Added ASIO4ALL – open source digital sound output driver: http://www.asio4all.com/
This improves the SP/DIF output quality by essentially bypassing any Windows processing to push the original digital source of the music out via the Toslink.
Music output is discernably clearer!
I’ve also downloaded AirFoil to stream to a multiple rooms. Looks pretty simple, but I went and sold my Apple Airport Express! So back to ebay…
Since most of my favourite CDs/tracks are now digitsed on my PC and phone, my hifi has been sitting there feeling a little out of the loop. Last year I bought an Apple Airport Express, which allowed WinAmp to stream to my hifi over the wireless LAN. That’s been OK, but means the PC needed to be on, with WinAmp configured to send to remote speakers, to listen to any of it. Too much faff plus another A-D-A conversion in the path.
I went looking for other solutions, and really – they’re all too expensive for what they do – so I’ve put a simple ‘media server’ solution together for under £400.
ASUS eeeBox (B202) / 160 Gig HD (a very quiet mini server) – £200
Lilliput 7in touchscreen monitor – £160
AlbumPlayer – touchscreen optimised player/library £30
Installed, this sits on my hifi rack for touchsceen use.
Album player is designed for touchscreen use – there’s even an on screen keyboard.
My master store of mp3s and FLACs are on the main PC – I simply copy the files / folders I want over the wifi to the Asus. Album player discovers them in a ‘Picasa’ sort of way and off you go. Can create playlists and custom libraries (very different ones for me and Zarina for instance!). Only glitch so far is that the album covers aren’t all being automatically sourced from the album folders.
No specific remote yet – waiting on an iPhone for that 8^).
Now I only have the problem of finding time to sit down and listen to music again…
I am investigating setting up some photovoltaic solar panels at home. Its apparently quite expensive to do in the UK as the granting system is now poor [http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/generate_your_own_energy/grants_for_renewables]. In Germany they seem to have it sorted [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Germany].
Why photovoltaic and not the direct heating of water type? The water heating type are apparently slightly more ‘efficient’. However, they work best with a hot water tank – we don’t have one as we use a condensing boiler, so it would mean reconfiguring our heating setup; not cheap to do.
I did contact a couple of companies, but was immediately faced with the Hard Sell techniques they seem to have nicked from the Double Glazing companies. I hate this approach.
Also, these systems have moving parts (a pump) and are sometimes not as long lasting as you may expect .
Photvoltaics (the blue ones) generate electricity directly and feed into batteries or back into the mains. Thus, you can use them e.g. to power all your ‘rechargeables’ off the grid, or feed back into the grid to offset againt your fuel bill. Here’s a basic setup checklist
- The solar power array – a collection of solar power producing cells. This converts the suns energy into DC electricity.
- The roof mounting structure, consisting of aluminium or stainless steel components. There are two types; (1) roof integrated where the solar power panels replace the tile and become flush with the rest of the roof (2) on-top mounting where the solar power panels sit above existing roof tiles.
- A solar power inverter is required to convert the DC into AC, which can be used by most home appliances or sold back to the grid.
- The system is linked to your fuse box and an electric meter so you can tell how much energy you have produced and how much unused energy you have sold back to the grid.
Where will it go?
We have a garage roof facing SW and will have a new extension roof in the same alignment next year.
This will be a DIY project – I am going to source all the components and built it myself with help from a builder to fix to the roof. If it works out I’ll publish a How To as well as using this blog to diary the build.
I have found a local maker of photovoltaics so will try to blag a used one to test with. http://www.rayotec.com/solar_power/
Here’s their cute little diagram:
There also seems to be a lot of useful info here: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/
If you have any used components or experience of doing this, please let me know!