Well I’ve had it up and running for a while now so it’s probably a good time to post some information. I already had an HD DVR rented from Comcast, a Motorola DCT6412 to be exact. Overall I’m pretty satisified with that box, but it isn’t capable of functioning as a full fledged medai center. So I decided to go with something slightly more free to build my real media center…I opted for MythTV. Just a heads up for those starting a MythTV project, be prepared for some surmountable problems. I ran into some issues that took me days to figure out. But once I got through those it was beyond worth it…. I would even go through it again to get what I have now.
So I started with this cheap ass Compaq Presario I bought for $200 bucks at CompUSA after rebate (which I actually mailed in and received the check). Nothing crazy, the actual model is a SR1710NX. It came with an AMD Sempron 3400 w/ only 256M of RAM but it did have a 100G SATA drive. So then I bought a Hauppauge PVR 350 since I initially thought I wanted the encoder plus the decoder. Later I learned that the decoder wasn’t what I really wanted, I shoulda just went with a PVR 150 or PVR 500 (but I didn’t want dual tuners really).
Eventually I got the base system up and running with the TV-Out from the PVR 350 functioning with composite video out straight into my receiver. Once I got the xorg.conf setup properly (see attachments), this worked all right, took me awhile to tweak the GUI so that it was properly displayed. Had to adjust the GUI Width setting and the GUI height setting. Unfortunately I have lost those settings but IIRC they were around 622 by 455 or something similar. Still the menus were never quite perfect and using a window manager at this low of a resultion was pretty bad. Also mythmusic’s visualizations weren’t hardware accelerated so of course this was unberarable.
A little time passed and I got a Sony 42″ LCD HDTV, a KDFE42A10. I immediately decided to forego the hardware decoding on the PVR 350 which requires you to use the TV Out on the card, thats right no hardware decoding if you’re using another video card for output. This had a VGA input (but no DVI unforuntately). So I went about tweaking the xorg.conf and finally got a beatiful image on the screen. everything looked wonderful except for the watching TV. Under playback settings I set it to deinterlace playback but found the Bob method didn’t work right. I kept getting an image that looked like it was interweaving frames from separate channels, really strange when you look at it. So I reverted to the Kernel algorithm, set the Aspect Override to 16/9 stretch, and disabled Xv picture controls. I found that the image had a single line of distortion at the top, so I set the Vertical over/underscan percentage to 1 and that fixed it right up.
OK so now TV recording was decent, to tell you the truth I never plan on using it, I’d much rather record the HD signals or the plain digital signals coming in the DCT6412 then the analog signals coming in the PVR 350. Still it’s nice to have a backup in case we ever want to record three things at the same time
The most interesting feature for me is mythmusic. I had dumped all of my music (only about 50Gigs worth) onto the box. I found the playlist management in mythmusic to be attrocious, until I found the smart playlist feature. This feature is not in the playlist editing setup menu, rather you setup smart playlists from the “play music” section by pressing “F” on a keyboard or “I/menu” on the remote. Then I was off and running. Well after I figured out that the static drop down menu wasn’t really the smart playlists, you had to create them inside those drop down menus. Then I was off and running.
Speaking of the remote it took me awhile to set that up too. For some reason I couldn’t find a proper lircrc for the remote that came with the PVR 350. Anyways after some tweaking I got it working. I have posted me two config files below.
I’ve rambled long enough…Spencer Shimko 11 June 2006