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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:15 pm 
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yeah - When looking at a new Harmony, I ment more at what extra buttons would be there and their functions (for example, easily switching between input(s) on the A/V or HTPC specific buttons)

The benefit of the Harmony is that since it essentally runs on Macro's, Not all the function buttons are needed, as the harmony just pumps it out via macro's


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:31 am 
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i LOVE macros. in the room with this entertainment centre, get a light switch with an IR receiver and program your Harmony to use it. Logitech has the codes for most of the light switches on the market, i got mine from Home Depot.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:37 pm 
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Well here's my next update for you all. I've been pretty busy visiting family and taking care of life stuff.

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Today, I decided to start on the PC part (YaY!). I figure the only way I can totally resolve any questions about hardware and OS is to actually see what happens when I flick the sucker on.

Before I just throw all the silicon on, the Tray needs to be fastened. The most logical spot is to attach it to the A/V. It has a few advantages, such as grounding (the A/V case is metal).

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For reference, the screws for our systems are essentially the same as the #4 machine screws. Hopefully, my multiple trips to home depot and lowes to discover this, will be of use to some of you (and I still need to go back and get more screws - Gah!).

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I took the cover off the A/V and cut holes in it to match the unused stand off holes on the Mobo tray.

The machine screws were bolted in to ensure that the Tray doesn't come loose and fall out. In addition, I used spacers to lift the tray just a little bit off of the A/V case. The intention is to allow "some" airflow around the A/V.

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After attaching the tray to the A/V, adding the silicon is pretty straight forward. I was pleasantly suprised at how compact the whole thing was. Being an MATX rig, I kinda expected everything to be spilling over, or atleast blocking most of the ports in the Mobo.

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Here's a shot of the A/V unit and the attached HTPC. By mounting it sideways (instead of the HTPC and A/V ports all facing the same way), I can make cable management a little easier by tucking the HTPC cords to the side and runing them under the A/V to thier respective ports.

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And for the drive cage. I went for a 5"1/4 to 3"1/2 HDD cage. That way instead of building a separate 5"1/4 and 3"1/2 cages, I only have to build the 5"1/4 and I can mount all my drives right next to each other.

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I have no clue what's with the green, sorry. Actually it was cheaper than clear (gee, wonder), and its never gonna be visible when the entertainment center is done. Since the hole where the 8-track (and where the front bezel will be) is smaller than a normal bezel (but big enough to fit a dvd drive, I had to drill new holes for the HDD cage to offset for the 1/4" of playwood that will be sandwhiched between the bezel and the cage. Nice thing is that it gives me something to mount both to, although Adding future harddrives may be a pain I fear.

The acyrillic cage panels still need to be cut in half to fit inside the Entertaiment center (too long). This is still in the speculative stage as of right now, but i'm thinking of taking the excess panel and trying to work out a way to make the drive cage removable as a whole. I could permanetaly mount the excess set of panels to the Entertainment center and then attach the cage panels to teh excess via thumb screws. That way, when it comes time to upgrade, all I have to do is unscrew a set of thumb screws and drop the whole bay out.

Take care!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 8:57 am 
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Do0d, that receiver is going to freakin melt that mobo.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:36 am 
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yeah... I"m trying to mitigate that with a few strategies in regards to the cooling scheme. Tell me what you think:

First, the Main heat sink for the A/V is in the front of the unit, I placed the Tray in the rear. The A/V case is vented so the hottest air can simply go straight up with out hitting the Tray.

Second, The CPS9500AT cooler on the Chip is total overkill for a HTPC, even a celeron. I'm anticipating extra heat. I'm actually going to reseat it today and rotate the cooler so it is pushing air to the rear instead of side ways. That was an over sight on my part (woops :wink: ). Also the Tray is Al, so it should help wisk some heat away providing there is enough airflow.

Third, I've intentionally tried to make it so nothing is totally flush against the A/V. I've kept the "feet" of the A/V attached, the Mobo is elevated above the A/V albeit barely. This will allow for airflow on every side of the A/V

Fourth, Per Denis63's suggestion, I looked into a large volume fan, ala Antec's BigBoy. I ended up going with a larger 250mm fan that can move 100cfm that will evauate hor air from the case. I haven't decided on where exaclty it will sit in the back, but the most obvious spot will be directly behind and just a little above the A/V as the bulk Fresh air will be comming from the bottom front of the case. The only consideration is the internal wiring (shouldne't be a problem).

