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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(If you don't feel like reading my whole post, I have 3 questions at the bottom ;) )



This is my first post here on AVS forums. I am new to the HTPC scene, and have learned almost everything I know from the guys over at [H]ardforum. I was hoping to get a few pointers from some experienced people.


So far, this is what I have:

CPU/mobo: AMD AthlonXP 1900+/ Chaintech 7NIL1 mATX

Video: ATi Radeon 9700 pro

Audio: Chaintech AV-710

Tuner: Hauppauge 250MCE

IR: DIY lirc ir receiver

Case: An old gutted Phillips AOLTV box :D

DVD Rom: Slimline slot loading laptop drive, with IDE Adapter

HDD: 250gig 8mb cache 7200 rpm WD

(Later, I will add a VFD display)

256mb RAM

Controls: Gyration set with mini keyboard, and mouse. Also I have an infrared keyboard that came with the AOL TV I hope I will be able to use ... it's got a joystick built into it.


As far as software goes, I will use WinXP Pro as the OS, and I will be expecting to use SageTV as the front end (i read about an STV with commercial detection and other nice features), along with Zoom player with FFDShow & NVDVD 4 codecs for DVD playback. Girder & lirc plugin for automation.

I might go with MCE2005, since I can add a modem and get onscreen caller ID which seems like a good feature to me. What do you guys suggest? Can you use FFDshow with MCE2k5? What is DScaler? Would it Benefit me?

I also plan on throwing a few emulators and a bunch of roms on there.


I tried to make as much room for expansion as possible:

I don't have an HDTV yet, so I will start with the svideo out, once I get an HDTV, I will use the DVI port to get 1:1 pixel mapping.


I don't have a receiver, but when I do get one, I will have bit perfect audio using the latest Via drivers and ASIO4ALL, over the optical cable.


I only have 3 questions/conerns:


#1) Just a question about my Hard drive. Ever since I bought it, it's been in my old file server .. a p2-333mhz, running off of the controller card that came with it.


My question: With the new computer setup, will I still need to use the controller card? Is it still required to break the 137 gig barrier?



Also, should I add a 2nd hard drive to put the OS on -- and use the 250gigger to put all the music/movies/games/etc on?



#2) I have Digital cable through comcast. They issue the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 2200 STB. That's the only Digital Cable box they offer. It doesn't have the RS232/serial port on the back ... so I wouldn't be able to control channel changes through my HTPC which is where I'm stuck now.


I'm very disapointed. I confronted comcast about it, and they tell me that if I were to buy my own STB, the *ONLY* one that will work on their system is the Motorola DCP501 ... which seems a little ludacris in my opinion. (check this thing out: hxxp:// broadband.motorola.com/consumers/products/dcp501/ )


I know I could use a USB UIRT, but I think that would defeat the purpose of me building my own LIRC device ... and I read that channel changes are very delayed ...


#3) IF I were to get HDTV (I don't think I will any time soon, since comcast only offers 8 channels in HD, and i'm not a sports fan) How would that work with my HTPC? Explain this to me like I'm a newborn babe, with much detail from every aspect as possible ... such as connections ... recording ... etc ... :)



Please post any comments, suggestions, pointers, or anything :)
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mattress
(If you don't feel like reading my whole post, I have 3 questions at the bottom ;) )



This is my first post here on AVS forums. I am new to the HTPC scene, and have learned almost everything I know from the guys over at [H]ardforum. I was hoping to get a few pointers from some experienced people.


So far, this is what I have:

CPU/mobo: AMD AthlonXP 1900+/ Chaintech 7NIL1 mATX

Video: ATi Radeon 9700 pro

Audio: Chaintech AV-710

Tuner: Hauppauge 250MCE

IR: DIY lirc ir receiver

Case: An old gutted Phillips AOLTV box :D

DVD Rom: Slimline slot loading laptop drive, with IDE Adapter

HDD: 250gig 8mb cache 7200 rpm WD

(Later, I will add a VFD display)

256mb RAM

Controls: Gyration set with mini keyboard, and mouse. Also I have an infrared keyboard that came with the AOL TV I hope I will be able to use ... it's got a joystick built into it.


As far as software goes, I will use WinXP Pro as the OS, and I will be expecting to use SageTV as the front end (i read about an STV with commercial detection and other nice features), along with Zoom player with FFDShow & NVDVD 4 codecs for DVD playback. Girder & lirc plugin for automation.



FWIW, I'd try the Sage DVD player first, you can use ffdshow with Sage, and, at least for me, it does everything I need/expect in a DVD player.

Quote:
I might go with MCE2005, since I can add a modem and get onscreen caller ID which seems like a good feature to me. What do you guys suggest?



If you didn't have XP already I'd say go for it, since you do, $120+ for a simple PVR package seems hard to justify.


Can you use FFDshow with MCE2k5?


From what I've heard, no.

Quote:
What is DScaler?



In a nutshell... at TV viewing/deinterlacing program.

Quote:
Would it Benefit me?



Nope, not with the PVR 250.

Quote:
I also plan on throwing a few emulators and a bunch of roms on there.



Sage can launch mame if you want.

Quote:
I tried to make as much room for expansion as possible:

I don't have an HDTV yet, so I will start with the svideo out, once I get an HDTV, I will use the DVI port to get 1:1 pixel mapping.


I don't have a receiver, but when I do get one, I will have bit perfect audio using the latest Via drivers and ASIO4ALL, over the optical cable.


