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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm starting to put together a video network and could use some advice on how to best use the hardware I have and what I might want to add. Currently I have:


1.8 DP G5 Tower with a 500 GB main drive and a 1TB Time Machine drive in the kitchen and is used as the main home computer. It sits next to a 22" Vizio that doubles as a second screen when needed.


1.6 G5 Tower with an 80GB drive located on a desk at the back of the HT room for the kids to use and stream itunes to the Airport Express connected to the HT.


2.8 SFF Dell Optiplex with a 40GB drive on the same desk as the 1.6. This machine is mostly used for the kids PC games.


2.0 Macbook (Santa Rosa) 80 GB drive. This is my wife's main computer.


1.8 Dell D620 Laptop. My work computer


The house currently has 802.11 G wireless and I have been running CAT5E around the house and added a gigabit switch so that all of the desktops are on 1000/T and I have a few places to plug the laptops into as well. (All have 1000/T.)


I recently added a rack (I think 72 spaces) that sits in the storage room adjacent to the HT and holds the some of the HT gear that I have been thinking would be a good place to add a computer or NAS to.


I would like to add a networked PVR, -I'm thinking HDHomerun, rip DVDs to a central server and have iTunes and iPhoto on a central network that could be accessed by any of the desktops or laptops. I assume I'll need to add an intel machine to the HT. I'm not sure if that should be a mini with external storage, a laptop in clam shell mode with external storage, or do I do a NAS device or load up one of the desktops? Also, would one of the desktops work well for as a HDHomerun recorder, leaving the playback to the intel machines?


Any suggestions or directions would be much appreciated!


Thanks!


Brad
 

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Depends on how much you want to spend and how much time you want to take in setting it up.


A. Buy the parts to make a simple server in a rackmount case. Total cost without harddrives would be about $300-400. This would run Ubuntu or similar, but you would need some time (and reading) to get it going. But, you can add tuner cards & mythtv-backend which the macs (even the laptops) can access and view TV and recorded programs.


B. You could just add a rackmounted (or pedistal drobo connected to the main G5) NAS and have all computers access the shared storage. This approach is quick and easy, but lacks the full functionality of a linux server, and it will run you $600-1000.
 

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Quote:
I have been running CAT5E around the house and added a gigabit switch so that all of the desktops are on 1000/T and I have a few places to plug the laptops into as well

good, gigabit makes things so much easier.

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I would like to add a networked PVR, -I'm thinking HDHomerun...would one of the desktops work well for as a HDHomerun recorder, leaving the playback to the intel machines
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I assume I'll need to add an intel machine to the HT

You'll need a decent C2D Mac in order to play back QAM and ATSC recordings, but yes, any of your older Macs can run the EyeTV software and control the tuner. I use a couple of dual G4 MDDs much like you might end up using your G5s, they record and serve up all my ripped dvds and EyeTV HD. You're probably already aware of this, but just to make sure-- you don't connect the HD Homerun directly to a PowerMac--just make sure it's plugged into your router or gigabit switch and assigned an address. Once it's on your network, any of your Macs can control and/or interact with it.

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rip DVDs to a central server and have iTunes and iPhoto on a central network that could be accessed by any of the desktops or laptops. I assume I'll need to add an intel machine to the HT. I'm not sure if that should be a mini with external storage, a laptop in clam shell mode with external storage, or do I do a NAS device or load up one of the desktops?

Now, with this you're really merging a couple of different questions. It's probably best for you to break them down. You do need a C2D Mac directly connected to your HDTV, and it can be a Mini or a Macbook: me, after starting off with a G4 mini I've always used closed-lid Macbooks in the HT because they outperform the mini--at any given point in time the value equation changes slightly--but the C2D Macbook's 4GB RAM, n wireless, better graphics, better resale value, incredibly easy hard drive and RAM access is very nice. I'm able to use the best deinterlacing setting with EyeTV, whereas no mini w/ the GMA950 is able to without dropping frames.


