Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rio / Sonic Blue / Dell Digital audio receiver

I picked up these on eBay for a fiver a go! They are tiny little Linux boxes that stream audio from a nominated PC on your network. The original Rio/Dell software is very 2002 and although adequate offers no integration with iTunes or Windows Media Player. When you power the box it shouts out a BootP request (that's an old protocol I haven't had to deal with since Phillips/Thompson routers of the mid-90s!) and that starts the download process of a tarball that has the Linux kernel to run the box. Once that's loaded it grabs an IP address via DHCP (from the same client software that serviced the BootP request - I guess not many people had home-routers when this was a product!) and you can then stream your MP3s to it. It has a nice display, IR remote and the audio output quality is good.
However, since it's demise it's become a target for home-brewers and hackers and there is a new kernel that makes it look like a Squeeze Player - the standard that Logitech have used for all of their home entertainment products. This makes it quite an interesting gadget as a network music/streamed radio player and it didn't take me very long to get it working with my Windows 7 media center. Using Logitech's server mean it integrates brilliantly with iTunes and you get access to all the BBC's iPlayer and streamed radio.

Once you've got Squeezebox running you can use it to stream to WinAmp, your iPhone or even another instance of iTunes (rather perversely!).

So, here are the bits you need;
Rio's v. 1.04beta which was the last release. It's the only one that works with Windows 7 and it doesn't have all the instabilities previous releases had with 10 vs 100BaseT ethernet (this was the early noughties after all!).
SlimRIO is the tar-ball with the new kernel to make the box behave like a Logitech Squeeze player.
Squeezebox is the server that makes it all work nicely.
Finally you'll probably need a copy of the LAME encoder so that the server can transcode AAC, RealMedia etc into MP3 streams for live radio - lame.exe - it needs to go in;
\Program Files\Squeezebox\server\bin

No comments: