How to Set Up Screenly on the Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a versatile, low-cost computer that has become a popular platform for DIY media centers and digital signage. Screenly is an open-source digital signage software designed specifically for the Raspberry Pi. It allows you to turn your Pi into a simple, self-hosted digital signage display for your home, office, or commercial space.

How to Set Up Screenly on the Raspberry Pi?

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn how to install and configure Screenly on the Raspberry Pi. We will cover everything you need to know to get your Screenly digital signage system up and running.

Prerequisites

Before we begin, you will need the following:

  • A Raspberry Pi (any model should work, but a Pi 3 or 4 is recommended)
  • An SD card with Raspbian (the official Raspberry Pi OS) installed
  • A monitor with an HDMI input
  • An HDMI cable to connect the Pi to the monitor
  • A USB keyboard and mouse
  • A wired internet connection

Step 1 – Install Screenly

Screenly is available as a snap package, which makes installation very straightforward. Here’s how to install it:

  1. Login to your Raspberry Pi and open a terminal window.

  2. Update your system packages:

    bash

sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade -y

Install the Screenly snap:

bash

sudo snap install screenly

Reboot your Pi for the changes to take effect:

bash

  1. sudo reboot

The Screenly server should now be installed and running on your Raspberry Pi.

Step 2 – Configure Screenly

When Screenly starts for the first time, it will launch a web-based setup wizard. Here’s how to complete the initial configuration:

  1. Open a web browser on another computer on the same network as your Pi and navigate to http://raspberrypi:8080. Replace raspberrypi with your Pi’s IP address if you don’t know the hostname.

  2. The setup wizard will launch. Click Get Started.

  3. Accept the terms and click Next.

  4. On the Network settings page:

    • Set a static IP address for your Pi if it does not have one already.
    • We recommend enabling HTTPS for secure remote access. Generate a self-signed certificate if you don’t have an SSL certificate.
  5. On the Signage settings page:

    • Set the Display name for your Screenly device.
    • Select your preferred Default duration for assets.
    • Set the Orientation based on how your display is positioned.
  6. On the Assets settings page:

    • Upload some image or video assets to test.
    • Set a Start screen. This image will display before content begins playing.
  7. Click Finish to complete setup.

After finishing the wizard, you will be taken to the main Screenly dashboard. From here you can upload and manage assets, view status, adjust settings, and control your digital signage.

Step 3 – Add Content

To display content on your Screenly device, you will need to upload image, video, or streaming assets. Here’s how to add content:

  1. Click Library in the Screenly dashboard sidebar to go to the media library.

  2. Click Add Asset and select the type of asset:

    • Image – JPG, PNG, BMP and GIF files.
    • Video – MP4, WebM, MKV, and OGV files.
    • Stream – HLS, RTMP, and MJPEG streams.
  3. Select your asset files and click Open. The assets will begin uploading.

  4. After uploading, you can edit asset metadata like titles, durations, and start/end times.

  5. Click Save to add the assets to your library.

  6. To display the assets, select them and click Publish or drag them into the playlist.

Your published assets will now display on your Screenly device according to the playlist order and duration settings.

Advanced Configuration

Here are some advanced configuration options to customize and optimize your Screenly digital signage:

  • Enable automatic updates – Keep Screenly up-to-date by turning on automatic updates in System Settings.
  • Adjust display settings – Rotate orientation, set resolution, change splash screen, etc.
  • Configure streaming settings – Set RTMP and HLS stream URLs.
  • Remote management – Control your Pi remotely via SSH keys for headless operation.
  • Integrate calendars – Automatically populate your playlist from Google Calendar or iCalendar.
  • Automate playlists – Schedule playlists by time of day and day of week.
  • Use offline caching – Store assets locally to display content without internet.
  • Integrate sensors – Connect motion, temperature, or light sensors to enhance your signage.
  • Multi-display setup – Sync Screenly across multiple monitors.
  • Enable automatic reboots – Improve stability with scheduled restarts.

Refer to Screenly’s extensive documentation site for detailed guides on all of these advanced configuration options. The flexible open-source platform enables deep customization to suit your specific needs.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Here are some solutions for common problems that may arise with your Screenly digital signage system:

  • Display not turning on – Check the physical connections and display settings. Test with a different monitor.
  • All assets black/frozen – Reboot the Pi and check if assets play individually. Delete and re-add troublesome assets.
  • Playlist not advancing – Increase default duration, checkEndTime settings, and playlist configuration.
  • Choppy video playback – Optimize encoding, lower resolution, use a more powerful Pi model.
  • Stream showing “No connection” – Verify internet connectivity and stream URL. Add caching for more reliability.
  • Can’t access web interface – Use static IP, check firewall, and reset admin password if needed.
  • Asset uploads freezing – Lower the upload quality, add more storage, and/or upgrade the Pi.
  • Screenly unresponsive – Reboot the Pi. Check logs for crashes. Rule out hardware issues.

