DVD/VCD/SVCD/Divx/MP3/and more audio/video player!

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Hey guys, I don't know if this is the right forum section but I guess its Digital enough :) hmm where do I start. I am a new member and son of trigon :) I'm a newb when it comes to electronics (designing, soldering, and that sphera of electronics) but when it comes to comptuers I just love to snuggle with my compute box!

I've given it thaught for quite some time and I've followed similar aproaches to these kinda projects on the internet regarding the creation of a "CD/DVD/VCD/Divx/Mp3/You name it/ player. It would require a specific computer stuffed into a dvd like case. NOW... who is interested in this project thats what i ask first?

SURE there are Divx players for consoles (PS2, XBOX, even the somewhat outdated dreamcast that I so love)... but they are not exactly meant as DVD players and well its just not fun without 'making it yourself'.

I've been considering what kind of hardware would be required, custom operating system and even custom BIOS. Recently my interest in the project was reawakend when I came across LinuxBIOS which is meant for instant booting of linux. In other words you press the power button and the linux kernel is stored in the BIOS and BOOM linux starts. What we could do here is create a computer in a DVD like case with specific capabilities, remote controller, etc... The hardware what sort of sound card, video card or something custom to use. I don't know where to start when I want to talk about this. I want some other people on this and since you guys are really doing some amazing stuff of hi-fi sort... well maybe a computer could be turned into something useful and perhaps hi-fi... Please be kind :angel: its my first post I am not sure what your views are on this sort of project guys.
what you want to do is exactly what I'm going to do after I make a projector (see the Video forum). I've looked around a bit before and I think what you are after is what can be found at http://fsai.fh-trier.de/~hermenj/technik/mediabox/index_engl.php . Except it boots up just like a computer, therefore it takes a little bit to boot up and needs to load windows. I haven't looked at doing a linux one though, so if that'll load instantly (like a DVD player's speeds) and has all compatible software for media than please tell me. You can also build in a remote control reciever like one found at http://www.home-electro.com/ or you could go the whole DIY route and make one yourself. Plans for that can be found at http://www.geocities.com/uirr/index.htm#General
Hope this is what you were after.

Joined 2002
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Morien, those were great links. Oh yeah, that first link was good.

He's using a quiet CPU, which doesn't need a fan. A good choice.

I can't say the same thing about Windows 2000, though, it must take forever to boot. More than it takes for tubes to warm up...

Linux-BIOS sounds good, or even a small custom kernel with the right modules built in will be good, assuming you don't need to boot into KDE/Gnome.
after my aleph project is done (by the end of the year) i want to start this same project... however, im looking at making just a higher end audio machine, not a dvd player as well. basically it would be a big *** jukebox. since HD's are so cheap, i was planning on 2 120GB drives in a raid config, enough to not use mp3, just to copy directly from cd... (enough for roughly 370 cds recorded wihtout compression).

the only problem is i want it high quality, (sonically), easy to use with just a remote control, and most importantly, silent. i dont want fans or minimal use. ive seen it done, but not all those features at once. even heatsinks would do if they case could be big enough. ill definately come back to this, because for now im just using my computer, and its too loud, too big, and too complicated to just play mp3's or whatever. ill follow this thread and give input if needed. (im a computer guy so maybe i could help out on some of the geek stuff.
I just took a look at the first link Morien posted just to make sure I wasn't going to duplicate information. (And found out I would have) If you're interested in the mother board used on that page, you can get more detailed info at: http://www.mini-itx.com/ they have all the details on the board and the newer versions coming soon. (Including how to buy) The board in question is probably the best choice, as it can run without a CPU fan, is relatively cheap (about $100US). Power wise, it probably needs some additional hardware help, but a good video card with TV-out should do the trick. I've thought about picking one of these up and doing similar to what cowanrg said.

P.S. - on the Linux front, you might find it difficult to find some of the drivers you want. (And by stripping the kernel and services down, you can get a pretty quick boot without the BIOS hack)
I don't have the money to actually build this project (I'm busy with a pair of Zen v4's and some cdp mods at the moment), but I'll help out if I can. My job involves building custom Linux distributions on custom hardware, so if you decide to go the Linux route, maybe I can offer some advice.

As for the Linux BIOS project, it will speed up your boot time, but only marginally. Once the kernel in BIOS has set up the hardware, it then runs the normal Linux kernel, and you still have to wait for the usual services to start up. Also, there are a very limited number of motherboards that Linux BIOS will run on.

