What does a boy do when he has an extra Raspberry Pi computer sitting around that hasn’t been taken out of the box in two years? He finds something to use it for. I had another Raspberry Pi that was being used as a media player, but Kodi was slow and didn’t work that great. I had attempted to use it as an airplay device via Plex – but that was a stuttering mess. On Reddit though, I found a post that allowed the Wink to be controlled via Siri. This was interesting enough to actually get something working.
This started because we were interested in the Amazon Echo. While it can do all sorts of neat things, my focus is really making my life easier. It could control my lights via voice, but since we have a multilevel house, I would multiple devices to be able to contact Alexa. However, my phone is on me most of the time so Siri really is a better option. Time to get things moving.
I flashed my old Plex image with a new copy of Rasbpian and proceeded to follow the instructions to installing Homebridge (instructions are here). Then I followed the remainder of the instructions to get the homekit integration working with Siri which includes installing the Insteon+ app from the App store. The original Reddit post lays it out nicely what you need. I got it up and working and I was quite pleased with myself.
However, one issue I came across is that I could not get homebridge to come up at boot time. I have to manually login via SSH and start it. When I disconnected from the SSH session, the program would stop working. It’s been awhile since I’ve regulary used Linux so I had to look up how to start the program in the background and leave it running. Running it as a background process didn’t work. So next I had to install screens, this corrected the problem since I could disconnect from that session and leave it running. If the Pi reboots, I will have to login again and restart it – so let’s hope that doesn’t happen too often.
I checked the system to see how many resources homebridge was consuming. It was around 15% which is great since I have an original Raspberry Pi B. I have it running on my desk in the attic and I wondered, if I wasn’t using a full Plex installation, could I get better resource and playback from Airplay? I hunted around and found Shairport-Sync. I got it up and going and plugged some desktop speakers into it. Originally it stuttered a bit, but it eventually settled into the groove and had no more issues.
This adds another room to whole house audio when I play something. Giving me a grand total of 5 rooms I could sync up and play music to. I still have about 5 more to go. Quality out the pi is considered inferior unless you have a USB sound card, but it’s passable for the room and use case. I wouldn’t go out of my way to use Pi’s for this purchase – I can get old Airport Express units that do the job better and cheaper on E-bay. Since this is mainly for homebridge, it’s a nice little bonus feature I can have it do while it is sitting on my desk.