Remote music server!

I made a remote control music server with another raspberry pi! I discovered that many of the problems that people (including me) have with strange pi behavior is a lack of power. The pi uses 500mA for itself and can supply only 100mA per USB port (there are two). Hooking up a bunch of devices, like a hoggy old Apple keyboard, USB wifi dongle, mouse, and touchscreen are a real drag and the pi bogs or freezes, or drops wifi.

I picked up some nice Belkin powered USB hubs, and I was able to get wifi working. I had to rename the name the pi has, since all pis identify themselves to the local network as raspberrypi, and I already have one on the local network. I need to be able to ssh into them and prefer to use a name rather than the IP (which changes for the wifi one using DHCP).

I installed the program Music Player Demon, usually referred to as mpd on the pi, so it can serve up the music. Then I installed a remote client which lets me control the mpd over wifi. I installed Theremin on my desktop and MPoD on my iphone.

At first it wasn’t all working, but then I realized the problem was that while I thought I had mounted the network drive with all our music, that mount point was empty, so mpd had an empty database. I re-mounted, confirmed that I could see all the folders with my mp3s, and it worked!!!

Now I can play music on the pi and control it with my phone!!! It’s so awesome! The sound is a bit weak with the built in audio, so I might look into another sound card. I am also thinking about a full media server so I could also stream videos, but I don’t have a lot of digital video so that’s not as big of a priority. But I would like to have a little Netflix ‘station’ in the utility room once we move it downstairs and I do my ironing down there. So I will look into using a pi for that.

Raspi success!

I finally took my raspberry pi out of it’s “punishment corner” and started working on it. When I bought it and a pair of touchscreens last winter, I immediately ran into trouble getting anything working. I tried 4 or 5 different operating system images on 6 different SD cards. They would all boot but then freeze up within about 5 minutes. I was so mad that I just put everything in a box and hid it under my desk.

Last week I pulled it all back out and downloaded a new (updated) image of raspbian, the official Debian release for the pi. I dumped it onto an SD card and everything worked fine! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! Hooking up the touchscreen was also ridiculously easy (plug in a handful of connectors). The light sensor is a bit strange, and keeps the screen too dim, so I will probably replace it with a 10k pot. It’s also kind of laggy, so not really the interface I want to use while setting everything up, and the USB keyboard I had handy doesn’t play well with the pi (it’s an antique Apple keyboard with that hideous squishy key action and some kind of key release problem leading to hundreds of repeated letters).

I suspect my problem was firmware related: there was a change in RAM chips that had a firmware conflict.

Sooooo, I’m installing nx server!!!! I’m following this tutorial, planning to make this addition. I had trouble with the second patch step for freenx server, so I had to add the –ignore-whitespace flag, as per this post. It’s all installed, but now I’m unable to connect with it (I can connect, but then I get kicked out instantly after starting a new session with an I/O error). My google fu is weak, so after 3 hours of trying I haven’t been able to figure this out. I think it’s some kind of client-server mismatch, but I don’t know. I threw tightvnc on it and was up and running in about 3 minutes.

I have installed the Gourmet recipe program  and put the database on our networked disk so that I can add recipes from other computers (with nice keyboards). We will build a case and mount the touchscreen system in the kitchen! I can access the database directly from my regular computers! For now, the pi is downstairs hanging off the router as a headless computer.

Now that I have the whole pi up and running, I’m pretty impressed. For a $35 computer, it’s pretty impressive. It runs a full desktop environment almost as fast as my laptop!