I think Linux is a great way to go for an audio jukebox, but playing DVDs with Linux is not so simple.
Hey guys thank you so much for replying! :D I thaught no one would :xeye: Now that I see there are people interested we can get this going a bit :) Regarding LinuxBIOS, its a bios replacment which as soon as you press your power button loads linux. Regarding the mini-pcs that is cool and its becoming more of a trend lately! Regarding an MP3 Jukebox i got a better idea for you :) Well you may consider it anyways, get an apex say.. apex ad-700 or more or less the sampo ones or the hitech ones (dvd players) or some clone of them (they are pretty cheap) and u can patch with a custom firmware that eliminates certain mp3 limitations and like.. get rid of the dvd drive (u can use it in computer if u want heh) and put a hard drive in since the apex dvd players have an IDE controller interface. Here are two useful links http://www.area450.com/thesampozone/articles/connectdrivebay.htm and another link http://www.area450.com/thesampozone/articles/externalremovable.htm I'll be right back. Final note I wish to add is if you are to use win2k might as well use winxp (yes it has slightly higher system requirments) it boots under 30 seconds and it can be stripped down of its 'features' (hah..) and be like win2k
Ok I just got back, sparhawk thats great news, I'm glad we have you here. From the start I was thinking Linux, it just sounds like a more logical aproach, being open source we are able to customize it fully and strip down all the unecessities (no need for networking for example). Also thanks cowanrg for your interest (bows down to dyi elder) heard of you from my dad heh. I guess we have to put a plan together before anything else. What do we want the box to do?

I see it supporting


(X)VCD, (X)SVCD, (Mini-)DVD, ASF, DivX (all variants), XviD, WMV


WAV, MP3, WMA, MOD/XM/IT/Etc... (heh for old school sceners)

Anything else you guys might consider required format-wise?

It would be in VCR/Amp/Whatever Hi-fi form anything someone wants, I absolutely think the Mini-TX way is the wisest and thanks for that link. As you may see from one of my above links the VDR looks huge and generally ugly, so a mini-tx would be the wisest solution.

Having a Remote Control (like on dvd, vcr, tv whatever) would be nice. there should be an optional port on the back for debugging and configuring (Mouse, Keyboard -- usb I'd say).

It shouldnt have networking (less services and linux stuff).. however, if we are to make it an mp3 jukebox as well (not just play from cds) then well.. we could use a huge hard drive and have networking.. maybe? im not really up to this i rather then transport mp3s and store on drive if need be then erase later (by certain menu driven options).. i dunno we can discuss this.

it should have a descent DVD Drive thats compatible with all sorts of media. Considering the noise factor is very important as well I agree to what you have said, so in the design process we can consider the components.

I'm still not sure what kind of video card or sound card we could use... Cowanrg whats your aproach? You said you are interested in building a high end audio system.

Could we get one of the leet hardware people from the others boards to get on this and build one? I never herad of anyone even giving the slightest interest in building custom sound cards or anything of that manner.. I guess I'd say we should just stick to a descent grade sound card then? Or will the onboard stuff be descent enough? Same with video? I doubt there are onboard svhs, composite outs, so video card hmm? Some card thats not too expensive but that works then...?

Whats your take on this again guys?
You might want to consider adding ogg to the list of audio formats - its popularity is growing, and it is a better alternative to mp3.

As for the form factor, maybe these links will give you some inspiration:


And of course this would be the ultimate video card to use, though probably too expensive:


As for the sound card, it sould definitely have digital outputs, preferably both toslink and coax (some people will tell you coax is better - and I would probably agree - except that a PC sound card isn't exactly a low-jitter source to begin with).

You mentioned that it shouldn't have any networking capabilities - I disagree here. I think that is one feature that makes the whole thing so interesting. You can have a large, noisy file server located somewhere in the basement, and stream video and audio files over the network to the HTPC (home theatre pc) or whatever you want to call this thing. :D

Have you thought about hard drives? You'll probably want the Seagate Barracuda IV, as it is one of the quietest drives available, and also high performance. This link provides a comparison of nearly all currently available drives, including noise and heat:


Hope this helps.
I wish to add again, on that page it says that a Matrox G450 is a descent card for this sort of thing, I would have to agree Matrox is absolutely unbeaten when it comes to 2D Quality. I remember reading up on it too and seeing the difference in real life. Nvidia (older prior to gf4) had visual issues because of poor filters that caused distortion here's the read for anyone interested http://w3.ualg.pt/~ftomaz/nvidia/nvidia.html . Anyways not to bore people regarding ati's new card well it is quite something but its too expensive and its too much sided towards 3d games, we need a high quality 2d video card with a quality svhs, composite output the g550 also has a dvi output. http://www.matrox.com/mga/products/mill_g550/home.cfm According to the price on bottom of page u can get it for $125 in US and $195 in canada. That is pretty cheap when we look at the new raedon and should do the job nicely. Plus I'm positive that in some nice computer place it will be found for cheap.. heck maybe even ebay!
Regarding audio well. i am wondering... I am thinking how would we use some hifi amp, preamp, spekearers, etc.. to make the experience like a real hifi theatre experience not just computer quality based sound somehow hooked up to speakers. I am not quite sure how sound cards work compared to hifi stuff. This is the best sound card to date http://www.soundblaster.com/products/audigy2/ however... ya... would i be able to hook this up to a preamp, then go to an amp then speakers and not make everything crisp fried and explode? Whats the point of getting such an expensive sound card? I dunno. Whats your take on this? I'm not getting too many replies to my post :) I am talking to myself here hehe
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My :2c: take on video and sound is: If you want the full HT option, consider the ATI range which offer amazing video quality, specially for DVD decoding. Matrox is a good one for 2D quality but not as great as ATI when it comes to video decoding. The Radeon 8500 is going for about 130 US and is absolutely fantastic for this sort of thing. Dual CRT/DVI capable, Composite out, the expensive ones even have a video-in. Pick up an all-in-wonder ATI 8500 for a few more bills, and you get a TV tuner and full vid capture suite. Hard-drive VCR, anyone??

