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post #1 of 13 Old 08-11-2011, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello all,
So, i've recently cut the cable. I hooked up a digital antenna (that i built) in my attic. I now have lots of channels (not as many as i used to) but not the nice interface, DVR, and everything else that i had with digitial cable. So, here is my goal...

I have two large LCD tvs. I recently purchased 3 used small form factor Dell PCs. They each have a 3.2 gig P4 processors, 1 gig of ram each, and 40 gig hds. I have 2 x 2 TB hds that i can hook up. Each tower came with windows XP, but i have 4 copies of Windows 7 with media center...

I would like to put one system under each tv, host all video content on a single machine and be able to view that content from either of the two machines. I would also like to be able to record shows on the server while watching shows at each TV... I can pick up all of the channels without turning the antenna, so one antenna should work fine for this...

So now, how should i set this up? I don't want to run to the server room every time i want to record a show, but i also want to be able to watch other shows while recording shows... I know i'll have to buy a TV tunner card for the server, is there a way that the other two computers can pick up that signal from the network? or does each computer need its own Tunner card?

To muddy this a little more, i plan to digitize my dvd collection and i plan on adding Blue Ray into the mix... So i'd like to be able to pull that media as well...

What do you think? Should i use something besides media center?
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post #2 of 13 Old 08-11-2011, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceNoide View Post

Hello all,
So, i've recently cut the cable. I hooked up a digital antenna (that i built) in my attic. I now have lots of channels (not as many as i used to) but not the nice interface, DVR, and everything else that i had with digitial cable. So, here is my goal...

I have two large LCD tvs. I recently purchased 3 used small form factor Dell PCs. They each have a 3.2 gig P4 processors, 1 gig of ram each, and 40 gig hds. I have 2 x 2 TB hds that i can hook up. Each tower came with windows XP, but i have 4 copies of Windows 7 with media center...

I would like to put one system under each tv, host all video content on a single machine and be able to view that content from either of the two machines. I would also like to be able to record shows on the server while watching shows at each TV... I can pick up all of the channels without turning the antenna, so one antenna should work fine for this...

So now, how should i set this up? I don't want to run to the server room every time i want to record a show, but i also want to be able to watch other shows while recording shows... I know i'll have to buy a TV tunner card for the server, is there a way that the other two computers can pick up that signal from the network? or does each computer need its own Tunner card?

To muddy this a little more, i plan to digitize my dvd collection and i plan on adding Blue Ray into the mix... So i'd like to be able to pull that media as well...

What do you think? Should i use something besides media center?

I would use WMC as it has great tuner and dvr tools.

To be able to use a tuner anywhere on your network you really need to take a close look at the HD Homerun Dual. You plug these tuners in anywhere on your network and any HTPC on the network can access the tuners assuming that one is free. If you want more than 2 tuners you just add more units.


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post #3 of 13 Old 08-11-2011, 12:38 PM
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you will set the RECORDED TV folder on each pc to a network shared folder on the server. All of the tv recorded in the house will go there and be available to everyone.

the one problem with using computers around the house the way extenders typically would be is that each computer does not know what the others plan to record. so if you tell the computer in your bedroom to record the NFL pregame show on CBS, your wife in the living room will not see that you've done that. If she decides to do it I believe both pcs will record it. Not a huge deal but something to be aware of.

i think you'd be pushing your luck playing bluray with those processors. you will definitely need powerful video cards in the pcs to pull it off.


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post #4 of 13 Old 08-11-2011, 03:18 PM
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what I did was set up a headless media server out of the way in the basement, hooked up a couple HDhomeruns to it for OTA. loaded up the SageTV server software, and just installed HD300's at each TV... and loaded the sageTV client on my MAME cabinet on the back porch...
now I can watch/record/etcTV or BR or DVD or HD DVD from every TV with the same UI... pause on one TV and and resume on another (if I want)...

pretty much my definition of perfect...

unfortunately Google Gobbled Sage...
so Sage is probably not an option for you...
but still, it works great... other than the minor fact that I can't get more hd300's...

