Introduction: Raspberry Pi Mobile Media Center With Smartphone Control

Picture of Raspberry Pi Mobile Media Center With Smartphone Control

Our main ideas of a perfect mobile media center are:

- watch videos or listen to your music anywhere (only power supply and a monitor/projector for videos required)

- easy control with your smartphone

- simple setup for non-programmers

- great sound and video quality

With a Raspberry Pi 2 and a powerful sound card like the HiFiBerry Amp+; together with an SD-Card with Max2Play and a simple WiFi Stick, you already have everything you need together!
This small tutorial shows how to easily set up Max2Play to get everything working. You do not need any knowledge of Linux or programming and just 5 minutes of time to set this up! There are various images, all free downloads.

Step 1: The Components and Their Purpose

Picture of The Components and Their Purpose

The essential parts required are:

- Raspberry Pi 2B
The heart of this media center is the affordable but powerful 2B, it can handle multiple audio and video players with its quad core processor and 1 GB RAM.

- USB WiFi Stick
A simple USB-connected WiFi Stick to use as an access point that lets us control the Pi from any device in its vicinity.

- MicroSD Card with Max2Play Image
The Linux-based Max2Play image includes the Kodi media center and various audio players and other extensions that can be managed from any web browser. Once burnt, the system works right away and does not require any further configuration.

- (Optional) A Sound Card for Better Audio Performance
The Max2Play image is perfect to optimize and configure sound cards like HiFiBerry's DAC+ and Amp+ with just a few clicks. These sound cards can make a huge difference in sound quality for a media center.

Step 2: Burn the Image on the MicroSD Card

Picture of Burn the Image on the MicroSD Card

The images for download on Max2Play are all packed in .rar or .zip files and can be burnt onto a card using a simple tool like the WinDiskImager for Windows. Just let it burn and once the process is done, put the card into the Raspberry Pi.

Optional: You can also order an already burnt and configured microSD card from Max2Play.

Step 3: Set Up the Access Point

Picture of Set Up the Access Point

To be able to access our Raspberry Pi from anywhere on the go with our smartphones and tablets, we have to set up an access point with our connected WiFi stick.
The Access Point Setup extension is a premium feature on Max2Play, so we need to have an activated account. Once this is the case, we can activate the extension. It is just a web page with a button saying "install". When we click it, the system automatically detects the WiFi Stick and sets it up as an access point for any outside devices.

Step 4: Setting Up Kodi

Picture of Setting Up Kodi

Since Kodi comes preinstalled freely on Max2Play, all we need to do is change a few configurations in its interface to control it from our smartphones.
Connected to a screen, we can get the video output from the Pi's HDMI jack to display Kodi with just a click. There, we need to go to System -> Settings -> Services where we need to tick “Allow programs on other systems to control Kodi” and “Allow control of Kodi via HTTP”. We can also enable AirPlay functionality for our Apple products.

Step 5: Control the Media Center With Apps

We can now make all our commands to the media center with one of the many great Kodi Apps for Android (e.g. Kore or Yatse) and iOS (Sybu or the official Kodi App). We can also still access our web interface from any device with WiFi and a web browser to change our Max2Play plugins.

If the software steps were hard to follow, above is a video showing each step in detail.

Max2Play is a new plug-and-play image for Raspberry Pi that is still evolving. If you have any questions or ideas regarding Max2Play, please visit our forums or contact us directly at Max2Play.com

Comments

DanL4 (author)2015-08-30

I've been looking for an easy solution for creating a wifi hotspot!

Will use it in vacations in the car/hotel room, taking all my music with me.

Will use it together with an external batter charger for power and a simple chargeable speaker.

Thanks!

ckroger65 (author)2015-08-18

I made this. I'm going to use it as the media center on my boat.

Using the Edimax wifi adapter on the RPi has a known issue of going to sleep. You need to add module options in /etc/modules.d/ to prevent that. Google it for details.

I used the Kodi iOS app and it works great. I'll try a few of the other ones too.

Adding music/movie sources only adds them to the Kodi library, it doesn't copy them to the local RPi storage, so the original location has to be available. Solution: copy the audio & video files to the RPi filesystem and THEN add them to the Kodi library, that way the media center is truly portable. A large SD card is better, or plug in a 128GB ($38) thumb drive with your media files on it.

ckroger65 (author)2015-08-14

Can I use the remote control apps for Kodi without using the built-in access point - only using a home wifi access point that the RPi and the smart phone are connected to?

Rgeneb1 (author)ckroger652015-08-14

Yes, The smartphone/tablet apps will connect to any kodi instance on the same network. Can even remember multiple instances of kodi so if you have one on each tv or different rooms you just select the one you want to control. I've used apps on iOS and android they couldnt be simpler to set up and use. Even easier than programming infrared remotes and the added advantage of no line of sight required if you want your media center behind the tv, for instance.

