In my last post I mentioned that I'd created a media center PC in the kitchen based off of my (at the time) desktop rig, so I thought it would be worth going into a little more detail about what I actually did.
To give some background, the PC in question was my main PC before I really started getting into the whole media center thing and before I had multiple computers around the house. It used to live in the lounge and was exceedingly noisy, in fact it wasn't until it was moved into the kitchen that I realised how loud it really was and hence how loud we were having to have the TV as a result, I'm surprised the neighbours didn't complain!
In the process of decorating our house we knocked through from the kitchen into the dining room to create a kitchen/diner area, this included installing some kitchen cabinets in the corner of the dining area, next to the fireplace. The lounge and dining room was originally all in one and we put up a new wall to now separate them, what this effectively meant was that there was no longer any room for my computer desk and large chair, so the logical choice seemed to be to get rid of the desk and chair and move the pc into the kitchen. Installing it inside a kitchen cabinet also seemed like a good idea.
Of course it was at that point that a light went off inside my head and I though: TV in the kitchen? media center in the kitchen? A quick perusal of ebuyer.com for a freeview TV card (Hauppage Nova-T) and my mind was made up.
I placed the desktop itself inside the kitchen unit next to the fireplace, ordered a wall bracket for the monitor and some cable trunking and fitted the monitor to the wall. Had it not been for the fact that the kitchen had only recently been decorated then I would have channeled out the wall for the cabling as it obviously looks much better, but I was reasonably happy with how the trunking turned out and it does provide easy access.
Once the TV card turned up and I had that installed, I needed to get the cable from the aerial in the loft down to it, luckily for me we have a back boiler behind the fireplace and all the pipework runs adjacent to the chimney stack and is nicely boxed in, so a few mangled metal coat hangers later, time and lots of perseverance I got the cable from the upstairs bedroom down into the kitchen. Going up to the loft was easy as directly above the kitchen is the airing cupboard and there were already cables going up into the loft so I was able to use the same for the arial cable.
I originally installed Windows Media Center 2005, but moved onto Media Portal at some point in 2006. Overall the PC gets plenty of use as both a regular PC and as a media center. It's great when I'm cooking dinner and I don't have to miss the football match on Sky or if we want to watch something while eating dinner or perhaps listen to some music. Of course these days the PC itself isn't exactly cutting edge (P4 3Ghz, 1gig ram etc.) but for what it's used for it does a perfectly good job and I've been really happy with it.