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The XBMC, Piglow Information Display Addon
Published: November 11, 2013
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It’s no secret that I love LEDs, so when I saw the Piglow on Adafruit.com, for a relatively cheap price I snatched it right up. And as usual, the same thing happened that always happens after I buy neat looking hardware that doesn’t have a bunch of pre-written software packages out there. I ask myself, “What can I do with this cool stuff?”. The answer this time was, let’s have it monitor  and display the functioning of my XBMC.  I decided to go all in and develop an XBMC plugin to make it easy for other folks to have the same setup, too!

So, after installing my Addon, you can dynamically choose to monitor 7 different criteria (3 at a time). Check out the video to see it in action.

Supplies

Putting together a cheap, beautiful and effective media center has never been so easy! Here’s what you’ll need to use my Addon

Fits right into the PiBow, too!

Fits right into the PiBow, too!

The famous mini computer

The famous mini computer

Be sure to check the reviews

Be sure to check the reviews

Installation

The first step is putting all the hardware together. I won’t cover this here directly but I will mention a couple things specific to this setup. Be sure that you have a power supply with sufficient wattage. Many of the problems that people have with their Pi’s are from low wattage 5volt usb power adapters and the problem would be exacerbated with the PiGlow’s LEDs. Next, find yourself a clear case, leaving the Pi naked is asking for trouble. (Probably best if you keep your clothes on while working with electronics, too.) Just be sure your Piglow will not only fit inside the case that you find, but can be seen through it! Getting a Pibow will guarantee both.

Next, you’ll need to install a full linux OS with XBMC. Raspbmc is a distro that will make this really easy for you! Check out the instructions for installing here: http://www.raspbmc.com/download/

After that, there’s two dependencies to install –

  • Rpi.GPIO (Thanks to Tony in the comments for the updated method!):
  • The piGlow Python library. Check out the installation instructions at GitHub. Be sure to run the test.py at the end of the instuctions, if that’s not working for you, neither will my plugin.

Finally, just download my .zip addon to the raspberry pi SD card and install with these steps:

  • Download the zip from falldeaf.com ( service.piglowinfo-0.0.1.zip ) to your Raspberry Pi
  • Settings
  • Add-ons
  • Install from zip file
  • Enter the path to the downloaded file and select OK
  • Open the add-on settings dialog and choose which conditions to monitor (or leave the default of volume, playmarker and mem)

That’s it! You should be up and running :) Email me at falldeaf@gmail.com if you need some extra help or for corrections to my instructions.

Features

There are four different choices to make in the addon setup, What each of the three arms will monitor and the brightness of the display.

There are seven different choices of things to monitor:

  • Volume (current system volume)
  • Playmarker (How much time is left in the show or song)
  • Cache (How much local cache is used)
  • Temp (How hot is your Pi)
  • Space (How much HD space is left)
  • MEM (How much memory is being used)
  • battery (How much battery is left)

If you got an idea for a new feature, let me know. Alternatively if there’s any impatient coders out there reading, drop by my github repo and add the features your dang self! :)

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PiGlowInfo Addon XBMC

Dig into all the code for my PiGlowInfo Addon or grab the whole package for your modifying pleasure!

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Hey thanks for reading this far! Maybe you'll be interested in more of my projects? Check out my homepage :)
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17 Comments

  1. Dave
    Posted Nov 12 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Looks like it will fit in the uniPi case too: http://www.unipicase.com

    • Posted Nov 12 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Hey Dave, thanks for the link. That’s a cool looking case, too. It looks like it might be hard to see the LEDs with that case, though?

  2. Borlandoflorida
    Posted Nov 19 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    When I do the “sudo easy_install” command, it tells me that the command is not found…

    • Posted Nov 19 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      If you don’t have easy_install installed, run this command:
      sudo apt-get install python-setuptools python-dev build-essential

      • borlandoflorida
        Posted Nov 19 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        Thanks – I tried running the command at the end and it worked for some reason… Just downloading your ZIP file so will see if it worked! PS – Thanks for the fast response!

        • Posted Nov 19 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

          No problem, hope it works :)

          • borlandoflorida
            Posted Nov 19 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

            I have run the code, but did in this order (following on from my earlier comments:
            1. sudo apt-get install python-setuptools python-dev build-essential
            2. sudo apt-get install python-pip
            3. sudo pip install rpi.gpio
            4. sudo easy_install -U distribute

            I have then downloaded the ZIP file to my SD card and installed the add on. I can see it and configure it and my RPi tells me it’s enabled, but the PiGlow is not working…

            Vague I know, but any ideas? I have rebooted the RPi but still not working…

  3. Posted Jan 13 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Very cool thanks im gonna test this out tonight…. i have my Raspberry pi mounted behind my tv i was hoping someone would build a add on for the piglow that would create a ambient glow behind my tv that mimicks the color on the TV.

