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Modding Guitar HDHTPC, a few questions

Discussion in 'Modding' started by Pezboy, 6 Jan 2005.

  1. Pezboy

    Pezboy New Member

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    I'm planning on putting a HTPC inside an acoustic guitar to hang on the wall in my living room adjacent to my Entertainment center. I'm planning on keeping all cables internal and cutting holes in the side of the body to mount couplers so the whole thing can be modular. A few questions:

    -Will I need Super HQ cables for the internal routing so there will be no interference with audio/video, or will any shielded cable be adequate? I plan on routing them as far from the PSU as possible.

    -Will the use of couplers cause a loss in quality?

    -I will be using a nForce2 MCP-T board but I also have a SB Live! 5.1 card. Which is better, SB Live or Soundstorm?

    -Does anyone know where I can find component cables shorter than 3 ft?

    Less important, more technical questions:

    -Has anyone ever used the ATI DVI-Component adapter? How do you configure its output res?

    I'm planning on putting a 120mm LED intake fan in the sound hole, and EL wire for the strings (if they'll fit, I'm having trouble finding wire smaller than 2.3mm that's not sold in bulk). Also strat style knobs for fan controllers (volume for the 120 and tone for a 92 on the CPU) and a switch knob on a toggle switch to turn on/off the lights. I'm thinking bloo, but I'm worried about the EL wire not matching the color of the fan. Anyway, here's specs for the PC and a couple links for possible dremel victims.
    http://images.auctionworks.com/full...dodropship.com/ProductImages/guitar/52R2c.jpg
    (only 38", waiting on e-mail with full dimensions, but it's pretty and, better yet, it's cheap)
    http://www.nationalmusicsupply.com/ProductImages/guitars/tg-950/tg-950-colors.jpg
    (either the blueburst one, or plain black, not sure if I like that color blue.)

    Leadtek K7NCR18D Pro II Ultra
    Athlon XP 2600+ T-Bred @2.4
    Thermalright SLK900A+Antec 92mm
    Generic PC3200 512MB
    HIS 9800 pro
    ATI HDTV Wonder
    SB Live! 5.1 (maybe)
    WD 160GB ATA-133
    USR 802.11G turbo
    Pioneer DVR-106
    Altec Lansing 251 5.1 speakers (my living room isn't very big)
    Zenith C27V22 CRT HDTV monitor

    All the hardware is stuff I have left over except for the HDTV wonder and the memory.
    I'm excited! :D
     
  2. scotty6435

    scotty6435 New Member

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    That sounds like a really good idea mate!

    Maybe using a maple coloured guitar with blue lights would offer some contrast but the blue wil match up pretty well.

    Apparently the 2500 XP-M is just as good as the 2600 XP-M as it can be clocked to the same speed really easily (that 3200 RAM should help).

    The live card should free up some mobo resources so I'd go with that if you can. They're pretty similar as I've got the live in my main rig and soundstorm in shuttle. Oh, got the same speakers as well :rock: they're pretty good and look sweet :D

    If you can find a card with an S-video out you'll save yourself a lot of hassle and really improve picture quality (particularly with HDTV).

    Anyway, looking towards seeing the project log and good luck! :D
     
  3. tk421

    tk421 Idiot.

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    ok

    1: no. just use decent quality shielded ones, and for god's sake, dont support Monster Cable.

    2: some will - stay away from video couplings. if you are going to use the ati component dongle, just buy decent component cables the lenght you need. sound cables: i use 2 9' extensions between my audigy and cambridge 4.1 setup, and the junction of em is on my desktop, so i can switch between speakers and headfones easily. no noticeable quality loss ... as for ps2/usb/etc ... just dont go over 15'. with usb, you can always use a powered hub to up your run another 12'.

    3: sb live with kxproject drivers. http://kxproject.lugosoft.com/index.php?skip=1
    i havent used them for 5.1, but for 4.1, they rock. swaps the front and rear outputs, and gives much better quality on the front. absolutely saved mom's htpc - as we use just the rear out to the TV for sound via a 1/8"-to-dual rca cable.

    4: like i said above, just run the cables thru the body. much better than coupling them.

    5: search the net - powerstrip will do the timings, and there are several widescreen / htpc gaming sites. tigerdave's and the widescreen gaming forums are very helpful.

    p.s. - have you looked into sff/htpc places for PSU's that are external? several are made iirc ... some up to 350w (i think - could be wrong)
     
  4. Pezboy

    Pezboy New Member

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    yeah, I've been reading about Monster and I wont be buying any of their products EVER. I wanted to use the couplers co it would look more professional. You know, like I actually have component outs built into the guitar, rather than component cables running through a hole in the side.

