Recently, we saw presented the media center operating systems that are available for Raspberry Pi. In this post, let us look at 7 Raspberry Pi accessories you may need to build a low-power HTPC. The objective is to be able to play media from a home server, over the wireless network, on Raspberry Pi running XBMC. Raspberry Pi, the $35 credit-card sized PC/board, has all the necessary outputs to accomplish this, including a HDMI port and 2 USB ports. The picture below shows a schematic of the locations of various ports on the Raspberry Pi board. Now let us look at what Raspberry Pi accessories you may need to build a good media center.
Raspberry Pi Accessories for Media Center
At the time of writing this post, almost all of the media center software available for Raspberry Pi were based on XBMC. No matter which operating system you decide to use, the Raspberry Pi accessories listed below may be needed. Note that these are just recommendations based on research and trials. You may find other accessories that fit your need better. The key is to make sure that the Linux drivers offer full support for these Raspberry Pi accessories and their hardware. A good reference guide to see all compatible hardware is available here.
1. Audio and Video
Audio and video are integral part of any media center. The Model B Raspberry Pi supports both analog (RCA video and 3.5 mm audio) and digital formats (HDMI). Needless to say, if you want digital HD audio and video then HDMI is your only choice. Plus, you also reduce the number of cables running between devices. You can normally find great cables with latest standards for just a few dollars.
Compatible HDMI Cable: AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (6.5 Feet/2.0 Meters) – Supports Ethernet, 3D, and Audio Return [Newest Standard] ($5.79)
2. USB Wifi Adapter
Wireless adapters are one the trickiest hardware pieces to get working in Linux. Thankfully, the open-source community has worked hard to list the Raspberry Pi compatible hardware here. Several factors such as Wireless G or N, location, adapter’s reception potential, etc. affect Wireless performance. In general, in this case its best to learn from others experience and do enough research prior to purchasing a wireless adapter for your Raspberry Pi. [Read: 5 Best Raspberry Pi Wifi adapters for you media center]
Compatible USB Wifi Adapter: GMYLE Wireless N/G USB WiFi Adapter (Realtek RTL8191US) with high gain 5dBi Antenna Up to 300Mbps ($13.90)
The operating system you run (OpenELEC, Raspbian, Xbian, etc.) also influence the compatibility as some of them may have the drivers pre-installed. Those with Realtek chipsets tend to have better compatibility. If they do not work, you can use the following command to install the driver or follow this thread:
sudo apt-get install firmware-realtek
3. USB IR Remote
A good remote is one of the most important Raspberry Pi accessories. Imagine having to get up and use the mouse or the keyboard to control or having to use your phone control your Raspberry Pi. I prefer to control my device using a IR remote: that way I can control everything using my Logitech Harmony universal remote.
This page, lists all the remote that can be used with Raspberry Pi. One of the most common ways seems to be to get the FLIRC USB dongle and configure LIRC. For the basic purpose of being able to control XBMC on Raspberry Pi, it seems to be too much work and an overkill. I recommend getting a very basic cheap USB MCE remote that mimics a keyboard and mouse.
Compatible USB IR Remote: SANOXY Wireless USB PC Remote Control Mouse for PC ($8.60)
I currently, use this remote and have written in detail about how to make this remote work with XBMC and Logitech Harmony remote.
Continue to nextpage to see more Raspberry Pi accessories.