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mitchd123
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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 1:47 pm    Post subject: mini-howto: A small and quiet Mythtv in several rooms Reply with quote

If you're looking for an inexpensive mythtv system that is cheap, quiet, upgradeable, and can be viewed in several rooms, with a generic remote, read on. I read many post looking for a way to either build the box small enough, or sound proof the solutions, etc. There's nothing more annoying than listening to hum of a power supply when your trying to watch a movie. My fix was to "centralize" my datacenter, and locate the computer else where and only bring the video and remote into each room. This works great for me and provides a solution which is totally silent. I was able to use inexpensive components to keep the cost of the computer down, use standard remotes and watch is in different rooms depending on where I am.

Disadvantage: DVD is not in the local room, but most folks already have a DVD near the TV. The hidden advantage is your DVD's will not get lost if you have kids by keeping the computer out of the living room, kitchen, etc.

Here's a high level overview
- Use any generic computer, in my case an AMD 2600
- Install mythtv 1.19 and set it up to use a serial remote. (even though I have a Haupenpauge PVR-150 with remote)

Here's the option needed in your make.conf file LIRC_OPTS="--with-driver=serial"

Here's my USE statement, but your's will vary. USE="3dnow 3dnowext aac acpi apache2 alsa avi bash-completion cdr cdparanoia cpudetection cups divx4linux dts dv dvb dvd dvdr dvdread encode fftw firefox ftp gif gnome gphoto2 ieee1394 imagemagick ieee1394 imlib jpeg kdeenablefinal kdexdeltas -lcd lirc mmx mmxext mp3 mysql mpeg mjpeg mythtv -msn nvidia nocardbus -pcmcia -pda pdflib perl libpng ppds real qt quicktime samba sharedmem -smartcard spell sse ssl threads tiff tightvnc transcode truetype v4l2 vcd usb win32codecs wmf wxwindows xinerama X xine xv xvid zlib x86"

Surround Sound: If SS is desired, consider a Linux supported card which has a built in Dolby Digital Decoder. In my case I'm using a ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe board with built in Soundstorm/Dolby. I don't use Surround, but you might.

Once you have mythtv up and running on you local monitor setup the Composite output of your card. Check it on a TV. Nvidia cards are recommended, I'm using an inexpensive FX5200 with TV-out. In my case I had a S-video output which I converted to composite using this adapter: http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/item/AD-152/search/AUDIO_VIDEO_ADPTR,_S-VIDEO_PLUG_-_RCA_JACK_.html cost USD 2.25

Here's part of my xorg.conf file:
Section "Device"
Identifier "Card0"
Driver "nvidia"
VendorName "nVidia Corporation"
BoardName "NV34 [GeForce FX 5200]"
BusID "PCI:3:0:0"
#Option "NoLogo"
Option "CursorShadow" "on"
Option "TwinView"
Option "TwinViewOrientation" "Clone"
Option "SecondMonitorHorizSync" "30-50"
Option "SecondMonitorVertRefresh" "60"
Option "MetaModes" "1024x768,640x480; 640x640,640x640"
Option "TVStandard" "NTSC-M"
Option "TVOutFormat" "SVIDEO" #COMPOSITE" # or "SVIDEO"
# Option "TVOverScan" "0.6"
Option "ConnectedMonitor" "CRT, TV"
EndSection

Note the sync rates on the TV:

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "tv"
HorizSync 30-50
VertRefresh 60
EndSection

Another option you want to add to prevent your TV from going black during power saving mode is: (monitor section)
Option "DPMS" "false"

Once everything is working locally with your mouse, get LIRC working. I quickly gave up on the remote setup that came with my PVR-150 card. It was VERY unreliable. While the PVR remote would work fine for a few hours, the next morning it would not.

My remote solution is the use of LIRC with universal remotes. I am no electronics genius but I was able wire up this solution with an IR receiver. Basic soldering is required on a couple of components. If you've never soldered, try it, this is an easy project.

