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HomerunHD Prime + DVR Questions

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I'm helping my Dad wire his new home for internet and TV. I'm trying to cut cost as well as future proof this whole thing and I'm piecing it together as I go. I recently purchased two Homerun HD Prime units with little knowledge other than them giving us the ability to avoid having a cablebox for every TV in the house. Now I'm trying to figure out how to best incorporate these for our use and I could use some guidance.

This is all going in a new house and the idea was to have everything centralized in a media closet in the basement. I have Cat6 cable, switches, routers, etc. -- What I'd like to do is have these Homerun tuners in that closet and have the signal piped through to the TVs in the house on the two above floors. I imagine wiring is straight forward as most everything will be connecting to a switch and that switch will feed the house via the Cat6.

What I'm trying to figure out is this... What devices (media extenders?) do I need for each TV to get that Homerun Tuner signal to it? Are some devices better than others as far as interface, etc? I've been advised Xbox 360's are great MEs but I'd like to keep things minimally technical to the end user/TV watcher as possible as my Dad is getting on in years. If I have to explain he need to turn on the Xbox, change the TV input, etc. etc. it wouldn't have been worth the $$ savings because it will just make my life complicated.

I'd like to have a DVR incorporated in to this system but this is new territory for me as well. Should I buy a specific unit that ties in to the network? Do I just get an old PC and put on MythTV or some other DVR software? What would be the minimum system requirements? What kind of DVR/tuner card would I need on that computer? Could it record multiple shows at a time without killing the computer or the network? If I want to incorporate Plex on this network could I put it on the same machine or should I get a separate NAS that will act as a Plex server so the computer isn't bogged down.

More often than not we would likely only have 2-3 TVs on at any given time but my father likes to have the option if we had guests to have more. I figured for starters the 6 tuners in the two HD prime units would be sufficient and we can always add more. Just trying to mentally diagram this and figure out how it will all be integrated so it can function smoothly and easily for my Dad.

I know this is a lot to ask but I imagine people out there have done similar. Please ask any questions you need to help me with this.

Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 8
Hard question to answer. I use MythTV a HDHomerun Prime and two more HDHomeruns. The HDHomeruns utilize an antenna in my attic for local broadcast. The HDHomerun Prime is another 3 tuners (I only have one cable card) that I use for cable. (I have a total of 7 tuners).

The HD Homerun replaces the tuners in your cable boxes but they can't drive a signal directly to your TV. You still need a box to relay the signal to the TV. Windows Media Center and MythTV do this. However, you need a computer to run them.

MythTV has a learning curve, but works very well with the Homerun devices. There is a catch though. Not all cable companies are compatible with MythTV and the Homerun Prime. I have Comcast out of Chicago. I can tune in everything but premium channels. I had to go through quite a bit of hassle to get it working through the cable company, though it is possible.

On the other hand, Time Warner Cable sets different restrictions on what can be recorded, and ultimately tuned in with an aftermarket tuner. I'd definitely do a Google search on your cable company and their compatibility with your tuners.

As for MythTV, if you have 6 TVs you want to run, you'll need 6 computers. You'll need at least one backend, and 5 frontends. However, 6 frontends all pulling on 1 backend would be dicey. You'll probably need a pretty beefy backend setup, or designate a few frontends as slave backends as well.

I don't really know any other options for this though. It's either that or individual cable boxes provided by the cable company.

In other words, running 6 MythTV boxes is going to be quite expensive. You can justify the cost by not paying rental fees, but with that many it'll be awhile before you recoup the cost.

As for wiring the Homerun devices. It's VERY simple. You'll need an RG6 cable from your feed running into each of the boxes, then you plug the network cable into a switch/router. Then any computer connected to that network can see those tuners. With MythTV it's in the setup process. As long as the MythTV computer is hooked to the network, it'll be able to use those tuners. If putting it in a closet, it becomes simple. Fast enough wireless and you can run the frontends on the wireless network.
post #3 of 8
Check out WMC, much better supported for all cable providers

Use W7, and WMC comes free. Guide data is free (no subscription to Schedules Direct required)

Try Ceton Echo for extenders. One in each room, accesses all the recordings, live channels, recording schedule as the single instance of WMC they are extended from. About the same price as X360, but they only use 5W so you can just leave them on all the time (like you would a cablebox)

A well put together HTPC running WMC will only use 40W or less as well. You'll use the same power and there will be nothing to turn on, switch inputs, etc. You can add CD, DVD, and BluRay playback as well.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you guys.

