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Old 03-12-2018, 09:12 AM   #1
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Traveling Media Server

While I am still waiting on our new trailer to be ready for pickup, I've been working on setting up a mobile media server to take on the road with us. Primarily for my 5 year old, so he can watch his movies and cartoons on the road / night in the trailer. Just curious is any other tech geeks out there have done something similar?

I use Plex for all of my content at home, and have a huge server where we store all our TV and Movies. My intent is to setup a small server the stow in the camper, with an external usb drive for all the storage. Going to install onboard Wifi, to create the same wifi network as I have at the house. So all our devices will still work on the road / cg. I have a similar setup I have used in the past at hotels, so that I don't have to sign everyone's device onto the hotels wifi each time. Just setup the router to connect, and I'm done. I am planning on using a Ubiquiti wireless device to pull wifi signal in from the CG if its available, and if not, connect my Verizon Jetpack.

My hope, is to have the server periodically sync the content from my house server to the camper server via my home wifi to keep current with the latest content. That way stuff will always be available without having to transfer it to the camper all the time. Thinking of doing some IOT home automation stuff in the camper as well, which the onboard wifi will come in handy for that as well. Probably going to wire up a small inverter to power the server and the external usb drive, and put a wifi relay on the inverter's power cable, so that I can power on/off the inverter remotely. That way it is not always sucking power at home when its not needed, but it can still be available while we are driving since I won't have 110v on the road from shore power.

Just some thought's I have been rattling around my head, love to hear any one else opinion. Also, I know, camping is about getting away from technology.... I am a Sysadmin by trade, so getting to use my 4 weeks of vacation a year comes with a trade off that on occasion I need to be able to VPN back into the office, so being completely disconnected is never an option for myself. That and I'm a geek, I love everything electronic!
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:26 AM   #2
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We have a lot of movies and have a 16TB media server in the motorhome. It's currently only hooked up to the bedroom TV. My daughter has a small media player and a 1TB usb drive, that contains only her movies, in her bunk. Have been meaning to hook up the wifi, just haven't gotten around to it.
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:27 AM   #3
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That is so far above anything I would use (jet pack) or know about but there are some folks on the forum that have very elaborate systems for their work and play.
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by AquaMan View Post
We have a lot of movies and have a 16TB media server in the motorhome. It's currently only hooked up to the bedroom TV. My daughter has a small media player and a 1TB usb drive, that contains only her movies, in her bunk. Have been meaning to hook up the wifi, just haven't gotten around to it.
That's awesome, what did you use for your server, using a Nas? I was looking at an 8tb external USB on a small form factor PC to run Plex on.
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:55 AM   #5
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That's awesome, what did you use for your server, using a Nas? I was looking at an 8tb external USB on a small form factor PC to run Plex on.
Just using a small PC at the moment. Been thinking about different configurations, but just haven't put too much effort into it. Wife and daughter are happy and the system works, so all is good.
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:57 AM   #6
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I must be lame.. I just plug an external drive into a TV pr DVD player and the 5 year old watches her shows there... Simple, for me..
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:59 AM   #7
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OneZero, what do you use at each TV to play the content?

I had previously been using a WiFi hard drive and Rokus at each TV but the drive took a crap.
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:11 AM   #8
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OneZero, what do you use at each TV to play the content?

I had previously been using a WiFi hard drive and Rokus at each TV but the drive took a crap.
At home, I use Roku's at the tv's for players, Netflix from internet, and Plex app from my local server for my local content. My intention is to do the same in the camper, two tv's with roku wifi sticks, then my little one has his tablet which can stream via wifi as well using the Plex App.

I have a small atom pc, which I just installed linux on a ssd, and have a 1tb usb drive attached for initial testing. If it has enough umf to it, I will probably order an 8tb external usb drive to sync my main server content over to it to take with me.
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:48 AM   #9
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At home I have a dvr service from the local cable provider, each tv has a firestick or fire tv. Between cable, Amazon, Netflix, Kodi, tablets, phone and laptops and etc etc etc we have no issue watching anything at home.

On the road is a different animal. I currently have a 4tb usb drive that I use to watch movies from. We plug it into the tv in the trailer for rainy days. The issue is that you can only watch anything from the drive on a single tv.

A better solution would be great but I never dove into the whole media server crazy. I am interested in exactly how you guys are running these systems and how I can adapt it to the trailer. A local wifi network with a pc, fire sticks or rokus at each tv and that it? What is required to be on the pc? Any free software out there?
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:49 AM   #10
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If you're leveraging the USB drive anyways, can't you just bring it in the house and sync it that way instead of trying to reconfigure the trailer WiFi to connect to the home WiFi every time?

