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HTPC Hardware
Case:Antec KS-780B (purchased from
CPU:Intel 933 MHz Pentium III (purchased from
Motherboard:ASUS CUSL2-C (purchased from digitalconnection)
Memory:Micron 256 Mb CAS2 (puchased from crucial technology)
Sound card:Chaintech 6 Channel Sound Card Model "AV515M" (purchased from
Graphics card:Radeon LE (purchased from
DVD-ROM:Toshiba SD-M1502 (purchased from
Hard Drive:IBM 75GXP 75 Gb (purchased from digitalconnection)
Diskette Drive:Mitsumi (purchased from
Wireless keyboard:Silitek SK-7100 (purchased from digitalconnection)

HTPC Software
Operating System:Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Microsoft DirectX:8.0a
ATI Video Drivers:4.13.7075
Delta DiO 2496 Drivers:
ATI DVD Player:4.1
WinDVD DVD Player:2.3 patched to 2.6.4
DVD Genie: 3.86

HTPC Diary
Date Entry
2001-04-02 Ordered components!
2001-04-13 Started assembly. I still haven't received a number of parts but wanted to get started. As you can see from the pictures, the Antec KS-780B is more of a very dark gray rather than black. The Mitsumi floppy matches perfectly but the Toshiba DVD is noticeably black compared to the case. (click the thumbnails for full size images)
Empty case from the front Empty case from the top With the floppy and DVD installed
2001-04-16 Remainder of the components arrive. I don't have a lot of time tonight but I went ahead and installed the IBM disk drive and the motherboard. The backpanel of the Antec KS-780B matched up perfectly to the Asus CUSL2-C motherboard.
IBM disk drive installed below the floppy CUSL2-C motherboard installed Backpanel with motherboard installed
2001-04-21 Installed the remainder of the compontents, held breath, hit the power switch. It all just worked! I installed Windows 98 then upgraded to Windows ME.
Intel 933 PIII installed 933 PIII with the heatsink/fan Everything wired up Playing Disney's Tarzan
Installed ATI player from CDROM (sorry, didn't write the version down) and thought the video looked crappy. Upgraded the driver to 4.13.7075 and it looked much better. These shots were taken from a THX intro displayed on a 19" Trinitron flat screen monitor.
Original ATI driver 4.13.7-75 driver
2001-04-25 I can't for the life of me get the ATI DVD player to pass DD signals to the S/PDIF output of my Delta DiO card. I followed instructions here to no avail. Bummer.
2001-04-26 Installed the trial version of WinDVD and it passes DD and DTS to the S/PDIF output just fine. Guess I'll stick with this until ATI releases their next version supporting DTS.
2001-04-28 Paid my $50 and bought WinDVD. Then upgraded it to 2.6.4 by installing this patch
2001-04-28 Hauled the whole shootin' match downstairs and borrowed a projector from work. Hooked everything up and I now have a problem with audio.

The Delta DiO card doesn't play well with my preamp (Marantz AV9000). Seems that when the Delta card changes modes (Stereo to DD, DD to DTS, etc.) the preamp doesn't lock (or whatever the terminology is) onto the signal and I get a fingernails-on-a-chalkboard grating sound.

Turning off the preamp and then back on will usually fix the problem. Also tweaking just about anything in the M-Audio control panel (enough to make the audio reset) will fix the problem. I got the following response from M-Audio tech support (on a Saturday!)
We need to get you on the Vxd drivers for you to route AC3 through the Delta. You need to upgrade the drivers to and when it asked you to overwrite files you need to say NO to each of these. Then if you need help setting it up please refer to our web site at under Tips N Tricks for setting up for surround sound.
This was also confirmed by xcel in the HTPC area of the AVSForum.
2001-04-29 Switched to the Delta DiO drivers (a couple of times ;-) and couldn't get any S/PDIF output. I followed tips-n-tricks (sorry the link is no longer available) on the M-Audio site to no avail. The key ended up being in the Sounds and Multimedia Properties control panel (as shown in the screenshot below). I now have S/PDIF audio through both the WinDVD player and the ATI player! Follow the screenshots below for the control panel configuration of the sound card.