My advice is download and try 2 or 3 of the free apps, they all work but the interfaces are slightly different, personal preference wins out.

joelm145 (author)2017-02-27

Hi,

How can I connect a Blackberry Bold Q10 nano-keyboard to a raspberry?
I want to make my raspberry portable console with a nano-keyboard of a Blackberry Bold Q10 but i don't know how to connect it XD

bmckenna1982 (author)2016-07-12

How will this Max2Play solution function on a Pi Zero? This seems like exactly what I'm looking for to create a media center for the projector on the patio.

Max2Play (author)bmckenna19822016-07-14

We have not tested it yet on the Zero. But Max2Play is fully compatible with the Raspberry Pi Zero, thus it should work fine. However, you are more limited in your choice of sound card, we currently only support the IQaudIO DAC for the Zero.

bmckenna1982 (author)Max2Play2016-07-14

I'm unfamiliar with that their DAC for the Zero but I'll tale a look. Any plans to work with the Pimoroni pHat DAC? Those are incredibly popular with the Zero right now.

Max2Play (author)bmckenna19822016-07-19

Thanks for tip! We have not had any experience with this card yet, but we will look into it.

RomainB6 (author)2015-12-25

hi there, I just bought the right hardware, but now I would like to have a few broadcasting devices (rPi) but the main device should be on my server (like running this software in a VM or as a program on an existing ubuntu or debian) how should I do it ?

Max2Play (author)RomainB62016-01-05

Hi Romain,
You can have the RPi's acting only as players and install the Squeezebox Server-Software on any other device in your network that supports it. However, once the SBS is installed, you can access its menu from any browser and also use apps to control it.

RobW6 (author)2015-11-11

Maybe this is overkill, I don't know, but could you use this as a glorified iPod? I had a 160 classic that was stolen recently, and I'd like to find something to replace it with...

edwinkort (author)2015-10-23

What is the benefits of this over a complete Kodi install (OpenElec)

Max2Play (author)edwinkort2015-10-26

Hi edwinkort,

Max2Play is a very flexible control center you can easily adapt to your individual interests and wishes. It contains many more features like multiroom audio or even call blocking in your network and can be extended with plugins available on our website. Moreover, updating Max2Play is very convenient: New data is written quickly on your SD card without need to reboot your device afterwards.

Learn more about the features of Max2Play on our homepage: http://www.max2play.com/en/features/

baxmwale (author)2015-09-30

Ok am pretty much a newbie when it comes to the raspberry pi, i got my new raspberry pi like 2 days ago and i have been having trouble getting to the interface that lets me set up the access point. Is there a step missing or am i just the wrong image?

Max2Play (author)baxmwale2015-09-30

Hi baxmwale,
If you are using any of Max2Play's images (for Raspberry Pi it should either be the HiFiBerry image or the Squeezeplug image), you should be able to find it, once you have connected it to your local network (LAN), by typing "http://max2play/" into the browser of any of your devices using the local network. You can also look in your router's interface and see if the device "Max2Play is listed as a connected device.

sinao (author)2015-08-28

I have the raspberry pi one model B. Can I use it for this?

Max2Play (author)sinao2015-09-07

Yes, but expect the performance not to be as good since the RPi one does not have the same power.

dmagryta124 (author)sinao2015-08-28

I'm using that model raspberry pi with OSMC.

maspeir (author)2015-08-28

How about a link to that case? At the very least, the name of it so that I can find it myself.

Max2Play (author)maspeir2015-09-01

Hi maspeir,
The case is available in our store shop.max2play.com/en/

ythpstrmoby (author)2015-08-28

has anyone tried adding this to their car inorder to replace the indash head unit

dmagryta124 (author)2015-08-28

I made a similar media center with OSMC as the operating system. It runs on a 2GB SD card quite well. I like OSMC for its simplicity and auto updating. It runs Kodi. Be sure you get a USB hub for any raspberry pi media center.

AhmadG5 (author)2015-08-28

If you use raspbian you can install Rygel it's the same as kodi

add repository to the sources.list

http://rygel-project.org/raspbian/

nayaknayan (author)2015-08-20

Why use Max2Play if I am going to end up using Kodi in the end? Openelec or Xbian will work without having to have an "activated" account.

Max2Play (author)nayaknayan2015-08-25

Hi nayaknayan,
The Premium Account is only necessary if you want to use the Access Point feature for mobile access. Kodi and a bunch of other extensions come preinstalled and free on the free Max2Play image.

TimM26 (author)2015-08-20

Beyond the techno gobbledygook, what does this actually do?? If I want to play videos I can putting them on my TV via miracast on my smartphone. So what is the purpose?

Fyi...The trouble with some of these high tech Lifehacker type projects is that they're not explained in simple enough language for the layperson.

