User Manual:Setting Up

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Setting Up MythTV

In this context, by 'setting up' we mean "here's this box on the counter; how do I connect it to the outside world?"

Since our target audience is non-technical, we'll assume here that we need to explain things which more technically astute readers may already know; please be patient if this happens to you; 'k?  :-)

Any given MythTV box will likely have these connections to the outside world:

  • AC Power In
  • Video Out to TV (and/or)
  • VGA Out to monitor
  • Audio Out
  • Tuner RF in
  • (optional) Video or S-Video and Audio in L & R
  • Ethernet

Let's talk about each of these connections and what you do with it.

AC Power In

Prosaic, I know, but these things tend not to work well without electricity. Exactly what this will want depends (as will so many other things we'll talk about when we get to them) on the choices made by whomever built your Box, but it will commonly be "that computer power cord".

That connector is called a 'IEC connector', and it's usable at all voltages, with the appropriate power supply; it's likely (though not certain) that whomever built your box set it to 120 or 240 VAC already, but it never hurts to check -- some power supplies don't have a switch; they're good all the way from 100 to 250 volts automatically.

Since your Myth Box needs to be running at all times, to be able to record scheduled programs at inconvenient hours, it's almost mandatory to plug the power cord into a UPS -- an Uninterruptible Power Supply, or 'battery backup'. It's likely this should be one with surge suppression, just because that's a good idea, and probably one with surge suppression not only for the power, but for the TV cable, too, if you're using cable TV to feed your box.

Video Out

There are two approaches you can take to this (or that your box can, more accurately): you can either use a VGA card that supports TV out, and provides an NTSC (or PAL) standard video output signal, which can be set to a normal TV set, or you can use the VGA output instead, which can be sent either to a CRT monitor, an LCD or plasma flat-panel, or a projector. If you have a satisfactorily large such monitor, you might find this a better solution; most such monitors and projectors will accept the higher scan-rate signal that a VGA output provides.

If your box has NTSC/PAL video out, you'll find an RCA/phono connector (probably yellow), or a 4-pin mini-din S-Video connector on the back somewhere, which you can connect your monitor to, with the appropriate cable.


If it doesn't, or if you're not going to use it, you'll hook an HD-15 cable up to the VGA connector which you will find on the back panel.

Audio Out

This is almost always the standard 3.5mm stereo audio jack that most sound cards have, and indeed, the sound card (or onboard audio) of your box is where the audio comes out.

Advanced configurations may support multi-channel (surround) sound with the proper hardware; we'll fill in the details here later.

Tuner RF In

This is the threaded "F-connector" on your tuner card(s), into which you connect the cable from your cable TV feed or outside antenna. If you have more than one tuner card, you'll need a splitter and some jumpers to hook everything up.

If you're recording HDTV or satellite TV signals, there may be special considerations about cabling and tuner cards.

Video or S-Video and Audio in L & R

Some (most?) tuner/capture cards will allow you to capture not only RF signals from your antenna or cable TV provider, but also locally generated video signals, be they from a VCR, a DVD player (though there are better ways to accomplish this) a Laser Disc player (and alas, there are *not* better ways to accomplish this), or a cable converter or satellite receiver, for channels you can't get a tuner card to tune directly. More later on this, too.

The input jacks for this, both video and audio, will usually (always?) be on the tuner card itself, in the card cage, as opposed to the video, vga, and audio-out connectors, which are usually on the motherboard these days (in a section called the 'ATX backplane').


If you have a standalone Myth Box, then you might not ever connect your Ethernet jack. Oh, you silly, silly person, you.  :-)

Myth supports multiple front-end machines (for driving TV's in different rooms) and multiple back-end machines (for splitting up storage, transcode/commercial marking and tuner support), and you connect all of these via Ethernet (preferably 100BaseT or gigabit).

In addition, extension modules like Myth Web, Myth Weather, and Myth Browser require Internet access. Or, maybe, you'd just like your schedule grid to actually *list some programs* ;-) (they do come in out of the ether, but only if you use the ethernet..) If you are making your Myth Box accessible from the outside world, you should almost certainly put it behind a router, and possibly investigate the firewall features of your Linux operating system.

If that's too complicated for you to understand at the moment, then ask a geek for help, or don't open outside-world connections to your box yet.

Wi Fi

If you don't happen to have Ethernet strung around your house, you could use Wi Fi, or 802.11b/g. Mostly 802.11b, as device driver support for 802.11g is not to great for Linux at the time of writing (2/25/05). Wi Fi is slightly more difficult to setup than regular Ethernet, just because usually Linux drivers are less mature, so you must check and ensure that the 802.11b card that you buy supports Linux before buying it. Oh, and you'll need a wireless router too. Those are cheap these days. Once you have that up, you don't need Ethernet access anymore, which is great!