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How NOT to build an HTPC

fraggle

Established Member
... by Fraggle, aged 39 and 4/5ths.


Well this has turned out to be an experience I won't forget in a hurry.


Ordered all the parts I thought I needed, and Scan tempted me with a cheap OEM Windows MCE 2005 which I ordered as well. The next day I saw a Sweetspot video capture card for sale in these forums so nabbed that as well. All the bits arrived on the day I was due to head south to visit a friend in hospital.

So a frantic few hours of building went fine, I tidied up the half a mile of spare cable into the case, screwed it together, plugged it in and it fired up fine.


Put the XP MCE CD in and started installing it.

"Cannot read from CD"

Ooops. Take CD out, look at it and see large gouge out of it. They really shouldn't have packed it in with the Hauppage TV tuner card.


Phone Scan. "If you send it back we'll send you a new one but it will be quicker if you phone Microsoft on 'XYZ' number". I phone MS : "MCE is not sold to the general public sir, so this is classed as a business support call, that'll be £399.00 please" I don't think so. Phone Scan again and tell them, it goes to the head of customer support who promises to brow beat MS and get back to me.


Meanwhile I fire up Bittorrent and start downloading a MSDN copy of MCE, it'll be the same as my own legal copy when i get it fixed. Install normal Windows XP Pro. All is fine, but no MCE niceties.


At this point I'm late leaving, so throw the MS CDs, Start Guide and receipt into my bag in case Scan phone me and want more details. Next evening I'm back home, make a smorasbord of my damaged CD and the relevant files from the torrented copy, and start to install.


Hmm, product key. Where is it? Can't find it. Ars e. It's on the shrink wrapper that the CDs came in, and I know it was around when I left and I'm sure I packed it. Search high and low, phone the cleaner who was in when I left on Thursday. Not seen. Not found.

So, grab a dodgy CD Key and install using that.


And it falls over repeatedly. Damn, CD I made obviously has different versions of files on it. Make another one. (each read of the orig CD to find which files are corrupted takes an hour!!)

Install *again*. Works! Woohoo!


Email Scan re. lost product key. They can't help. Phone MSs UK registration number, they give me another number I'll phone on Monday. And Scan have sent me replacement CDs. Woohoo 2&3!

Bung DVD in, Media Player crashes.

MC says a decoder isn't installed.

PowerDVD plays it fine.


Oh, I installed the Sweetspot drivers, even though they're not needed, to get rid of some of the yellow "unknown" things in the hardware list. Now DScaler doesn't see the Sweetspot card. Great damn drivers!!!


So, DScaler can't see the Sweetspot card, Media Player can't play DVDs, MC can't either, I'm still using mangled Win XP MCE install discs, and I don't have a legit product key.

But I *have* got 1:1 mapping on my plasma (I think - looks damn close!)

:smashin: :smashin:
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
Hi, entertaining post, but commiserations about your troubles...

I am sure you are aware that MCE needs a specific combination of hardware / software / drivers to make it work properly, and it does not work with the Sweetspot Capture card..

First thing is, as already pointed out the dvd codec, second is the graphics card and MCE specific drivers.

THIS may help
 
Last edited by a moderator:

fraggle

Established Member
Hmm, I assumed that installing something like PowerDVD would automatically add its MPEG2 decoder into MP?

I know the Sweetspot/DScaler doesn't work in MCE, but MCE is just a front end on a standard Win XP Pro and DScaler should work fine on XP Pro.

Ta for the link <goes and reads>
 

sainthalo

Banned
IME WMP10 is extremely good. The only other player I actually NEED is VLC Media Player for smooth playback of hidef material. Both are free also although VLC is freer if you follow the logic that WMP10 is not really free as the OS costs money.

Unfortunately in order to compensate the DVD industry or something we now have to pay for DVD Decoding software so either go and visit something like isohunt or pay for Nvidia for their DVD decoder.

Start educating yourself about FFDSHOW once you sort this bit out. That is a whole new minefield but well worth it if you watch a XviD rips.
 

fraggle

Established Member
sainthalo said:
IME WMP10 is extremely good. The only other player I actually NEED is VLC Media Player for smooth playback of hidef material. Both are free also although VLC is freer if you follow the logic that WMP10 is not really free as the OS costs money.

Unfortunately in order to compensate the DVD industry or something we now have to pay for DVD Decoding software so either go and visit something like isohunt or pay for Nvidia for their DVD decoder.

Start educating yourself about FFDSHOW once you sort this bit out. That is a whole new minefield but well worth it if you watch a XviD rips.
I've downloaded Nvidias MPEG2 decoder and thats plugged itself in and works fine now. Still got a couple of niggles about aspect ratio in MCE and the fact it can't seem to shift the pic up or down, but the plasma can do that. (expand a w/s picture (not anamorphic) to fit width wise and half the subtitles are chopped off).

Also got DScaler seeing and using the Sweetspot card now, removed the card, plugged it back in again, told windows to sod off installing anything for it, and all is happy. (a card that works fine without drivers, thats what I like to see, but not if it gets totally broken if it does have drivers)

Bunged an aerial into the Hauppauge WinTV card and it tuned into - absolutely nothing! Great. Tried the Hauppauge apps and they fall over / do nothing. So somethings not quite right there. I've pulled that card out for now, thats the next on the list to get working.

Also the wireless keyboard/mouse I bought, they look lovely and feel great to use, but they're bluetooth, and the bt dongle only has a 5' range and the settee is like 12' away. DOH! Extension USB lead required... (a wireless keyboard that I'm buying extension leads for.... <grumble swear moan!> :) )

Re MCE and MP, I have also got iMEDIA installed as well, similar type of thing to MCE and it works a lot better with the iMON remote & VFD. Might see how easy/hard that is to set up with various players & tuners, etc.
 

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