Sunday, July 31, 2016

$5 Music Box Server



After posting about the uniqueness of the Raspberry Pi 2 last year, I have purchased a 3 and a Zero.  This has all been tinkering, figuring out how low cost internet of things computers like the Raspberry Pi family can be put to good use.

This Blog post is about using the Zero 1.3 version to host a music library and shuffle songs to a stereo for listening. I am using a standard Raspbian Jessie operating system that was originally built on the Raspberry Pi 3, but works in the Zero with no issues. It is loaded on a 16 GB microSD card which boots the Zero. My only issue with the Zero is limited USB ports. If I had one more USB available, I could remote control the Zero music using WiFi.

I like Banshee music player because it has a graphic equalizer and has an Android phone app for remote control. I can't say that I understand all the Banshee functionality, but it seems to work for this particular application. Here is the music box server story.

Busy photo showing Raspberry Pi Zero (lower right) and other peripherals.
A few years ago I ripped all my music CD's to FLAC files, a lossless format that I thought would be good for future use. I now have many music folders, and 7,000 music files to choose from that were originally my CD music collection. I put them all onto a $35 hard drive for archiving, the Western Digital PiDrive with 314 gigs of storage, of which about 200 gigs is used by the FLAC file storage.  You can get any storage device you choose, not endorsing the WD hardware. I don't consider this hard drive cost associated with the music server because it is a backup archive. That hard drive is shown in the photo above. It has a bright white light. That is connected to the USB power cord, which then sends the power to the Raspberry Pi Zero. The hard drive USB data cable is connected to the USB data hub (red light in above photo) which also has a wireless keyboard, wireless trackball mouse and USB audio card. The red wire is the analog music which delivers the music to my stereo amplifier. Lots of wires.

The Raspberry Pi Zero has a HDMI mini to standard plug which the monitor is plugged into.

The monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse can be removed from the setup once the music is playing and in shuffle mode.  I have checked the power usage, it is 37 watts with the monitor, and 4 watts without. The hard drive, Zero and USB hub with peripherals use only 4 watts of power.

4 watts of power used for music box server without monitor.
The power is managed by a plug-strip with monitor, high amp output USB power and the USB hub power. Turning the plug-strip on boots up the Zero and goes into desktop mode. I click on the Banshee program and wait until it is fully loaded by watching processor utilization. Then select all artists and hit play. It shuffles the songs, and I get to listen to a random selection of my own music. I assume I could automate the process of running Banshee and automatically playing if necessary.
Raspberry Pi Zero ver 1.3 Running Music Box Server
As far as the music quality is concerned, it is OK. The very inexpensive USB music card has both audio output and microphone input. I assume I can get a DAC solution with much higher quality, I just haven't seen the right solution for my purposes yet. Waiting on some Kickstarter Pi DAC that can provide a SPDIF input (Please don't tell me about the Cirris Logic DAC, way too complicated).

This $5 Zero version 1.3 isn't easy to purchase. I had to wait on vendors mailing lists until they were back in stock. It seems amazing the functionality/price ratio for these systems on a chip (SOC) devices. There are peripheral costs. The Raspberry Pi Foundation keeps the costs low by not having additional functionality which each use case may not require.

Hope this is an interesting Blog. Feel free to comment. Thanks.

This post has been included in an audio evaluation has been broken out into the following audio sections:

And a related post, Uniqueness of the Rpi.






1 comment:

  1. Quick update to my own blog. Removed the USB audio and I hooked up a SMSL M2 USB DAC to the Zero and used the SPDIF output as well as headphone jack. Works fine except for the inherent problems with the M2 (google it). Here is a previous Blog on the SMSL USB DAC off a RPI 2: http://renewableenergyspace.blogspot.com/2015/03/uniqueness-of-raspberry-pi-2.html

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