How to create a media center with your Raspberry Pi Zero W

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Media over internet are gaining increasing importance in our life and in our homes. In this article I will show you how to create a complete media center with a 35$ kit.
The software solution I will use is OSMC, based on popular Kodi.

What do you need

HARDWARE

  • Raspberry PI zero W kit (including at least also case, USB adapater and power supply)
  • 1 micro SD card (at least 8 GB, preferrably class 10) with an SD adapter
  • 1 HDMI cable (be aware that PI Zero has a mini HDMI port!)
  • a USB/wireless keyboard

You can find in Amazon or other e-commerce vendors many offers related to starter kits (for example give a try here) which includes part of above component.
You also need a PC (notebook or desktop) with an SD card reader

SOFTWARE

  • OSMC disk image (you can download it from here, used version 2018.03-2)
  • an image flashing software like, for example, Etcher

Step-by-step guide

Download and install in your PC Etcher.
Download OSMC disk image in a local folder.
Insert your SD card in your PC/SD card reader.
Run Etcher in you PC.

Etcher


Click over Select Image and select OSMC disk image previously downloaded. Now Etcher should also have recognised your SD card. Otherwise, click change and select correct SD card.

Etcher_2


Click on “Flash! button and wait for operation to be completed

Etcher_3


Now it’s time to switch to hardware mode (Iron Man quote! 😉 ).
Extract SD card from you PC and insert it in your Raspberry.

Rasp_schedaSD


Now insert the motherboard inside its case and complete connecting cables. In the following pitcture:

  1. power supply
  2. USB adapter (connected to keyboard)
  3. mini HDMI cable
Rasp_cavi num.jpg

Now attach you raspberry to your TV and then attach it to power. The OS will be installed. At the end, you will be asked to select language and confirm:

OSMC select language
OSMC confirm language

The select your timezone:

OSMC select timezone

and set device name (you can also leave osmc) and clic “Accept”

OSMC select hostname

Now you will be asked if you want to leave SSH enabled to allow remote access via network (for example Putty). This is at your choise, depending also in security of network you are connected to.

OSMC select ssh enabled

License will start scrolling in your screen. It is long to ready, but it is correct to be completely aware of limitations and conditions relatedo to a product, so take a read and then press “Continue”

OSMC confirm license

It’s time to setup your internet connection. Select “I’d like to set up networking manually”

OSMC manual networking conf

Pi Zero has only bluetooth and Wifi networking, so in my case I will go to Wireless connection. Go to Wireless (1), then Enable Adapter (2), select your WiFi connection (mine one is named Voyager-3) and confirm in next screen:

Rasp_OSMC_netw2.jpg

Insert your WiFi connection password (if set) and click “Done”:

Rasp_OSMC_passwd.jpg

Once wlan interface is connected, we can move on and exit

Rasp_OSMC_net_conn.jpg

Now you are asked to choose your favourite Theme. I will chose OSMC, which is clean and clear:

Rasp_OSMC_theme.jpg

Now you can give (or not) your availability to receive newsletter about OSMC. My chose is “No thanks” (I will subscribe me to newsletter via OSMC site):

Rasp_OSMC_news.jpg

We are finally adviced that OSMC configuration has finished. Click “Exit”:

OSMC complete setup

Now enjoy your new media centre!

Rasp_OSMC_home.jpg

Default user: osmc
Default password: osmc

Final considerations

Configuring OSMC on Raspberry PI is really simple. But OSMC power resides in its add-ons, that make available to you an incredible number of media content. But you can also simply connect OSMC to your local storage (for example a NAS) to easily reach your media and show them over your TV.

Some add-ons can give you the posibility to view live events, but they depends on trasmitting server capacity and sometimes it can be frustrating when video stays continuously buffering because of server lack of capacity. Some articles tell about improvements gained by VPNs, but honestly I don’t think that any VPN can help a streaming if the problem is at streaming source.

Check hardware prices with following links:

Amazon raspberry pi boards box
Amazon raspberry pi Zero W box
Amazon Micro SD box