Refer to Screenly’s troubleshooting guide for more detailed troubleshooting steps. Reach out to the active community forums if you need additional help.

Conclusion

Setting up Screenly’s digital signage system on the Raspberry Pi provides an affordable and versatile way to create engaging signage. With Screenly’s user-friendly snap installation and web-based management interface, it’s easy to get started.

This guide covered the basics of installing Screenly, performing initial configuration, adding content, and troubleshooting problems. Additionally, we looked at some advanced features to customize Screenly for your needs.

With robust open-source software like Screenly, the possibilities for innovative digital signage on the Raspberry Pi are endless. From simple image slideshows to synchronized multi-screen video walls, Screenly can handle it all. Have fun exploring all the capabilities of Raspberry Pi signage with Screenly!

Key Takeaways

  • Screenly provides an easy way to create digital signage with the Raspberry Pi using free open-source software.
  • The installation process is straightforward with Screenly’s snap package.
  • Initial configuration is done through Screenly’s browser-based setup wizard.
  • Content is added by uploading image, video, and streaming assets to the media library.
  • Advanced features allow deep customization like calendars, automated playlists, remote management, and sensors.
  • Common issues can often be fixed by troubleshooting display settings, storage, encoding, and network connectivity.
  • With Screenly and a Raspberry Pi you can build affordable digital signage tailored to your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What models of Raspberry Pi work with Screenly?
    Screenly supports Raspberry Pi 2 and later models. For best performance, a Pi 3 or 4 is recommended.
  2. Do I need a monitor for Screenly to work?
    Yes, you need an external monitor connected via HDMI to display the Screenly content.
  3. Can I manage Screenly remotely?
    Yes, Screenly can be controlled from any browser by accessing the Pi’s IP address. Use SSH for more advanced remote management.
  4. How do I add streaming content to Screenly?
    You can add streaming sources like RTMP, HLS and MJPEG by creating a new streaming asset. Enter the stream URL.
  5. Is Screenly free to use?
    Yes, Screenly OSE (Open Source Edition) is 100% free and open-source software. There is a paid Screenly Pro version with additional features.
  6. How do I display a web page in Screenly?
    Add a streaming MJPEG asset and enter the URL of the web page as the stream source.
  7. Can I automate asset uploads to Screenly?
    Yes, assets and playlists can be automated via the API and tools like Screenly OSE Companion.
  8. How long will the SD card last running Screenly 24/7?
    With a high-endurance SD card, Screenly can generally run reliably for 1-2 years before needing to replace the card.
  9. Is a static IP address required for Screenly?
    A static IP is recommended for easy and consistent remote access, but a dynamic IP will also work.
  10. How do I backup my Screenly assets and configuration?
    All data is stored under /home/screenly. You can backup this Screenly folder regularly.
  11. Can I use Screenly without an internet connection?
    Yes, you can use offline asset caching to load content locally. An internet connection is only required for streaming sources.
  12. How do I control Screenly remotely without the web interface?
    You can use the Screenly API to remotely manage assets, playlists, and settings programmatically.
  13. How can I improve video performance on the Raspberry Pi?
    Using lower resolutions and a optimized video encoding settings will result in smoother playback. Newer Pi models also help.
  14. How do I display the same Screenly content on multiple monitors?
    You can either clone your HDMI output or setup multiple Screenly devices to synchronize via the API.
  15. What CMS platforms support Screenly integration?
    Screenly plugins exist for popular CMS tools like WordPress, Drupal, and Django.
  16. Does Screenly support touchscreen displays?
    Yes, Screenly works with most touchscreen monitors. The interface can be navigated with touch using the toolbar at the top.
  17. Can I use Screenly for menu boards?
    Yes, Screenly is commonly used to create both digital menu boards and drive-thru displays for restaurants.
  18. Is Screenly suitable for outdoor use?
    With the proper outdoor-rated display enclosure, Screenly can be used outdoors. Just ensure the Pi itself is protected.
  19. Can I play audio through Screenly?
    Yes, audio can be played by adding video assets with audio tracks or embedding audio into image assets.|
  20. How do I prevent my Pi from overheating running Screenly 24/7?
    Using a heat sink and/or fan for the Pi along with sufficient ventilation should prevent overheating issues.

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