Raspotify

Raspotify

For the past few weeks (months?) whenever I was flashing an SD card with Balena Etcher I would see an ad for creating a Spotify Connect server out of a Raspberry Pi. I never really thought about it until I was cleaning the garage (not for fun, I’m moving to Texas) and I wanted to play some music. I have had a standard stereo receiver with some stand up cabinet speakers for a while it just hasn’t gotten much use this year. When I had used it I would just plug my phone into a cable I had directly plugged into the receiver and I would play songs that way. Well now I have an iPhone, no more Androids, and now I don’t have a headphone jack. Great. Fuck the dongles. I now had a need for a Spotify Connect server, which honestly is what I should have done a while back. Balena has their own special way of doing things, which I kinda don’t like so I searched out a different solution.

The software I used is called Raspotify and it is really simple to get up and running. All you need is a (any) Raspberry Pi, the SD card for it, power, and a way to plug it into your stereo. Almost any Pi except a Zero are basically plug-n-play as they have a 3.5mm audio jack. Super simple. After flashing Raspbian Lite to the SD card, boot the Pi and then run one command: curl -sL https://dtcooper.github.io/raspotify/install.sh | sh

That will get you going, after the Pi is finished you should now see a Spotify Connect server named “raspotify” on your Spotify app. You can edit /etc/default/raspotify to change the defaults if you want. Like stream quality and the server name etc. I highly recommend doing this. I noticed the volume was super low by default, well the Pi had its volume set to 40%, dang. Use the command alsamixer that will let you up the volume. I tend not to use things at 100% of the volume available, most times devices start to distort at max levels. I usually stick to 90% for my volume level.

I initially got it setup and running on a Pi 3B+ and it worked just fine, except it didn’t sit well with me using a full blown Pi for such a simple task as streaming music. It just isn’t right. You could use one single Pi as a Spofity connect server as well as host many other things (Pihole etc) but I like to keep things separate. Less chance of failure for me, since I tend to not leave shit alone. Enter the Raspberry Pi Zero W. But the RPi Zero doesn’t have an audio output, ha-hah! There are a few audio DAC hats out there for the Zero that add outputs, but I don’t have one and I didn’t want to buy one or wait for it to get delivered. So we have to make one! It is actually very simple, as long as you have the parts around that is. We are going to create a pair of basic line-out outputs. Good for receivers not so good for things like headphones. Its also just a basic output no extra DAC here. If you find the audio quality isn’t up to snuff (I have not noticed a difference but I have not also tested it thoroughly or compared it to other sources, yet) then a DAC hat is for you.

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DIY CCTV – Raspberry Pi IP Cameras and NVR

motionEye

I have an old CCTV DVR with two older analog cameras attached. It was all top of the line security gear 10 years ago when I was active in the field, and it has not aged well. The DVR has a very old and obviously no longer maintained android app, and the desktop software is just the same. I am not even sure if the company still sells standard DVRs anymore. The image quality on the cameras is horrible, somewhere around 480. To top it off my once prized analog security camera died while I was writing this.

Everything is IP and all the recorders are now NVRs these days. I was looking at possible new solutions to upgrading and there are some decent options out there. Theres the Blink XT2 and Arlo Pro cameras, they seem to be the most popular. There are also the super cheap (but indoor only at this time) Wyze cameras. They all have pretty decent apps but they all rely on cloud storage or record to local SD cards. If you want IP cameras without the cloud you are looking at going through a security professional or something you can get from Costco, Home Depot or Amazon etc. Now I can’t afford a new IP camera package at the moment but they seem nice, but with no local storage I decided to see if I could roll my own NVR and IP camera.

Before you go any further you should read this blog article, it has a ton of info on the options you have available to you. He goes in depth about the options, I am going to give you my experience with them, what I ended up sticking with and how I got it setup. I recommend trying out all the options if you are so inclined, it took me about a day or two to bounce between them all and settle on one. I have been writing this article for two weeks now.

I have a home server running on an old slim desktop computer (that someone dumped off on my curb one day). I am running Ubuntu Server 18.04 headless. I have a few programs and services running on it as well as a few terabytes of media that I cannot risk losing. Even losing the OS would be a pain in the ass as my Plex server would have to re-crawl the folders. That takes a long while, an event I would like to avoid if at all possible. So I am always hesitant on installing and trying new things that look like they need a lot of tweaking and trial & error. Enter the Raspberry Pi. This little SBC makes testing things perfect for me (I have still yet to dive into Docker and VMs). If it proves not too problematic then I can toss it on ye ole server.

I started writing this over a weekend, I thought I could turn my experience into a quick write up and oh man did this thing grow. I just want to state up front that I was kinda sideswiped during my process of doing this as a motionEyeOS prerelease came out and the official github has updated a few things which also match what I wrote here now (like they now cover the install on Buster which they did not before). So you may find some redundancies between our pages. Go figure.

