DIY SmartTV

I recently stumbled upon some articles blaming SmartTVs for being dumb and/or intrusive.

Today I propose an alternative method to enjoy the benefits of SmartTVs features, replacing the junk food of big industry producers with an healthy diet of FLOSS hardware and software.

Materials

The things you’ll need are not expensive and much of them can be found in any house.

  • As the core of the SmartTV I opted for a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. It’s cheap and gets the work done very well. You can also go for a Raspberry Pi 2 to stay even cheaper.
  • Next you need to get a fast enough microSD card; a class 10 will do the job.
  • Obviously you need a television, it should have an HDMI port.
  • HDMI cable.
  • A power supply for your Raspberry Pi.
  • A container for the Raspberry Pi.

That’s the hardware; it costed me way less than 50€.

For the container I used a simple plastic chocolate box of the right size, and made a hole on the side.

Installation

Let’s get to the software: to get a fully functional, plug and play experience, I suggest you to download OSMC. You can find all the instructions to install it onto your SD card and get started in minutes. You will need to use a PC for this.

During the installation process, you will configure the network settings for the machine, so it will be already connected without any intervention. That will be really useful soon.

Plug the SD card in the Raspberry Pi, attach the HDMI cable and the power supply.

You should be able to remote control your SmartTV with your phone: if you use Android you can download Kore, the official remote for Kodi. Kore will automatically detect the session if everything was correctly configured.

Play

Now comes the fun part!

Right now you have a complete media box at your will. You can download music, images and movies from your pc, store them on an USB pen and plug that in your Raspberry Pi. But we can get more.

As of installation, you can install various addons: SoundCloud, YouTube, radio and so on…

Exploring on the web, anyway, opens a world of possibilities, where theoretically there is an app for everything. Actually there exists a complete suite of software to fetch and stream content from your favorite sports, series, movies, anime streaming websites.

For the Italian folks I suggest to visit https://www.androidaba.com/kodi-migliori-add-italiani/ where they can find a complete guide about that.

Alternative remote

I also managed to get a PS3 controller work as a remote via Bluetooth, instead of my phone. I do not really recommend that, as it is a bit flawed, but if you’re into that it’s worth the try.

Get the configuration settings here.