Despite being a insatiable technology fan, I’m actually quite a Luddite in some ways when it comes to tech at home. I have television available in one room, no means of recording what’s on the TV, no Sky TV (although I’m still working on that, my feud with the trees of the world continues…) and it’s barely possible to get mobile phone reception indoors. Yeah, awesome.
Of all of these, the one that seems like it should be one of the easiest, isn’t. Is it really so difficult in this day and age to get a TV signal in the bedroom? Apparently, yes. I have a big main external aerial on the front of the house and the coax from it runs down the front of the house and straight into the living room. There’s no junction box, no feed from the attic, just one wire to one room. The bedroom is in the back of the house and upstairs, basically as far away from the point where it comes in as possible. I’ve got the same problem with the wireless connection, the router is in the living room too and the signal barely makes it to the bedroom. Why do I mention wireless? Because if I had that I could at least access all of the media on my computers in the bedroom without wires running everywhere. Oh, and that’s supposing I have a wifi media player too, which I don’t have.
Or do I?
In a fit of boredom I started following links on Instructables.com, a site which makes me wish I had a massive, fully equipped workshop and a load of money. One of the guides in there was for softmodding a Wii, which I’d heard about doing before with a hack for the Zelda: Twilight Princess game, but never really bothered with. This was mostly because I didn’t want to brick my Wii, but also because I had no real reason to. However, over the last year or so I’ve only really turned my Wii on for one game (the very excellent Sin & Punishment: Successor to the Skies), so it’s just sitting there taking up room beneath the TV gathering dust.
After reading more about it I found there are a lot more elegant ways to do it nowadays, without the use of a modchip, and with brick-proof reliability afterward. Me being me and reading this was like a red rag to a bull, there was no way I could resist giving it a go. Armed with a blank SD card, a laptop and an excellent guide, I set about it.
I’m not going to lie and say this is a five minute, idiot proof piece of cake, because it isn’t. There are a few places where you could slip up, and more than once I found myself having to google specific things, but in the end the guide worked, and after an hour or so I had a fully modded Wii.
This newly opened Pandora’s Box has lots of possibilities, but the one which immediately grabbed my attention is WiiMC. The small app gives the Wii the ability to play just about any media, from any source. While the idea of filling a USB drive with stuff and playing that is a good one, I was taken by the idea of streaming it over the home network. After setting up the Samba share in WiiMC (much easier than it sounds) I tested it in situ, about eight inches from the router, and it worked perfectly. A Triumph!
Except, of course, for the rubbish wifi signal in the bedroom, where the Wii is now destined for. Oh no, not more ethernet!? There’s no way I’d be allowed to run ethernet all over the house. But I’ve got a PC in the room across the hallway from the bedroom with a PCI wifi card doing nothing, surely there’s some way of getting that to provide me with a wireless signal? Actually, yes there is! Most computers offer ad-hoc wireless networking but it’s very limited in what it offers and in terms of range. I discovered a gem of a program called connectify which proved to be the answer. Run this little beauty on a windows 7 machine and it acts almost like a bridge between networks, and acts as a wireless access point all in one. I gave it an SSID of my choosing, chose a password and chose to share the ethernet connection on it (that’s how it’s connected to my router), and sure enough it appeared straight away in my phone’s list of wireless networks! This means I can now move the wii and the spare TV into the bedroom and stream any media on my computer straight to it, along with any internet content too, like youtube or iplayer!
Of course it still doesn’t solve my problem of just getting an aerial signal in there, but that’s the next problem to solve. Hopefully the next time I update it’ll be to tell you how I did it.