GhettoHardware.com - Media Center Bathroom Extender

What? A Media Center PC for the bathtub???

No, not really. What I have done is repurposed an Xbox controller w/ built in LCD as a second display and controller for the Media Center PC in my bedroom. This allows me to change songs, pause, change volume etc.. without leaving the bathroom. I use it while reading a book in the bathtub. I would not recommend it for DVD or TV viewing as the screen is very small. I suppose it would suffice for TV programs where the image is not that important like a news program.

No, I don't recommend using electronics in a bathtub. That would be unsafe to you and your controller. I leave the controller on the floor, and just reach over and taps the keys I need to change track or album.

What do you need?

  1. Working Windows Media Center PC
  2. Hip Screen Pad for XBOX - A cheap Xbox Controller with built in LCD. I got mine for 20$ after rebate from CompUSA. I never knew what to do with it till now.
  3. XBCD Xbox Controller driver for windows - Windows doesn't natively know how to use an XBOX controller. This 3rd party driver will make it work.
  4. JoyToKey Utility for windows - This utility turns standard gamepad commands into Keyboard Commands. I think it is used by folks with old emulators that don't support gamepads natively, but we will use it to map gamepad keypresses into the Media Center shortcut keys.
  5. Xbox Controller Media Center.cfg - My config file for JoyToKey App. You will copy this to the JoyToKey installation folder.
  6. XBMCE Controls.xgp - My config File for XBCD Setup Utility. Modify these settings in the setup utility if you don't like the mapping that I chose.

Hardware Configuration

You need a xbox controller to USB Adapter. This is used to plug a Xbox controller into your pc's standard USB Port. I diddn't bother making an adapter out of an Extension cord and instead cut off the proprietary XBOX USB connector and replaced it with a standard USB connector.

NOTE: My controller DOES NOT follow the standard USB wire color scheme as described at http://www.xbox-linux.org/docs/usbx.html.

In my controller the colors mapped to: PSV = Grey, D- = Black, D+ = Red, GND = Green. (The Xbox Extra wire follows the standard and is Yellow. You don't need to hook this up to anything.)

Update as of 2004/10/11.

I cannot find a commercially available XBOX controller extension that meets the needs of ths project. The Folks who made the "hip screen pad" were too cheap to add the XBOX standard breakaway cable adapter. All of the Xbox Extensions and even XBOX to USB (for the very use of connecting XBOX peripherals to the PC) seem to utilize this breakaway port. EX: SmartJoy X USB Adapter On the Questionably legitimate Lik-Sang.

Another Update (a few minutes later)

I found this on the Lik Sang site. I presume it consists of a USB Hub and two female ports that are fullsized. This would probably allow you to use the controller without any hardware modifications. "works with all available drivers" -- I assume they mean the XPAD driver? (also available in 4 port version - take it apart and you can make 4 adapters)

Software Configuration

1. Install MCE onto the PC. Configure it as a normal PC, or in my case, configure it to play video off another media center OS machine w/ a tuner. Turn on composite video output. If you Video card has only a S-video output you will need a little adapter.

Note: In my case I find that I cannot enable the composite output unless a TV is plugged into that port first.

2. Install XBCD software. This will install the XBCD Driver and Setup Utility.

Open XBCD Setup Utility. In the lower left is the "open" command. Open a href="XBMCE Controls.xgp">my config file. Press "apply" in the lower right.

3. Plug in your modified XBOX controller to the PC's USB Port. Windows will prompt you to install the drivers. You need to approve the installation because they are not "signed" by microsoft. They appear safe though. Windows automatically installs the generic Game controller driver after the XBCD driver is installed.

4. Install JoyToKey Install the JoyToKey app by unzipping it to an intelligent location (c:/program Files/JoyToKey) and running it. Copy my configuration file into the same folder as the JoyToKey Application

Add JoyToKey to your windows autostart folder. This will launch it whenever you turn on the PC.

5. Relax and enjoy. You should now be able to control the Windows Media Center experience from anywhere the cord can reach.

You could hack the main wire in half and use ethernet cable to extend it 20 feet if you are brave. (no promises about signal strength, but I bet it will work. I have used this approach to make a 30 foot USB extension cable and it worked fine without any active amplification.

Useful Links

http://www.xbox-linux.org/docs/usbx.html - Details of Xbox USB "standard"

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