User Manual:Setting Up

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

Please note: Some things will be explained somewhat in-depth here, for the benefit of users who may not be as technically astute as others.

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

  • AC Power
  • Video Out
  • Audio Out
  • Video Source(s)
  • Networking

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

AC Power

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 MythBox needs to be running at all times, to be able to record scheduled programs at inconvenient hours, it's a very good idea 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.

At the very least, you should have your MythBox plugged into a good surge protector -- there's almost surely a nice sum of money tied up in your MythBox, and a good surge protector is cheap insurance.

Connecting your Display

There are four methods you can use to connect your MythBox to your display, whatever it may be (e.g. monitor, TV, etc):

Composite TV out

This provides an NTSC (or PAL) standard video output signal, which can be sent to a normal TV set using a normal RCA cable.

If your box has NTSC/PAL video out, you'll find an RCA video connector (usually 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.

VGA output

This can be sent either to a CRT monitor, an LCD or plasma flat-panel, or a projector. If you have a satisfactorily large 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 you are going to use VGA then you will use an HD-15 cable up to the VGA connector which you will find on the back panel.

Component Video

This will require a VGA to component adapter and a video card that supports component out. Component video offers the best quality for an analog signal.

DVI Digital Connection

For the the best quality, especially to modern digital displays such as big-screen LCD, plasma or micro projection solutions, this is the preferred option. Note that DVI has both digital and analog or combined versions on the same connector. The analog version is compatible with VGA (using an adapter). The digital section is compatible with the latest HDMI connector found on some Hi-Def displays.

Be aware that some of the latest digital displays have hardware content protection built in.

Audio Out

There are two options to connect the audio out from your MythBox to your amplifer, TV, or powered speakers.


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 making use of the surround sound decoder on your sound card. Typically this will be 5.1 or 7.1 channels of surround sound, the first number denoting the number of speakers/channels and ".1" denoting the subwoofer channel.


This is the best option if you are after absolute sound quality. This will be via a SPDIF optical or coaxial connector from your sound card direct to your home theartre surround sound amplifier or receiver. The decoding of the surround sound is done external to your MythBox.

Video Sources

RF Tuner

This is done via the threaded "F-connector" or coaxial 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. (Note: in Europe (and maybe other places), you may not have an "F-connector," and it may or may not be threaded.)

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

Other Capture Card Inputs

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 LaserDisc player (and alas, there aren't better ways to accomplish this), or a cable box 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 MythBox, then you might not ever connect to a network, though this is highly unlikely.

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 through a network, preferably using 100BaseT or Gigabit Ethernet.

In addition, extension modules like MythWeb, MythWeather, and MythBrowser require Internet access. (Actually, MythWeb doesn't need the Internet, just a network connection.)

The biggest reason you will connect to the network is because (most of the time) MythTV gets its program guide data over the Internet. Program guide data is the information in the program guide grids, that allows MythTV most of its' PVR functions, like scheduled recordings, etc.

If you are making your MythBox 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.


Most of the time, you'll network your MythBox via Ethernet. The standard jack/plug for this is known as RJ-45, and it looks slightly wider than a telephone jack. If you have broadband, you most likely use an Ethernet cable to connect to the Internet.


If you don't happen to have Ethernet strung around your house, you could use Wi-Fi, or 802.11b/g. 802.11b provides speeds up to 11 Mbits/s and 802.11g provides up to 54 Mbits/sec. 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/g 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!

If you're planning multiple frontend/backend boxes, you will probably find 802.11b far too slow for acceptable playback. Since 802.11g provides much faster speeds, it should work for this purpose much better.

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