• Logitech SqueezeBox replacement for under $30

    Pogoplug VAMP

    I'm re-writing this article simply because the Vortexbox site was hacked and this excellent information in the original Logitech Squeezebox replacement for under $30 was lost. I did find some excellent writeups such as Turning a Pogoplug in to a Music Player, however every site I found was missing something and sent me digging. This hopefully can be a complete guide for anyone late to the VAMP game. Note that I simply regurgitate the information and the true geniuses have done all the work before me.

    Selecting your Pogoplug

    First and foremost you need to have the correct version of the Pogoplug. This gets a little confusing because, at the time of writing, there are 5 different versions of the Pogoplug and the differences are indiscernible on the exterior. The one you are looking for will say POGO-E02 on the bottom by the MAC address and has an ARM5 processor. I've heard the pink ones are usually POGO-E02, mine was black.

    You'll also need at least a 4GB USB stick for the VAMP image and a USB "DAC" (digital-to-analog) converter. More on that later.

    Setting up SSH on your Pogoplug

    In order to install the VAMP image, you'll need to enable SSH access on your Pogoplug. To do this go to http://www.pogoplug.com and create an account. Once your Pogoplug is found go to the little gear on the top right and choose Settings. Then go to Security and enable SSH. Pogoplug's official FAQ on how to do it is here and you can see the image below.

    Setting up Pogoplug SSH access

    Once complete you can now SSH in to your Pogoplug with a software such as PUTTY. You'll need to find the IP address, which you can do with the excellent Android/iOS app Fing from Overlook Software. The user will be root and the password will be ceadmin. I had trouble with that combination and ended up using the account name and password that I set up on pogoplug.com.

    Installing the bootloader

    In order to run the VAMP USB image on the Pogoplug you need to install a new bootloader and set up the uBoot environment. The first set of commands you'll run are:

    cd /tmp
    wget http://jeff.doozan.com/debian/uboot/install_uboot_mtd0.sh
    chmod +x install_uboot_mtd0.sh
    export PATH=$PATH:/usr/sbin:/sbin
    Follow the prompts, answer "ok" and disable the Pogoplug services.

    Next set up the uBoot environment with these commands:

    wget http://yum.vortexbox.org/armutil/fsetup.sh
    chmod +x fsetup.sh
    Now you'll need to get the latest VAMP image. At the time of writing it's at http://vortexbox.org/iso/VAMP_0.6.zip and is referenced in the VAMP 0.6 thread.

    Here's where your 4GB USB stick comes in. After downloading the VAMP image, transfer it to USB using a tool such as the USB Image Tool. Plug the USB stick in once the image has been transferred and then reboot your Pogoplug. You can do this easily by simply typing "reboot" if you are still in the SSH screen.

    Be patient here, the VAMP image takes awhile to boot. Once the Pogoplug starts pinging again you can SSH back in to it. My user was root and password was vamp, others say the password is ceadmin, your mileage may vary.

    Adding Audio Out

    The $26 Pogoplug does not come with any audio out, not for that price. You'll need a USB to digital or USB to analog adapter. I chose the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II which I picked up from MicroCenter for $26. I chose that one, first of all because it's all they had, but also because it does both optical digital out and 3.5mm analog out. This allows me to connect to a receiver digitally and take advantage of the better DAC in the receiver, or connect by good ol' RCA plugs and rely on the DAC in the Turtle Beach adapter. You can see the Micro II below.

    Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II

    Web GUI and configuration

    As with the great Vortexbox system, the VAMP comes with a web GUI which you can access with the IP address in a browser. It's fairly "barebones" as you can see in the picture of one of the tabs below, but adequate and will probably gain more functionality as time goes on.

    Squeezelite screen within VAMP

    When you first connect sound you may find the volume is way too high or way too low. This can be easily remedied by running alsamixer from the SSH command line. I moved volume down to about 75% which seemed to match much better, but it will be an individual thing. You can see my example screen in the image below. Changes are made with the left, right, up and down arrows. For more on alsamixer reference its wikipedia article. Be sure to run alsactl store when done making changes so that your changes are saved.

    alsamixer on the VAMP

    Once done you can reference the Pogoplug VAMP just like any of your other Squeezebox devices, synching zones and just generally enjoying music.

    That should be it. Any questions please just drop a comment and I'll try to reply.

    To be realistic, it's not under $30, it's under $60 with the DAC and USB stick, but that's still a lot less than Squeezebox devices are getting on ebay these days.