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View Full Version : building a reliable mp3 "music box"



Laurent Perez
2004-08-12, 14:42
Hello

I'm not fortunate enough to live in a big house where I can put my
squeezebox in the lounge room and leave the noisy computer in a
basement so I'm trying to build a pretty silent mp3 server I can put
somewhere in my apartment, goal is to enjoy sb music without the
computer noise.

I had an Antec Sonata case which was ok for silent (using a great
Zalman silent cpu cooler) but did consume too much power and was too
big to look "nice" in my apartment main room (think a big black
shining piano-style midtower case), so I dumped it and bought an Aria
case, which is the new Antec mini-atx/itx case (see
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article146-page1.html for a good
review). This is a very nice case but it's not silent at all, despite
what reviews might say, mostly because the lack of space inside the
box makes heat explusion difficult, which results in the PSU adjusting
its fan to almost max settings (~1700rpm) and annihilate the silence.
Of course when the room is cold (think 10-15 celcius) the PSU stays
around 1000rpm which is indeed absolute silence (or so) but I'm not
willing to wait for winter to enjoy it :)

Right now I'm thinking about buying a Via EPIA-M motherboard
(http://www.viavpsd.com/product/epia_m_spec.jsp?motherboardId=81) and
stick it into an Aria case. I hope the fanless 600Mhz version would
not produce too much heat for the case, indeed, however I don't know
about hdds heat because I will intend to fit two 250Gb drives inside.
I don't think I need several Ghz of computing power just to let
slimserver run, plus the server os I use is a linux debian using
windowmaker, which doesn't eat ressources at all.

Has anyone built a very silent server, say MP3 server or multimedia
center (divx, tv-out & all) ? I'm looking for some feeback before I
spend cash on Via hardware...

Thanks
Laurent

Pbox
2004-08-12, 15:20
Laurent Perez wrote:

>Hello
>
>I'm not fortunate enough to live in a big house where I can put my
>squeezebox in the lounge room and leave the noisy computer in a
>basement so I'm trying to build a pretty silent mp3 server I can put
>somewhere in my apartment, goal is to enjoy sb music without the
>computer noise.
>
>
Hear, hear!

>I had an Antec Sonata case which was ok for silent (using a great
>Zalman silent cpu cooler) but did consume too much power and was too
>big to look "nice" in my apartment main room (think a big black
>shining piano-style midtower case), so I dumped it and bought an Aria
>case, which is the new Antec mini-atx/itx case (see
>http://www.silentpcreview.com/article146-page1.html for a good
>review). This is a very nice case but it's not silent at all, despite
>what reviews might say, mostly because the lack of space inside the
>box makes heat explusion difficult, which results in the PSU adjusting
>its fan to almost max settings (~1700rpm) and annihilate the silence.
>Of course when the room is cold (think 10-15 celcius) the PSU stays
>around 1000rpm which is indeed absolute silence (or so) but I'm not
>willing to wait for winter to enjoy it :)
>
>Right now I'm thinking about buying a Via EPIA-M motherboard
>(http://www.viavpsd.com/product/epia_m_spec.jsp?motherboardId=81) and
>stick it into an Aria case. I hope the fanless 600Mhz version would
>not produce too much heat for the case, indeed, however I don't know
>about hdds heat because I will intend to fit two 250Gb drives inside.
>I don't think I need several Ghz of computing power just to let
>slimserver run, plus the server os I use is a linux debian using
>windowmaker, which doesn't eat ressources at all.
>
>Has anyone built a very silent server, say MP3 server or multimedia
>center (divx, tv-out & all) ? I'm looking for some feeback before I
>spend cash on Via hardware...
>
>
I have - in computer terms that is - ancient Shuttle SV-24. I put a Via
800MHz C3 processor in there. I modded all fans to run on the minimum
setting of the Zalman FanMate (about 5.5-6V). I modified the PSU's 40mm
fan by ripping it off and replacing it with a 60mm one. I have another
60mm on the CPU heatsink, and an exhaust 50mm. All running at the lowest
possible rpm, virtually silent. In this case virtually silent means,
that you cannot hear it unless you put your head to the case in an
otherwise quiet room. I have a 200GB Seagate in there (7200.7) which is
not as silent as my previous 60GB Seagate Barracuda IV, but not audible,
unless seeking. I have a total of 0.75 GB ram in there and is running
Win2K. Besides the slimserver if serves as a file server and a
firewall/router for my other PCs.

