Zalman HD160XT Based HTPC With Pics And Build Link

Discussion in 'Ongoing HTPC Projects' started by jestermgee, June 2, 2008.

  1. jestermgee

    jestermgee Portal Pro

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    Thought i'd share my recent efforts. My first HTPC is pretty much "built" but for the past couple of months I have been tweaking and adding components and just trying to get it to do everything I want & need... I have had a heap of issues over the span of the build but I did setup a test system on my laptop to get it programmed.

    Hardware
    Case: Zalman HD 160XT With 7" Touch Screen & iMON Remote Control
    P/S: Zalman ZM500-HP Supply, Heatpipe and 120mm internal Fan, Modular Cabling
    Motherboard: ASUS P5K-E / WIFI Edition
    CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 CPU, 2.33 GHz, FSB 1333MHz, 4MB L2 Cache
    RAM: 2GB Patriot PC2-6400 (2x1GB)
    Video: Gigabyte GF 8600GT PCI-E 256MB 128-bit DDR3
    HDD: Samsung 320GB HDD - SATA II 7200rpm, 16MB Cache, NoiseGuard, SilentSeek
    TV: DigitalNow DNTV Live Dual Hybrid S2 PCIe Tuner
    CPU Cooling: Thermaltake Blue Orb 2
    Optical Drive: Sony CD/DVD Burner
    Remote Control: iMON Remote + MCE Remote + Logitech Harmony 525 Remote
    Keyboard\Mouse: Microsoft Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard & Mouse (wireless desktop 7000)

    View the build and components at my site HERE

    In addition to my HTPC and lounge I also have a media storage PC (basic PC with JBOD drives = 2TB at the moment). This media server stores all media and monitors the activity of my media centers (I use a laptop for the bedroom). It auto starts when one HTPC comes online and then switches off when all HTPCs are offline.

    Software
    In my eyes there are 2 main HTPC software packages for the home HTPC builder.... Media Portal and Meedio, both FREE :D

    My system is primarily a Meedio machine (sorry) but the TV side of things is all done through Media Portal TV server which is great!!!

    I use Zoom Player as my media player which is tightly integrated into my system, Uice, Hip, iMON for remote control of the system, UltraVNC for remote login, Ultramon for multi monitor management, AutoIT3 for scripting and hacking things, Acronis for backups of system and a few other little apps to help out.

    It Is Built For
    EVERYTHING... Some build a HTPC purely for DVD/Video, others build for music, some build for a little of both..... I had a goal for my setup before I started. It was not going to be purely just a HTPC, it would be a HTPC/PC/GAME MACHINE/LIBRARY etc... EVERYTHING. One thing that I found a real pain was to get ALL my media to play back without issues. After months of tweaking I think I have about 98% of files supported.

    It Can Do...
    Sh!t loads... All this is done (at least launched and browsed) from within the HTPC software with a remote control. Keyboard and mouse are only needed when playing games (if you don't like joystick) or surfing the net.

    - Browse through TV shows, view episode information, overviews, actors, similar, trivia, fanart, screengrabs.
    - Create playlists for TV shows
    - Keep track of shows that have been watched
    - Select virtual TV channels that have playlists of TV library in randomized order for when you don't know what to watch
    - Remembers all viewed shows and the current position of every show within 14 days (Zoom Player Feature)
    - Watch Movies and view details, screenshots, actors, similar movies, movies with same actor/director, review etc
    - View trailers for a movie and auto queue trailers before the start of movie (even DVD and blueray)
    - Browse music library and albums
    - Select a "mood" and let HTPC queue music (thanks to MusicIP integration)
    - Load a music jukebox full of hundreds of tracks for a party with full screen winamp visualisations
    - Create music playlists
    - Watch and schedule live digital TV
    - Watch and record different programs
    - Record 2 programs at a time
    - Auto removal of commercials
    - Listen to FM radio
    - Capture external video
    - Browse for media on touchscreen while watching programs on TV
    - Surf the net
    - Check e-mails
    - Browse forums
    - Play online videos and radio
    - Play games such as Halflife2, Flatout2 or tetris
    - One touch DVD copy or rip to media center
    - Import and update media into librarys
    - View weather and forecasts

    I struggle to think of anything else it can do. In addition to that it can do obviously any PC task it needs, but it is programmed to hide the taskbar and icons so it appears to not be "windows" though I have not replaced windows.

    Its Aimed At...
    Everyone. Let me explain...

    I love technology and am quite savvy when it comes to this stuff (no full on expert but I get by). I need something more than a basic MCE box... I need features and things that make it original. Well my machine is just that. My touchscreen is one example. When you view a show, the entire HTPC front end shifts over to the touchscreen for browsing and then back again when program ends. This is great and I can shift it at will with the remote too. So there is a lot of cool features, but it's worthless if others cannot use it.

    My girlfriend is not very savvy with computers and is a good test for the system as she has no patients. She loves it, has her own separate TV and movie library and finds it very easy to use what she wants. There is plenty there for me but others can handle the basics without any coaching at all, which is also what I wanted.

