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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thought I would post the pearls of wisdom I have gained since completing my HTPC (well it's never really complete...).


I took an old PC that wasn't used much with the following specs:

Pentium 3/800 MhZ, 384MB RAM

40 GB HD

nVidia GeForce 3 ti4200 w/DVI

Soundblaster Live! Value

Generic DVD player (no SPDIF out)


To it, I added the following:

Creative Labs Audigy 2 card (swapped from my faster computer)

MyHD 120 Card with DVI daughter card

Kanam HT200B Black HTPC Desktop ATX w/VFD (from Digital Connection)

IR Module and Remote Control

Fortron FSP400-60PFN 400W Power Supply (supposedly very quiet)

Toshiba 16X DVD-ROM IDE (with SPDIF out)

2nd spare 40 GB HD I had (I might ditch this for a 200GB at some point)


I had several major problems putting all this together. First, I had a nightmare of a time getting the DVI out working on my nVidia card. As it turned out, all I needed to do was update the BIOS of the card, and it then worked perfectly.

Lesson 1 - Make sure you use the most up to date drivers and BIOS - especially if you are using older equipment! (I have heard people complain about ATI's latest driver though).


Lesson 2 - Flash your BIOS BEFORE you use your fancy new HTPC case which eschews the floppy drive. Floppys are pretty much required unless you know of some way to make a CDR or CDRW bootable (I don't).


If you want to output Dolby Digital sound from DVDs, and you want an external device to do the decoding, you must have a DVD ROM with a SPDIF out.


Lesson 3 - Make sure your DVD ROM has a SPDIF out. If not, buy one that does!


Finding the right way to control your HTPC can be a bit of a nightmare as well. I have bought and returned three different keyboard/mouse combos thus far. The Gyration (radio) worked the best of the three, but I'm going with the Liteon Airboard in the end because it's IR. As a result, I can send keystrokes via a learning remote, thereby controlling HDTV and DVD software more easily. This really improves the flexibility of my setup. This is really personal perference, but be careful. Most solutions will not give you adequate range.

Lesson 4 - Make sure you buy a wireless keyboard/mouse combo with more than enough range.


Lesson 5 - Beware serial IR solutions. Many of them ARE NOT compatible with normal consumer remotes, and therefore far less useful. The Kanam IR Module and Remote Control option that I purchased is practically useless.



Another thing to note is the state of HDTV cards. They are way in their infancy. I'm hoping the major manufacturers start building them since no card gives you everything you want. There were two major features I wanted, PVR with time shifting and DVI output. In the end, I had to choose between those two and I think I made the right one going with DVI output. You absolutely can't beat a digital signal. It's fantastic - so much better than an analog signal. Even my wife notices the difference. She even suggested we get rid of the Sony consumer DVD player we have.

Lesson 6 - DVI is the wave of the future and well worth the price. If you don't have an HDTV with a DVI input, get one!


Lesson 7 - HDTV cards are still a little primative. If you are price-conscious, hold out. They will only get better and cheaper.
 

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DVD ROM with a SPDIF out ?


i dont understand :(


i thought the pass thru goes thru the sound card that has optical or SPDIF out, using the software dvd player or whatever audio filters u have...
 

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Quote:
Lesson 3 - Make sure your DVD ROM has a SPDIF out. If not, buy one that does!
Not true. You should get your digital audio out of the bus. I am not even sure that works.

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Lesson 6 - DVI is the wave of the future and well worth the price. If you don't have an HDTV with a DVI input, get one!
Well, more accurately if you are planning to get an HDTV get one with DVI. The PQ maybe better than component but not of such a magnitude that you should change today.

Quote:
HDTV cards are still a little primative. If you are price-conscious, hold out. They will only get better and cheaper.
Couldn't be happier with my myHD.


You bring up a good point though. I am planning to put together an HTPC and I was going to forgo the (shudder) floppy. Do other forum members think the floppy is absolutely necessary?


Cheers,
 

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Nope. I boot with an old Win98 installation cd and do bios upgrades from a small FAT32 partition (since the rest of course are NFTS formatted). :cool:
 

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I see. Making a bootable CD, DVD or HD partition in the Mac is so effortless that its surprising this hasn't been solved on the Wintel side.


Is there a way at all to make a bootable CD?


Cheers,
 

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Originally posted by Alric
I see. Making a bootable CD, DVD or HD partition in the Mac is so effortless that its surprising this hasn't been solved on the Wintel side.


Is there a way at all to make a bootable CD?


Cheers,
It is trivial to make a bootable CD on Win platforms with Nero (the *only* burning software to use ;)). Just select "Bootable CD" from the wizard or disc type selector when you select "new disk".


But this doesn't mean you ought to build a PC without a floppy. There are simply too many instances when having to save a quick file, driver or BIOs update from the hard disk, or perform a firmware update- without the hassle of burning a CDR, that the trusty 1.44MB floppy is indispensible.


