Monday, February 4, 2013

My HTPC

** I created this article a while back, before the raspberry pi came out. I thought I had lost this article, and even though it's a bit dated now, I'm still going to share it with all of you out there.**

A while back I decided it was about time that I build my first dedicated Home Theatre Personal Computer. For the past 6 years, or so, I've used various game consoles, and stand alone units to stream media content throughout my house. During this time I learned one thing, and it was clear, I wanted XBMC
XBMC is a fantastic piece of software that will run on Windows,Linux, Mac, and even stand-alone, so it will work on almost any computer. For hardware, I would be using an older dual-core system from my office, that had been replaced by a quad core. The only problem was that I didn't want an ugly computer box sitting next to my TV. Instead I wanted something that looked cool, something like the DC-ACPC4 made by Digital Cowboy of Japan. 

The problem with the DC-ACPC4, besides it's $176(US) price tag, was that it wasn't available locally and most on-line retailers were actually sold out. While I was struggling to find a solution to my HTPC case problems, inspiration came in the most unusual manner...an IKEA flyer featuring the BRÄDA ($4.99 CDN) laptop stand.
At this point my inspiration was to convert the BRÄDA laptop stand into a computer stand/case and have it mount onto the wall near my TV. After a few prototypes/mistakes I came up with, what I thought, was a rather unique and interesting way to display my HTPC. 
Now this picture doesn't really do my HTPC justice, and that's because the picture was taken in semi-darkness to show some of the UV lighting properties. When it's dark this thing looks great, but it's not distracting, like full lighting. So if you're interested in making your own unique, and cheap, HTPC then continue reading as I walk you through the steps.

STEP 1. Layout & Placement
Depending on what equipment you plan on using, your process may be somewhat different. I was using leftover parts I had on hand.
Arrange the parts so you know that they will fit. I used a standard power supply unit, mini-ITX motherboard, and 3.5" hard drive. 

STEP 2. Mounting Holes
Once I had everything placed, I marked the mounting holes for the motherboard, drilled and tapped them. For the psu, I would be using this template.

** Be sure when mounting the psu that you place the template in the right configuration, I made a mistake on my first attempt. **
To mount the hard drive, I used a piece of paper to transcribe the mounting holes, it looked something like this.

STEP 3. Dremel Time
Ok, so I didn't use an actual Dremel, but you get the idea.
As you can see, the psu mounting hole doesn't have to be perfect, and you might have to use a file to get it to fit just right, depending on what psu you use. I installed the motherboard standoffs, so you can see how the project should look before adding all the parts on.
Remember how I said I messed up on my first attempt, well here is try #2 with the psu, this time I modded the template slightly to accommodate for my slightly different psu.

STEP 4. Assembly
Here is what everything looks like once you get it all assemble. One thing I neglected to mention so far is the video card and sound card placement. In order for add-in cards to fit, you may need to Dremel a small channel for them to clear the stand, or you can remove the card supports entirely.
To mount my new HTPC to the wall I drilled three mounting holes along the edge (you might be able to just make them out in the above picture).

STEP 5. Wall Mounting
Here is a picture of the finished project, mounted to my wall, with UV lighting, and UV reactive cable ties. The motherboard itself already had UV reactive plastic parts, which you can't really see in this picture.

Hope you enjoyed this build.

1 comments:

  1. You should have charged Miller a promotional fee for this post, lol

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