CHIP/Pi Zero W & VLC Thing/Big Talker = SONOS KILLER!

This is my FUN little project to skip SONOS! And by Little, I mean the C.H.I.P $9 computer replacing a bulky useless SONOS.

My Project cost about $50 (GREAT DEAL)
SONOS Play 1 cost $199+S&H (NOT A GOOD DEAL)

What you will need for the project:

  1. C.H.I.P $9 computer
  2. VLC Thing. A Poor Man’s Sonos Installed on your ST account and VLC player installed on your C.H.I.P $9 computer.
  3. Big Talker - Talk when events occur (Release 1.1.3) For Text-to-Speach event trigger.
  4. USB Hub Powered (Don’t use unpowered USB Hub with CHIP)-CHIP is a low power computer!
  5. Bluetooh/BLE Keyboard/Mouse (Only one built in USB port)
  6. Bluetooth speaker
  7. 3M velcro tap

Step 1: Buy C.H.I.P $9 computer.
Step 2: Connect it to a monitor
Step 3: Connect the Powered USB hub to the USB port
Step 4: Connect your wired Keyboard/Mouse to the Powered USB hub
Step 5: Connect the C.H.I.P to USB-B power port and watch the C.H.I.P. come to life
IT’S ALIVE! Ha Ha Ha Ha!
Sorry…That was Dr. Frankenstein in me!
Step 6: C.H.I.P Steps:

  • Use the built in Wi-Fi to connect to your home or office Wi-Fi
  • Pair the Bluetooth wireless Keyboard/Mouse. (Recommend getting an All-in-One Keyboard from Amazon)
  • Pair the Bluetooth Speaker with C.H.I.P $9 computer
  • Open the Unbutu Terminal
  • To install VLC on the C.H.I.P Type: sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install vlc
  • To get the IP from the C.H.I.P, Type: ip addr
  • Run the VLC player located in the Start menu -> Media Player folder
  • Refer to this VLC Configuration document for steps
    Step 7: Install VLC Thing on your SmartThings account.
    Step 8: Install Bib Talker app in your SmartThings account.
  • Installation BigTalker
  • Login at
  • Go to “My SmartApps” section and click on the “+ New SmartApp” button on the right.
  • On the “New SmartApp” page, Select the Tab “From Code” , Copy the BigTalker source code from GitHub (BigTalker.groovy) and paste it into the IDE editor window.
    • Click the “Create” button at the bottom.
    • Click the blue “Save” button above the editor window.
    • Click the “Publish” button next to it and select “For Me”. You have now self-published your SmartApp.
    • Open SmartThings mobile app and go to the Market Place (star burst icon).
    • Press “SmartApps”
    • Press “My Apps”
    • “BigTalker” app should be available in the list of SmartApps that appears. Tap it.
    • Android users have reported having to logout of the SmartThings app, closing it, and logging back in before new apps will show up.
    • Tap Configure to start setting up your talking events. Setup as many or as few as you like, but try not to setup events that would fire rapidly back to back or they will conflict with each other.

Set up VLC for the VLC Remote - Linux

NB: These setup instructions are for VLC 2.1 or later. If you are using an earlier version of VLC, then please click here.

A) Enable the HTTP Interface

1)Open the VLC settings
VLC Menu/Tools/Preferences
2)Enable ‘All Settings’ (by default VLC only shows the most used settings)
-Click on the ‘All’ button at the bottom left of the screen win prefs

3)Enable the interface
-Click on Interface, then Main interfaces
-Select the ‘Web’ checkbox.
*This should show ‘http’ in the text box

B) Set your password

1)Click on the Lua icon on the left
     -Enter a password under Lua HTTP
2)The default password we use is 'vlcremote' if you use this password, then the remote will connect automatically   without you needing to re-enter your password.
3)Change Port to 8080 as per VLC Thing recomendation.
4)Click save to save your preferences
5)Quit VLC and reopen it.


You are Done! Enjoy Your SmartThings Talking house!

Credits For VLC Thing and Big Talker go to these great developers: @rayzurbock & @geko
Thank you Both for making my project possible!


Great job! The first link says, “estimated shipping June 2016” but it’s available now? Also, your second link is wrong, but I figured it out.

Hi @Mr_Lucky,

Thanks for catching that one. Fixed the link now.
CHIP is finishing shipping to Backers and Pre-Orders and will send to anyone who orders The CHIP after. But since this project was delayed for a bit…It was worth the wait for me. This project was based on the Gen 1 Kickstarter C.H.I.P which was sent to me. I also Pre-Ordered 2 more of them. They will be shipping soon too. And when I’ll get them, I will be adding 2 more projects for C.H.I.P + SmartThings integration…Stay Tuned for those. They will be col too.


