Today I’m gonna talk about how to building your self a nice Home Theater System ruining Windows 7 Media Center. I wanted build one for some time now. mainly for listening to music and to play video podcasts, this is NOT a HD media center since its running on the Intel Atom 230 CPU. but you can always get an good motherboard and make this to run as a HD Media Center.
I wanted this to be unique as possible and be a more hands on job, any one can buy a HTPC case and put stuff inside the box and build a Media Center PC but i wanted this to look less then a PC more like a HiFi device like my DVD or CD-Player and operate the same way with out worrying about keyboards and mouse. This will fit nicely on your HiFi rack and look sexy at the same time 😀
Lest see the hardware and parts i have used for this project, that don’t mean you have to use the same.
- Intel Atom 1.6Ghz Motherboard D945GCLF – Rs.8100 (Around $80)
- 2GB DDR2 667 RAM – Rs3200 (Around $30)
- Creative Audigy Value 7.1 Sound Card – Rs.3950 (Around $35)
The Intel Atom bard is mini-ITX form factor, so its quite small. comes with Audio, LAN, VGA as well, CPU comes with the board. its an Intel Atom 230 that runs at 1.6Ghz. VGA is based on the Intel Graphics, if you want to play HD movies get an Atom board with Nvidia Chipset, www.zotac.com makes nice mini-ITX boards based on the Atom 330 CPU and 9400 Nvidia chip set, that has SPDIF Optical Audio, HDMI and can do 1080i HD Vidoe with out an issue and most of all the boards can run fan less. meaning less noise.
Even tho the Intel Atom board comes with Audio built in, I wanted to connect via SPDIF to get DTS/Dolby Digital to work, then i can plug the Media Center directly to my Surround Amplifier via the SPDIF. it will sound much much better then the onboard sound card.
- 500GB SATA2 HDD – Rs.7500 (Around $70)
- ATX P4 Power Supply – Rs.1500 (Around $12)
- DVD Combo Drive – Rs.2000 (Around $17)
- Wireless Keyboard/Mouse – Rs.2850 (Around $25)
- IR Remote with IR Reciver – Rs.1200 (Around $10)
The IR Remote act as a HID (Human Interface Device) so its basically a keyboard + mouse
Above you can see every thing setup for testing and ruining Windows 7 RC, boot time is quite good, with Avast antivirus scanner, the system boots up in about 45 seconds.
As the Audio player i wanted to use iTunes but then after i changed my mind and whet with Winamp, iTunes has less keyboard short cuts, this is the main reason. but i use iTunes to download the podcast and also you can use the Apple Remote for iPhone/iTuch to control iTunes using your iPhone or iPodTouch from anyway in the house if you have wifi. you can do the same with Winamp but you need to buy an application call iAmpRemote witch works the same as the Apple Remote.
Right, now to fix every thing inside a HTPC casing, I looked but didn’t really find some thing i like, all of them look more like a PC then a HiFi audio device, then i remembered my OLD CD Player (Sony CDP-950) witch i sold to a friend of my some years back. gave a call and lucky for me he still had the player laying around. i got it back from him. Yes Yes had to pay 😀
lets fit every thing inside the CD Player.
i removed every inside the CD Player, got it cleaned and cut and fixed few things to install the HDD and Motherboard.
3.5″ HDD fixed inside.
Now we need to install the power supply, this is bit hard since you cant install the power supply with out removing the power supply case, i got the fan and the power supply unite out of the power supply case and fixed it to the CD Player case.
once the motherboard is installed, you cant fix the sound card upright then you cant close the case, for this i got a PCI slot side way converter card for $2 (Rs.200) off eBay.
Now you need to get the CD Player front panel buttons to work, such as Play, Stop, Forward ete. for this i opened up a PS/2 Multi Media Keyboard and took the parts out and figured out witch button connect what pins on the keyboard controller card. then i wired every thing to the CD Players control buttons.
Cracked open the IR Remote receiver and fixed it where the CD Players original IR reviver was.
I wanted the CD Player CD Bay to work just like it did before, so i open the DVD ROM case and solder the Eject button to the CD Players Reject button. then made some custom mounts and mounted the DVD ROM where the CD Players original CD loader use to be.
Motherboard is mounted side ways, you need a way to get the LAN, VGA, SPDIF out, i mounted a VGA and a Ethernet port on the backup of the CD Player and wired them to the motherboard.
Power Input and back panel USB එක.
Front panel USB.
Media Center Running.
Controlling iTunes with the iPhone
This is how every thing is fixed inside the CD Player.
Now one thing is missing thats the Display to Display media information like your normally see in a CD Player, since its to much work to get the original CD Player VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display) working. I got a cheap Samsung VFD off eBay for $30 (Rs.3000)
The VFD has a HD44780 Hitachi microcontroller that can connect to a LPT (Printer Port) and control over it.
Above you can see the VFD working and to control the VFD I’m using a software call LCD Smartie
I wanted to get the head phone jack and volume control on the CD Player to work like it did before. I took out the head phone amp and the control from the original CD Player and had to built a power supply for it. the head phone amp runs on 9v-0-9v, i got 7809 and 7909 voltage regulators and conversed the 12v-0-12v that comes from the computer power supply to 9v-0-9v
Main Menu of the Media Center, 2nd Image show its playing DTS ES (7.1)
Windows 7 Media Center