As far as sound goes, onboard will just not cut it. Not even close. The soundcard should have audiophile quality, and I can think no further than the m-Audio Audiophile, with full 24/96 capability and 5.1 passthrough, digital s/pdif out, the works. For a measly 180 US, it rocks. The Audigy/Audigy2 is pathetic in comparison to these. It will sound like a computer soundcard...

There are also 24/192 cards with 135 dB dynamic range by Ego Systems, which I also like quite a lot, but that is about 220 bucks, still in Audigy territory but far superior sound quality. Dunno about Linux support, though. This will need to be checked out. Ideally this entire setup can go to a 5.1 receiver, or an amp for an amazing experience. You can always give separate clock inputs to improve jitter, but these cards are far superior to 'computer' audio cards.

These cards are actually used by semi pro studios for tracking, so I doubt you'll have an issue with the sound quality/jitter/connectivity. If you've got a few grand to spend, you can pick up a Digi 001/Pro tools, which is the industry standard for digital recording (so I hear). I'm sure the playback will be top-notch, too.

I second the Seagate Barracuda, I have two of them in the same computer and don't have a clue when they're spinning and when they're not.

The back port is easy: a spare USB port going out to a powered hub will allow you to connect Keyboard, mouse, whatever.
Im just collecting information now, perhaps go out and investigate on these as well, money doesn't matter as long as we can gather all sorts of information. About the non-creative cards you mentioned, whats up with them? Do they have websites for their products I honestly never heard of them, I never ever went psycho crazy over audio stuff on the computer, i swear i stuck to an ancient sb16 for the longest time but a year ago or so bought a sblive for like 40 bux because there was too much jitter when playing divx. Regarding the video card, I have seen matrox cards have primo 2d quality, I dont have much experience on the raedon cards :xeye: I am currently sticking to a geforce2gts that I moded to a quadro2pro (just a resistor switch to change ID and voila a featurful quadro2pro.. anyways if you are interested in this ill open a new thread but...lets continue). So the G550 is nice.. however you say the raedon8500 is neato? I am personally not interested in making a VCR but I guess we can experiment and make plans for various projects relating to each other. Anyone else have a take on this as well? Also we COULD take a windows based route.. but it would be slower, more system intensive, etc... That's the reason I am so interested in using linux its the opposite of that. When it comes to drivers I am sure the companies that create the hardware would be willing to give out information and I could convince a few linux guru programmers :) I have my connections on that heh.
I like the idea of a Universal Media Player

I have been looking at lots of software and hardware to throw together a project for portable and/or car media player. As far as software goes I think that gstreamer (possibly monkey-media) is the best thing to use. That would cover pretty much all of the audio/video formats. For the operating system I would want to use linux, of course. I would also want linuxbios running on it.

For hardware I liked the VIA EPIA, which is compatible with linuxbios and is mini-ITX form factor.

Tell me what you think.
Well I asked the guys in the mailing list regarding LinuxBios and whether they would support mini-tx mobos however they just said which mobo i am talking about, honetsly i havent experimented with mini-tx systems as of yet SO, what mobo sounds reasonable? I mean we have to consider that divx and certain formats are system intensive OF COURSE we will turn the system into this specific purpose not say ripping DVDs and listening to mp3s at the same time lmao.. anyways... ya :/ What do you guys think is a descent spec for highquality full playback of the formats I mentioned (and i wish i could add OGG since someone mentioned its gaining popularity -- its an audio format, i think i also missed XviD not sure)
We discussed this MB a couple weeks ago

This motherboard http://www.viavpsd.com/product/epia_mini_itx_spec.jsp?motherboardId=21
is fully-compatible with linux bios. It is small, quiet, power efficent. Plus the C3 800MHz cpu should be plenty powerful.

And you mentioned you wish you could add ogg. I highly reccomend looking at gstreamer.net. For the supported media formats check http://www.gstreamer.net/status/

gstreamer covers mp3, ogg, avi, mpg2, dvd, acc, flacc, etc. (just look at that page)
C3? Celeron 3? Not sure if that would be enough processing power, divx is quite processor intensive, and some other formats well they are probably too.. of course we'd optimize the system JUST for playing these so i guess thats nice :rolleyes: Also wstream seems like a promising future project (also if i didnt misread says it doesnt depend on x :) yay hehe plus I am more then sure we could convince alot of people to contribute to our project here I am more then sure they'd be interested!)
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