Thanks to some unexpected freeing up of time (and more news unrelated to Feature Friday), we are happy to announce that Feature Fridays are back on the menu. As always, if you have a setup you’d like featured, feel free to send it in to natethomas AT xbmc DOT org (also, see the end of this article for a new contest).

This week, we turn to Matt, who successfully managed to buy his massive collection of harddrives before hard drive prices went crazy. Like all good enthusiasts should, he’s hidden his server running Ubuntu in a back closet, where his 12 TB of harddrive space can spin quietly, away from earshot.

When Matt designed his entertainment center, he decided that visible wires were for crazy folk. The problem was, he didn’t have an entirely new room to work with when building, and he didn’t want ugly speakers hanging out of the walls. So, he did this: Continue reading

Let’s talk about brilliant user Jon from Florida. Jon has two things going for him. First of all, he started using XBMC back in the glory days when “XBMC” wasn’t a recursive name for XBMC Media Center. Second, he doesn’t do things half way. When he decided to install XBMC into his home, he decided to install XBMC into his entire home. It is running through his walls. It has wrapped its adamantium tendrils around the thick bones of Jon’s Ft. Lauderdale house, and it is going to do its very best never to let go.

Network Switch and Drobo

Network Switch and Drobo

The Brains of the Operation

Less poetically, Jon has fully wired his home with Cat5 ethernet, installing four ethernet drops in every room in the house. All of this ethernet ends up attached to a switch in a tucked away closet, as you can see in the picture to the right.

On the other end of this switch is Jon’s server, a 5 drive Drobo, holding five 2 terabyte harddrives, for a total storage of about 9 terabytes of space. This Drobo provides all the storage Jon needs for the setup of his entire home. Speaking of which… Continue reading

If you’re looking for clean lines and an elegant use of color and lighting, one need look no further than the living room of Nik from Sweden.

Nik's Place

Nik's Place

Nik was one of the very first people to post his setup on the XBMC Facebook Fanpage. Ever since then, after convincing him to let us crash at his place whenever we happen to be passing through Sweden (i.e. possibly never), we’ve been trying to get him to agree to a Feature Friday.

This week, we finally succeeded!

Next week, we plan on asking him to loan us 20 kronor for the bus.

Nik’s place looks like it could easily be used as a set for a show like the West Wing. There is no overhead lighting to speak of, and the resulting colors are beautiful to behold. All of the light sources in the room come from specific items, like the windows, and the fish tank, and the hallway, and, of course, the hidden light behind the miniature pirate ship.

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Hold your breath

Make a wish

Count to three

Where the Magic Happens

Where the Magic Happens

Come with me to the home of Lutz, one of our Germany XBMC users. Lutz’s home doesn’t have a bat cave or any other kind of man cave. There are no super creative touch screens or repurposed upstairs bedrooms.  In fact, the intro to this post aside, Lutz doesn’t even proudly display any delicious Milka chocolate or Haribo.  What Lutz does have is oodles and oodles of candy.

Tech candy, to be specific.

As a rule, I try to be as jealous as possible of everyone who submits a Feature Friday.  Lutz may just take the cake for most assorted things I want.

Sure, he’s got the basic things. For example, he’s got an AMD dual core computer with 5tb of storage running Win7 Pro 64 and XBMC, and he’s outputting his sound using an ASUS Xonar DS, for one of the cleanest consumer analog outputs on the market, and certainly one of the best cards out there for receivers that don’t accept HDMI in. Continue reading

Perhaps the single most popular picture ever posted to the XBMC Facebook Fanpage (‘like’ us, if you haven’t already) had almost nothing at all to do with XBMC. Palle Olsen was tired of trying to hide his cords. All the usual methods didn’t work or ended up even more cluttery than just letting the cords dangle. So, rather than accept messy cords as part of life, Palle got creative.

Awesome Wiring

Palle's Wiring Works

His old school Xbox running XBMC had relatively few cords. Likewise, the wiring for his speaker system and television weren’t presenting very many problems, and those few problems that did exist had previously been solved. The major issues were the four cords sticking out of the PS3.

Palle, being a creative guy, had an idea. To deal with the problem, he was going to hang his PS3 on the wall and then prominently display his cords for all the world to see.  Now most people would say that’s a terrible solution to a cord problem.

Most people aren’t Palle Olsen.

He bought some cheap super glue and – to protect the walls from the glue – some equally inexpensive double-sided adhesive mounting tape.  He hung the PS3 on the wall.  Then Palle snapped a photo of his television, PS3, and wall, threw that photo onto Adobe Illustrator, and got to designing. Continue reading

For this week’s Feature Friday, we’re going to move from the kitchen to a tiny, spare bedroom.  I’m sure many of you are familiar with the massive home theaters with moving parts, star-lit skies, curved screens, and more insulation than an average person could shake a stick at. You may also know that you can only make that kind of thing happen if you have several thousand dollars and an entire year to devote to the project.

Now Showing

Now Showing: A Large Screen

Most of us have neither that kind of money, nor that kind of time, which is why I like this week’s Feature Friday so much. Rather than dealing with the hassle of going all out, brilliant user João Lima of Brazil decided to cut ALL the unnecessaries out. No stars. No specially ordered screen cloth. No moving parts. A simpler home theater for a more civilized age in your living room.

Unfortunately, the wife vetoed this idea immediately. João was forbidden from touching the TV in the living room and was doubly forbidden from interfering with the wife’s shows (many of which were still being broadcast in 4:3 format, a still-common broadcast standard in Brazil).

So João did the next best thing. He wanted an XBMC home theater; he had a small, extra bedroom. The mission was on.

The room started with a TV and an old a bed/ converted couch. The plan was to eliminate the bed, get a real couch, rip out anything that could be ripped out, install the hardware, and do it all as simply, easily, space-savingly, and cheaply as possible. Continue reading

In this first edition of Feature Friday, we are going to forego the boring old bat cave and million dollar living room in favor of a wee bit of creativity. Brilliant user Oliver Owen, of the UK, has been using various versions of XBMC since 2003. He has had XBMC installed on at least one box in nearly every room in his flat.  Recently, he decided to add another room to the XBMC fold by building a custom touchscreen version of XBMC in his kitchen, primarily for music playback and easy access to the weather application.

XBMC Touch Screen

The XBMC Touchscreen... that ISN'T an iPad

XBMC on the iPad, of course, would not do, because Oli’s twin goals were minimal expenses and girlfriend approval.  As such, portability wasn’t a major concern, but cost was.

Cost is the biggest problem for nearly all modern tablets. They look nice. You can attach them to a refrigerator. You can create a kitchen stand out of chopsticks. You can even equip them with meat thermometers!

But you can’t get a tablet cheap. XBMC is free and can run on relatively simple minimal equipment. There’s really no reason to get fancy on the hardware, when XBMC can handle fancy all on its own. And that’s doubly true when you have no need or interest in playing HD content.

So Mr. Owen picked up an Acer Travelmate C110 off of ebay for 40 pounds sterling and a touchscreen kit for another £35.  If you’re counting at home, that’s £75, a savings of about £325 off the £399 price of the cheapest iPad.

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