Posted on June 17, 2004
The basic idea was to create a working mini Jukebox with a Mini-ITX system. I bought a miniature retro-50s JukeBox on the web for $70 USD.
This was what the back of the box looked like originally:
The box was quite large by Mini-ITX standards, so I won't belabor the building process too much because it was really rather simple. The most difficult part was actually the lighting on the front of the box.
This is what was originally inside the box:
The JukeBox was basically a CD player/radio. All of that stuff has to go, especially those two enormous hard-drive eating speakers. The next picture shows the box mostly gutted. I later removed all the wiring to the lights inside because it was a series of incandescent bulbs in series and I didn't care to try to wire that into the power supply nor did I want to deal with one of them burning out.
I had plenty of space. The only real problem was that the box was about 2 cm too shallow to have the motherboard's ports face the back of the box. I didn't want to mar the smooth outer surface of the box and didn't want wires sticking out the side, so I was forced to mount the motherboard vertically, with the ports not directly exposed. It was easy to do this and mount the hard drive and power supply. I had to buy a new Seagate hard drive because the Maxtor I used was absurdly loud for this purpose. The Seagate is essentially silent (the Maxtor is shown in the picture.) Similar thing for the power supply. The first one I bought was too loud, so I later replaced it with a silent one.
I thought about using one of the JukeBox's front controls for the power button, but decided against it since I didn't want guests to be clicking the buttons and turning off the box, so I placed a simple soft switch on the back. You might wonder where the CD drive is. I decided not to install one because I do not intend to use it anyway as I use my desktop computer for ripping CDs. So I merely attached one while I installed Windows 2000 and the Itx drivers and then removed it. For other purposes, I will use either the USB or Network ports.
As I said, wiring the lighting was one of the hardest parts. I flirted with a couple of ideas, but decided to use high-intensity LEDs and glow-wire. I like the lighting effects much better than the original because the glow-wire gives a nice neon effect and I like the red patches lit up selectively instead of the blotchy effect of the original. The original lighting is shown in the following photo:
It's true that the original was more brightly lit, but considering I planned on setting it beside my TV, this wasn't really an asset.
This shows the back of the unit, everything all wired up. The top part of the back panel can be removed separately from the part holding the motherboard for easy access to the ports.
One of the design goals was to connect the box to my surround-sound system using its optical input, so I got a cheap ($40 USD) SoundBlaster USB with optical out. Also, I didn't want any unsightly controls, so I got a wireless mouse and keyboard and I already had a Streamzap PC Remote for multimedia use.
The final photo shows the box up and running and connected to my 27” TV. I think it looks really nice like that. I am currently running MediaMonkey as my MP3 library software.