View Full Version : Building a PVR/Slimserver/Mediaserver

2007-02-14, 01:35
I am about to retire an Abit AW8-MAX (http://www2.abit.com.tw/page/en/motherboard/motherboard_detail.php?pMODEL_NAME=AW8-MAX&fMTYPE=LGA775) with Pentium D 820, 2.8GHz and 1GB of RAM on board and was thinking of using it as the basis of a dedicated PVR/Slimserver/Mediaserver. To this end I'll have to find a suitable dual channel HDTV card and either install Windows Media Centre or a Linux solution. Personally I'd strongly prefer a Linux based solution.

I intend to put 2-3 400GB SATA drives into the box (http://www.silverstonetek.com/products-lc16m.htm) with the goal of running Slimserver, storing an audio library, acting as a PVR and perhaps storing a DVD library. I may ultimately elect to keep large HDDs out of the equation and rely on NAS connectivity to serve audio and video.

- Is this likely to be too power hungry to viably leave running 24/7
- any suggestions as to dual channel HDTV cards with HDMI interface that is Linux supported?

2007-02-14, 18:26
- Is this likely to be too power hungry to viably leave running 24/7

Find out how much power it consumes, then figure out how much you pay for the electricity. From there you can decide if spending extra money for a low power system will save you anything in the long run. You might be able to have the pvr turn itself on and off automatically based on your recording shcedule.

any suggestions as to dual channel HDTV cards with HDMI interface that is Linux supported?

I have not heard of any dual HDTV cards. For the video output, you can get cheap pci express cards that have dvi out (nvidia 5200, 6200 etc). Use a dvi to hdmi converter, that's what I do to connect my MythTV box via HDMI to a Sony 34XBR960. If you plan to use cable TV, your cable company might be encrypting all channels outside of the basic lineup.

Good luck, I also use the PVR to run slimserver and play my dvd library.

2007-02-16, 04:23
I have not heard of any dual HDTV cards.

Thanks for your feedback. What TV tuner card are you using with Linux?

2007-02-16, 16:47
If you plan to use cable TV, your cable company might be encrypting all channels outside of the basic lineup.

And they might even encrypt the HD signals for the channels that are included in the basic lineup. My cable provider sends unencrypted QAM of most local OTA broadcasters' HD channels that are also in the basic lineup, but nearly all the other QAM content is encrypted, including HD feeds of "cable" stations in the basic lineup. So I gave up on QAM for HD and get my HD over the air, and only feed the cable coax into an SD card. Probably 80% of what I watch is SD, which I swear looks worse on my HD set than it does on the old CRT television.

I, too, use a PC for PVR and Slimserver. I haven't invested any time yet in trying to use WOL for the PC, as I expect I'd need to write my own code to coordinate shutdowns between Slimserver and MythTV (fortunately only MythTV wants to schedule PC restarts; with Slimserver I should be able to rely on the Squeezeboxes to send WOL as needed). I did invest some time in ensuring that CPU throttling worked, and that alone cut power usage by about 30%. You definitely want a card like the NVidia 5200/6200 that can offload some of the HD processing, but even then, it takes a lot more resources to play HD. SD was simple -- I had an old Celeron 733 MHz working fine when using a Hauppauge card that had hardware decoding and S/Video out.

Which card to use with Linux -- I'd suggest lookig at the Ubuntu and Myth(TV)ology guides, and the official MythTV wiki, for suggestions. I got the impression that tuner card manufacturers are like many other PC card vendors, playing the "chipset shuffle" so that this year's SuperTuner 500 might not work even though last year's SuperTuner 500 was the hardware of choice. Good luck with your build.

2007-03-01, 11:06
From my experience MythTV is your best choice for your server. For a superb guide to installing myth using Fedora try Jarod Wilson's site: http://www.wilsonet.com/mythtv/

My MythTV install and slimserver run happily beside each other on my old AMD 1.5 Thunderbird Socket A system.

I don't think that you are going to be able to achieve much power saving though because ultimately you are probably going to need a "non-NAS" PC to run your Myth Backend. So you may as well consolidate everything into one system.

If you are looking to have your HDD's external you might want to consider using eSATA HDD enclosures. Vantec has a great external HDD caddie that I use which is great (ie: non-USB connect).

As far as HDTV goes. It all depends on where you live. In my area there is no OTA HD content and the cable providers encrypt the 15 channels that are HD.

The only two ways to record HD content so far is to buy the Motorola PVR that the Cable company provides and watch TV from it or alternatively you can buy the same Motorola PVR box and use the firewire port to "stream" channels to your Mythbox. Either option is not great due to the 700.00CAD cost of the Motorola PVR.

I am sitting back and not adopting HDTV (even though I have a new Samsung LCD TV) until more options become available. SDTV still looks great and I can use DVD's as well. Early adoption costs too much in terms of price and the "betamax" effect.

PS: I have 2 Hauppauge 150's that work great and you can buy one of them with a windows MCE remote which works flawlessly for MythTV as well.

2007-04-17, 10:47

this info is ALL over the mythTV website. i suggest you go make yourself comfortable with the options before making your own qualified decisions. don't ask us...

although i suggest mythTV and linux for your server.

you just have to educate yourself or you will be disappointed. neither solution works "out of the box" the way most of the drooling public wants.

2007-05-16, 17:20

I am using both a HD-3000, and a HD-5500. Both are available from pchdtv.com.

2007-05-17, 01:29
Interesting thread... I went through the same thought processes a few weeks ago.

In the end, given the time and expense needed to set up a mythtv box from scratch, I bought a Topfield PVR instead. Cheaper, easier to set up, lower power, dual DVB-T tuners and a very active online community (http://www.toppy.org.uk/).