MythTV home server/HTPC - would you improve on this build?

thesilverbear

Standard Member
Hi

My friend and I are building an HTPC for my kitchen. It will run MythTV backend on Ubuntu and serve frontends in the lounge, and bedrooms. It will also act as the frontend for the kitchen. I have a twin DVB-T tuner and will later get a twin satellite card to make 4 tuners, 2 of which were HD).

Here's what we came up with on Scan. If you have any comments or feedback they would be very welcome, it's a lot of money and we want to get it right!

Thanks in advance

LN22260

Silverstone Lascala LC16S-MR Silver Desktop HiFi MCE Case with All In 1 card reader w/o PSU


£114.98£135.10

LN28456

4GB (2x2GB) Corsair XMS3 DDR3 PC3-12800 (1600), Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 9-9-9-24, XMP, 1.65V


£94.32£110.83[

LN33975

Thermalright AXP-140 heat sink for Intel LGA775/1156/1366 and AMD CPU (with fan)


£42.79£50.28

LN35239

2TB Samsung HD204UI/Z4, SpinPoint EcoGreen F4EG SATA 3Gb/s, 32MB Cache, 8.9 ms, NCQ


£119.96£140.95

LN35563


Samsung SH-B123L/RSBP 12x BD-ROM & DVDRW Combo Player Retail box


£40.68£47.80

LN35693

600W Corsair CMPSU-600CX Builder Series, 80% Eff', 120mm Fan, Single 12V Rail, ATX, PS/2


£46.60£54.76

LN35845

1GB EVGA GT 430, 40nm, 1400MHz GDDR3, GPU 700MHz, Shader 1400MHz, 96 Cores, D-Sub/ DL DVI-I/ HDMI


£47.93£56.32


Intel i5 760, S1156, Lynnfield Quad Core, 2.8 GHz, 8MB Cache, Core Ratio 21x, 95W, Retail + Asus P7P

£225.99£265.54
Recalculate Basket










Net Total​

Carriage
VAT​

£733.25
£13.98
£130.78​
 
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spyder viewer

Well-known Member
I know nothing about MythTV so forgive me if my observations betray my ignorance!

My first impression, is that this is only the first phase of a much bigger project which I estimate with satellites will double or treble your current spend so as I said don't take my post as criticism, more as an exploration on my part.

You are putting together a big system which I assume will form the part of a server for a tv/media network. Why is so much computing power required for generating tv images and distributing live and recorded images around your home?

This is a very large case and with cables hanging out the back, will take up a lot of workspace: had you considered a tower to tuck in a cupboard with itx (or similar) "terminals/satellites"?

I'll be very interested to hear how you get on with the Linux/MythTV. What tuners are you proposing to use and are Linux drivers available?
 

thesilverbear

Standard Member
Hey spyder, thanks for your response.

To answer your points in turn.

When you say satellites I'm not sure if you mean the freesat cards or the media extenders. To answer both: there is already a satellite dish in place so all i have to do is add a dual sat tuner card to the setup above to reach my 4 tuner goal; if you mean media extenders then I already have one PC I will reload with Ubuntu as a front end, can get free old PCs from work to build further frontends.

>Why is so much computing power required for generating tv images
>and distributing live and recorded images around your home?
HD, 4 tuners, could be streaming HD TV to 2 separate rooms as well as recording 2 other channels at once. It's remarkably similar to Grangey's setup in this thread here but i can get all the bits in mine from Scan - and indeed need to order in the next day or two.

>This is a very large case and with cables hanging out the back, will take up a lot of workspace
It will sit on top of an AV receiver and is about the same size, both will be in a glass-fronted cabinet I have built specially in the kitchen which is wide and deep enough to fit the washing machine underneath, so I don't think size is an issue. The case looks lovely....:)

I will use my Hauppage t-500 dual DVB-T to start with, and add the dual satellite card later.

I have already set up a testbed with MythTV running on dualboot Windows/Ubuntu server and client. It worked like a dream - witn no Unix experience it only took 2 nights to get most elementary config done. Hence having proved I can do it I now want to buy the kit to get it all up and running properly.

It's my 40th birthday in 11 days and I want to have all this in place for the party!!!
The £800 or so isn't an obstacle - I'm replacing an old Humax PVR with something far far far more powerful that should answer all the family's media server needs for a couple of years.

Do you have any comments in the light of those explanations?
 
