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Making my first HTPC.

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by chilpillphil3, Sep 20, 2004.

  1. chilpillphil3

    chilpillphil3
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    Well as soon as i have my new pc i want to use my old pc as a HTPC.

    Its Specs are

    Shuttle SN45G
    ATHLON 2800
    Cricial 512MB RAM
    Maxtor HDD
    RADEON 9200SE

    I want to adjust the hard drive with a quiter one which should be no problem,

    What TV tunner and remote do i need to make a HTPC, i really am not to sure.

    I want to connect this system to play DVD's that i will rip to the hard drive.
    To record TV, either analouge or sky
    To playback MP'3

    What hardware do i need?
    What software do i need?
     
  2. groovyclam

    groovyclam
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    I'd consider changing that graphics card to the 9600 rather than the 9200 - I can't remember which site but someone had an output comparison and the 9600 ( still without fan ) was markedly better. It is not much more expensive.

    To capture Sky you need a TV capture card - the best quality, but most costly, is the SweetSpot card from PluggedInTV ( adverts on this site ). You will also need to order their RGB to SweetSpot lead to connect it to the SkyBox. If you don't want to have to input manual programme planner entries into the SkyBox for your TV recordings then you will also need an IR receiver that can capture and send the same codes as the Sky remote control so it can turn the right channel on before a recording. Again the most expensive is the RedRat3. I think there is also a cheaper one called the USB UIRT but I have never used that so don't know how successful it is.

    If you just wanted FreeView instead of Sky then that is a lot easier - just get a Nebula DigiTV PCI card. It can do all the channel change/recording without buying extra things ( and it comes with a remote control and IR receiver )

    Software you will definitely need is:
    PowerStrip - to get a proper 16:9 ratio desktop running under Windows

    Possibly need:
    Girder - to kick off events when it receives IR commands
    Meedio ( shareware/easier ) or Xlobby ( freeware/harder ) - to build a menu-like front end
    DigiGuide - as a superior EPG for the TV component

    If you don't want to use Windows Media Player ( and most people don't ) then you will need a better DVD/Media File player - ZoomPlayer is my preferred choice but some people prefer TheatreTek
     
  3. chilpillphil3

    chilpillphil3
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    ok thats what i wanted to hear.

    Can i buy a remote to control the PVR?
     
  4. groovyclam

    groovyclam
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    You can use any remote you like ( one you have already - try a spare VCR/DVD player remote ).

    The IR receiver detects *any* keypress from *any* remote. *You* then have to programme Girder to act on which keypresses you want e.g. tell Girder to make your DVD software do a "fast-forward" if the IR receiver detects you pressing the FF key on a remote.

    One of the setups of a home-brew HTPC is quite a lot of Girder configuration.

    There are other ways to set things up, but Girder with a decent IR receiver ( and possibly transmitter ) is the most flexible ( although also the most costly ).

    If I were you I would actually totally *forget* IR for the first stage of the HTPC build. Really. It is the most straightforward way of doing it.

    Get the HTPC working by *keypresses alone*, no mouse ( or as little mouse as possible ).

    It will then be very clear to you when you come to integrate the IR receiver as you will know that if you press "yellow" on the remote you have to programme Girder to send an "R" keypress. If you try and integrate IR from the beginning it will be much harder.

    Don't worry about IR yet. Get everything else working first.

    My suggestion for build is:

    1) Assemble hardware - Mobo, memory, CPU, fans, HD, DVD, case, PSU, mouse, keyboard, any networking
    2) Load XP
    3) Update all hardware drivers to current
    4) Test all connectivity/networking and hardware
    5) Patch XP to SP2 level
    6) Load Powerstrip - get a working 16:9 resolution desktop visible on your widescreen TV ( try and get 1024x576 as your desktop initially ). What is the type of TV you are going to be using ( CRT, LCD, Plasma, projector ? )
    7) Load on your media - mp3s and pics - or network to another computer with them on
    8) Decide if you are going to use Meedio as your menu system or struggle with Xlobby(free). Get either of them setup correctly for 16:9
    9) If you are happy with Meedio's inbuilt player for DVD/music/media files then start configuring Meedio to be keyboard driven only ( it is anyway )
    10) If you are using Xlobby ( or are not happy with Meedio's inbuilt player ), you will have to start configuring a DVDPlayer software, MusicPlayer software, slideshow software and videofile player software. Get them all working properly on 16:9 and 5.1 sound and by keypress only.
    11) If you get to the stage of a working menu-frontend (Meedio/Xlobby) that can play DVDs, music, slideshows and video files that works on keypresses alone then you can integrate IR at this point quite smoothly.
    12) Leave TV apps ( EPG/capture/recording ) to last - it is the most complex area to get working well and you will at least have a working DVD Player/PhotoViewer/Jukebox to entertain yourself with whilst you work on it. By then MeedioTV may have been released and it may work ok for the UK and hopefully simplify things. I wouldn't buy any TV hardware until you get to this stage as the easiest options may change depending on MeedioTV's UK functionality.
     

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