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How to create extreme entertainment rooms

I know some wives are going to kill me for this post.

July 26th, 2007 • HowTo •
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Ever since I watched my first movie when I was a child, I was amazed as to how much equipment it took to entertain people with so much excitement in one room.

Flash forward to 30 years later. Now, you can equip a specific room with the best technology for possibly a new music server for your entire home, your own PVR (Personal Video Recorder), an extreme HD TV with surround sound, or the ultimate: an extreme home theater system. Since this is a technology site, I thought it'd be great to talk about these various systems and what it would take to setup these entertainment rooms.

Heck, why go to the movies?

Music Server

Of course, this is by far the simplest to setup in your house (provided you have a PC sitting around somewhere). All you need is a PC and the software to push the music through the house.

If you don't have a PC handy, I just ran across this post on Computer Shopper about building a $250 Linux PC. Specifically for home use only, this could be your streaming music server.

Take your love for music with MP3's, setup a server and you are ready to rock. Not only are there devices to stream the music through your house, but there are free servers out there to help you accomplish this task.

One particular free server is the ShoutCast Network server. They have feeds of Internet radio stations listed by genre and bit speeds. If you are a newbie to Internet radio stations, take a listen for a while using WinAmp, the iTunes alternative called Songbird, or Windows Media Player. Get a feel for what is happening.

Once you have a general understanding of streaming media, download the server software, set it up on a home server, point the server to a central MP3 directory, and your music will be streaming to any device that picks it up, wired or wireless. also posted a great article on building a Linux-based music server. Of course, they are using a mini-ITX machine. The machine is small enough so it's out of site, but powerful enough to push music.

Linux Music Server Diagram

The total cost of this "little" device is around $600. You're actually paying for the size of the device. :-)

TiVo? We don't need no stinkin' TiVo!

Anybody who has visited the site, knows that I built my own PVR, or TiVo-equivalent. I built this about a year ago and I've been building onto it ever since.

I know, I know...I just read about the HD low-priced TiVo Lite, but to be honest, since I've built my own, all I need to replace is the TV Tuner card with an HD card. Or better yet, add the HD card for less than $100 to provide additional functionality in the PVR.

With everything included in MythTV, the user community is constantly building more and more features into the recording software making it the best value for the money. Oh wait, I's FREE. :-)

If you are interested in building your own PVR, here is my post on how

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Picture of Jonathan Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

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