GSoC takes on XBMC on the Beagleboard

Imagine a tiny little device that you velcro to the back of your TV that delivers all of the media found on your home network. We’ve been dreaming about that since we saw early working examples of XBMC running on a Beagleboard. We’ve heard little about it since then but now there’s cause for hope. XBMC optimization for the Beagleboard has been approved as a Google Summer of Code project. The fruits of these projects tend to take a year or so to ripen, but we don’t mind the wait.

[Topfs2] is the student coder on the project and will be posting weekly updates as well as idling in IRC so if you’re interested in lending a hand with testing or words of support you should drop him a line.

[Beagleboard photo: Koenkooi]

XBMC hiding in an SNES controller

Here’s another SNES controller converted to house a USB system. The one we saw last time used a kit as an adapter for the controller but this version uses a home-built PCB and an ATmega8 microcontroller with the latest revision of an open source adapter for NES and SNES controllers. As you can see after the break, [Atarity] built the adapter, then added it along with a USB hub and thumb drive so that he could run a copy of XBMC from the controller. Now he’s got XBMC as a way to launch emulators for those classic games, as well as play traditional media.

You will be seeing more of this type of mod soon. We were tipped off that an in-depth tutorial for SNES controller hacking is on its way, although that is unrelated to [Atarity's] work.

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Our favorite XBOX to HTPC hacks

Let’s face it, the original Xbox is ugly. It might have looked cool when it first came out but now most would be embarrassed to display that old beast with the rest of their entertainment hardware. This is unfortunate because the old girl still has some life in her. If you have tools, time, and talent you can give the box a facelift and bring it back to see the light of day. We’ve got six of our favorite Xbox to Home Theater PC hacks after the break to inspire you.

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XBMC on Xbox keeps going and going

It’s no secret that XBMC just saw a major release with version 9.11 Camelot. What many don’t know is that development for the X in the name (Xbox) stopped two releases ago. That is to say that Team-XBMC no longer officially develops for the platform because of its inability to handle true-HD and many types of compressed content.

But, remember that this is an open source project. Just because the development team has moved on to more powerful hardware doesn’t mean the end of the 733 MHz wonder. There have been one or two folks maintaining the branch and backporting as much as they can.

It seems the that Camelot can now run on the original Xbox hardware. Both the skin and video playback must be set no greater than 720p to ensure smooth playback but that’s not much of a drawback considering that all video being played will still need to be upscaled to get to that resolution. There is also a repository of Xbox friendly skin hacks that allow newer skins to play nicely with the meager 64mb of ram available. So rejoice, you can have Camelot, and it’s crown jewel that is the new Confluence skin.

XBMC running on ARM

beagleboard

The XBMC team has posted a teaser showing the current state of the ARM port of this popular open source media software. We’ve embedded it after the break where you can see the package boot up and playback HD video. In it we see that the system is decoding the signal well, but image rendering needs some tweaking before this will be ready.

The hardware used is a Beagleboard which runs a 600 MHz ARM processor, has OpenGL 2D/3D acceleration, puts out HD via a DVI port, and is selling for about $150. The 3″ by 3″ board can be connected to a network using a USB WiFi dongle. Although integrating XBMC by hacking TV firmware is a long way off, we’d consider velcroing one of these to the back of our HDTV and getting rid of the hulking PC behind the entertainment center.

Can’t wait for this version to hit a stable release and don’t mind using hardware that is just a bit bigger? Check out this guide for setting up XBMC on the $200 Acer Aspire Revo.

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Apple TV with Boxee and more update

atvusb-creator

In November, we covered installing Boxee on AppleTV using atv-usb-creator. [Danny] has written a tutorial on installing Boxee, XBMC, NitoTV, SSH access, and external USB hard drive support. His method installs most of the software via the USB patch stick, then uses the SSH support to enable the external drive and install NitoTV. The tutorial lists a Mac running OSX 10.4 or newer as a prerequisite but there is now a Windows version of atv-usb-creator. According to their Google Code page Linux support for this package is on the way.

[via AppleTV Hacks]

HTPC inside a cellular phone

htpc_carphone

Reader [Jani] always wanted to throw a PC into an old school cell phone. He based this around the extremely small Commell LS-371 motherboard which measures just 146×101 mm (~5.9×4 in). He found room behind an existing access door for a DVI connector and audio in/out.  He even incorporated an OLED screen, secondary sound card for “speakerphone”, and a WiFi connector into the handset. Things start to get interesting when he decided the SSD was too large and needed to be removed from its case. The one thing that seems to be missing here is an IR receiver for a remote but since he plans on running XBMC, he may already be setup to use another option such as an iPhone to act as a remote interface.

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