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Old 2nd February 2007, 09:51 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Montreal
Default Small standalone FLAC player

I'm looking to build/get a standalone player with 13" x 10" max. bottom dimensions that can play FLAC. I don't want to spend more than $150 CAD on it(Unless I can find a way or interesting part time job to make a little money).

Maybe I could use an old PC?

I have a K6-2 400MHz with a 8" x 8" motherboard, but there's nothing integrated in it(Need separate sound and video(?)). I'll probably get a 160GB or 250GB HDD to use in it, already spending $75/$90+tax. There's software for the HDD space limit.

Maybe I'd get a SATA HDD and controller so I can use the drive somewhere else for whatever reason?

I also have a Toshiba T1910 laptop :
CPU, 486 SX 33MHz
RAM, 12MB
HDD, 120MB
But it would only be powerful enough to provide a UI through the serial or parallel port.

I'm still planning the hardware side...

The thing is,
-I do have a small motherboard, but it needs tons of add on cards.
-(Anything)ITX is pricey, considering it still needs a new PSU, HDD, interface and RAM as well.
-My old laptop is too old.

Anything I didn't think about?
I don't have years to build it, so no complicated DSP stuff for me
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Old 2nd February 2007, 10:20 PM   #2
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Location: Phoenix, Az.
It has already been done, and far better than you can imagine:
Look into the Squeezebox

Plays .flac, .mp3, apple lossless, .wma, .wav, etc. Plays internet streaming "radio" stations. No fan- no noise. Wireless networked - no wires. Displays song info on scrolling VF display. Has IR remote control. Can use PDA, tablet, laptop, pepper pad, DS as graphical remote control. Open source server.

Uses a PC as a server for your CDs. Rip, .flac, tag and store them on HDD. Server program streams them to the player.

Learn about setting up the library here.

I_F
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Old 2nd February 2007, 10:31 PM   #3
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The thing I forgot...

Needs to be fully standalone, it's going to be used in areas with no network.
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Old 3rd February 2007, 01:44 AM   #4
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In that case, any old PC with a sound card should do it. There are a lot of older PCs that are perfectly serviceable (you don't need too much CPU power to play music) available for very low cost. I bet if you ask around you can find friends or relatives who have one sitting somewhere because they never got around to either throwing it away or selling it.

How do you want to control the thing? How much music do you want to have available?

I suspect that an external HDD will cost more than the PC and sound card to play the music.

I_F
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Old 3rd February 2007, 01:58 AM   #5
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Well, like I said, I have an old K6-2 400MHz with a 8"x8" Baby-AT/ATX motherboard. The problem is that the expansion cards are quite high for my needs.

Also, the mobo's layout is making it a bit hard to get an HDD to fit if I have some cards.

I wonder if I should find the other version of the same motherboard(Asus P5A-B) with integrated video and onboard C-Media ISA sound "card".

In the MPXPLAY documentation, they say FLAC decoding takes a 66MHz. I guess I have enough power ;-)

I knew I was probably going to use a PC a way or an other, so I guess MPXPLAY and IRMP3 are some of the only possible choices.

I already wanted to build a (Bigger than 13"x10"x4" tho) standalone player, so I already have some stuff like a working parallel port 2x40 LCD(In it's own box tho) and an old keyboard PCB with the AT connector.

To reduce $$$, I'll probably stick with no video card and no hacked PlayStation LCD(Works with 640x480 VGA, more convenient and can do other stuff).

And for the music I want, I have around 60-70CDs(And maybe digitalized LPs in the future) I'll probably put the HDD in my system when at home, and in the player when I'm elsewhere.
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Old 4th February 2007, 04:23 AM   #6
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Location: Wisconsin....what did you expect?
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Quote:
Originally posted by DragonMaster
Well, like I said, I have an old K6-2 400MHz with a 8"x8" Baby-AT/ATX motherboard. The problem is that the expansion cards are quite high for my needs.

Also, the mobo's layout is making it a bit hard to get an HDD to fit if I have some cards.

I wonder if I should find the other version of the same motherboard(Asus P5A-B) with integrated video and onboard C-Media ISA sound "card".

In the MPXPLAY documentation, they say FLAC decoding takes a 66MHz. I guess I have enough power ;-)

I knew I was probably going to use a PC a way or an other, so I guess MPXPLAY and IRMP3 are some of the only possible choices.

I already wanted to build a (Bigger than 13"x10"x4" tho) standalone player, so I already have some stuff like a working parallel port 2x40 LCD(In it's own box tho) and an old keyboard PCB with the AT connector.

To reduce $$$, I'll probably stick with no video card and no hacked PlayStation LCD(Works with 640x480 VGA, more convenient and can do other stuff).