Here are some useful links:
http://www.lirc.org/
http://gentoo-wiki.com/HOWTO_Setup_LIRC_for_MythTV#Testing_the_remote
http://wilsonet.com/mythtv/remotes.php#prog
http://www.linuxtv.org/vdrwiki/index.php/LIRC#Cable_length
http://www.linuxnetmag.com/en/issue6/m6lirc1.html

The real secret to this solution is by using serial, the cable spec allows the computer to be located in a different room than the computer. The serial spec is around 75 feet, but your mileage will vary. (mine is about 125 feet) This allows you to bring the remote receiver into the room with the TV.
Here's the IR device I used to build upon. $2.00 http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/item/IR-13/280/MYSTERY_INFRARED_DEVICE_.html Check out the customer comments for wiring tips on that page. This unit plugs into a 6 pin (not 4 or 8) telephone type jack like an RJ-12
I used the phone jack itself to attach the electronic components. The only component that I did not mount in the phone jack is the diode which solders very nicely in the serial connection. The diode prevents anything bad from coming down the wire to hurt your computer, so it's good in the connector. The phone jack was then mounted on a little project box. In the project box, i connected the wires coming from the other rooms. eg: red to red, blue to blue, serial connections, etc. Here's a picture of of the phone style jack mounted on the project box. This MUST be a six pin connector, most standard phones are only 4. Going into the jack , I have wires from 3 rooms coming into it.
http://img338.imageshack.us/img338/5881/mythtv0027mg.jpg

I used a shielded 10 conductor shielded cable to run to each room. (must use shielded cable) The 10 conductors can be used for the serial, audio, video, and a few extras. If you're going for really long runs, consider also running an Ethernet cable or two next to it. You can use the Ethernet cable with a Baluns to improve video quality over distance. Google “baluns and composite” for more info.
Sample wiring scheme:
0) Ground/Drain/Shield
1)Ground
2)Transmitter
3)Receive
4)Video +
5)Front Left
6)Front Right
7)Center
8)Back Left
9)Back Right
10)Back Left
The cable was purchased here: http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/item/10CS22/825/10-COND._22GA_SHLD_CABLE_W_DRAIN_.html at USD .48 / foot (I did receive one bad length of wire, check both ends to make sure you have 10 wires at each end BEFORE you put it in the wall)
Here are other components I ordered from All Electronics: (these can be ordered at any electronics store, but here are the ordering numbers and quantities I recommend. I've put in some extra on the stuff that's hard to work with.
1 DB-9H hood (serial connector housing)
2 DB-9S Serial connectors (1 extra)
4 78L05 Voltage Regulator (3 extra, very fragile)
3 4.7/50VR Radial capacitor (2 extra)
10 4.7K-1/8 resistor (min quantity 10, 1 needed)
15 1N4148 switching diode (min quantity 15, 1 needed)
1 POF-SW Push on F-59 connector for the back of my PVR-150 (optional)
1 AD-151 S-video to Composite adapter for the back of my video card (required for my card)
3 IR-13 Infrared device (one for each TV)
1 Audio / Video Distribution Amplifier with RCA/Composite connectors and NOT RG-59 type connectors. (optional/recommended)
1 small alluminium project box.
several chassis mount RCA connectors. http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/item/RCMJ/190/RCA_JACK,_CHASSIS_MOUNT_.html

So from a high level the serial, video and audio signals come out of the computer in to the project box where they areand then are split and sent to the desired number of rooms. In my case I used a S-Video to Composite adapter on my video card. For audio I used a 1/8 stereo plug to RCA/composite jacks. On the project case I put chassis mount RCA/Composite connectors. Inside the metal project box I did all my cabling.

For a nice clean finish, in the TV viewing room, you can attach an RJ-11/12 6 wire wall plate(not jack) in a standard electrical remodeling box for the serial/IR Remote connection. On this wall plate you can also cut a hole and mount a 5-DIN connector. http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/item/DIN-5C/search/5_PIN_DIN_JACK,_CHASSIS_MOUNT,_180_DEG._.html Then you can order a DIN to RCA patch cable kit. The 5-pin DIN will give you 4 RCA connections. One for video, left audio, right audio, and an extra. If you want to attempt surround sound, you'll need to add a second DIN.

For a remote I am using a standard VCR code 0250 in my One for All universal remote to control Mythtv. This allows me to program my TV codes in with volume punch through, and still have full control of myth using standard universal remotes. I forget what make/model it is specifically, but using a VCR instead of a PVR on my remotes worked out well. It allows me to use the cheap remotes everywhere. You can customize the buttons with LIRC

Performance, your mileage will vary. Cleary I stretched the composite video signal much farther than it's designed to go, and the is distortion at 125 ft is not optimal. (update) I was getting some "ghosting" of the video image on the 125 foot run. I found a great solution. I purchased a pair of video Balun. There are many different types, but I used a passive one which I found on ebay. New I purchased a pair for 14 dollars with shipping. They have screw connections on one end and BNC on the other. I had some BNC to RCA/Composite connectors hanging around the house. This worked very well for the video signal and the 7 dollars each didn't break the bank.