    I've been playing with powerstrip today, but I can't get any custom resolutions to work. My monitor is a 4:3 CRT. It produces a great picture, but 1920x1080 is 16:9, and when I change the aspect ratio on the TV to 4:3 I lose a lot to overscan. I've been using the 9-pin S-video to component HDTV adapter that came with my X800. 480p looks great, but I hate that I have to reduce the res to 640x480. It renders the desktop useless. 1080i ends up with blurry text like normal tv output, but I really can't judge on picture until I have the HD card so I can watch something that's broadcast in 1080i. They have a 7-pin S-video to component that is compatible with my 9800pro. I was wondering if anyone has used both this and the dv-component and if they notice a difference. I always thought that the s-video to component was stupid because you wouldn't be limited to s-video quality, but I think the extra pins are there to separate the color channels, effectively creating component output through s-video.

    Also, I love my shuttle, and it has the greatest PSU I've ever seen, but I can't justify $100 when I have an Antec True 380 that will (I think) fit inside. And I'm planning on making a IR circuit for the power button. I've seen some schematics here on bit-tech in the past, I think... Have to do a little searching when I get to that point.

    Thanks for the help.

    Edit: Timings aren't listed in my manual, so I've been using the standard ones in powerstrip. Maybe that's why it won't output. I figured it would be standard anyhow, I thought only plasma and LCDs had strange timings.
     
  5. tk421

    tk421 Idiot.

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    i thought you meant the dvi-component dongle from ati ...

    after looking up your monitor, why not just use the VGA input? it's the strongest one your set supports- might as well utilize it. probably will give you the best text quality. oh, and if you use xp - use cleartype - i know it's not supposed to work on crt's, and have read a 4 page explaination on why - but i swear it makes text better on mom's 32" toshiba (non-HD TV)
     
  6. Pezboy

    Pezboy New Member

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    I can't get the rgb to work. A guy on another forum says I need some kind of box to make it compatible. Maybe I'll give it another shot. Also posted a thread here in the A/V forum about it: http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=78724

    I was planning on using the dongle, but I've got the S-video-component working and it's about $20 cheaper than the DVI-component. I wish I could test it out without buying one.

    And call me childish, but I still giggle a little every time I hear the word "dongle."
     
  7. Pezboy

    Pezboy New Member

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    See bottom of post for importance...

    So I've done a little more measuring and I realize it may be impossible to fit an ATX mobo inside a standard dreadnought guitar. Also, it's going to be very, very , close on the height of the cards. By my estimation I have 4.5" to work with and the height of the motherboard + video card is 4.5". So assuming I mount the board directly to the wood and sand the wood where the card will sit it might fit. Of course this raises the question of whether the board will get so hot it burns the wood. Not literally on fire, but burning nonetheless. So even with a micro-atx board that would surely fit, there's still the height issue. I could buy low-profile video, capture, and sound cards, but then I'm spending more money and in all likelihood downgrading components. So I think I'm scrapping the Guitar HTPC idea. I've still got some emails out on dimensions, etc, but I doubt I can find a guitar deep enough to accomodate a board with standoffs and a 9800pro. Martin makes their dreadnoughts 5 7/8" deep, but then I'm spending a bunch of money on an instrument that would actually play well. I don't mind hacking up a crappy knockoff, but I don't want to ruin something that would actually sound nice. I still like the idea, it would be nice for a server or something that wont have so many components. And I have enough components lying around to do it, but I really wanted to hang it in the living room. Anyway, on to the real reason for posting:

    In case anyone is thinking about a HDHTPC, the Fusion cards only support 1080i output with the ATI DVI-Component Dongle. I get an error message outputing to TV when trying the Fusion HDTV demo and that's what I've come up with reading the FAQ's. It worked fine when I disabled the TV-out in control center (and man oh man, is it pretty!). I'm currently using the 9-pin to component adapter. I don't know if this is true of the HDTV Wonder, but I'm about to fire off an email and I'll let you folks know.

    So unless anyone has any ideas on how to make this stuff fit (without spending buttloads of money), I gotta figure something else to put this bad boy in. Thanks again for the suggestions anyhow.
     
  8. Springs

    Springs Boing boing

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    if u are having problems with the height... may i suggest using a riser card.. it allows u to "bend" your cards onto a right angle

    this is what they look like...
    [​IMG]

    there are a variety of cards available...
     
  9. Pezboy

    Pezboy New Member

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    I thought about that, but I'm pretty sure it renders all PCI slots useless. I'll get some specific measurements when I get home, but I don't think it will work. Thanks though.
     
