....

Updates:

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

  • Back to Settings->System->Add-ons ... you should see Updates setting, ours is set to Install updates automatically

  • I THINK a Kodi boot will force check for updates. It seems a little unpredictable

Check/Update All Add-ons after Kodi Update

  • Click each Button from mainscreen and play a video to test things out, it also forces updates ...
    (you may see some weird $h1t, but better you than some unsuspecting 95 year-old who want to watch a TV show from 1975!)

    • The updated Crackle, for example, forced another add-on install - Widevine CDM and pulls it our of a Chrome OS recovery image


That's That!