Sounds and Multimedia control panel M-Audio control panel - Monitor Mixer tab M-Audio control panel - Patchbay/Router tab M-Audio control panel - Hardware Settings tab M-Audio control panel - S/PDIF tab
2001-05-04 Still having a problem connecting the Delta DiO to my Marantz AV9000. After finding a thread on the AVS forum describing incompatible voltage levels, I went out and bought an optical connector. Unfortunately, it made no difference. About half the time when switching chapters on a DVD, the preamp fails to "lock" onto the DD/DTS signal and sends white noise to the speakers. I'll be on the phone with M-Audio on Monday...
2001-05-08 Spent 15 minutes on the phone today with M-Audio tech support. The short answer I received was that
there can be incompatibilities between professional gear (the Delta DiO card) and consumer gear
I'll try locking my preamp into DD or DTS tonight rather than let it auto detect the mode.
2001-07-06 With the arrival of my NEC LT150, I now have something real to hook this up to. Unfortunately, I never did get the Delta DiO card working well with my pre-amp. I went out and bought a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz and quickly got it running with WinDVD 2.6.4 and the ATI 4.1 players. Or so I thought...
After the DreamWorks intro to Gladiator, it starts showing various scenes with bright flashes between them. During this sequence, the ATI player will stutter and lock up at the first bright flash.
I resigned myself to keep the Santa Cruz, forget the ATI player and live with WinDVD.
2001-07-13 During my screen material tests I briefly switched back to the ATI player (in stereo mode) and I could swear that the picture was much more vibrant and rich.
Back to CompUSA went the Santa Cruz and I ordered its little brother, the Montego II Quadzilla which is reported to work better with the ATI player and was half the price ($33 + $6 shipping).
Should have it early next week so stay tuned...
2001-07-19 Got the Turtle Beach Montego II Quadzilla sound card and installed it in my system. Works great with both WinDVD and the ATI player and my preamp has no problems locking on to the signal!
For now I have both the Delta DiO and the Quadzilla installed. If I ever upgrade the Marantz preamp, I may switch back the the Delta card.
2001-08-26 Tweaked my display with PowerStrip so I can now get a 16:9 (1024x576) displayed through My LT150. The PowerStrip timings I used were can be found here.
2003-02-02 After a year and a half of use, I thought I'd check out standalone DVD players to replace the HTPC from a usability perspective. Given the excellent results in the Secrets of Home Theater and HiFi Shootout, I purchased a Panasonic XP30 from J&R Music World. I also purchased Belden 7710A component cables from Blue Jeans Cable.
I also decided to play a game of driver roulette. For those unfamilar with the game, you take a stable Microsoft OS and upgrade drivers for various components. You stand a good chance of changing that stable configuration into one that no longer works... After a year and a half of use, I'm VERY familiar with the characteristics of my HTPC with the older ATI DVD player. The minute I plugged the Panasonic XP30 in, I knew I had taken a few steps back in picture quality. I'm still using my NEC-LT150 projector which may very well not deal with progressive video as well as today's projectors. As other LT150 owners have said, progressive input looks good but once you plug an HTPC in, there's simply no contest.
The photos aren't the greatest and they're a bit over exposed but this will give you some idea. I use Toy Story 2 for most of my demos and as such, I know the first 10 minutes or so very well. Below you will find 12 pictures. The first 3, are of the XP30 outputting 480i. The second set, show the same frames displaying 480p. The final set show the HTPC displaying through the TheaterTek player. Look primarily at the diagonal edges of letters and in particular, look at the "vent" Buzz Lightyear's arm. The TheaterTek player shows the diagonal lines rock solid.
Sorry for the poor quality of these pictures. My trusty Canon S100 took a dunk underwater last summer and it's never been quite the same since.
Panasonic XP30 480i 4:3

Panasonic XP30 480p 4:3

HTPC through the TheaterTek player.
2003-02-03 After receiving a hint from the AVS Forum, I discovered that I didn't have the XP30 and the projector set up properly to yield an optimum picture. The photos above were taken with the XP30 and projector set to display a 4:3 image. The photos below were taken with the XP30 and the projector set to display a 16:9 image. The XP30 is now MUCH closer to the HTPC. You really need to view the full size images to see differences. In the Buzz Lightyear picture, the "vent" on his arm is now much clearer.
Note that these new pictures were taken with a different camera, a 3MP Canon S230. The ones above were taken with a 2MP S100 that went swimming last summer. The LT150 projector was reset to its default values. The TheaterTek and XP30 players were also at their default settings.
Panasonic XP30 480p 16:9

HTPC through the TheaterTek player
2003-08 Upgraded the OS to Windows XP Pro. Had to buy a new sound card since the Quadzilla was not supported under Windows XP. Found a bargain card by searching the AV Science forum.

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