Author Topic: uk rig to replace sky+  (Read 2036 times)

jayzee

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uk rig to replace sky+
« on: August 29, 2007, 12:40:42 am »
Hi mce peeps,

I have only just come across Linux MCE and so far from what I have read it seems to be exactly what I have been looking for. :) :) :)

I have been using Ubuntu on a few linux boxes for quite a while so was doubly please to find that linuxMCE seems to be based on this.

Of my experiences of linux in a desktop enviroment ubuntu so far has been top so this gives me a good feeling about this being the right way to go.

I am in the UK and currently I have sky+. I love the ability to be able to record 1 channel while watching another but this is tied to the room where the box is located and quite often I find I need to record 2 programs while watching another and want to be able to do this in any room i have a tv in so as you see I am experiencing a few drawbacks and restrictions which it looks as though linuxmce could solve.


After watching the mce video and having a good look around the forum I decided I would start putting together the parts i want to use to build the core for my setup

I have started with the Asus M2UPV-VM mother board as it seem from what I have read that this is what they develop on and then a AMD AM2 Athalon 64 dual core 4000, 1 gig RAM - will I have enough power here?

initialy the main functionality I need to get set up on this base is the sky+ style functionality. I am obviously  going to need some tuner cards if I want to do this.

My plan is to have 2 conventional tuner cards taking their input from 2 different sky satalite boxes which from what I can make out I should be able to control with an ir usb dongle to change channels then I would like to have a third digital tv tuner to allow me to make use of all the freeview digital channels that are broadcast in the uk giving more channel options and recording possibilities.

I am wondering if any one can just make sure I am heading in the right direction with this and what I want to do is possible?
I am also not sure about what choice of tunner cards to go with. i have read quite a few threads on this and hauppage is a name that keeps appearing. checking prices they go from £20 to £400, mpeg2 sounds as though it would be helpful, but can anyone suggest any models that are going to be upto the job but not overkill and un needingly be pushing up the prices.


I would also like to hook up my security cameras to the system, I currently have a Conexant BT878 based card, will I be able to get this setup in the system?


I want to be able to control the whole system with ipaq pdas if possibly as we already have a couple and have a blue tooth usb dongel. how stable is this as a method of controling stuff? I also like the look of the cutom remotes so maybe that is a better way to go.

I woulds also like to get a zwave control unit to be able to start controlling lights heating etc although it seems the module thingies are limited in the UK currently as we run on 230volts and this isn't compatible with all the US stuff.


for the Media Directors (md) or slim clients I think they are also refered to as, I have a few biostar 200n systems which I would like to make use of. currently they only have AMD sempron 2300 in so i am thinking of upgrading them to athalon 3200 should this be ok with 512 ram? these come with a built in ir port which I assume should allow the MD to turn the tv and audio on and off in thier respective rooms?

there are few more things I want to look into being able to do through linux mce but this, I think, is enough for now.

sorry for the long post and I hope its in the right place. I will start to get the parts shortly and keep you informed of how I get on and probably answer a lot on my own questions which hopefully will help others :)
Core/hybrid
Asrock AM2NF3-VSTA, AMD 64 Dual Core 4000, 1gig ram, 2xpvr150, 1xwintv nova T500, 1xconextant 4x security cam input card

1 X MD
Asus M2NPV-VM, AMD 64 3200, 512mb ram, Silverstone Lascala LC02B

3xMD
Biostar 200n, AMD Sempron 2300, 512

totallymaxed

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Re: uk rig to replace sky+
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2007, 11:10:47 am »
Hi mce peeps,

I have only just come across Linux MCE and so far from what I have read it seems to be exactly what I have been looking for. :) :) :)

I have been using Ubuntu on a few linux boxes for quite a while so was doubly please to find that linuxMCE seems to be based on this.

Of my experiences of linux in a desktop enviroment ubuntu so far has been top so this gives me a good feeling about this being the right way to go.

I am in the UK and currently I have sky+. I love the ability to be able to record 1 channel while watching another but this is tied to the room where the box is located and quite often I find I need to record 2 programs while watching another and want to be able to do this in any room i have a tv in so as you see I am experiencing a few drawbacks and restrictions which it looks as though linuxmce could solve.


After watching the mce video and having a good look around the forum I decided I would start putting together the parts i want to use to build the core for my setup

I have started with the Asus M2UPV-VM mother board as it seem from what I have read that this is what they develop on and then a AMD AM2 Athalon 64 dual core 4000, 1 gig RAM - will I have enough power here?

initialy the main functionality I need to get set up on this base is the sky+ style functionality. I am obviously  going to need some tuner cards if I want to do this.biostar 200n uk

My plan is to have 2 conventional tuner cards taking their input from 2 different sky satalite boxes which from what I can make out I should be able to control with an ir usb dongle to change channels then I would like to have a third digital tv tuner to allow me to make use of all the freeview digital channels that are broadcast in the uk giving more channel options and recording possibilities.

I am wondering if any one can just make sure I am heading in the right direction with this and what I want to do is possible?
I am also not sure about what choice of tunner cards to go with. i have read quite a few threads on this and hauppage is a name that keeps appearing. checking prices they go from £20 to £400, mpeg2 sounds as though it would be helpful, but can anyone suggest any models that are going to be upto the job but not overkill and un needingly be pushing up the prices.


