A KODI based Touch Board Media Centre

This month, we have Pete Wood from RS Components writing about his KODI based Touch Board Media Centre.

I’ve been messing about with Raspberry Pi-based media centres for a number of years now. Loaded up with applications like a KODI, not only is it probably the most common use for a Raspberry Pi, but it’s also one of the simplest and inexpensive projects to do.

Our Touch Board Media Centre was built by one of our DesignSpark Bloggers, Stuart. We asked him to build something that we could use to show our DesignSpark Videos at events and for visitors to our RS Components offices. We didn’t need all the functions of a standard keyboard, so we thought it would be cool to create a sturdy box that we could cart around and quickly connect it up to a screen. The videos are stored on a USB Stick so we can easily add new ones.

Here it is in action at the Electronica show in Munich back in November last year.

The key bits of hardware are a Bare Conductive Touch Board, some Bare Conductive Electric Paint, and a Raspberry Pi with an Amplifier HAT (To drive some speakers). It also has a Power Supply Unit so we only need to have one plug. All this was placed in a box with a Perspex lid, where we applied Electric Paint to create buttons that are connected to the Touch Board and assigned to different function keys like “Play”, “Stop” “Select”.

The evolution of our Touch Board Media Centre.

After many years, my collection of DVD’s, Blu-rays and CD’s had started to take over the house. My kids leave discs out, which get scratched and CD cases getting cracked from being used as makeshift fairy houses or cover during Nerf gun fights. I finally decided that enough was enough, and I recently finished digitising all my movies and music and they now sit on a NAS drive (basically a network hard drive) ready to serve our TV’s and mobile devices.

The most common things shouted around our house are:

– Where are my keys?

– Daddy, can I watch Tinkerbell on the big TV in the living room?

– Where’s the remote control for the TV?!

So, I’m now thinking that using the concept of our Touch Media Box, it would be cool to pimp up the TV in Playroom. This would help solve the last two most commonly asked questions in the Wood household. My girls can watch Tinkerbell in the Playroom, whilst I watch Terminator in the lounge, and our tiny Smart TV remote has less of a chance of going missing, only to be found in the Sylvanian Families caravan as it’s the perfect size for a camp bed…

The TV in the Playroom isn’t a Smart TV, so a KODI based Raspberry Media Centre is an ideal solution for serving movies to it, that are sitting on the NAS drive. What you also need is a way to control it, so together, this is where electric paint and a media centre can make a fun but practical interface.

Now the Touch Media Centre that we use for work, is something you can’t lose down the back of your sofa, as it’s a bit bulky! Based on the project Stuart Childs shared on DesignSpark, who also built our box this is how I plan on modifying it.

In its simplest form, you’re going to need:

– A Raspberry Pi (3 is best as has built in Wireless) + Power Supply

– A Bare Conductive Touch Board

– Cables – A USB Cable (For the Touchboard to the Pi, and an HDMI Cable to the TV)

– A jar of Bare Conductive Electric Paint

– A sheet of clear Perspex

Stuart’s DesignSpark project post mentioned earlier will guide you through setting up.spex

The Touch pad interface

I was initially thinking that I could paint the touch keys onto the wall, but this is likely to get a thumbs down for Mrs Wood. It then occurred to me that the TV sits on a stand with glass shelf. We no longer need to DVD player, so I’m planning on replacing the glass shelf with a clear Perspex sheet cut to size, and then mount the Touch Board to it.

I might even add some LED strips to illuminate it.

It will look something like this.

Once connected up to my NAS Drive, I’m ready to roll!

Here’s to no more scratched DVD’s or lost remote controls (apart from the TV one of course, that’s another potential future hack!) and Tinkerbell can stay in her rightful place… The kids Playroom.

Pete Wood works at RS Components, where he looks after the DesignSpark Engineering Community. Pete has worked in the Electronics Industry for over 18 years, he loves technology, gadgets and tinkering with stuff.

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