Using the Raspberry Pi for a multimedia center on your boat

The Antenna

Reception problems with DVB-T have become a thing of the past in most areas of Germany. The transmission efficiency is good enough to prevent image and sound distortions, especially when the antenna is located at a higher elevation. Nonetheless, DVB-T room antennae are not suitable for use on a boat. The antenna on a boat is usually mounted in a recessed space. Also, a boat is constantly in motion; almost every bow wave causes rocking to and fro. As a result, it doesn't work to simply mount a conventional antenna and leave it.

The antenna definitely needs to include an amplifier for processing weaker signals. The typical DVB-T antenna only works under specific conditions even if it is expressly labeled by the manufacturer as an outdoor antenna. You will need to figure out the capabilities of an antenna before making a purchase. The easiest solution is to choose an omnidirectional antenna. However, a well-functioning omnidirectional antenna like the Maxview Omnimax costs at least 170 Euro, whereas regular outdoor antennae start at 30 Euro. For the project described here, I chose the Strong SRT ANT+ 45 [3], which proved to have adequate reception when put through a number of tests.

Of course, an antenna performs at its best when placed in a prominent position on a boat. The Omnimax comes with a complete retinue of mounting brackets for railings and masts. A cable – which is frequently live – runs to the integrated amplifier. Any boat owner has concerns about having holes in the hull. I ended up mounting the antenna in the stern to the mast stabilizer and threading the cable through a locker below deck. A cable lead, which also houses the two Bowden cables for the remote control of the outboard motors, served as the entry point for the cable into the boat.

DVB-T Receiver

The Raspberry Pi requires a receiver in the form of a DVB-T dongle, which is suitable for processing an incoming DVB-T signal. Once it became clear that the Rasp Pi should use OpenELEC as a multimedia distribution, the next step was to check out the list of officially supported DVB-T devices.

The tripleStick from PCTV [4] turned out to be the best choice. It can handle the frequencies for DVB-T2, has a price of just 70 Euro, and is very small. The tribleStick has an MCX (miniature coax) connection instead of the normal coax jack for its antenna connection, and a suitable adapter is included. OpenELEC already comes with a driver for the tripleStick.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF

Pages: 4

Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Raspberry Pi Geek

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content