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HTPC Building Series: Choosing the MSI 7411 motherboard

MSI 7411

Check out our HTPC on a Budget series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

In this installment of the Home Theater PC building log, we wanted to focus on the core of our system. Previously, we took a look at the process of selecting hardware along with a look at the overall mission to build the best HTPC we can, on a budget. To understand what we are aiming to do, though, I thought it would be best if we were able to take a look at what’s going to be at the center of everything: the MSI MS-7411 Media Live DIVA 7.1 motherboard.

That’s a mouthful, we know - but it’s also an amazing centerpiece for our system. The foundation is MSI’s MS-7411 micro-ATX motherboard featuring AMD’s 780M chipset with UVD support and side-port memory for smooth 1080p playback. This motherboard can be ordered with either pre-amp or amp audio card solutions (one purchase package) directly from your distributor of choice. Note that this motherboard uses the mobile variant of the 780 for additional power savings features that are useful in a home theater environment. It pulls less power, and it doesn’t get as hot, which means much less fan noise. Nothing kills a movie experience like fan noise, seriously.

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HTPC Building Series: Selecting our hardware

Check out out series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

In our quest to build a great HTPC on a budget, one thing we need to think about is the hardware and software we are going to use to build and run everything. We are going to be really ambitious here, scouring deal and coupon sites to find great hardware and software at even greater prices. If you come across anything, feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

The first piece of hardware we are focusing on is a motherboard from MSI that integrates the “Maui” platform - the MSI K912GM-FIH. This is one of the biggest leaps forward in HTPC technology, and as such, we are going to build this machine around this board. In case we need to prove our case further, check out this video we did on the motherboard before its release:

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HTPC Series: Let’s build a budget HTPC

Check out out series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

Over the next few weeks, we are gonna be working on a special project that we hope you guys will get a kick out of. You see, as gadget enthusiasts, we know that we all love when technology can make our lives easier, or when it is just downright cool. However, recent developments in the economy are going to lead to a tightening of the budget (if it hasn’t already), and we thought we’d try and see if we can build something awesome at a reasonable price. The task? We want to build a great home theater PC (HTPC), made with great parts, for under $1000 USD. You can follow our progress at our page. Or, if you’re too lazy to hit that link, here’s a list of topics:

So, what are the goals of our HTPC project? Well, besides the aforementioned $1,000 limit, we have a few other things we want out of it. First, we want it to remain fairly quiet. After all, this thing is going to be use to watch movies and television. We don’t need any extra fan noise coming from it. Secondly, we want it to put out a high definition signal, with connections that use today’s technology. Ideally, that means it will have an HDMI out port, so we can get both high definition and surround sound out of this thing.

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BaR2D2 - Robotic Bartender

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Design, Household, Science, Videos

Remember the Refrigerator that tosses beer cans? The BaR2D2 makes that look like an infant machine. Creator Jamie Price made the portable bartender in his spare time in his garage. BaR has a motorized beer elevator and ice/mixer drawer, a six-bottle shot dispenser, and sound activated neon lighting and sound effects. Jamie has full instructions available on Instructables if you would like to DIY. While you are there, vote for him so he can win some Craftsman tools to build his next clever creation.

 

Read More | Instructables

Holiday Gift Guide 2008: Unibind Photobook Creator

Photobook CreatorIf you got a do-it-yourselfer who is also into photography, we think we’ve found something that you might want to get them for the holidays. The Unibind Photobook Creator features about twelve new holiday-themed covers for their photo-binding system, each available for between $4-8 each. The actual Unibind System itself allows one to create a nice hardcover photo book, and includes layout software, a thermal binding machine, and a 3mm linen hardcover, with windowed front. The finished product looks nice and professional.

Read More | Photobook Creator

Bleeding Edge TV 297: Unibody MacBook Pro RAM upgrade tutorial

Last month, released their long-awaited and redesigned notebook, which spurred a bunch of excitement for all gadget lovers out there. The new unibody enclosure is sleek, and Apple even went out of their way to make it easy to upgrade the critical components that live inside the notebook yourself. Behind one door lies the hard drive and battery, both user-replaceable. Remove a few more screws, and you have direct access to your RAM.

Of course, these things are better explained in video than they are in text, which is why we’re here. In this episode of Bleeding Edge TV, we give you a full tutorial on what you need to do to upgrade the RAM in your new MacBook or MacBook Pro. If you are wondering why you’d want to do this, well, just compare the cost of what Apple charges you for 4GB of RAM versus the cost of buying the RAM yourself from a place like Newegg. You’ll save yourself a couple hundred bucks if you have a few minutes to spare.

Check out the tutorial, and let us know how it goes for you if you end up giving it a try.


DIY Plant Twitter Kit

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Internet, Misc. Tech, Science

Plant TwitterIf you believe in the plant that has its own blog, then you might also like to know that you can get your plant to Twitter. A CERN scientist supposedly created this Plant Twitter Kit. Assemble it (some soldering required,) then connect it to your leafy friend and subscribe to its feed, and it will tell you when it needs water or complain if you give too much. We’re still not sure that the gadget will work, and it seems an overpriced $99.99, but hey, if it works on your philodendron, it may work on your puppy.

Read More | ThinkGeek

DIY Solar Powered Jack-O-Lantern

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Design, Household, Misc. Tech

Solar PumpkinGo green this Halloween with a DIY Solar Powered Jack-O-Lantern. Aside from the pumpkin, you will need a carving knife, a Sharpie to design a face, and a solar-powered garden light. You can get all the instructions to make your own and remember to go really green by munching the roasted seeds, baking a pie and tossing the pumpkin on your compost pile. Make has lots of other ideas to spice up your Halloween, including a mag with 40+ projects.

Read More | Make

XR3 Hybrid Car Kit

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Design, Science, Transportation

XR3 Hybrid

DIY mechanics can now build a Hybrid to save some bucks and help the planet. The XR3 holds two passengers and can get 125 mpg on diesel and 225 mpg when combined with electricity. Weighing a mere 1,480 lbs., designer Robert Q. Riley promises fast acceleration and a maximum speed of 80 mph. With a clam shell canopy and three-wheel platform, use battery power alone for up to 40 miles distance. You can build the XR3 in a diesel only model for less than $10,000.00 while a Li-ion version can cost up to $25,000.00. Plans will set you back $170.00 to $200.00.

 

Read More | R Q Riley

DIY Light Bulb Greenhouse

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Hot Deals, Misc. Tech, Science

Light Bulb GreenhouseNow that you are replacing your incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescent ones, you can continue to keep the planet green by recycling them. Inspired by a Popular Science ad, LinuxH4x0r gives you instructions to transform them into mini-greenhouses with epoxy glue, a socket, a washer, a small plastic cup, soil, and a plant or seed. Note that cutting open a bulb requires some skill, so don’t make this a project for your kids. And if that’s too difficult, try the ghetto version out of an old soda bottle.

Read More | Instructables

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