How To: DIY Music Server Using FreeNAS & A T5700 Thin Client

I’ve written up this most recent project of mine for the folks at www.smallnetbuilder.com. It’s a complete How-To that describes running FreeNAS, SlimNAS & SqueezeCenter on a recycled HP T5700 thin client. I also modify the T5700 by adding a 250 GB 2.5″ IDE drive installed internally. The result is a music server supporting my Squeezeboxes that consumes only 14 watts.

Update -the article went live this morning at http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/30522/77/

SlimNAS Is In Service

My rebuilt SlimNAS device is now operational. The little 2.5″ HD is installed inside the T5700 case. I used the expansion chassis just to ensure that there’s enough air flow now that there is a IDE ribbon cable blocking airflow at least a little. Since there is no PCI card in the expansion slot so I fit a blank to fill the back panel opening.

The HD is paritioned into two volumes. FreeNAS is on the small volume, with the SlimServer and music library on the other. The drive is 250 GB, with 232 GB available for music. As I write this the flac portion of my library is being copied from the old P4-2.8 server. That’ll take a couple of hours for sure.

I’ll post more details on it’s actual performance once I’ve had a chance to us it a bit.

SlimNAS Project Update

I have a 2.5″ 250 GB IDE hard drive to form the basis of my rebuilt SlimNAS server. I also have the HP T5700 host platform. As week or so back I ordered a 40 pin IDE cable on Ebay just to see if the drive could be plugged into the IDE header in the T5700 motherboard, where the DOM normally lives.

When the cable arrived, from Taiwan no less, I tried this and found it works fine. The IDE header on the mobo is not keyed like on larger systems so it’s possible connect it in reverse. If you do this a couple of the leads heat up really quickly. Luckily I noticed this and powered it off quickly. Not damage done luckily.

I have the system running plain vanilla FreeNAS at the moment.  Next I need to do a FreeNAS upgrade, then install SlimNAS.

SlimNAS, T5700 Thin Client & 2.5″ 250 GB Hard Drive

The new HD for my SlimNAS box arrived last Friday. So the time to rebuild my SlimServer system is fast approaching. Right now it’s running on a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4, but since I’ve abandoned the idea of the Inguz on-the fly room correction in software it just doesn’t need all that CPU power. Nor does it need to be making all that heat & noise.

However, I don’t expect that the simplest solution will work. The T5700 has a 44 pin connector for the flash “disk-on-module” that it normally boots from. A reader in Denmark has indicated that he had some trouble getting the small HD to power-up when connected here.

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SlimServer on FreeNAS Soon To Be Revisited

I see that the newer Squeeze Center, which is actually Slim Server v7, is available as a FreeNAS module. This means that it might be a good time to upgrade my T5700 based music server.

I haven’t actually been using this server for a few months. A while back I decided to try a “room correction” plugin from Inguz for Slim Server. This does some DSP transformations on the music stream on-the-fly, basically effecting some equalization. This plugin required more CPU power than a lowly T5700 could provide, so I’ve been using and old P4-2.8 as my music server these past months.

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An afternoons comparative listening to 5 pairs of powered audio monitors

This past weekend a friend and I spent an afternoon listening comparatively to a collection of powered audio monitors. It was by no means a scientific study, just a casual session of listing to music in a focused manner.

We used three Slim Devices Squeezebox 3s as sources, all playing in sync from a music server. The SB3s were running Squeeze Center v7. We setup a playlist of music we both knew well then switched between monitors in pairs.

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