the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Category Archives: Raspberry Pi

raspberry pi 3, a02082 (Sony, UK)

Yes, back at it. I got an Logitech Wireless Touch keyboard for Xmas and just got around to setting it up with my Raspberry Pi 3. I have the rPi connected to my TV via HDMI and all that mess of keyboard and mouse wires was just too much. So given that the rPi 3 – I have the one made in the UK – now has built-in bluetooth and wireless, connecting the keyboard was a snap.

I re-flashed the SD card with the latest NOOBS 2.11 and reinstalled Raspbian Jessie (8) with Pixel. Pixel is the new desktop environment for the rPi. It now has Chromium browser preinstalled (which does not crash!) and after using it, I can say that the Raspberry Pi has finally arrived: It’s a usable operating system, perfect for connecting to my giant TV.

wireless-touch-keyboard-k400r-glamour-lg-jpg

 

 

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raspberry pi 3

You know, every time I get a new raspberry pi computer, a month or so later there’s a new and improved model out. So that rPi 2 B I got the kids for Xmas is now rendered obsolete by the latest rPi 3 B. Built-in wifi and bluetooth, faster processor  from the 64bit 1.2GHz quad-core chipset, faster RAM and GPU, and hopefully the same footprint because I really like the fancy “official” case they are in.

BTW, I did pickup a rPi Zero for $5, but until I find an HDMI-mini to HDMI cable that costs less than $5, I guess it will just remain in its wrapper.

audio bliss with the piCorePlayer + HiFiBerry

If one thing has changed in the past forty years of my listening to music, it’s not the music; as Lemmy said in his documentary, (to paraphrase) “you always return to the music of your youth because that’s when you figured out what music you like”. What has changed is how I listen to music; as much as I still enjoy flipping a vinyl record over (and that delicious analogue sound), nothing beats the convenience of digital streaming. Basically, I want all my music on a computer so I can access it, with a click, wherever I may be.

Not like any of this is new. Since the iTunes revolution, music has been reduced to ones and zeros, in more ways than one. The album has vanished, and CDs are mere content delivery units. Services such as Spotify, Pandora, Google Music, Amazon Prime, iTunes Airplay, etc… are the new record stores, serving and predicting what music one wants to hear. Their respective apps, and devices such as Sonos, Beep, Amazon Echo, and the newly announced Chromecast Audio are all there to push that music your way.

But I want my music, the music on my computer. Logitech Media Server, aka SlimServer or Squeezebox Server, has been my go-to for music streaming for probably a decade now. Problem is Logitech stopped making Squeezeboxes years ago. Beep seemed like a nice substitute, but honestly it mostly crashes, far too often to be considered usable.

Screenshot from 2015-09-30 04:04:27

The most elegant and inexpensive solution is the Raspberry Pi equipped with a HiFiBerry DAC running piCorePlayer. The latter has made some serious leaps in the past year in terms of usability and stability, and with the addition of the HifiBerry, sonically as well. So all of this is a long winded way of giving the trio another, hopefully louder shout-out for earning the top spot in my hifi rig. It works, it’s simple and it sounds fantastic. Thank you!

On the web:
piCorePlayer

raspberry pi 2 b

Well, just about six weeks after I purchased a raspberry pi b+ a new, vastly improved model is released. Faster multicore processor and double the RAM mean it’s much nearer to a real PC than ever. One will probably need recompiled software to take advantage of the multicore processor.

  • A 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU (~6x performance)
  • 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM (2x memory)
  • Complete compatibility with Raspberry Pi 1

On the web: http://www.raspberrypi.org/raspberry-pi-2-on-sale/

new year brings model b+, beep, chromebook

Happy holidays and all that. Xmas brought a few new electronics to the household, here’s a very brief recap:

Raspberry Pi B+ replaced the old model B. I have a feeling that the old one was a dud somehow because every time it had an unclean shutdown, I had to reformat the SD card. Anyway, in with the new out with the old.

I received my Beep unit just before the holidays, in fact, even before email notification of the shipment. But of what use is a music player – one that handles digital output btw – if there is not any software that can access the music that you actually own!?! In a box it will sit until I can use it with something other than Spotify or Pandora.

