Building a music system


We have a ski place in Skykomish, WA (20 miles from Stevens
Pass
) that my wife and I have been finishing for the past couple of years (contractor
did the shell to painted drywall, we do everything else). Having music while doing
this is a critical factor, so I brought an old stereo (my first receiver, in fact,
from 1980) and a 5 disk CD changer up there. That's has worked okay, but when your
used to having all your CDs (somewhere around 200) accessible and automatically scheduled
with your PC-based system, you kindof get tired of the same 12 CDs. (Yes, I know,
I *could* bring up more, but that would require me to plan ahead, and I still wouldn't
bring up the right one).

I did some research into CD jukeboxes, and wasn't terribly impressed. They're a bit
smaller than a PC, but all they do is music, and they don't implement the system that
my home-based on does. So I held off on buying one.

I've recently been working on a C# version of my system, and it's starting to wake
up and look around, and it's almost good enough to use. So I decided to build a small
PC to hold my music and run the software.

I started at NewEgg, who supplied the components
for my current office system. I wanted a minimal system with a reasonable size disk
and network. A little research got me a motherboard, case, cd-rom, memory, processor,
fan, and hard disk for $328 to my doorstep. One trip to the computer store to get
another IDE cable and to get a fan that would actually *fit* in the case (its a
micro atx size). That's a pretty good price for an Athlon 1500, 256M of memory and
40 Gig of disk space.

So, once I get XP on the system, I'll copy the files over, and probably install the
current version of my software. One problem with the system is coming up with something
that isn't a big ugly PC. The Micro ATX case helps a bunch, but what do you do with
the monitor and keyboard? My real home system uses IR remote control, which is a possibility,
but the new system also supports using a PocketPC as a controller. At work I use a Toshiba
e740
with built-in wireless as the test for remote control, and it works great,
but I'm not going to use a $500 PPC to control a $330 music system. I needed something
cheaper. I decided to forgo the wireless and bought a reconditioned Toshiba e310 on
ebay for $125, and I'll use that in the cradle as a remote control (I hope. I think
I can get this to work over the USB, but I haven't actually tried it yet).

Comments (6)

  1. Kevin C says:

    Have you ever though about Audiotron — http://www.turtlebeach.com/site/products/audiotron/ . Although it might not be as fun 🙂 You could stuff away your pc – this unit does look to bad.

  2. Eric says:

    There are two problems with the audiotron:

    1) It’s $300 just to have something that looks like a stereo component, but it has no local storage.
    2) It, like most other devices, considers the playlist to be the ultimate in scheduling. My custom software does what I want much better

    I do like the form factor.

  3. Ray Jezek says:

    Eric, why did you decide to not use the wireless? It’s a lot faster and is more flexible than the cradle imo.

  4. Val Savvateev says:

    Did I get it right that your custom jukebox is an "MP3-based" jukebox…. If that it is only half-way impressive to me 🙂
    My dream will come true when they invent a pc-controllable (through an open API) piece of hardware that would allow to swap actual cds from a collection of 200 or so…. (oh yeah and the price does definitely matter :))

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