Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Mac Mini Media Centre: Hardware

It’s Monday, so it’s time for part two of the Mac Mini Media Centre project entries – the hardware, as in what I have to work with at the moment and what I need to buy. I actually have most of the hardware already, at the time of writing this – the only thing I don’t yet have is a remote control, which I’ll write about in more detail in 2 weeks time.

Mac Mini

I wouldn’t be calling this if I didn’t have a Mac Mini to base it on, so the main brains of the project is, of course, an Apple Mac Mini. Specifically it’s a 2005-era 1.42 GHz PowerPC-based Mac Mini, with 1 GB of RAM, 80 GB hard drive, a DVD/CD-RW combo drive, Airport, Bluetooth, 56k internal modem, 2 USB ports, a FireWire port, a 100 MBit Ethernet port and a DVI port. The OS is Mac OS X Leopard (10.5). It was my main desktop PC but became rather sidelined from late 2006 when I bought a more powerful and more versatile MacBook, so it has spent much of the past 2-3 years being rather underused. It still works perfectly okay so there’s no point in getting rid of it, hence why I want to give it some kind of purpose again.

Apple DVI -> S-Video/Composite adaptor

I bought this back in January. It converts the DVI output from the Mac Mini to S-Video Composite video (the yellow RCA plug, which can be converted to SCART if needed). It’s possible that the Mac Mini will in fact be connected to a DVI-capable computer monitor after all, but if not this adaptor will enable it to connect to all but the newest TV screens; for those I can buy a separate DVI -> HDMI adaptor.

Griffin iMic

The iMic is a USB sound device for Macs and PCs – like an external sound card. I bought this back in September 2005 as it provides better sound quality than the rather poor onboard sound that the Mac Mini comes with, and also provides a microphone/line-in socket which the Mac Mini lacks altogether. This isn’t really core to the media centre but it will form part of the finished project.

Equinux Tube Stick

The TubeStick is a DVB-T adaptor for your Mac (and Windows PC too although you need extra software). In other words, it lets you watch digital TV received through your aerial on your Mac. Like the Mac Mini it’s also rather under-used, owing to the very poor terrestrial TV signal in Bradford. Though I’d like this to be incorporated into the media centre I have a feeling that the main obstacle is going to be local geography more than anything else.

Remote control

As I have an older Mac Mini, it didn’t ship with the Apple Remote which comes with all new Macs. Though my MacBook has one, there’s no IR receiver on the Mac Mini so it’s not of any use. I’ll therefore need to procure a separate remote control system, or one that lets me use the existing Apple Remote.
Next week: software

One Comment

  1. Don’t expect to run HD or h.264 very well on that. Otherwise it will work fine.