    Conclusion
    It's an on-going project that gets me irritated as hell sometimes, but is well worth the trouble. Using the software that is best suited to the task then tying it all together is the best way, hence why I have a number of applications doing different things.

    Please visit my site for more details, and register yourself to get some free music too. I am also a music producer so I do a lot.

    Cheers.

    Oh, here's some snaps to look at:

    CASE
    [​IMG]

    Night Of The Build
    [​IMG]



    Machine Comes To Life
    [​IMG]

    In It's Place (TV resolution is wrong I know)
    [​IMG]

    Control
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. dvdgorila

    dvdgorila New Member

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    I have a zalman 160xt as well. How are you able browse media on the touchscreen?
     
  4. mvtl9902

    mvtl9902 Portal Member

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    MusicIP

    Hello,
    which plugins do you use to integrate MusicIP in Mediaportal ?

    :D
     
  5. jestermgee

    jestermgee Portal Pro

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    Hey

    In answer to both questions above, I use Meedio as my primary HTPC front end. I posted in here because I also use Media Portal (I don't discriminate ;) ) but mainly just for TV and burning.... Why limit yourself with one application when 2 or more give so much more :D

    Media Portal is great when it comes to TV tuner management. I like the front end for TV and love the ease of use and WAF factor. Meedio is just a little more powerful when it comes to archived TV browsing, music, movies and plugins...

    My HTPC setup is MASSIVE. It consists of a library of programs, batch scripts and hacks to windows that allow things not possible in MP (sorry).

    Meedio has a musicip plugin that is awesome. It can play infinitally from a "mood" or instant mix, create random mixes, vary the style etc all from a single click..... Hell, you can map an "instant music" button on the remote and just have it start a playlist.... Very cool.

    The touchscreen in the case is usless with the included iMON software. So I ditched that and started on some AUTOIT scripts. Basically, what happens is when I select a video file from my library, the video player (zoom player) opens on my TV in locked full screen and a script is opened at the same time that shifts the browser (meedio) to the touchscreen and auto resizes it to fit nicely... While video is playing I can browse through all my other files and when I select another file it loads into the player automatically and starts playing. When the video player closes, Meedio is shifted back to the main screen.. Its really cool but took a bit of tweaking. It's only for those that can do some basic scripting and hacking though I am no expert. Fully self taught.

    I'm still actively programming my system, testing and tweaking it to be the ultimate HTPC machine capable of everything (including house automation down the track).

    I am willing to give others a hand if they wish though.
     
  6. mvtl9902

    mvtl9902 Portal Member

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    Thank you for your feedback ;)
     
  7. finrudd341

    finrudd341 Portal Pro

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    Nice setup

    Jestermgee,

    Nice looking setup, and as a Zalman fan with a similar hardware spec I was curious to see how you did it some of the things I struggled with - simple, silly things like making the blue led on the case stay on for power, rather than flicker for HDD activity, how you get on with that Harmony remote..but, I will ask you some questions at some other stage if I may.

    I was also interested in Meedio, and took at look at their website Meedio - Media Center PC, DVR And Automation Software For The Digital Home where I see that they have sold their technology to Yahoo. I am in very mixed minds over things like this happening. While it's great to think that a good products may now have the funding to become excellent world-class products, I wonder if the direction of the program remains within the control of the original code writers.

    This leads me to think about Media Portal, and the hours everyone has committed to it, be those hours as a user, or as a programmer or both. Would someone 'buying' MP be a good thing and can you purchase IP rights (intellectual property) to something in the open source arena? Anyway, I will be interested to see if Yahoo's takeover has made any difference to you at this stage?

    Once again - a great looking setup - well done indeed!
     
  8. jestermgee

    jestermgee Portal Pro

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    Ahhh, yes...... Ehrm, Yahoo.......

    All they tried to do was buy out Meedio and make it dissapear. It just forced it underground. Meedio is now FREE and open sourced with a really great team of plugin and theme developers carrying on the project. Basically, it has nothing to do with Yahoo.

    Go here to find out more:

    MeediOS | Bringing Media to Life

    MEEDIOS: is hailed to be the next generation of Meedio that is currently in the design and programming stages but is moving quite quickly. There are already test releases about and it is starting to really gain momentum.

    It's a steeper learning curve than Media Portal but is aimed at the HTPC tweaker and builder.

    Cheers for the feedback on my setup. It has taken me about 1 1/5 years to fully program and is still in the process. It's the small tricky things that take the most time. Like the touchscreen functionality, making it all girlfriend proof and failsafe. The other complication now is the TV side of things and making sure that is all rock solid. It's all an ongoing project to me and I love it. My girlfriend gets a lot out of it so she doesn't mind me spending time on it and we often sit and watch TV while I do programming on the laptop next to her on the couch.

    By all means, if anyone has any questions then please feel free to ask.
     
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