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Old 04-02-2003, 03:20 PM   #1
KungFuHamster
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Project: Equinox


After browsing through some DIY MP3 players I found online, I got an idea: What would it take to put together a whole multimedia center to replace all the devices stacked in the entertainment center? Here's what I want to it do:

1. Audio playback from regular Audio CDs, MP3/Ogg CDs, & stored MP3s & Ogg files.
2. Video playback from DVDs, Video CDs, or TV
3. Rip audio CDs into MP3 or Ogg
4. Rip Video CDs & DVDs to hard drive
5. Record TV shows
6. Network connection via wireless
7. Listen to AM/FM radio
8. Record AM/FM radio
9. Burn Audio CDs, Video CDs, DVD (Later on, after some of this stuff gets cheaper)

After spending a bit of time digging around on Pricewatch, I figured I could put together a nice little rig to do just this for anywhere from $450-$650USD. The specs I came up with for said project are as follows:

-Asus A7M266-M Mini ATX motherboard
-1GHz AMD Duron processor
-512MB PC1600 RAM
-32MB geForce2 MX400 video card
-4-port USB or FireWire card
-Regular DVD-ROM
-Linksys wireless PCI network card
-Customized Gentoo Linux OS (heavily optimized for system specs & performance)
-LCD display for track/movie info

Add in the cost of cables, power supply, switches, fans, and noise reduction materials, and it would end up to cost about as much as the separate devices (DVD player, DVD copier, CD player, AM/FM stereo, VCR). Probably less.

Here's where I could use some help:
1. How can I come up with some sort of remote control? I was thinking along the lines of a small 10-key keyboard with an attached IrDA port, but that seems a bit kludgey and awkward to me.
2. What would be the best GUI setup?
3. What could I do to improve performance?
4. How can I use it to listen to radio stations? How can I use it to record radio shows and the like?
5. When I put in a CD (Audio CD, DVD, MP3 CD, etc.) how can I tell the box to ask the user if they want to play the contents or rip them to the HD?
6. How can I display the ID3 tags on the LCD display?
7. I need a cool name.

EDIT: I've chosen the name "Equinox" for this little box.

Bear in mind, this project is merely for fun. I don't intent to start selling these things (unless a market for them appears ). Just something I can set on the TV (which will probably be resting on cinder blocks & 2x4s) to save space.

Any ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by KungFuHamster; 04-02-2003 at 08:11 PM.
 
Old 04-02-2003, 03:40 PM   #2
KungFuHamster
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And no, I will not name it "Windows Media Center"!
 
Old 04-02-2003, 05:46 PM   #3
KungFuHamster
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I've also had a few other ideas after I jotted this down.

1. Two "off" buttons. The first, located in the front, would send a simple "shutdown -h now" command to the OS. The second one, in the back, would simply cut the power. Naturally, I'll have to use a journaling filesystem for this project to keep going. Would ext3 or reiserfs be better?

2. The ability to store and watch flash movies. How cool would it be to watch Strong Bad's e-mails on your TV?

3. CDRW for the first-generation setups, to allow for backing up (NOT pirating! We're all good, law-abiding citizens when it comes to IP, right? of music CDs & creating Video CDs.

4. The ability to store & view pictures, for slideshows & presentations.

5. Allow for users to tweak, hack, and tinker with the setup as much as possible. Easy themeing/skinning of the GUI & including as many skins for the multimedia apps as possible. Maybe using E16 as a base for the GUI for sheer eye-candy appeal?

6. How does "FuzionTek" sound? I think it's rather corny myself, but it's all I could think of besides "Windows Media Center". If you've got a suggestion, by all means, let me know!
 
Old 04-02-2003, 06:00 PM   #4
Dave Skywatcher
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So this would be like an embedded device, right? It only serves as a multimedia center and won't let people run other software on it?

I don't have anything useful to contribute, but it seems like a really cool idea. If you do it, I'd love to see the specs (and I'd be happy to help you put them together, if you wanted help).
 
Old 04-02-2003, 06:12 PM   #5
KungFuHamster
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Skywatcher
So this would be like an embedded device, right? It only serves as a multimedia center and won't let people run other software on it?

I don't have anything useful to contribute, but it seems like a really cool idea. If you do it, I'd love to see the specs (and I'd be happy to help you put them together, if you wanted help).

NO!

It's all going to be put together with off-the-shelf parts. I don't have the money or the knowledge to put together embedded devices.

Besides, if this thing takes off (BIG IF) I want people to be able to do whatever they want with it. It's their property, after all.
 
Old 04-02-2003, 06:23 PM   #6
quietguy47
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Solution to #5 on your first post.
AVerTV Stereo

# Innovations 2002 Honoree Award winner from this year's Consumer Electronics Show!
# Record and Playback TV Programs or Video
# Pause, Rewind and Instant Replay Live TV
# Record TV/Video in MPEG I/II (Software Encoding and Decoding Solution).
# Capture Home Videos and Send to Family and Friends
# Playback Your Recorded Programs While Continuing to Record in Real Time
# TV Recording Scheduler
# Fully Resizable TV Window (From 1/9 Screen up to Full Screen)
# Create Your Favorite Channel Group
# 16-Channel Preview
# Support 2-69 of Air Channels and 1-125 of Cable Channels
# Autoscan and Full Channel Scan Function
# Parental Channel Lock-Out
# Changeable Control Panel Skin Display
# Album Feature for Still Image Capture in BMP, JPG, TIF, or PCX Format up to 1600 x 1200 (up to 720 x 480 for NTSC)
# Coax, Composite and S-Video Input
# Supports NTSC, PAL N, PAL M
# Includes AVerTV TV Tuner Card, Audio Loopback Cable, Quick Installation Guide and Installation CD.
# Requires Pentium-III 800Mhz w/ 128MB RAM and Windows 98SE or higher for full functionality
# Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
Price $49.99 USD
 
Old 04-02-2003, 06:28 PM   #7
Aussie
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I'm planning one based on a hollywood+ DVD decoder and SB Live! 5.1, both are connected to my TV/Stero via my main workstation, next step is to get a TV tuner card, once I have that intergrated I'll be getting a small box for them to live in - maybe a shuttle - and a plasma screen display.

