Posted by: dogbix | 27 October 2009

a bit more motherboard

As a quick follow-up to the post yesterday I’ve been looking into possible mini-itx motherboards that include the nvidia ION chipset and a full PCI slot (needed for the tuner). I’ve been emailing the guys at Mini-ITX.com who are extremely knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to all things mini-itx. They have some very nice Zotac motherboards (of which they produced a great review) with the chipset but none of them have a PCI slot. It seems the POV (Point-of-View) motherboard is the best choice at the moment.

I went looking for some more reviews of the ION chipset on the mini-itx form factor and  found another comprehensive review and the video playback capabilities of this chipset, this review and the mini-itx.com review make it seem the obvious choice for any compact low-power HTPC system.

I think I’m almost ready to order my parts,  I’ll post a full list when I do.

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Posted by: dogbix | 26 October 2009

More planning … “run VT”

The next important part I believe is the ‘Video Card’, or more importantly a video card that works well with video playback and linux. It also needs to somehow to display on a TV screen, my old current setup had a EPIA M10000 motherboard from VIA which had an S-Video out connection which made it easy to connect to the TV.

What I am looking at now is a video card that supports VDPAU which looks like a very promising technology to aid with playback of various formats of video on linux. There is also more information on VDPAU and MythTV on the MythTV wiki. On this page at the bottom there are some interesting user testing which include motherboards with the NVidia ION chipset which includes this VDPAU. This would make it much easier to build a PVR if the video was integrated on the motherboard, this motherboard would also need at least one PCI slot for the tuner card. This lead me to looking at this ‘Point of View’ motherboard which includes the chipset and a PCI slot and is in the compact mini-itx form factor.

The only problem I now have is that my TV is quite old (crt!) and as such does not have HDMI or DVI connections. This could possibly be an excuse to finally buy a new telly.

Posted by: dogbix | 23 October 2009

MythTV 2 : The rebuild

My current MythTV setup is receiving an analog signal from my cable TV provider, Ziggo. We have digital TV coming down the same cable but my existing MythTV system is not setup to receive this and the way we watch digital TV is with the usual small set-top box with the provided card inserted in the front. So what I want to achieve is to build a new system that will be able to play and record digital TV. This system will need to take the security card which is normally in the set-top box so it can decode the digital channels. There are the a couple of pieces of hardware to start planning with:

The CI card module connects to the tuner card with the card reader plugging into the CI module. The tuner card will obviously require a PCI slot and the CI module needs a PCI slot but purely as a place holder, there are no ‘connectors’ on the card.

From what I hear this should all work and other people have used similar setups.

Posted by: dogbix | 21 October 2009

Let’s start again

As you might notice I didn’t really follow up with the whole blogging thing my first couple of posts about building of a MythTV server. Well the MythTV box has been running fine now for a couple of years but now it’s finally died (random reboots, probably something on the motherboard) so I plan to start again with building a new PVR system.  I’ll try and make the posts a bit shorter in the hope that I will keep up to date.

Posted by: dogbix | 22 January 2007

Installing MythTV on Debian Etch part 2

After installing the basic hardware support on the bare Debian system I used this page from the MythTV wiki as a guide to installing the rest of the software necessary. I decided to use the MythTV packages rather compile my own. This guide is rather brief but it gets the MySQL installed and main MythTV packages from the excellant debian-multimedia.org repository of Christian Marillat. A key package that you need but isn’t mentioned is the xmltv packages, just use apt-get to install, this include a bunch of perl scripts for grabbing TV channel information from various web sites.

Another site I used for checking details and general information is the wilson-stowe.com site which has a real wealth of info about MythTV and also setting up capture cards.

Once you finally get MythTV up and running here is a handy link to keyboard controls for watching TV.

Posted by: dogbix | 23 November 2006

Windows and it’s drive letters

I’ve had the same problem twice recently with the one Windows XP system that we have at home. It’s the main family system and has most things attached to it, like printer with memory card slots, USB external DVD writer and other USB devices. It also has one network drive as the letter M: and recently I’ve had the problem where I plugged in a new external USB hard drive and Windows went ‘ping’ but I couldn’t see the new device. Tried it under Ubuntu on the same system and it was fine. Rebooted to Windows and I finally noticed that it was getting the drive letter M: , the same as my network drive ! It seems the USB hot plugging ignores network drive letters. It is described in this Microsoft knowledge base article .

I ended up changing the USB HD to a high letter as I didn’t really want to change the network drive as some things are mapped to it. Then I had the same problem about a week later when I plugged in my daughters new Ipod nano, I had forgot all about this drive letter thing and iTunes kept saying that the Ipod needed to be system restored. I had never used iTunes or an Ipod before and assumed this was standard with a new Ipod. So after restoring the Ipod several times I got a bit fed up and dug a little deeper and found that, yes, it had been mapped to the same drive letter as the network drive again and iTunes was getting confused. It is described here on the Apple site.

Posted by: dogbix | 20 November 2006

Installing Debian Etch for MythTV part 1

As usual when I install a Debian system to act as a server (or at least not a workstation) I chose not to install any additional packages after the setup had completed.

I knew I needed to add external drivers for the PVR-350 card which are the ivtv drivers and this would be the messy part. Luckly I can across this howto on the ivtv wiki which describes how to add them using module assistant under Debian. All I can say is that this is marvelous I didn’t need to do anything extra after that for the modules to load sucessfully. Module assistant takes a lot of the pain out of adding external modules to a Debian system which I wanted to keep as close to the standard install as possible. In the end I used the module assistant for the kernel module for LIRC aswell, I just downloaded the source and put it in my /usr/src/linux directory and module assistant installed it for me. Superb!

I’ll try and post some more details on the actual MythTV install next time.

Posted by: dogbix | 14 November 2006

The beginning

This being my first blog post I thought I’d start with some good news. After about 6 months delay I finally got my MythTV system up and running. I had bought the system sometime ago from ebay uk and it was described as fully working as usual. The specs of the system were:

  • Epia M10000 motherboard
  • 40GB harddrive
  • Hoojum Case
  • Hauppauge PVR-350 (bought later)

I spent a long time initially trying to get the sound working of the onboard sound device and eventually gave up so the box sat in the corner gathering dust. Then for somehow quite recently I discovered (can’t remember how that revelation occured) that a jumper was missing from the motherboard which meant that it was expecting to send the standard sound output to an external socket in the case somewhere. I assume that the person who sold me the board had some external sound thing going on and didn’t replace the jumper when he removed it.

After getting the sound working and finishing up my OU courses and exams I set to work getting the MythTV setup finished. I decided to go with Debian Etch as the base and will detail some of the finer details in my next post.

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