I have had 0 overheating problems with this setup. The case is barely
warm to the touch, which was quite surprising for me as a sun ultra 5 is
sitting right on top of it.

For a while in the past (with the 60GB Seagate), my 50mm exhaust fan
borked and failed to rotate due to bad connection in the fan wiring. The
case temp was warmer, but still just warm to the touch, and run without
any kind of hiccup.

I believe the Aria case coupled with a 600MHz mini-itx board and some
decent amount of ram (0.5+ GB) you will have rock solid solution, which
is silent and good looking. You can surely get rid of the slot fan
(loud) and I am confident that you can key the 120mm exhaust/PSU fan to
static 1000rpm without compromising stability. I would go for a cooler
running 250GB model for your HDDs. Ie. keep away from Raptors, Seagate
is good.

If the BIOS does not let you tinker with the fan speed, I would suggest
a hardware hacking session. I can recommend Zalman FanMate, but the 7V
modification is quite acceptable.

Peter

Jack Coates
2004-08-12, 21:20
....
> Right now I'm thinking about buying a Via EPIA-M motherboard
> (http://www.viavpsd.com/product/epia_m_spec.jsp?motherboardId=81) and
> stick it into an Aria case. I hope the fanless 600Mhz version would
> not produce too much heat for the case, indeed, however I don't know
> about hdds heat because I will intend to fit two 250Gb drives inside.
> I don't think I need several Ghz of computing power just to let
> slimserver run, plus the server os I use is a linux debian using
> windowmaker, which doesn't eat ressources at all.
>
> Has anyone built a very silent server, say MP3 server or multimedia
> center (divx, tv-out & all) ? I'm looking for some feeback before I
> spend cash on Via hardware...

I have a Via EPIA 1Ghz, it's pretty quiet. The PSU makes the only normally
detectable noise, and it's the low humming kind rather than the high
whining kind :)
http://www.monkeynoodle.org/comp/chihiro
--
Jack At Monkeynoodle.Org: It's A Scientific Venture...
"Believe what you're told; there'd be chaos if everyone thought for
themselves." -- Top Dog hotdog stand, Berkeley, CA

Dan Sully
2004-08-12, 22:28
* Jack Coates <jack (AT) monkeynoodle (DOT) org> shaped the electrons to say...

>I have a Via EPIA 1Ghz, it's pretty quiet. The PSU makes the only normally
>detectable noise, and it's the low humming kind rather than the high
>whining kind :)
>http://www.monkeynoodle.org/comp/chihiro

You can also go to the extent (crazy?) that I have to build a completely
silent box - with a Zalman northbridge heatsink on the main CPU (if it has a
fan), and either a Coolmax fanless power supply, or one of the DC power
converters that externalizes the AC conversion, and also is fanless.

-D
--
Sallah, I said NO camels! That's FIVE camels; can't you count?

Dan Sully
2004-08-12, 22:30
* Dan Sully <daniel (AT) electricrain (DOT) com> shaped the electrons to say...

>You can also go to the extent (crazy?) that I have to build a completely
>silent box - with a Zalman northbridge heatsink on the main CPU (if it has a
>fan), and either a Coolmax fanless power supply, or one of the DC power
>converters that externalizes the AC conversion, and also is fanless.

Oh - and booting from Compact Flash, and a big heatsink on the video card.

No moving parts.

-D
--
Sallah, I said NO camels! That's FIVE camels; can't you count?

Michael James
2004-08-12, 22:49
On Fri, 13 Aug 2004 02:20 pm, Jack Coates wrote:
> ...
> > Right now I'm thinking about buying a Via EPIA-M motherboard
> > (http://www.viavpsd.com/product/epia_m_spec.jsp?motherboardId=81)
and
> > stick it into an Aria case. I hope the fanless 600Mhz version would
> > not produce too much heat for the case, indeed, however I don't know
> > about hdds heat because I will intend to fit two 250Gb drives
inside.
> > I don't think I need several Ghz of computing power just to let
> > slimserver run, plus the server os I use is a linux debian using
> > windowmaker, which doesn't eat ressources at all.
> >
> > Has anyone built a very silent server, say MP3 server or multimedia
> > center (divx, tv-out & all) ? I'm looking for some feeback before I
> > spend cash on Via hardware...
>
> I have a Via EPIA 1Ghz, it's pretty quiet.
> The PSU makes the only normally detectable noise,
> and it's the low humming kind rather than the high whining kind :)
> http://www.monkeynoodle.org/comp/chihiro

I've got an EPIA 1 Gig house server.
The little fan on it IS noisy, I find it a nusance
and plan to modify a P4 heatsink to replace it.
It's built into a tall (50 cm) wall-mounted enclosure
that is intended to cool by convection.
I'm not sure how well this will work yet.

