I’m building a decent HTPC

In the last years I always had some kind of pc hooked up to my tv. I finally got around to have the time (and money) to build a dedicated system. Not all the parts are new, just that I had enough spares and money for the case:

  • Antec Fusion Remote 350 mini HTPC case.
  • Gigabyte GA-MA78GPM-DS2H mini ATX socket AM2 motherboard.
  • Western Digital 1Tb, Green
  • AMD 4850E dual core, energy efficient processor.
  • 1 GB DDR2 RAM
  • LG Black DVD-RW drive
  • Temporary low profile, cheap video card for s-video out.

The case:

I initially wanted a full ATX case, but they were either ugly either too expensive. I finally went for the (mini ATX) Antec Remote 350 because for the price of a bare ATX case I got a 80+ power supply, 3 80mm fans, LCD screen and remote. The case is a bit on the cramped side but everything fits together nice, it’s well ventilated and pretty quiet but still providing good airflow. There are in-depth reviews around so I won’t go into details. Suffice to say it’s pretty cheap, comes with a PSU and does the job.

The motherboard:

It was pretty cheap when I got it, and simillar boards should be available. It has everything you need on board: 3200HD graphics, HDMI, audio, 128 Mb video memory, 5 SATA ports, lot’s of USB ports, optical audio, e-Sata, firewire and so on.

The CPU:

It’s an older dual core AMD Energy Efficient, it has a 45W TDP at 2.5 Ghz. It does the job and it runs very cool allowing for a silent cooler to do the job.

The Hard Drive:

It’s a green Western Digital. It’s quiet and fast enough. Combined with the rubber mounting of the Antec case allows for virtual quiet operation.

Video Card:

My TV is pretty old, so I need S-Video out for it. Until we upgrade to a flat panel I’ll need a video card as the mother board doesn’t provide S-Video or RCA out.

Mini breadboard PSU

I bet this was discussed and sampled 1000 times before but here is the mini 5V PSU I use for my microcontroler breadboard projects. Usually you will use a 5 volt DC power supply for your microcontroller projects. Since I got tired of breadboarding the power source part all the time, I built a small PSU to power up my projects. I used a screw-in terminal for power input and I simply soldered pins that stick directly into the bread board for the output part.


I’ll follow up with pictures soon.

C1 should be at least 25V. C3 can be lower (16V, etc.) R1 should be adequate for the LED you choose at 5V – use an online led calculator for that. I sugest 480 – 1K for a red led.

You can power it up using a 9V battery or a small DC adapter depending on your projects need. If the consumption is high you’ll need to use a heatsink  for the LM7805 regulator.

Have fun!

Quick and dirty way to breadboard a circuit

Since I didn’t want to pay for a kit of precut and bent wires for a breadboard and I am also lazy enough to put up trying a few ideeas because it involves cutting wires, I looked around and found an easy way to make connections on a breadboard: staples!

Just use a stapler so that it dispenses the staples without bending them or a cutter (watch the fingers) to obtain individual staples.


Since staples come in many sizes it’s easy to prepare a nice kit that should cut down on the number of wires hanging off your breadboard. Just make sure the staple is not too thick to damage your breadboard.

Have fun !

A little fun with the 12F675 and mikroC

I have a small example that should get you going with the PIC 12F675 microcontroller and mikroC PRO. I am using the EasyPIC5 development board but I am sure you can adapt it to many development systems. It’s just a small introduction you can use as a tutorial on getting started with a comon, cheap and simple microcontroller.

Read more “A little fun with the 12F675 and mikroC”

Keep the backlight on in Skyfire, Symbian

Keep the backlight on when playing movies in Skyfire on your Symbian Phone

I noticed something annoying when watching streaming video in Skyfire on my Nokia E71. The official Youtube app and the built in media player don’t experience this but Skyfire does: the backlight turns off (according to the settings) even if a video is playing in skyfire – that’s pretty annoying. I had to keep pressing random keys so that the light comes back on.

I discovered that S60SpotOn has the option to keep the backlight on no matter what. Yes there’s an extra step – start s60SpotOn, set backlight on, and after that watch videos but it works. I hope that the Skyfire team corrects this problem soon, untill then this is a viable sollution.

BTW S60SpotOn’s certificate is expired, you need to set the date back in 2007 or 2008 for it to install.

Akonadi is not starting, refuses to run as root (Slackware 13.0/13.1/13.37/current installation).

Well, I am having fun lately with the latest incarnation of the Slackware Linux distribution. Like I said before I am a slacker, and I like Slackware a lot. In a way it’s nice that some things don’t work out of the box. You get to know how they work.

Well, after my first startx I was greeted by a message stating that Akonadi failed to start / Akonadi fails to start. I had a hunch that it’s missing his Mysql friend. I configured mysql as explained here and restarted KDE. It still didn’t work, but I was on the right track.

I opened an xterm and ran:

mysqladmin create akonadi -p

hoping that it will help. Well, it didn’t fix it either. The message informing that Akonadi fails to start also has an error log. Clicking on it I discovered that the problems were still Mysql related. So I went into Akonadi configuration, changed the setting from local mysql (accessed through a socket) to server mode, typing in localhost, and an user and a password.

That fixed it !


Akonadi, in it’s default configuration runs an internal mysql server which by default does not allow to be ran as root. Now this is all nice and well but I run my workstation as root. Yes, yes I know, but I still want to, my workstation, my rules. So here’s how:

~/.local/share/akonadi/mysql.conf and add


to it. (you can choose any user as which this mysql instance will run but I really lost too much time with this nonsense already to bother)

I know, I know, you should not run as root and everything but it’s my machine and I’ll run as whatever damn user I want.

I also think that typing the correct path to the mysql socket would help too.

Have fun

Configuring Mysql in Slackware 13.0

Slackware 13 has still the same unintuitive style with some things – i.e. akonadi doesn’t start in kde and it doesn’t say why, and so on.

One of the problems you will encounter is that Mysql doesn’t start. Yes, if you look in /usr/doc/mysql… you will find the reason.

Here’s what you have to do:



This will configure the default databases mysql needs to function. Now, this is where you would normally start mysql using /etc/rc.d/rc.mysqld start right? Wrong !

If you try you will get:

/etc/rc.d/rc.mysqld start
nohup: redirecting stderr to stdout
Starting mysqld daemon with databases from /var/lib/mysql
STOPPING server from pid file /var/run/mysql/mysql.pid
090907 19:35:24  mysqld ended

There’s one more step to take:

chown -R mysql:mysql /var/lib/mysql

This gives mysql rights to use it’s own folder and files.

Now you can start mysql

/etc/rc.d/rc.mysqld start

And follow the instructions given by mysql_install_db in setting up the root mysql password.

An article explaining why the heck after installing the ATI Proprietary drivers my resolution is stuck in 1600×1200 as opposed to 1680×1050 will follow as soon as I figure it out.