In my journey towards home automation and more recently the topic of wireless audio, I have researched, experimented and built some kits around first using the google Chromecast audio and now the Raspberry Pi.
The Raspberry Pi setup was fairly challenging and naturally being open-source required some level of understanding how how the innards worked. Chromecast audio was a sinch to setup since all it required was the Chromecast audio itself, along with 12V, 5V power supplies and of course a power amplifier all supplying a speaker. It was a fun project and something I will post at a future project.
For the Raspberry PI, I wanted to have the same setup as the Chromecast but needed a few items to accomplish this.
Raspberry Pi (I had the Pi 3, Model B)
SD Card to mount Volumio (Music Streaming Platform server)
I initially experimented with RuneAudio which immediately took me to a screen where my mouse would not work. I used the keyboard (Alt tab) to select the items needed to set it up and could not get the wireless to be setup as I did not have an ethernet connection. The RuneAudio server did pick up the wireless connections but I could not save the WLAN setting. Although later on I found how to setup the WLAN in the network/interfaces setting which I may try again down the line.
Having played with Raspberry Pi now for a week, I can see how some people can become extremely frustrated with the lack of documentation and help. You literally have to wade through many forums and type the right questions into google to get to your solution. Luckily for me I was versed with some command line usage in the Linux environment so knew how to get around even if no help is around. To make the matter worse the ‘open-source’ community of software development have a ‘nerd-like’ feel which pretty much rules out many novices in experimenting with things. Although the Arduino community seems to be striving really well with a strong base of users and community support. I have yet to dabble in this space, but keen to venture into it as I have many IoT projects in mind including home automation.
Getting back on the subject of Volumio, my first step was to download the Raspberry Pi build from their website…
I followed the instructions for creating the image and writing to the SD card on my laptop and then plugging into the Pi. I used the hotspot of ‘Volumio’ that appeared against all other wireless networks and selected that in order to setup the actual wireless connection through ssh. Once in ssh, I setup the wireless connection according to the page instructed here…
I then rebooted the Pi and switched to the network that I was using and then pulled up the volumio.local on my laptop which appeared to show a page. I also added the actual IP address to make sure I was on the right page. The bloody thing kept hanging with the familiar icon spinning with the faint background of the actual page sitting pretty at the back. I researched google to find out the issue and found several topics that related to this issue. One resolution was that it would work only for Mac or Linux, so I switched to a Linux machine and tried but to no avail. Apparently, it seemed that many people were having this issue and Volumio folks were not being very helpful and hence the reason for this post.
By the way, I already pre-tested the Hifiberry on the Pi by manually setting up a mpd as provided by the instructions here…
I was surprised with little time I got the hifiberry to play a sound. Unfortunately, the sound was deafening as I had fed this directly into my amplifier input which has no gain control (it’s just a small amp module). I researched on how to control the volume and some suggestions were using alsa mixer whereas others were referring to hifiberry hardware control. The findings were all sketchy and did not give me a clear solution on how to achieve this and so I decided to go for a pre-made media server like Volumio.
Having tried all sorts of things in trying to get the Volumio work, I had an epiphany.. which was to use a previous version of the Volumio. You won’t be surprised to learn that even finding a previous version was difficult. Why on earth would the volumio site not put up previous versions of their software? They are doing a terrible injustice to the people (and also their product) who are diligently trying out their software but failing all because they cannot be bothered to update their website. Anyways, I have learnt (now) that when you are dealing with open-source software, your best origin of information is not the cnet.download or sourceforge but the github repository where all the development is going on. I managed to track down a previous version that I know would work since I saw the whole process being shown on a youtube video. The image version I obtained was the following…
Whereas the version (latest) shown below DID NOT work for me and I suspect many other folks who are using the Raspberry PI 3, Model B.
Naturally, one should try as much to rule out issues related to installation such as a bad copy, potentially firmware issue etc. The fact that a previous version worked without issues suggest there is something wrong with this new version and Volumio should address it ASAP.
Anyways, I hope you find some solace and peace that the issue with the latest Volumio build for the Raspberry Pi may not be necessarily your fault.
My next tasks are to setup the Volumio player and maybe decipher what is going wrong with the latest version. In addition, I want to test out the hifiberry DAC+ to see how well this sounds. Stay tuned for more upcoming posts on this subject!