How to Build an Android TV Box With a Raspberry Pi

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How to Build an Android TV Box With a Raspberry Pi

Android TV does not need you to invest hundreds of dollars on a new television. All you need is a little $50 PC and a microSD card. You can build your own Raspberry Pi Android TV box for a fraction of the cost of a new TV and customize it to your liking.

Learn how to install Android TV on the Raspberry Pi 3, 3 B+, 4 and 400 computers.

Android TV on Raspberry Pi

Before we begin, it’s vital to recognize that the Android and Android TV versions utilized in this project are beta versions. As a result, they have limitations that you may not encounter with a true Android TV set.

There are four Raspberry Pi models that can run Android TV:

  • Raspberry Pi 3
  • Raspberry Pi 3 B+
  • Raspberry Pi 4
  • Raspberry Pi 400

A Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB of RAM will provide the greatest results.

The instructions for the Raspberry Pi 4 and Raspberry Pi 400 are provided below. The Raspberry Pi 3 and Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Android TV installations need different processes, which will be covered later.

Here’s what you need to do if you want to make a Raspberry Pi smart TV without spending money on a new Android TV.

Install Android TV on a Raspberry Pi 4 or 400

You’ll need the following components to make your own Raspberry Pi 4-powered Android TV:

  • 4th Raspberry Pi (4GB or 8GB models are best)
  • MicroSD card of high quality (16GB or more)
  • Raspberry Pi 4 PSU
  • USB mouse and keyboard (alternatively, a combi remote)
  • USB flash drive
  • HDMI cable
  • Ethernet cable (optional)

With those items gathered, you’re ready to start.

Step 1: Download and Install Android TV

Begin by downloading the LineageOS 18.1 Android TV build for your Raspberry Pi 4.

Download: LineageOS 18.1 Android TV by KonstaKANG

Next, get Etcher from Balena and install it. This is a powerful disk image writing utility that was used to build bootable SD cards for the Raspberry Pi.

Download: Etcher

Then, using Etcher, install LineageOS on the SD card. For more information, see our guide on installing a Raspberry Pi OS.

Step 2: Configure Android TV, TWRP, and GApps

Unlike the Raspberry Pi 3 build, the Android TV configuration on the Raspberry Pi 4 is almost ready to use right away. However, you will need to install a few applications that aren’t included, like GApps. A few changes, however, are necessary.

But first, you’ll need to understand how to utilize Android TV with a keyboard.

  • F1 = Home
  • F2 = Back
  • F3 = View open apps
  • F4 = Menu
  • F5 = Power
  • F11 = Volume down
  • F12 = Volume up

Enable developer settings after connecting to your Wi-Fi network:

  1. Select Settings > Device Preferences from the menu.
  2. Open About
  3. Scroll down to the Build number and click it many times until you get a notice regarding Developer Options.
  4. Return to the Settings menu and look for the Developer Options section.
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You may use Developer Options to allow access to the TWRP recovery menu by configuring the Advanced reboot option:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Device Preferences.
  2. Select Developer options
  3. Here, click Advanced reboot

This gives you access to TWRP, which is essential for flashing and sideloading, as well as the GApps package.

The Raspberry Pi 4 is presently running test versions of Google Apps (GApps) packages for Android TV. As a result, functionalities may be missing or unstable. GApps for Android 12 is now available for download on Android Filehost.

Download: GApps for Android TV on Raspberry Pi 4

Choose the tvstock or tvmini package and save the ZIP file to your computer, then transfer it to a removable device that can be connected to the Raspberry Pi.

Once you’ve done that, boot to TWRP:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Device Preferences.
  2. Select Reboot > Recovery

In TWRP:

  1. Select Install
  2. Browse to the GApps ZIP file
  3. Swipe to confirm the flash and wait
  4. Next, choose to Wipe > Factory Reset.

To quit TWRP, use the Reboot option to restart the Raspberry Pi 4.

Step 3: Reboot Your Raspberry Pi 4 to Use Android TV

After you’ve sorted out the Google applications, reboot the Pi 4 to begin using Android TV. Sign in, download media streaming tools, or link your own media to the system. It’s everything waiting for you!

Do you need further customization? This version of Android TV for Raspberry Pi 4 has numerous configuration options. Everything from installing a physical power button to configuring SSH is covered. You may also use an IR remote to control the device and deliver audio via the 3.5mm connector instead of HDMI.

Settings > Device Preferences > Raspberry Pi settings include Raspberry Pi 4 specific options.

Tweaks and troubleshooting advice may be available on the KostaKANG website’s download page. Otherwise, you now have a Raspberry Pi 4 Android TV!

