How to use a Raspberry Pi as a video looper input for a projector


For my Halloween haunt I was lucky enough to score 5 projectors at an amazing price through a surplus site (http://www.publicsurplus.com/) I planned on suing these to display the digital effect created by AtmosFear Fx (http://www.atmosfx.com/).  The problem was, I didn’t want to have to use 5 DVD players or 5 Laptops/computer to provide the video feed for the projectors.  That’s where the Raspberry Pi comes in.  The Raspberry Pi is much like an Arduino, a physically small yet fairly powerful computer.  The beauty is that the pi is fairly cheap ($32 for the B+ 512MB version I used).  What follows is how I was able to get the Pi to loop through a set of videos continuously to allow my projector to run all night in my haunt.

What you need:

  • A projector (I used an Epson Power Lite 84)
  • If you projector doesn’t have speakers, get some speakers
  • A Raspberry Pi (I used a Model B+ 512MB)
  • If your projector doesn’t support HDMI, pick up a HDMI Male to VGA Female converter and a VAG cable.
  • A USB Stick
  • A 4GB micro SD card (class 10 If you can)
  • A cell phone charger
  • An audio cable/headphone jack size (to go to speakers or to projector)

This whole initiative was made possible by the tutorial created by Tony Dicola and may be found here:

https://learn.adafruit.com/raspberry-pi-video-looper/overview

Following those instructions will take you 99.999% of the way.  I ran into a few issues that I wanted to call out to help save some frustration, these may be unique to me, but I am including it incase it helps someone else.

  1. I purchased the AtmosFear/FX video’s via digital download as opposed to DVD version, I don’t know how you would go about ripping from a DVD, but I can say the digital downloads worked great.
  2. I had to run the git clone command in the above tutorial by prefacing it with sudo, otherwise I got a strange authentication error, even when entering the username and password. Entering sudo git clone…. Worked fine then.
  3. To flash the raspbian OS image (the tutorial above will point you to the download) to the SD card, I used Win32 Disk Imager found at http://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/
  4. I had two USB sticks that didn’t work, what I had to do was reformat them as FAT
  5. Videos need to have H264 encoding, I used the tool found at: http://www.h264encoder.com/ it is very fast and worked like a charm

While most of what you need is in the adafruit tutorial, I wanted to give the 30,000 foot view that helped me to get through it.

  1. Flash the SD card
  2. Install adafruit PI Finder on your computer
  3. Install the Video Looper from adafruit on Pi via Pi Finder terminal
  4. Format the USB Stick to FAT
  5. Encode the videos to h264
  6. Hook up to projector

Here is a short video of it in action using AtmosFear/FX’s pumpkin trio.

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