Jordan Burgees, an engineering student at Cambridge, has successfully hacked a Raspberry Pi to act as an AirPlay audio receiver. The hack requires Raspberry Pi running a copy of Debian Linux, a USB Wi-Fi card and an SD card for storage. Once these materials are gathered and Debian is loaded, the user must install Shairport, an application that emulates Apple’s own AirPort Express. Once this and all other necessary instructions are followed, you can connect to your Raspberry Pi as you would to any other AirPlay enabled speaker. Burgees dubbed the hack the “AirPi”.
Raspberry Pi is an extremely cheap Linux computer that can be purchased for a mere $25. The computer is completely open source and can run a wide variety of Linux builds when tweaked correctly, making it a hacker’s dream device. Raspberry Pi runs on a 700MHz processor, 512MB of RAM and has both HDMI and standard Composite RCA video outputs.
Considering Apple’s own AirPort Express, which performs the same functions as the AirPi and costs $99, this hack is a pretty good deal if you have $30 for parts and some extra time lying around. The only major drawback to the AirPi is the fact that the audio output kind of sucks. Fortunately, if you don’t mind spending an extra $5, a USB sound card fixes this issue.
For full instructions on how to set up your Raspberry Pi as an AirPlay speaker, check out Burgees’ blog.