Aug 062010

After a good deal hacking around with a few products I have come to my final Home Cinema setup. It cost next to nothing, I live in the UK and would need a TV licence if I had a TV at £160 p/a, my projector from eBay cost £150; the BenQ MP620p produces a 1.5m wide image.

System Diagram



Dell Optiplex 280, eBay for £80.

  • Windows 2008 Standard.
  • 2 Gig memory, included in server cost.
  • 40 Gig Sata HD included in server cost for system and backups.
  • 1TB sata HD, eBay for £38. Films and downloads.
  • Two old IDE 75gig disks stripped together for 150 gig of photos and music.
  • One old miscellaneous network card bridge with onboard.

Software Configuration

  • File System, Windows Search. Required for Windows 7 client indexing
  • File System, Share: Movies
  • File System, Share: Music
  • File System, Share: Photos
  • Media Center Master for ripped film info for Media Center and Media Browser

Media Center

Oldish motherboard (GA81G1000 Pro G), without housing, in a draw.

  • 1 Gig PC2700 memory £16 from eBay. Media Center needs 1Gig to run smoothly
  • Old 20 Gig IDE HD for system.
  • Nvidia G-Force FX5600 128 Meg from eBay £10. Cheap DirectX 9 gfx card required for Windows 7 Aero and decent playback scaled movies.
  • Old Creative labs 128 PCI audio card. Required for loop-back of down mixed AC3 for G-Force visualisations.
  • Creative Labs Live! 24 bit external USB, eBay £12. For S/PDIF for amp.
  • Media Center Remote Control from eBay £3.50.


Software Configuration

  • AC3 filter set to pass through AC3 and DTS to S/PDIF.
  • AC3 filter set to encode everything else to 5.1 AC3 output to S/PDIF. This setting upmixes standard stereo mp3 with ripped films to a decent 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound.
  • G-Force set to listen to Creative Labs 128 PCI lin in (from Amp headphone). This is necessary as G-Force can not interpret AC3 for visualisation.


  • BenQ MP620p. £150 from eBay. Bulb used 200 hrs when purchased.


  • Sherwood RD-7106R.
  • Headphone jack connected to Media Center Creative Labs 128 PCI line in for G-Force visualisation.
  • 5 speakers.

Viso diagram from Gliffy


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