How can you burn a CDR from a Win98 DOS prompt you booted to from floppy or a bootable CD? I don't know if CDR writing drivers are available for Win98 DOS (DOS 7.x?), but even they there were CD writer device drivers that enabled the COPY and XCOPY commands to write to CDR, it would be a hassle to have to install those drivers every time you make a bootable floppy. As I misplace my boot floppies all the time, I make new ones regularly.


Are there motherboards that implement CD writing drivers in their BIOs, similar to how motherboards gradually enabled LS120, Zip, and USB drive support?


I don't know why this point is debated so often, as floppy mechs are basically free now,
 

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It is trivial to make a bootable CD on Win platforms with Nero (the *only* burning software to use ). Just select "Bootable CD" from the wizard or disc type selector when you select "new disk".
This begs the question. What are you burning to the CD?
 

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Floppy ncessary - nope. If I absolutely need one, I have 2 choices. 1. Temporarily connect 1 (if the case is open). 2. Use the only 1 on a networked PC as shared.


Most OS and install disks are now CDs. CDs are probably $.10 each and can be stamped. Floppys must be copied to as it is a magnetic medium.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
[DVD ROM with a SPDIF out ?


i dont understand


i thought the pass thru goes thru the sound card that has optical or SPDIF out, using the software dvd player or whatever audio filters u have...]


Right, there is a cable you can connect which sends digital audio from your DVD player to your sound card. There are two connections available. One is SPDIF (digital) and one is analog.


You can then pipe the digital signal straight out the SPDIF out on the card.


I have heard about sending audio over the BUS, but I don't really trust that. I suspect you could introduce noise into the signal. Not that it would degrade the signal, per se, just that it would introduce breaks in the stream when Windows XP inevitably hiccups.


Besides, I wasn't able to get the BUS to work. Perhaps I was doing something wrong...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I agree that the floppy is generally not necessary for a HTPC. I think the bootable CD is a great idea, I just couldn't figure out how to do it. I'm going to try NERO to see if I can put a bootable CDRW together. Should be nice going forward!


Thanks
 

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Right, there is a cable you can connect which sends digital audio from your DVD player to your sound card. There are two connections available. One is SPDIF (digital) and one is analog.
That doesn't work for the digital audio (DD or DTS) of DVD movies! Or has the world gone mad!
 

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I have a Pioneer DVR-106D and was wondering what the WHITE 4-pin connector was on the rear of the drive (also has the standard 4-pin black connector). No where online or in the instructions that came with the drive does it say what that white connector is for. Could it be the digital SPDIF output?

BTW, I can't get the SPDIF out working on my ABIT IC7-G mobo anyways! :(

Warren
 

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That is an spdif out, and it does work for uncompressed CD audio; but not dolby digital or DTS streams in DVD movies. Or so I thought!


Hey! I am a vet too! Send your positive thoughts..next week I am off to Ames Iowa to take pathology boards..


Cheers,
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
[That is an spdif out, and it does work for uncompressed CD audio; but not dolby digital or DTS streams in DVD movies. Or so I thought!


Hey! I am a vet too! Send your positive thoughts..next week I am off to Ames Iowa to take pathology boards..]


Hmmmm... Well I couldn't get my sound card to output Dolby Digital from the DVD ROM without connecting the internal SPDIF (DVD to sound card). After doing so, I can ouput a dolby digital signal through the SPDIF output on the sound card.


But hey, who knows? Maybe its actually going through the BUS. I don't really care at this point. IT WORKS!
 

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Warren,


To get the spdif working on your IC7-G, you need to use the soundman app, and config where sound goes out. You have a lot of options (pass through, dts/dd only, windows only, etc...)
 

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Floppies are done and done. Bootable CD's are as cited above no big deal to make now and for what the cost of a floppy drive is you can buy a 32MB or 64MB USB Disk Key which is far more useful than any floppy. Just make sure you have ready access to a USB port and you're laughing.
 

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Floppy is necessay to upgrade dvdrom firmware, especially if your system only has one drive. Most of the flash utilities for dvd can't work from C:\\ partition, even if it's FAT. I agree floppy is an unreliable medium, always use a fresh one to do important upgrades (read error in the middle of MB bios flash and you're stuck).

For s/pdif out of dvdrom, i have never connected it and i get dd, dts, pcm passthrough via pci bus all the time.


bye
 

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Dubmaster,


I've heard that comment in the past from floppy lovers. The bootable cdrom image creator I have up for download can be used to upgrade your cdrom firmware without issues. The baseline config.sys and autoexec.bat create a "floppy" ramdisk which you can move the cdrom flashrom image to for an update. I've done this with an old HP and TDK drives, using the "region free" flashrom's. Most modern "legal" updates for optical drives (like Pioneer's latest firmware update's for their DVD writers) provide software to reprogram through windows.


I'll go ahead and moot your next argument - about a power outage. If you are in the middle of a flash update and the power goes out, you are hosed whether the update was from a ramdisk or floppy drive.


There is no longer any reason to have a floppy drive installed in a HTPC unless you have ony of those old .3 megapixel Sony Mavica camera's that used floppy disks as storage media. If that's the case, stop spending money on your HTPC, and buy a new camera!
 
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