Building your own AppleTV for under RM 200 (US$60)

Recently , I’ve posted a Tweet about my awesome adventure with Raspberry Pi. I did get a lot of responses from people on how did I manage to do that. Basically what I did was whole bunch of googling and all. I thought of compiling them up and writing it here to make it easier for Malaysians who are planning to setup a Raspberry Pi as an AppleTV/Digital Media Center Alternative

Purpose of Setting Up Digital Media Center
Imagine if you want to share your holiday photos/videos taken on your smartphone or play a music while in the living room to your TV directly and you do not have a fancy SmartTV or you are using an iPhone which is not compatible with SmartTV and such.
Imagine that you want to view all your movie files/music files which you have downloaded via …I mean that you have purchased in your TV , without much of an hassle
Not to mention the ability to surf the Internet , listen to Internet radio and a lot of things
This is where this nifty device comes in. A raspberry pi – basically it’s a very small computer that can be turned into anything that you wish. In our case , we’ll be setting up as an AppleTV Clone. Face it , AppleTV would be costing us around RM 349 vs the Pi which would cost us under RM 200 and that has far more functionality ūüôā
Purchasing The Device 
You would need to purchase raspberry pi along with few others either Online (which I highly recommend) or trying your luck in Lowyat Plaza. I have bought mine from element14 (which I highly recommend)
Basically you’ll be needing the following :-

  • Raspberry Pi with 8GB of Memory Card . If you have a SD Memory card , you may just get the pi itself. I recommend getting with the 8GB memory card – RM 131.00
  • Casing for the Raspberry Pi – RM 36.80
  • [OPTIONAL] WiFi Adapter for the Pi (I know some other cheaper solution will work but this is to make it easier) – RM 55.00

Total cost RM 167.80 .
It would be slightly cheaper if you have a SD Card already , you would be needing Class 6 SDHC card , and I would recommend at least 4GB and above .
Also you would be needing HDMI Cable , HDTV which is capable of HDMI-CEC (i.e Sasmung calls it AnyNet , Panasonic calls it Viera Link). You can read more about HDMI-CEC here. The reason why you need HDMI-CEC is that you can use the remote  to control the Pi !
Optionally you may need a wireless keyboard and mouse. Lastly you’ll be needing a power cable. Don’t worry just use your Android charger (microUSB cable) that is commonly used to charge Blackberry and Android phones. That would power up the device. Here is a checklist to sum it up :-

  1. HDMI Cable – I don’t recommend getting cheap cable as it may cause issues with HDMI-CEC
  2. HDTV which is capable of HDMI-CEC. Don’t worry almost all the HDTVs do support it
  3. Power Cable (Aka Blackberry/Android charger)
  4. Keyboard/Mouse for first time setting up
  5. Internet Connection (either via Ethernet or Wireless)

Setting up the Pi
You’ll need to connect the pi to the Internet. I’ll recommend you to connect it via LAN cable first , if not do it via wirelessly. Insert Noobs SD Card and install RaspBMC. If you do not have NOOBS , you can grab the installer for RaspBMC and install it by yourself by clicking here¬†
Installation will take anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. So sit back and grab a cup of coffee or something. Once it is done you’ll be greeting with Setup screen. just answer a few questions about your location and all and it should be good to go.
Also be sure to enable HDMI-CEC i.e Samsung AnyNet/Viera-Link in your TV so that the pi can be controlled by using your TV Remote Control
Configuring XBMC РEnabling AirPlay
We need to enable AirPlay in order for iPad , iPhone to stream video/music/photos to the pi. To do so , we need to do the following
1. Go To Settings
2. Go to Services
3. ¬†Go to AirPlay and put a Check on ‘Allow XBMC’ to receive AirPlay content’
4. Now , you would have to enable AirPlay. To learn more about how to enable AirPlay and switch source , refer to here 

Toggling AirPlay
Toggling AirPlay

5. Play a song or something , if everything goes well – you would have something like this if everything goes well. Enjoy listening to music/watching streams on your new ‘AppleTV’
Toggling AirPlay
Toggling AirPlay – Now you can sit back and enjoy !

Configuring XBMC РChanging Skin to Match Apple TV
Apple TV has a wonderful easy to use interface. Thankfully there is a similar theme for XBMC that pretty much converts the look and feel to of an AppleTV. It makes it easier for everyone to use
1. Go To Settings
2. Select Addons
3. and select Search forSiO2
5. Download it !
6. Enjoy the new Theme
7. Not to forget to enjoy more of awesome songs by Enya (<3 Swedish people)
What’s Next ?
Basically you can start plugging in USB thumbdrive and go to Movies and start watching videos. If there is demand , I would probably show you some of the best addons which I use for XBMC that allows me to watch movies on demand , download and watch them later and other cool stuff. Please do drop a comment if you want me to write this or tweet me (@prasys)
Also if you wish to have a full remote control , you may download XBMC app for iOS by clicking here or for Android by clicking here
Also if you want to know how you can transform your Pi into ASTRO (well something like astro that allows you to watch sports , news , documentary) , read here

5 thoughts to “Building your own AppleTV for under RM 200 (US$60)”

  1. not entirely sure on airplaying video on raspi XBMC…as far as i know, you can only airplay music to it…even youtube being airplayed only produces sound…at least in my case…game airplay is totally out of the question…
    let me know if you able to make video airplay on raspbmc works…would love to know that as well…

  2. Master…
    I heard Raspberry Pi also can be built as a tiny version web server..? I’m currently building My own website (CMS-Joomla)… I would like to learn how to install my own Linux Apache Mysql PHP (LAMP) website on Raspberry Pi. I am still has basic knowledge about LINUX.

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