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Bill currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. He used to live in Melbourne Australia where MythTV was so much simpler to set up due to the awesome DVB digital TV used in Australia.

MythTV at Raleigh

My home system is currently an Intel Quad Core home built PC with Intel Graphics, which handles HD TV quite nicely. This runs Ubuntu 10.04 and doubles as a desktop when needed.

MythTV for my brother (Australia)

I was not happy with the noise from the original system and so I bid on a couple of ex-Commonwealth Games Dell machines, with warrentee, and at a reasonable price. They are BTX form factor and the BIOS does a great job at controlling the Fan speed to keep the box quiet. Having two of them means that I can support my brothers STB and push any tweaks or fixes back remotely.


  • Dell Optiplex GX280
  • 2x Twinhan MiniTer DVT PCI DVB Card
  • Sony DWG-120A10 DVD-RW
  • Seagate HDD 16M SATA 320GB
  • Microsoft MCE Remote Control
  • Extra Fan to cool PCI cards

The Dell has a built in graphics adapter, but came with an ATI Radeon with svideo TV Out as well.

(--) Chipset ATI Radeon X300 (RV370) 5B60 (PCIE) found


  • Ubuntu Dapper Server
  • Ratpoison Window Manager
  • MythTV SVN

Specific Details from /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Section "Device"
       Identifier      "ATI Technologies, Inc. RV370 5B60 [Radeon X300 (PCIE)]"
       Driver          "ati"
       BusID           "PCI:1:0:0"
       Option          "UseFBDev"              "true"
Section "Monitor"
       Identifier      "Samsung LCD"
       Option          "DPMS"
       HorizSync       30-61
       VertRefresh     60-75
       # Samsung LCD TV LA32R51B  1360x768  Hsync=47.712kHz Vsync=60.015Hz Pixel_Clock=85.800MHz
       Modeline        "1360x768" 85.500 1360 1424 1536 1792 768 771 777 795 +Hsync +Vsync
Section "Screen"
       Identifier      "Default Screen"
       Device          "ATI Technologies, Inc. RV370 5B60 [Radeon X300 (PCIE)]"
       Monitor         "Samsung LCD"
       DefaultDepth    24
       SubSection "Display"
               Depth           24
               Modes           "1360x768"

Samsung LCD TV LA32R51B

Manufacturer: SAM  Model: 180  Serial#: 0
Year: 2005  Week: 40
Sync:  Separate
Max H-Image Size [cm]: horiz.: 89  vert.: 50

Supported additional Video Mode:
clock: 85.5 MHz   Image Size:  885 x 498 mm
h_active: 1360  h_sync: 1424  h_sync_end 1536 h_blank_end 1792 h_border: 0
v_active: 768  v_sync: 771  v_sync_end 777 v_blanking: 795 v_border: 0
Supported additional Video Mode:
clock: 65.0 MHz   Image Size:  885 x 498 mm
h_active: 1024  h_sync: 1048  h_sync_end 1184 h_blank_end 1344 h_border: 0
v_active: 768  v_sync: 771  v_sync_end 777 v_blanking: 806 v_border: 0
Ranges: V min: 60  V max: 75 Hz, H min: 30  H max: 61 kHz, PixClock max 90 MHz
Monitor name: SAMSUNG
PLL parameters: rf=2700 rd=12 min=20000 max=40000; xclk=19600
Samsung LCD: Using hsync range of 30.00-61.00 kHz
Samsung LCD: Using vrefresh range of 60.00-75.00 Hz
Clock range:  20.00 to 400.00 MHz

Need to look at ModeLinesHowTo to create a new Modeline for 50Hz.

Extra Cooling Fan

The Dell Optiplex had an airflow problem with the two Twinhan cards taking up the PCI slots. I have added a fan inside the case that blows air through and over the PCI cards. Using some temperature probes from work I measured the ambient case temperature at the middle of the case, and the temperature between the Twinhan PCI cards, after 1 hour of operation.

