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2017

We recently went on holiday and I took my laptop & VGA cable with me. It was my intention to hook it up to the TV and play some media on it to keep the kids happy on rainy days (pretty essential in the UK!). It turned out the TV had the VGA port covered up by the mounting bracket, so we ended up putting the laptop on a chair and watching videos from there; it did the job, but there was a perfectly good TV I could have used.

 

At home we have a Fire TV Stick that runs Kodi, but the problem with Fire TV is that it has to have an internet connection, otherwise it refuses to run any apps. I'd rather not have to tether it to my phone all the time.

 

Next time I'll be more prepared; I've put together a compact and flexible setup consisting of a Raspberry Pi 2 running OpenElec (and Kodi) together with a set of cables allowing me to hook it up to pretty much any TV. The Pi runs Kodi really well; the OpenElec distribution boots really quickly & has good Wifi and BlueTooth support.

 

Cable-wise, I've got a 1m standard HDMI cable, which will be used in most situations.. with a 2m HDMI extension lead if I can't get the Pi near enough to the TV (some accommodation doesn't have power sockets where you'd expect them). I've also got a RCA lead, with a SCART adaptor as well.. so that helps if we get stuck with an older TV, which is a plus point for using a Pi 2 with composite out.

 

For media storage I've gone with a USB3 Flash Drive with a capacity of 64Gb, which gives us more to play with than the microSD card, and it's super-fast for copying media from a PC. As soon as you plug in the flash drive, Kodi will show it in the menus.

 

At first I chose a compact/travel USB-based keyboard instead of Bluetooth in case OpenElec 'forgot' the keyboard and I'd have nothing to navigate the menus to re-pair it. But then I bought a numeric keypad from eBay for £2. The keypad isn’t instantly recognised by Kodi, but an easy way to get it up and running is to use the Keymap Add-on. Attach a normal USB keyboard and the keypad at the same time, start the add-on, and use the keyboard to activate the remap process. From there, it’s dead simple to map the keypad to the different Kodi functions.

 

So that's it.. nothing groundbreaking or overly difficult to put together. The whole system is small enough to fit in a small travel bag & gives us a lot of flexibility when dealing with different hotels/accommodation. You may just find the TV accepts the USB flash drive and can play back whatever is on it.. but at least you'll have all the gear you need if it doesn't

 

 

 

Kit list;

 

1 x 2m HDMI extension cable

1 x 1m HDMI cable

1 x Raspberry Pi 2

1 x 8Gb MicroSD card

1 x Compact USB travel keyboard

1 x RCA to SCART adapter

1 x 3.5mm plug to RCA lead

1 x 64Gb USB3 Flash Drive

1 x USB power supply + cable

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