With all the new gear that goes into your media unit or entertainment center, depending if it closes completely, you might want to add some cooling measures so that your gear doesn't overheat.
If you store your video game console, your home theater system, as well as a HTPC (home theater PC or equivalent Mac) in your entertainment center, you might be generating quite a bit of heat. The Xbox 360 is notorious for overheating. Heat isn't good for your gear. That means only one thing: you need to find a way to cool it down. The cheapest way that we've found to do so is to use discarded computer fans, which are quite easy to set up.
Computer fans work hard to cool down PCs and Macs. They are also quite compact, moderately noisy, and are easy to work with for this little project. You can find these pretty much anywhere. It's just a matter of finding a few that are still in working order. Once you've got those, and the basic wiring sorted out, all you have to do is mount them. Depending on how your entertainment center is made, you'll most probably have to either add a back panel or saw some holes into it. Once those are done, all that's left is mounting the fans. There are different ways of powering the fans. The easiest is to buy USB powered fans and plug them directly into the USB ports of the computer and the consoles. Otherwise, you'll just have to fiddle around with some wiring to power them from a power supply.
With a two-fan system, one pointing each way, you'll ensure that there is a constant flow of air over your precious electronics. It sure beats having them burn out or shut down from the scalding heat that's generated by them. Also,if you are using an entertainment center with glass shelves and that's open, you won't be needing any fans. The glass acts like a diffuser and seeps away the heat from the electronics. We've used one with an Xbox 360 and we've never had any issues with it.
[via Ikea Hacker, photos by Matt]