Install Android TV on Raspberry Pi 3 and 3 B+

The installation methods alter somewhat if you have a Raspberry Pi 3/3 B+. Before you begin, make sure you have:

  • A Raspberry Pi 3 or Pi 3 B+
  • A good quality microSD card
  • Power source for the Raspberry Pi that is dependable
  • USB mouse and keyboard (or combi remote)
  • USB flash drive
  • HDMI cable
  • Ethernet cable (optional)

The following software packages are required to install Android TV on a Raspberry Pi 3 or 3 B+:

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Ready to start? Let’s go.

Step 1: Unpack and Install Android

By installing LineageOS on your Raspberry Pi, you have access to the Android operating system. This might indicate improved support for media apps like YouTube and Kodi. However, with the correct Google applications loaded, your Android-powered Raspberry Pi makes an excellent Android TV.

This is feasible with several versions of Android on Raspberry Pi, however the LineageOS version listed above yields the best results. Before continuing, make sure the ZIP file is unzipped.

Then, using Etcher, install LineageOS on the SD card. LineageOS needs minimal setup after installation and booting successfully. Define the standard stuff: nation, time zone, and so on.

Step 2: Prepare Android TV for Google Apps

Android is currently operating on your Raspberry Pi. Because this is an AOSP-based version, no Google applications are installed; you must manually install them.

You should have previously installed the GApps package on your computer. Go to opengapps.org and choose:

(It’s tempting to choose Android TV over Pico, but don’t.) This is merely a bigger file that accomplishes nothing except create difficulties down the road.)

Select Download, then transfer the GApps file to your USB flash drive after it has been saved to your PC. Remove it safely and replace it in your Raspberry Pi.

Next, launch LineageOS and go to Settings > System > About tablet. Scroll down to the Build number and click it many times. This will eventually add the Developer options menu to the preceding screen.

Return to the Settings app until you’ve quit it, then reopen it and browse to System > Developer options. Select Root access and then the Apps and ADB option, then OK when the warning appears.

Scroll down to Local terminal and turn on the app. This grants you local shell access, allowing you to input commands using the keyboard.

Return to the app drawer and launch the Terminal app, then grant the app access to your device.

Next, enter the superuser command:

su

A Privacy Guard warning box will be shown. Check Keep my option in mind (to assure future authorization for what you’re going to do) and then Allow.

Next, enter the command

rpi3-recovery.sh

This executes the recovery script. To start it, type reboot on the command line.

reboot

The Raspberry Pi will boot into TWRP recovery mode. Pick Install, then Storage to select your USB flash drive.

Select the GApps file, then Install Zip, then tick Reboot after installation on the next page before Swiping to confirm Flash.

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You should be able to access the Play Store when the device reboots.

Step 3: Configure Your Android TV Interface

So far, you’ll note that the LineageOS interface on your Raspberry Pi looks a lot like Android, not Android TV. You’ll need a launcher to alter this.

There are other options; we utilized an ad-supported launcher called ATV Launcher Free from the Google Play Store. Sign in with your Google account, search for it, and install it. (Please keep in mind that your first sign-in to the Play Store will take a few seconds due to verification requirements.)

After you’ve completed the UI, you’ll need to add some helpful media applications. YouTube, Plex, Amazon Prime Video, Kodi, and more services function and are accessible on Google Play. Install these as normal to take use of your current subscriptions.

Please keep in mind that the performance of these applications has been uneven at best. Stick to YouTube for the greatest results. If you want to install additional programs, do some research to discover the best versions.

Step 4: Controlling Your Raspberry Pi 3 Android TV

When everything is up and running, you should definitely detach your mouse and keyboard in favor of something lighter. There are many remote alternatives for the Raspberry Pi that should work with Android TV.

The Mini Wireless Keyboard/Air Remote Control is a combined gadget with a programmable LED backlight.

You may also like the iPazzPort Wireless Mini Keyboard with Touchpad. This item incorporates the keyboard and touchpad, as well as a D pad and media controllers.

Both gadgets are wireless and come with a Wi-Fi dongle devoted to remote controllers.

Thanks to LineageOS and the Android TV user interface, you should now have a Raspberry Pi 3 Android TV or Raspberry Pi 4 Android TV streaming movies and music and playing games. To all intents and purposes, you now have a Raspberry Pi TV box running Android TV.

You may have performance issues, so be sure your microSD card is adequate to the task. Also, make sure you’re using an authorized Raspberry Pi power supply. This ensures that the Pi receives the necessary power while avoiding undervoltage and microSD card corruption.

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