I've also been trying to figure out what I want to do about in trailer theater this year. We've got pretty much everything tied in with Apple at home, all the movies are digital copies from DVD/Blu-rays that I've downloaded in iTunes format. In the past, I had put an AppleTV 3 and an Airport Express in the trailer, so I could airplay the movies from my iPhone or iPad to the TV, but the first time I tried to use in in the field that whole design was shot down because Apple's DRM requires an internet connection to authenticate. So, for a while we've just been using a lightning to HDMI adapter and hard wiring into one of the TV's instead.

But know we're in the process of changing up the trailer, and the new one won't have the room in the bunkhouse for the kid's TV anymore. So I've pulled my plans for fixing this mess off the back burner where it's been simmering for years to see if I can come up with a better solution. I've got an old 1TB TimeCapsule that I'm not using any more (went to Google Wifi mesh network when we got fibre at the house) so I'm thinking about putting that in the trailer instead of the airport express and then picking up a Compute Stick or something similar to drive a media server from that the kids can then watch the movies on their iPads.

I'd really like to come up with something closed circuit that will work without the need to bring my cell phone's hotspot in the mix, as I've both camped at areas without coverage, as well as have limited data caps on my phone. My company covers the phone bill, but only if it's under a certain amount. With the prices of service here in Canada, that amount works out to only 6GB of data a month, and I need to ensure I have enough of that set aside for my corporate needs.

So, I assume the problem I'm going to run into though is the Apple DRM's need to authenticate over the internet. I intend to try out a test to validate this probably some time this week, by setting up the TC as a closed circuit network, hook the mac and an ipad up to it and see if I can play content from the mac on the ipad. If it works, I've got the basis for my solution, and now just need the right PC to support the media server duties. I'm just not hopeful.

Plex has great reviews as a way around this, but it seems to require ripping the DRM from the various digital copies, and I'm generally just too busy to sit down and start re-ripping every one of our movies from scratch.
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Macrosill View Post
At home I have a dvr service from the local cable provider, each tv has a firestick or fire tv. Between cable, Amazon, Netflix, Kodi, tablets, phone and laptops and etc etc etc we have no issue watching anything at home.

On the road is a different animal. I currently have a 4tb usb drive that I use to watch movies from. We plug it into the tv in the trailer for rainy days. The issue is that you can only watch anything from the drive on a single tv.

A better solution would be great but I never dove into the whole media server crazy. I am interested in exactly how you guys are running these systems and how I can adapt it to the trailer. A local wifi network with a pc, fire sticks or rokus at each tv and that it? What is required to be on the pc? Any free software out there?
This is exactly what I am working on putting together for our new trailer. There are several media server software programs out there, but the one I use is Plex Server software is free, as is the player app's to run on almost any player, roku, fire, ect, plus you can stream from phones and tablets.

I am looking at setting up local wifi in the camper, with an access point and the server which is just a small pc running linux and the plexmediaserver program. Then connect a couple Roku Streaming Sticks to the camper wifi, and stream from the server pc.
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:56 AM   #12
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A better solution would be great but I never dove into the whole media server crazy. I am interested in exactly how you guys are running these systems and how I can adapt it to the trailer. A local wifi network with a pc, fire sticks or rokus at each tv and that it? What is required to be on the pc? Any free software out there?
Here's what I did for a long time until the hard drive stopped publishing its wifi network:

Ripping DVDs to make them portable | Learn To RV

For streaming, we have Rokus at each TV and connect them to the camper's internal network (which is made by a WifiRanger). Here is info on the network:

Cellular, wifi, and networks – OH MY! | Learn To RV

And then lastly, I never stream on campground wifi. It's a very rare event that the campground has wifi fast enough for streaming- even the times I've paid extra for "premium" wifi, it's been hit or miss. I use cellular hotspots and have unlimited data plans. I wouldn't try streaming on anything less.

Mobile Internet on the Road | Learn To RV
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:59 AM   #13
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If you're leveraging the USB drive anyways, can't you just bring it in the house and sync it that way instead of trying to reconfigure the trailer WiFi to connect to the home WiFi every time?
Haha, yes, that is true. I COULD do that. Until I forget to update the drive with whatever latest movie my son is on a kick watching, or my wife wants to watch whatever tv series she wants to get caught up on and its not there. My intention will be to have the entire thing automated. I do networking every day, so it shouldn't be to much trouble to have a wireless connection back to the house when we are home as a failover connection when it is available. Then my intention is to have a relay power up the inverter, which will power the whole thing up and online, check for any updated media using rsync, download it. Then after its finished, trigger a shut down of the system, then after a delay power off the inverter which will power off the entire system until the next scheduled update That is the hopes at least.
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Old 03-12-2018, 06:57 PM   #14
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This is exactly what I am working on putting together for our new trailer. There are several media server software programs out there, but the one I use is Plex Server software is free, as is the player app's to run on almost any player, roku, fire, ect, plus you can stream from phones and tablets.