  10. shroom

    shroom New Member

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    Considering this is an HTPC, I'm assuming you want this machine to be as quiet as possible right?

    Well, the problem with using a guitar is that the chamber you'll be using for the case is meant to enhance any sound it recieves.

    So as something I dont se you have planned for yet (or i could be talking out of my .. dot dot dot.. because i didnt read much, just flipped through) You may want to consider either adding an addition peice of material inside the guitar to separate the components from the acoustic chamber, or laying down loads of dynamat to kill the sound.
     
    Last edited: 10 Jan 2005
  11. Zephyr

    Zephyr Go V-Boy, Go!

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    I agree -- since acoustic guitars reverberate and amplify any sound in them. The 92mm inside the case will create a sound that bounces all around the chamber, and the 120mm on the sound hole with accelerate any ambient noise and shoot it all around the chamber. I would completely line the thing in sound-proofing material.

    Other than than, this looks really cool. I would be interested in seeing if this can be pulled off, since I've had this thought multiple times (but have always been too chickenshit to actually do it :sigh: ). I want to see how you get everything to fit!

    BTW: Do you know how to break down the acoustic chamber? If not, I have no idea how you're going to do this, unless you plan on cutting the back out and leaving it off or something...
     
  12. Springs

    Springs Boing boing

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    i believe u can buy ones that will do both AGP and PCI... if u look at the picture u can see that it is doing a AGP and 2 PCI ports..
     
  13. Zephyr

    Zephyr Go V-Boy, Go!

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    Those PCI look more like ISA to me, or possibly PCI-X? In relation to the AGP slot, they look too long. The AGP slot looks 4x as well. Try something like this:
    [​IMG]

    Looks to be 2 PCI and 1 AGP 8x
     
  14. Springs

    Springs Boing boing

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    my piture was a quick search on google... but your picture looks much better and a LOT clearer...

    but one of those should do what u want... u would just have to make something to secure the cards so that they dont fall off..
     
  15. Pezboy

    Pezboy New Member

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    That might actually work. Thank you very much. And no, I hadn't taken the sound into account. You'd think I would have considering it is what a guitar is specifically designed to do. I guess I got caught up in how cool it looks in my head. Anyhow, I was planning on cutting a 9.5x12.5 hole in the back where I'm going to mount the motherboard (which may become 9.5x9.5 if I can't get this ATX board in there and still leave room for dongle/cables) and reattaching it with hinges on one side and clasps on the other. Like the kind on a guitar case. I think I'm going to have to get some moderatelt strong hinges to support the weight. Also I plan on mounting the board to plexi, so hopefully that will make it a little more sturdy (depending on thickness). I have a feeling I'm going to be making many changes once I cut that body open and start placing components, of course isn't that the way it always goes?

    I'm glad someone mentioned the soud issue though. I probably would have turned it on and been deafened by the cacaphony. I guess it's back to the drawing board (thinks Wile E. in another botched attempt). Thanks though, I think we call this progress :thumb:
     
  16. Zephyr

    Zephyr Go V-Boy, Go!

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    It sounds like you have a general idea on what you plan on doing, and the rest can't come until you get the thing in your hands and see what you can do. I would try to search for a guitar forum, or even better a luthier forum, and see if you can't find an easy way to get the back off of the guitar. Usually the whole body is just laminated, and you can "peel" it off (long story, took apart an acoustic guitar once...). Anywho, search a bit, as I think if you can actually dismantle the thing, it'll look really good in the end.

    (although your hinge idea sounds good as well :p )
     
  17. Pezboy

    Pezboy New Member

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    I'll definitely try and find out how to take it apart. However I do it, I want to make sure I can get to the components easily. If I can take it apart completely it will most likely make installation much easier, but I worry about the structural integrity. This things going to be pretty heavy and it's going to be hanging probably 12-18" off the ground. I'll definitely give it a look though and see if it will work. I should be able to start ordering things in the next week or two when my excess financial aid check comes in the mail.
     
  18. Springs

    Springs Boing boing

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    i believe they are glued together... im not 100% sure on that... i havent seen a acoustic guitar in ages... i had to give mine back to my teacher :( but thats what i presume...
     
  19. Pezboy

    Pezboy New Member

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    There's a corner on my board that appears devoid of traces and I was wondering if I can file it down. It would make it fit. Or is this a really bad idea?

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Smilodon

    Smilodon The Antagonist

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    I would guess that filing down to that first hole should be safe... but after that it gets risky... It could be traces on some of the other layers on the board. There is no way of checking that, really...
     

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