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DIY - AMD Fusion HTPC

Wharfedale Linton Heritage Speakers

baijuxavior

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After getting inspiration from the HTPC threads of sam9 and others, I decided to assemble an HTPC myself. I sold my himedia 600b player and bought the components for HTPC. Here I will try to discuss how I assembled the HTPC with necessary images. This was my first complete PC assembling. So I thought of sharing my experiments with fellow forum members who are interested in assembling HTPC. I have tried to include all the necessary images so that even a noob can assemble the HTPC without any hassle. For taking the pictures I had to disassemble the HTPC completely. Please excuse for the low photo quality. I had to reduce the size considerably so that I can upload the images using my GPRS connection:cool:.

Hardware Used

1. Motherboard+CPU - Gigabyte GA-350N-USB3 AMD Fusion - Rs. 7050/-
2. Memory - Corsair 4GB DDR3 - Rs. 1190/-
3. HDD - 1TB WD Green - Rs.2800/- (Now the price is around 6K)
4. Cabinet - Cooler Master Elite 100 - Rs. 3400/-
5. Remote Control - Rs.600/-
6. Keyboard and Mouse - Used my old ones. The mobo has one ps2 port to connect either a mouse or keyboard.
7. Screwdriver (Star) - The only tool you need to assemble the complete HTPC.:D

Total cost of HTPC is appx. 12K excluding HDD, Display and OS.

I bought the mobo and memory from theitbazaar.com. The motherboard package should contain driver dvd, manuals, two sata cables of which one is L shaped and the back panel IO shield.




The cabinet was bought from ebay. The price was appx. 3.8K when I ordered it. Now it is 3.4K only including shipping. Use any 10% coupon to get discount. The cabinet should contain power cable and other accessories like different types of screws, SATA cable for slim optical drive etc. These items were missing from my package. I contacted the seller smcinternational (ebay seller ehardwarestation) and they sent all the missing components quickly. Their service was excellent. Their CC called me atleast five times and assured me the prompt delivery of the components.

Top View:


Back view:


The inside story:




The remote control is a generic one which emulates keyboard presses. You can use it with xbmc out of the box. However functions of some keys like email, www, close button etc. cannot be changed without third party apps. You can use 'Eventghost' to configure the remote and control xbmc. I will discuss it later. For greater usability buy a RC6 remote control like those used with HP media center PCs. 'srinisundar' has ordered one for me and will probably reach me by next week.

Assembling

You will need to completely disassemble the cabinet in the following order to fix the mobo, hdd etc.
Remove the front bezel: It has three plastic clips at the bottom and two on top. First press the three bottom clips to loose the bottom of the bezel, then remove the bezel from the top.

Front bezel removed:




Remove the top HDD bay. It is fixed by three screws - two on either side and one on the front concealed by the bezel. Remove the power supply also.





Fix the IO shield at the back:


Fix motherboard:


Fix front USB, audio and L shaped SATA cables:
For audio cable, I used the HD audio cable marked as azalia. You can use AC97 also.


Connect the SATA and power cables to the HDD and mount the HDD at the bottom of the bay:






Connect front panel cables for HDD, PWR LEDs and Power button. Refer to the mobo manual for pin configuration:


Connect the power cables:






Neatly route the SATA, USB and audio cables:


Fix the hdd bay, PSU and memory:



Finished views:






OS and XBMC

I used Windows 7 ultimate as the OS. You can use Home Premium also. XP can also be used, but Win7 is recommended. Linux users can install Openelec for Fusion APU.For Win7, I set aside a generous 50GB partition out of the 1TB HDD. I partitioned the rest into two - for songs (200GB) and movies.

Since this HTPC doesn't have a DVD drive, I used a USB pen drive for the installation. I had stored the OS as a ISO image in my laptop. Using UltraISO 'burned' the DVD image to the USB drive. You should select the boot device as HDD instead of USB if you do so. Copying the contents of the OS DVD to the USB drive and boot from USB will also work.

You can refer to sam9s thread to know more about XBMC.

I will discuss how to configure the remote control and control XBMC using eventghost later.
 
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spirovious

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Congratulations.Now its time to R&D.
with HTPC,there is lot to do & we can try different codecs/files.
 

sam9s

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Congratulations baijuxavior ...... good to see another DIY in the HTPC area.
remote controlling XBMC via eventghost is an unexplored area, though I did try it but found the Android XBMC to be more easy to configure and use.
Would love to see your tut on this ...:)
 

baijuxavior

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Thank you all.

