Last week I got the Kore remote app working on my phone and my tablet, and I thought that was clever. Over the weekend I plugged in a Microsoft Media Center IR and used the Media Center remote, with no problems. The ultimate solution it seemed was to get a FLIRC universal receiver and use the TV remote, getting rid of the need for keyboard, IR sensor and remote, and the apps on the Android devices.
However I didn’t count on just how clever modern technology and the Kodi team are. Modern TVs, including the Samsung I am using have something called Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) built in to the HDMI system. This is a bidirectional ability for the remote for one device to control another device. It is why TV remotes have controls for DVD players and the like built into them (play, stop, pause, fast forward etc). The KODI installation uses something called libCEC to implement CEC. My PI 2 is currently connected to the TV via the HDMI cable, for both video and sound, and apparently remote control. So with no additional sensors, programming or any effort whatsoever, the TV remote seamlessly controls Kodi on the PI. Navigation is by the standard wheel of arrows on the remote, with the enter key in the middle. To go back up through the menu the Exit key is used, and the CD type controls control the playback, pausing etc of music and videos. I love the women and men who make all this technology happen, and I wish I knew more about it!
Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells included the warning “This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station” on its cover. This morning, while washing the evening meal dishes from last night, I was listening to Ommadawn by Oldfield, which I had digitised off the original album, depopped and descratched, stored on a USB key in MP3 format, played through the Kodi media centre on the $100 PI 2 OSMC system, via the HDMI lead to a $200 TV, from the TV to an $80 soundbar via an optical cable, and I am getting sound quality as good as the “stereo system” I played the original Tubular Bells on nearly 40 years ago, which was not an old tin box! I love technology, I also love listening to the original vinyl through a proper system, with a turntable, stylus, Onkyo stereo amplifier and a pair of decent speakers or a really good set of 40 year old Sony headphones. It’s great to have both options.
As an aside, at the weekend I also noticed that the PI was running on an inadequate power supply ( a little multi-coloured square appears in the top right corner of the screen to warn you). Time to invest in a decent USB power supply, in the end I chose a Jaycar unit, with 4 USB sockets, with a total output of 4.5 amps, so I can add external HDDs etc if I need to, as well as charge other devices. I also got a 2 metre, white, USB A to USB Micro B cable, to replace what may be called “damp string” cables by those in the know, a short cable that came with a phone charger, and a cheap and nasty USB extension cable that came with a very old wifi dongle or something. Why white? Because it trails down the wall from behind the TV, so white makes it blend in a bit better. I put a white antenna cable on the TV too, now I just need to find a couple of 2 metre white power cables with figure of 8 connectors for the TV and soundbar and my joy will be complete.
The Pi 1 is back in the shop, connected up to an old 27″ TV and an old stereo system, networked in to the shop network, and the Microsoft Media Center remote attached. It’s playing music off the hard drive attached to the router, and Kore on my phone is connecting and working as a remote quite successfully, so both PIs are set up as media centers, and making good use of stored music, existing hardware and low budget equipment.