The fan(s) for the system, a new Power switch (I snapped the one that came with the bezel right in half while trying to remove it), and the USBUIRT ought to be here next week sometime (I hope).

Opinions welcome :-)


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:42 am 
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I would consider cutting out a huge opening in the back of the radio box and put framed mesh over it. That way the hot air has some where to go when the fans push it away.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:25 am 
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yeah, I was going to place that 250mm fan in the back of the Entertainment center. This would pull the air out of the entire Entertainment center.

I realized after reading my last post, I wasn't totally clear with where I was going to place the fan, my apologies.

Code:
---------------------|
                     |-
      --------       |F|
      | HTPC |       |A| <- 250mm
-------------        |N| <- Fan
         A/V |       |-
-------------        |
---------------------

Hopefully this crude text diagram helps! (that was harder to make than I thought, lol) Putting a mesh over it is not a bad idea though, Prolly make it a bit safer at the minimum.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 12:06 pm 
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denyasis wrote:
yeah, I was going to place that 250mm fan in the back of the Entertainment center. This would pull the air out of the entire Entertainment center.

I realized after reading my last post, I wasn't totally clear with where I was going to place the fan, my apologies.

Code:
---------------------|
                     |-
      --------       |F|
      | HTPC |       |A| <- 250mm
-------------        |N| <- Fan
         A/V |       |-
-------------        |
---------------------

Hopefully this crude text diagram helps! (that was harder to make than I thought, lol) Putting a mesh over it is not a bad idea though, Prolly make it a bit safer at the minimum.


It will help keep debris out of there when the fan is not running as well.

Keep an eye on her. My receiver is about that size and it gets smoking hot when left on for hours.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:39 pm 
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I'd strap a few 120mm fans to the side of the receiver, mines an older model, and it gets hot too.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 6:19 pm 
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Thanks for the info gentleman;

I'll have to check into it a bit more and make sure the cooling works. Perhaps create a cross flow across the A/V's heatsink?

Might be worth grabbing a little thermometer, setting the A/V and seeing how warm it gets after a few hours. How hot is Hot for you all? 100F? 150? 180?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2008 4:08 am 
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Ok , here's a quick top down view of the projected airflow around the A/V unit.

Image

The fans are in Red and airflow is in blue. Air will come into the Entertainment center from the bottom front and from the top middle (the hyphenated fan - its actually the fan from thh Hdd cage).

I can add fans to the A/V to blow air across the A/V's heatsink. I can off set the 250mm Exhaust fan so the fans providing the cross flow don't have to fight the exhaust fan for air.

Opinions?

The intake fan at the "South" end seems almost useless, perhaps move it to the opposite side? Other than the IR blaster, and some routing for cables, I don't plan on having much over there at all.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2008 10:07 am 
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Now all you have to be concerned about is the fan noise. :lol:


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2008 1:20 pm 
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ohh yeah :lol:

I tried my hardest to get quieter fans (none are over 20dB). If its way too loud, I may switch out the 120mm fans with 120mm fans with an integrated temp controller. That way, when the entertainment center is idle, the fans will hopefully spin down (I hope)


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:33 am 
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Ike has somewhat disrupted my work :-(

I'll be back at it in a little bit and I'll have some new pics for you all hopefully in the next day or two. Its actually pending on the availability of a neighbor whom I'm trying to get to come over and help me move this thing outside so I can drill/cut some holes in it.

Peace!


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 6:19 pm 
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Hey there!

I hope you all are well after the recent storms.

Here's a small update for you all:


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Just before the storm, I received the first set of fans: 1 250mm exhaust fan to be placed on the backboard and 3 120mm fans for intake of fresh air into the Entertainment Center. (also pictured is the USB-UIRT - a usb Infared blaster/receiver)

Per your all's suggestions, I have 2 more 120mm fans in the mail to help push air around the A/V. Thanks for the Advice!