@sam9s - I don't have android/iphone. Also my family members like using dedicated remote controls. I have configured my Harmony 525 universal remote to control XBMC. I can also use my SE phone to control XBMC using bluetooth.
 
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ajayk

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Hi baijuxavior,

A nice htpc you got there! :clapping:

I couldn't see wlan support in the mobo, can you confirm? Also, any external blu ray drives in mind? :)

Thanks,
Ajay
 

haisaikat

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congrats bauji, please keep posted on the remote setup. Also I am curious on whether XBMC can support the following
1, network playback using remote (network path may / may not be added)
2. Bluetooth A2DP streaming from cell phone if you use a BT adapter. Most of the time we end up downloading songs in cell phones and sometimes some guest at home might want to try playing a song from his cell quickly on yourt HT and that is where this becomes handy.
 

baijuxavior

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I couldn't see wlan support in the mobo, can you confirm? Also, any external blu ray drives in mind? :)
Ajay
The mobo has no built in wifi. Im using a belkin usb wifi adapter. No external/internal drives now. I have a region free BD Player for that. One can fix a laptop DVD drive in this cabinet. These drives are available in ebay for 1.7K.

congrats bauji, please keep posted on the remote setup. Also I am curious on whether XBMC can support the following
1, network playback using remote (network path may / may not be added)
2. Bluetooth A2DP streaming from cell phone if you use a BT adapter. Most of the time we end up downloading songs in cell phones and sometimes some guest at home might want to try playing a song from his cell quickly on yourt HT and that is where this becomes handy.
I will update the thread on remote controls.

1. Network playback I haven't tested. You can add media files from your network also. XBMC can stream media (UPnP). The player appeared in my laptop as a DLNA device also. Now I can right click on any media files in the laptop and play it on my TV using 'Play To' command. Another feature is the web remote control using which you can control XBMC from your laptop, android/iphone etc.

2. Don't know how to stream media from mobile phone (SE W660i).

Some Observations:

The CM PSU claims to be a 'Noise Killer', but the PSU fan is noisy where as the CPU fan is very silent.

A headphone jack won't fit perfectly in the front audio panel due to the bezel. I was getting sound through the left headphone speaker only. If connected without the bezel, the sound comes correctly.

Picture quality through the HDMI on my TV is not great. Letters appear as blurred and it is difficult to read. I upgraded the display driver to the latest, but no improvement. (This may be a problem with the TV. The TV PQ itself is not great. My next upgrade will be a better, larger TV). I found the VGA output to be better than the HDMI out. With HDMI, the max resolution of my TV is 1280*720 where as it is 1366x768 for VGA. So now I'm using VGA for display and HDMI for audio.
 
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josephjohnt

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Congrats Baiju on the neat build :clapping:

A quick question on your HDD. Isn't WD Green a slower drive to be used as boot drive? I think its only 5400rpm.
 
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baijuxavior

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I bought the WD Green to use with my old Himedia HD600B player. This player has no fan, so a low power HDD like the WD green is recommended to avoid heating issues. With HTPC, the boot time is a little high, but I have configured XBMC to hibernate the system on exiting. This way the PC will boot up fast on resuming. 7200 RPM HDD will increase the performance of the system. For fast booting, SSD can be used.
 

abbis

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Congrats on your HTPC.
Great initiative for sharing the build pics.It's always a big help for noobs like me.
I would like to build a HTPC for music listening.Can you suggest a cheap cabinet that can also hold the Xonar STX soundcard.
 

baijuxavior

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I think there is a similar thread where hydra has assembled a music pc based on AMD Fusion APU. He used a silverstone cabinet .
 

sam9s

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With HTPC, the boot time is a little high, but I have configured XBMC to hibernate the system on exiting. This way the PC will boot up fast on resuming.
Dont let windows load, instead configure it to load XBMC directly. (no.. not by just putting the exe file in startup, thats not the same thing) ....... Instructions are on my thread itself....... try that out ...... It improves boot up time drastically.
 

baijuxavior

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^^. I have configured eventghost as the shell and run XBMC from eventghost. This way I can control XBMC using eventghost. The boot time is around 15-20 seconds. Not more.
 

baijuxavior

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You can't add PCI cards as the PCI expansion slot is rendered useless by the PSU. Please see the pics.
 
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baijuxavior

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I will now discuss how to boot directly into XBMC and how to change the Windows 7 boot animation and welcome screen to suite a media center.

Eventghost

Eventghost is a great automation tool. You can use it to control XBMC and the PC remote. Get it from here - Download EventGhost

After installation set File>Options> 'Minimise to system tray on close' so as to avoid eventghost from closing.

