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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Any MythTV Users around? Any other DIY DVR users?


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#1 OFFLINE   Mentat

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 04:05 PM

Sorry if this is in poor form, but new to the forum (pardon the pun).

Just wondering if there are any other MythTV users/former MythTV users out there, or anyone else with a DIY DVR? I've always loved DIY DVRs because of how much you can do with them. Custom UIs, access to the Internet (for NetFlix, listing data, weather, news, video data, web radio, etc), and the extensible nature of the hardware (how many off-the-shelf DVRs do you know of with more than two tuners in them?), it seems like more than an excellent trade-off for the complexity and investment of time.

For anyone who doesn't know, MythTV is Linux-based DVR software. It consists of two parts, the front-end and the back-end, where the front-end handles playback and the back-end handles recording, commercial flagging, media management, etc. They don't need to be on the same machine, and there can be multiple back-ends and front-ends all working together. The capabilities of a MythTV system tend to be limited by the hardware (you can only pack so many tuners into a single machine, but you can always add more machines). Also, while listing data used to be free, it's now $20/year in the US through Schedules Direct. Still cheaper than TiVo.

My current (inactive) MythTV machine is a Celeron 600 I picked up six or so years ago, with a Hauppauge PVR-150 for recording analog cable, but now I want to retrofit it to receive OTA HD with the HVR-950Q I have (I'll need a USB 2.0 board for the machine to make this happen) and get FTA satellite transmissions (I'll need a whole mess 'o hardware for that). Since the PVR-150 has a built-in MPEG-2 encoder, and OTA/FTA transmissions are already MPEG-2 TS, all I have to worry about on this system is bus speed (getting enough data to the HDD fast enough) and RAM. Using the automated commercial flagging will probably be a big no-no on anything in HD, since the thing was slow enough with Standard definition material.

I've considered playing around with Windows Media Center, but I'm not a huge Windows fan, and it seems like I'd lose a mess of features with MCE over MythTV (like separated front/back-ends, hardware support, slave back-ends, auto-commercial flagging, auto-transcoding with RSS feeds, etc) so I'm very reluctant to put any money into it. Still, if any of my concerns are "mythical," please feel free to correct me.
Give me enough time and leeway and I'll knock your socks off!
P.S. - Will work for money :/

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#2 OFFLINE   brant

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 04:27 PM

I use Windows 7 media center.

I looked @ myth tv, but prefered the WMC7 interface. I'm drawn the things that are "flashy". ;)

I've got a digital tuner connected to an antenna along w/ netflix, and hulu desktop integrated into WMC.

Probably a couple hundred DVD's ripped and roughly 4k songs, and all our pictures and downloaded videos.


I think HTPC's are awesome. We've thoroughly enjoyed ours.

#3 OFFLINE   Mentat

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 01:33 PM

I use Windows 7 media center.

I looked @ myth tv, but prefered the WMC7 interface. I'm drawn the things that are "flashy". ;)

Yeah, I'm not even going to pretend that MythTV is very pretty. Apparently a couple years ago the switched to an OpenGL-based interface which was supposed to add some shiny, but given that this all followed my last use of MythTV (when I moved out and went to college) and none of my hardware could handle it anyway, I have no idea what it actually looks like. For me, at the time, it was about cheapness. Couldn't afford a "new" PC, couldn't afford a WxpMCE license, so I went with (at the time) free.

I've got a digital tuner connected to an antenna along w/ netflix, and hulu desktop integrated into WMC.

Probably a couple hundred DVD's ripped and roughly 4k songs, and all our pictures and downloaded videos.

Are all those features that you can just drop right into WMC? Or does some finegaling have to be done?

