In my previous post, I talked about adding the Apple TV 3 to a value projector that I purchased on Black Friday. I was pretty satisfied with that solution, but then my ambition kicked in. Wouldn’t it be nice if the ATV3 can access my local Plex Media Server instead of streaming it from my iOS device using the Plex App via AirPlay?
A quick Google search yielded the discovery of the PlexConnect project. This is a very cool project. It allows the old ATV3, which does not support the native Apple TV Plex App, to act as a Plex client by spoofing the Trailers app that came with the box. To do this, the ATV3 needs to point its DNS network setting to a PlexConnect server, which performs the magic of bridging ATV3 requests to the Plex Media Server and handles the rendering.
PlexConnect was very easy to setup. I reused an existing Windows 10 virtual machine on my MacBook Pro for this purpose. My other servers in the house cannot be used because the required ports needed by PlexConnect are already in use. We cannot run PlexConnect on another port other than 80 and 443.
Changing the DNS settings on the ATV3 was straight forward, but adding the required profile of http://trailers.apple.com/trailers.cer was interesting. The instructions for the profile were:
- Go to the AppleTV settings menu.
- Select “General” then scroll the cursor down to highlight “Send Data To Apple” and set to “No”.
- With “Send Data To Apple” highlighted, press “Play” (not the normal “Select” button) and you will be prompted to add a profile.
- Enter (without the quotes): “http://trailers.apple.com/trailers.cer”
Once the above is done, all apps on the ATV3 including Prime, YouTube, etc. will not work without having the PlexConnect server up and running. Another note is that I had to run PlexConnect using administration privileges on Windows, otherwise it will not be able to listen to the secure ports.
Having the virtual machine up and running to service Plex was a bit bothersome. I setup another PlexConnect server on a Raspberry Pi to see if this can be an alternative solution, but it was just too slow with its 100Mbps network connection and its slow processor. It worked but the user experience was simply not good.
Perhaps the simplest thing is just to buy another Apple TV 4 during Boxing Day sale, and be done with it.
My ambition is still not fully met. My next step is to install a projector mount on the ceiling, so the projector is not taking up precious little desk space.