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Status Update: Raspberry Pi as a Wi-Fi Bridge

We’re three weeks on from installing the new Vizio M65 and its associated Tivo Mini. As described previously, the Tivo Mini needed Ethernet, so I used a Raspberry Pi 3 as a Wi-Fi bridge.

At the outset, this arrangement seemed to work. However, several times the Mini lost its network connection. In particular, when rebooted it would often fail to re-establish connection to the Roamio Pro that has the tuners and all the stored programming.

In that state, on the network but unable to find the main unit, the Mini has limited functionality. It can only access streaming media accounts like Netflix, Amazon Prime or YouTube. It does this directly, with no help from the Roamio Pro.

I suspect that the Mini, which is by no means a high-performance device, suffers network issues poorly. In fact, both Roamio Pro and Tivo Mini are old and likely prone to trouble resulting from network latency or instability.

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Raspberry Pi as a Wi-Fi Bridge

Raspberry Pi are fun little devices. They’re a bit like rabbits in that they tend to multiply. We started out with one as a replacement for a failed Squeezebox, and now have 6 or 8 of them around here. Most are media players running PiCorePlayer. The availability of the Pi4 inspired me to deploy one as a media server, running PiCorePlayer with Logitech Media Server. Yet another Pi4 hosts our local instance of Home Assistant.

Of course, with several RPi deployed it only seems sensible to have a spare on hand. So I usually have a Pi3 and Pi4 readily available for whatever tinkering occurs to me. Earlier experiments with Dicaffeine for example.

We recently installed a new television in our living room. That room had been without a TV for years, but it was decided that a particularly large open wall would be a good place to put a larger TV. A new Vizio M65 now fills that void.

The Vizio M65 is the larger and newer brother to the M50 that’s been in our family room for several years. In 2016, 50” was the largest that was deemed acceptable, both in terms of price and spousal approval. In 2020, it seems that 65” is the new normal and price/performance sweet spot.

The new TV is installed. It connects to our Wi-Fi without issue. That satisfies the requirement for access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, CBS All Access and Disney+.

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Logitech Squeezebox 3 vs PiCorePlayer on Raspberry Pi 3B+

Long, long ago, in the earliest days of this blog, I described my DIY approach to a whole house audio system. The strategy centers around a collection of Logitech Squeezebox 3 streaming audio players, each mated to a pair of powered audio monitors. All this worked great until the aging SB3s started to fail. Drying electrolytic capacitors cause arthritis in electronics.

Squeezebox_v3

Faced with failing SB3s, and the occasional desire to grow the installation, I resorted to using a most excellent combination of the Raspberry Pi3 B+ single board computer running PiCorePlayer in combination with a HifiBerry DAC. I’ve got HiFiBerry DAC+ where –10 dbm RCA output is suitable and DAC Plus Pro XLR where +4 dbm XLR balanced output is required.

hifiberry dac  in steel case

The RPi, HiFiBerry and PiCorePlayer combination work great! They outperform the original SqueezeBox 3 in every way, save the lack of an IR remote control. Also, they cost less, even with the fancy metal case.

hifiberry pro xlr in case

All the above is preface to help explain something that I discovered this past weekend. There’s a fundamental difference between the behavior of the SB3 and a RPi/HFB combination.

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NDI-to-HDMI on the cheap?

There is no question that Newtek’s NDI is rocking the world of video production. Whether in corporate video, educational video, live streaming or low-end broadcast, it allows a transition to IP transport that’s profoundly attractive in many ways.

NDI delivers high quality video at very low latency, under one frame of video. A 1080p60 NDI stream requires at most around 150 mbps. This is ideal for production applications, which are quite separate from transmission/delivery, where lower bitrates are preferred and some seconds of delay is tolerable.

ClueCon NDI Feed on Monitor

In the early days of NDI, if you needed to view an NDI signal on a monitor that required a Windows PC running NDI Studio Monitor. This is an application that can pick the stream off the network and display it on a monitor. It has some nice features, like the ability to overlay a second stream (picture-in-picture) and show audio metering.

I used this approach at Cluecon 2018, with a very small PC purchased just for the task (pictured above.)

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