The Lattice of Convenience

xrayspx's picture

Def Leppard - Bringin' on the Heartbreak

A couple of years ago, Natalie and I canceled cable since we found it had literally been a year since we watched anything live on TV. I've built a pretty good "lattice of convenience" to store a media library of "Crap we like" and conveniently stream it pretty much anywhere.

Over the years, we've collected maybe 3000 CDs and a several hundred DVDs, including many box sets of TV series we like. I feel like we spent a TON on CDs when we were younger that most people didn't.

For mobile, I have set up mt-daapd on a $30 Raspberry Pi so I can present the music collection to the internet, protected in very basic ways to allow me to use an Android app to connect and play from the collection, using playlists or random shuffling or whatever. We also have a "Shitphone Army" around the house. These are generally discarded Samsung Galaxy S4-ish type devices connected to a set of good speakers in various rooms to play MP3s or stream Houndstooth Radio or local radio stations or whatever while we're doing dishes .

Aside from CDs we like, we each found ourselves nostalgic for "ubiquitous music from our youth". Whether we liked it or not, it was everywhere. Since we grew up in the time when music videos were just becoming a thing, this means that most of that stuff is available as a music video. The videos you'd see on the weekly music video show after cartoons on Saturday. And then the ones we saw on 120 minutes, Alternative Nation and stuff in the '90s.

So now we have a collection of a few thousand music videos for stuff we actually liked, and a lot of other stuff that was just played constantly from our mom's car radios, or in arcades and pizza places.

So by ripping our CDs and DVDs, there's about 5TB of media with capacity to double. That's maybe, a couple hundred bucks of hard drives every maybe 5 or 10 years for upgrades.

All of this is managed in Kodi running on Amazon Fire Sticks and connecting back to the central share. In case you're thinking this share drive must be some monster array, it isn't. I currently have a Seagate GoFlex Home that I've dropped an 8TB drive into, it came with a 1TB originally, and I've upgraded it twice. That part is a bit difficult because the GoFlex needs to get rooted and a new ssh binary dropped in, but it's not terribly hard. I will likely upgrade this to an array at some point in the not too distant future just so there's some fault tolerance.

I have a few one-liner scripts that generate playlists as well. So for instance, I have a Nick at Nite playlist which has randomized episodes of classic TV shows that would be on Nick at Nite or TV Land, there's a BritBox playlist for all the British shows we collect, and obviously the music video playlists.

It's super convenient, press button, get randomized content.I'd say easier to navigate than Netflix or Prime (obviously because their UI and content ordering problems are orders of magnitude bigger than mine).

Total Parts:

3x 8TB drives @ $150/each (currently). Two of these are in a RAID 1 set in my PC, and one is in the GoFlex.

2x Amazon Fire Sticks. $40/each when I got them, but I've seen them at Home Depot for like $20 or less.

A $35 Raspberry Pi works extremely well as a Kodi machine to manage the library, however I wanted one thing to do both Kodi and Amazon/Netflix streaming, and that's not a Raspberry Pi.