|Alx9r's Sample Setup|
I did my best to keep track of all the materials I purchased in putting my system together. Note that prices are in Canadian dollars before taxes, duties, brokerage, shipping, etc unless otherwise stated.
I found that a reliable, configurable wireless broadband router is necessary for the network configuration that I chose to use. Gladly, such a router is cheap and readily available: The Linksys WRT54GL running OpenWrt/X-WRT. The firmware that ships with the WRT54GL is fairly limited. I flashed my router to OpenWrt/X-WRT (White Russian 0.9).
Hybrid Core Kit
I started with a core/hybrid topology to keep my costs down. The original plan was that this hybrid box would become my core server that lives in a closet, and I would go to a smaller dedicated media director in my living room.
In addition to the criteria I already mentioned here, the design of my hybrid was also guided by the following:
- Only components available through ncix.com, preferably in stock.
- Tend toward components that lend themselves to eventual use as a dedicated core serving 2 or 3 media directors.
I opted to put two HDD in the system to allow for easy software upgrading and re-installation without losing media. I have read that installing LinuxMCE on a partitioned HDD is not well supported. Having a separate system HDD should allow me to install LinuxMCE from bare metal without losing media or spending time tranferring it.
Below is a table of all of the items in the kit I used to build the Hybrid Core.
|Motherboard||ASUS M2NPV-VM||$94.01||used in Video, getting harder to find|
|breakout||ASUS SPDIF-OUT/OPT||$9.02||SPDIF breakout board|
|breakout||ASUS 9PIN Serial Port Header||$6.60||two of these to breakout COM ports|
|CPU||AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ EE Dual Core Processor AM2 Windsor 2.4GHZ 512KBX2 65W 90NM||$80.92||Video used 4400+, 4600+ is cheaper and maybe faster|
|heatsink||Scythe Mini Ninja Heatpipe Fanless Heatsink AM2||$38.98||should be good enough to cool w/o CPU fan|
|RAM||Kingston PC2-5300 512MB DDR2-667 CL5 240PIN DIMM||$16.70||2 sticks|
|second ethernet adapter||ENCORE ENL832-TX-RENT||$8.68||based on Realtek_8139|
|TV Tuner||Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-150 MCE||$79.78||comes with a remote that looks like a Windows MCE Remote|
|HDD 1||Hitachi Deskstar P7K500 500GB SATA2 7200RPM 16MB 3.5IN||$87.20||media drive|
|HDD 2||Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 80GB SATA2 2MB 11MS 7200RPM Hard Drive||$42.64||system drive|
|SATA Cable||nGear Serial ATA SATA Right Angle Cable 18IN 7PIN||$2.69||2 come with mobo, straight cable would be fine too, right angle was cheapest|
|optical drive||Pioneer DVR-212D Black 18X6X18 DVD+RW 18X8X18 DL 10X SATA 2MB||$32.19|
|CD Audio Cable||$3.00||to connect optical drive audio out to mobo onboard audio|
|case||Silverstone Lascala LC17B||$129.99||HTPC form factor, big enough to accomodate conversion to core|
|power supply||OCZ StealthXStream OCZ500SXS 500W||$61.99||cheap, works, fairly quiet|
Total Cost: $694.39
Living Room AV Gear
A 42" wall-mounted LCD seemed like the right thing for my condominium's living room. The Video showed a Sharp Aquos LC-26D6U in the bedroom. Sharp seems to have good RS-232 control support -- as long as the control port is actually there.
I settled on the Sharp Aquos LCD LC42D64U because it met the following criteria:
- Has RS-232 control.
- Very close to the TV used in the Video.
- Countless positive reviews, only a few reported issues.
- Got it for a decent price ($1499) and in my neighborhood. No shipping, brokerage, or duty.
I set out looking for a receiver that met the following criteria:
- Has RS-232 control.
- Similar to models that other users have gotten working with LinuxMCE.
- Decent sounding.
- 5.1 and 7.1 capable.
- Modern surround-sound decoding capabilities.
