So when I was putting together the lobby at work I got a big tv and a cheap little stick PC. The idea being that the TV would sit there and look good while the little PC would loop a video playlist. Setup was pretty easy, the stick PC came with Windows 10 preinstalled and all I had to do was round up the videos, build a playlist, and drop it into the startup sequence. This worked great for a while, but Windows 10 has a reputation for being difficult and soon began constantly whining about updates and storage space and storage for updates and updating the storage. You get the Idea. And every update slowed the system down significantly and used more and more of the little 32GB drive. Eventually, this little PC couldn’t keep up, and instead of playing my simple video loop, it would only loop error messages about storage space and system updates.
Enter the Pi
So… using a Raspberry Pi for a video display is by no means a new or innovative idea. The Pi zero is cheap, stable, has HDMI video output, and can be powered by the little usb jack on the back of the TV (well, the pi zero can be, a Pi3B+ wouldn’t be very happy).
I knew from doing the Simpsons Duff Can Shuffler that the Pi Zero has plenty of power to run full screen HD video, and that scripting video playback is a pretty straight forward thing. I also know that just pulling the plug on a Pi (or turning off the TV that’s supplying your power) is a great way to corrupt your software, so this little guy is getting the file system locked down once I get everything setup. Read only for the win!
Pi Zero & SD card
a simple 3d printed case
A fresh install of Raspbian Stretch Lite 2018.11.03
sudo apt-get install omxplayer
FTP my video files onto the SD card
and some help from the interwebs:
Link to Video Loop discussion
Link to Read Only script tool
And with that, the Lobby Looper was born! (I might need to think up a better name for this…)
It powers up with the TV, takes <30 seconds to boot up, plays whatever video files are in the designated folder, and isn’t going to corrupt and die when you cut the power (well… fingers crossed. This is probably never going to see a correct shutdown sequence ever again, so we’ll see 🙂 ). So, easy setup, easy install, easy to show the guys how to operate (turn on TV and don’t mess with it), and should be pretty trouble free. Oh, and it’ll be easy to add videos to later.
And now with short wires and some double sided tape. Much better!