In this Instructable I will show you how to make a Small Set top box that will allow you to watch Video Files that are accessible on your Network . By loading VLC into the permanent flash drive of a HP T5700 thin client With just a few minutes of software modification.
The advantage of using this Thin client for this Job rather than a full size PC are its size (Small and Unobtrusive), Tiny power consumption and the fact that the Unit is totally silent ( apart from its Audio Output ) In testing will Happily Watch AVI files without Issues FLV Adobe files Files in .mpg format in Up to DVD quality and .mkv files if they are not too compressed and do not have encoded subtitles ( Small files that need decompressing are more of an issue than big files as the Streaming over a network can be up to 10-20 Megs per second without issues it is the Conversion that the machine struggles with)
Step 1: Start With the Right Unit
This Project assumes that You have a Newly flashed fully working HP T5700 1G.These are easily available second hand online ( one local supplier has 40 in stock from $99) - I got one this week for $30 delivered! ( was Bargain as it had no power supply but as it is a simple 12 Volt regulated unit with a round plug Making a power supply was not an issue ) These come with a 1000MHz CPU 256 Meg of Flash Hard drive and 256 meg of Ram Lower specification ones with a 750Mhz CPU will probably work but the faster the better, Even at 1000Mhz the CPU still has a Passive heatsink and so No fan Noise.
If you get one with the Higher 512 Meg Ram or Flash so much the better - The Ram can be increased later easily ( 200 pin pc 2100 laptop ram to a max of 512 megs =$15) the Flash cannot be increaed without either adding a Laptop Harddisk [noise and heat] or getting the 512 Meg HP unit ($++) or a male 44 pin compact flash adaptor a laptop ribbon and a 512meg-1Gig compact flash (high speed) card.
First step is Plug in the Power supply a USB mouse Keyboard and a Monitor. Turn Unit on and Unlock it! in the Default mode ( as the unit is after reflashing which is very very easy will post an Instructable on that if needed ) it starts up in a very restricted User mode - to unlock it need to change into Administrator Mode to do this Simply Press and Hold the Shift key while clicking on start Log Off . The Unit will log off and then Back on again but this time it present a User/Password Box Change the User from User To Administrator and enter Administrator as the pass word : Should now be in Administrator mode!
Click on start
then Administrative Tools
Click on HP Login Manager
Edit the Default user name to Administrator ( note this is case sensitive ) and the Default user Password to Administrator (again this is case sensitive )
Leave Enable Auto Login Checked and Leave Clear Event Log at Login
At this stage these changes are not permanent
To Make then Permanent need to Disable the EWF temporarily
Go back to the Administrative Tools
Open the EWF Manager
click on Commit Data To Volume
Then click on Disable EWF
will then need to reboot !
If things are set right will Reboot back into Administrator Mode with the EWF off which will cause a small red Padlock icon to appear in the Bottom corner
Step 2: Clear Out the Junk!
In order to make room for the Needed software need to delete quite a few files.
Before you can delete a few unnecessary files need to stop 2 services.
Go into Control Panel Open Administrative Tools and click on Computer management
In Computer Management Click on Services and Applications
Stop Altris Client Services then click on it and edit it properties, specifically change it from Automatic start to disabled This is the Core software that the Thin Client uses to do the Job it was originally designed for and is a few valuable Megabytes on the Disk.
Also need to stop Sygate security agent and double click on it and edit its properties from auto start to disabled . this service runs a fire wall that stops everything working and uses a lot of disk space up
Close this and Go back to the desk top
Click on the Windows messenger Icon to stop it ( Unless you are a Big Windows Messenger Fan and Need It )
Can now Go in to My Computer open Drive C and Program files
Delete : Citrix Messenger Sysgate TeemNT It will ask you if you really want to do this as it will impact on installed programs - You do and It is not an Issue Altris will not let you delete it at this stage But all you need to do to delete it is rename it ( say to Trash ) reboot and then delete what every you named it to.
Following doing this when you reboot again should not get any error messages and if you check the properties of the C drive You will find that you have Over 70 megs of Space to install programs to.