Unit #1: Marantz SR7500
Something from the Marantz line seemed like a good fit. I settled on a Marantz SR7500 that was available for $500 USD. It seemed to have all the features of the latest-greatest same-category SR7002 except for some video switching and conversion features that I probably wouldn't use anyway.
The great thing is that I got the SR7500 for 1/3 the price: $499 USD. The not-so-great thing is that after a few months it developed a severe 60Hz hum in the center channel.
- excellent value
- anodized brushed aluminum face matches my Silverstone Lascala case perfectly
- odd serial port gender requires a female-to-female gender mender
- the Marantz RS-232 device template that shipped with 0710RC2 does not work
- my unit needed repairs after only a few months
Unit #2: Denon AVR-2808CI
Rather than go without a receiver while the Marantz was in the shop, I opted to get a second receiver and have two in circulation.
The Denon AVR-2808CI also fit the above criteria. I was able to pick one up for $592 USD.
- truly plug and play with LinuxMCE
- I think it produces slightly better surround sound imaging than the Marantz.
- a little more expensive than the Marantz, but still excellent value
The Definitive ProCinema 600 speakers I selected are small. The space that I have set aside for home theatre is only a part of my already small living space. I didn't want it to be dominated by speakers - especially since there would be six of them in a relatively small space. The wood-framed condominium where this will be used doesn't have enough sound insulation to crank the volume without disturbing the neighbors, so a modest speaker set is a good fit.
I managed to get the ProCinema 600 set for $520 USD.
In addition to the on screen orbiters, I have set up and regularly use the following:
- Windows XP Laptop
- Nokia N800
Windows XP Laptop
I use my Windows XP laptop as an orbiter in the living room. It connects to the hybrid/core using wifi. This machine is my main computer. It is nice that it can also be used to control my media center since it is usually near my fingertips.
Nokia N800 Web Pad
This little web pad has a nice touchscreen and reliable wifi. I keep it on my coffee table when watching DVDs and bring it to the dining room and kitchen to control music playback. I picked mine up used for $195 USD on eBay.
There were a variety of miscellaneous items I ended up needing to put this system together.
|Wall Mount for Sharp LC42D64U||Ergotron WM Low Profile Wall Mount P/N 60-578-003||$89.00||costco.ca Item # 115242|
|Null Modem Cable||Generic Null Modem Cable DB9 Female to DB9 Female 6FT||$4.50||to control the TV|
|Straight RS-232 Cable||Generic Straight-Through DB9 Female to DB9 Male 6FT||$4.50||to control the receiver|
|DB9 Gender Mender||DB9 Female to DB9 Female Gender Mender||$6.00||needed to connect to the Marantz receiver|
|HDMI-DVD cable||Generic HDMI-DVI/D M/M HDMI to DVI-D (Dual Link) 10FT Cable - M/M (19 Pins) / (24 PINS+1)||$30.00||to connect the TV|
|infrared transceiver||USB UIRT||$50 + $8 S&H||to use IR remotes and control AV gear|
|TRS to RCA adapter cable||<$10||to go from soundcard line-out to receiver|
There are also a bunch of miscellaneous hardware I used while setting up this system.
|Alx9r's Sample Setup|
|Materials||Network Gear · Hybrid Core (living room) · AV Gear (living room) · Orbiters · Glue|
|Preparation||Router Setup · Aquos TV Power-on|
|Hybrid Core pre-LinuxMCE Setup||Assembly · BIOS Tweaks · Hardware Testing · NAS Media Drive Setup|
|Hybrid Core LinuxMCE Installation||Bare-metal Install · AV Wizard · Sarah (Setup Wizard) · Special Steps · PVR-150 Remote · Aquos TV · Denon Receiver · Media Drive Setup · Laptop Orbiter · Webpad Orbiter|
|Hybrid Core Additional Software||Bittorrent · Synergy|
|Toolkit||Laptop · telnet/ssh client · Remote Mouse and Keyboard · Partition Tools|
|Design Rationale||Network Topology · NAS|