Feature Friday: Hidden HTPCs

Posted By: Team XBMC on Nov 26, 2011 in Site News

For this week’s Feature Friday, we decided to go a bit different in our theme. Rather than focusing on one setup, we decided to pull together as many setups as we could under a common theme, where the winning entries would receive a Pulse Eight USB CEC Adapter or a TotalMount. (Once again, thanks to Pulse Eight for sponsoring the contest.) With more than three dozen submissions, I believe we fairly successfully accomplished our goal. And with hardly any repeated methods for hiding htpcs and otherwise displaying them in an elegant manner, it has been incredibly difficult to choose a winner. Next time we do something like this, we may need to come up with a better way to narrow entries.

Nevertheless, rules are rules, and a winner must be selected. First, I’d like to toss up some honorable mentions, who almost certainly would win on any other given day.

First up: The XBMC Table by Oscar. Here we have a table that totally folds up so that you might assume it was nothing more than your traditional living room coffee table. But then, when it unfolds, BOOM: XBMC. Inside the table are a projector, a subwoofer, and a screen. An additional screen pulls down from across the room.  (Note: This table was absolutely awesome, but somewhat unqualified for either award. The ATV2 can’t accept the HDMI-CEC Adapter, and the ATV2 is built into the table (and no TV exists), so there’s be no real use for a TotalMount. Nevertheless, we wanted to highlight the amount of craftmanship and ingenuity involved in designing so awesome a table.)
XBMC Table
Next, the XBMC Subwoofer. One of these subwoofers doesn’t put out any sound, but it does have a tiny HTPC surprise for those willing to check it out!
XBMC Subwoofer
Finally, we actually do have XBMC on the PS3… sort of. Martin decided he could fit a Gigabyte mini-ITX motherboard, an SSD, a core i3-530 CPU, and a picoPSU into an old PS3 case. So he did! This may just be my opinion, but the back of his PS3 looks so much better now!
XBMC in PS3
The rest of the entries can be found at the end of this post in our gallery. Pretty much ever single one of them was absolutely fantastic (and occasionally pretty funny).

Now, last but obviously not least, we’d like to congratulate our two winners.

Jonas (user name jolid in the forums) is the winner of the Pulse Eight USB-CEC Adapter for both cleverly hiding his HTPC as well as cleverly displaying it proudly. Jonas took an old Luxor radio, yanked out the innards, and replaced them with an MSI 760GM board, an AMD athlon x2 260 CPU, 3 TBs of harddrive space stuck to the ceiling of the radio using rubber from an old bicycle tire, and two PVR cards hooked to the live-tv plugin in XBMC. To top it all off (and the reason we ultimately decided to give Jonas’s entry first place), the radio still plays music! The PC is hooked to an internal T-Amp, which is, in turn, hooked to the original Luxor radio speaker. And while there’s no way to change the station, the volume dial works.

Radio XBMC

Nice computer, Jonas!

Congrats Jonas!

Renato is the winner of the Pulse-Eight TotalMount, though to be fair, it’s quite possible that he may not actually need it, based on his setup. If you can see it on first glance, you are a better person than me. (Hint, look closely at the receiver.) In addition to his ATV, Renato has a Kenwood 5.1 KRF-V5070D receiver, a Philips LCD 9830/10 TV, and a Netgear ReadyNAS 2x2TB NAS in the basement.
Invisible Apple TV2
Thanks to everyone else who submitted. A few submissions have been left out, either because it was difficult to grab them from their hosting site, because they didn’t quite match the rules, because they were similar to ones already included, or because they were of the htpc in the room, htpc behind the monitor, or htpc directly behind the wall variety (all of which are awesome, but not necessarily unique. My personal apologies for not including every single submission.) For everyone who did not make a submission, take a look through some of the following gallery. I feel like I’ve been inspired to take on about 20 new projects. Anybody have several thousand dollars they can lend me?

Feel free to talk about your favorite setups in the comments and definitely let us know just how stupid we were in picking one winner over another. Believe us, this one is guaranteed to leave us second guessing ourselves over and over again. They really all were that good.

Stay tuned next week for a new (non-contest) Feature Friday.

And remember to keep submitting your setups to natethomas AT xbmc DOT org!

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Discussion - 30 Comments

  • Damien Nov 26, 2011 

    The laptop idea is simply genius.

  • Wii60 Nov 26, 2011 

    Man, I thought my pegboard project was sure to win, but I got deservedly beat! That’s a very well done job.

