The HTPC, or Home Theater PC, is a central component of my endeavor. It
will be responsible for playing DVDs, playing CDs, playing MP3s (or
whatever other encoded music files I have), playing games, scaling
video input (from cable, Tivo, whatever) for the projector,
playing games, surfing the web, controlling the other theater components,
and receiving/decoding IR signals from a remote. That may sound like a
pretty tall order, but most of it is enabled by "off-the-shelf" parts.
The PC is built with the following hardware components:
Most of the hardware, in particular the CPU heatsink/fan, hard drive, power
supply, and video card, were chosen for the relative quietness. The
mainboard was chosen for driver stability, built-in Dolby Digital
encoder, builtin S/PDIF output, lack of chipset fan (quiet),
and builtin ethernet. The case was chosen because it was cheap and I plan
on building a custom aluminum case someday anyway. I also plan on
upgrading the CPU eventually as CPU prices are always falling, but the
Duron is very capable of running all the software I'm using.
- Enlight desktop case
- MSI nForce main board
- 1GHz Duron processor
- 512 MB DDR RAM
- PNY GeForce 4 Ti4200 video card (64 MB, DVI, VGA, s-video out)
- IO Magic TV tuner card
- StarTech 2-port serial card
- Lite-On DVD ROM
- Seagate Barracuda IV 80 GB hard drive
- FrontX USB expansion ports
- Enermax WhisperSys 250 watt power supply with variable speed fan
- Zalman Flower CPU heatsink/fan
- Logitech cordless keyboard and optical mouse
The following software will be used:
The first thing I did when I got all these goodies was to paint everything
flat black. I carefully disassembled the DVD drawer, took the LEDs off the
inside of the case bezel, sanded the case, and spray painted. I used a vinyl
paint on all the plastic and Rustoleum on the metal parts.
- Windows XP Pro
- DScaler for cable tuning and video scaling
- ZoomPlayer for DVD playback (and maybe music too)
- Girder for control and integration
- MAME for classic arcade games
- PVR software for time shifting/recording TV (Tivo level software doesn't
yet exist for the PC, so this will be in the future)
- Whatever decent PC games are out there
- Custom software to give the whole system a set-top-box look and feel
As you can see here, the case is very black. In fact, it's so black it seems
to be sucking the light out of the picture. It's difficult to
see any detail at all.
I'm not sure if you'll get any more out this picture either.
This is a close up of the FrontX ports. I believe they now make a black version
but when I bought this all they had was beige.
Here's a shot from above the open case. There's not too much to see
since this is a pretty standard PC.
A little better view of the inside. This was taken before the serial and
video card were added. You can see the Zalman Flower heatsink/fan.
The PC is very quiet; much quieter than the projector. You can't tell it's on
(expect for the lights) when it's in the rack with all the other equipment.
This hardware aspects of this part of the project are done, but much remains
to be done in the area of software. I'll probably add more sections to the
sight as those areas are explored.