Hey folks, I am a newbie here, trying to get some adivce on what works and what does not work.
I am looking to do a full install of Linux MCE, although I am not sure where to being for the hardware.
Computer/Server wise I have a couple of spares. What I do not have are any Digitall OTA Cards, video cameras, light controllers, security equipment. Is there such a thing as the ultimate build for the buck?
1. I want to be able to monitor my property outside day and night and record when motion or change in heat is detected.
I also want a few camera in the house. The smaller and less obtrusiive the better.
Recording on motion isn't a problem, I'd recommend Panasonic IP cameras. They're well supported and come in a wide variety of capabilities. No matter what brand you choose, definitely only use IP cameras purely for setup/support ease. Heat sensing I'm not sure about, I've never looked into it.
2. I also want to be able to walk in a room and have the lights go on by default for all family members. Hopefully saving a few dollars on electricity.
Again, no problem here. Essentially you'll be using motion sensors that are tied to a "Lights On" scenario. Check out the wiki for triggered events and scenarios.
3. I already have a good size NAS with all my DVD and other movies on it, and I would want Linux MCE to be able to play off that via either NFS or CIFS share.
This is virtually plug and play, I've never used a NAS, but I've seen lots and lots of posts about it. Check the wiki, should be easy.
4. Home security devices, I really do not know where to start.
You'd have to be more specific, but there are a wide variety of Zwave motion sensors and window/door contacts that can be easily integrated into the system. Again, a wiki search for zwave will reveal a ton of info.
5. Wifi Front ends (looking for inexpenive tablet) that can be left say in the kitchen.
When you say "front end", do you mean a controller or a full blown media director that will play video/music/etc? This one, you'll have to do some research. For just a controller I'd recommend the WebDT366. There are a couple of people on these boards that sell them (tkmedia and I think tschak). They're great wireless controllers, I have one and I love it. As for an actual media director that plays content, I'm not 100% certain, but I believe it's not recommended to stream media wirelessly (someone chime in on this if they know more). If your looking for a stationary media director to be mounted in your kitchen, I'd look into one of the all in one box touchscreen computers (again, you'll have to do some research on this but I've seen a few posts about it so I'm sure a forum search would get you started.
6. Would like to be able to play music on one sound card for upstairs, and watch a movie on another sound card from the same Linux MCE server/frontend all in one.
You need to read the wiki and learn more about how the system works. You will have a server/hybrid that stores your media and controls everything, then you'll have a "media director" in each room (anywhere you want media to play). A media director is just a diskless computer that network boots off the server.
Any other ideas are great, but I think this is what I need to start.
Since this is your first foray into LMCE I'd strongly recommend starting slowly. Don't try to fire up everything at once. Start with focusing on movies/music streamed to various rooms, then maybe add your cameras, then add motion/lighting. The point being, don't install another system until you have the previous working well and you're comfortable with it's operation. LMCE is wonderful but it can be a bit daunting and there will be a significant learning curve as it's unlike any system I've seen in terms of flexibility and capability.
Move slowly, don't get frustrated and remember the wiki and forums are your friend.