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spyder viewer

Well-known Member
Thanks for your answers, I've just read Grangey's thread from beginning to end: very interesting.

When you say satellites I'm not sure if you mean the freesat cards or the media extenders.?
The media centers: showing my age!

It's my 40th birthday in 11 days and I want to have all this in place for the party!!!........

........Do you have any comments in the light of those explanations?
Happy Birthday?

Keep up the thread : I've got a media center prototyping rig so I might give MythTV a go. I might be relying on you.;)
 

thesilverbear

Standard Member
Thanks spyder

Do you have any comments on the build though?
Could it be significantly improved by swapping out any components for others I can get from Scan?
Am I missing anything?
Or can I just press the button and buy?

Unfortunately despite 20 years in IT I have always stuck to software development and management - I know NOTHING about hardware and am relying on this spec I came up with last night with my best mate. Having someone on here verify it for me would give me comfort that it was fine to go ahead.

>Keep up the thread : I've got a media center prototyping rig so I might give MythTV a go.
>I might be relying on you

I will document all the stages in my setup and make them freely available.

Can I go credit card silly now please???
 

spyder viewer

Well-known Member
As said in my original: not knowledgeable enough to help. The case is your personal choice, the memory just right, you've chosen two hard drives which explains the "high" price. Most other stuff has come from Grangey's thread. I'm suprised that nobody has suggested an alternative mobo though. I spend most of my time trying to spend less money not justifying why to spend more! Sorry just an observer!
 

Grangey.

Well-known Member
Hi Silverbear

Unfortunatley your situation is quite complex as your asking a number of things:

Is the spec good for a HTPC? Absolutley, if anything like mine it may well be overspecced (i also dont know much about Nvidia cards, i do know however that the ATI 5450 will do all you need it to do for abit less money).

However, youre not looking for just HTPC, your looking for a HTPC come server which is where it becomes potentially quite complicated as youve mentioned a number of things you would like it to do but not under which cercumstances, so lets break it down:

Is this spec good enough for all general htpc use? Yes
Is this spec good enough to stream media? Yes
Is this spec good enough to play back HD content directly whilst also streaming another HD source elsewhere? Unknown, potentially yes but cant say for definate.
Is this spec good enough to play back directly, whilst streaming to two different sources simultaneously? pppffftt now youre really asking, I wouldnt have thought so but tbh I really dont know just how far this processing power can go!

Anther point- I guenuinely have no idea how Ubuntu etc works and its availibility and flexibility for this sort of project.

I know Windows potentially has the functionality to do what you want, but again it would be quite complicated and would need more than just one PC to do everything.

The very best website I can point you too is by a fellow AVForums member who has done exactly what you're aiming for

My basic knowledge is provisionally you are much better of building a decent server, then a number of basic htpcs or receivers (media servers) around the house

link:

mediacenterhouse – installs

Again this is built around Windows but I still would have thought the theory is the same
 

Grangey.

Well-known Member
Update, its elootos im reffering to and you can see his schematics here:
elootos' Media Centre House - Media Center Custom Installations in the kitchen, living room (den), bedroom and bathroom featuring both Windos7 Media Center and Windows Home Server.

skimming very quickly over that, assuming the worst case senario and youre wanting the spec to play back directly whilst also sending two different things to different sources, I would change your approach.

I would instead build a server with all of your main shareable media, and then purchase a number of media extenders (could be htpcs, could be xbox 360's, or others along these lines) which can then access this media at any time any where.

If it was a server setup again i dont know much about this, I guess in theory if you had enough tv cards in the server you could be watching different tv channels etc on all different outputs but i cant say that with any real conviction
 
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thesilverbear

Standard Member
Many many thanks Grangey, the promptness of your response is MUCH appreciated.

What puts my mind at rest is that on the Home server page it says "For hardware it needs nothing more than a basic PC to run ", so worst comes to the worst I can back out of MythTV and go back to Windows.

In my testbed environment I had the server running on a desktop Dell Optiplex 755 (dual boot Windows/Mythbuntu) and the client on a 4 year old Dell laptop (dualboot again). MythTV seemed to work a treat at Standard definition - had no problems watching different channels, channel changiing was immediate, had picture in picture working etc etc. Despite 20 years experience of Windows I just hated WMC for some reason (crappy interface, laggy) but loved MythTV.

