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Hi everyone, just wanted to share my living room/home-theatre/office setup.

First my equipment list:
  • Panasonic PT-AX100 projector, native 720p
  • Yamaha RX-V1800 AVR
  • Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-Ray player
  • Harman Kardon HKTS11SIL 5.1 speaker set
  • Kaon DVB-T HD set-top box
  • Philips VHS VCR for those old VHS tapes
  • Nintendo Wii
  • 27" United LCD TV which is used for normal TV viewing
  • 27" No-name brand LCD TV in the master bedroom
  • Shuttle ST20G5 HTPC with an AMD 64 4200+ X2 CPU, 1gb ram, 250gb HDD, ATI Radeon 3850HD video card and a Hauppauge WinTV PVR150 MCE TV tuner. I also use this PC for the occasional gaming.

    For all my HTPC needs, I run MediaPortal which I think is an awesome piece of software.
  • Custom built file-server based on an Intel P4 @ 2.8GHz. Has about 1TB of storage space.
  • USB-UIRT infrared receiver/transmitter hooked up to the HTPC
  • iPod Touch 16gb which I use as a universal remote control for all my equipment, with the help of my own custom made software.
  • Canon HR10 1080i HD camcorder, which looks stunning on the 110" inch screen
  • Finally, a home made "screen" which basically consists of a white painted wall which I framed using hardwood skirts which I covered with a dark fabric which completely eliminates light reflection.

Everything is connected using HDMI, except the VCR and the Wii of course. I ran component and HDMI from the HTPC to the RX-V1800 so I could take the component output from it to the LCD TV which does not have HDMI.

For added flexibility of the system, I also decided to use all the other video outputs of my components. For example, the set-top box and the blu-ray player are also using Composite/component for video and RCA for audio. The primary reason I chose to do this is simple. I'm using the DVD-R out connection on the RX-V1800 to feed the Hauppauge TV tuner in the HTPC which has SaveTV server installed, which then streams everything to the SageTV client on my office PC. Since the RX-V1800 does not downscale any HD sources to analog, I needed the other connections to be able to feed *ALL* sources into the TV card.

Then I use the VCR out connections on the RX-V1800 to feed video/audio to another 27" LCD which is located in the master bedroom.

Now for the remote controls. The RX-V1800 has a pretty decent programmable remote. I've programmed it to learn the most common commands of all the other remotes, so I can control the TV, STB, VCR and Blu-Ray player with it. But what I like most, is that I can also use it to control the HTPC with the help of the USB-UIRT and EventGhost. I've simply set it up to emulate the most common key-strokes such as arrow down/up/left/right, escape/enter and 0-9. Works wonderfully.

I'm also using my iPod touch as a universal remote like I mentioned before. I mainly use it when I'm in the office and master bedroom when I obviously don't have direct line of sight to all my equipment which is in the living room. The iPod connects to my HTPC via WI-FI and uses the USB-UIRT to send commands to all my equipment. Like I said before, I wrote my own software to be able to do this. It's freeware and you can read about it and download it here.

Now, time for some pictures. I'm sorry for the bad quality, I only have a simple point and shoot camera which isn't the best when it comes to shooting pictures with low light. (Hell, I'm an impotent photographer as well

First, a view of the projector

This is where I keep all my input devices. A wireless keyboard/mouse, Logitech RumblePad for gaming and the iPod touch. You can also see the RX-V1800 remote and the remote for the projector. The little dongle in the top shelf to the right is the USB-UIRT device. Hidden behind this small cabinet is a 5-port USB hub which is connected to the HTPC.

This is how the living room looks with the lights reduced somewhat.

The TV bench. This picture was taken before I got the Blu ray player. Since then I've moved the VCR to the shelf below the AVR and the Blu-ray player occupies the space where the VCR is. Where is the HTPC you might ask? More on that later :)

Fortunately I've got a tiny storage room inside my apartment which is parallell to the living room. Thats where I keep my file server, HTPC, printer and WIFI/xDSL router. I drilled a hole through the wall into the living room through which I run all cables. I think it's quite a luxury to be able to keep the HTPC in another room, so the only fan noise in my living room is from the projector which is not loud at all.

There you can see the hole I drilled through the wall and all the cables. All cables I got from monoprice.com. 10 meters of HDMI, 15 meters of USB with active extensions, 10 meters of optical TOS-link, 10 meters of RCA-Audio, composite and S-Video to name a few.

Now for some screen-shots:

SD TV broadcast, nothing spectacular there.

Discovery HD @ 1080i (Downscaled to 720p by the projector)

The local sports channel @ 1080i (Downscaled to 720p by the projector) At that point in time I was really happy with the scores. Go Liverpool!! :)

The MediaPortal home screen

Screen shots of the universal remote on my iPod touch:

This is one of the layouts I've designed which contains the most common functions of all my equipment

Finally showing the screen of my office PC where I've got SageTV client running and watching streaming TV from the living room. Also on this screenshot is the Remote Control GUI application showing the same layout as the iPod touch screenshot above. When I'm watching TV on my office PC I use this program of mine to control the living room equipment.

Ok ... now I feel like I've been going on forever. Hope somebody bothered to read through all of this :) The only thing I really feel is missing from my setup is some sort of a meda extender in the master bedroom. As of now, I can only view SD analog sources in there via the RX-V1800, which means I cannot view the HTPC (which is only connected using HDMI and Component @ 720p). I was thinking about getting the SageTV HD Theatre extender (HD200) which seems to be a logical choice for me since I'm running SageTV server.

Any comments and questions welcome!


Haukur (hagur)
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