Also, how is WMC7 feature-wise? Our favorite features of MythTV were the auto-commercial-skip (which we could honestly live without), the multi-speed playback (1.1x-1.5x playback options, for those times when you'd like to watch a show, but don't have the time to watch it at normal speed, or to cram in a lot of news), and for me, personally, auto-transcode with RSS feeds (Ex: MythTV records The Daily Show, flags commercials, transcodes to iPod-compatible MPEG-4, and produces an RSS feed I can subscribe to on my laptop and can download the show to my iPod for watching on the train as I commute). If WMC7 had multi-speed playback, that could almost be enough to convince the family. That and if anyone could actually get CableCARD to work, since they need their Top Chef, Real Housewives, WifeSwap and CSI.

I think HTPC's are awesome. We've thoroughly enjoyed ours.

Yeah, my mom who isn't very big on technology and my sister who is almost technophobic really got into the HTPC-style DVR I had rigged up. Of course, it was on a shoestring budget, and that might have helped me, rather than hindered me, since my Celeron 600 that did all the capturing was up in a closet next to a cable tap, and the front-end was a hacked (original) XBox running Linux, so they had a normal-looking remote control and a not-obscenely-ugly looking set-top-box (XBox aesthetic discussions notwithstanding, and they seemed to be willing to overlook the 100' of Ethernet I had snaking from one end of the house to the other for this machine). I think I could get them back on board with a new HTPC machine, though this time I might try for something HD capable with built-in WiFi (I'm thinking a retired laptop. Small, attractive, quiet, efficiently uses power, doesn't generate thousands of BTUs in heat… Unless I use my MacBook Pro), because they clearly miss it. Every summer when I came home from school, they'd ask if I brought my Myth box back with me.
Give me enough time and leeway and I'll knock your socks off!
P.S. - Will work for money :/

#4 OFFLINE   brant

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 08:08 PM

Are all those features that you can just drop right into WMC? Or does some finegaling have to be done?


The tuner was very easy; Plugged it in a PCI slot and WMC detected it right away. It has a simple setup menu where you enter your zip, then it scans for channels and downloads the guide. You can manually enter/edit channels also.

The DVD rips come through a 3rd party program, and WMC is setup to look for video in certain folders. Originally I was manually entering metadata (DVD info, cover art, etc. . .) but now use a 3rd party program that does all this automatically. It can link to your dvd ripping software where you drop in a DVD and click "rip disc" with your remote.

Hulu was integrated through a free 3rd party program; a simple install and there it was!


Also, how is WMC7 feature-wise? Our favorite features of MythTV were the auto-commercial-skip (which we could honestly live without), the multi-speed playback (1.1x-1.5x playback options, for those times when you'd like to watch a show, but don't have the time to watch it at normal speed, or to cram in a lot of news),


I don't have any auto-skip features but my remote control (came with the tuner) has a 30-second skip button. It has the fast playback options but no auto transcoding. I think there are 3rd party programs that do this, but i'm not positive.


Yeah, my mom who isn't very big on technology and my sister who is almost technophobic really got into the HTPC-style DVR I had rigged up. Of course, it was on a shoestring budget, and that might have helped me, rather than hindered me, . . . ..


I built mine on what I'd call a shoestring budget also; you can always upgrade over time.

Started with an old tower I had laying around, and have spent around $550 over the last year in adding HDD's, tuner, new mobo, processor, ram, and windows 7. We're about to add some xbox 360's as extenders, so I'll be purchasing a new processor and more ram for about $200. Once this install is complete I have no other plans for adding hardware, and the system should be finished.

#5 OFFLINE   Mentat

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 09:49 PM

The tuner was very easy; Plugged it in a PCI slot and WMC detected it right away. It has a simple setup menu where you enter your zip, then it scans for channels and downloads the guide. You can manually enter/edit channels also.

Figured. Standard HTPC DVR fare. Same story with MythTV, though its set-up is in a separate process from the front or back end programs/daemons. There's a really neat feature in MythTV involving slave back-ends, and it where things get complicated: you can actually have multiple back-ends with multiple tuners in each. So theoretically I could have one machine out by my dish with a DVB-S2 tuner card in it (to reduce attenuation due to cable length), one in the best place in the house for OTA, and one near a cable line, and have one master back-end handle all the heavy work, such as storage, commercial flagging, transcoding, scheduling, and even, if the slaves support it, waking up slave machines via LAN for recordings.

