Friday, 16 May 2008

In with the new

Related to my previous post "Out with the old" I have been thinking about what's next for me in terms of a home media solution. I've also been spurred on by my recent purchase of a Current Cost meter which I can hook up to a computer, but more about that another time. Similar to my old system, I'm not bothered about video so this is purely an audio solution.

There are some things I took into consideration when building the old system that I don't consider to be so important this time around. I'm not bothered about browsing the Internet on my TV and I'm prepared to spend a bit more cash, for example. But rather than concentrate on those points, here's a list of things I would like to include in the new system:

  • Switchable speakers in different rooms (kitchen and living room)
  • Connection to my stereo amplifier
  • Access to my mp3 collection without leaving my PC powered on
  • Access to Internet music (podcasts, radio, etc)
  • Remotely controlled
  • Separate screen (from the TV)

After much research, here's what I've come up with:
Setup Diagram Click to enlarge.

I'm going to use a Linksys NSLU2 (a.k.a. a SLUG) which can be modified to run Linux so I can hack it into submission to be my low powered music server. The SLUG will provide my music collection over my wireless network to a Slim Devices Squeezebox Duet system. The Squeezebox is also able to access all the Internet services I want and similar to the SLUG runs open source software so has a fantastic community of users. The Duet comes with a wifi remote control with built-in LCD screen so I can interact with the system from anywhere in the house. From the Squeezebox is an audio connection to the amplifier which, similarly to my old system, is connected to a speaker switcher box.

That little lot should keep me busy for a while and give me all I want from music at home. As I mentioned, a lot of research went into deciding which components to choose. The weak link here will likely be the SLUG because it's such a small box with only 32Mb RAM and a relatively slow processor (just 264 bogomips) but it should do for the time being. Here's my component list:


jt said...

How hackable is the remote for that Squeezebox Duet?! Hopin it isn't at all, otherwise I might want one :)

Graham White said...

I'm not totally sure of that yet, it's something I was talking over with Kevin Brown yesterday too. Since Slim Devices work within open source it may well be totally hackable but it might just be the one bit of source the keep private. Would be a very cool device to hack though, has a nice LCD screen, scroll-wheel, speaker and an accelerometer.

jt said...

I might start saving just in case :)

jhdd said...

You might do some research on NSLU2 and SqueezeCenter first. I am no linux god, or demi-god or god-wannabe, but i am hearing that the NSLU2 with any linux will be underpowered, which is a bummer since I have an NSLU2 already. Good Luck

Graham White said...

jt: I'll keep you posted if I do any hackery!

jhdd: I agree, I'm not expecting the slug to be wonderful as a media server. I also read it would be underpowered, but at the same time it has slimserver as an ipkg so some people must be using it enough to bother packaging it. Should I find the SLUG's no good, I'll just sell it on and get something else.

Jb said...

mac mini!

you know it makes simple sense

ps will beth be able to fathom all of this aka wff?

Graham White said...

Well I've already got the slug although I'm having quite a bit of difficulty getting slimserver or squeezecenter to run on it at the moment.

Beth will be able to use it quite easily. The SlimBox is pretty simple to use, there's a daunting number of stations you can tune into though!

Beth said...

I'm with jb about me not knowing how to work it...

Graham White said...

jt, oh dear, it seems the controller is extremely hackable indeed ;-)

Not only does it run it's own version of Linux but it has an application framework too!!!

jt said...

Dear Father Christmas...