So I'm still left with this question that I think was sort of answered. If I set up media extenders to every TV, can I still have ONE computer set up on the network as a central DVR unit that can be played back on the network (i.e. on any of those TVs)? If I want to record more than one show I realize that will utilize a tuner for each signal recording and watching but will I need a separate PC/HTPC for each tuner I want to record from? Or can one machine record multiple shows simultaneously? Or perhaps it's one PC/HTPC but requires something else? DVR cards? Does the PC record from the network via Ethernet and the DVR/tuner card in the computer is redundant because that's the point of the HD Homerun? I feel like I'm missing a small piece of the puzzle that will answer all of these questions.
post #5 of 8
One PC that has all the tuners and does all the recording plus serving it up to your extenders. The PC accesses all of the Prime tuners over the network.

Be careful with the Ceton Echo recommendation - they work well for some and not at all for others. With WMC the Xboxes just work.
post #6 of 8
Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

One PC that has all the tuners and does all the recording plus serving it up to your extenders. The PC accesses all of the Prime tuners over the network.

Be careful with the Ceton Echo recommendation - they work well for some and not at all for others. With WMC the Xboxes just work.

Kind of what he ^^^^ said.

Think of your main PC as a server. I called it a backend because that's what MythTV calls it. That's the machine that contains the software to access your tuners and relay them to the "extenders", which I called frontends, again because that's what MythTV calls it.

So, the extenders access the central "server" which has all the recording data on it and can tune in the live TV. Then the data is streamed to the extenders via the network on an on demand basis.

WMC, or MythTV are the two most popular software choices for this.

Here's my setup, and hopefully it will help you understand a little bit more.

I have one PC dedicated to backend duty (server). I call it a media server because it contains all my media. It has a large hard drive. I use MythTV, so on this machine I have it running as both a backend and a frontend. The frontend just streams the data from the backend. That's on one computer. That computer utilizes 3 HD Homerun boxes via the network to tune in television stations. It's also the machine that handles recording duty. So, all the recording gets saved onto this machine. I also have my entire DVD library saved onto this machine.

Now, I can access the data (DVD, Live TV, or recordings) on that machine from any computer in my house. I have two TVs, and three other computers. Each TV has a computer that acts as a frontend on it. These machines just access the server via the in house network and the server streams either live TV, or recordings to the frontend. All my computers are Linux, so I can stream that data to any computer I put the MythTV frontend software onto.

To simplify, you need a device that can stream data from your main media server to your TVs. The main media server is the only device that interacts with the tuners. Windows Media Center, and MythTV are the two most popular software choices for DVR/PVR purposes.

Finding the solution that works best for you is very much a trial and error process. You'll get a lot of differing opinions. What works for me, might not work for you. However, if you want an easy to use interface that even my 4 year old can navigate, MythTV is really nice. My frontends can also handle other duties. A MythTV frontend can stream Live TV, recorded TV, my DVD library or even music (with the right plugin). I can also stream online content like Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, etc, and play an actual DVD. Like I said before though, the MythTV solution is more expensive.

The MCE vs MythTV debate is a long one. Much better to Google that question than to actually ask it.
post #7 of 8
I love Myth and have used it before but it has copy protection limitations on many cable systems and is way more complicated to setup and tweak, which is why the easy answer is to use a single WMC PC with Xboxes.

OP you should repost this thread in the HTPC forum, lots more folks will weigh in with opinions.
post #8 of 8
Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

OP you should repost this thread in the HTPC forum, lots more folks will weigh in with opinions.

Agreed, and not the linux chat subforum of the htpc forum unless you want just the mythtv perspective
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