The DVD rips come through a 3rd party program, and WMC is setup to look for video in certain folders. Originally I was manually entering metadata (DVD info, cover art, etc. . .) but now use a 3rd party program that does all this automatically. It can link to your dvd ripping software where you drop in a DVD and click "rip disc" with your remote.

I didn't think Microsoft would include a ripper in WMC, though I am surprised to see that someone has a one-click solution that lives inside WMC. That's pretty nifty.

Hulu was integrated through a free 3rd party program; a simple install and there it was!

MythTV apparently has the same thing.

I don't have any auto-skip features but my remote control (came with the tuner) has a 30-second skip button. It has the fast playback options but no auto transcoding. I think there are 3rd party programs that do this, but i'm not positive.

Isn't there a DRM issue, though, involved in WMC that makes using third party programs that manipulate recordings non-trivial? Also, does variable-speed playback have pitch correction?

I built mine on what I'd call a shoestring budget also; you can always upgrade over time.

Started with an old tower I had laying around, and have spent around $550 over the last year in adding HDD's, tuner, new mobo, processor, ram, and windows 7. We're about to add some xbox 360's as extenders, so I'll be purchasing a new processor and more ram for about $200. Once this install is complete I have no other plans for adding hardware, and the system should be finished.

That's the one problem with MythTV: There aren't too many "extenders" you can add to work with it, outside of full PCs (or specially built quiet, small, low-power machines, without HDDs of their own), though the MediaMVP works perfectly well with the units, though playback is limited to the MediaMVP's capabilities (MediaMVP doesn't do HD, I don't think it does auto-commercial skip or variable-speed playback either). Ideally I'd like to have one massive back-end, with at least one, maybe two ATSC tuners (HVR-2250 probably), maybe a Hauppauge HD PVR connected to a cable or satellite box, and hopefully a DVB-S2 tuner to hook up to an FTA source (it's free, might as well!). Unfortunately, all of that is way above my financial head, so the more likely solution is this:

I hook up my old Celeron 600 with a USB 2 PCI card, get one of Comcast's "free" digital cable boxes (because of their "digital switch"), use my PVR-150's included IR blaster to control it, hook up my HVR-950Q either to an antenna or a free cable line, depending on reception and if ComCast is pushing down locals in QAM (without compressing the everloving quality out of them), and use an old laptop as a front-end. Prioritize the ATSC tuner over the cable input (to record in HD when possible, and to reduce schedule mismatches), and rig up commercial flagging to NOT occur on the HD tuner (SD commercial flagging on a Celeron 600 was about 1x processing speed, I don't want to know what HD is like on that thing). And probably a lot more RAM. I might opt into using a USB HDD for storage, instead of internal, since all the thing has are PATA busses, and it only has three PCI slots (One for the PVR-150, one for 10/100 Ethernet, and one for USB 2.0), and PATA drives max out at 500 GB these days (SATA in USB enclosures offers greater data density per dollar). Aside from the USB 2.0 PCI card and the HDD, I already own all the hardware. I just need time and money for that HDD.
Give me enough time and leeway and I'll knock your socks off!
P.S. - Will work for money :/

#6 OFFLINE   brant

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 02:28 PM

I didn't think Microsoft would include a ripper in WMC, though I am surprised to see that someone has a one-click solution that lives inside WMC. That's pretty nifty.


Its built into an app called "My Movies". Its very nice



Isn't there a DRM issue, though, involved in WMC that makes using third party programs that manipulate recordings non-trivial? Also, does variable-speed playback have pitch correction?


I don't have any DRM protected content; those are only with cablecard as far as I know. And yes, it has pitch correction.




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