Topic: RPi 3 with touchscreen and Emteria Android

When my Chumby died I couldn't readily find another one, sadly. So I needed to find an alternative.

I couldn't find off the shelf anything like Chumby, the closest thing being Amazon's Echo Show, but don't like the privacy invading aspects.

I post here in case anyone is in a similar place to me.

My use case requirement is a bedside Alarm clock that can play media (Audio and Video), with some information services.

I bought a Raspberry Pi 3 with the official 7 inch touchscreen. I also bought some cheap standard USB $8 soundcards for audio.

But what to run on this. Most of the standard Linux distro's don't seem so touch friendly (especially for general purpose use).
I also looked at running a KODI boot (OpenELEC or LibreELEC) but it seems to be very limited in Alarm clock functionality.

So I looked at Android. But the free ones seemed pretty nasty with the touchscreen (LineageOS).

I found this company Emteria that do an embedded Android with good support for the official 7 inch touchscreen

The only downside was the cost €69, but can be tried for free (the limitation of the free one is it reboots every 8 hours).

Then I can install basically standard Android apps to allow most information functions. To workaround some limitations I saw I installed:

Volume Notification - Allows me to control the volume from the pull down (there are no standard phone rocker volume controls on the Pi)

Turbo Alarm - A more sophisticated Alarm clock.

Ultrasonic - To play audio content from my Subsonic server.

MX Player - Plays video for me, I use Subsonic/Ultrasonic to stream this (get Ultrasonic to launch MX Player for Video content). Works well but had to produce limited bandwidth video files to make this work but had to do that on Chumby too.

Daydream Launcher Icon - Set my screen saver to a digital clock and this launches that instantly, so if I want just the time on screen for sleeping. I also have Tasker launch this at boot so I boot straight into a clock.

Tasker - I use this to launch a script to play Alarm sounds out of a second sound card with a speaker attached (Turbo Alarm can launch Tasker events)., my main card is headphones only.

If anyone gets this far commands to play out of a second audio card:

/system/bin/tinymix -D 2 5 37 - Sets volume in android to maximum on card 2.
/system/bin/tinyplay /sdcard/lcl/alarm.wav -D 2 - Play alarm.wav from card 2.

So I have a shell scripted loop that looks for a file, the loop plays the alarm sound, goes round the loop again. If the alarm is suspended, another tasker script creates the file and this stops the alarm playing sound from speaker (by terminating the loop in the first script).

This all works okay with a few compromises, the screen is a little small for some Android apps. I installed Google apps, but even the Pico version is kind of heavier than you'd maybe want (the Pi is tightish on RAM for Android), and broke last time I upgraded. So alternative ways of installing apps from Playstore have worked better for me.

After using I bought a license for Emteria as I'm pretty happy with my new Alarm clock.

Hope this helps someone else!