NOTE: As one wise professional something once stated, I am ignorant & childish, with a mindset comparable to 9/11 troofers and wackjob conspiracy theorists. so don't take anything I say as advice...
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post #5 of 13 Old 08-11-2011, 07:19 PM
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Options and opinions are rampant! Here's a bit more to chew on for ya. You'll definitely need more than one tuner for your main rig. The option of getting an HDHomeRun (ATSC/QAM model not the Prime CableCARD tuner) is the best option. If you're looking at having several clients, I'd recommend getting at least 2 dual tuner models, giving you 4 total tuners. So, once yougot your PCs setup, and have the huge hard drives slapped into your main rig, you've got to find a way to consolidate your recording capabilities, so that you don't have recordings scattered all over the place...additionally, those tiny 40gb drives are not going to do anything for you on the recorded tv front. So, install babgvant's recording broker on your main rig and your client pcs. Now, when you schedule a recording on any pc, that scheduled recording gets brokered to the main PC, where it will be recorded instead of on your small client. Just add the recorded tv directory from your main rig as a recorded tv folder on your clients, and you're good to go! Everything will be recorded on your main pc, regardless of where it was scheduled, and all recordings will be accessible from all other pcs. I would not get into recording directly to a network share from a client pc, personally. I tried it for a while and had mixed results. It would only have issues seldomly, but when it happened, it would happen on one of Mrs. Lobster's recordings, and I'd hear about it for weeks!

Ray
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post #6 of 13 Old 08-11-2011, 07:43 PM
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I agree about the video cards. You will need some that can handle the video decoding. But anything that isn't totally handled by the gpu the cpu will choke on if its HD.

P4's in mdern day htpc's don't mix. Some say it works but imo you will quickly find things it doesn't want to play.
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post #7 of 13 Old 08-12-2011, 07:03 AM
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MythTV (Linux) has a client/server setup, where you could setup all the recordings on the server. The clients would just view the shows. There are some easy distributions (KnoppMyth, Mythdora, etc) that combine Linux and Myth into one easy installation.

I tried MythTV several years ago, but went with WMC 2005 instead. I have upgraded to Win 7 MC since then. I have played with Mythdora and KnoppMyth, and they are pretty good. They are free, so you might want to try them out.

MythTV also might be better with your RAM-limited machines. I hate to think about you purchasing all that old PC3200 memory.

If you do go with WMC 7, then you might want to consider using Xbox360s as extenders.

Have never used Sage, so I can't comment on that.

I will second the motion for the HD HomeRun. Excellent product!
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post #8 of 13 Old 08-12-2011, 08:18 AM
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I use Media Portal in a server, 4 client configuration to do what you are suggesting. I have an HDHomeRun attached to the server and any it moderates between the clients when more than one wants to use a tuner. The server does the DVR function and any client can be used to schedule a recording. It also provides excellent storage and management of my video and music collections.
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post #9 of 13 Old 08-12-2011, 09:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone!

so my dinky p4's aren't enough for BlueRay... Blueray players are cheap and i don't have any yet anyway! As for the rest of it... I'm looking at getting more ram, it really isn't all that expensive... i'll look into that. Then i want 2 homeruns so that i'll have 4 tuners. I looked into the babgvant's redoring broker and it looks like there are problems with it; althought i'm willing to believe that is because they don't know how to use it... Is it easy to set up?

Since these machines are slim profile, what video cards would you suggest? I haven'd done any searching yet, but i will be doing that today. If you have some suggestions, it'll help.

Thanks a lot everyone, i'll keep you posted on my final build...
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post #10 of 13 Old 08-12-2011, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Media Portal also looks promising... Does it have any quarks? Is it easy to use? It kind of looks like the best solution for what i'm doing...

Any other votes for Media Portal?
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post #11 of 13 Old 08-12-2011, 10:51 AM
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build a server using ... unraid...best investment I made for HTPC stuff

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ASROCK H67 GE / HT
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post #12 of 13 Old 08-12-2011, 12:28 PM
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I did something similar. I have HT projector in basement and 50" TV in family room. HTPC with Avermedia dual ATSC tuner card and 3TB total media storage. DIY antenna in attic feeds both the 50" TV and the HTPC. Projector HT has my "good" xbox 360 and I got a used xbox 360 with broken DVD on ebay for $40 for the 50" TV. Using the xbox's I can stream recorded HDTV or stored movies (including MKVs) to either room through WMC and my hard wired network. Can easily stream to both simultaneously, since the xbox is doing the lifting never had a hickup. Since I have the antenna also feeding the TV, I can record 2 programs simultaneously on the HTPC while watching a 3rd program on the TV. Works well and the WMC EPG is pretty good.
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post #13 of 13 Old 08-15-2011, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceNoide View Post

Media Portal also looks promising... Does it have any quarks? Is it easy to use? It kind of looks like the best solution for what i'm doing...

Any other votes for Media Portal?

Every piece of software has its quirks, it’s just a matter if can you live with the ones in the one you chose.
Media Portal installs easily, but then you can spend days configuring it. You don’t need to have a special OS to run the server, it works with Windows, but I think you can use WHS if you want. The clients (extenders) are also just Win machines.
If you are interested, check out this link http://wiki.team-mediaportal.com/
Your P4s will likely have enough processing power if you install video cards that have hardware accelerators for the video. Renthex’s ”Guide To Building a HD HTPC” can point you towards which may be right for you.
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