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Smiley Dan
2006-05-12, 01:18
Hmmmm, not sure if we should discuss this... hopefully it's ok or this could be the shortest forum membership of all time.

I was wondering what the cheapest you could build your own media player box was. I'm thinking one of those fanless thin clients running a minimal Linux distro, with something always connected to the SlimServer stream, perhaps with a wireless USB stick.

Here's an example:
http://www.mini-itx.com/store/?c=27

Obviously there's no screen... but given my remote would be handheld I'd hope that wasn't a concern.

Anybody tried this? I wonder if this hardware might be a little overpowered, if anything, and we might be able to do cheaper!

BeerCan
2006-05-12, 05:07
Well at those prices I would wonder why one would bother. By the time you buy everthing you have spent more than a new SB costs

MrStan
2006-05-12, 05:12
I would think that the main problem would be the quality of the audio. Not only is the DAC likely to be of a poor quality but you are also likely to get a fair amount of background noise from the Motherboard. That means you need to add an external decent sound card, probably USB which starts to bring the cost up to the Squeezebox.

mfieger
2006-05-12, 09:41
Smiley Dan,

With old used hardware (pentium2 500, etc.), you could build a really cheap media player. It depends on how much media you want out of it. Audio? Video? You might want to search the knoppix mythtv forums for minimum system requirements at

http://mysettopbox.tv/phpBB2/

I know it's for a pvr, but it's probably a good starting point.

Smiley Dan
2006-05-15, 01:19
Smiley Dan,

With old used hardware (pentium2 500, etc.), you could build a really cheap media player. It depends on how much media you want out of it. Audio? Video? You might want to search the knoppix mythtv forums for minimum system requirements at

http://mysettopbox.tv/phpBB2/

I know it's for a pvr, but it's probably a good starting point.
Thanks mfieger. Obviously I realise you can do something like that, but what I meant was finding a good low power/low noise/low price tradeoff. The thin client box above seems to combine all three, but I wondered if there were any other cheaper devices, and whether it's actually overpowered.

On the subject of PVR (that acronym's getting a little mangled!) I've also considered using something like the thin client as a MythFrontend.

peterw
2006-05-18, 11:07
Since you mentioned mythfrontend...

Take a look at the MVPMC project at
http://mvpmc.sourceforge.net/idx.php?pg=main
especially the hardware hacking page:
http://mvpmc.sourceforge.net/mvpmc_hardware_howto.html

It is a Linux port for the Hauppauge MediaMVP device
http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/products/data_mediamvp.html
that includes client software for MythTV, ReplayTV, and SlimServer. Caveat: I think Hauppauge may have changed the hardware recently.

Some users have hacked in a display to make a (as I described it once) "poor man's squeezebox".

I'm running the 0.2.1 release mainly a frontend for a MythTV 0.19 backend, to watch SD recordings (the MVP can't play HDTV, and MVPMC 0.2.1 can't play Live TV from Myth 0.19), and I've also occasionally used the SlimServer client (a SLIMP3 emulator) to play music through my TV.

I would not expect much at all from the DAC in this box, though I've only listened to it through a mediocre 5-year-old TV. If I found myself using it much for Slim, I'd probably buy another real SB for the mini stereo that's across the room.

Other users have argued that with the SPDIF hack (in addition to the VFD hack? solder solder solder), the DAC quality would be moot. (I didn't pursue the issue of jitter.) Even then you might face the issue of whether you'd be happy with text-only SLIMP3 behavior instead of SB graphics, though some MVPMC hacker has been working on an alternate UI that sounds like a mix of CLI and HTTP features, someting more appropriate for stock MVP whose only "display" is the TV output.

If you're the DIY type, the MVP might be just what you wanted.

Or you might decide it's a better bet to use an SB2/3 as an 802.11g bridge and music player and relegate the MVP to video. ;-)

Smiley Dan
2006-05-22, 01:28
Since you mentioned mythfrontend...

Take a look at the MVPMC project at
http://mvpmc.sourceforge.net/idx.php?pg=main
especially the hardware hacking page:
http://mvpmc.sourceforge.net/mvpmc_hardware_howto.html

It is a Linux port for the Hauppauge MediaMVP device
http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/products/data_mediamvp.html
that includes client software for MythTV, ReplayTV, and SlimServer. Caveat: I think Hauppauge may have changed the hardware recently.

Some users have hacked in a display to make a (as I described it once) "poor man's squeezebox".

I'm running the 0.2.1 release mainly a frontend for a MythTV 0.19 backend, to watch SD recordings (the MVP can't play HDTV, and MVPMC 0.2.1 can't play Live TV from Myth 0.19), and I've also occasionally used the SlimServer client (a SLIMP3 emulator) to play music through my TV.

I would not expect much at all from the DAC in this box, though I've only listened to it through a mediocre 5-year-old TV. If I found myself using it much for Slim, I'd probably buy another real SB for the mini stereo that's across the room.

If you're the DIY type, the MVP might be just what you wanted.

Or you might decide it's a better bet to use an SB2/3 as an 802.11g bridge and music player and relegate the MVP to video. ;-)
Thanks Peter, this is the sort of thing I was looking for.

Let's start with my motivation: I'm tight and I want to save money. I look in my living room and I want access to all my music there. What do I have already? A decent quality TV with decent speakers, not audiophile but good enough. I have to say I'm happy plugging my Nokia 770 into the TV using phono jacks (shame on me!). SVGA and phono inputs (and Scart of course - are there converter boxes?) are on the TV.

Regarding displays, the way I see it, I might as well leverage the TV I spent s on, so one of my AV channels is the front end box.

I guess what I'm looking for is something like the Kurobox but with multimedia ports at the back for SVGA, speakers and so on. The VIA Nano-ITX PCs look promising but have been delayed and I don't hear good things about VIA build quality.

I'm also looking on building it to a full Myth FrontEnd when I get the chance.

spacemarmot
2006-06-12, 22:00
...and stuck it on top of my computer monitor with electrical tape. Then I bought an overstocked ATI Remote Wonder (RF!) for $9 at Geeks.com. Then I hacked the driver that I wrote for the display into a Linux SliMP3 emulator.

http://visualizeuranus.blogspot.com/2006/05/howto-make-your-own-squeezebox.html

Been thinking about hacking up a Linksys NSLU2 + serial VFD + USB audio + USB remote control. I already own all of these things, so $0 incremental cost to me.

-spacemarmot

I run slimserver on an old Thinkpad A20M with an upgraded HDD. Cheap, quiet, power efficient, and reliable. Love the surplus hardware.

spacemarmot
2006-06-14, 13:54
I wrote a bit more about NSLU2 hackery:

http://visualizeuranus.blogspot.com/2006/06/nice-thing-about-embedded-linux.html

-spacemarmot