Mac Mini Mediacenter in 3.8" Room Space

I always wanted to have a stylish and versatile media center solution. Oh, and it had to stay out of the way, consuming very little space. As it may well become the center of my digital media world, it should definitely not dominate my living room in a similar way. Here's what I came up with.

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Hardware Ingredients:
Mac Mini fitted behind Cinema DisplaySoftware Ingredients: This definitely is stylish and space-efficient, isn't it. But where did the Mini go? It's hiding itself behind the display along with the power supplies and cabling. As you can see, the drive slot remains easily accessible from the side. Software The media center software was easily chosen. As I am already running a MythTV backend on a different (Linux) box, MythTV's frontend had to be installed on the Mini. Fortunately, recent versions are available as pre-build binaries for OSX. One caveat: For some reason, the Apple Remote is not working with MythTV since Leopard (Tiger was fine). Looking for a fix, I stumbled across Remote Buddy. This little gem not only circumvents the MythTV/Leopard problem but also gives almost full control to the system using the only the remote. That was ridding me of the need to keep a keyboard and mouse around.

Hardware Assembly

Distancing the Display from the Wall-Mount SystemI started by putting the display at the wall using the VESA adapter and wall-mount system. With this configuration, the distance between wall and display was about 6mm too small to get the Mini behind. So I used longer screws and distanced the display using two hex nuts and a shim.

That way a little over 50mm were available between wall and display - enough for the Mini. I decided to put the mini on the right side with it's top facing towards the wall. While it is possible to put the Mini on the left side instead, it still has to have its top facing the wall. Otherwise the connectors will not be accessible in a way that the cabling runs through the VESA adapter. And that's a must to keep the Mini fully hidden behind the display.

To give the Mini a stand, I bolted a wooden strip to the wall. It's top should be approximately 22.5cm below the display's top edge. The Mini's connectors are then at a good height relative to the VESA adapter.

For convenience, I a added another wooden strip at the left side to screen the cabling and power supplies from view. A last slat is attached horizontally just above the lower edge of the display. It provides a nice stand for the power supplies and prevents the cabling from peering below the display.

Roundup

CIMG4440_200x150.shkl.jpgFor about 1.500 EUR (at the time of writing), I build myself a good looking media center solution featuring full HD resolution, digital audio and video and a flexible software stack. While this is a lot of money, other solutions I considered don't come cheap either. And none of the alternative approaches came close to the minimalistic design of a Cinema Display attached to the wall - even an iMac has a bigger footprint. Continuing down this road and adding a Yamaha Sound Projector to the equation, I was able to get a similarly minimalist configuration for the audio part. I must say, I am very pleased with the result.