Whisper: silent media PC

As soon as I find time for it, this page will give details on my media center PC, which serves videos, music, images, and a lot more directly to my TV and to the home network. Previously it was based around the VIA EPIA-M6000 mainboard, which I found to be quite nice and powerful for its price. However, that board became very unstable after 3 years (and a not-even-too-close look on it reveals that the capacitors are the problem...) and so I needed a replacement. Wanting to squeeze even more functionality into the media center got me to spend a bit more and switch to the TranquilPC T2 system - a wonderful platform that provides everything I want from a media center PC. And the best of all - it's completely fanless (as my previous VIA EPIA system, but now with a much more powerful CPU). The only moving part is the hard disk, and even that is switched off when not needed. Needless to say that being a media center is not enough for a machine with that type of CPU - it's also one of my main testbed machines for new, experimental features for future Gibraltar versions.

I run Debian GNU/Linux (currently v3.1/sarge) on the machine, using freevo as a front end for the TV/infrared remote control GUI. More details to follow...

The Hauppage WinTV NOVA-T card is a (budget) DVB-T receiver that already comes with an infrared remote control that works quite well. [Remark: if you want to use it under Linux, be sure to get the newer version, usually referred to as "928" or "90002", but sometimes - quite confusingly e.g. by Hauppauge themselves - also referred to as "909", which is the number on the old chipset. The chipset changed from the old to the new revision and is now better supported by the Linux DVB-T code. Additionally, only the new version has an antenna output connector that allows to forward the signal to another device.] However, the infrared receiver that comes with the card is an external box that needs to be connected to the card on the backside of the machine. It works, but is not as well integrated with a media center as I would expect it. Since the TranquilPC T2 already includes a built-in infrared receiver on its front panel (including noise filters for better reception), it certainly increases the WAF to use this one instead of yet another external box. TranquilPC was very helpful in making this happen for my box - many thanks to Dave for his tireless phone support to my (at least in the beginning) endless questions about their hardware. To connect the internal receiver, only a 3-lead wire and a little bit of soldering is necessary:
Pins for the remote control on the Hauppauge Nova-T card
When viewing the Hauppauge Nova-T card from above, the 3-pin remote control plug on the right has the data, ground, and Vcc connectors in the order shown in the picture above. Cautiously soldering a 3-lead wire to these soldering points at the bottom side of the PCB allows to connect these pins directly to the small PCB on the front panel of the TranquilPC T2 case. Viewed from the inside of the case, the 3-pin connector on the PCB has the pin order Vcc, ground, and data. Just connect them appropriately and the Hauppauge infrared remote control can be used with the internal infrared receiver. My better half certainly likes it...

This page was last modified on 2010-04-26