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After a bit of struggling and pulling, I pushed the entertainment center out onto the back porch so I wouldn't get dust all over my tiny apartment. Being that I live on the upper floor, carrying this sucker up and down the stairs is all but impossible for me, so I have to do all my work on my back porch.

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I decided to junk the old back board. It was made out of flimsy particle board and while in good condition for being around 40 years old or so, I doubt it would hold up very well in the future. I replaced it with a thicker (1/4") peice of plywood. I intend to add face plates, the exhaist fan, and slots to the back board. That way one can simply plug in peripherals (TV, speakers, etc) without worrying about cracking the entertainment center open.

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In addition to face plates, the bckboard will be hinged and latched, allowing for easy maintainence.

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First, I cut a hole out in the top section of the Entertainment Center. This will be an intake fan and will cool the Cable box and provide air for the fans blowing on the HDD. The second hole is a pass through for cables running from the cable box to the other components in the Entertainment Center.

Image

The Last cuts for the day were the bottom air intake holes. They are not perfect circles, but no one will ever see them! Lol.

The one thing I definitely learned is how much setup/cleanup is needed for working on a deck one story up (tarps and vacums to keep dust from falling on my downstairs neighbor, noise, etc), So I'm definietely gonna have to schedule my time so I can do work more long term (all afternoon or morning) instead of just for a little bit at a time. It took longer to set up and clean up than it did to do the actually work today, LoL!

Take Care!


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 7:44 pm 
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Hello again;

I hope you all have been doing well. I have a small update for you. I hope you enjoy...

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I'm starting to realize the limitation of working upon a deck (and in an apartment) - I tend to spend about an hour before and after of prep and cleanup. Ahhh to one day have a house and a garage :-)

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Today's goal was to attach the Drive cage, front bezel, and apply the EMI Sheild. I also completed some misc tasks.

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After some careful fitting, I clamped in the Drive cage and lined it up to drill pilot holes and fasten it in. All the holes will be hidden under the bezel.

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Well, I think you see the problem. I've never worked with plastics before, and its clear it shows. I've had nothing but problems with the acylic. I attached the HDD cage to the plastic using maching screws, breaking the heads off of half of them in the process (with an old fashioned screwdriver too!). In the picture above, I tried to attached the plastic cage to the Entertainment center using wood screws, causing the Plastic to split.
In order to make sure it was sturdy, I had to seal everything with Loctite.

After some thought and a quick discussion with my Father , I figure I should have used a tap and die set on the plastic to avoid the problems. Alternatively, I could have just used plywood and saved some $$.

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I used spackle to seal the rear intake fan and made sure its in there snug. I still need to clean it up a bit by sanding it. I also used the spackle to fix up a few nicks and scratches in teh Entertainment Center.

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I got a 15x36 sheet of MagnetSheild Plate from Less EMF at a fairly reasonable price. They are one of few places that I found that actually ship small orders. After some cutting and grinding, the sheilds were ready to be placed.

It was really fun waving the sheet at my radio antennea and watching it switch stations!! :-)

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Because strong magnets have a tendency to saturate the Sheild, Multiple layers = Better. The transformer and regulators for the Original radio in the Entertainment center are closest to the Drive Cages. I placed one plate infront of the transformer (background) and another larger plate covering the regulators and transformer (foreground). A third plate (not shown) is on the plastic, giving three layers of protection.

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I placed a shiled in every cardinal direction around the HDD Cage in particular. The only sides un-sheilded are the top and bottom (Intake fan and access to HDD's)

By then, the Caulk had dried, so I was able to start a misc job - Refinishing the top. Its not real wood, wood veneer, so that limits some possibilities with it.

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I first sanded off the clear coat and roughed up the veneer, just enough for the stain to adhere. I then applied several thin coats of Stain:

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After drying for 24 hours, I sanded and covered it in an enamal flat clear coat. I chose flat as I have cats (gets less dirty) and I was hoping it would minimize the problem of staining veneer - streaks. In retrospect, I think it highlighted the streaks (yay) - So I'll have to grab an ultra fine sanding block or paper and a wet towel and see what I can do.

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While everythign was drying outside, I started modding the AV to have an air intake fan.