One other hint worth mentioning is "nuvexport". This is a program you can use with mythtv to output files which can then be burnt to DVD. Check out mythtv cutlists and nuvexport if you are interested in changing the formats of your programs. For example my kids like the Blues Brothers movie. I recorded this from live TV because they cut all the swears out. I then use mythtv's built in editor to setup a cut list where I trim the commercials out, and trim the beginning and end. Then I use nuvexport to trancode that movie to a format which I can burn on DVD. Now if we go on a road trip to Chicago I can play the DVD in the van on the way. I find the --transcode option provides the best overall quality, even though it's slow.

Good luck on your Mythtv. It takes hours to setup and tweak, but they say, no pain, no gain. :-) Overall it has brought me hours and hours of enjoyment. Good bye to watching garbage on television. I record and watch the programs that my family and I enjoy watching. Whether it's old episoded of the Twilight Zone, which play at 6am in the morning, or movies which are on while you're at work, mythtv and timeshifting can really improve the quality of your viewing. Mythtv is a spam filter your your television.

God bless !


Last edited by mitchd123 on Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:30 pm; edited 1 time in total
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tomk
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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moved from Multimedia to Documentation, Tips & Tricks.
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Khan
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:02 pm    Post subject: Excellent HOW-TO! Reply with quote

mitchd123,
Thank you for posting this. I now have a new mission: Transforming my current MythTV box into a multi-frontend monster with only 1 PC! :D

Question: What size televisions do you have this running on? I'm curious how the fonts scale out. Thanks.
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mitchd123
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My video output is set to 1024x786 on my monitor and 640x480 on composite/svideo. Myth has many different themes, I use "blue". My largest TV is 32 inches in my bedroom, 21 inches in my kitchen, and I used a 10 inch to test it. 21 and 32 are fine, 10 is hard to see letters. You can switch fonts and sizes though if you care to.

Let me further describe how I have this setup. I took my existing TV's which are already wired for cable, and added a video composite in for myth. So I press the TV/Video button on the remote to switch between TV (coax), Mythtv (video1) and DVD (video2). I only watch TV in one room at a time, and the family isn't hooked on Mythtv, so I pipe the same signal to all rooms for myth.

For different simultaneous signals in muliple rooms, probably the cheapest/easiest option is to setup a diskless front end system booted to knoppixmyth, with a large capable backend system with at least two tuners. The front end would require some boot device, perhaps PXE, a sound card, serial port, and a composite output. Which has me wondering how long it will be until someone puts an ethernet port on a TV. The front ends could also be back in your "datacenter" to keep the solution quiet. This would offer the lowest cost, most features, and capability, rather than doing a stand alone multimedia machine in each room. With Linux however many things are possible, so with multiple video cards I'm sure someone could figure how to run simultaneous streams off a single machine with several outputs. Mythtv is capable of running multiple front ends, and Linux can support multihead monitors and mutiple sound cards. You'd also need to see if LIRC supports multiple serial ports simultaneously. Who knows, maybe even Xen for virtualization of the front ends. I'm sure some Linux super villan could figure it out.
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mitchd123
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haven't tried it but for a low cost front end:

http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/products/data_mediamvp.html

running this software http://sourceforge.net/projects/mvpmc/

image of device: http://www.hauppauge.com/images/mvp_board-b.jpg

screenshots: http://mvpmc.sourceforge.net/idx.php?pg=screenshots
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Khan
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mitchd123 wrote:
Haven't tried it but for a low cost front end:

http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/products/data_mediamvp.html

running this software http://sourceforge.net/projects/mvpmc/


Very interesting. I may have to check this out just for the "geek factor" value alone :twisted: Thanks for the update.
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KaZeR
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just my two cents : V1 xbox make very good frontend with the combo XBMC + XBMC Mythtv.
I bought my 2nd xbox for 50€ (around 60$ i believe) and the remote cost around 30$.

It boots in less than 20s, works really nice, and can read almost every media files.
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