Evolution of a Blog

This blog has evolved as I have as a maker. It starts at the beginning of my journey where I began to re-tread my tires in the useful lore of micro electronics and the open-source software that can drive them. While building solutions around micro-electronics are still an occasional topic my more recent focus has been on the 3D Printing side of making.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How an RPi protected a wall!

Our new home features a 'garden room' that joins our lounge and that I am using for my office.   My boy toys in this office include my primary workstation, an iMac 27, and an Acer 27 inch monitor that is connected to a Mac Mini, an xBox 360, and with a spare HDMI connection for debugging RPi's.

I don't plan on watching a lot of TV in the office but I wanted the ability to watch some over the air channels.   No, I can't stream everything I might want to watch because our internet connection maxes out at 2mb and can dip to 1.5 at times.   Not enough for streaming to compete with other uses...even with QoS.

The external TV antenna comes into the house in the lounge which shares a wall with my office so it would be relatively easy to run a lead through the wall.   It would, however, require a hold and then the running of wire across the walls to where I need it.   Outside access would also be an alternative but with the same issues.

Enter the RPi, XBMC, and Tvheadend.   XBMC has just come out in a new version named Frodo that supports TV streaming from a variety of back end servers.  I had a 'spare' RPi and so have decided to 'gen it up to serve TV via Tvheadend.  I know, TV streaming is not exactly new technology but the RPi provides a cheap platform and one that is pretty low voltage as well.

Key to making this work was the following blog post by Quonith on the STM Labs Forum. 

As stated at the front of this blog entry you can install Tvheadend as part of the RASPBMC installation (and this is probably what I should have done)...but I wanted a native installation on the RPi in case I want to do other things with it.   So, with the help of Quonith I was able to get Tvheadend running on my RPi (easy part) and recognizing the TV dongle (hard part).

The next complication was getting Tvheadend to find my local TV stations.   I expected Tvheadend to find stations automatically but it did not.   Not sure why though I read somewhere that the database of frequencies that it comes with is outdated for the UK.

RPi Serving TV to My Office
In any case, I found the following site which documents the transmitters used in the UK (press here).  I had no idea where my antenna was pointing but through trial and error I determined that it was aimed at Crystal Palace.   The trick is to use the ukfree.tv website to find one multiplexer and manually enter it into Tvheadend.   Tvheadend then finds the rest of the mux'es.
My Office

That was pretty much it.   Oh, except for the fact that my wireless network was not completely happy with streaming between the Rpi running Tvheadend and my Mac Mini running XBMC (on Ubuntu).   Enter the Tp-Link Powerline Adapters. 

I now have four of these creating a 200mb wired network to augment my wireless.  One connects the stuff in the lounge to the network (Sky+, Humax, Apple TV, and the RPi).   One connects my office gear and one connects to the stuff in the wiring closet at the front of the house where my DSL connection lives.

Monday, January 14, 2013

First post in a while - but no Robot Content

We are finally getting settled in our new home and while I am close to being able to start making some progress on the 'Bot there are still house things to do.   One of them has to do with using an RPi to avoid having to drill holes in the wall.   Honest.   More to come.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Temporary Priority Change

Progress on the 'Bot has hit a definite snag given that my wife and I have finally moved into our new house.   As with any new place it needs some decorating and other work.   I am finally in my new man cave (and the other rooms are coming along as well)...but there is still much to do!   Hopefully I will be back soon.