HTPC for under £500 - Progress and assistance

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by dhehir, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. dhehir

    dhehir
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    Hi Folks,

    My project to build a sub £500 HTPC has been ongoing for some time now and I am very nearly reaching completion... I do have a couple of niggles that I will get to later but for now here is the current config with pricing (all prices include delivery)...


    Case :- Antec NSK2400 MATX - £49.70 - Ebuyer
    MoBo :- Abit Fatal1ty F-I90HD - £67.91 - Ebuyer
    CPU :- Int E4400 2.00GHz 775 - £72.73 - Ebuyer - Overclocked to 2.66 on stock HS & Fan
    RAM :- Corsair 1GB DDR2 XMS2 6400/800 - £38.99 - Ebuyer - Will add another Gig shortly
    HD :- 160GB Western Digital - SATA - £36.27 - Ebuyer
    HD :- 500Gb Samsung Spinpoint - SATA - £67.62 - Ebuyer
    Tuner :- Hauppauge WinTV-HVR3000 - £79.59 - Amazon
    Media :- Optiarc (Sony/NEC)AD-7170S-0S silver - £23.11 - Ebuyer
    Input :- Trust W'less KB built in Trackball - £37.71 - Amazon
    OS :- XP home SP2 - Already owned
    :- Mediaportal - Open Source
    Display :- Sharp Aquos LC-32P50E - Already owned

    Total :- - £473.13 with extra 1 GB RAM £512.12


    At present I am only running Freeview (DVB-T) in to the box but and is working a treat and am very happy so far...

    The Niggles:

    First off when adding the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR3000 card, this completely covered the slit from which you run power cabling from the PSU to the main board area... To get around this, all cabling needed to be run under the 5 1/4 bays, through the HDD section and back in to main board area... Not a huge problem but slightly anoying (anybody who has seen the Antec case should know what I am talking about)...

    Secondly, I am struggling to find a decent (cheap) HS and fan that I can use with this MB and case, would like to overclock some more but certainly not until I can get hold of decent cooling device... Again not a huge problem, will most likely have to bite the bullet and pay more than I was hoping to (as you can see, I am a cheapskate)...

    The Major Niggle:

    OK, I am running from the onboard HDMI port to HDMI on my LCD, I can only get 720p at the moment but believe this is due to LCD limitations not the HTPC (when trying to run an resolution for 1080 the desktop area is about an inch over the size of the screen on all sides)... This is by the by, I am happy with 720p (just expanding on the setup a bit)... My problem is that if I change back to watch sky (through scart) on the LCD and leave it that way for a certain amount of time, then try to go back to the HDMI port to view the HTPC, I get a blank screen and have to reset every time... Now, I have tried turning off screen savers, and played with power options (all set to never), but no joy... Any help or advise you can give on this would be very much appreciated (and I hope it's clear - apologies if this is all babble)...

    With the niggles out of the way, I have a request for assistance on finding a part... I am looking to run my Sky TV in to the my media centre (bog standard sky box - with no s-video)... Now I understand that this will require a scart to S-video converter. I believe that the bog standard ones such as the one below are not right for what I am trying to achieve... If anyone has this sort of set up, please can you let me know what you are using and if quality is any good...

    http://svp.co.uk/products-solo.php?pid=1250&ref=froogle


    Think this will be enough for now... Again any assistance in any of these matters will be very greatfully recieved...

    Thanks for looking...

    DCH
     
  2. jaymz

    jaymz
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    You should be running your HTPC at the same resolution as your TVs native resolution. This will give you 1:1 pixel mapping and give you the best possible picture. You then use your HTPC to scale up and or down the videos you are playing. This stops the TV scaling performing it.

    NOTE: Your TVs maximum resolution for PC use (eith VGA/HDMI) may be different to the native resolution.

    I have had the blank screen when changing sources and found it to be ;

    1. Turn on/off "repost graphics on resume" in the BIOS
    2. Nvidia graphics bug that MST can fix

    I think that dvice will work with your Sky box, as you can change direction. Some cables are s-video to Scart, some are Scart to S-video and others are bidirection s-video to scart. It all depentds if the pins at the scart connector a "fully wired". I beelvie the in and out pins on the scart connector are different, which is what causes the problem.

    Other than that your set-up should fine, probably not up to the job for 1080p hidef though.
     
  3. dhehir

    dhehir
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    Thanks for the response jaymz, I shall have a hunt in the BIOS when I get home and play around with the resolution, will pick up one of those converters, worth a shot for a couple of quid...

    Am happy with 720p at the moment, when I start looking at getting true hidef, guess I will need to by a nice new funky GPU...

    Again thanks for the advise...

    DCH
     
  4. sibeer

    sibeer
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    Provided your Sky box has an Svid compatible Scart output then that adaptor should work. If not it will let you run a Composite lead to your input. I found the quality of MCE encoding to be quite a way from that of Sky +, but definately acceptable for avoiding missing the soaps or similar.
     
  5. sibeer

    sibeer
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    With regards the scaling is it always better to get the PC to scale? If you are feeding 720P material through a PC set to 720P output to a TV that is optimised for 720P media, surely that will have the least scaling (i.e. just the TV).
     
  6. dhehir

    dhehir
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    Hi folks,

    Sorry, me again, I'm not getting anywhere with my blank screen issue, had a look for the "repost graphics on resume" in the BOIS, but cannot find it or anything that resembles it... Also not sure what MST is...

    My Abit Fatal1ty F-I90HD is "Based around the ATI Radeon Express 1250 Graphics chipset" now i've also searched through the settings on the ATI catalyst thingy that I installed for this but again am drawing a blank...

    I'm obviously missing something, any further ideas on this will be greatly appreciated...

    Many Thanks,

    DCH
     
  7. jaymz

    jaymz
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    AFAIK yes. Especially when you consider image postprocessing for sharpness etc using ffdshow.

    In your example there will no scalling, as all 3 items are at the same resolution, generally 1280 x 720. This is why "1:1 pixel mapping" for HTPC use is considered the holy grail. It would be even better if the material was at the same FPS and there would be no 3:2 pulldown etc. Although Nvidia graphics processing for this can be done on the card now.
     
  8. jaymz

    jaymz
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    MST = MCE Standby Tool

    Can you confirm TV make and model?

    Are you sure it is a blank screen (can you change the colour of the screen to something that is not black?) and not that the TV has gone into power save mode?
     
  9. dhehir

    dhehir
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    LCD is a Sharp Aquos LC-32P50E

    Fairly sure that LCD is not in Power save mode as it happens when changing from scart to HDMI (i.e pressing av button and scrolling through till I reach HDMI)

    I'm using Mediaportal instead of MCE so don't think MST is an option... Will have a hunt around mediaportal website and see if it has anything similar...

    Again, thanks for the assistance

    DCH
     
  10. dhehir

    dhehir
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    Sorry to bump,

    Antome have any ideas on this or experienced it before... As i'm sure you can imagine, this is becoming increasingly frustating...

    Thanks again,

    DCH
     
  11. tinners

    tinners
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    I thought this too but listening to the avf podcast this isnt in fact true, it can sometimes be better with a decent TV to get the upscaling done by the TV. I guess you should try both and see which you like best :)
     

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