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Raspbery Pi Installation

Get set up in minutes with our custom Raspberry Pi image.

Note: If you would like to install Channels DVR Server directly on your existing Pi, you can do so by following the standard Linux instructions.

Requirements

Our custom image was designed and optimized for the Raspberry Pi 4 to be flashed to a USB 3.0 hard drive. SD cards are not recommended.

2 GB of RAM is perfectly fine for a Pi that is dedicated for Channels DVR Server.

Protip: For more information, see this thread on our forum.

Download The Image

Download our custom Raspberry Pi image to your computer to flash it to your USB 3.0 hard drive.

Download Image

Prepare your Raspberry Pi for USB Boot

Your Raspbery Pi 4 will likely ship with factory EEPROM which does not have USB boot enabled. You will need to update its EEPROM firmware using an SD card.

If your Pi is already prepared for USB boot, you can skip to the next section.

  1. Using the Raspberry Pi Imager, click Choose OS > Misc utility images > Pi 4 EEPROM boot recovery, then select your SD card and click Write.
  2. Boot your Pi using the SD card and wait until the green light on the front starts blinking rapidly.
  3. Unplug the power and remove the SD card.
raspberry pi imager

Flash the Image to your USB 3.0 Hard Drive

Once your Pi can boot directly from USB, simply prepare your USB drive with the Channels DVR Server software and plug it in.

  1. Using the Raspberry Pi Imager, click Choose OS > Use custom > ChannelsDVRServer_PI4.img.gz.
  2. Click Choose SD and pick your USB3 drive, then click Write.
  3. Attach the drive to your Pi using one of the BLUE USB 3.0 ports.
  4. Plug your power supply into the Pi to boot up your new DVR.
  5. Wait for the light on the front of the Pi to turn solid green.

Your DVR is up and running. Visit http://dvr-server to finish setup.

Tips and Tricks

Our Raspberry Pi custom image doesn’t just get you going faster, it creates a whole operating system dedicated to Channels DVR Server.

Channels DVR Server has some extra features to help you manage your Pi.

Access Recordings

After shutting down your Pi, you can remove and connect your flashed USB 3.0 hard drive to any other computer to access files from it.

Do this to move files to and from it freely. Then just reconnect it back to your Pi and power it back up.

Share Files over the Network

Turn on file sharing so other computers can access recordings and other files.

samba share

Mount other Network Shares

Mount other network shares directly into your Channels DVR Server.

mount shares

Manage your Pi

Tell the Pi to reboot or shut down.

reboot pi

Troubleshooting

USB enclosures

Some USB enclosures (particularly ones by Sabrent) are known to have compatibility issues with the Raspberry Pi. Refer to this article for a list of known working and problematic adapters.

LEDs

The green LED on the front of the Raspberry Pi will go through the following sequence after power-on:

  1. RPI EEPROM booting: solid green (~5 seconds)
  2. U-Boot booting: solid black (~5 seconds)
  3. Linux Kernel booting: solid green (~5 seconds)
  4. OS booting: black flashing green (~10 seconds)
  5. Waiting for NTP time sync: green flashing black
  6. DVR active: solid green

The DVR web interface on http://dvr-server is accessible as soon as the OS boots (step 4), approximately 25-30s after the Pi is powered on.

HDMI display

A micro-HDMI adapter can be used to plug the Pi into a TV or monitor. This may be necessary for troubleshooting in some cases, to see where the Pi is stuck and if any error messages from the firmware/kernel/OS are displayed on screen.

Terminal access is also available when a display is attached, by attaching a keyboard and logging in with the user root.

SSH access

SSH root access to the OS is possible on port 22222. To enable this feature:

  1. Format any small USB thumbdrive (using FAT/NTFS/exFAT/HFS) with the label CONFIG
  2. Prepare an authorized_keys file and copy it to the drive
  3. Plug the drive into the Pi
  4. SSH access will be setup automatically for the SSH key provided, via ssh -p 22222 root@dvr-server

For more details, see this article.

Advanced

Reusing existing DVR USB drive

If you already have a DVR installation on a PC/Mac using a dedicated USB drive, there are two ways to migrate your DVR to a Pi.

The first option converts your existing drive to a Pi boot drive, but requires copying your data off the drive first (which can be quite slow if you have a lot of recordings). The alternative is to use a smaller secondary drive as the dedicated OS boot image, in which case the DVR drive can be attached directly with no modifications necessary.

Convert drive to Pi OS
  1. Copy all your data off the existing drive, including the Database, TV, Movies, Streaming, Logs and Images folders
  2. Reformat and prepare the drive using the instructions above
  3. Boot up the DVR on your Pi
  4. Enable Samba access, then copy all your data back to the drive
  5. Visit http://dvr-server:8089/restore and select the most recent backup from the Database folder
Secondary Pi OS drive
  1. Purchase a small/inexpensive (~60GB) SSD drive and prepare it using the instructions above
  2. Boot your Pi off the SSD
  3. Attach your existing DVR drive to the second USB3 port
  4. Visit http://dvr-server:8089/restore and select the most recent backup from the Database folder on your old drive