  • Meluste Nov 26, 2011 

    I was really thinking about making something verry similar to the horizontal setup… it’s a pity I’m out of money ;)

  • h.udo Nov 26, 2011 

    It really astonishes me the ingenuity some people have to hide their hardware. All I could think of was to hide my HTPC under a (very) deep shelf.
    On another note, browsing trough the pictures I can see a lot of data-center like, power hungry towers that I think are storage back-ends. Boy, some people do really take their hobby quite seriously! ;-)

    Way to go, guys. A lot of very interesting ideas. Personal favorites? The radio and the superb table!

  • TheAstronaut Nov 26, 2011 

    Some very great ideas here! I might be borrowing a couple of things I’ve seen. Though not necessarily hidden, I have my ATV2 placed underneath my Polk RM7 center channel speaker for a nice clean look.

    I also like the HAL referenced Monolithic wall rack, very clean and absolutely gorgeous!

  • StillSchweiger Nov 26, 2011 

    Congrats to Jonas, the radio is my personal favorite!

  • Joe Nov 26, 2011 

    I’m glad mine got featured….. (sarcasm) Kinda wondering where it is actually??

  • Rowan Nov 26, 2011 

    Some very very cool ideas here…

    I just have a bog standard HTPC case in a cabinet for now… but the intention ultimately is to centralise everything in a single cabinet in my study so the only thing that exists in the lounge is the TV and sound system.. but thats a way off.

    And to Jonas, DAMN nice idea with the radio, and I have to congratulate you on being able to keep a place looking that neat and tidy with a Bullie that clearly has a naughty streak in it, but is damned gorgeous as well.

  • rikardo1979 Nov 26, 2011 

    congratz to the winners ;) and thanks to you guys from XBMC and also thanks to guys from PulseEight for the prices for winners ;)
    I am proud user of XBMC and proud ovner of CEC adapter.
    Wish all the best to all and hope we see more events like this ;)
    :cool:

  • shakes Nov 26, 2011 

    What’s the next contest??

  • patrick Nov 27, 2011 

    I’m very excited that my subwoofer got featured on the front page even if I didn’t win (I would’ve loved to keep it as a working sub but that was not realistic). Congrats to the winners, and this has inspired me to submit full run down of my setup as a feature friday soon (that “tiny” HTOC has a few nice big surprises), and also I’ve already started coming up with designs for my next enclosure for after I graduate and move. Thanks for making my day awesome.

  • natethomas Nov 27, 2011 

    Thanks for submitting your sub, patrick!

  • Casey Nov 27, 2011 

    I missed the contest, but wanted to share my set up anyway. I have three large LCD screens in the house that each have no wire showing and are hanging on the wall. They each run back to my media closet over two cat6 cables. The cat6 cables are converted into an hdmi cable and ran to a 4×4 matrix switcher. Each tv can have a selection of any of the four outputs at any time. (XBMC, XBOX, Wii or BluRay). Of course if you’re going to have an awesome media pc, you have to have a lot of storage. I’m a bit proud of my home raid.

    Pic of tv: http://i.imgur.com/XOOw9.jpg
    Pic of Media Closet: http://i.imgur.com/krIUM.jpg
    Home raid: http://i.imgur.com/9FvxE.png

  • oernii Nov 28, 2011 

    So I am the last one wih a CRT? It will not die…..

  • StillSchweiger Nov 28, 2011 

    Thx for the congrats …I’ll forward them to my wife who did the arrangements with accessories on the sidebaord… I guess the Deer sculpture on the side board made the difference … :-)

  • rikardo1979 Nov 28, 2011 

    oernii :
    So I am the last one wih a CRT? It will not die…..

    ;)
    its not about the technology but about the bigger screen on smaller space. But the CRT is still here for a while ;)

  • explodedk Nov 28, 2011 

    why oh why didn’t i join this competition :D

    oh well here is my setup – better late than nevah !

    http://i42.tinypic.com/1i0pjk.jpg – can you see it?

    http://i40.tinypic.com/2r6jiw7.jpg – my asrock 330 with xbmc eden ofcause.

    http://i40.tinypic.com/8vosog.jpg – xbmc commander to control it from ipad.

  • Natron Nov 28, 2011 

    That radio idea is really inspiring!
    You all hads great entries, I don’t envy the judges

  • Jonas Nov 28, 2011 

    I´m with Damien, the laptop is both simple and genius at the same time.

