Sunday, 20 December 2015


This morning Jan woke to rain whilst I slept on. Now I’m old I can do that with a clear conscious.  By 9am the showers had started to ease and as the the internet signal at Wrenbury was weak we decided to move.

Both of us donned our full set of wet weather gear in the sure knowledge it would keep the rain at bay (it did).  Five locks and one lift bridge later found us moored on the straight above the Hurleston Flight.  The number of moving boats has increased significantly as we get closer to the end of the canal.  Whilst moving today, five boats passed in the opposite direction a further three passed once we had moored.  Our timing was perfect because it started to rain as we were completing the final mooring tasks.

Whilst we were on the move Jan baked a loaf of bread.  We were then able to have a late lunch consisting of tomato sandwiches made from still warm freshly baked bread. <yum>

After yesterday’s post Blog reader Bill has written a grovelling supporting email to Jan.  Just for him, I’m going to write more about my ‘'”Project”.

Obviously I can’t physically build the media server whilst on the boat.  This means my efforts will be confined to researching andidentifying suitable hardware and software.  Nor can I modify the hardware on the tablets and smartphone asthey are sealed units.  However the boat does have a “dumb” High Definition (1080p) TV.  This means the one part of the project I can work on is the “client” hardware and software that will make the dumb TV smart.

For my “smart TV” hardware I’m using a Raspberry Pi.  I’ve opted for the Model 2 B version which can be purchased online for approximately £30.  Santa has been known to deliver things I don’t want so I’ve taken matters into my own hands and bought my own presents this year.

IMG_8630As you can see the Raspberry Pi (RPi) is a simple printed circuit board about the size of a credit card.  The local computer shop gave me an old CD ROM drive audio cable and I purchased an Infra Red Receiver sensor online for 43p.

The RPi has sockets or ports on all four sides.  At one end there are four USB and one ethernet port.  The opposite end has a micro SD card slot.  The RPi doesn’t have a hard drive.  The Operating System and other software goes onto the micro SD card.  One side of the RPi has a micro usb port which is the power supply plug.  In the middle is a HDMI port for video/audio.  Next to that is an audio socket for headphones or speakers.  On the opposite side of the RPi are 40 pins in two parallel rows of 20.  These form the (general purpose IN/OUT (GPIO) connector.

With cables coming out all side of the RPi it’s not the sort of device you’d have out on display.  Consequentially I’m going to fix it to the back of the TV where it will be out of sight.  It needs to be protected and I’ve purchased a very cheap plastic case.

SAMSUNG The RPi in it’s cheap black plastic case.     SAMSUNG

All sealed up.

I’m going to need to remotely control the RPi and having it on the reverse of the TV makes that an issue.  It’s possible to buy an IR receiver and remote control for the RPi, but the combined cost of receiver and remote is more than the cost of the actual RPi.  In keeping with my “on the cheap” principle I’m going to make the IR receiver and use an old DVD remote control.


Rob said...

If you run something like OSMC ( it will handle all your media, has plug-ins for popular Internet streaming services and supports CEC so can be controlled through your TV remote or via a smartphone app.

Ade said...

Hi Tom & Jan,
Great stuff, I've took the plunge on a new 4K tv 40" against your advice! Oh dear I hear you say my viewing distance is about 7 ft away. But on demo I could see the difference at that distance in the shop over a 1080 the source was Sky HD Star Wars channel. Perhaps they had it set up to sway suckers like me. Still they knocked another 30 quid off the already good internet price to sweeten the deal.
So I now have a 1080 none smart TV so watching this with great interest. Could you post up the links for your purchases please?
So far so good.


Marilyn McDonald said...

I have given up snoring for Lent - but just after the comment about Bill's supportive email to Jan, I made an exception and slept my way through the rest of the post ...
Cheers for your anniversary - Jan is clearly a woman of extreme stoicism and grit!

Tom and Jan said...

Rob, You're getting ahead of the story :-) I have OSMC on the micro SD card as the OS for the RPi. OSMC has Kodi which will be my client media player. Our current "dumb" TV doesn't have CEC which is why I will build the remote.

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Ade,
You might actually start to struggle to find anew 1080p (vs 4K) TV as most manufacturers have stopped making them. If you could see the difference in the quality of the picture then you were probably watching a special trailer. I'll go back for the purchase links and include them in a future post.

Tom and Jan said...

Marilyn, You're obviously a card carrying member of the sisterhood. I never cease reminding Jan just how lucky she is! :-)