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Raspberry Pi Projects How to turn your old TV into a Smart TV with a Raspberry Pi? Step by step guide

To the old television you have at home, we are going to give a touch of modernity turning it into a Smart TV thanks to the Raspberry Pi. With a low investment, we will change your status from “old” to transform it into a multimedia center capable of connecting to the internet, watching streaming and having all the functions of a smart TV at hand.

When we finish the process, you will have a modern equipment at hand to consume entertainment content that will give a second chance to your discontinued TV, which will now look refreshed with applications such as Youtube, Netflix, Amazon or HBO.

In this guide we explain the basic resources you will need, four programs that will be your allies in the transformation and some recommendations to properly choose the model of your Raspberry Pi.

What do I need to turn my TV into a Smart TV with Raspberry Pi?

Micro SD card for Raspberry

Although it is true that Smart TVs have dropped in price, with this guide you have at hand the option to spend less money and not lose the equipment you have at home.

To put the transformation project to work, we will need the following resources:

  • A Raspberry Pi with its respective casing to protect it from shocks.
  • A TV that has an HDMI connection
  • The HDMI cable, that has the type of connection of the Raspberry that you are going to use. In some models it has a micro input.
  • A Micro SD card with a minimum capacity of 4GB in which the software must be installed.
  • Mouse and keyboard with USB connection.
  • Adapter stream.
  • Internet connection, preferably wired.

Learn step by step how to create a TVBox with Raspberry Pi to turn your TV into a Smart TV

One of the elements we need to turn the mini computer into a multimedia center is an audio file player and video.

We have taken several options and we are going to explain their functions step by step:

With Kodi

Kodi is free and open software that plays images, video, and music from any storage medium. Its design is friendly, simple and easy to handle, having the ability to reproduce the vast majority of existing formats.

If you prefer to use the Raspbian operating system, now known as Raspberry PI OS, you can begin the configuration by following the steps below:

  • We start by adding the repositories, you must open the command console and add the following line of code: sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
  • Later, you must write: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc/ppa
  • Now, the next thing is to update the software list and install the package just like we would with any other application, to do this use the following code: sudo apt update
  • Finally, you must write: sudo apt install kodi

Once the codes finish running, We will already have Kodi installed on our Raspberry Pi.

Kodi for Raspberry PI

With LibreELEC

This popular Linux-based distribution gives us the option to run Kodi. It can only be used for this purpose and was created with these small cards in mind, in such a way that physical resources are used to the maximum.

To install, follow the steps below:

  • Sign in to the official page and press “Download” in the option available for the operating system.
  • Once downloaded, we install “LibreELEC USB-SD Creator” on our computer.
  • When a new window appears, select the version for the Raspberry Pi model that you have.
  • Then choose the version “LibreELEC”.
  • Another option is to run an already downloaded installer. To do this, you have to indicate whether it is on a USB memory or on an SD card.
  • Then press the button “Write image”.
  • When the process is done, you can remove the device where you created it on the PC and take it to the Raspberry Pi.
  • When you turn on the device, you can start the program, make the basic settings and then enjoy all the options you have at hand.

LibreElec for Raspberry Pi

With OpenELEC

We go to another operating system that has the specific function of running Kodi on a Raspberry Pi.

To use it, we must carefully follow the steps described below:

  • Let’s go to its official page, we look for the section “Raspberry Pi” and we select the appropriate version for the card. It is important to download the latest version.
  • Likewise, you have to download Diskimage that will allow us to install the system on the SD card.
  • You also have to download SD Card Formatter, this application will allow the card to have the correct format. To use it, we introduce the device in a computer, choose the unit, go to the option section, leave the settings in “off” and we give “Format”.
  • Now is the time to prepare the OpenELEC image. For that, you have to unzip the file that we have previously downloaded. To copy it to the card, we have to use the program “Win32 Disk Imager”. After installing it, we open it, select the file “.img” in section “Image File” that appears in the window that we have on the computer. Next to it is a dropdown called “Device” where we will choose the SD card. At the bottom there are three options, click “Whrite” and we hope it will be recorded.
  • When the recording is done, we extract the card and take it to the Raspberry Pi, making sure to have the keyboard and mouse connected to be able to carry out the necessary basic configurations.

OpenElec for Raspberry Pi

With Plex

Let me tell you a little about Plex first. It is a multimedia server through which you can stream or play movies or TV shows. It allows you to organize your audio and video collection neatly for easy access.

The steps to use this system are as follows:

  • If you haven’t already, install “Raspbian on your SD card”.
  • Download and save the image, you can use software like “BalenaEtcher”.
  • When you have the command prompt, identify yourself as “Pi” and the key “Raspberry”, after which you can log in.
  • Make sure your computer is up-to-date with the latest version before starting the installation, to do this use the following command: sudo apt-get update
  • Later, it should be written: sudo apt-get update
  • Select option “Yes” that will appear in the terminal in the different queries that you will make.
  • It’s time to reboot and when you turn on again, enter your credentials.
  • The next step is to download the repository from Plex to Linux. To install the discharge transport, use the following command: sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https
  • There it will ask you to enter the password “Plex GPG”, you do it with the following command: curl | sudo apt-key add –
  • With that, the key will be added and it is the turn of download the software: echo deb public main | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/plexmediaserver.list
  • At the end of the process, update the Pi again: sudo apt-get update
  • To install now the plex software only you have to add the following: sudo apt-get install plexmediaserver
  • If everything is in place, the installation should be normal. Now you will need the current IP address: hostname –I
  • Received the data, we edit the file “cmdline.txt” with the following command: sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt
  • And we are going to add this line to the end of the file and we give it save: ip=YOUR IP
  • After everything is saved, writes: Reboot.
  • The computer will restart and you will be able to run the Plex server, entering with the following port:
  • The “x” they refer to your IP address. When it loads you will be able to enter your audio and video files. With this you will be ready to enjoy your multimedia server.

Plex for Raspberry Pi

List of the best Raspberry Pi boards and kits to turn your old LED TV into a SmartTV

Regardless of the level you have, you can get a suitable kit for you. There are them for the most expert, but also for those who are starting to carry out projects.

Here are some Raspberry Pi kits that will help you in your plan to change the use of your old television:

CanaKit Raspberry Pi3

The card model that this kits brings is the Pi3 B, micro SD card is 32GB, an HDMI cable, three heat sinks, an adapter, a case, and a PiSwitch.

Keyestudio Pi 4

This package includes a Raspberry Pi4 which includes the original power supply, three heat sinks, the PiSwitch, HDMI cable, and official packaging. With these elements you can make the connection with your TV.

Bqeel Raspberry Pi 4

This is more complete than the previous one. The main product is a Raspberry Pi4 with a 4GB RAM, lThe three heat sinks are made of aluminum, a 64GB Micro SD card, two micro HDMI cables with equal tips, a fan and the PiSwitch that acts as the igniter of the card.

Bqeel Raspberry Pi 4

This card, as you can see in the description it has an 8GB memory and a high-performance processor. SD card is 32GB, includes a large heat sink, two fans, two micro HDMI cables, and a card reader.

It should be noted that The kits are found in different online stores and their price varies according to their benefits. The advantage is that you will have several elements at hand, lacking to integrate the keyboard and mouse with USB connection.

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