For a while now I’ve been drooling over Raspberry Pints, a free open-source digital taplist that runs on the Raspberry Pi mini computer. In fact, it’s been on my project list for a while. I already had a small LCD TV above the keezer in my garage/brewhouse and a decent wi-fi signal. All that was standing between me and a sweet digital beer menu was a little cash, some free time, and that whole knowing how to code thing.
Before I pulled the trigger and ordered a Raspberry Pi, it occurred to me that I might already have all the hardware to pull off a simplified version using the Roku box I already had in the garage. I found a simple solution, but only after a generous application of Google searching. Here’s how I went about it:
I already had the LCD TV, the Roku box, and the wi-fi signal. All I needed was a digital image of my tap menu and a way to display it via the Roku box. I’m no graphic designer by a long shot. I’ve used Photoshop a bit but I don’t have a copy at present, so I used GIMP, an open source graphic manipulation program, to create my menu. I did download Raspberry Pints and stole a couple of their icons for my menu. I also included the check-in icon from Untappd along with QR codes for each brew. Smart phone users can scan the code, pull up the beer, and check in with a couple of clicks.
With my menu finished, my first thought was to put that file in my Google+ photos and use the existing Picasa channel for Roku to display it. No dice. I suspect that Google’s integration of Picasa with Google+ doesn’t work with the Picasa channel, which hasn’t been updated since the integration. I was able to Google a few premium channels that would get the job done, but after a good bit more searching, I finally found a free option in the Roku Media Player, which allows you to play your own audio, video, and images on the Roku. After the Media Player channel is loaded on the Roku, you will need to install the TVersity desktop server on a desktop computer. The desktop server is where you will upload your image file to be displayed. Once the server is installed, just upload the menu, fire up the Media Player on the Roku, and the menu is seamlessly displayed on the LCD.
While this digital tap menu may not be quite as full featured as Raspberry Pints, I’m pretty happy with it. I’m especially pleased that I was able to use the Roku box instead of buying another piece of hardware. Now I can check the digital menu off my to-do list and start working on a BrewPi fermentation controller.