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Build Your Own Media Center PC, Part 2

by Wei-Meng Lee
12/05/2006

Last week, I showed you how to buy all the pieces to build your own media center PC for around $1,500. This week, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work--I'll show you how to assemble the PC, install the operating system, and finally, use it.

The first step is be to prepare the motherboard. Figure 29 shows the MSI 945GM2 with the Intel Pentium D fitted into the socket. Also, notice that Samurai Z CPU Cooler on top of the CPU.

Figure 29
Figure 29. The motherboard with the CPU and CPU cooler

Next, fit the hard disk, graphics card, TV tuner, and DVD writer onto the casing. Figure 30 shows my assembled computer in the Antec Fusion case. For the Antec casing, the VFD display connects to the casing via a USB connector. Be sure to connect it to a USB connector on the motherboard. Likewise, do the same for the Mozart SX.

Figure 30
Figure 30. The assembled system in the Antec Fusion case

Figure 31 shows my assembled computer in the Mozart SX case.

Figure 31
Figure 31. The assembled system in the Mozart SX case

Receiving TV Signals

Once the media center is assembled, it is now time to prepare it to receive TV signals. How you do this depends on the way that you receive TV signals at home.

If You Have a Set-Top Box

First, connect the cable point directly to the set-top box. Next, to connect your set-top box to the WinTV-PVR-500, simply connect the color-coded connectors from your set-top box to the similarly coded connectors on the WinTV-PVR-500. Figure 32 shows the connectors at the back of a typical set-top box.

Figure 32
Figure 32. Connecting a set-top box to your TV tuner card

If You Do Not Have a Set-Top Box

In this case, simply connect the cable point directly to the WinTV-PVR-500's TV connector.

Connecting the PC to the TV/Monitor

Connecting a monitor to the PC is straightforward. If your monitor supports DVI, connect the PC and the monitor using a DVI cable (see Figure 33). If it doesn't support DVI, connect them using a VGA cable.

Figure 33
Figure 33. A DVI cable

If you are connecting your PC to a TV, and your TV supports DVI input, then connect the TV to your graphics card using a DVI cable.

If your TV does not support DVI, but has an S-Video input, then connect the TV to your graphics card using an S-Video cable (if your graphics card supports an S-Video output). (See Figure 34.)

Note: S-video cables only carry video signals, but not sound. Hence, you still need to connect the sound separately.

Figure 34
Figure 34. An S-video cable

If none of the above solutions is suitable for you, you need to connect the video and audio from your PC to the TV separately. To connect the sound output from your PC to the TV, use a mini stereo phone plug (see Figure 35) and connect one end to the "line out" of your sound card and one end to the TV (the red and white connectors). Then, use a composite video cable (the yellow connector) and connect it to the "composite video output" of your graphics card and the other end to the TV.

Figure 35
Figure 35. Using a mini stereo phone plug and a video cable

If you already have a set of composite video and audio cables (with the three colored connectors), then you can simply buy a 3.5mm stereo mini phone plug to RCA jack adapter and connect one end of it to the sound card and the other end (the red and white connectors) to the composite video and audio cable (see Figure 36).

Figure 36
Figure 36. Using a set of video and audio cables and a stereo mini phone plug to RCA jack adapter

Connecting the Remote Control

Last, but not least, connect the Media Center remote control receiver/blaster box (which comes together with the remote control in the WinTV-PVR-500 package) to the PC. Windows should automatically detect the new device; no drivers are needed.

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