And for the music I want, I have around 60-70CDs(And maybe digitalized LPs in the future) I'll probably put the HDD in my system when at home, and in the player when I'm elsewhere.
First, ditch the hard drive - hard drives are noisy. Set the system to boot off of a CompactFlash card or USB Flash drive. (I reccomend the CompactFlash card .) You can get a CompactFlash to USB adapter for about $12, and a 512mb flash card is about $10.

Alternately, if you don't want to load music off of an external server, Seagate is the only way to go. I'd reccomend building a case from scratch - heavily reinforcing the hard drive cage and mounting the hard drive with rubber grommets can kill a lot of noise.

Linux is going to be the OS of choice - it's brick-stable, will boot into RAM (make sure you have 256mb+), and has excellent FLAC support. Puppy, Vector, or Xubuntu linux will work well.

For the soundcard, don't bother with PCI - an external USB DAC often gives better results for the dollar, especially considering that FLAC is only going to be 16-bit anyway - just like the CDs it's ripped from.

Finally, if you want to do this "right", a killer upgrade is the Jetway JP4 mini-ITX motherboard.
http://mini-itx.com/store/?c=34

For $166, you get a spectacularly tiny motherboard with built-in video, serial ATA, and more, and a VIA C7D CPU that can outperform a Pentium 4 at 2ghz in anything you can throw at it.

Or, you could get an old laptop - the PlayStation LCDs are worth about $50, which will get you an old IBM Thinkpad. I reccomend a thinkpad highly for this - you'd get top-notch linux support, and a very small form factor.
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Old 5th February 2007, 02:43 PM   #7
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For your useage, the AMD board, running MPXPLAY on FreeDos would be an excellent choice.

Underclock the processor to 100 or 200 MHz, with a large, slow-running CPU fan, slow running psu fan, booting from a Compact Flash card and with your music on a quiet external (portable for your home system too) HDD would be virtually silent.

I find the Seagate baracuda 7200.x range of drives very quiet (quiet enough though? Only you can decide).

Go with a PCI soundcard if your board does not have USb (I am guessing that it doesn't).

A 90 Degree pci Riser, to mount the cards sideways may solve the soundcard issue:
E.g. ePay item number 160079143321

James
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Old 5th February 2007, 03:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Go with a PCI soundcard if your board does not have USb (I am guessing that it doesn't).
Well it has USB, ATA33, AGP 2x, PCI 2.1-compliance, up to 768MB SDRAM PC100 RAM, an IrDA port, etc. these boards were made to compete with Pentium 2 440BX mobos probably. The only thing is that it's AT-sized(Great!) and supports AT or ATX PSUs.

The problem with MPXPLAY is that it supports only ISA cards and EMU10Kx PCI cards using their hardware emulation. I could get an Audigy SE(Rebranded Live 24-bit, low profile card), or use Linux and do something out of one of my PCM2706 ;-)

Quote:
I find the Seagate baracuda 7200.x range of drives very quiet (quiet enough though? Only you can decide).
I use a 320GB 7200.10, pretty nice HDD! It's a little noisy since it's the Singapore-built version(Apparently it's making much more noise than the ones from Taiwan)

Quote:
Finally, if you want to do this "right", a killer upgrade is the Jetway JP4 mini-ITX motherboard.
http://mini-itx.com/store/?c=34

For $166, you get a spectacularly tiny motherboard with built-in video, serial ATA, and more, and a VIA C7D CPU that can outperform a Pentium 4 at 2ghz in anything you can throw at it.
If the K6-2 can save me $166, I'll prefer it to this, but I'd really like to try one of those. I'm seriously trying to get the cheapest thing as possible, I don't work and will have a few $$ to spend since it's my last year in high school(well, the equivalent here).

Quote:
Or, you could get an old laptop - the PlayStation LCDs are worth about $50, which will get you an old IBM Thinkpad. I reccomend a thinkpad highly for this - you'd get top-notch linux support, and a very small form factor.
It's hard to find a laptop over 300MHz that doesn't miss almost every parts for under $120... All I can find is a P2 266 for that price.
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Old 5th February 2007, 05:52 PM   #9
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http://www.simonecapretti.eu/Audio/MoSAP2/MoSAP2.htm
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Old 5th February 2007, 08:24 PM   #10
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Nice little project!

It reminds me that there are other PSUs than picoPSU and standard ATX ones at the same time. Now, I need to find a way to fit my mobo, a PSU, an USB soundcard(easy tho) and an HDD in an even smaller box(Height is important as well, since it's going to be used as a portable player)

I need to fit everything in a 13"x10"x3" max box. miniITX becomes more interesting ;-)

The problem with the K6-2 is the large heatsink. As James told, I could underclock it, it depends of what I finally decide to use tho.
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