A few quick whooshes of the Dremel and Drill, and a Hole was cut and fan added:

Image


While I was cleaning up, I received the custom faceplate I had ordered for the back of the Entertainment center. After scouring Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy, etc, I quickly discovered while they all have Keystone Face plates for Speakers, Cable, Phone, and Ethernet, More specialized connections aren't available.

I designed my faceplate on the DataPro Website and was even able to buy panel mount cables for the HDMI, DVI, 2 P/S2 ports, and 2 USB ports, which makes life easy.

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Here's a sneak peak of the Face plate sans cabling.

With most of the components in my possession, I'm ready to start cabling. The tedius art of measuring, cutting, and crimping cables for the face plates. I also have to build the entire back panel (and attach the face plates to it). Preliminary measuring is done, I just need to find the time and correct weather (like not rain) to go to town on it.

Once the cabling is done and most componenets are afixed to their respective nests, I can test run and setup the rig (so I can see the display on the AV). After its set up, I can permanently afix the AV into the Entertainment center, Close her up and I'm good to go! Sounds so Simple, lol!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:37 am 
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Lookin good! I had no idea that one could make custom plates like that.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:23 pm 
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Thanks! Neither did I when I started this project, lol :-)

I actually figured I'd have to buy individual faceplates for each connection, with thte exception of the 5.1 speaker plate and then hand wire everything to their respective outlets. (I kinda figured the back of the Entertainment center would be nothing but faceplates :shock: )

While trying to find a plate for the HDMI connection (and how to hard wire such a thing - yeesh), I stumbled upon the DataPro Website and after a quick BBB check, they got a new customer.

The plate itself was a little over $30. It was the panel mount cabling that was expensive, but, in my opinion, totally worth it. All I have to do is screw the recepticle end of the cable into the panel and plug the other end(s) into the AV and HTPC. No crimping, cutting, or messing with Keystones!

I'll make sure to have some shots of the cables and the assembled plate for you in my next update!

Take Care!


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 7:48 pm 
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Spider, This one is for you :-)

Today, I worked on the Back panel and mounted the face plates. I also practiced my noob crimping skills and I thinkI'm ready to do all the Cat5e cables tomorrw while watching the games.

Here's where I stand so far...

Image

Image

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Its a tight fit... A really tight fit. In fact it was so tight, I had to move the AV and HTPC to our left other wise the Mobo Power cable and RAM would be hitting the Drive cage.

Because I had to move the AV a few inches, I had to adjust the plate and fan locations on the Back panel:

Image

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I could actually take the back panel to the "yard" and work on it, savign me a tone of time. Cutting the Plywood was like a hot knife through butter compared to the old particle board (or what ever it is) of the Entertainment center.

After that, It was just a matter of attaching the fan and face plates:

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My custon plate and panel mount cables.

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Its just simply screwing the panel mounted cables in and you're ready to go.

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Tada! I'm going to cut a hole for the power cord, the Router's antennea, and stain the whole thing tomorrow as well as fix one of the plates ... Somehow I screwed it in at an angle and didn't realize it until I took the picture. After that it gets hinges and latches.

Image

I'm giving it hinges and chains for easy maintainence. One thing I'm toying with is cutting the panel inhalf (vertically) so each half would open independently.

Take Care!


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 8:26 pm 
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Location: Gutting an imp with my bare hands.
cup wrote:
As for "DRM issues", I have none. There *were* issues with MC throwing incorrect "protected content" messages (this only occured on some analog cable channels; I only had the problem on AMC) that would prevent you from watching or recording some shows, sometimes; but, that was finally fixed a few months ago.
Also, it's not going to spontaneously "DRM-ify" your existing media. If that were a possibility, I probably would have heard about it by now (mostly at thegreenbutton), if not had it happen to me (it hasn't.)


One thing to note, as it's happened to me a lot, MCE 2k5 + Itunes + Music CD's with copy protection = BSOD. I still haven't figured out this stupid mystery, but it has caused me to use my older XP Pro PC to do my Itunes ripping. Also, there are a lot of DVD-Ripping programs that it likes to make retarded, like DVD Decrypter and DVD Fab. I use those a lot to back up my DVD's onto my system, and stream them to my TV in the living room via my X360, but a lot of times, again, I have to use the older system. I'd shoot for XP Pro if I were you.


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