Boot Directly into Eventghost

When Windows starts, we want to see the XBMC interface and not the desktop as this is a dedicated HTPC. For this we can change the OS 'shell' to XBMC.exe instead of explorer.exe. However instead of directly booting into XBMC, we will first boot into eventghost and then run xbmc from eventghost. This will give us more control over XBMC.

The techie way:

Start regedit and modify the registry key [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]. Change the 'shell' value to the path of eventghost which is usually "C:\Program Files\EventGhost\EventGhost.exe". Use double quotes for the path.

You can also change [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon] if there is only one account.




The noob way (recommended):

Download instantsheller.
Set the shell path to eventghost. You can always undo the changes you made with instantsheller. I selected only the options shown in the image.




How to start windows explorer

The next time you start Windows, it will boot directly into eventghost. If you want to see the windows desktop, then press CTRL+ALT+DELETE > Start Task Manager > File > New Task (Run) and enter explorer. This will load the desktop if you have selected the options as shown in the instantsheller image. Otherwise you will be taken to the my computer explorer window with no desktop.

You can also launch windows from eventghost. For this create a macro in eventghost: Right click configuration tree > Add Macro > System > Start Application > enter explorer. This will add a new macro named 'Start Program: explorer' . Select it and press the 'Play' button (green triangle at the top) to run the macro.
Press the save button and save the eventghost settings file to a suitable location.




Start XBMC from eventghost

Right click Autostart > Add Action > System > Start Application > Select the XBMC path. Also tick the 'Trigger event when application is terminated' option.

Any action you specify under Autostart will start automatically when eventghost starts.



Next add the plugin to control XBMC: Right click Autostart >Add Plugin > Select XBMC2 under Program Control. If you use MCE remote control (RC6) then you can add plugin for Microsoft MCE Remote also.

If you want to launch windows explorer when XBMC is closed, add an event with value System.Application.Terminated.XBMC under the start program:explorer macro.







Customize the windows boot animation

Download Windows 7 Boot Updater. Carefully read the user guide and change the animation to a static image or change the boot message. I just changed the boot messages to 'Starting XBMC' and removed the microsoft caption.



Change the welcome and shutdown image

For this download the tool Windows 7 Logon Background Changer and xbmc splash screens

Locate the folder of the downloaded image and Apply the change. Reboot your system for the effect to take place.



In the next episode I will show you how to remove the Windows 7 logo from welcome screen, change the texts for shutting down, logging off, and configuring the remote control so that you gets the feel of a dedicated media player and not just Windows.
 
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sam9s

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^^. I have configured eventghost as the shell and run XBMC from eventghost. This way I can control XBMC using eventghost. The boot time is around 15-20 seconds. Not more.
mmmm not bad, I wonder how much more time we can save, if we take the direct approch, I mean not using eventghost to edit the shell, instead directly make the changes on windows shell to omit its booting .....

Log in as administrator.
1. Open the start menu, and type in the search box "mmc"
2. Choose File --> Add/Remove Snap-in....
3. Select Group Policy Object Editor under "snap-in and click Add.
4. The moment you do that a new "welcome to group policy wizard" window will appear.
5. Click Browse, go to tab Users and select your user account then click OK.
6. Make sure that the checkbox that says "Allow the focus of the group....blah blah ...." in the wizard is Unchecked. Click Finish
7. Click OK and close the Add/Remove Snap ins window.
8. Under "Console Root" Click on "Local Computer\<<user name>> policy. The moment you do that you can see "Software settings, Windows settings, Administrative Settings"
9. Click on Administrative Settings then system folder (Make sure that you click on system folder and not just the arrow.
10. In the right side window under system and settings .... double click on "Costume user Interface"
11. Check "Enable" and put the complete path of the XBMC exe file along with any parameters you wanna pass. Usually its "C:\Program Files (x86)\XBMC\XBMC.exe"
12 Put xbmc under interface name and click ok
13. Thats it ... :) Now when you boot, explorer would not be loaded and you directly would be taken in to XBMC.


This would omit the use of eventghost all together, still loding XBMC directly without loading the windows shell ....


Get rid of the user log on screen as well ..... else you will get stuck with an extra step everytime you boot to put your credentials, which I believe also interrupt the seeming boot process of the HTPC
 

gobble

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You can't add PCI cards as the PCI expansion slot is rendered useless by the PSU. Please see the pics.
Seems to be the case (no pun intended) because of your small chassis with its SFX form factor PSU. :eek:hyeah:

--G0bble
 
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