Can this work with amazon echo over Bluetooth connection? Will it maintain Bluetooth connection always with Echo or other speakers?

I don’t know about Amazon ECHO, but I believe that it will work with other speakers. I have tested so far with my SmartTV, a crappy BlueTooth speaker from Ebay. I have also ordered a Bluetooth to 2.5mm stereo adapter from Ebay and will test with that.

Yes, it should work. I do that now with a similar setup but using a Android tablet and LANnouncer.

1 Like

This may be rude on my part, and if so, just delete the post or tell me to… But…

Couldn’t you do the same thing with a $20 Android phone and the LANnouncer app by @NWTony?

There are several ways to do this.

Depends on what you want to accomplish. Taking in to account cost, reliability, form factors, etc.

1 Like

That is so true @JH1.

I will upload a few photos of my project and time permitting a video.

1 Like

Setting this up now. Planning on just plugging some computer speakers into the A/V jack and not bother with bluetooth. I got my C.H.I.P.s recently and I am seriously impressed. Liking them much better than my Raspberryp Pi’s and Orange Pi PC’s. I am working on a MiPow Playbulb device type using one and it is working really well. Excited to see what people make of these things.

1 Like

Hi @erocm1231,

Great to hear about your CHIP arrival. Can you post your project? Lets cross link. May be we can com up with more use cases for C.H.I.P and SmartThings.

Yep, I will definitely post it once I’m finished.

Setup the CHIP yesterday with vlc thing and spare computer speakers. Easy setup and work like a champ. I did things just a little bit differently and will post when I get a chance.

I wanted to make my CHIP headless as I wouldn’t be hooking it up to a monitor after setting up the wifi. Here are the steps for this. I assume these steps could be adapted to Raspberry Pi or other Debian based systems.

EDIT: Run all commands as root or use sudo (put sudo in front of them).

  1. Install the no-x version of vlc

apt-get install vlc-nox

  1. Create a user to run the vlc binary from and give them rights to the audio system

useradd -m vlcuser
usermod -a -G audio vlcuser

  1. Create a service file for systemd so that you can easily have vlc server start on boot. Pay attention to the ExecStart line where you will specify the password for the server

vi /etc/systemd/system/vlc.service

Description=vlc Service

ExecStart=/usr/bin/vlc -Ihttp --http-password choosepassword

  1. Tell systemd to reload its config files, start vlc, and enable it on boot

systemctl daemon-reload
systemctl start vlc
systemctl enable vlc

These instructions are only meant to supplement the CHIP part of the setup. The other instructions still stand.


Use this format for C.H.I.P or it doesn’t work:

To install VLC on the C.H.I.P Type: sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install vlc-nox

Yeah, sorry, all those commands need to be run as root or with sudo.

1 Like


Thanks for helping me this far.

Can you help me a bit more? I have done almost all the steps you put fourth…

  1. I had messed up on the vlc.service creation in the terminal window, so I had to use the notepad app to create and save this file to the desired location using Root enabled(or else I was not allowed to modify this folder.)
  2. I was not able to run this command as per your instructions: systemd
    I got an error…even when I typed sudo before it.

All other commends worked for step (4) your instructions.

I tried to restart and did not see VLC running when CHIP auto logged in. And I did not see it in the startup settings.
I also tried to log off and log in as
user id: vlcuser
pw: vlcremote
what gives? Am I missing something. Is there a way for you to RDP into this thing and take a look? My fortey is MS Windows and DELL pc’s. I really want to know what I am missing here.

You might want to learn how to use “putty” and ssh into the chip. Once I establish a network connection with the CHIP, Raspberry Pi, Orange Pi, etc. I almost never again hook up a monitor to it. Just SSH into it when I need to.

Systemd isn’t one of the commands listed on my instructions, so I don’t know about that.

If you post the exact command you run and the exact error it gives, troubleshooting would be much easier.

I found my mistake.

  1. Tell systemd to reload its config files, start vlc, and enable it on boot

systemctl daemon-reload
systemctl start vlc
systemctl enable vlc

@lmosenko Here is a link to my CHIP project in case you are interested:


Hi! I finally got around to doing this - thanks for writing it up! The first word or so of every announcement from Big Talker is cut off on my chip using a regular speaker (3.5mm cable, not bluetooth, which I couldn’t get to pair to any speaker). Any idea how to fix this? Thanks :)!

1 Like