[mythtv-users] Building A MythTV Box
galen at myhome.net
Mon Apr 11 04:42:29 UTC 2005
Well, let me first state that I am an extremely curious person, but a
complete newbie when it comes to MythTV. I'm looking to build myself a
MythTV box, and I'm hoping to gather input and assistance from this
list. In particular, I want to hop in before July 2005 and the dreaded
U.S. broadcast flag! Please feel free to respond to just portions of
this email, as I know various people have different areas of expertise
and limited amounts of time.
I have been most heavily involved in Mac OS X, PHP, MySQL, Apache, etc
professional over the past few years, and I'm not afraid of compiling
software myself. But I don't derive any particular pleasure from it,
either! I have had a growing interest in HDTV, and have recompiled VLC
to allow me to view raw MPEG2 transport stream via OpenGL acceleration
on my 1.33 GHz OS X PowerBook G4. (OS X's built-in YUV->RBG performance
SUCKS!!!) I have a good understanding of *nix basics - permissions,
compiling, file systems, etc. I'm not stupid in this department by any
means and I'm extremely willing to learn what is needed. But, I have
not been administrating or setting up Linux systems anytime recently,
so much of the very specific hardware/driver stuff is foreign.
Over the past several months, I've taken a nearly complete break from
television. It has given me time to think about it. I'm getting ready
to bring it back, but on my terms. That means HDTV and PVR. I've been
toying with HDTV enough to understand the format and qualities,
including working with a number of raw transport streams on my OS X
PowerBook. I've toyed with transcoding it, and I'm quite familar with
video codecs and playback software.
I'm basically wanting to build myself a single, self-contained
Linux-based HDTV PVR box at the moment, without spending too
excessively much. The sole purpose will be HDTV PVR functions, and I am
planning to at least start with only one tuner card. (Hence I can only
record or view one channel at a time). I'm going to discuss what I am
understanding and my plans, so please correct me if I'm wrong about
anything or you feel you can provide additional comments.
For the basic equipment, I need a basic but solid PC. I do not have one
that will suffice, nor do I have much equipment that would be used
within one, so I will be purchasing nearly everything. For HDTV, I
think we're talking about a 3 GHz P4 processor. What AMD processor
would be equivalent? What would be the advantages/disadvantages to more
or less CPU? Are there specific motherboard options highly recommended?
How much RAM is suitable/optimal - 256 MB? 512 MB? Cost is very
important to me, but not the only factor.
I'm not a noise-nazi, but keeping this system reasonably quiet and on
the more compact end of things would be preferable, if there are any
reasonable yet inexpensive choices I can make in selecting the
equipment, practical advice would be welcome.
I obviously also need an HDTV tuner card. It appears my options are the
pcHDTV 3000 and the Air2PC-ATSC-PCI. The prices and features appear to
be quite similar. Can anybody describe any differences between the two?
Any significant difference in RF performance? Compatibility? MythTV
Regarding storage devices, it seems any modern hard drive should be
able to handle HDTV raw streams (20 Mb/s) without too much trouble, and
I will only have one tuner. Even my little 2.5" 60 GB 4200 RM laptop
hard drive can handle it. Clearly, the limiting factor will be
capacity, not performance, it seems. I have been pondering producing a
RAID (probably software-based, RAID5 if possible) on here and perhaps
using this machine for some light home file server functions. Anybody
have experience with RAIDs and MythTV?
Once the content is tuned in and everything, I need to output it. For
the video card, my understanding is that NVidia may be preferable
because of better hardware acceleration under Linux. I am looking to
run HDTV, and that is all, so other performance is unimportant. I need
good analog out (s-video), and of course VGA. If possible DVI would be
preferable if not too costly, so I could run pure digital to
DVI-equipped projectors, displays, and HDTVs. (At HDTV resolutions, VGA
has noticeable blurring) Can anybody suggest some cards that would
offer solid performance and value? What would be my best options for
sound output? I do not currently need more than simple stereo RCA-style
output, but if multiple channel support can be incorporated into the
system for not too much more, I would love to include it. What sound
cards would be best for Linux compatibility, good value, and reasonable
quality? Should I even think about using built-in (motherboard) audio
So once I get all this stuff hooked up physically, it's time for
software. First and obviously, I'm talking about using MythTV. I am
guessing that running MythTV on top of a Linux distro would be
preferable, as I will probably want to tweak lots of little things over
time and perhaps do tiny other tasks with the machine. Without starting
a holy war, what distro would be the simplest to setup and use with
MythTV? (Yes, I know I will probably get multiple and conflicting
opinions here!) I am aware of KnoppMyth, but I think I would rather
have a little more control over the system than that, and I think I can
manage to setup MythTV manually.
I also will need some sort of remote control apparatus. I need to
further research this topic, but I would find it particularly
interesting if I could use my Treo 650 (bluetooth and IR equipped) to
control my system. I mean, if I already have the device, why not use it
as a remote? This is really a secondary topic, but I know it's
possible, so I'll get there.
Looking forward to a few thoughts from people.... and thank you in
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