2011-10-06

After re-purposing a larger case with more storage for the server on my home network and filling the server with my ripped DVDs, I figured it was about time to replace my media playback machine with a machine that was actually capable of decoding my rips without running the CPU at 100%.

Gather Some Components

The case for the new machine is box that was part of a Wild Turkey holiday gift set: a cheaply crafted piece of crap made of low grade wood, with a clear plastic cover.

The Electronics

Because this machine is going to be fanless, I decided to layout the components in a way that would maximize convection cooling. What this means, is that the component that generates the most heat needs to be closest to the exhaust and the most temperature sensitive component needs to be located by the air intake.

Cutting, Drilling, Bending, JB-Welding

First things first: the hinged lid needed to be removed so I could muck with the inside of the box more easily.

  1. After aligning all of the internals, I traced where the metal port plate is supposed to go and then cut... not a bad fit.
  2. A lot of small holes where drilled on both sided of the box. Technically, it was the top and bottom that were drilled ( the machine is going to be on end so as to provide the best convection airflow.
  3. Those metal things with the points are my component stand offs and I bent the points down before using JB-weld to attach them to the inside of the box.

Fire Up the Soldering Iron

  • That two pronged thing-a-ma-bobber is my power switch. Because it consists of two switches in series, both switches must be pressed in order to power the machine on and (most importantly) power off the machine. The last switch I put in/on a machine has a tendency to accidentally get pressed when I least expect it; like when I open my scanner.
  • A red LED was soldered to some wire and wrapped with electrical tape. This is the Power On indicator and bit a sandpaper helped diffuse the light coming out of the LED.

Put It All Together

This is the mostly finished machine with the lid put back on. The locking clasp on the side had to be moved, but it still functions perfectly.

At this point, everything was going extremely well and the computer looked absolutely fantastic, so I figured something was terribly wrong. After connecting everything and pressing the power buttons .... nothing happened. Bummer.

Note to self: when powering up a computer, make sure it is plugged in properly.

After properly plugging in my power converter, the machine booted and I installed Arch Linux.

Installed

The final resting place for the machine is on the wall next to the TV.

  • Don't be afraid of the dark
  • Computers are just fancy clocks
  • The two power switches are just barely visible on the right side of the machine.

Still to do: The audio out can use a smaller adapter and the current external USB wireless adapter needs to be replaced by an internal PCI-Express mini card. I need to either hack the XMBC to properly handle my NES controller, or I need to write my own software for browsing and playing media from my collection.

Due to the lack of a fan, this computer is silent; therefor, I have named it Wind.

Now quit reading, and think of wind related things.

like:

  • What's next? A computer named Earth and a computer named Fire?
  • Make 3 more, and Crom will laugh at them.
Comments
2011-10-06 jrobb:
that's just awesome. Does the atom CPU w/ onboard video work well as a media comp?
2011-10-11 jpope:
Looks great.

Also, I'm fairly certain that you can map the keys on your controller with just an edit of a particular file. Which file is it you ask? I can't quite remember but, it seems I seen it on the XBMC forums.
2011-10-11 jezra:
The problem isn't with the buttons, it is with the d-pad registering as an "axis", which does not have a keypress delay.
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