Home Theatre PC Project 
Sunday, February 1, 2009, 15:45
Posted by Administrator

After using the XBOX I found in the garbage room of my apartment for 3 years it was time to graduate. The XBOX did a very good job as a media player, however the lack of CPU power made it impossible to play any HD material. With the latest development of the XBMC (XBox Media Center) and the portable code enabling it to run on several platforms there were more options to choose from. The choice was a Linux based platform using the Ubuntu 8.04 distribution. As size and power efficiency (to keep the temperature low) the choice of hardware was a motherboard with built in Nvidia graphics and a low power Intel CPU capable of decoding 1080p material. Please find full Hardware listing below:

Montherboard ASUS P5N7A-VM
- This was chosen for it's size, built in Nvidia 9300 graphics and HDMI output.
CPU Intel E8400
- This is low power CPU fast enough to decode any material up to 1080p quality.
HTPC case Antec NSK1480
- Small case which had a big enough power supply (350W) and speed controllable fans.
CPU Fan Scythe Shuriken
- Low profile CPU cooler with big quiet fan
Hard disk Samsung/Keian SSD 32Gb
- Cheap and fast SSD hard disk
Memory 4Gb DDR2 800
Remote control and display iMON IR/VFD PAD

Total cost was less then 500 USD for all the above.

The hardware installation was quite straight forward and all things basically worked as planned. The iMON have a good feature that enables it to turn on the PC via an IR remote control (it's connected to the HW power switch on the motherboard). Also the iMON's display is supported through LCDproc in XBMC and will display information while playing media.
To control XBMC I'm using the wireless XBOX controller I had before (a Logic 3 Freebird controller bought at Julia Sweden for 199SEK). A simple soldering exercise and the interface was changed to a USB connector. If you don't already have a controller I would recommend getting an XBOX360 controller and a USB receiver as then there's a quite straight forward installation and you do not need to become a C++ programmer again (see below).

The software installation was also quite simple. Basic installation of Ubuntu 8.04 (I didn't go for the 8.10 version as there were a number of problems reported using XBMC with 8.10). After installing the OS I manually installed NVidia drivers version 177.82 and ALSA 1.0.18 in order to get HDMI and sound over HDMI to work correctly (sound over HDMI also require a BIOS setting). After this I setup the software sources in in order to get apt-get to find XBMC and install the latest stable version. There are a lot of very good information including step by step instruction on how to setup XBMC on the hardware used available on the forums on xbmc.org and ubuntuforums.org. Also do use Google and search for "P5N7A-VM XBMC" for a lot of good information. In order to get support for the iMON I had to install LIRC and LCDproc. Both SW fully support the iMON, however there were a little hands on needed.

The XBOX wireless controller I had I finally got working using the xboxdrv software and a few hours C++ programming. If you use a XBOX360 controller it should however be a rather straight forward exercise.

In addition to the above I'm running CygWinX on my PC and use gdm/xdmcp to get a graphical environment to access and administrate the media box.

The whole setup probably in total took ~30 hours, however then I was playing around ans testing quite a lot. The only problem was with the standby power used by the iMON. For some reason the motherboard though the voltage was off at power on when the iMON was connected to the standby power. This which caused the PC to refuse to start. The workaround was to connect the iMON power after the standby power had come on. I'll make a small delay circuit do fix this later. Also to ensure maximum cooling of the graphic chip which can get quite hot a simple paper barrier in the case directed the airflow better and reduced the temperature with about 5 degrees.
view entry ( 2853 views )   |  permalink   |  print article   |   ( 3 / 1957 )

Hawaii del 2 
Wednesday, December 24, 2008, 12:29
Posted by Administrator

Jul hälsningar från 4200 meters höjd på toppen av Mauna Kea. En av anledningarna till att åka till Hawaii (stora ön) är vulkanerna och observatorierna. Vi tog en "adventure tour" till toppen av Mauna Kea där 8 av världens största observatorier finns. Höjden kännde man av rejält och man fick ta de försiktigt då man snabbt blev trött och snurrig av syrebristen. Mycket imponerande att se de enrmt stora observatorierna som fjärrstyrs i från USA, Japan m.m.

