An in-flight entertainment system that isn’t terrible

No Alex today; she’s tragically germ-ridden and sighing weakly beneath a heap of duvets on her sofa. But, in spite of it all, she’s managed to communicate that I should share Kyle‘s Raspberry Pi in-flight entertainment system with you.

Kyle is far from impressed with the in-flight entertainment on most planes: the audio is terrible, the touchscreens are annoyingly temperamental, and the movie selection is often frustratingly limited. So, the night before a morning flight to visit family (congrats on becoming an uncle, Kyle! We trust you’ll use your powers only for good!), he hit upon the idea of building his own in-flight entertainment system, using stuff he already had lying around.

Yes, we know, he could just have taken a tablet with him. But we agree with him that his solution is way funner. It’s way more customisable too. Kyle’s current rushed prototype features a Raspberry Pi 3B+ neatly cable-tied into a drilled Altoids tin lid, which is fixed flush to the back of a 13.3-inch portable monitor with adhesive Velcro. He’s using VLC Media Player, which comes with Raspbian and supports a lot of media control functions straight out of the box; this made using his mouse and mini keyboard a fairly seamless experience. And a handy magnetic/suction bracket lets him put the screen in the back of the seat in front to the best possible use: as a mounting surface.

As Kyle says, “Is it ridiculous? I mean, yes, obviously it’s ridiculous, but would you ever consider doing something like this?”


beta-tester avatar

is it really allowed to use a wireless mouse dongle or a wireles keyboard dongle in an air plane?

andy lamb avatar

Yes, bluetooth devices have been allowed on aircraft for quite a long time now. There will be cordless headphones on every flight because the noise cancelling is very useful.
Some aircraft provide in flight WiFi.

beta-tester avatar

that i didn’t know… thank you for the information.

no thanks avatar

I would be afraid that the TSA would think it was unusual and confiscated it or worse (like Star Simpson)

Kevin Bowers avatar

How does one convince VLC to play videos smoothly on a Pi? My 3B (not +) won’t do that, need to use OMXPlayer. I’ve been using TBOPlayer, just a GUI for OMXPlayer.

Alex Ellis avatar

The build looks very pro – nice work!

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