MP3 Box Issues

By | January 1, 2006

Well, a few days ago Jessica started having problems with it. The box started locking up. Took a bit of effort to get it back online again (since its headless), three or four reboots before everything came back in. Not happy.

My first guess is that it is heat related. The only fan in the unit is the CPU fan. The inside of the case is quite warm. I haven’t put a thermometer into it yet, so I can’t say exactly how warm. It first locked up when she was using it “locally” with MPD playing. This does require a bit more CPU power than streaming which is what she has been doing mostly since I gave it to her. In fact, it GMediaServer had been streaming to the HomePod for just about 12 hours a day for the prior two weeks. Simple disk reads and sending packets over the network, very little CPU power. This all started happening on the 22nd or 23rd.

Decoding MP3’s for four to six hours seems to push it a bit too much, though. I haven’t seen any console errors or anything logged. When it happened, she herd the disk make bad noises and then things just stopped. Ouch.

So last week I ordered a PCI slot fan card. I could only find one with variable speed fans on it, so thats the one I got. Just installed it this morning, so I don’t know yet how effective it will be. It also adds noise to the unit. If it still locks up or the fan doesn’t keep it cool enough, I’ll probably switch gears again on it. For a “quiet” set top box solution, it is quite loud now, between the hard drive, the CPU fan and now the PCI card slot fan, its louder than my main system — which has a whole lot more CPU power, two hard drives and a case fan. I still have options for quieting this unit down. Perhaps mounting a 120mm inside the case and replacing the hard drive with something quieter or enclosing it in a SlientMaxx disk silencer/cooler.

Worst case is that I’ll replace it with an Antec Overture case and regular motherboard and scrap the STB option.

3 thoughts on “MP3 Box Issues

  1. jason

    To accomodate for the higher fan noise, you could get bigger speakers. You can’t hear the fans with the tunes turned up really loud. 😉

    I really like reading your updates on this project. In fact, reading them raised a question; do you have/use a DVR solution?

    I got a stand alone DVR for Christmas, but it was a POS. Now I am pondering building my own using Beyond TV from Snapstream and would love suggestions!


  2. marc Post author

    Heh. Bigger speakers is certainly an option, but its not so much the fan noise, its more the hard drive. I’m sure that this summer I’ll be swapping it out for a different setup. Most likely a mediacenter case from Antec. Antec puts in rubber pads for hard drives which reduces the vibration and noise pretty well. My own setup with an Antec case, the Sonata, is almost inaudible. And it has an Athlon 3200 (read as large CPU fan), two hard drives and an Nvidia GeForce FX 5700 Ultra in it (also read as large fan). Its also got a 450 watt power supply in it — with fan. The rubber pads and the 120mm fans make such a huge difference.

    As far as the DVR goes, when I was looking at various existing projects that already out there, the one I kept coming back to over and over was MythTV. I’ve contemplated building one of those for myself, but it wouldn’t get much use. Since the TiVo’s we’ve got have the built in sattelite receivers, they take care of most of what I would use it for already. I have looked at, and considered using one of the video capable media streamers and hooking that up to our main TV and ripping some of our DVD’s to it. Things like TV series on DVD are a perfect match for storing on a hard drive and playing shows whenever you want them. The quality wouldn’t really be an issue for older shows like M*A*S*H and such since they were filmed so long ago. I must say that being able to pick any show and watching it any time without pulling it out from the DVD cabinet or loading up the DVD player is appealing.

  3. Pingback: Marc’s Mind » UPnP Media Servers

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