Loading DesignSpark, please wait...

We apologise for the slowness of this page You are using Internet Explorer 6, upgrading your browser will greatly enhance your experience using DesignSpark

The gateway to online resources and design support for engineers, powered by RS ComponentsAllied


Raspberry Pi goes to the movies

Posted by peterjfrancis on



There have been so many words written about the Raspberry Pi in the last    few weeks I thought it was about time I added my few hundred to the mix.  

 First off I am NOT a Linux guru by any stretch of the imagination , I know  that ls -l will list a directory and mkdir will create one but that is about it .  So i’ll leave the real technical stuff to others, what I want to focus on is using  the Raspbery Pi as a Media Centre.


An Apple a day

I have to admit I have a bit of a thing about media centres, I’ve played around with various varieties but never really invested the cold hard cash in the top of the range components to make them successful.
So you can imagine how pleased I was when my son bought me an Apple TV (Mk 1)  shortly after its release. Over the following years it got a lot of use , I even loaded XBMC & Boxee onto it to extend its usefulness. When the new improved Mk 2 came out one seemed to find its way into my living room rather swiftly and the Mk 1 was retired to the bedroom where it has continued to prove its worth.

Time for some Pi ?
I first heard of the Raspberry Pi toward the end of last year and reading the specification I thought the 1080p output was probably just a gimmick , that idea was soon dispelled when the videos started to appear on YouTube of prototype hardware running movies in 1080p, no stuttering or pixelation, very impressive. I began to think this Raspberry Pi thing might even catch on !

And the Nominations are …..
I was lucky enough to get one of the first batch of Raspberry Pi’s with the aim of checking out its capability as a Media Centre. So first a bit of research via our good friend the internet revealed the following were either available or soon to be available for the Raspberry Pi ;



OpenELEC Link
Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center, or OpenELEC for short, is a small Linux distribution built from scratch as a platform to turn your computer into a complete XBMC media center.  This is currently being massaged into shape for use on the Raspberry Pi

Stephan Raue the founder of OpenELEC and main developer has put up the source for OpenELEC along with instructions for compiling it and putting it on an SD card.

Part 1 - OpenELEC meets Raspberry Pi - Building from Source
Part 2 - OpenELEC meets Raspberry Pi - Creating a bootable SD card

Even if you don’t plan to compile your own copy it is worth reading the above posts as they are well written and provide a mini tutorial on compiling and linux, its so good to see developers taking the time to explain what's happening rather than just assuming everybody knows.

Raspbmc Link

A minimal Linux distribution created by Sam Nazarko it’s based on Debian and brings XBMC to the Raspberry Pi. It is still in the early stages of being ported onto the Raspberry Pi. So this is a site to keep an eye on over the coming weeks.

In the next blog I’ll take you through the compiling and running of OpenELEC.

Other Blogs in this Series

Raspberry Pi goes to the movies - Part 2

I hope you enjoy my blogs feel free to comment either below or via Twitter @peterjfrancis




  • clippingpaths Avatar clippingpaths

    Posted by clippingpaths at

    Can you tell about GPIO lines?

  • mansoor ahmed Avatar mansoor ahmed

    Posted by mansoor ahmed at

    i have been working in raspberry pi for past 2 months only, i am having a doubt that can i control the brightness and capture of image using GPIO lines , if possible please give me some idea regarding that.

  • daklak Avatar daklak

    Posted by daklak at

    Last evening I spoke to a friend who is using RPi's in a production environment to which he has cameras attached. He had them up and running before the Foundation announced their product.

    The camera he uses is a: Minicam 300K 1:2.5 / TDC32

    Camera size: 2.1875"x2.6875"x0.5"
    Ulead Software Included: Photo Album, Editing, Printing, Sharing&Web studio. +Neckstrap+USB Cable

    Dual Function Digital Camera:
    Digital Still Camera function: Image Capture
    PC Camera function: Video Capturing/Conferencing
    AVI function: Movie clips
    Sensor: CMOS Sensor
    Resolution: 300K Pixels(VGA 640x480)
    Memory: 64Mbit SDRAM

    He said he last saw them at around USD$7 on E-Bay.

    Mini-Digital-Cam-TDC-32.jpg (2.74 KiB) Not viewed yet

    He said he used them complete with their cases and brought ribbon cables out through SD memory connector slots.

  • daklak Avatar daklak

    Posted by daklak at

    The RPi camera was a long time in coming and I have used cameras (carefully) removed from cell handsets to 'bridge the gap' in the delay.

    In fact, using a recovered camera has advantages - it comes complete with a bezel and a nice, but oversized, case.

    The more modern cell handsets conveniently have two cameras - two for the price of one, with different focal lengths.

    CellCams.gif (16.65 KiB) Not viewed yet

Leave a comment