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OctoPrint-TFT on a Raspberry Pi

octoprint-tft

So I have been seeing the new kid on the block pop up a lot recently, no not that shitty fucking band. This is a new “plugin” for the famous and awesome OctoPrint, OctoPi actually – OctoPrint-TFT. I have seen the screenshots and it is looking slick I must say. A while back I tried to use the OctoPrint TouchUI plugin and didn’t have much luck with it, in the end as the Pi I had at the time was a lower model and I just found the responsiveness just too slow. Plus this gives it a nice TFT feel like it was stock and meant to be. Le’s try it. I am gonna use the same waveshare 3.5″ LCD screen I had before but this time a newer Raspberry Pi 3B+. So I wont need a WiFi dongle this time either cause its built-in.

 

Parts used

  • Raspberry Pi 3 B+
  • Waveshare 3.5″ LCD TFT screen
  • A micro SD card of course
  • Power supply and cord for the Pi
  • USB cable to connect the Pi to the printer
  • A 3D printer lol
  • A computer with some sort of SSH program or a screen and keyboard/mouse to work directly off the Pi (might work I am not sure, I used a terminal on my mac and SSH’d into the Pi).

 

Let’s Party

Let’s follow the directions from the Github page and see what happens?

After installing a fresh copy of OctoPi v0.16 I started the Github directions.

 

The file is actually “/etc/octoprint-tft-environment” not the location.

sudo nano /etc/octoprint-tft-environment
(this tidbit copied form the github page)

The basic configuration is handled via environment variables, if you are using the .deb package you can configure it at /etc/octoprint-tft-environment.

  • OCTOPRINT_CONFIG_FILE – Location of the OctoPrint’s config.yaml file. If empty the file will be searched at the pi home folder or the current user. Only used for locally installed OctoPrint servers.
  • OCTOPRINT_HOST – OctoPrint HTTP address, example http://localhost:5000, if OctoPrint is locally installed will be read from the config file.
  • OCTOPRINT_APIKEY – OctoPrint-TFT expects an API key to be supplied. This API key can be either the globally configured one or a user specific one if “Access Control”. if OctoPrint is locally installed will be read from the config file.
  • OCTOPRINT_TFT_STYLE_PATH – Several themes are supported, and style configurations can be done through CSS. This variable defines the location of the application theme.
  • OCTOPRINT_TFT_RESOLUTION – Resolution of the application, should be configured to the resolution of your screen, for example 800x480. By default 480x320.

So go to the browser on your working machine that you use and go to the Pies IP address and go thru the OctoPrint setup fun. Once done grab an API key from the config menu on OctoPrint and lets edit that config file for the OctoPrint-TFT.

Do a find -name "config.yaml" on your Pi and you will find the location of yours. Add that to the config. Host should be http://localhost . The API you grabbed from the config menu slap that where it needs to go. I left the last two alone.

It has come a long way since the last time I tried to get this screen to work. This time its is really freaking easy!

This should install with the screen to boot with the bottom being the power plug, if you want it the other way do this instead

Reboot your Raspberry Pi and make sure you get video on your LCD.

If your screen is not rotated correctly with the above command still, do the following.

And change the line for your display to add :rotate=270 as shown below

The Pi rebooted after downloading some files and holy shit! The screen is working, well it showed the boot up sequence and a login prompt. Let’s get touch working and the desktop.

sudo reboot

Let’s see?

Boot up sequence and…login prompt. Ugh. sudo raspi-config to desktop? That loads and wants lightdm, so no. TFT wants xserver, so its gonna get xserver. Lets Google and I mead Reddit. Google didn’t have shit, too new still. Found it.

Let’s try this.

He has an extras step after installing OctoPrint-TFT.

Lastly we need to remove the 99-fbturbo.conf file from our Xorg directory he says.

Now on reboot OctoPrint-TFT should load and start attempting to connect says he?

Fucken eh right it did! If you see the Octoprint image but the error says

Unexpected error: Get /api/connection: unsupported protocol scheme

As mentioned earlier I found out on the Github issues page it was mentioned there to add “http://” to the config file instead of just localhost. So make sure you did that.

If you see the “Connecting to OctoPrint” and it never goes away, don’t wait too long! It simply means it has no connection to a 3D printer at that moment. You MUST plug it in for the TFT to do its job and actually work. Incredibly confusing I know. Hopefully they’ll fix that soon, and change the message soon.

After playing with it for a few minutes (no actual printing done) I find it pretty neat, and may possibly use it in the future if my LCD screen ever loses functionality for some reason. I could disable the control boxes screen lets say and enable more features in Marlin, after I did upgrade my firmware. But I am not too sure. Requiring the tethered connection to the Pi is a drawback for me, thats way more plugs sticking out of a screen than I would like. If I had the 7″ screen to hide the goop maybe, but this wasn’t designed for those. It was perfect size on the 480×320 I ave.

