Raspberry Pi 3 Media Centre with 1TB HDD and DVD in a VCR (MEHS) Epidose 43.

I use an old VCR to house a Raspberry Pi 3 media centre complete with a 1TB HDD and a DVD player.
The setup is simple as the new Pi 3 will drive a USB HDD and a DVD player as long as the DVD player gets the bulk of its power from an external source.
Connect the USB HDD and the DVD player to the Pi 3 and power the Pi 3 from a good 2.4 amp or more power supply.
Install Openelec, run and enjoy.

Episode 43


    • Hi. Yes it was. Attaching the old vcr door to the DVD drive was fiddly but the rest was painless. Cheers.

  1. nice project. do you find that the dvd drive is quiet enough for comfortable viewing? my experience with those drives is they can be a bit noisy when watching a film etc

    • Hi. You can hear the drive clearly when it starts up but it’s not loud. When it is placed in a case like this it is even quieter. As soon as you play something to watch, you can’t hear anything from the drive unless you are really close. Not a problem from my perspective. Cheers.

    • Hi. If it is a portable drive (2.5 inch) with just one USB port then yes. The capacity of the drive doesn’t really matter, just the interface (usb3) and the power required. Don’t try a big 3.5 inch portable drive as they require too much power. Cheers.

    • +kiltedjohn1000 – Hi again. Just to be clear. If you had a full size 4TB external HD and wanted to plug it into a PI 3 media centre, it would work just fine as long as the power for the drive was coming from somewhere else, not the Pi and not the Pi 3 power supply. Hope that makes sense. Cheers.

  2. In my Opinion, I think you Deserve more Subscribers and Views.
    Your Channel is such an Inspiration, and your builds are very good.
    I’ve started a channel of my own thanks to you. I’m trying to get into Electronics and Programming, and I’ve started to Log my Progress.

    • +StereoPT ,Thank you for the kind words. It’s great to hear that you are starting your own channel and getting into electronics etc. I’m sure you will enjoy every aspect and do well. Thanks again. Cheers.

  3. Nice and inspiring project. You might want to consider using a power USB hub, but your sollution uses less devices. 😉
    You wasn’t able to reuse the original power unit in the player?
    Are you planning on using the buttons on the player? Could be fun to connect to the RPi3.
    But great project.

    • +Anders Jackson – Hi. Thank you. I had fun with this project. The only reason I didn’t add a USB hub straight away is because I didn’t have one handy. The project does need at least one external USB port. The power supply of the VCR was physically too big and overpowered for my needs. I could have but I would have needed a different voltage regulator to feed the 5V into the project from the 12V VCR power. There may have been a 5V rail in there but I didn’t look. If I had more time (or I revisit) I agree, using or mapping the external VCR buttons to Pi functions would be nice. Cheers.

  4. This looks nice but consider it for a second and you should realize that it is a complete crock, at least as presented. The project seems to provide no way to interact with the “media center”!. It shows it used with a special touch tablet, but if building a media center into an old video tape player one would expect it to be used with the living room TV (otherwise just build it in a box with the magic video screen). When used with the living room TV there is no input! That’s right, the list of materials never considers using a mouse or some other input device for control, and without a mouse or that fancy (and expensive) touch screen, there is no way to control the device.

    • +Martin Kidd – Hi. No it wouldn’t. The Y cable is intended to allow 5 volts to the DVD drive from 2 sources. Its the DVD drive itself that requires the 2 USB connections. If you can provide a full 500ma from a single USB port then the drive might work with 1 USB connection but most times the DVD drive does not get enough power from 1, that’s why they usually ship with a Y cable. You can test it with your DVD drive as see how it goes with just Pi power but most don’t like it. I’ve tried 3 different units. Cheers.

    • +My Electronics & Hacking Show I’ll have to try out the dvd drive I have with the pi. It runs off a single mini usb cable without the Y connector which is why I was hoping running it off a hub would do the trick.

    • +Martin Kidd – I guess if the powered USB hub is connected to the PI and the HD and DVD are connected to the hub, that should work.  Cheers.

  5. Maybe an Anker PowerPort 6 (max 12W at 5V per Port) can avoid that soldering. Actually a friend of mine asked me about a cheap MediaCenter with DVD-Support and this project looks smart 🙂 But I plan to use Raspian + Kodi so that he can use it to browse the internet aswell.

    • – Hi. I can’t remember if it was this project or an earlier one but I demonstrated the use of kodi within raspbian for the complete solution as you mentioned. There is a small trick you need to implement if you run into problems when closing kodi from within raspbian. Sometimes kodi won’t close correctly and won’t return the raspbian desktop. The solution is documented, just google. Cheers.

  6. Just found this video, very interesting. I’ve just ordered my first Pi 3 and am going to try to get a media centre built. I need to get a video input (usb). I noticed your power cable, looks Australian, whereabouts are you?

    • – Hi, in Victoria AU. Just make sure your media centre gets fed by a good power supply. Cheers.

    • +My Electronics & Hacking Show cool, thanks for that, I’ve got a spare phone adaptor, oh I’m in Adelaide.

    • +Derek Martin – Most phone adaptors won’t feed a Pi 3 with enough capacity to drive a HDD or USB DVD player.  Check your adaptor for output of at least 5V at 2.4 amps.  Cheers.

    • +My Electronics & Hacking Show ok, thanks for that, I’m actually watching you now on episode 36, interesting stuff. Thanks

  7. Love the video, its an amazing idea im very keen to try out. Was wondering if you had a step by steap guide somewhere (like a pdf or something) as I dont have much experience with electronic work. Also would it be possible to make one of these with a dvd player and a blu-ray player as well? Thank heaps, keep up the good work 🙂

    • – Hi. I don’t have any guide other than the video but I could make something up if your keen. Drop me a line through the Contact page on my website http://www.mtechshow.com and include your preferred email address. You should be able to add a Blueray player but I haven’t tested it myself. Cheers.

  8. Hi I have toyed with my raspberry pi 2B and couldn’t get it to do this, as it only likes up to 250G hdd and it wants me to buy a code and add it somewhere in order for the DVD player to work, and after updating kodi it has stopped reading my usb3 memory stick
    Has anyone got advice?

    • – Hi. About $60 for the Pi, $10 for an SD card, $10 for cables, $30 for a dvd drive and $75 for a 1TB drive. A bit under $200 if you have to buy everything. More when you add a remote. Cheers.

  9. im so glad i found your station. ive ventured many routes in theory, and still can’t decide on what to do. something like this sounds great, but i always wonder if im better off with a dedicated laptop for home media. what do you think?

    • – Hi. Completely depends on the individual. If your happy to tinker and play then DIY is a great option. If you just want to plug in, turn on and go, then a laptop that has the hardware already sorted is a very good option. Cheers.


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