Ambient Temp PCI Card Temp
Without Fan 35 58
With extra internal Fan 32 43

Old MythTV system

MythTV Setup with LCD TV


    • Twinhan MiniTer DVT PCI DVB Card
    • Twinhan MiniTer DVT PCI DVB Card
    • ASUS K8V-X Motherboard (Cool'n Quiet does not work, can't control CPU Fan speed)
    • AMD 754 Sempron 3000+ CPU
    • ASUS 5200 AGP Graphics with TV-out
    • Seagate HDD 8M IDE 250GB
    • Antec Overture II Case (Too large, ventilation issues)
    • RAM 512GB Generic
    • Pioneer 109 Black DVD-WR x16 (Very noisy, can't make it run at a slower speed)
    • Microsoft MCE Remote Control
    • MSI Wireless54G PCI Card
  • Total Cost is around AU$1000
  • Partitioned with LVM so that extra disks are easy to add
  • Running Debian Sarge (would use Ubuntu next time)

Specific Details from /etc/X11/XF86Config-4

  • Using the binary driver from NVIDIA in an attempt to utilise XvMC acceleration
Section "Device"
       Identifier      "NVIDIA Corporation NV34 [GeForce FX 5200]"
       Driver          "nvidia"
       Option          "NoLogo" "True"
       Option          "RenderAccel" "True"
       Option          "XvmcUsesTextures" "false"
  • Use the Monitor refresh rates as specified in the Samsung LCD TV User Manual
Section "Monitor"
       Identifier      "Generic Monitor"
       HorizSync       31-60
       VertRefresh     50-75
  • The Samsung LCD TV User Manual specifies the VGA resolution as 1280x?? so we use a customised Modes line.
Section "Screen"
       Identifier      "Default Screen"
       Device          "NVIDIA Corporation NV34 [GeForce FX 5200]"
       Monitor         "Generic Monitor"
       DefaultDepth    24
      SubSection "Display"
               Depth           24
               Modes           "1280" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
  • This section makes sure that XWindows can start up even if there is no mouse or keyboard connected, which is really important for a true Set Top Box.
Section "ServerFlags"
       Option "AllowKeyboardOpenFail" "true"
       Option "AllowMouseOpenFail" "true"

XWindows startup script for Frontend from /home/mythtv/.xinitrc file

  • Fix the Blue Line that is shown on the screen using xvattr command
  • Turn off the auto screen blanking using xset
  • Start the FVWM window manager, myth transcode daemon, and the frontend
xvattr -a XV_COLORKEY -v 66048
/usr/bin/X11/xset s noblank
/usr/bin/X11/xset s off
/usr/bin/X11/xset dpms off
/usr/bin/mtd -d &
/usr/bin/mythfrontend --logfile /var/log/mythtv/mythfrontend.log

MythTV for myself

  • Hardware
    • Twinhan MiniTer DVT PCI DVB Card (x2)
    • Excel Bttv TV Capture Card (Generic Analog)
    • Homebuilt Intel Desktop PC
  • Running Debian Sid as main desktop computer

Specific Configuration Required

  • The Bttv module configuration had to be specified because of the stupid Generic Analog capture card doesn't have a PCI EEPROM which means it can't be auto recognised and configured. Luckily you can specify multiple [Bttv]] card types as module options, like so:


 options bttv radio=0,0,1 pll=0,0,1 card=113,113,0x25 tuner=4,4,5

The order of the card paramters is probably the PCI device order, and I have 2 TwinHan cards (Card ID 113 or 0x71) followed by the Generic card (Card ID 37 or 0x25), hense the comma seperated list of card parameters. I discovered the required order by inspecting dmesg with all the cards in the system.

Australian TV Guide

There is a list of Australian EPG TV Guides XMLTV#Australia and I think the [] source.

 sudo -i
 chmod +x tv_grab_au_reg
 mv tv_grab_au_reg /usr/bin/.
 mv /usr/bin/tv_grab_au /usr/bin/tv_grab_au.orig
 ln -s /usr/bin/tv_grab_au_reg /usr/bin/tv_grab_au

Running mythtv-setup and selecting the Australian source. This will run the grabber in configuration mode which creates a config file in /home/mythtv/.mythtv/

MythTV XBox Frontend