I recently brought a Chromecast 2 to make my living room TV “smart”. It’s one of those dumb flat TV that have limited functions but multiple HDMI ports. My parents like to watch movies but always find it a hassle to go to the cinema just to watch it. Not just that, walking for old people is considered a hassle. Most of the time they will just give it up.
What is this tutorial about?
Lets says you have a sizable amount of contents you have in your computer or NAS (Network Access Storage) that you wanted it to be stream to your Chromecast. These contents can be movies, audio, videos, photos, anime, etc. We can use Plex as a Media Server to serve the content and use BubbleUpnp as a controller to direct the content to. Continue to read and find out.
I uses Android from my phone to tablet but Chromecast can work with Apple product too. Just need to find similar app that can do similar things.
I have a huge collection of movies, audio, anime, etc that I can stream directly to the living room TV but needed a third-party to handle the connection. I saw Chromecast 2 as the bridge between my collections and the living room TV. I learnt how to properly how to set up this up and thought this might be useful to someone who are in the same situation.
For the uninitiated, a Chromecast is just a dongle that plugs into your TV HDMI port and give you the ability to cast contents via your phone/tablet. Don’t worry about overheating on your phone/tablet as it won’t become a router/server to cast the specific content to your TV screen. Instead, Chromecast will directly load it up and you are free to use your phone as a remote control.
This is just one of the use cases that I am writing. You can do a lots of things with it like casting YouTube, Netflix, etc.
There are currently 2 version of Chromecast in the market. The first generation Chromecast look like a thumb drive while the second generation is a circle with short cable attached. Be sure to get the latest which you can get it from Amazon directly.
Apps that you need
You need Plex to operate as a media server to serve contents you have. The software is free to download and use. You could get a paid subscription but it is not needed in this tutorial. I like to use Plex because it helps to organize my library and will get metadata from the web if there are none in my collections. Once Plex is installed, create your own library and point it to a folder. For instance, you have a folder full of English Movies. Just create a new library and point to it and give it a name.
You need to have BubbleUpnp installed on to your Android phone/tablet before any option of Plex showing up. This is the app that will enable you to see your library that is currently being served by Plex. If everything is set up correctly you will be able to see your libraries listed and indexed.
- Google Cast
This is basically the main app that help you setup Chromecast in the very beginning and allow you to tweak different settings. Download the app through the Play Store.
Of course, you will need a Chromecast to make this tutorial work. You can go to their official website to see which retailer is selling the device in your country. For Malaysian reader, Lazada is currently serving as the main retailer for Malaysia. I have to says, they make it super fast sending this little guy over. I got it the next day.
Setting up Chromecast is quite easy.
- Download Google Cast
- Plug it in to the HDMI port
- Turn on the power to the device
- Switch to the plugged in HDMI port number
- Open Google Cast
- Wait for the interface to load
- It will ask you for your home Wi-Fi through your phone
- Go through the initial setup and give it a name
- Leave the guest mode active so casting from friends in the future will be easy
- Once things is set up, you will be able to see the dashboard
You are done setting up now. If your Plex is ready and BubbleUpnp is already opened then you can start to cast your favorite movie now.
Making everything works together
All of the actor are already in play. Now you just need to link them to work together.
- Turn on your computer which Plex is installed on
- All devices are connected to the same home Wi-Fi
Follow the Steps:
Fire up BubbleUpnp app on your phone/tablet.
I have my Chromecast named as “Living Room” as shown in the image below. Make sure the correct renderer is selected that points to your Chromecast. Once the Chromecast is selected as the default renderer. You will be able to see a big white word ‘BubbleUpnp’ on the TV screen. Now, the device is ready for casting.
Select a piece of content to stream from your library. As you can see from the image above “Plex Media Server: Tanuki” is my server. Go into Media > Video to start selecting.
Enjoy your favorite movie in the comfort of your living room.
Why some of my videos doesn’t have sounds?
This is a common problem as Chromecast only supports a handful of containers and codecs. To go around this problem, you can download BubbleUpnp Server to help with transcoding. The software will detect your current stream and transcode automatically on-top of Plex. However, this approach will eat up your CPU as the transcoding process runs. So, a powerful computer is recommended. The process will utilized somewhere 10% – 30% of your CPU.
That’s all you need to set up to make your collections of movies, vacation photos and music stored in your desktop to be played on Chromecast. Happy casting!