Kodi (XBMC) Media Center for PC and More!

You may have seen a few posts where I mention Kodi and you might have wondered, “what is that and what does it do”? Well, here you go!

kodi play buttonKodi is an open source media center program, designed to bring all your pictures, music and video, stored on your computer or tablet, together in one place. It will play media in many different formats and from DVD’s and CD’s as well! You can also use it to stream online content. There are even Apple and Android mobile apps available, to enable your smart phone to be used as a remote.

The software is available for Windows, Mac, Android and many Linux distributions, free to download. And, comes with many free addons you can install and use to watch online content, right away (subscriptions may be required)!

food networkOne of my favorite shows is Diners, Driv-ins and Dives, on the Food Network, but I have missed a few of the latest episodes. Kodi has the Food Network Add-on. So I added it and now I am able to stream the show and catch up.

Kodi is also available as a stand alone OS.

raspberry pi 3I use my Raspberry Pi 3 as a mini desktop and media center and have it installed through Raspbian. But, you can also use it installed as a stand alone OS on an SD card, USB flash drive or hard drive, with LibreElec (which is my favorite), OpenElec or OSMC. I have an old HP that had Windows Vista on it, that I removed and installed OpenElec on. The video card has HDMI out, so it was easy to connect to use on the TV. Worked great until my power supply on the PC died (I have had it a while).

You can also use Kodi with other streaming services!

I have PlayOn, which is a paid service where you can stream and record content from all your favorite TV show and movie websites, and watch them anytime you want. It’s like a streaming DVR. And, you can set it up to play your recordings through Kodi or add the app to your device. You can even access PlayOn from other devices to play content, as long as you have the server running on a Windows PC or a Mac. It’s pretty cool and available to try for free!

You can learn more about Kodi here or visit the wiki page here for all the different ways to set it up. And as always, if you need some help, call on me, your friendly neighborhood computer nerd!

LibreElec Wireless Access Point Setup Raspberry Pi 3

Use LibreElec to setup a wireless access point, to connect to Kodi from Your Phone. It’s simple to do and no Internet is required!

LibreElec (What is that? Learn more here.) has a very simple way to setup a wireless “tethered” access point. Then you can connect your android or iOS device to the access point like if it was wifi (without internet). Then access your media on the kodi media center with your favorite kodi mobile app.

I am not going to explain all the steps required to get it installed on the Raspberry Pi, but of course, 1st you have write the LibreElec image on an SD. You will find the images on the downloads page. I only have a Raspberry P1 3, so I only know how it works for that image. I also have a Pi Zero, but I tried it, and it wouldn’t set up.

Once you have the image booted up and kodi is setup on the Pi 3, navigate over to SYSTEM. Mouse over it and the settings menu opens under it. Click on LibreElec.

libreelec access point setup

Then once in that section, mouse over Network. Then Enable “tethered” Wireless Access Point.

13925176_1808460812732764_7095050222711522370_n

wifi access pointYou will then see the SSID name (LibreELEC-AP) and the Passphrase (initially the Passphrase is libreelec but you can change it to something more secure) to use in your wifi phone settings, to connect to. Search for the connection under your phones wifi settings, tap it and when prompted, enter the Passphrase. If it’s all good, it should connect.

Note: You will need to connect back to your regular wifi and download your favorite kodi remote app. Then connect back to the access point and setup the app. I used the “Official Kodi App” and it detected the access point right away when add the new host and tapped, “find kodi”. I saved it and it connected.official kodi app

Then you can load up a USB flash drive with your favorite music, videos or other media, plugged into a USB on the Pi, and add it to kodi, and make it sort of a portable media player.

I set mine up to work in the car to play music through the stereo auxiliary port. I connected a computer speaker line from the Pi’s analog audio output, to the auxiliary stereo input, and enabled it on the car radio. For power, I used a cigarette lighter USB car charger that outputs (5V) 2.4 amps.

