Posted by me on Tuesday, the 28th day of March, anno domini 2006 at 12:55 AM, local time.

Ha! Now that no one reads this thing anymore, I shall post some more things to it, just to confuse you all.

So, anyway, as I’m sure many people are aware, I have long been planning to build a MythTV box so that I too can join the DVR revolution. The VCR has its limitations. Also, I have been lazily not updating this blog very often. So, I thought I would use this place as a kind of heres-how-I-did-it type blog for my mythTv box. From time to time. Feel to free to mock my problems as they come up and belittle my plans for my new computer as you will.

Since I havn’t actually purchased any of the hardware for this new thing yet, I can’t really describe how I’ve got it set up just yet… For now, I will describe what will be in the thing, and then as I get the pieces, I will try to remember to write about any issues that crop up and resolutions to the problems.

So, here goes. First, I will likely be getting almost everything from NewEgg. They might not have the absolute best prices but they are certainly reasonable, and have a great selection and great return policies.

The order in which I present these things might be a little odd, but it really just harkens back to route I took to decide what to get. Sadly enough, it all started with the case. I blame Adam. The whole damn thing is his fault.

The Case
Thats right, its the Silverstone Lascala SST-LC11S-M. A great case, that really was made with only one thought in mind: Jon will love this. I mean, seriously, its MicroATX, comes with a remote control and IR module, and a front panel display (both with linux drivers direct from Silverstone’s site). It comes with a nice and quiet ATX powersupply (only 240W, which is slightly worrisome, but can be upgraded to 300W if not more from Silverstone). Price isn’t horrible, but you are paying for their high quality case engineering abilities and whatnot… right… anyway.

The Motherboard
So, ok, I’ve got a cool case, but it needs a MicroATX board. And really, when I think of what a nice motherboard needs, what comes to mind but dual gigabit ethernet ports, onboard SATA with hardware RAID0/1, onboard Audio with SPDIF I/O, onboard Video with DVI/VGA/S-Video/component outputs…

Of course, only one such motherboard exists: The AOpen i915GMm-HFS. Its a Pentium M board, which originally I wasn’t overly happy about, but seriously, with the limited powersupply available and how I really do want the thing to run quiet and cool, its really the best way to go. Originally the motherboard did have some issues with the CPU heatsink, but they’ve since fixed that up, so thats good. It also boots from USB, which is a major plus. There is also a good wiki devoted to using the thing with linux, and the outlook is very good. Pretty much everything works 100% with the latest 2.6 kernels and a couple module options. Even S-Video/DVI/component out, SPDIF in and out, the fan speed controllers and temp sensors, the hardware raid and sata stuff, etc, etc. So thats all great!

The Processor
So, since I need a Pentium M now, I really have just a couple choices from NewEgg. Either a 1.73GHz Dothan, or a 2.00Ghz Dothan. Now, I really don’t need that extra 0.27 GHz, so I went with the slightly cheaper 1.73Ghz guy. Its 533MHz FSB and 2MB L2 cache should make it a lovely speed increase from most things I’m use to. I’m sure we’ll be very happy together.

The Memory
So, in brief, I figured memory is cheap, so I might as well load up. 2x 1GB of DDR2 533 RAM should be great. Its CORSAIR, so its not the absolute cheapest cheapo crap I could find, but its still not bad in price.

The Drives
Ok, if the motherboard supports hardware RAID0, and linux supports the chipset, I’d be foolish not to take advantage, right? Also, it appears the every time I check back, prices fall further. So, two Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 SATA 120GB in a lovely striped array should work great. 240GB of space for a DVR should be fine, right? If not, I always could use some network attached storage over my dual gigabit ethernet ports….

I do have some slight concerns as the noise levels of these guys, even though a lot of the reviews claimed they were pretty good. We’ll have to see I guess. Can’t be louder than my current laptop, as I know many people will attest to.

I’ll also mention here, though its rather boring, I will be getting a DVD drive for this thing as well. DVD burner actually, so that will be cool (DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW, DVD-RAM, CD-R, CD-RW burner). Don’t know that I’ll use it all that often though.

The Capture Card
Last but not least, is the capture card. The Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 500 really seems the way to go. Sure, its analog only, but I only have an analog TV anyway, and don’t really see the need (or the allure) of HDTV. Analog is cheaper, and it works fine with everything :) I can upgrade later if I need to.

The card is the only PCI card I’m going to need to have in this system which is pretty nice. The card has two onboard analog tuners and also allows S-Video input from a cable box or VCR or what-have-you. Each tuner also has its own dedicated hardware MPG encoder! I have heard reports online where encoding two different things at the same time with this card has only about a 2-5% CPU utilization overhead or so (and that was on a Celeron, I believe). That should leave plenty left over for watching a third show or playing music or doing God-knows what else on here.

It also works great with MythTV and linux, the reports seem to indicate in the reviews on NewEgg. There were some issues with this card on early VIA chipsets, but those have been resolved (VIA issue, as I recall). Also has an FM tuner on it, but I don’t really listen to the radio much so I don’t expect to use that a whole lot. I may attempt to set it up though, depending on how bored I get with this thing… :)

The route to the poor house
So, I am planning on starting to buy this stuff starting with my next pay check. Since I really need a couple parts before I can even boot the thing, a large portion of it will be coming shortly I think. The case will be arriving first, as I need its power supply. With it will likely come the motherboard, CPU, and 1GB stick of RAM. Since it can boot off of USB, I should be able to get linux up and running at that point, and mount stuff off my network. Not too bad really. Should be able to play music and downloaded TV shows at that point without too much trouble.

Shortly thereafter I’ll probably get the two harddrives and the DVD drive. That should allow me to fully install my linux distro of choice (Slackware of course…) and mythtv software and get things rolling on that end. At that point, I’ll definitely be able to use it for my music listening and downloaded TV shows, as well as DVD playing.

Finally, I’ll need to get the capture card and the other stick of RAM to complete the system, but they can wait a bit to spread the costs out. Since I really will need them to run the system with any real DVRness, that will be a good impetous to get them, since I will have already gotten everything else for it already :) Once I get those, it should be only a very short hop to watching TV through the thing, and recording television shows as well (I’ve read reports that with the ivtv drivers, recording is as simple as “cat /dev/video0 > show.mpg”. Now that, is sweet), even if I don’t fully have MythTV setup yet. With my current television lineup SQL database scheme already in place on my other server, I may just play around for a while with integrating that with recording TV automatically from there. Command lines are better, I say!! :-)

Anyway, it’s late, I’m tired, and I have a bit of a headache. Probably because it’s late and I’m tired.

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  1. Adam said,

    March 28, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    So you are buying it all at once? Next day shipping? Sounds good. You will be recording by Saturday.

  2. me said,

    March 28, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    Well, the thought was not all at once. (As described above!) Probably over the next month or so.

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