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ESPFLIX: A Free ESP32-Based Streaming Service

Reporting from Shanghai, China
Aug 28, 2020

Rossum shows how makers can build an open-source set-top box and connect it to an ESP32-powered video streaming service.

Rossum, who is a well-known maker, presented in a recent blogpost his ESPFLIX, an open-source streaming service which is designed to run on ESP32 within the Arduino IDE framework. According to Hackaday writer Lewin Day, “These days, if you’ve got a TV that’s a little too old to directly access streaming services, you’ve got plenty of options. Apple TV, Chromecast, and a cavalcade of Android boxes are available to help get content on your screen. However, if you’re really stuck in the past, ESPFLIX might just be for you.”

Like in the case of Rossum’s previous project, ESP_8_BIT, which was effectively a prelude to ESPFLIX, the schematic diagram of the latter is pretty simple:

Building, then, on the NTSC/PAL software video output created for ESP_8_BIT, ESPFLIX adds video and audio codecs, as well as an AWS streaming service to deliver an open-source pastiche of Netflix. The video output is MPEG1, at just 352×192 resolution, while the audio output is generated via the SBC codec, originally intended for use with Bluetooth devices. It’s chosen here for its tiny sample buffers, making it easier for decoding in the RAM of ESP32. The output comes via a composite video generated on ESP32 itself.

The movies currently contained in the ESPFLIX library consist of public domain content running off an Amazon Web Services instance. Rossum made an optimal use of the RAM that is available on ESP32, while taking advantage of an AWS Cloudfront instance which enables the use of ESPFLIX from most places around the world with a solid internet connection.

According to Rossum himself: “ESP32 is a great little device. Kind of amazing you can create a set-top box for less than the price of a remote control, and that platforms like AWS enable a streaming service like this for very little time/money”.

You can enjoy a demonstration of ESPFLIX on YouTube by clicking here and you can get all the details about ESPFLIX by clicking here.

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