Student Hacks Raspberry Pi to Make it a Wireless AirPlay Speaker

By on December 29, 2012

Raspberry Pi is world’s smallest and cheapest computer that offers a 700 MHz ARM 11 processor with 128MB of RAM with Debian Linux. Moreover, it can be turned into an HDMI-enabled AirPlay video receiving device. It comes with an amazing price of $25 only.


This mini computer is $75 cheaper than an Apple TV set-top box, that also offers the Aple like wireless media streaming functionality from Mountain Lion Macs and iOS devices to a TV set.

The developer behind Raspberry Pi’s AirPlay feature also promised a mind blowing hack that would let for streaming video from an iPad to a TV via this credit card-sized computer. And now, Jordan, a student studying engineering courses at Cambridge University hacks the device for making it engineering a wireless AirPlay-enabled audio receiver too.

Jordan notes that it is quite promising to convert a Raspberry Pi into an AirPlay Wi-Fi audio receiver parallel to Apple’s $99 AirPort Express wireless base station (or the $99 Apple TV set-top box).

AirPlay audio compatibility can be hacked with a little bit play with open source, an SD card, micro USB cable and a USB wireless adapter and basic Terminal knowledge just for installing a copy of Debian Linux OS onto the device. However, there are some restrictions due to smaller build of Raspberry Pi, thus some features are missed.

For newbie, the miniature Pi is powered by USB cable so additional loads like a Wi-Fi adapter or a USB keyboard can damage its power supply past its limits.

“I had several instances of odd performance or non-responsiveness due to this.”

Some background noise and distortion is also expected when plugging the computer into your speaker’s 3.5mm port because the Raspberry Pi is not meant for a digital-to-analog converter.

A USB soundcard can apparently solve these issues. I have a pair of USB powered Logitech Z120 speakers which I hope to try this out with this soon and I’ll update this when I do.

But yet for paying £30, or $50, this Raspberry Pi hack offers wireless AirPlay audio receiving features to your existing home theater system.

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