But, as long as you have gigabit at your HDTV, you'll probably be happy with whatever mini or MB you get.


Then, your other issue is the storage/NAS/server thing--and that really is a separate issue beside what you actually use to play back your content in the HT. You have to decide where you want your media to live, and it can live in one central location, either a NAS or you can use one of your G5s for that task or you can have media all over the place. With sharing in Leopard and aliases Front Row can play back from anywhere. (Most of us treat media differently--for instance, I have 2 backups of my 400GB iTunes ALAC library, one kept off-site--and no redundancy or fault tolerance for any of my dvd rips.) Just comes down to your budget for new hardware, and your willingness to manage it, like scarycall suggests. Plenty of threads and discussions in the forum about how we each approach that.


The point, though, is you don't necessarily have to have external storage, like USB and firewire drives, directly attached to whatever Mac you set up in your HT--use it like an extender and with gigabit you can play back whatever you want no matter where you have your EyeTV archive or VIDEO_TS, even if it's in one of the G5s.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies! I'm thinking the 1.6 G5 will be come a PVR and occasional surfing machine. Does anyone know if you can record two simultaneous streams from HDHomerun on one computer or do you need to feed each tuner to different machine?


Also, can the G5 playback standard def DVD's ok? I currently have a 720p projector and an Oppo 980 in the HT, (I'll probably wait a little longer to make the BRD jump.) but I'm wondering if it would be worth it to hook up the G5 to make it easier for the kids to watch their movies even before I'm able to add another C2D machine.


And finally, back to the storage question. Does it make a difference with throughput whether I choose to add internal drives to one of the desktops or add external storage? And I'm also concerned about energy consumption and operating costs. I hear the G5s can really suck the juice. Anybody know the difference in energy consumption of say a mini with external drives or a G5 with additional internals?


Thanks!


Brad
 

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Quote:
Does anyone know if you can record two simultaneous streams from HDHomerun on one computer

A single Mac can control both tuners.

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can the G5 playback standard def DVD's ok?

Apple's dvd player app was improved in Leopard, and both of your G5s are powerful enough to show that improvement.

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Does it make a difference with throughput whether I choose to add internal drives to one of the desktops or add external storage?

Moving files over gigabit from one Mac to another is pretty fast, even if it is to or from an external drive. Of course, moving something over the USB bus will usually be slower than firewire, but then most Macs have mediocre USB performance generally. That's physically moving files, though--if you're just talking playback or streaming, with the file staying where it is, no, you won't have a problem, typical USB external drives are "fast" enough for what you'll be doing.


A fast internal makes a noticeable difference in overall HT performance--I have a 2.5" 320GB Scorpio Black in my MB at the moment and it's super.

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And I'm also concerned about energy consumption

I'm less so, so I'm not the best counsel on that issue...I'm much more concerned about noise, fans, whether drives spin down, interfere w/ sleep, keep cool, etc. There's no reason not to put big drives in your G5s, though.
 

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I was just about to ask this same question about potential good uses for my G5...


My dual 2.5Ghz G5 failed on Christmas eve with a leaking processor module. It was repaired by Apple, but I still don't have a lot of long-term confidence in it. Because of the failure, I made my Macbook Pro my primary development Mac and am thinking about the best uses for the G5.


I've ordered a couple of 1TB drives to replace the two internal 500GB drives. I'm thinking I'll partition them and perhaps strip a couple of partitions to use as a place to record, process and store EyeTV recordings. I'm also thinking about maxing the RAM out at 8GB.


Beyond media storage, I can see continuing to do some video editing/processing on this box and certainly it'll be my test server for web development, a local subversion repository and maybe other things. I might also set it up with Leopard Server, which is soon to be obsolete.


Does any of this make sense or should I look for a sucker willing to pay $500-$900 and replace it with a tricked out next generation mini (which still hasn't shipped)?


Dennis
 
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