You can also connect a USB wifi dongle to access the internet when needed.  And, you can connect other devices with kodi at the same time, like a tablet, to the access point and play media from it. I have not tried that though.

Anyway! Hope that helps somebody!

NeoTV Prime and Raspberry Pi

Do you have one of these old Netgear NeoTV Prime Boxes with Google TV (GTV100) laying around, or still in use?

neotv prime1st, what is a NeoTV Prime box with Google TV? Basically, it’s similar to a Roku or Fire TV box, that you can connect to the internet and your TV’s HDMI port and stream online content, from many streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus. And, it comes with a handy little remote with a mouse pad and a keyboard on the other side.

The NeoTV Prime also has the ability to…

  • install and run other Android apps from the google play store.
  • surf the internet with the google Chrome browser from your couch.
  • connect to other devices like your cable or satellite set top box, DVD players, or digital stereo system, to play through the TV box via the HDMI IN port.
  • And, connect a USB mouse or keyboard, USB hubs and flash memory sticks, or other devices, through the available USB port.

kodiA couple of years ago I bought one of these, marked way down on clearance, from my local OfficeMax. I was thinking it was cheap enough that I wouldn’t be risking much if I crashed it, trying to hack it (supposedly, it can be rooted through the network setup). But there isn’t really much space (2 gig’s?) on the GTV100 model, so it’s really not worth doing. And, though it has the ability to install and run android apps from the google play store, there are a lot of popular apps that aren’t compatible. One of the popular apps I was hoping it could run, was Kodi. It says it’s not available for the GTV100 model, and side-loading these apps doesn’t work either. But I did sort of figure out a work around for Kodi!

So, it has a few limitations, though it’s great for streaming movies and TV from many of the services I mentioned before. And, it’s fine for surfing the web with the google Chrome browser. I do recommend however, connecting a wireless keyboard and mouse, because the remote/keyboard combo it comes with, can be a little tricky to use for browsing.

Do you also have a Raspberry Pi 3 or 2?

img_5479.jpgSo, what does this have to do with the Raspberry Pi 3? Well, if you have one of these NeoTV boxes, you can connect the Raspberry Pi to the HDMI IN and can set it up as a generic video source to run on the TV box. The picture on the right shows it running on my TV. It worked pretty well on the Raspbian OS.

Watch this video to see how I set it up.

Note: You will need a separate mouse and keyboard connected to your Pi to control things on it, just like you normally would, because the NeoTV Prime remote wont work on the Pi this way.
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With everything off, plug the HDMI cable from the Pi, to the HMDI IN on the NeoTV box. Plug the HDMI OUTcable from the box to an HDMI source on your TV. Turn on both to boot them up. Turn on your TV and go to the HDMI output source where your NeoTV box shows up on your screen.

Go to setting on the NeoTV menu. Choose Video Input in the list.
On the next screen, choose Generic video source. Then under Setup media device, if you see the feed from the Pi, choose Next.
The next screen tells you that the generic video source is not controllable with the NeoTV remote. Just choose ok. It will go back to the Setup media device screen, and you should still see the feed from the Pi again, and choose Finish. Then push the blue home button on the NeoTV remote to go back to your menu. Then to view and interact with the Pi, select the Live TV app, in the menu. You should see the Pi in full view. On mine, the screen for Kodi goes a little past the edge, but I am fine with that. Then use a mouse and keyboard, to use it. You can remove the Pi from the video source by going to the menu and under settings, choose Video Input and just follow the instructions on-screens to remove it.

Now, what you do with that, is up to you! I really just wanted to see if it was possible and it worked. And here is my “work around” for getting Kodi to work on the box. I installed LibreElec on an SD card and ran it on the Pi, connected to the NeoTV  Prime box. Though I did notice a little decrease in video quality and the screen size went just a little past the edges of the screen.

Anyway, it’s been fun! Good Luck!