Det finns flera aktiva vulkaner på Hawaii och Kilauea är den största och mest aktiva. Man får onekligen lite repekt för naturens krafter då man ser hur mycket lavan har spridit sig och förödelsen i dess väg.

view entry ( 4058 views )   |  permalink   |  print article   |   ( 3 / 1897 )

Hawaii - Julen 2008 
Tuesday, December 23, 2008, 21:10
Posted by Administrator
Efter att ha varit i Kalmar i pricip alla Jular sedan 1973 så var det dax att fira på något varmare ställe. Vi (jag och Nana) bestämde oss för att åka till Hawaii i år och också hälsa på en av Nana's s släktingar som också bor här.

Ovan Waikiki beach från luften.

Efter att ha mellanlandat i Honolulu så flög vi till den stora Hawaii ön (Hawaii Island) och för att smälta in bättre med den traditionella polynesiska lokal befolningen så hyrde vi en typiska amerikansk bil.

En Mustang med V8'a så klart!

Naturligtvis så måste man också ha en kepa med stil också då man kör bil i USA!

view entry ( 2813 views )   |  permalink   |  print article   |   ( 3 / 1916 )

Webley and Theoben 
Wednesday, July 2, 2008, 11:51
Posted by Anders
The Webley tracker air rifle was designed for hunting, the performance is often refered to as purpouse perfect, using 5,5mm (.22) pellets instead of the more common 4,5mm (.177) gives it a bit more impact energy.

The original design contains a metal spring to compress the air but there are a lot of performance enhancing parts on the market for those who wants to improve things a bit.

The side lever design of the Tracker is thought to bring some advantages in accuracy compared to conventional break barrel designs, either way the accuracy is very good, one time Maria managed to hit two diameter 50mm targets, one after another, from approx 70m (supported shooting).

I got hold of a Theoben AWT .177 gas spring for the Webley Tracker to replace the metal spring, it did not come cheap but the benefits are many, higher muzzle velocity, less moving mass and more consistent performance, the rifle also gets a bit lighter.

Some say that the .177 gas spring is not a good match for a .22 rifle as the muzzle velocity increase beyond original intentions it may reduce the accuracy, but as we found out that was not the case, at least not for me.

Here are some pictures taken during the gas spring conversion :

(the spring was removed before the picture was taken)

(trigger and trigger spring is removed)

(guide and spring to be replaced with the gas spring)

(all parts removed, the gas spring can be seen at the top of the image)

(the gas spring is slided into the plunger and the end cap goes back on)

There we go, the operation was a success, many thanks to Carl Johan Öving for all the help and the tools he brought along.

next it's off to the range to readjust the optics.

(at the säve shooting range)

(the .22 pellets, notice the difference between original ealy wasp and the replica now made, tragic)

(the range, we are shooting from approx 30m, inside the red squares are the targets, two wooden boards each with two 20mm markers on them)

(the first shot was approx 30cm to the left of the target, after adjusting the scope the second shot looked like this, unsupported shooting from approx 30m, lucky or what!)

(Maria hitting the targets, note the targets within the red squares, there is no match hitting the boards, the green markers are more difficult but realistic)

I'm very happy with the modification, the accuracy has increased, so has the muzzle velocity, the "thump!" heard when the pellets hit the sand behind the targets also tells me that the impact energy has increased quite a lot.

I suspect that hitting targets with an accuracy within 10cm at 100m will be possible in good conditions and with support but that remains to be seen.
view entry ( 2433 views )   |  permalink   |  print article   |   ( 2.9 / 1999 )

Quick visit to Sweden 
Saturday, June 28, 2008, 12:17
Posted by Administrator

This week I was over in Sweden for meetings and a conference and this luckily coinsided in time with the unvieling of one of the two new Ericsson boats participating in the Volvo Ocean Race.

The boat was impressive in size and form and even more so considering this thing will reach speeds upto 40 knots.

Finally not a boat, however still with a captain on board the new A380 which was an impressive sight when it took off just before our small A340 did in Narita airport when I left.
view entry ( 1357 views )   |  permalink   |  print article   |   ( 3 / 1932 )

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