November 07, 2005

Current Project - Big Screen Companion PC

What I've been working on lately is a reincarnation of my old computer (named Neutron, I roll with an atomic theme with my main puter as Proton) that is being converted from being a windows server into some kind of all in one media hub to attach to the big screen TV in the living room.

In it's previous state, it was built in my old LAN party case that was painted with textured black spray paint, with a Unreal Tournament logo applique on a side panel window. I also built in a handle on the top (if you try this, use BIG washers on the inside to spread the weight), and I put on 4 caster wheels on the bottom for easy mobility. I then added the standard cold cathodes (blue) and I cut a hole in the bottom for an aluminum intake fan to pull up cool air since it's raised off the floor by the wheels. To top it off, it has a lighted Unreal Tournament fan grill on the bottom intake fan.

Inside, it's running a P4 2Ghz on some unknown mobo that I got as a combo for my old Archos 6 gig MP3 player. It's kicking it with 512 of RAM and has a Lite-on 8X DVD+/-R and 3 HD's for about 150+ gigs of space. It's been using random video cards that I leave in whenever I test them, but lately has been sporting a GF 5600 Ultra 128 Meg that is gonna stick around for the next version. I'm also using onboard net and audio.

Neutron V.2

Now onto the new case modifications...
I'm going to be stripping off the wheels and replacing them with a little railed riser that I'm making out of legs from some blacklight peraphanalia that I had when I was younger (I had a whole blacklight phase...who didn't...STOP JUDGING ME!). They're black legs with transparent blue plastic feet. This will allow the tower to be way off the ground for better ventilation through the bottom intake. I also plan on running LEDs down into each leg to light up the feet since they're clear, I'm just not sure about how to power them. I'm thinking about putting some blue EL tape underneath the case to give a subtle blue glow downwards, all depends on how much the lighting annoys me when I'm watching TV. I'm going to mount on the non-window side of the case both a wireless keyboard/mouse receiver and my old creative remote receiver and to top it off, I'm going to mount a little 802.11b USB wifi card/antenna on the top of the rig behind the handle.

For the inside, I'm thinking of putting in this dinky WinTV card that I got from a friend that needed some minor soldering work. It's been working in my other PC pretty well so I think it'll make the move to Neutron. It doesn't have any DVR capabilities, but it'll let me do basic video capture if I want to record a clip/show in progress and take screencaps. I'm going to have the audio out go to RCA into the TV along with the vid card outputting through S-video converted into RCA (my tv is older, lacks any newer inputs).

As for usage, I'm mainly planning on using it when I'm too lazy to get up from in front of the tv to check out e-mails or AIM or whatnot. I might even decide to game on it when the mood strikes since the vid card can handle most games still and the TV won't require uber high resolutions. To make things a bit more convenient, I'm mounting the keyboard with velcro to stick under the coffee table along with a little harness to hold the mouse when not needed and the creative remote might just get velcro'd to the back of the normal TV remote.

As this project progresses, I'd like to get pics, but my girl "stole" my camera when I visited her in Dallas and I'm not going to be getting it back until Nov. 23rd. In the meantime, I might try my hand at some uber mspaint renderings :-)

Like always (well, going to be like always), if anyone reads this and has any ideas/suggestions/complaints/whatever, post a comment, lemme know what you think.


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