I am looking at setting up local wifi in the camper, with an access point and the server which is just a small pc running linux and the plexmediaserver program. Then connect a couple Roku Streaming Sticks to the camper wifi, and stream from the server pc.
I have never heard of PLEX before this thread. The pc, router and sticks are what I was initially think but then I ran across the ripping dvd article below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ependydad View Post
Here's what I did for a long time until the hard drive stopped publishing its wifi network:

Ripping DVDs to make them portable | Learn To RV

For streaming, we have Rokus at each TV and connect them to the camper's internal network (which is made by a WifiRanger). Here is info on the network:

Cellular, wifi, and networks Ė OH MY! | Learn To RV

And then lastly, I never stream on campground wifi. It's a very rare event that the campground has wifi fast enough for streaming- even the times I've paid extra for "premium" wifi, it's been hit or miss. I use cellular hotspots and have unlimited data plans. I wouldn't try streaming on anything less.

Mobile Internet on the Road | Learn To RV

I just finishing reading your Ripping DVD article. I use DVD Fab, iirc to rip DVDs. I have not used it in a while. I like the solution in your article the best thus far. Simple yet effective. A complete wifi system in the trailer is a bit more than I need. The "kids" all have their idevices so internet access is not what I am looking for. We can use our phones or campground wifi for that. I just don't want to stream gigs of data over the cellular network. I just need something local and the hard drive with wifi and the streaming sticks is the simplest solution I have seen. I may only need a single stick as 2 of the TVs have wifi and may be able to stream without a stick.

I see you no longer use this setup and have gone to something a bit more robust and comprehensive. Again, that is more than I need or want right now. Not that I can't do it, I just want something simple.
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Old 03-12-2018, 08:38 PM   #15
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So, after doing some reading it looks like the 2 simplest options are as follows:
1. Seagate or Western Digital WIFI enabled hard drive and streaming sticks.
2. Raspberry Pi, usb hard drive, wifi router and streaming sticks.

I have wifi routers here on the shelf that run DD-WRT as I have switched my house over to Luma. A Raspberry Pi 3 should be 30-50 bucks. I have a Roku lying around as well as my 4TB usb drive. I can get this going for the price of a Raspberry Pi with option 2.

While option 2 is the more complicated scenario it is the cheapest and can be expanded in the future.

Anything I may have missed?
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Old 03-12-2018, 08:46 PM   #16
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We donít carry a lot of dvd, a few for DW and granddaughter. I have just now started using Apple TV and my phone to receive Netflix and amazon prime and mirror it to my tv. I have a Jetpack plus three lines right now. 60 gigs of hotspot data, cellular data I use mostly. I donít use campground WiFi. Most campgrounds that I use now will not let you stream data, besides itís slow. Granddaughter uses cellular data to stream Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol and a few others. She can easily use 100 gigs a month or more
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Old 05-10-2018, 12:56 PM   #17
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I had built a mobile Plex server using a Raspberry Pi 3. Worked great for the camper, and have Roku/AppleTVs attached to the TVs. Every month or so, I would log into the plex server (SSH) and run my plexupdate script and sudo yum update, so the OS/application are updated. I manually copy/sync the USB drive in the house, as it was quicker and easier for me to do that way.

Now, however, we use our mobile hotspot to just stream everything (including from our home plex server).
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Old 05-10-2018, 01:02 PM   #18
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I had built a mobile Plex server using a Raspberry Pi 3. Worked great for the camper, and have Roku/AppleTVs attached to the TVs. Every month or so, I would log into the plex server (SSH) and run my plexupdate script and sudo yum update, so the OS/application are updated. I manually copy/sync the USB drive in the house, as it was quicker and easier for me to do that way.

Now, however, we use our mobile hotspot to just stream everything (including from our home plex server).
Lordy Mercy.

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Old 05-10-2018, 01:46 PM   #19
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I recently just made one, well purchased. I got a refurbish roku ultra from amazon, a powered usb hub, and a usb hard drive. The hub and drive I had so it was super simple. I also work in IT and didn't want to worry about supporting something while on Vacation, I get enough of that during the week. This solution only works for one tv however the powered usb hub now gives me plenty of usb ports to charge phones or other devices.

Roku ultra $70
Powered USB Hub $15
USB Hard Drive $50
HDMI Cable $7
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Old 05-10-2018, 04:38 PM   #20
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