This blog post is the start of a series of blog posts abbout the creation of my “kitchen entertainment center”.
This week I have decided to create a “kitchen entertainment center” to have more than just my little radio in the kitchen. But what exactly do I want? The end result should be just a screen which I can control by touch. Nothing more. I don’t want to see a computer all day long in my kitchen which I must control with mouse and keyboard. It should play internet radio streams, maybe some videos and my music collection from other PCs. Heavily inspired by this blog post (http://xbmc.org/natethomas/2011/04/15/feature-friday-the-kitchen-hi-fi/) I decided to do something similar on my own.
Finding the right computer
I have looked at eBay and hoped that I will find a cheap old laptop which fit my needs. But no, the cheapest I have found with touchscreen costs 160€ (about 228$). A way too much for such a project in my opinion. After googling around for cheap alternatives I have found several posts and videos about modded EEE 701 with touchscreen. Reading around and found out that it isn’t that hard to add a touchscreen to my EEE, I decided to do so. The last usage of my EEE was in August 2010, so I think that won’t be a loss of a heavy used computer. A touchscreen panel for the EEE 701 costs only 35€ (about 50$) at eBay, I have already ordered one. So I have to mod my EEE with the touchscreen, turn around the screen that the screen is displayed if the lid is closed. This is necessary because it should be mounted to the wall in a slim way (a small case, etc). I have seen some pictures on the web which show such mods, so it’s possible. 🙂
Finding the right software
Finding a good media software which can be controlled by touch isn’t that easy. My preferred solution is XBMC, it’s already running on my media PC (EEE Box) in the living room mounted at the backside of my TV. XBMC isn’t coded to control it by a touchscreen as default input. But thanks to the skin support, you are able to change the look&feel of XBMC completely. Looking at the forum of XBMC I have found a good skin for XBMC with touchscreen control in mind. You can find some screenshots of it at the forum. I have chosen the XBMC live cd, copied it over to an USB stick and booted from it. Trying to have a first look of everything, if it runs smooth on the EEE with his 900MHz Celeron CPU. But it’s nearly as smooth as on my EEE Box in the living room. Everything was running out of the box (screen resolution, wifi and all the other components which are necessary). After first tests I have installed the live cd on my EEE harddisk.
With the standard repository of the XBMC plugins I have access to youtube, vimeo, grooveshark, shoutcast and listenlive.eu (this is a website which lists nearly all radio stations in Europe which are streaming their radio signal to the internet). That are more music sources I ever want… 🙂 Even plugins for podcasts are available which I will install later.
So, right now I have my EEE completely installed with all necessary plugins and skins. Now I have to decide how I will do the case and which speakers I will take because the builtin speakers are not that good. I have already thought about mounting the X-mini II capsule into my case that you can only see the front of the speakers somewhere around the screen. I will need some kind of access to at least one USB port for USB sticks or other temporary devices, then I need access with my DC plugger to charge the EEE from time to time. I have already a bigger battery which has nearly double the capacity of the original battery, so it has a very long uptime in battery mode, perfect for such kind of usage.
That’s it so far. I will continue to post my progress in this little project with pictures and videos. Hopefully I get something good and usable at the end of this project.
If you have any tips or tricks which I haven’t thought about, feel free to comment.