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May 16, 2014 AT 7:00 am

Watch a live video feed of the earth with your Raspberry Pi! #piday #raspberrypi @Raspberry_Pi

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We posted a couple weeks ago about the awesome new live video feed of the earth from space. Now, Miguel Grinberg has posted on his blog about a new project he made to live stream the feed using a Raspberry Pi. Very cool!

A few weeks ago NASA started streaming live video of Earth from cameras installed aboard the International Space Station (ISS), and some of the views are nothing short of breathtaking. If you haven’t seen this stream yet, then stop reading and go watch it now. Keep in mind that you have a 50% chance of catching the dark part of the planet, so if all you find is an all black image then try again a little later. You can always check isstracker.com to find out over which region the ISS is over and if it is day or night there.

I thought it would be a cool idea to have this stream running on a small screen by my desk. Something I can keep an eye on while I work, so that I can catch the most interesting views without having to have it constantly taking space on my computer’s screen.

In this short article I’m going to show you how to play the ISS live stream on your Raspberry Pi.

Playing Video Streams on the Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi is well equipped for the task of playing video streams because it can decode the video in the GPU, so the amount of work done in the CPU is minimal. The Pi’s GPU comes with a H.264 video decoder from the factory. This is the format most web based video streams use, including the ISS stream. As a side note, an MPEG-2 decoder is also available, but a license needs to be purchased from the Raspberry Pi Foundation to use it.

The ISS live stream is provided by UStream. The stream is delivered in short segments, presented to the player in a constantly changing playlist, using a format called HLS. But UStream does not openly advertise how to access these playlists, instead they expect clients to embed a UStream web based video player applet based on Flash or HTML5, where all the HLS processing is done.

See the full tutorial here.


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