Even once the fan is gone there is the sound of the
2 x 200Gig disks to contend with.

So I've gone with slim's vision and given up
on having anything with disks in the loungeroom,
the server lives out in my workshop.

There will be a squeezebox somewhere
and perhaps a netbooted (diskless) VIA as well.
It allows a bigger screen and can load as well as play CDs.

michaelj

--
Michael James michael (AT) james (DOT) st
Network Programmer work: 02 6246 5040
8 Brennan St home: 02 6247 2556
Hackett, ACT 2602 mobile: 04 1747 4065

The Spanish threw their government out because:
(1) 90% were against the Iraq invasion in the first place.
(2) The reasons for the invasion turned out to be lies.
(3) The government responded to terror with more lies.
That's not capitulating to terrorists, it's punishing incompetence.

Jack Coates
2004-08-13, 07:25
> On Fri, 13 Aug 2004 02:20 pm, Jack Coates wrote:
>> ...
>> > Right now I'm thinking about buying a Via EPIA-M motherboard
>> > (http://www.viavpsd.com/product/epia_m_spec.jsp?motherboardId=81)
> and
>> > stick it into an Aria case. I hope the fanless 600Mhz version would
>> > not produce too much heat for the case, indeed, however I don't know
>> > about hdds heat because I will intend to fit two 250Gb drives
> inside.
>> > I don't think I need several Ghz of computing power just to let
>> > slimserver run, plus the server os I use is a linux debian using
>> > windowmaker, which doesn't eat ressources at all.
>> >
>> > Has anyone built a very silent server, say MP3 server or multimedia
>> > center (divx, tv-out & all) ? I'm looking for some feeback before I
>> > spend cash on Via hardware...
>>
>> I have a Via EPIA 1Ghz, it's pretty quiet.
>> The PSU makes the only normally detectable noise,
>> and it's the low humming kind rather than the high whining kind :)
>> http://www.monkeynoodle.org/comp/chihiro
>
> I've got an EPIA 1 Gig house server.
> The little fan on it IS noisy, I find it a nusance
> and plan to modify a P4 heatsink to replace it.
> It's built into a tall (50 cm) wall-mounted enclosure
> that is intended to cool by convection.
> I'm not sure how well this will work yet.
>

You'll have difficulty getting a fullsize heatsink in there, might want to
focus on chipset heatsinks. My suggestion is to do what I did, look in my
link above for the pyramid thermo-rheostat thingy.

--
Jack At Monkeynoodle.Org: It's A Scientific Venture...
"Believe what you're told; there'd be chaos if everyone thought for
themselves." -- Top Dog hotdog stand, Berkeley, CA

Pbox
2004-08-13, 09:15
Dan Sully wrote:

>* Dan Sully <daniel (AT) electricrain (DOT) com> shaped the electrons to say...
>
>
>
>>You can also go to the extent (crazy?) that I have to build a completely
>>silent box - with a Zalman northbridge heatsink on the main CPU (if it has a
>>fan), and either a Coolmax fanless power supply, or one of the DC power
>>converters that externalizes the AC conversion, and also is fanless.
>>
>>
>
>Oh - and booting from Compact Flash, and a big heatsink on the video card.
>
>No moving parts.
>
>-D
>
>
And store your 600GB of losslessly encoded CD collection on CompactFlash
cards, about $100 per GB, it comes out to a mere $60,000. No moving parts!!!