    Lena (the bullterrier) says thank you Rowan, she agrees with you about the gorgeous part:)

    Thanks all for the congrats and to the xbmc team for a fantastic software. I had already been thinking about getting the Pulse Eight USB-CEC Adapter, i´m so looking forward to try it out just hoping my philips lcd is up to the test.

  • Philip P Nov 28, 2011 

    Amazing posts! Amazing pics! I am one of those people who was all proud of their HTPC that looked like a stereo reciever. You guys have got my brain spinning now. Keep it up!

  • publicENEMY Nov 29, 2011 

    Amazing! Next contest should be Hidden HDTV. Or projector. Or display device. Or whatever that you need to see in order to enjoy XBMC.

  • Matt Nov 29, 2011 

    While mine isn’t ‘hidden’, I did put A LOT of effort into making it look neat and tidy.
    I sure do love XBMC!!!
    http://i43.tinypic.com/kdo3o1.jpg

    PS. I call ‘fakes’ on the ‘radio’ pc…. ;-)

  • Steini Nov 29, 2011 

    Mine did not get presented, but in hindsight it´s not hiding anything in a cleaver way.. rather just a clean setup using ideas from here and there :)

    Since i took the pics i wanted to share them:

    http://imgur.com/a/dtFSu

    + a video showing the back lights (iPhone camera responsible for flickering)
    http://tinypic.com/player.php?v=24bvhv6&s=5

  • natethomas Nov 29, 2011 

    @Steini

    Steini, that video is absolutely awesome. It didn’t really seem to fit this contest, so I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to come up with a way to fit it in, but I’d LOVE to come up with a reason to write about it at some point.

  • Steini Nov 30, 2011 

    @natethomas
    Thanks

    You have my email :) If you find the reason let me know and i can record with something better than a phone.

  • lmandel Nov 30, 2011 

    @oernii
    I have a CRT in my basement with XBMC that’s networked in to the rest of the house (which are plasma and LCD TVs). XBMC can down sample my high res content so that it plays on this older TV. It still works well so I still use it.

    I was of course happy to see that my kitchen made the cut. It looks a little messy in that picture. Here’s another shot in which you can’t see the Apple TV.

    http://lawrencemandel.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/img_5684.jpg

  • Fernando Lozano Dec 01, 2011 

    @natethomas
    I’d love to know how you managed the lights. Looks like it would be a fun project to do for my setup.

  • Meat_PoPsiclez Dec 01, 2011 

    I’m forgoing hidden, and visible as well. 35ft hdmi cable and 32ft active usb extension cable = htpc in the back room. No worries about it being quiet (it isn’t, since I use it for gaming as well), or ugly for that matter. If XBMC eventually gets bluray playback, then I’ll add a usb bluray drive up front, small and unobtrusive, otherwise the ps3 gets that duty.
    Currently working on getting my h/k receiver(s) controlled by the ir blaster on my mce receiver, once that’s worked out the entire home theatre stack will be going in the back (two receivers, seperate power amp for my subwoofer), minus game consoles. Controlled entirely by either a Harmony 880 (stripped of all it’s components, since everything will be controlled by eventghost). Until then, everything is in a closet kitty-corner to the tv, still pretty neat and tidy.

  • DedTV Dec 09, 2011 

    I love that table. And the radio is nice. I built a similar (looking, not as cool as using a real radio) setup in a nMEDIAPC wood case for a Pandora box. I swapped out the LCD panel with a tuning dial from an old car stereo and swapped out the power button for a real dial to control the volume.

    My personal setup is a lot like the laptop on all my TVs. But instead of a laptop I simply use Zotac’s and Revos which I attach to the back of the TVs with Industrial Velcro. All the TVs have 4 Ethernet connections available so I have them wired to the network and serve media via a 28TB Norco setup.

    I need to get some pics of my parent’s media rig next time I go out there. They have a big, modern log home that’s decorated in an old west type frontier style with things like a modern stove that looks like an old wood burning stove and an refrigerator that looks like an old Icebox. So I built them a computer that’s housed inside an old prohibition era whiskey still that I picked up at an auction that fits in well with their decor. The cords go through the floor from the bottom of the still to their media closet on the floor below and into their Control 4 system so unless you lift it up, you can’t tell there’s a computer in there at all. It’s by far the favorite and the most stealthy of any computer I’ve ever built.

About XBMC

XBMC is a free and open source media player application developed by the XBMC Foundation, a non-profit technology consortium. XBMC is available for multiple operating-systems and hardware platforms, featuring a 10-foot user interface for use with televisions and remote controls. It allows users to play and view most videos, music, podcasts, and other digital media files from local and network storage media and the internet.