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Sunday, August 23, 2015

OpenELEC on a DIY streaming media box

In previous entries I wrote about planning and building a DIY streaming media box running OpenELEC. I used several PC components that I already had spare (motherboard, processor and memory) and was able to built a very capable OpenELEC machine for about $100 (without remote control). A couple of days ago I connected the machine to my TV set and started streaming. First the good news. OpenELEC runs fantastic on the Celeron G1610 and thanks to the SSD the system boots in about twelve seconds. Furthermore I have a very good, stable stream over wifi. However there are some problems that I need to iron out. First the remote control. I ordered a Rii mini i8 from Ritek, a very small wireless keyboard with a touchpad and a rechargeable lithium battery. Unfortunately I have to wait another two weeks before the remote arrives from my supplier. In the mean time I use the Kori app on my Nexus 7 as a remote. It browses through the menus very quickly but once i've started a stream my streaming media box sometimes responds sluggish to the Nexus. This is probably due to the fact that the remote uses the same wifi bandwidth that the stream and other family members are using. Hopefully this problem will be solved when the Rii arrives. The Rii doesn't use wifi so I have high hopes.

OpenELEC streaming media box placed in the cabinet running a movie trailer. The system boots fast and the stream is stable.
A second problem is that due to the wifi sticking out more than an inch the streaming box will not fit into the cabinet where our TV is sitting on. I could of course cut out the back of the cupboard but this is something my wife will not appreciate. For the time being I have the streaming media box sideways in the cabinet which works perfectly but is estatically not very pleasing. The lesson here is that if you plan a streaming media box in a cabinet take the peripherals into account.

The wifi stick on the back of the PC. I didn't anticipate the size of the peripherals when choosing a PC case and was forced to place the streaming media box sideways into the cabinet. A stupid mistake.
In conclusion I'm very happy with my OpenELEC streaming media player. Building it and installing OpenELEC was easy, aside from some minor problems. I know there are cheaper OpenELEC solutions out there (OpenELEC offers a $99 dedicated box). I like my solution better because it is versatile. If I would decide tomorrow to turn my media player into a NAS or a Steam Machine (running Steam OS) I can do it. This is probably impossible with the dedicated solutions.

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