Jack Coates
2004-08-13, 09:24
> Dan Sully wrote:
>
>>* Dan Sully <daniel (AT) electricrain (DOT) com> shaped the electrons to say...
>>
>>
>>
>>>You can also go to the extent (crazy?) that I have to build a completely
>>>silent box - with a Zalman northbridge heatsink on the main CPU (if it
>>> has a
>>>fan), and either a Coolmax fanless power supply, or one of the DC power
>>>converters that externalizes the AC conversion, and also is fanless.
>>>
>>>
>>
>>Oh - and booting from Compact Flash, and a big heatsink on the video
>> card.
>>
>>No moving parts.
>>
>>-D
>>
>>
> And store your 600GB of losslessly encoded CD collection on CompactFlash
> cards, about $100 per GB, it comes out to a mere $60,000. No moving
> parts!!!

boot from != store music on :) 3 mb boot storage would be fine for a
run-from-RAM Linux image with SMB or NFS capability to mount music from
some other server.

--
Jack At Monkeynoodle.Org: It's A Scientific Venture...
"Believe what you're told; there'd be chaos if everyone thought for
themselves." -- Top Dog hotdog stand, Berkeley, CA

Nick Silberstein
2004-08-13, 10:08
Jack Coates wrote:
> boot from != store music on :) 3 mb boot storage would be fine for a
> run-from-RAM Linux image with SMB or NFS capability to mount music from
> some other server.

VIA's Mini-ITX boards support PXE/booting over ethernet. There's no
need for a Compact Flash card or other local storage.

For a fairly informative article on setting up PXE specific to VIA's
boards, see:

http://www.viaarena.com/?PageID=281

If you plan to run Linux on one of the Mini-ITX boards, do your research
first. Despite VIA's marketing claims to the contrary, VIA has a mixed
record for fully supporting Linux on their hardware. They dragged their
feet for a very long time on providing any Linux support for the
hardware MPEG-2 decoder used in the Mini-ITX boards that allows for very
low-CPU decoding and display of DVDs, for example. When they did
finally provide support, it was in the form of a binary only driver
available for one Linux distribution and kernel version.

They are slow to (or don't) release versions of their binary drivers for
new or non-mainstream distributions; for the CLE266 chipset used on the
M-series Mini-ITX boards, there is support for Red Hat 9, Mandrake 9.2
and Fedora Core 1 only.

SO, do your research carefully before you buy to avoid being stuck in
the "driver expected soon" queue, only to be told after a year that the
product you bought is now obsolete but the newer (more expensive)
version has a (closed-source and buggy) driver, so buy that board
instead.

If you detect a note of bitterness here,... ;) Seriously, I applaud VIA
for providing any Linux support. They are one of the few manufacturers
at their level in the supply chain who will even think of providing
Linux support of any kind for their chipsets.

Nick

PS - I have a fanless VIA EPIA 5000 with a 500MHz Eden processor. It's
plenty fast enough to be a zippy little music server and general network
server, though it's slow to do things like encoding video and audio, and
forget playing DVDs. I enced up adding a Hauppage PVR-350 (see
http://ivtv.sourceforge.net/ for drivers) for video playback and capturing.

--
Nick Silberstein
Senior Developer
Flying Machine Development, Inc.

Jack Coates
2004-08-13, 10:35
> Jack Coates wrote:
>> boot from != store music on :) 3 mb boot storage would be fine for a
>> run-from-RAM Linux image with SMB or NFS capability to mount music from
>> some other server.
>
> VIA's Mini-ITX boards support PXE/booting over ethernet. There's no
> need for a Compact Flash card or other local storage.
>

PXE is nice, I work with it quite a bit.

> For a fairly informative article on setting up PXE specific to VIA's
> boards, see:
>
> http://www.viaarena.com/?PageID=281
>
> If you plan to run Linux on one of the Mini-ITX boards, do your research
> first. Despite VIA's marketing claims to the contrary, VIA has a mixed
> record for fully supporting Linux on their hardware. They dragged their
> feet for a very long time on providing any Linux support for the
> hardware MPEG-2 decoder used in the Mini-ITX boards that allows for very
> low-CPU decoding and display of DVDs, for example. When they did
> finally provide support, it was in the form of a binary only driver
> available for one Linux distribution and kernel version.
>

Let me second this, as I am (or rather, my wife is) running Linux on this
VIA. It's Mandrake 10, and there's no hardware acceleration. No fun. I'm
following the unichrome list's efforts to get things working, and they're
making some progress, but it's slow going. If you want to watch movies or
play games on a mini-ITX, buy an XP license.

