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Build Your Own Raspberry Pi Media Center

Updated on February 2, 2015
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

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Build Your Own Media Center With A $35 Computer

Raspberry Pi is an organization building small computers at the lowest possible price. These systems are as bare-bones as it gets, they aren't meant to replace home computers, but to rather make computers affordable to educational facilities. One of the great advantages of the Raspberry Pi is the amazing adaptability of the little device. With a little ingenuity you can make it do everything from creating an MRI Image Analysis machine to a Science Fair Project. In this Article however we are going to be focusing on using the Raspberry Pi to make a Media Center for watching online and downloaded video content on your TV.

Required Items

All of the items listed can be purchased through Amazon.com (as shown) or through one of Raspberry Pi's official partners, if you are in North America you may want to try Allied Electormechanical.

A Piece of Pi

This is the base computer, it is just a tiny credit card sized mother board, not much else. This will act as the brains of your Media Center. The Raspberry Pi 2 might be a real game changer for this device. Apparently Microsoft and Raspberry have a deal that when Windows 10 comes out the Raspberry Pi will be available with free preloaded version of the OS. Between this and the impressive new specs on this beefed up Pi I think the Raspberry Pi 2 will be the system to buy if you want a Raspberry Pi based Media centre.

Case

Case isn't strictly needed, but advisable. Any case will do really, leaving it open is also an option, but I think it looks nicer in a case. There are so many cases available on Amazon and other sites that picking the right case can make all the difference in how your end project looks.

Power

To provide power to your Raspberry Pi, while many TV's have a USB port on them not many USB ports provide enough power to reliably power your Pi. It is advisable to use a wall plug charger to power your Pi instead of trying to power it off your TV's USB outlet.

SD Card

8 Gig SD card is recommended to load the software. This will host the software necessary to turn your Raspberry Pi into a media center.

HDMI Cable

To connect your Raspberry Pi to your TV.

RaspBMC Installer
RaspBMC Installer

Setup

First you will want to use SD Card Reader on your PC and load in RaspBMC. On the page I linked to there is a download for a Windows installer. This makes the setup of RaspBMC on your Raspberry Pi extremely simple. Run the installer and it will automatically setup the Raspberry Pi for you. Now you simply need to put the Raspberry Pi in a case, connect the Raspberry Pi to your Television, put the SD card in and boot up your new Raspberry Pi based media center.

One of the cool things about this setup is because the Raspberry Pi comes with built in HDMI-CEC your TV remote should control your RaspBMC so no need for extra remotes.

Feel free to let us know your setup, or ask questions here.

© 2013 Jeff Johnston

Do have a cool use for Raspberry Pi - Or have you created a Raspberry Pi based media Center?

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    • CuAllaidh profile image
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      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @lesliesinclair: Yes its relatively easy to build your own raspberry pi media center

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      At first glance I thought this was totally beyond me, but now I see that I could make use of Raspberry Pi and it looks like an exciting project.

    • CuAllaidh profile image
      Author

      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @miaponzo: Yes, I am really looking forward to getting started on this project, hopefully soon.

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      miaponzo 4 years ago

      Great idea to make a media center with the cute little Raspberry Pi!!! Blessed!