  4. Tony
    Posted Mar 23 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi, can you revise the above commands, as they do not work on Raspbmc. I have spent all day trying to get this to work & I’m sure I am not alone.

    sudo apt-get -y install python-rpi.gpio

    Try running the above command on a clean install of Raspbmc & see what happens.

    Thanks

    • Tony
      Posted Mar 24 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Hope this helps:

      sudo initctl stop xbmc
      sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
      sudo apt-get install python-dev
      sudo apt-get install python-pip
      sudo easy_install -U distribute
      sudo pip install RPi.GPIO
      sudo reboot -h

      • Posted Apr 26 at 2:22 am | Permalink

        Pretty neat little add-on! Btw Tony that method worked best for me too, thank you!

        (P.S. For the PiGlow python library when you enter the urls for the piglow.py and test.py be sure to put: –no-check-configuration following the url otherwise you’ll get an error)

        So now that I have it set up with my Raspbmc I’m wanting more out of it. I was looking at Boeeerb’s examples and I thought the binary clock would be awesome (so I don’t have to wake the pi up to check the time) in addition to mem or temp or some of the others you’ve created. I haven’t tested out any of Boeeerb’s examples yet because idk a whole lot about using commands yet :-(

        I thought it’d be cool to have a lil light show while playing music too (maybe have a few patterns to chain together in different combinations) Idk how you’d make it recognize music streams specifically though (I personally use the google music dev add-on) but I’d leave monitoring video streams the same. The only other thing I’d do would be moving it from services to programs so I can put it under the “programs” tab on the home screen. Those are just two things I myself would like to see included. After that it’d be perfect!

        Anyway, sorry for such a lengthy comment. Just wanted to give good/helpful feedback!

  5. Posted Apr 26 at 2:28 am | Permalink
    • Tony
      Posted May 04 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Hi Donald,

      It is easy enough to use the custom scripts as you have mentioned & that is what I had initially used.

      I bought the PiGlow to impress my kids but as a family media system, the CPU scripts drove my wife insane, as the cpu generally is very high on the PI running XBMC & therefore your front room will look like a disco dance floor, even when idle!!

      Tony

      • Posted May 07 at 5:43 am | Permalink

        –no-check-certificate is what I meant sorry. Just had to set this up after Raspbmc Gotham update went on the fritz.

        I guess I could see how cpu monitoring would get a bit annoying after a while. I’m just glad to have something like this for Raspbmc because Idk how much use I’d get out of the Pi Glow otherwise. Raspbmc is the only thing I’ve gotten to work well on the Pi. Idk what I’m gonna do when my fan comes in a few days. I need to find a way to connect it to 5v and Gnd while still having the Pi Glow plugged in as well.

  6. Jules
    Posted Jul 15 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the tutorial! Quick question – does this work on Open Elec, or must it be RaspBMC?

    • Posted Aug 05 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      If openElec is linux and you can install python and other libraries you’re probably good to go.

  7. Posted Sep 20 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Hi, everything is going nicely here and ofcourse every one
    is sharing information, that’s in fact excellent, keep
    up writing.

11 Trackbacks

  1. […] from Adafruit is a cool looking ads-on for RPi. If you were wondering what it can do ? Falldeaf.com has an good illustrative application of PiGlow with his XBMC. He has a XBMC […]

  2. […] setup will let you choose which function to attach to which arm and the overall brightness, too. I wrote up a post about how it works and how to get started with […]

  3. […] setup will let you choose which function to attach to which arm and the overall brightness, too. I wrote up a post about how it works and how to get started with […]

  4. […] setup will let you choose which function to attach to which arm and the overall brightness, too. I wrote up a post about how it works and how to get started with […]

  5. […] setup will let you choose which function to attach to which arm and the overall brightness, too. I wrote up a post about how it works and how to get started with […]

  6. […] setup will let you choose which function to attach to which arm and the overall brightness, too. I wrote up a post about how it works and how to get started with […]

  7. […] The XBMC, Piglow Information Display Addon from falldeaf.com: […]

  8. […] a project that adds LED feedback to your XBMC installation. It uses a Raspberry Pi to run the media center software, and a script to monitor it […]

  9. […] a project that adds LED feedback to your XBMC installation. It uses a Raspberry Pi to run the media center software, and a script to monitor it […]

  10. […] a project that adds LED feedback to your XBMC installation. It uses a Raspberry Pi to run the media center software, and a script to monitor it […]

  11. By Hackaday Links: November 17, 2013 on Nov 21 at 11:33 am

    […] a project that adds LED feedback to your XBMC installation. It uses a Raspberry Pi to run the media center software, and a script to monitor it […]

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