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General Chat Thread, Time for the Media PC to Evolve? in General; I've been having a few chats since I put up this blog post a few days back and feel I ...
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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    Time for the Media PC to Evolve?

    I've been having a few chats since I put up this blog post a few days back and feel I should put up a discussion in the forums rather than keeping it in the blogs: Goodbye old boy - Retiring our HTPC - Blogs - EduGeek.net
    Once the kids Wii arrived on Christmas day it became apparent that almost all of the reasons we had been using a media PC for (over an 8 year period) had become redundant in our house. These primarily were:


    1. Being able to access and record digital TV without a freeview box
    2. As above but for satellite
    3. Gaming on the TV
    4. Providing blu-ray playback
    5. Storing digital photos/movies
    6. Internet access


    Now, a lot of these features were added over a period of time and as things in the home entertainment market progressed almost all of these reasons were replaced with affordable dedicated devices that provided far better functionality, such as a blu-ray player, Tivo box and the Wii for gaming (It's for the kids...honest!). That is not to say that this will be the case for everyone. A newly built media PC can provide, at little cost, all of the functions listed above for those who need it and don't want cable contracts or have space issues or just need something more portable.

    But for us to bring the media pc up to speed it would have involved buying new HD tuners, graphics card and motherboard/processor/RAM in the next year. In short, almost a whole new setup.
    However, we still need some of the features that it provided, just delivered differently. Primarily amongst these is storage. We need somewhere were we can place photos, music, movies etc, and now that NAS boxes are affordable, we can have a couple of terabytes at hand in a small, low powered, networked chassis that can be available 24/7 from our laptops. So I ordered a duel bay Zyxel one in the sales
    On top of this we still need to have internet access on the living room TV for browsing, YouTube and other online media. For this I'm getting a Raspberry Pi that can be powered either from the TV's USB port or by separate mains adaptor. Running XMBC it should also enable us to access the NAS for photos and movies (our TV is a few years old and not DLNA enabled).

    I'm also toying with the idea of getting a cheap Android tablet such as this:55509 - STORAGE OPTIONS - SCROLL BASIC PLUS V2 7" ANDROID | CPC to go in the kitchen and stream music/radio into an old set of Creative speakers we have fitted there, as well as possibly into the bedroom.

    So, if you have any thoughts or ideas you want to add to this little project (I'll keep you all posted on how it all goes on) please feel free to add them. But I do feel that the next big (yet affordable) step that any self respecting geek can do is to get some centralised storage in the house and if you have already done this please let me know what you have done with yours and what pitfalls (if any) I should be looking out for.
    Last edited by Dos_Box; 2nd January 2013 at 09:11 PM.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Re: Time for the Media PC to Evolve?

    Replied to this before from the end of the pier but Board Express ate it

    Basicly see if you can set up the pi as a dlna dmr (digital media renderer). With the tablet see if it can run aVia from the play store, it can act as a dmr and DMC as well as a dlna server. This means that you can push media to it from dlna sources and use it to push media to other dlna devices. This makes it really easy to setup and push a playlist of stuff from your has via a phone or even share pictures and videos right from your phone to the device.

    I use dlna push all the time as you can do it from many devices and it's quicker than fluffing with a menu and remote.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dos_Box View Post
    But I do feel that the next big (yet affordable) step that any self respecting geek can do is to get some centralised storage in the house
    That's what I've been thinking recently, too - I've been looking at Tranquil PC's Riley storage unit, basically a silent 4-drive DAS device you plug in to an available SATA port. I already have a 2010 model ixL "media PC" of theirs (which I use as a general-purpose server machine), and was thinking I could plug in a Riley storage unit (or two/three) and have wodges of storage space. The Riley comes with a built-in RAID contoller which supports RAID 0,1,5 and 10. However, it only supports JBOD if you have a matching JMicron host controller, and even that looks a bit limited. I'd prefer to use Linux's MD RAID rather than the (cheap) on-board RAID (to allow for future expansion and general non-reliance on some random RAID controller). I'm currently thinking of making my own version of the Riley storage unit, I just have to figure out how to get the power supply to work.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Re: Time for the Media PC to Evolve?

    Looks like xbmc may support dlna dmr mode:
    http://forum.stmlabs.com/showthread.php?tid=5450

    Enable the UPnP Renderer under System --> Settings --> Services -->UPnP
    and enjoy it :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dos_Box View Post
    I'm also toying with the idea of getting a cheap Android tablet to go in the kitchen and stream music/radio into an old set of Creative speakers we have fitted there
    You could use another Raspberry Pi for that. The only issue is the audio out is really poor quality unless you have USB speakers.

