Compaq EVO T20 Thin Client As an MP3 Player ( Network Controllable)




At work we need background music in the waiting area and after a while 5CD's on a CD Player get a little predicatble and the one local radio station we can receive is just annoying. So what I created using a low specification ( lowest NTe Evo T20 Thin client ) was a stand alone mains powered MP3 player that easily stores up to 16 Gigabytes of music - So now can have several days of Music with no repeats! And the best thing about it is I can access it and change playlists from my desktop over the network - so my music taste rules- And I can insert short reminders like 5 second adverts telling people to turn off cell phones  no smoking etc in between the songs!.

Advantage over other alternatives -network controllable - unit remembers where it is in play list and starts from same point . quite rugged - cheap -
and yet another good use for a Compaq Evo T20 thin client.

Step 1: First Collect the Parts: Need the Right Model NT

To build this project you will need a Compaq NTe Evo T20 ( and its power supply ) - the Win Ce version cannot be used nor can the later XPe models easily ( the XPe Version can play music but music file storage is an Issue and you need to store the music files elsewhere on your network as I have not found a method of getting a Xpe version to read a Local USB pen drive).

The NTe Evo's come in a wide range of models with the sole difference being the size of the Flash drive and the Ram the Lowest Specification model has 48Megs of flash memory and 64 megs of ram the Highest 128 Megs of Both - All are usable for this project. (The Win Ce Models have 16/32 or 32/64 and do not have a useful OS for this project as they cannot be modified other than reflashing them for Linux so forget them )

If you Are buying a unit always check the model number online this is located on the underside of the chrome stand ( or plug it in and see what boots ) and with a Google search you can quickly see what It should be . The difference between a low specification machine and a higher one is how many files you will have to dispose of they all have the same CPU and Audio Chips .

Will also need a USB Pen drive already formatted with FAT a USB Mouse, USB Keyboard and a VGA or better monitor. Plug everything in and Turn it on . (to Format your Pendrive in FAT Will need a computer running WIndows 2000 or 98 to do the formatting as XP /Vista will refuse to down grade from FAT32 to FAT or else use a Linux box ? ) if the Pendrive is formatted in any other file system it cannot be read by the Box and the EVO has no formating capability.

Step 2: Unlock the Unit

I am Assuming that the Unit is tested and working with no problems and has Just been reflashed with the correct flash image for it - (I have written an  Instructable  on how to reflash these as a fresh flash avoids Issues )

The unit should boot into User mode to change out of User mode press in Succession TAB Home End Right arrow left arrow should then open the Specify Logon Information window which will allow you to change from User to Administrator Mode. This is essential to do the next stages
Edit the details to Administrator as the user and Administrator as the password ( Both case sensitive )

There are 2 versions of the Lower specification Evo's one has no Flash Write Protection the other has Flash Write Protection ( If you have the flash Protection this will need to be turned off ) To tell just reboot the Unit if it changes back to User mode then you have Flash protection and that will need turning off. If it Stays in Administrator Mode than there is no flash Protection and You can Jump to step 4

Step 3: Turn Off the "Write Protection "

Make sure the Unit is in Administrator Mode and Click on Write filter
Click on Flush Cache wait till the Yellow light Bulb Turns White then click close
Will need to do this every time the unit is restarted as the Write protection restarts with every single reboot.

Step 4: Maximise the Ram Disk

To install the needed software need to have the Ram disk as Big as possible - The work around this is to Just install the Pen drive Drivers ( can get away with an 8 meg ram drive to do this ) then reset the Temp files so that they are on the Pen drive!- If you have a Unit with Only 32 Megs of Ram - Borrowing some Laptop Ram and fitting it for the Install would be a Good Idea Needs to be a PC100 or PC133 Sodimm. If You have enough Ram crank the Ram disk Up to 30 Megs or if you are short of ram 20 Megs at least .

Restart remember if you have a Model with Write protection to go back to step 3 every time to turn of write protection again.

Step 5: Install Pendrive Driver

Download a copy of R62200.EXE off the Internet - can get this off the Dell web site or from my web page
where I have put it so that it is always available . If you are downloading it dirrect to your EVO and using the Built in Internet Explorer that is part of the EVO's Firmware, straight off the Internet I would suggest you get it from my web site which is set up top be 100% Evo T20 compatable ( no flash graphics ) Save it to the enlarged Ram drive . and install it ! see My previous Instructable which goes into this in great detail

This is the first of a few Instructables that I will do that build on this usefull bit of software.
Once you have it installed and running and can access the Pendrive things become a lot easier.

Step 6: Delete Un-needed Software to Make Space

If you have a very low specification Evo it is essential that you delete a files to make space
To delete files need to first stop any that are being used as a service The Ones that you can eliminate safely are the Citrix Net meeting and Altaris that are the Main functions of the EVO in its intended Thin client role.

Click through Start >settings>control panel>Services
Stop and the Disable Client cleanup
the stop and disable RapportAgent

can then delete all but essential files from the C drive
click on My computer >C drive > Programs and delete all but the three that must remain (Orl Common files and Internet Explorer {internet explorer can be eliminated if the space is needed it releases about a 1/3rd of a Meg but of course its removale removes internet browsing totally }

Step 7: Download and Install Your Choice of Player Software

There are many many different MP3 player softwares and many of them come in several versions - after lots of testing there are 2 that meet the needs of this project they are free ( always a good price ) and they Work under NT4 on the EVO T20 with good functionality and excellent sound quality, with no breaks pops or clicks . the two softwares that work are sonique version 196 and Netrius 160 .Other software might work but these are tested and will work !!

Sonique is larger but has the advantage of more features specifically it has a Built in Play list editor .

