Category Archives: MythTV

MythTV Hints I

Here are some hints that I have gleaned so far:

DVD stuff:

And some MythTV-related sites:

MythTV Hardware Review

Last week, I posted a list of hardware that I’m buying for my MythTV. Most if it has arrived and I can make some comments about it now.

First, the Chenbro case is really bad. One of the hard drive bays is inaccessible due to being placed over the motherboard (!) and the other one requires the drive to be mounted upside-down. The 5.25″ bays are also poor, not letting one drive in all four screws (one of them only permits two, and right above each other at that, anchoring only 1 of 4 possible anchor points.)

The Biostar board is nice, but here’s the rub: while it features TV out and S/PDIF out pins on the motherboard, the board doesn’t ship with the connectors necessary to make it work! They charge $12 and $15, respecitvely, for the requires connectors, so this thing is not yet working with a TV.

The Samsung hard drive is great and it is indeed quiet as claimed. I’d heartily reccommend it.

And the Athlon XP 2200+ CPU is, of course, also a very nice one.

The Hauppauge card hasn’t arrive yet; I’m using a very old WinTV card until it does. More on that when it gets here.

MythTV remote suggestion

A lot of MythTV users are using lirc for their remote receivers. There are a lot of problems with lirc. For one, it doesn’t come with 2.6 drivers, and it also is limited to working with a single device on the system (or a very nasty hackish solution for multiple devices).

Here’s another option: get an infrared keyboard and a learning remote. I picked up a wireless infrared keyboard for $17 at This keyboard has a receiver module that plugs into PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, and the transmitter is infrared.

Next step: get a learning remote. I picked up a One For All URC-8810 at Walmart for $20. Contrary to the documentation, almost all keys can be learned, not just L1-L4. It does have a limited memory, but it is enough to program all the keys I need.

All in all, a slick solution. Total cost: $37, and you get a useful remote and keyboard (with mouse stick) that you’d probably have wanted anyway.

MythTV Hardware

Here’s what I’ve ordered to build my MythTV unit. I’ll let you know how I like it all once the stuff arrives <grin>

  • Chenbro PC40522-BK Micro-ATX case, $46. It looks nice, sorta like a VCR, I guess.
  • Biostar M7NCG 400 AMD Socket A Micro-ATX motherboard, $61. Has built-in TV out and S/PDIF digital audio out. Perfect for this project.
  • AMD Athlon XP 2200+ CPU, $67. Wow, these things are cheap.
  • Samsung 160GB ATA133 hard drive, $91. Got this particular one because it’s suposed to be really quiet.
  • Kingston 256MB RAM, $46.
  • Hauppauge PVR-350 TV capture card with hardware MPEG-2 encode and decode support, $165.
  • IR blaster, homebrew: $8 of RadioShack parts.

Total cost: $484.

PVR Experiment with MythTV

I’ve been a PVR user for quite some time now. While many people use the Tivo, I started out with the ReplayTV side. My first PVR was the Panasonic Showstopper, a rebranded ReplayTV unit. In fact, I still have and use this quite obsolete PVR today.

But it is obsolete, and the paltry 10 hours of record time at high quality is starting to get to me. I’d like to be able to burn recorded shows to DVD, a process that would require removing the hard disk, hooking it up to a desktop computer, and then returning it.

So, I started out looking for a new unit. I considered four choices: a new ReplayTV, new Tivo, or a homebrew MythTV or Freevo unit.

The ReplayTV options were nice, but would cost $750 for a 160-hour unit with lifetime service (and I don’t want to pay $13/mo for service either!). And while ReplayTVs can now be accessed over a network, still I don’t have much control over the capture format of content.

Tivo’s 140-hour unit would be $650 with lifetime service, but I’d have to also purchase an add-on network module to be able to download content for DVD burning. Again, expensive.

So I looked at MythTV and Freevo. While Freevo appeared to have the easier setup, MythTV clearly was the more mature and featureful product. Some of its features that greatly appealed to me were:

  • Ability to record in MPEG2 DVD format with hardware MPEG2 capture card
  • Versatile client/server setup, permitting TV to be watched, recorded, and played back from various computers on the network (also permitting scattering of video capture cards around the network)
  • Many record options, including nice conflict management/resolution screens
  • User-friendly, intuitive interface
  • No monthly costs
  • Modules to play and rip DVDs, play games on TV via a NES/SNES/whatever emulator, view current weather conditions, etc.
  • Customizable record formats
  • Others too…

So, I’ve ordered the MythTV hardware… more on that next time. I’ll be posting my MythTV experiences here.