If you have less check that you have deleted all on the list.
Step 3: Down Load the Software
The software That I have tested and works is VLC [Other software may work and of course you can try anything -VLC does not need any Windows DirectX or other Dependencies and so Works] VLC is a Freeware product with Donations welcome. It is available online. Unfortunately it is an Active work in Process and the Last 2 and the current version of VLC media player 1.0.1 Can not be installed as they expands to a bigger foot print than will fit into the temporary file - there is a work around on this by changing the Temporary File from Z: to a USB memory stick but this is not recommended as it will crash half way though most times . The easy answer is to get a Slightly older version [Which is still quite current and has almost all the features of the latest version] do a google search for vlc-0.9.8a-win32.exe and you should soon find it - Or you can download a copy of this file from My Website where I will make sure it remains available
Copy this File to a USB memory Stick Formatted with " FAT " and set it aside for later . You can do it across a network but it may crash half way though .
VLC media player plays Most audio and video formats (MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, DivX, MPEG-1, mp3, ogg, aac ...) as well as DVDs, Audio CDs VCDs, and various streaming protocols.
Step 4: Preparing to Install Expand Ram Disk
In order to successfully install VLC need to enlarge the RAM Disk If you try to install straight off the web or off the network without doing this it will always fail - You Need enough Temp file space for all the VLC files to fully expand they then copy to drive C . To do this Open
Administrative Tools and then HP Ramdisk Manager and set the Ram Disk size to the absolute Maximum of 64Megs !
Step 5: Install VLC (vlc-0.9.8a-win32.exe)
Plug In Your Memory Stick with the install file loaded ( need to do it this way - Even with 64 Megs of Ram disk the Ram disk is not big enough to hold the compressed files and the Expanded files and it will crash)
Find vlc-0.9.8a-win32.exe double click and should start - Choose install language
and install all the default choices are correct - should expand files to ram disk and then copy them to the C: drive without problems - Once it gets to the completing The VLC media player Setup uncheck the Run box and press finish. As there are a few more steps before running VLC .
Step 6: Clean Up
VLC installs quite a collection of Surplus files that can be deleted - The main block is the Foreign Language Locale files (only needed if you are going to swap languages? )
look in C:\Program files\videoLAN\VLC\locale
can delete all but Your Language folder recovering about 7megs of useful space.
Also take this as an opportunity to decrease the Ram Drive size from 64 Megs to a more reasonable 4-8 Megs bit more if you have 512 megs of ram
(effectively increasing your working Ram by 60Megs)
Step 7: Remote ?
I run my Set Top Box with No Keyboard atached - Just A Mouse avoiding clutter round the TV -
There is an In built On Screen Key Board already loaded
Look in C:\windows\system32\
and find osk.exe
Make a Short Cut on the desk top for this and will not need a KeyBoard. One Click and it starts an easy to use on screen keyboard for any text entries.
I also recomend loading a Remote control software Tight VNC this allows you to change settings on the client from your PC
Find Tight VNC at http://www.tightvnc.com/
Need the Self-installing package for Windows will need to run this program on your Client and any computer you want to control the client from. ON the Client tick the TightVNC server and run it on the controling computer tick the TightVNC viewer box
Tick the Box for the TightVNC server to be installed as a service
once it is loaded will need to load a Couple of passwords would suggest Admin and User for easy recall .
Step 8: First Run of VLC
After a Reboot
Click on VLC and will open and spawn a first run box asking how often to check for updates - set this to never!
Now need to close all windows and Restart the EWF service to avoid unwanted Flash writes
Again reboot and restart will be ready for Streaming video
Step 9: Watch Enjoy
Find suitable files on your network and with a double click can start Video and watch - Plug an Amplifier into the 3.5mm Stereo Plug ( unless you are happy with the 1" built in speaker) or a cable from the Box to the Television Audio Input .
To watch MKV files need to down load the right Codec
At this stage will have enough space to Also Install the current version of "Mozilla Fire fox" can then watch Youtube straight from TV but to do this need to make sure you have deleted every unneeded file you can.