--
Jack At Monkeynoodle.Org: It's A Scientific Venture...
"Believe what you're told; there'd be chaos if everyone thought for
themselves." -- Top Dog hotdog stand, Berkeley, CA

Dan Sully
2004-08-13, 10:41
* Jack Coates <jack (AT) monkeynoodle (DOT) org> shaped the electrons to say...

>> And store your 600GB of losslessly encoded CD collection on CompactFlash
>> cards, about $100 per GB, it comes out to a mere $60,000. No moving
>> parts!!!
>
>boot from != store music on :) 3 mb boot storage would be fine for a
>run-from-RAM Linux image with SMB or NFS capability to mount music from
>some other server.

What Jack said - storage is in 2TB and growing in the server racked in my garage.

-D
--
You know, for kids.

Dan Sully
2004-08-13, 10:43
* Nick Silberstein <nick (AT) flyingmachine (DOT) com> shaped the electrons to say...

>VIA's Mini-ITX boards support PXE/booting over ethernet. There's no
>need for a Compact Flash card or other local storage.
>
>For a fairly informative article on setting up PXE specific to VIA's
>boards, see:

They do - however, even with a local network, it's slower than local storage.
Either is an option however.

>If you plan to run Linux on one of the Mini-ITX boards, do your research
>first. Despite VIA's marketing claims to the contrary, VIA has a mixed
>record for fully supporting Linux on their hardware. They dragged their
>feet for a very long time on providing any Linux support for the
>hardware MPEG-2 decoder used in the Mini-ITX boards that allows for very
>low-CPU decoding and display of DVDs, for example. When they did
>finally provide support, it was in the form of a binary only driver
>available for one Linux distribution and kernel version.
>
>They are slow to (or don't) release versions of their binary drivers for
>new or non-mainstream distributions; for the CLE266 chipset used on the
>M-series Mini-ITX boards, there is support for Red Hat 9, Mandrake 9.2
>and Fedora Core 1 only.

This has been rectified with the ongoing development at the Unichrome project
- http://unichrome.sf.net, which provides open source drivers for the iDCT
hardware overlay and more.

Getting a little off topic - email me privately, or check out the website for more.

-D
--
You know, for kids.

P McDowell
2004-08-16, 17:06
"Jack Coates" <jack (AT) monkeynoodle (DOT) org> wrote in
message news:3323.192.168.3.252.1092418501.squirrel (AT) mail (DOT) monkeynoodle.org...
>
>> Jack Coates wrote:
>>> boot from != store music on :) 3 mb boot storage would be fine for a
>>> run-from-RAM Linux image with SMB or NFS capability to mount music from
>>> some other server.
>>
>> VIA's Mini-ITX boards support PXE/booting over ethernet. There's no
>> need for a Compact Flash card or other local storage.
>>
>
> PXE is nice, I work with it quite a bit.
>
>> For a fairly informative article on setting up PXE specific to VIA's
>> boards, see:
>>
>> http://www.viaarena.com/?PageID=281
>>
>> If you plan to run Linux on one of the Mini-ITX boards, do your research
>> first. Despite VIA's marketing claims to the contrary, VIA has a mixed
>> record for fully supporting Linux on their hardware. They dragged their
>> feet for a very long time on providing any Linux support for the
>> hardware MPEG-2 decoder used in the Mini-ITX boards that allows for very
>> low-CPU decoding and display of DVDs, for example. When they did
>> finally provide support, it was in the form of a binary only driver
>> available for one Linux distribution and kernel version.
>>
>
> Let me second this, as I am (or rather, my wife is) running Linux on this
> VIA. It's Mandrake 10, and there's no hardware acceleration. No fun. I'm
> following the unichrome list's efforts to get things working, and they're
> making some progress, but it's slow going. If you want to watch movies or
> play games on a mini-ITX, buy an XP license.
>

My slimserver is currently on a via epia on Debian with the via driver from
the unichrome project.
Myth guys seem to be doing stuff with it
http://linpvr.org/
http://www.viaarena.com/?PageID=379
I'd like to have a go at integrating slimserver with the Hauppauge MediaMVP
box and MythTV
http://www.hauppauge.com/html/mediamvp_datasheet.htm
Has anyone got any ideas on this ?