    Last edited by Arthur; 2nd January 2013 at 08:43 PM.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    You could use another Raspberry Pi for that. The only issue is the audio out is really poor quality unless you have USB speakers.

    Or a headless xbmc with dlna to keep things generic, you can augment with a moniter easily in future to but the droid tab may be easier, that software from above and you can both push and request content along with a handy touch interface for the kitchen.

    Multi zone and stuff like that was being discussed on their forums here http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=138445&page=2
    Last edited by SYNACK; 2nd January 2013 at 09:06 PM.

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    That's a good idea actually. I'll have to give that a try with my Raspberry Pi (or my brown OUYA coming in April).

    At the moment, I am running XBMC for Android with the iPlayer v2 plug-in on my Nexus 10 because it's the only way I can access iPlayer thanks to the BBC.

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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    The Pi does have a touchscreen header on the board, but AFAIK there is not yet one available. Once there is (price notwithstanding) however it will make for a great unit for household media streaming, and cars come to think of it!
    Given the price of devices such as the Logitech Squeezebox both an Android tablet or Pi with touchscreen could be an excellent alternative.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    I'm currently thinking of making my own version of the Riley storage unit, I just have to figure out how to get the power supply to work.
    A quick bit of Googling later, and it turns out that what I thought might be quite complex (I was thinking some special digital signal being sent from the motherboard to the power supply) is actually achived by shoving a bent paperclip between two of the motherboard connectors on the power supply. Also, while sizing up the space for a home-made DAS box to go into, I happened to actually measure a 3.5" disk, which turns out to be 4".

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dos_Box View Post
    The Pi does have a touchscreen header on the board, but AFAIK there is not yet one available.
    When the Raspberry Pi was first announced, I remember having a discussion on their discussion board about USB touch screens. I think the general consesus was that they should work, if you could find / write appropriate drivers. You'd probably need to connect the USB screen via a powered hub, the Raspberry Pi wouldn't be able to power the screen with its own USB power output.

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    plexer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    A quick bit of Googling later, and it turns out that what I thought might be quite complex (I was thinking some special digital signal being sent from the motherboard to the power supply) is actually achived by shoving a bent paperclip between two of the motherboard connectors on the power supply. Also, while sizing up the space for a home-made DAS box to go into, I happened to actually measure a 3.5" disk, which turns out to be 4".
    Yup as simple as that if using a psu as a bench top supply some load resistors are a good idea as well to give a stable voltage.

    Ben

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plexer View Post
    Yup as simple as that if using a psu as a bench top supply some load resistors are a good idea as well to give a stable voltage.
    So you mean instead of a bent paperclip I use a resistor with its ends connecting the appropriate connectors? Is there a particular value resistor I should use? I'm thinking of using a Pico Power supply, whichever one will manage four harddrives:

    LinITX.com - DC-DC Power Boards

    Then I simply get four harddrives, connect them up to power and a SATA expander:

    Lycom ST-126RM SATA II 3Gbps 1-To-5 Port Multiplier bridge board (for Rack Mount on eBay!

    And build some kind of box around them in laser-cut mild steel / CNC-milled aluminium.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    So you mean instead of a bent paperclip I use a resistor with its ends connecting the appropriate connectors? Is there a particular value resistor I should use? I'm thinking of using a Pico Power supply, whichever one will manage four harddrives:
    He means if you are using it as a bench power supply and possibly to power stuff which draws very little current, you should load up the supply some (make it supply something with current). Some supplies aren't very happy if there is no load. If you are using it to power drives, it should be fine. Just get a proper 24 pin molex and wire it with a switch between the green and black.

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    dhicks (3rd January 2013)

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    He means if you are using it as a bench power supply and possibly to power stuff which draws very little current, you should load up the supply some (make it supply something with current). Some supplies aren't very happy if there is no load. If you are using it to power drives, it should be fine. Just get a proper 24 pin molex and wire it with a switch between the green and black.
    Oh, I see - many thanks, that explains it nicly. Yes, I should be fine if I'm using it to power four drives, I should think. I guess I should aim to put a surface-mount rocker switch connecting the two molex pins, just so there's a way of switching the box off without pulling out the DC power jack.
    @Dos_Box - sorry, we're getting a little off-topic here, is this the sort of thing you were thinking of for storage? How much storage do you reckon you need? I'm aiming to run a photo/video backup server, so I'm thinking of looking at 4TB drives - currently around 160 each, so an array of 4 is going to be a bit over 600, plus whatever the case costs to make. If I get the above working I can probably put together a second one for you while I'm at it, if you like.

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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    Wow, seems I timed it right to retire the media PC as well: Windows Media Center EPG has SWITCHED OFF, wail Euro users ? The Register
    No EPG on Windows Media Center anymore!

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