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HTPC self-build experience with Tosh DLP.

Discussion in 'TVs' started by mrmoo, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. mrmoo

    mrmoo
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    I’ve posted this here because it may be of some use to DLP owners thinking of upgrading to an HTPC. This is all old hat over in the “Entertainment PC” forum. Which is an excellent further reference point.

    Some background:
    I use a Toshiba 46WM48P and was happily upscaling DVD’s on a Sumsung HD-945. Until I tried connecting my main PC with a WMVHD DVD. It became painfully obvious that the best picture belonged to the PC. So…., my PC is way over spec for an HTPC. Not to mention that the missus booted me out of the living room with all the mess. I convinced myself that I needed an HTPC. So I set about building one that could handle anything I could throw at it for as little as possible. It needed to be quiet and not look out of place, although space wasn’t a problem as I intended to mount it behind the TV. It also needed to connect to the internet via a Wifi network and stream media from my main PC.

    Software:
    Windows Media Centre 2005
    WinDVD5
    WinDVD6
    PowerDVD 6 Deluxe
    Theatertek 2.1.1
    DScaler
    Ffdshow
    Girder
    Ultramon
    Mozilla
    NVIDIA DVD Decoder

    Hardware:
    Keyboard BTC 9019URF £26.20
    Kingston 2x256Mb KVR400X64C25/256 £40.86
    Lite-On DVD-ROM £14.85
    Antec 120mm Case fan, with thermal control £10.20
    HIPER 425W SILENT DUAL FAN PSU £32.31
    IR remote control sensor £6.89
    Globalwin YCC-79B10 Aluminium Midi Tower £23.50
    Asus A8V-E Deluxe + WiFi PCI-E Motherboard £81.77
    AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Winchester 90nm (939 Pin) - Retail £121.02
    Galaxy GeForce 6600 GT 128MB DDR3 TV-OUT/DVI (PCI-E) £122.26
    Packard Bell TV card PB-TV100 £29.99
    Zalman NorthBridge Passive Cooler £9.60
    Sound insulating foam £9.99
    2 X (0-1K) potentiometers £1.10
    £530.54 Inc vat.

    The build:
    Pretty straight forward. Except for the memory, originally bought Corsair value ram. It wouldn’t boot in duel channel mode. Found out that the board was sensitive to some makes and replaced them with the approved Kingston variety. The main problem was noise. Once I’d connected it up I found even the low levels of noise irritating. So I cut a 120mm hole in the case, installed a big fan. I lined the case with sound insulating foam. Cut the 12v feeds to the CPU and case fans and soldered in potentiometers. Set them so the fans just stalled and turn them up a fraction. Select slow fan speed for the PSU. I found a hack for the graphics card and turned the fan down to 20%. Enable Asus Q-Fan2 speed control. Finally removed the Northbridge fan that ran at 7000 rpm. Result, I can’t hear it anymore, the TV’s much louder, case temperatures are 38 degrees after a few hours.

    Setup
    Initially used VGA and HDMI connections. After playing with it, I’ve dumped the VGA. The picture is poor compared to the HDMI. Also I can set the resolutions to remove overscan on HDMI. I tend to leave a little overscan; I hate seeing the edge of the applications. Currently at 1920x1080i, with overscan compensation. The 6600GT interrogates the HDMI connection and correctly recognises that it’s a TV. I can switch from 50 to 60Hz, either work. The main use is DVD’s or XviD. For DVD’s I’ve found the best absolute picture is with TheaterTek upscaled with Ffdshow to the same ratio to the display. This runs the CPU, depending on settings to 60/70%, be warned you can max the CPU with too many filters.

    In day-to-day use I use the VMR9 renderless display and the DXVA output of the GPU hardware. TheaterTek or NVidia DVD gives the best renderless and I only see 15/18% CPU. I use Dscaler for XviD’s or TV (good deinterlacing). The TV card is connected to SKY+ via S-video, once filtered and deinterlaced I'd swear it was better than the RGB input.

    Onboard network connection, streaming from my main PC. If you want to setup streaming Wifi, go for static IP’s and WEP encryption. 54Mbps with framebursting may hang a bit depending on the TS file; they play but some drop a few frames. Any other AV media, no problem. Don’t use DHCP; it gave me no end of trouble. I’m currently playing with different front ends; I can’t get on with MCE. I’m looking at Xlobby or the one with Nvidia DVD. Also I have an infrared diode connected to the COM port and I’ve got this working with Girder for remote control commands. Ongoing.
     
  2. St_ve

    St_ve
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    :smashin: nice one mrmoo ,
    I have that keyboard got it at a computer fair a couple of months ago it's a handy little thing.
    HTPC is definately the way to go superb picture quality.
    I've just started costing & sourcing my HTPC it's probably going to cost £850 not counting the keyboard & TV card which i allready have.
    I hope when i finish that my wife can use it properly , she allways had trouble with our video recorder :rolleyes:
     
  3. supermackem

    supermackem
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    I will add to the htpc bandwagon to. Alough i am using my current pc hooked up via vga at the moment plan to build a fresh pc for it around christmas time. The picture is asowme and i think beats out any dvd player. Plus easy access to hd clips and xvid and divx movies. Just wish there was more hd content out there. Thata a pretty nice spec you got there for the cost, think i will go the amd 64 route also.
     
  4. willwood

    willwood
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    apart from video capture, doesn't having a chipped XBox achieve the same thing?
     
  5. supermackem

    supermackem
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    Yeah but pc gives out a better picture i think than a xbox. Close mind with xvid playback etc but the pc edges it for me.
     
  6. Razor

    Razor
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    Xbox cant do HD

    Mrmoo, I am glad you have got it finished and posted. As usual very good pictures.

    I will be starting mine soon, as I have a noisey Mesh pc in my lounge sat next to the RD65.

    Definately getting the geforce 6600gt for its 50Hz setting and HD playback.

    :smashin:
     
  7. nigel_williams

    nigel_williams
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    Mine's a work in progress too. I've started with a Dell 8400 I picked up for under 300 quid and loaded MCE2005 (I have MSDN :)). Just ordered a Hauppauge Nova-T but I've been playing with Showshifter since it supports my DEC2000 USB. Also bought the MCE remote from E-Buyer.

    Results have been very good. I'm finding that the digital recordings exhibit far less banding/solarisation that I get through a comparatively low quality TiVo feed.

    So far I've been playing with MCE, Showshifter, MediaPortal and FFD Show. Meedio is now available for $20 so might give that a try too.
     
  8. St_ve

    St_ve
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    Have you tried DVI out from the PC should give you a better picture :)
     
  9. willwood

    willwood
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    The Mac mini in conjunction with a few products from Elgato http://www.elgato.com, make the Mac Mini a very neat but basic HTPC. It runs silently, can handle DVD playback, XVid, DivX, TV recording and playback. It may not be to everyones taste but it is certainly neat and quiet.
     
  10. St_ve

    St_ve
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    I've seen it and it's good i doubt there are any DVD players for the same price with better playback quality, makes a good basic HTPC & you'll allways be able to find a use for it with a second TV set or maybe install it in a car.
    If Apple ever release a dedicated HTPC it's going to be well worth looking at. :)
     
  11. Bacus

    Bacus
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  12. St_ve

    St_ve
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  13. Razor

    Razor
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