Neutrius is smaller Only 3.56megs installed is still supported and generally autostarts more reliably. Complex play lists however need to be created with another program or by hand editing of text files As the both sound the same I find Neutrius the better product.

You can find them both by googling on the Internet or else download them from my website
copy the install files to the pendrive or the Ram drive Z: and then click on which ever you have chosen to install and click the usual Options - No CD player functionality is needed . Other wise with Sonique most options are correct as suggested.

Step 8: Set to Auto Start

Once you have tested your Installation ( After making sure you have turned off the Write protection ) copy the Start Icon to the start up folder so that It will Auto strt on turn on
To find this go to
My computer
C drive
Start menu

Reduce the Ramdrive size to free up working Memory - Reboot

Step 9: Remote Control

Plug The Evo into your network -plug audio feed cable into audio out socket - connect power - turn on No need for Mouse keyboard or screen -

Install tightVNC on the computer you want to remote from
Down load from
detailed instructions are on the same website

click on my computer to find the name of the thin client
will be something like nte0080641ce995

start Tightvnc viewer

enter clients name - nte0080641ce995
click connect
enter password

this will be Administrator [case sensitive] unless you have changed it ( changing it is possible but quite fiddley ) can control sound level playlist ect over the network with this remote



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    16 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Don't let the poster of this guide convince you otherwise. The Windows CE models can be used to do the same thing as this above guide. I've even seen the CE clients being sold for as low as $8 on eBay some days. It's just a difference of software and maybe a little CE familiarity.

    First, lets tackle the myth that these can't run 3rd party software...

    Read your thin client's documentation on pushing updates via TFTP. You will notice some updates include an .exe once extracted. There's your in.

    All you really need to do is replace this .exe with another one of your choice like TCPMP or a file browser and point your thin client's update application to it. It will then run your application. You can then run a registry editor or file browser and do whatever you feel like on the device.

    To make this easier in the future and ensure your device is always "jailbroken", you can edit your device's registry to run the application you want on startup under HKLM\init by just adding a string with something like Launch60="your.exe".

    You don't need a desktop OS like NT or Linux and high end model just to play MP3s on a thin client. That's just silly!

    To play mp3s, just use the x86 WinCE build of The Core Pocket Media Player(TCPMP) found here:

    This plays anything from OGG to FLAC and has pretty decent playlist support. The CE editions of these thin clients already ship VNC so you can use that to remote control it. With this, they can even play videos!

    Want to have even more fun?
    Install PocketDOS on your CE client and run your favorite DOS applications from yesteryear.

    Now, the sky is the limit as to what you can do with your "crippled" CE client. You are only limited by your imagination, your compiler, OS version, available open source projects(not much software for x86 CE) and CE itself. No Linux, no flashing, no desktop Windows and no viruses in sight.



    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I disagree - I live in Bolivia. My T5700's both work great here! Enjoy
    So, yes....Evo and EVO's all work in Bolivia! :-)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    BTW a note on the flash drives. You CAN format them to NTFS as well if you don't have access to a Windows 2000 or Linux machine to format to FAT16. And I can imagine if you have access to a NT 4.0 system you might can get the command line Format utility off of it and free up some internal flash to store it on the Evo. On thing to note it when you format a flash drive to NTFS and use it on the Evo, then try to use in on a Win7 system, it sometimes can be stubborn to read. Probably has to do with The Evo uses an older NTFS version.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I have to reflash a unit this week to create a special purpose machine for a friend  to make an XPE Unit into a Recorder so will re educate my self on how to do it and hope fully post a clear  instructable on how to do it this week .\

    Have found from experience the best OS to do it with  is from a pc running Windows 2000 but suspect can be done with Xp - no idea of Vista or 7 or any of the Linux flavours  - Needs working Java is the core requirement

    1 reply

    It was a bad unit and I got a new one. Actually, I have  2 in various states of having been locked-down and modified by system adminstrators. I can't really get software onto them because I can't mount drives, etc.

    I would like to be able to re-flash units so that I don't have these problems. Did you post that instructable on re-flashing? I would love to see one. Thanks.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Make sure mouse and keyboard are plugged in before powering unit up !
    Only Issue I can think of is are they generic mice with just the 2 buttons and maybe a single scroll wheel or very  very  fancy multi button mice [ T20 Usb Ports are class 1.1 I believe and so some modern equipment is not compatible ] - Never had issues with any generic  mice in any of the T20s I have used -Would suggest trying a new cheap  generic mouse first ?  Is a key board working and is a key board bplugged in as well try with just a mouse ? - If a key board is working suggests test all 4  USB ports to macke sure all 4  are good  - If they are but mose is still not seen -first thing I would do is reset back to factory settings in case " mouse function" has been turned off in the T20 previous use  - press and hold G when doing a restart need to press while the Led is still amber and keep holding - if that fails then may need to do a full reflash back to the factory setting - or possibly the T20 unit is just faulty?  Hope that helps reflashing is not that hard but need a PC Ideally running win 2000 for it to be seamless

    Awesome Awesome. I think I have 2 of the nt ones that I use as thin clients for our linux servers via xrdp. guess the price of those old units will go up on ebay with instructables like this., I may have to reflash them if I can find a good image though. Can not wait to try this project


    8 years ago on Step 9

    Can I set it up so that I can give one of these to a friend as a gift and then "DJ" for them - that is, load or stream content over the internet?

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 9

    Can definatley do i over a net work - to do it over the internet would depend on your freinds router settings and risk would be that it could be quite insecure if it can be seen from the internet. 


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 9

    Yeah maybe a better way would be for me to serve up a stream and point their player to that stream.