This is my HTPC. At first, it was supposed to be a PVR. I wanted to add a TV tuner, but i dropped the idea and instead, built a separate media server for this purpose. Now it only serve as a “frontend”.
I did not buy a ready-made case for this project, i took an old Scientific Atlanta Explorer 2000 and modified it to fit a mini-itx board.
|CPU||Intel i3 2100 3.1Ghz|
Intel Graphics HD 2000
|Memory||Kingston 4GB DDR3|
|PSU||VMS-100-18 18.0V 100W|
|SSD drive||mSata Crucial 32GB SSD|
|Hard drive||2.5″ laptop HD bay (not used)|
This is the Explorer 2000 case i modified :
IO shield template
This is the template i made for the IO shield cutout and for the MB mounting standoff locations. As you can see in the images above, i glued the template on the inside of the case so the thickness of the case walls don’t matters. I used 0.250″ swage standoff to mount the motherboard and the template takes that into account. The original template had a reference height of 0.270″ because of the aluminum sheet under the MB. I removed the additional 0.020″ height in this template assuming that the standoffs are mounted directly on the case bottom.
If you do use this template, make sure you print it to scale! I included a calibration scale for this purpose. Just make sure it measures 6″ in both directions.
The existing front panel on the Explorer 2000 had a 4 digits 7-seg display. I could have kept the old one and find a way to interface it with the rest of the system, but i decided to make my own instead.
Here are the specs :
- 20×2 character lcd w/RGB backlight
- 6 navigation buttons (up,down,right,left,ok and menu)
- Reset/power buttons and power led (bi-color) which are connected to the motherboard pwr control header.
- Two additional bi-color leds (record and message led )
- Microchip PIC18f2520 MCU
- USB interface (FT232 serial to usb)
The lcd is controlled by a python script on the HTPC.
Hard drive bay
I made an aluminum bracket for a 2.5″ drive. It used to have a 750GB drive for my media files, but i moved those files to a separate server and use a 32GB mSata drive for the OS.
Media center OS
Currently, I use OpenElec 3.2, a lightweight Linux distribution with XBMC 12.0. At first, I used Mythbuntu (xbmc 11), it worked fine, but i was not able to install the new version. I had problems getting the video card (intel) to work… Anyway, i tried Openelec, and it worked perfectly… Although, with recent updates, I’m having problems with viewing live tv from my TvHeadend server, it constantly display the message “connection lost” and playback of recorded streams sometimes fail to play (“unknown command” error message)…
Why did you not use a Raspberry PI instead ?
The reasons why is simply because when i built that, it was still hard to buy and from what i read at the time, the support for XBMC was not as polished as it is today. Also, my initial goal was to install a drive and the TV tuner inside my HTPC which is something that the PI does not support. That was before i built my media server. My next HTPC build might feature a Raspberry PI but for now, it is working just fine.