+1

Max2Play (author)TimM262015-08-21

Hi Tim,
The most interesting thing about this setup, in my opinion, is the mobile factor. Once the Access Point is installed with one click, you can control the music und video playback of the device from any smartphone or tablet, anywhere you like. You do not need a local network or even an internet connection. The Raspberry can directly be accessed by your other WiFi-functional devices.
Say you want to show a movie or play an album somewhere in the park on in your garden without internet access. This setup makes it easy and fun to find those new applications for your Raspberry Pi.

If you have any more questions about this media center application or any anything else related to Max2Play, please free to write us again here or in our forums.

rpb (author)TimM262015-08-20

I was thinking the same thing: "watch videos anywhere" - I can do that already on my tablet. So what does this thing actually do? Could someone please explain it for those of us who've never had a media centre? Thanks.

Huckleberry Friend (author)rpb2015-08-20

Where these really come in handy is if you have a lot of movies or shows that you have stored on a hard drive. Then you can use your own media center much like you would search for something on Netflix, it would just be your own files. You can also have stuff such as Pandora, Netflix, YouTube, and other things like that on there. I was hoping to do this until I found out that it is illegal to copy DVDs even when I own them. It does work nice for the streaming services I do use right now (except that you can't do Amazon Prime). For me, this is a good setup because I use it on a tv that only has RCA jacks on the back. If I had HDMI input, I would probably just use Chromecast as it costs about the same as the raspberry pi by itself and would have more access to channels I would watch. If you are the kind of person that buys digital copies of movies or who doesn't mind flouting the DRM laws, then you could put the files on a thumb drive and watch them on your tv without internet access.

Of course, if you like just watching stuff on your tablet, then this would be useless to you unless you are a geek and just like to play with these kinds of gadgets.

Dude.. it is NOT illegal to copy DVD's when you physicaly own them... its called fair use.

While it may now be legal in the UK, as far as I can tell it is illegal to break DRM in the US which makes copying DVD's that have DRM illegal. I've looked at multiple websites trying to find a loophole but haven't found one yet. Here is a pretty good explanation http://lifehacker.com/5978326/is-it-legal-to-rip-a-dvd-that-i-own. You can do what you like but I try to live by the law to the best of my ability. The problem is not really those who make a copy for "personal use", it's those who distribute copies that are the problem.

DocSocrates (author)TimM262015-08-21

Huck summarized it pretty well, issues of law and/or ethics aside. I would humbly suggest you try a Google Image search on the words "kodi skins". That will give you a screen full of eye candy, and you can make up your own mind whether all this is worth the effort.

With all due respect to the author of this Instructable, a lot of people are reading it just thinking about having an HTPC, not so much a "mobile" one. Can you do it on a RasPi? Damn right you can!

Our first HTPC was a RasPi running OpenElec XBMC 13.something. We used it for a good long time and seriously it worked great. Couldn't run all the heavy-weight skins like Aeon Nox, but there are some amazing light weight skins like Amber, and many others.

And once you've had your DIY RasPi HTPC for a while and made a hobby of it, go ahead buy an Intel NUC. Or, get an Amazon Fire TV stick or brick and sideload Kodi (I'm currently doing that, it works fantastic). I assume you could sideload it on a Chromecast stick, but I haven't tried.

The point here, gentlemen and ladies, is that the RaspberryPi is a cool toy. But Kodi is the real star of the show. However you can get Kodi to run, you should do it.

bpwmd (author)2015-08-21

Can this play netflix?!?! Or even general web sorry im not familiar with raspberries

Yandle (author)bpwmd2015-08-21

Currently no netflix, but it can stream youtube content like a boss.

Huscarl (author)2015-08-20

How big an external hard drice can this read?

paappraiser (author)Huscarl2015-08-20

I have a NAS with 4tb.. no problem

nayaknayan (author)Huscarl2015-08-20

There is no upper limit as far as I can tell. I used one with 3.0 TB and it works like a charm

epitts2 (author)2015-08-18

Is there a way to control it with something other than a smartphone? I want to make this for my grandmother, but she can't use a smartphone.

Mark Gilman (author)epitts22015-08-20

Have a look at the FLIRC - RPI USB XBMC IR REMOTE RECEIVER

You can program it to receive any remote controls signals, very easy to use and £20 in the UK

caperjack (author)epitts22015-08-18

i coulkd not get max2play to setup properly so i just went back to useing openelec ,or raspian weezey with kodi installed ,and control it with a mouse or my wireless keyboard

Max2Play (author)caperjack2015-08-19

We are sorry, you encountered problems with our software. The most common issues come when you forget to expand your filesystem at first and cannot use the full memory capacity.
Control via mouse or keyboard is the same with Max2Play. May I ask what your problems were with Max2Play's setup?

Max2Play (author)epitts22015-08-19

When connect to a Smart TV, you might be able to control it with the Remote Control of the TV itself, depending on the TV. You can also connect any periphery via USB to control Kodi, like wireless mouses or controllers.

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Bio: Max2Play offers a browser based administration interface for mini-computers like Raspberry Pi and Odroid on a Linux basis. With Max2Play, applications, so-called Max2Play extensions can ... More »
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