Or if I do some crazy new board installed over the Melzi and I don’t have a screen. I could use this. I wanted to try Klipper out and that loses the screen but I don’t think there is support for it just yet. I am not willing to try it out at this point in time.

But that was my trick to get OctoPrint-TFT to work on my Waveshare 3.5″ TFT screen and Raspberry Pi 3 B+. Hope it helps.

 

The perfect Raspberry Pi enclosure

The perfect Raspberry Pi enclosure

There are many and I mean many Raspberry Pi cases out there. Fucking tons. There are a few great ones and a lot of mediocre ones. I came across a pretty good one. It is a great case and not just because it looks cool. It’s actually function-able. The case is designed to fit a VESA monitor mount. So if you have a TV or monitor on a stand you could bolt this to the rear and bam!. The holes are also great for general purpose mounting. The case is designed slightly different than all the others out there. There is NO CUTOUT for the micro USB power plug. We don’t use it here. This case has room for a DC-DC buck converter. Available on Amazon, eBay and all over. Standard part.

We take a nice big fat power source like 12v DC 3A and knock it down to 5.1v DC for the Pi. Then we wire that output directly to the Pies GPIO pins for 5v and GND. This works great, a nice fat stable power source. And the bricks are far easier to get a hold of then a 3A 5v USB plug. I have tons of them lying around.

DC-DC Buck Converter

 

We take the barrel plug and solder in a diode to the source side of the DC-DC buck converter. We take the output and apply that to the power GPIO pins for 5v and GND. Then we take a LED and wire in a 330ohm resistor and connect that to GND and GPIO 14 (UART TXD). Heres the trick to get the GPIO pin to follow the Pies power up and power down cycle. So the LED will turn off when the Pi is safe to unplug.

Edit your /boot/config.txt file and add the following line:

enable_uart=1

Thats it, now the LED will light when powered on and it will shutoff when it is safe to unplug the Pi. If you wish to use a different pin other than 14 you can follow this guide over here.

The case

Heres the thingy for my modified version of the case. The original calls for brass inserts for the screws, which is awesome I just don’t use them. So I remixed the files to use standard M3 screws. No more brass inserts. I also increased the depth of the lid. My jumper wires were hitting the top of the  lid and preventing me from closing it. No I have plenty of room fire wires and jumpers.

My Remixed Case

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2956874

Original Version

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2286741

 

Creating a mini NES with a Raspberry Pi

Mini NES RetroPie
Mini NES RetroPie
Mini NES RetroPie

It all started with the Nintendo Classic craze. I had a friend that was rambling about one the other day. I mentioned that I could totally make him one but better because it would emulate more than just Nintendo. Enter RetroPie. I was looking at putting the bill of materials together and thinking of cases for the mini NES, then I realized why not just print one! So BAM and BAM.

 

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1887826 
then this https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2011955 

Then this for giggles
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1710104

 

Here’s what we are doing

  1. Flashing RetroPie to an SD card for a Raspberry Pi
  2. Soldering header pins to the RUN pin holes on the RPi
  3. Soldering wires to some push buttons
  4. Soldering some wires to an LED
  5. 3D Printing a mini NES case for the RPi
  6. 3D Printing a bracket for the NES case
  7. Glueing push buttons, LED and bracket into the printed case
  8. Wiring the LED and buttons to the RPi
  9. Testing it all

 

Here’s what you need

  1. Raspberry Pi (save yourself a headache, get a RPi 3!)
  2. RPi power supply MINIMUM of 2.5A!
  3. SD card 8gb+ class 10
  4. HDMI cable
  5. USB keyboard
  6. Network cable (even though the RPi 3 has wifi you will at least need to do the initial wifi setup with a LAN connection)
  7. A 3D Printer to print the case and the bracket
  8. (2) push buttons
  9. (2) male header pins
  10. Super glue and hot glue
  11. (1) red LED
  12. (1) 100 ohm resistor
  13. (6) pieces of jumper wire with connections (you can cut some in half if long enough)

 

Whats Up

I will assume you have a network connection (non wifi) a USB keyboard a TV or Monitor or tv with an HDMI connection and that you have active internet. You will need to know how to solder, and be somewhat comfortable with a terminal and hopefully the Linux environment. I also assume you have and know how to use a 3D printer. I will also assume that you know and are comfortable with Raspberry Pies. Lots of ASSumptions.

This post is not designed as a how to install RetroPie but more of a how to get RetroPie installed and create the scripts for shutdown the Pi and lighting the LED, then you can follow the first install guide by RetroPie to get you going with the actual RetroPie software.

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I am not responsible for any damage that may happen to you, your computer, or your Raspberry Pi etc. Take this adventure at your own risk.