Posts Tagged ‘AV’

In the previous two parts I’ve looked at building something a little more capable for audio playback. What I’ve built works brilliantly with headphones, but isn’t in any way  suitable for use by ‘normal’ people and definitely not with small children around.

So I decided to look at following the herd and try to build the new music player in an old enclosure. After much eBay hunting, I found several nice radios that could be refactored. My issue with them was the size.

If I want to build a stereo radio I need 2 speakers (obvious huh?), but most of these radios are mono, so adding a second speaker either means running two tiny speakers or modifying the case to allow for a second speaker. Either way two speakers take up space and the X400 is already considerably bigger than the HiFiBerry or equivalent board.

If I go the whole hog and try to include some form of interface/screen then a repurposed radio chassis is completely unsuitable. I can try and find a large (think valve type) radio from before the modern radio. These are generally quite large but come with wooden cases that can make the end product look gorgeous. This scenario gives me the opposite problem. The end product would be far too big to sit in the kitchen, it would be more appropriate for the dining room or somewhere as a centre-piece.

The X400 is rated to drive 2x 20W speakers, I had originally planned to buy some car speakers from eBay once I had the rough dimensions of the enclosure I wanted them to go into. So everything really hung off of finding a decent box to put it in.

Being a total novice at this stuff, I decided that it makes more sense to try and build something, learning as I go. I’d have to be prepared to completely get it wrong, throw away stuff and to start again. Once I’d figured things out, maybe then I could build the ‘final’ version.

With this in mind I decided I would get a broken Roberts Colourstream internet radio. While big and modern, it has a couple of decent speakers and a touch screen that I hoped I could re-use. The case should be big enough to fit everything inside and it is already configured for stereo.


Roberts Colourstream Internet DAB Radio

The previous owner had attempted to ‘fix’ the device – resulting in the guts basically being supplied in a separate bag, but that was just one less thing for me to do. Removing the facia allowed me to get to the speakers and after a couple of minutes work  I had stripped the plugs off the speakers and had wired them directly into the X400. A boot of the Pi and suddenly we have music from the speakers.

The next part is figuring out what I want to do, how to do it and what parts are needed!



Harmony Ultimate Hub

Posted: March 10, 2015 in Hardware, Home Media
Yup I got suckered.
As part of the playing with the idea of new equipment/AV cupboard for the lounge it became apparent that if I do close away all the equipment, I’d still need some method of passing IR commands across. Thinking I was being clever, and taking advantage of a silly discount at Amazon, I bought a Harmony Ultimate Hub.
I’m sure it’s a brilliant device. But like it’s predecessor, it gets confused about what is on, off and what state is needed to fulfil an activity. So I end up either having to reset everything using the original remotes or just drop the Harmony and use the original remotes anyway. I probably could set it up better, but it’s still sold as a simple to setup and use device.
I’ll eBay it soon, but I’m actually trying to use it to solve other IR related issues in another one of my random projects.

New Equipment Cupboards

Posted: February 2, 2015 in House
Tags: ,

As part of various discussions about the house, it was made clear that the “dust trap” that is my AV shelves is not the best solution. I looked at various options to replace the units with something that would allow me to keep the equipment closed away. Not only would this lower the dust on the equipment, it would also improve the “minimalist” look my wife desires.

After checking out some really good Ikea hacks, I thought my best solution was something like the Besta range, but then modified for better cooling and internal cable runs. When I actually sat down to figure out the details it became apparent that there was no way in hell that I could actually fit the equipment into the cupboards unless I left the back off or magically made the units deeper.

Non Ikea AV racks/cupboards of the size I want are so expensive that there’s absolutely no way I could afford them, so even trying to justify them would be utterly pointless!

A scurry around my favourite forums revealed that several people had the same issue but had ended up having bespoke units made for a lot less. One of the companies that kept coming up was

Thankfully the focus has now moved on from the AV cupboard to other things, so I’m no longer in the market, but I am still planning on getting a unit from them one day.