Feature Friday: Doubling Up; Halfway Around the World
A US service member was living in Great Falls, MT. When the military reassigned him to a base in Turkey, he was met with the unenviable task of trying to squeeze all of the home theater equipment that easily fit is his old house into a much smaller military home halfway across the world.
The old house had a living room, plenty of bedrooms and a basement. Sean had read enough on AVSForum to know what to do with a basement that nobody was using. He tricked it out, home theater style.
The new house had a living room and a… well, a kitchen and some bedrooms. The bedrooms were being occupied by Sean, his wife, his son and his daughter. Sticking a projector into a kitchen is a risky proposition for any married man who wants to stay married. And that left the already occupied living room.
Sean could have given up, put the projector, screen, and audio system into storage, and just waited for a better assignment next go around, but what kind of XBMC geek would Sean be to give up so easily? Instead, he did what every self-respecting nerd would do in a similar situation. He stuck both setups in the same room!
We start with a Sharp Aquos 52″ TV which the family uses for the week and everyday stuff, including watching AFN, television, and movies. An old Sony 5.1 receiver is powering a Bose AM7 speaker setup for sound. And all of that is being driving by a Gateway NV54 laptop running, of course, XBMC.
Next, if we shift our attention 90 degrees to the right, we’ll see a 120″ Elite Screen (that was mildly damaged during the move). That screen is surrounded by yet more Bose speakers which are being driven by a Yamaha 7.1 receiver. This time that receiver is connected to a Toshiba Media Laptop. Driving the screen is a 1080p Mitsubishi DLP projector.
Both setups have an additional Acoustimass bass module to make up for Bose weakness in the sub-woofer department, along with a powered Infinity sub and a powered Yamaha sub, resulting in a grand total of 16 different speakers in one single living room. Truly, this is dedication to the craft!
Outside of the living room, Sean is a pretty big believer in repurposing old hardware to run XBMC. His general method is to take old laptops that he can get either free or incredibly cheap, and then see if he can do anything with them.
For a server, Sean is using a six year old HP desktop (the first box he ever put XBMC on!) with FreeNAS to serve up nearly 8TB of data. Each bedroom is running XBMC off various old laptops, the oldest of which is a (now retired) HP Pavilion DV1000, which isn’t even LISTED on Amazon anymore!
Because each laptop is being used exclusively as a means of connecting TVs for media streaming, Sean has been able to forgo wireless networking altogether and ensure optimum connections to the server by wiring his house with inexpensive Netgear Powerline network gear, which can be found for as little as $40 on Amazon or Ebay these days.
While gigabit ethernet is invariably the best method for networking the home, if you don’t want to rip out the walls of a house legally owned by the American military, Powerline networking is undoubtedly an excellent alternative. The family are able to pull three different streams at once with nary a hiccup.
In the future, Sean would love to separate the two theater systems in his living room, but for now, everything seems to work and marital bliss continues. And Sean is happy to content himself in finding just how old he can go in turning the hunks of junk other people want to throw away into fully equipped XBMC machines.