Kevin Hinds' Raspberry Pi-Powered Virtual Fireplace Is a Convincing Bit of Carpentry
Maker Kevin Hinds has given his living room an upgrade ready for the holiday season, building a living fireplace screen out of wood, a low-cost TV, and a Raspberry Pi single-board computer.
From a distance, you could easily be fooled into thinking that the screen — which includes textured "bricks" seemingly exposed from the chimney breast, but in reality cheap self-adhesive 3D wallpaper — is a genuine fireplace. Pull on the mantelpiece, though, and the entire unit comes away from the wall — revealing its low-cost internals.
Built using a custom wooden frame for a 32" TV and off-the-shelf fireplace surround and mantel, Hinds' fireplace screen is driven by a Raspberry Pi. There's no massively complex programming involved: Simple cron jobs flip between two looped videos, the first showing a crackling fire and the second a cold, empty hearth.
While Hinds has shared his simple scripts for looping the videos, however, they rely on omxplayer — a tool formerly used to play back hardware-accelerated video on the Raspberry Pi's VideoCore IV graphics processor but officially deprecated as of the release of the latest Raspberry Pi OS built on Debian 'Bullseye'. Anyone following in Hinds' footsteps, then, is advised to swap omxplayer out in favor of VLC, the preferred playback tool in the latest Raspberry Pi OS releases.
Details, including crontab entries and a simple shell script to keep the video files running, are available on Hinds' Reddit post.