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My third book is released! Learn what you'll need to know in order to become an embedded engineer.


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Book 1

My first book gives you all the intro you need on developing 32-bit embedded systems on a hobbyist budget.


virgin webplayer:
virgin webplayer
convert into a pc
use with another isp

Converting the Virgin Webplayer Into a PC


This document is incomplete. It is made available for your convenience, as it already contains some useful information. It will, however, be updated with more "novice level" detail as soon as possible.

Converting the Virgin Webplayer into a regular Windows or Linux PC is very simple, requiring only a screwdriver and a few commonly available PC components. A lot of these appliances have suddenly appeared on ebay, and perhaps 75% of the auctioners are linking to my web site, so I thought it would be appropriate to present a fairly detailed summary of how to use the Webplayer as a PC. Of course, I want a kickback from everyone who sells their Webplayer on ebay :)

Recommended operating system: Windows 98 or ME (The Windows 98 drivers will all work in ME). Although Linux is supported, installing it will be a little tricky. There are no drivers for Windows 2000. Although Windows 95 will work, it's not a great choice because of poor USB support.

Here's what you'll need to do the conversion:

  • A small Philips-head screwdriver
  • A 2.5" (laptop size) IDE hard drive. These are available in several different heights. Although any height will work, you won't be able to fit the older 17mm drives inside the Webplayer's casing. Search ebay for "laptop hard drive"
  • A 44-way cable with connectors to fit the laptop hard drive. A 10" cable is required if you want to mount the hard drive internally. You can buy this part for $7.99 (at the time of writing) from this link.

In addition to the above, you will need some way of loading the files onto the 2.5" hard drive. There are several options from here:

  • If you have a laptop with a floppy and CD-ROM drive, you can use it to copy the Windows setup files onto the hard drive. Simply put the new drive temporarily in the laptop, boot off a Windows 98 startup floppy, and use XCOPY /S E:\WIN98 C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS to copy the setup files onto the hard drive. (Assuming E: is your CD-ROM drive).
  • If you have a laptop that can't use the floppy and CD-ROM simultaneously, and your laptop came with a "restore CD", you can put the new drive in your laptop temporarily, boot off the restore CD and run a full restore. Chances are you'll wind up with a directory C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS containing a full setup image for Windows 95 or 98.
  • If you have only desktop PCs, you can buy adapters that will let you use a 2.5" IDE drive.

Now that you've got the Windows setup files onto the hard drive, let's get the hard drive physically installed. The only place it fits comfortably is underneath the right-hand edge of the motherboard (where the Webplayer's internal modem sits).

Note: Most 2.5" IDE drives will have two jumper positions on them. One of them is "Cable Select" and the other is "Slave". The Webplayer should not require either of those jumpers. If you turn the Webplayer on and it doesn't detect the drive, remove the jumpers.

You'll need to cut a couple of posts in order to fit the hard drive into the Webplayer. These posts are indicated by the circles in the photograph below. The two round holes in the shielding contain plastic posts that can be broken off easily with the fingers; the larger almost-rectangular hole has a shorter plastic post that is harder to break off. You will also need to break off the little springy metal finger that pokes up from one edge of that rectangular hole, otherwise the hard drive will be pressed up against the motherboard.

I strongly recommend that you insulate the side of the hard drive that is going to be closest to the motherboard! I also advocate a patch or two of glue or (better) double-sided tape to hold the hard drive in place. The thin tape (that looks like regular sticky tape with a double dose of glue) is better than the foamy, cushiony type of tape because of space constraints.

Posts that need to be cut

Below is an illustration of how to fold the cable. Try to fold it like this to avoid the heatsink. Note that this photograph does not show the modem; the hard drive cable will be sitting on top of the modem.

Hard drive mounted under Webplayer motherboard

All the drivers you need for Windows 98 are in this archive. You will need WinZip to extract it. The file will extract into three directories; Audio (sound drivers), Video (video card drivers) and Udma (hard disk controller).

The completed Webplayer-as-Windows PC

Enjoy your new PC! I use mine for CD-copying (I have a USB CD-RW drive), MP3 playback and viewing PDF files (it's handy to work on circuits on one machine, and view chip datasheets on a second screen).

The BIOS password is schwasck and it cannot be disabled, so write it down on the machine somewhere so you don't forget it.


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