Your Own Personal WiFi Storage

Our kids have reached the age – at ages 4, 4, and 7 respectively – that taking longer trips with them is now possible without everyone losing what's left of their sanity in the process. But we still have the problem, whether it's in a car, or on a plane – how do we bring enough stuff to keep the kids entertained without carting 5 pounds of books and equipment along, per person? How do I get enough local media installed on each of their iPads before the trip starts?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Very interesting! I recently set up a Plex server myself, and it seems with this setup I’d run into the same situation I am now: where do you even get media for it? I have seriously tried for many hours to find any satisfying answer to this question, and it seems, when you get down to brass tacks, the answer is generally a veiled “pirate it”. Sure, there are legitimate methods such as DVR and such, but mostly what content you have available tends to be pretty limited.

Where can I get media that works with Plex or this HooToo thing in a legitimate way?

Personally? I buy a lot of TV shows on iTunes, then strip the DRM from them. This gives me awesome quality and sound, and the complete flexibility to view our shows how I want, when I want, on whatever device I want. Without having to deal with $&@*#!%ing iTunes… well more than once, anyway.

Plus I can rest easy knowing I did pay the creators to support these great shows.

(And in case you’re concerned that I am not honest with my wild-n-crazy DRM removed MP4 video files, the metadata for all these video files include my iTunes account name by default. I have never once stripped metadata.)

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Fair enough. I hadn’t considered DRM removal… I guess I was looking only for 100% legal options (which is why I didn’t mention DVD/Blu-Ray ripping), but I suppose that in that absence of legal options, having at least moral options is pretty nice.

Thanks, you’ve changed how I think about this a lot. :slight_smile:


Out of interest, what do you use to do that, Jeff?

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Have you run into any issues with large file transfers with the 128GB USB drive? Coworker had tons of problems of it seemingly overheating.

I’ve been doing something similar with the Raspberry Pi B for the last 4 years. I use minidlna or some other dlna server on the pi, a TP Link wifi adapter, and a dual port USB charger. It’s worked pretty well. There are the issues of rest stops when the pi has to be powered off. I’ll probably move up to a Pi2 this year. I’ve been using 8player on the iPad, but it has had issues. I’d really like to have the plax server running on the pi. It’s much nicer to have the actual cover art that the plex will provide to its own client which we use already. I’ve ripped down a lot of the kid movies fhat we own. I don’t use torrent sites.

This provides a nice cheap solution and less DIY. I may pick one of these up for a family member…

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Do you know if I can use this with my Ubuntu setup ?

Thanks :slight_smile:

Looks really bulky. The Sandisk Connect Wireless is barely larger than a USB Flash drive.

I got my wife the previous generation one to entertain our toddler on the long San Francisco to London flight, loaded with Daniel Tiger episodes captured from over-the-air ATSC broadcasts using a Silicondust HDHomerun network tuner and Elgato EyeTV software.

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I’m also curious, since I currently do half the same thing – I buy things from iTunes Store, 'cos convenient and 'cos I have an AppleTV on the big screen anyway. But iTunes, per se, is terrible, so having a way to use better software would be convenient…

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nPlayer on iOS would pair well with this. It’s a very versatile media player with a built-in file browser that supports several file sharing protocols.

To connect on Mac, since I had to search to figure this out

  • Open a Finder Window
  • On the “Go” menu select “Connect to Server…”
  • Enter the HooToo device name, e.g. mully
  • When prompted enter admin or guest credentials

I was able to browse the files at that point. On Android, same technique works in the ES File Explorer pro app. Go to Network, then Add server, then enter the correct name and you’re golden!

Thank you so much for sharing this. The last road trip we took I setup a Rasp Pi, a Laptop, a Linksys WRT54G router and an external hard drive. Nothing worked very well. Everything by the laptop shut off when the car shut off and it blew the fuse in our car cigarette lighter from the power inverter’s draw. Needless to say, I’m going to buy this and make the next road trip FAR easier! :smiley: Question: Have you tried only using something like ES File Explorer or BS Player? The reviews on HooToo’s Android app are really bad…

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I’d be really surprised if it is USB3.

The MT7620A SoC only has USB2, and doesn’t have any PCIe lanes to add anything faster, not that it really matters with 100bT ethernet and two stream 2.4GHz 802.11n WiFi.

I like the integration of the TripMate Titan, but I’ve ended up with three little ~$15 Nexx WT3020 routers that I originally bought to use as WiFI bridges for some wired devices that aren’t getting much use now. They are basically the same hardware: MT7620a WiFi SoC 8MB Flash, 64MB RAM, and 1 USB2 host port, but with two 100baseT ports. I’ll just hotglue one to a USB powerbank…

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Stack of DVDs plus DVD decrypter plus Vidcoder (windows) or handbrake (OS X/Linux). Best done on a spare computer because vidcoder can take overnight or longer to chew through a big queue of DVDs.

If it turns out that buying from Itunes is cheaper than buying a used DVD, then: download the purchased video in an authorized copy of Itunes 10.5 (so either a secondary computer, or a virtual machine), and run Requiem on it. Unlike all the DRM removal tools you can buy, requiem will strip the DRM from itunes purchases instantly and losslessly. The only catch is that Requiem is abandonware and requires using an old version of Itunes.

The source of Requiem that I know of that doesn’t involve messing around with Tor or being bombarded with ads is this blog post about removing ebook DRM. The version on that page strips Apple’s DRM from anything you can buy via itunes – books, videos, whatever.

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Since when one can use WiFi on planes in US?
Last time I flew in EU all wireless communication was forbidden.

You know, there is another path : no such entertainment. I have two kids, have been traveling quite frequently with them for short and long trips and they have never watched any single movie in a car. There are other way to entertain kids during a trip :

  • teach them to look around at their environement
  • play games using the environment (we use the color of cars to mark points but there are many possibilities)
  • talk with them
  • sing
  • with small toys, they can also play in the car.

Yes, it’s more demanding to the parents. But kids spend already much too much time in front of a screen in my opinion.

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it’s a nice sentiment, but for some of us with autistic children, this is just not an option…

we have been using the following device for the same type of thing as the author, with great results (it was about the only available for postage to australia. i would get the hootoo one as well, but they don’t post to australia)…

If you have VLC player, you almost don’t have to bother transcoding any videos to MP4 h.264 if you have an iPad. Still, its better to have video transcoded to the specifications of the tablet. I tried the Sandisk Connect and it works okay, but the media browser was not very good and my three year kept asking daddy to play him the next video. He’s familiar with the Videos app in iOS, so UX is important if you want to uninterrupted video entertainment for the little ones. I’ll have to give File Explorer a try and see if that works out any better in terms of a UI. Ideally, a YouTube Kids interface would work well too.

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There are two open source options for this very sort of device: Piratebox, a project that allows public uploading as well as streaming, and LibraryBox, dedicated to educational use and ease of installation and use. I have used LibraryBox for exactly this use case…and bonus, it doesn’t require any app at all, and works on a standard web stack.

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