Monday, 22 June 2009

XBOX 360 As a Media Centre with the DNS-323

I love my DNS-323.  I have it setup with a terabyte drive mirrored to a second drive for redundancy.  It also lets me download and torrent without having to leave my PC on, which is the reason I got it.

Now I’ve got an XBOX 360, and the main reason I managed to convince my non-game playing wife to get it was that I convinced her that it would make a great media centre.  Lucky for me it worked out.

Wireless Without the Adapter

The first problem is wireless, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend $140 AU on the wireless adapter for the XBOX.  There are a few places you can get it cheaper, but I still couldn’t find it less than $80 AU and even then I’d have to order it from China.  The XBOX does have a LAN connection though, so instead of running a cable all the way from my study to my living room I created a bridge.  The easiest way to do this is to get a very cheap router that supports DD-WRT firmware.  I chose the ASUS W520-GC. 

This is the most basic router I could find, it cost a total of $40 because I wanted it straight away instead of ordering it for $30 and I can use it to connect any device to my wireless from my living room (well up to 4 devices anyway).

Plug it in, install DD-WRT (use the ASUS update tool that comes with the router, the web interface doesn’t like the .bin file, oh and rename the .bin file to .trx) and then follow the instructions on the DD-WRT wiki to setup your bridge.  Test it with a laptop as it’s much easier to test and then plug in your XBOX.  A few tests of the PC connection should work.

NAS Box

While the XBOX 360 does support uPnP, it has it’s own format basically requiring your protocol to announce that it is looking for the XBOX.  The DNS-323, as of Firmware 1.04 (current 1.06) does this, and very well.  I would recommend upgrading your DNS-323 anyway, the new firmware helps many of the features work better.  You can follow DLink’s instructions on upgrading, it’s pretty easy so I won’t repeat it here.

Once the upgrade is done, go to advanced and uPnP and enable uPnP.  Choose the root of your NAS (or where ever you store your media) and then refresh.  This tends to drop out about 2/3 of the way through if you have a medium to large collection, but it’s only the interface and the refresh will work eventually.

PLAY!

Give it an hour, go to your XBOX, choose Music and then you should see your DNS-323 as a source.  Choose some music and entertain away!  Some codec’s are not supported, xVID I think is one of them.  I just convert all my videos using MediaCoder, to a format that I can play.

Still not Perfect

It’s still not perfect, I find that sometimes during media playback the connection to my network is lost.  I quick Test Connection seems to fire it back up and my media starts going again, but I’m not sure why it drops out.  It could be my bridge or it could be my XBOX hibernating a service it might not think it’s using.  I’ll post on it when I figure it out.

2 comments:

Robert said...

This was the same excuse I used with my wife to get the Xbox 360, but I still can't get the Xbox to see my DNS323. I've followed the same process you describe, and the first thing I did when I got my DNS323 was upgrade to firmware v1.07, but no luck. Both are hardwired to my Linksys WRT610N, so I'm wondering if it is something at the router.

Odd said...

Hey Robert,

I had trouble with this at first, especially if you have a large library. The 323 will take a while to recognise your library, try pointing your uPNP settings at a small directory with only a few media files and then give it a good half hour to make sure it's recognising the files. Once this is done, restart your xbox because it will cache the files and won't see your changes.

If you can see your files after that then test a file to make sure it's working before changing your NAS box to point at the root.

If this doesn't work, email me at oddian at gmail dot com and I'll have a look when I get home from holidays to see if I missed anything.