The Acer Chromebook is quite nice, though the keyboard takes a little getting used to. Supervised mode is a bust because although you can limit/restrict web access, it is not possible to allow a supervised user the use of apps or extensions.  Really Google?

raspberry pi b+

New revision of the Raspberry Pi model B board! Take a look!

rsz_b-

On the web:
Introducing Raspberry Pi Model B+ | Raspberry Pi

HiFiBerry DAC

hifiberry-kit

HiFiBerry

Arriving today from Switzerland, the €36 (delivered) HiFiBerry is a “high-resolution digital-to-analog converter for the Raspberry Pi …with a Dedicated 192kHz/24bit high-quality Burr-Brown DAC for best sound quality.” The daughter-board plugs directly onto the RPi’s onboard connector P5, but does require you to solder an 8-pin header to the RPi in order to do so. You’ll also need to solder the output(s) you want on the HiFiBerry as well. Easy enough, I had it connected in a few minutes, and did a quick check to see if the RPi recognized it, then went to the piCorePlayer web interface to configure it to send sound through the HiFiBerry.

aplay -l
card 1: sndrpihifiberry [snd_rpi_hifiberry_dac], device 0: HifiBerry DAC HiFi pcm5102a-hifi-0 []

How does it sound? Fantastic, very clean and detailed, in a word, audiophile grade. The key is Inter-IC Sound or I2S. You can read all about it here but it’s a short, isolated path for PCM data, with extremely low jitter. Which is a great thing, because both analog out and USB audio on the RPi weren’t optimal for quality sound. No noticeable noise floor (as I’m running the TA2024 without a volume pot), it’s a dead silent performer (which is a great thing). Cheers to the RPi people for making I2S available on the Pi, and to the HiFiBerry folks for an affordable, high quality product.

IMG_20140331_151340

piCorePlayer

Screenshot from 2014-03-23 18:59:18

piCorePlayer

Another Raspberry Pi distro today, this one is piCorePlayer, a “dedicated Squeezebox player .. for your Raspberry pi board.. that runs a Microcore and Squeezelite.” Small it is, I used an ancient Palm 64MB SD card to write the image on, and it runs in RAM so no need to worry about the image ever getting corrupt; you can simply unplug the RPi to stop it. Everything worked effortlessly, I even got the USB wireless going, along with the USB DAC from Xitel. The RPi shows up in Logitech Media Server just as any other Squeezebox player. The benefit here is that I don’t have another interface to get used to; I am already using ol’ Slimserver. piCorePlayer supports a lot of outputs from the RPi, including analog audio, hdmi, usb audio (though the tweak for fixing crackles didn’t really work for me), and the I2S interface, which means I’ll be able to try it when I receive my HifiBerry!

update: upgraded to piCoreplayer 1.14d crackles still remain via usb output.

Volumio

volumio

Microcenter has Raspberry Pi Model B on sale for $30 so I picked one up for the basement. I have the HiFiBerry DAC on order, but wanted to try out a few of the other distros for the RPi. Volumio, formerly known as RaspyFi , bills itself as “a truly new listening experience”. It’s an optimized OS for audio quality, probably not too high on security, but offers support for the HiFiBerry’s I2S data path. Any browser on the local network can access it’s minimal web interface, but since it runs MPD, pretty much any MPC client can control it.

Downloaded the image, connected the RPi via ethernet, and most importantly, plugged in an old Xitel AN-1 DAC that I’m really happy to have found. Not sure why, but Volumio doesn’t use the analog audio output on the RPi. Anyway, up and running, I setup a mount to my music on a NAS drive, waited for it to update mpd’s database, rebooted, and bingo, it all works.

Purpose-built for turning your RPi into an audio player (though conspicuously absent on the details), the ui is the biggest drawback from for Volumio. Too much mouse movement, too much clicking. However the sound quality was fantastic.

volumio

Other notes: The timezone was off, ntp could’nt get it right. Here’s how to fix it:
sudo rm /etc/localtime
sudo ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Tokyo /etc/localtime

Still can’t Wifi going, will try with another distro to make sure it isn’t the usb mini.

how to make raspberry pi