I guess I am hoping that the spec i gave is good enough to run as a server, and I suspect it is!

fingers crossed, and thanks again
Bear
 

Grangey.

Well-known Member
Well from the sounds of it you know more of the server end than I, so in which case if you can achieve the results your looking for with older machines (all be it not HD), I guess in theory there is no reason this would not work as a kick ass server too + HTPC- how that works though will come down to mythbuntu which ive never touched.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing the build :)
 

spyder viewer

Well-known Member
Should I be buying Scan shares?
 

edz

Active Member
Hi There

I've not had time to sit down and go through your spec but I can confirm I have pretty much what you're trying to do up and running (not in a kitchen though)

In my office at home I have a tower PC (A much updated, modded and generally repurposed Novatech machine with a 2.6GHz Pentium 4 processor, 1.5GB of ram) running ubuntu karmic. On there is mythtv back end (and frontend for testing) I also run logitech squeezecenter. Theres one OS drive and another with music and around 180 GB for TV recordings - this is soon to go to around 1TB on an internal drive although I need to fit a sata card first - told you this was an old box!).

There are 3 1TB NTFS formatted USB drives plugged in (for various reasons - I would prefer internal sata drives but I wont go into that here) all mounted on unique identifiers (to stop them swapping around at reboot) and containing movies and tv shows as well as some documents. These are shared via samba (for access on the network) and nfs exports (for the media centers). The machine has a haupage satellite tuner for freesat channels and a twin tuner haupage dbv-t for freeview. There are two 10/100 network cards. (I'm looking to upgrade these to gigabit cards but at the moment cant afford the expense of upgrading the other switches etc around the house and without that there wouldnt be much of a benefit)

Cat 5 runs to a switch in lounge, a low speed (85mbps theoretical - not in reality) powerline adapter connects to a wired squeezebox boom in the kitchen (wifi signal is poor there and this is less hassle than finding somewhere to put a repeater). A high speed (AV easy 200mbps - again theroetical) powerline adapter connects to a switch in the bedroom.

In the lounge the switch connects to a squeezebox classic and a Revo nettop running ubuntu with xbmc and mythtv front end. A customised LIRC script allows me to switch between the two with a remote button push. The drives in the back end are mapped using NFS to appear as local drives which is MUCH less prone to dropout than samba shares.

In the bedroom is another squeezebox boom and an old dell optiplex pc which I updated to again run mythtv front end and xbmc under karmic ubuntu.

With this set up the myth backend can record up to 10 channels simultaniously from the freeview DVB-T card (assuming 5 channels on each of two multiplexes) and roughly 4 on the DVB-S card (again assuming a "perfect" situation of 4 channels on the same DVB-S multiplex) those maximums have never happened though. BBC HD, BBC 1HD and ITV1 HD are all available. EPG guide data is pulled "over the air" by the myth backend and doesnt need any fiddling around with xml feeds (although one or two channels dont receive data but those are not important to me so I dont show them in the system). Because I'm using myth 0.22 I cant tune to get CBS action which is the only problem and the one reason I may update the back and front end myth versions (although not until after christmas)

Either or both myth frontend setups (as well as one on my macbook) can stream recordings from the myth backend or watch a live tv channel (depending on what the back end is doing). the XBMC instances can also watch multiple different movies including 2 HD streams as well as the squeezeboxes playing the same or different tracks or streaming live from the internet (iplayer,podcats,internet radio etc).

The network cards in the back end box have different IP addresses allowing one to be used for squeezebox music devices and one for video (this solved an issue I had with movie playback stopping if the squeezeboxes where playing flac music). Internet lookup, streaming and web intranet (mythweb and squeezebox web interface) are shared on one of the cards.

Any web enabled machine on the network (including my desire HTC phone) can use the mythweb interface to schedule tv shows for recordings and (on the desktops) stream an asx stream for playback in vlc as well as using the squeezecenter software to control the squeezeboxes either in sync or room by room (great when people are round).

This is all with a server thats (relatively) old with its original hardware dating back around 6-7 years. If the backend is only processing the mpeg / h264 data streams its just throughput you'll need to worry about. Disc space (lots and lots) and disc throughput speed as well as network activity are the points at which I've struggled but (apart from some irritations and niggles) the system works well enough.

This has been a bit of a waffle :laugh: but let me know if I can help further, meantime I'll head back up and take a look at those specs again :smashin:

Cheers

Edz
 
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