I only have 3 questions/conerns:


#1) Just a question about my Hard drive. Ever since I bought it, it's been in my old file server .. a p2-333mhz, running off of the controller card that came with it.


My question: With the new computer setup, will I still need to use the controller card? Is it still required to break the 137 gig barrier?



I doubt it, if the motherboard is newer than the HDD then almost certainly not.

Quote:
Also, should I add a 2nd hard drive to put the OS on -- and use the 250gigger to put all the music/movies/games/etc on?



You could, or what I do, prepare for my thesis on partitioning.


Partitioning is your friend! I've got a bunch of partitions, C: 4GB OS, D: 182GB (rest of 200GB) SageTV recordings (very good idea to give Sage it's own drive to play with), and on a 160GB drive: E: ~20GB Stuff/downloads/drivers/installers, X: 50GB Pictures, Y: 50GB Movies, Z: 30GB Music. This works very well, I can reinstall the OS without nuking my media, the media is separate and organized.


In your position I'd get another drive and keep all your more static stuff on that, perhaps the OS also, and leave most of one drive for Sage recordings.

Quote:
#2) I have Digital cable through comcast. They issue the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 2200 STB. That's the only Digital Cable box they offer. It doesn't have the RS232/serial port on the back ... so I wouldn't be able to control channel changes through my HTPC which is where I'm stuck now.



Actually you'll just need to get an IR blaster like the USB-UIRT, then the Sage (via the UIRT) will act like you pressing buttons on the remote and change channels for you.

Quote:
I'm very disapointed. I confronted comcast about it, and they tell me that if I were to buy my own STB, the *ONLY* one that will work on their system is the Motorola DCP501 ... which seems a little ludacris in my opinion. (check this thing out: hxxp:// broadband.motorola.com/consumers/products/dcp501/ )


I know I could use a USB UIRT, but I think that would defeat the purpose of me building my own LIRC device ... and I read that channel changes are very delayed ...



Woops you already figured that out, but it's really the only way. As for the channel changing delay, I almost never watch live TV anymore, and never surf.

Quote:
#3) IF I were to get HDTV (I don't think I will any time soon, since comcast only offers 8 channels in HD, and i'm not a sports fan) How would that work with my HTPC? Explain this to me like I'm a newborn babe, with much detail from every aspect as possible ... such as connections ... recording ... etc ... :)



Recording HD can be tricky, OTA ATSC is easy, the capture card just captures the transport stream and writes it to disk. As for cable HD, that's trickier, for unencrypted channels it works the same way as OTA, for encrypted channels your SOL. The other option is firewire, it's possible to capture the transport stream via the firewire port on cable boxes equiped so. But again you're limited to non-encrypted channels. There is no other way right now, you can't (practically) capture the HD output of a STB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for all the useful information, and going through my overly HUGE post :)


Let me go over some stuff with you real quick.


Is Sage DVD included in Sage TV, or are they seperate applications? can i chose the dvd decoder I want to use ? (NVDVD 4.00 decoders I hear are the best)


can MCE2005 use FFDshow and NVDVD Codecs for dvd?


why wouldn't dscaler benefit me? It's supposed to improve analogue signals right? (again I have no idea what dscaler is :))


Do you know if there is actually a delay in changing channels and stuff? or how long of a delay? (via ir blaster)



other than that, I think i'm headed in the right direction. I heard that in the future, there are going to be things called cable cards ... and eventually there will be tv tuner cards with the card support (kinda like satellite HU Cards i suppose) and until then I won't worry about HDTV stuff :p


Thanks for all your help!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mattress
Thanks for all the useful information, and going through my overly HUGE post :)
I've seen longer, heck I've even made longer ones:D

Quote:
Let me go over some stuff with you real quick.


Is Sage DVD included in Sage TV, or are they seperate applications? can i chose the dvd decoder I want to use ? (NVDVD 4.00 decoders I hear are the best)
Yeah, it's just one of the menues/screens/whatever you want to call it. Sage can currently play DVDs from the drive or off the HDD.

Quote:
can MCE2005 use FFDshow and NVDVD Codecs for dvd?
From what I've read, no it can't use ffdshow, but yes it can use nVDVD decoders.

Quote:
why wouldn't dscaler benefit me? It's supposed to improve analogue signals right? (again I have no idea what dscaler is :))
Dscaler only works with raw capture cards, the PVR250 has a hardware MPEG encoder, it outputs an MPEG stream instead of uncompressed video. What dScaler does (besides just view live tv) is deinterlace and process the video. Your MPEG decoders, video card, and ffdshow (if you use it) take the place of dScaler. A few months/years ago I would have told you that dScaler was far superior in deinterlacing, but right now I'd have to say that if it's better it's not much (I haven't used dScaler in a while).

Quote:
Do you know if there is actually a delay in changing channels and stuff? or how long of a delay? (via ir blaster)
There is a delay, it takes a while to send the buttons and for the 250's buffer to refill, but I'm not sure how long, I'd say somewhere 1-5 seconds probably.

Quote:
other than that, I think i'm headed in the right direction. I heard that in the future, there are going to be things called cable cards
CableCard is already here, Mitsubishi's new TV have CableCard, and cable companies already offer it.

Quote:
and eventually there will be tv tuner cards with the card support (kinda like satellite HU Cards i suppose) and until then I won't worry about HDTV stuff :p
Unfortunately PC CableCard support is very much wishfull thinking at this point. There's no indication when, if ever, CableCard will make it to the PC. Let's just hope it doesn't end up in a situation like Satellite, where all the hardware exists (DVB+CAM cards) but the providers opt not to let us use it.
 
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