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post #1 of 14 Old 08-09-2012, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone.

I recently started reading up on AVS, and am new here. I frequent OCN and [H], and am a big IT guy. I work for a Microsoft Gold Partner, as a Systems Engineer Consultant...so I deal with a lot of Microsoft products (System Center primarily, as well as server and virtualization) as well as security and storage.

I am just about finished up with my NUS (Network Unified Storage) server build, so I can start loading up drives and moving my data to it. My NUS server consists of a Norco RPC-4224 chassis, an ASUS P8B-E4/L motherboard (quad gigabit NICs), Xeon 1220-V2 CPU, LSI MegaRAID 9261-8i controller with an HP SAS Expander. I will be doing a hardware raid, while running Windows Server 2012 (RC until full release). I plan to have 4 Hitachi 15K600 600GB drives (15K RPM) in Raid 5 (~1.8TB Usable) for my VMs (which will be set up iSCSI with MPIO, to my Hyper-V 2 node cluster), and 20 3TB 7200RPM drives (undecided model), in a Raid 60 for storage. Once that is full, I plan to build a SAS Expander chassis to expand...but that will be awhile. My network will be full on Gigabit, hardwired with Cat6 STP cabling.

Now, I am starting to plan an HTPC build that will look something like this:
Motherboard - ASRock A75M-ITX
CPU - AMD A8-3870K
RAM - 8GB DDR3-2400 (PC3-19200) [Undecided brand]
HDD - 60GB SATA III SSD
PSU - Something at least 80+ Gold (preferably plat)
Case - Undecided

Reason I choose this motherboard is that it's Mini ITX and supports DDR3-2400 RAM. I am looking for a high powered HTPC, that's still small. I want the 3870K in this build, and I know it's overkill. I'm not looking for the most efficient.

Now my question is more about what software (or additional hardware) will I need to be able to do what it is I want to do. I currently have DirecTV, and I want to be able to capture TV and throw it over my network to my NUS server. Now i know a typical capture card will capture whatever it is I am currently watching, but I would like to be able to have a multi-channel capture card, and capture multiple channels at a time in a "set it and forget it" fashion. I know this will require additional hardware, and I am looking to know what kind of capture device I will need. I want to capture and store my content at a 720p .mkv style, as this would mostly be for TV Shows. (Similar to how these scene groups capture for torrenting, but I will NOT be sharing what I capture...I'm not trying to become some uploader or whatever).

Is this even possible with DirecTV? Do I need to drop DirecTV and go back to my local cable company (Comcast/TWC)? If this would require more than one PCI-e card, that is fine...I will switch up to a Micro ATX board. Ideally, I would like to find one card that can add the ability of what I am looking for, but multiple cards are fine. I won't say that I have a budget, because it's one of those things that I will save for until I can get it. I don't expect to spend several to do this, but if it's a card that's $200 or something...fine. Also, what software would I need to do this, that could integrate (or be a part of) an HTPC front end? I plan to get a small keyboard/remote to control my HTPC, so I would like it to all work from that.

Am I asking too much here? lol

Thanks everyone!
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post #2 of 14 Old 08-09-2012, 12:01 PM
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With DIRECTV you need to capture in real time (either live or DVR playback) using an HD capture device such as a Hauppauge Colossus or HDPVR.

You can use multiple cards, but you need a separate DirecTV box to feed each card.
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post #3 of 14 Old 08-09-2012, 12:08 PM
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That build is overkill on the MoBo and CPU for HTPC use. Unless you plan on having 4 or 5 extenders connected to it the RAM is excessive as well. Use a SSD and not an HDD for the OS.

Assassin's guide will give you all you need and them some software-wise.

For CATV you need a ceton InfiniTV4 (on sale right now) or a SiliconDust HD HomeRun Prime CableCARD tuner and Windows Media Center if you want protected content.

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post #4 of 14 Old 08-09-2012, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I was afraid it was going to be something like that.

I have looked at the Hauppauge Colossus before, and I know it has a feature to change to a channel at a schedule time, but can it automatically remove commercials and stuff?

What if I was to switch back to Comcast cable? Could I get one of the PCI Cards and have my HTPC be my PVR/DVR?
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post #5 of 14 Old 08-09-2012, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

That build is overkill on the MoBo and CPU for HTPC use. Unless you plan on having 4 or 5 extenders connected to it the RAM is excessive as well. Use a SSD and not an HDD for the OS.
Assassin's guide will give you all you need and them some software-wise.
For CATV you need a ceton InfiniTV4 (on sale right now) or a SiliconDust HD HomeRun Prime CableCARD tuner and Windows Media Center if you want protected content.

I have to wonder if you even read my full post. I noted that I know it's overkill, and that's fine with me. If I decide to pull it from being an HTPC and do something else, I want to be able to. I also have posted above that I am going to use an SSD, and never said anything about HDDs in the HTPC.

The InfiniTV card is what I was thinking of, and so that only works for CATV and not Satellite? Is there any limitations to the CATV that it works with (i.e. Comcast)?
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post #6 of 14 Old 08-09-2012, 12:17 PM
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automagically removing commercials is a dicey proposition.

typically, software will look for instances where the entire image goes black for a second and put a marker in there, and then one again when the show comes back on. its not perfect. the markers show you where it skipped so when theres a problem (which there likely will be) you can go back and fix it.

in my experience just tapping the 30 second skip button six times puts you right back into the show.