[Edit: I also have a remote control, it's a RealMagic remote designed to work with the Hollywood+ in windows, and it works with lirc out of the box, I use it for xmms (audio) and xine (video) and you can also use it as a pointer device in X.

Last edited by Aussie; 04-02-2003 at 06:33 PM.
 
Old 04-02-2003, 06:29 PM   #8
Dave Skywatcher
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Quote:
Originally posted by KungFuHamster
NO!

It's all going to be put together with off-the-shelf parts. I don't have the money or the knowledge to put together embedded devices.

Besides, if this thing takes off (BIG IF) I want people to be able to do whatever they want with it. It's their property, after all.
Okay, I didn't mean that as literally as it sounded. I just meant that it would be highly focused toward acting as a multimedia center, as opposed to being a computer with a few gadgets attached. Either way, it sounds fun.
 
Old 04-02-2003, 06:48 PM   #9
KungFuHamster
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Which filesystem should I use for the HD? ext3 or reiserfs?
 
Old 04-02-2003, 06:54 PM   #10
Aussie
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I use reiserfs, but it's really just a matter of preference, if your using ext2 now then you can change to ext3 without formatting, to change to reiserfs from ext2 you have to format.
 
Old 04-02-2003, 07:05 PM   #11
KungFuHamster
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Quote:
Originally posted by Aussie
I use reiserfs, but it's really just a matter of preference, if your using ext2 now then you can change to ext3 without formatting, to change to reiserfs from ext2 you have to format.
My main concern about the filesystem is speed. There's going to be a lot of big files, and a lot of small files as well.

Maybe seperate partitions for different media types? ReiserFS for the MP3s & pictures, XFS for the movies?
 
Old 04-02-2003, 08:32 PM   #12
KungFuHamster
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quietguy: Is that device Linux-ready?


NOTE: This is my 100th post! w00t!
 
Old 04-02-2003, 11:34 PM   #13
bubba169
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I've been thinking of just building a simple Mp3/ogg player out of an old pent.166 I got laying around. Haven't gotten around to it yet but I have done some searching for ideas one that I found for the remote control is IRMan I don't know how hard it would be to build on from sracth.

Looking forward to hearing how it all goes

Bubba169
 
Old 04-02-2003, 11:47 PM   #14
Pcghost
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Quote:
"Besides, if this thing takes off (BIG IF) I want people to be able to do whatever they want with it. It's their property, after all."
Where were you when the modern software industry got its start? God it's nice to hear someone with a good idea say that...
Thanks..
 
Old 04-02-2003, 11:50 PM   #15
mcleodnine
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Quote:
Originally posted by KungFuHamster
I've also had a few other ideas after I jotted this down.

1. Two "off" buttons. The first, located in the front, would send a simple "shutdown -h now" command to the OS. The second one, in the back, would simply cut the power. Naturally, I'll have to use a journaling filesystem for this project to keep going. Would ext3 or reiserfs be better?
ACPI can read events such as the power button being pressed or the lid on your notebook being closed. We use it on soho file servers for dim clients who think that rebooting the server will make the cable internet start working again. The ACPI event does the halt -p trick so at least things get halted nicely. I the rare case that the machine is hung (hey - I've heard that can happen) the BIOS is setup so that holding down the power button for +4 seconds will kill the power. (ouch)

Quote:
2. The ability to store and watch flash movies. How cool would it be to watch Strong Bad's e-mails on your TV?
Freevo (freevo.sourceforge.net) runs in an X window so I would guess that it would be able to spawn a minimalist browser window and play MM-Flash animation.

Quote:
3. CDRW for the first-generation setups, to allow for backing up (NOT pirating! We're all good, law-abiding citizens when it comes to IP, right? of music CDs & creating Video CDs.
Skip it. export the filesystem and burn them on your desktop rig. Or better yet - just build your own server and stuff it full of 160GBHDDs - preferrably RAID. removable media is a pain in the arse.

Quote:
4. The ability to store & view pictures, for slideshows & presentations.
Freevo has that function built-in. You can mount NFS exports on other machines to have a HUGE library (of any of your media).

Quote:
5. Allow for users to tweak, hack, and tinker with the setup as much as possible. Easy themeing/skinning of the GUI & including as many skins for the multimedia apps as possible. Maybe using E16 as a base for the GUI for sheer eye-candy appeal?
Freevo again, although skinning it is a backstage operation that wouldn't be done by 'mortal' users.

It's also an MP3 library/juke that can be setup to display album art. (Note to the young'uns - albums were what we used to call those big black vinyl recordings before shiny CDs hit the market).

Freevo still has a few bumps, but the concept is goot. THe downside is the fact that it needs to run in a GUI (X). I'd love to see one in just text-mode to play movies and record TV. Save the clock cycles for the content/performance and skip the eye candy.

Quote:
6. How does "FuzionTek" sound? I think it's rather corny myself, but it's all I could think of besides "Windows Media Center". If you've got a suggestion, by all means, let me know!

Last edited by mcleodnine; 04-02-2003 at 11:54 PM.
 
  


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