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post #7 of 14 Old 08-09-2012, 12:19 PM
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Comcast would be better than Time Warner simply for the reason that Time Warner marks more channels as copy once (though it can vary from region to region). This is something you will have no problems with at all using Directv. Copy once keeps you from manipulating the file or playing it on other pc's or devices.

Time Warner also uses tuning adapters in most (all?) markets, which is a bit of an inconvenience if they need to be power cycled.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
Restore the initial MLL on a 2009 Panasonic plasma
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post #8 of 14 Old 08-09-2012, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

Comcast would be better than Time Warner simply for the reason that Time Warner marks more channels as copy once (though it can vary from region to region). This is something you will have no problems with at all using Directv. Copy once keeps you from manipulating the file or playing it on other pc's or devices.
Time Warner also uses tuning adapters in most (all?) markets, which is a bit of an inconvenience if they need to be power cycled.

Well Time Warner recently bought Comcast, so I'm not sure if things are changing on that front or not. I love DirecTV, and I don't really watch a whole lot of it other than DVR the shows I watch, and watch them after they are recorded (so I can FF through). I don't want to switch from DirecTV unless I can find a way with Comcast to automatically record my shows directly to my server, and remove commercials (or at least with minimal intervention).
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post #9 of 14 Old 08-09-2012, 12:41 PM
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CableCARD tuners do not work with satellite. That's a good sale price on the tuner card.

I saw HDD but didn't notice it said SSD afterwards.

When did TWC buy Comcast?

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post #10 of 14 Old 08-09-2012, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tycoonbob View Post

Well Time Warner recently bought Comcast,

Maybe they bought your local cable system, but they certainly did not buy Comcast.

Anyhow, using a Colossus with DirecTV and using a cablecard tuner are entirely different experiences. With DirecTV (which I use), you need to keep your set top boxes and you can use a capture card like the Colossus to capture the output. You can get 1080i and DD 5.1. The file you create is unprotected. No, the included software doesn't cut out commercials, but I don't think the included software for any other tuner/dvr device does either. You need third party software that you run on the file after it's been created, with varying results.

With a cable card tuner, you don't need a set top box; your pc becomes your cable (or FIOS) tuner, and you can record multiple streams on your pc as if it was a multi tuner DVR. Used to be that these files were unprotected, but more and more providers are marking more and more content "copy once" which allows you only to replay the content on the pc on which it was recorded.

The cablecard approach is much more DVR like. Some people use the tuner to change channels with their Colossus on their DirecTV receiver. But personally, what I do is use my DirecTV DVRs for my usual watch-and-delete DVRing and TV watching (i have 3 DirecTV DVRs totally 9 tuners and 3TB of storage, another non-DVR receiver, and the whole home setup) and I use my Colossus to capture content that I want to archive or save long term on my HTPC. Others use them differently. There are long threads here for both the Colossus and the HDPVR (which is a similar external USB device by Hauppauge) that discuss how folks use them, and many of the users here use them with DirecTV (and like you have no interest in giving up DirecTV).
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post #11 of 14 Old 08-09-2012, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the information. I will read through around here and see if I can find out how I want to do this.

I also feel like a complete idiot...as Comcast isn't even offered in my area. Cable TV (as well as my cable internet) is through Insight, or was. Insight communications was purchased on Feb 29, 2012. No service, pricing, or logo changes have occurred...yet.
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post #12 of 14 Old 08-12-2012, 08:22 PM
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Just thought I would add that you can use mce buddy in the background to convert recordings such as .wtv (Windows media center format) to a format such as mkv. It can be set to watch your recording folder and convert automatically. It does however use alot of cpu power. Apart from this I'm unsure if you can capture directly into an mkv container. If you are picking up h264 mpeg4 tv then tech such as nvidias cuda could convert faster, but as I know of no programs that will watch folders automatically that support cuda the conversation process may have to be done manually.
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post #13 of 14 Old 08-13-2012, 08:04 AM
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Bob, you do realize DirecTV has a fantastic multi-room DVR system pretty cheap right? I can see doing that for your other media or even cable tv, but not DirecTV (or Dish). You can certainly do what Zon is doing, but unless you really want to save all your recordings forever, I don't see the point.
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post #14 of 14 Old 08-13-2012, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post  but unless you really want to save all your recordings forever, I don't see the point.

 

It's not "all", it's just "some".

 

DVRs really aren't made for really long term storage, at least not of any signficant amount of material.   Plus, with Directv, recordings are encyrpted and locked to the particular device on which they were recorded.  Can't copy them, can't move the hard disk, no way to get the recordings to a new DVR if the one you have fails.

 

So yes, there are some things I want to keep, and for that, the Colossus is ideal.  For things that are going get watched and deleted, they just stay on the DVR.

 

And the whole home Directv system is pretty painless and quite good actually.  Their DVR technology has really come a long ways in the past 5 years or so.  From what I read, my impression is that most cable companies are pretty far behind.

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