I would also like to hook up my security cameras to the systebiostar 200n ukm, I currently have a Conexant BT878 based card, will I be able to get this setup in the system?

biostar 200n uk
I want to be able to control the whole system with ipaq pdas if possibly as we already have a couple and have a blue tooth usb dongel. how stable is this as a method of controling stuff? I also like the look of the cutom remotes so maybe that is a better way to go.
any
I woulds also like to get a zwave control unit to be able to start controlling lights heating etc although it seems the module thingies are limited in the UK currently as we run on 230volts and this isn't compatible with all the US stuff.


for the Media Directors (md) or slim cliConexant BT878ents I think they are also refered to as, I have a few biostar 200n systems which I would like to make use of. currently they only have AMD sempron 2300 in so i am thinking of upgrading them to athalon 3200 should this be ok with 512 ram? these come with a built in ir port which I assume should allow the MD to turn the tv and audio on and off in thier respective rooms?

there are few more things I want to look into being able to do through linux mce but this, I think, is enough for now.

sorry for the long post and I hope its in the right place. I will start to get the parts shortly and keep you informed of how I get on and probably answer a lot on my own questions which hopefully will help others :)

Hi,

Wow... too many question ;-)
Conexant BT878
I can't see anything in you post that look a deal stopper. You'll need two cards to grab the Sky box outputs - a    Hauppauge 150 or 250 should do the trick (you would not be using the tuner side of the cards just the video in functionality). Then you need to control the Sky box over IR. Again doable but the none of the codes will be in the database... but you can add them. So no real gotchas there.

Conexant BT878 cards should be no problem.

The PDA Orbiter software is only compatible with specific releases of MS Windows Mobile software... make sure your PDA are compatible. The Gyro remotes are great by the way... and i would say they are the better option from a usability perspective... although froma cost perspective your existing PDA's look better if the are compatible!

Zwave... you need UK compliant control modules (ie the need to plug into a UK socket) and all your Zwave kit must be intended for the European market (even if it does not attach to the mains) as in Europe Zwave kit uses a different frequency to the US. The only Zwave USB interfaces that are currently supported are the Home Pro unit and the Boca USB stick. Both seem to be either out of production or extremely difficult to obtain.

The Biostar's with 512mb should be fine... I dont think the onboard nVidia graphics will support anything more than UI1 though (thats a guess on my part though).

We're UK based by the way.

Hope the above helps you out.

Andrew
Andy Herron,
Convergent Home Technologies Ltd
United Kingdom

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jayzee

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Re: uk rig to replace sky+
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2007, 06:17:52 pm »
Thanks for the reply and confirming that I am heading on the right direction.

will try and limit my post lengths from now on, just wanted to initialy get people aware of the overall project I am attempting, are there many linuxmce users based in the UK here, its good to hear there is at least one :)


am going to have a look around and see what UI1 is and see if I am going to need to add a better graphics card in the biostars it sounds as though there could be a UI2. am looking at possibly a NVIDIA GeForce 6200 therofore but will report back when i have figured it out.

regarding the tuner card it looks like I should possibly be going for

1 x Hauppauge WinTV HVR 1300 - has mpeg-2 encoder and does digital freeview as well
2 x Hauppauge WinTV PVR 150 has mpeg-2 encoder one for 2 seperate sky inputs

to get it all running I think I am going to have to make use of my spare old normal sky box. The sky+ box although having 2 sat inputs can only output one channel so i will have to cancel my sky+ package and replace with a multiroom package giving me 2 sky cards to go in two boxes, both boxes having access to all the channels on the same sky subscription package.

this should then allow 2 people in 2 different rooms to watch 2 different sky channels.

I have come up with one problem now though, the MB that is used by the developer only seems to have 2 pci slots even though in other ways its the d's b's for linuxMCE.

I was hoping to have 3 X hauppage tuner cards, the conexant BT878, a nic and possibly something else, so as you can see i wil be short a few pci slots, are there any alternatives which come with more pci slots possibly very similar to the one suggested?

I am also wondering about HDD options - I am assuming tv recorded media is going to be best stored actually on the core but my films and mp3's I assume I can leave on another machine or a NAS and accesss from the core  if so would a couple of 250 gig hdd set up in raid be a good plan?


well off I go again to do some more research will keep you posted- hopefully this will be slightly interesting to somebody
Core/hybrid
Asrock AM2NF3-VSTA, AMD 64 Dual Core 4000, 1gig ram, 2xpvr150, 1xwintv nova T500, 1xconextant 4x security cam input card

1 X MD
Asus M2NPV-VM, AMD 64 3200, 512mb ram, Silverstone Lascala LC02B

3xMD
Biostar 200n, AMD Sempron 2300, 512

jayzee

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Re: uk rig to replace sky+
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2007, 10:36:46 pm »
right then,

it seems the lack of pci slots is an issue a few people have come up with before and so far I have yet to find anyone who has suggested an alternative MB that fits the bill.


so working through my options,

try and reduce down the cards I need, possibile but would prefer not to.

find a MB that can handle as many cards as I need and that is compatible - currently looking

have a MD setup that will be always left on with the tuner cards in - would this be possible? not the most eliquent option and sort of goes away from the idea of a CORE but may be the easiest to implement

the second nic i am not sure if it is actually needed. from the documentation I have read it sounds like the core can use just one nic if you want? if so what are the draw backs/advantages to having 1 or 2 nics.
I already run smoothwall for my connection, so I would have to disable its dhcp to allow the core to do this, but smoothy handles my firewall so should that mean I will be alright with just the one nic?
j


Core/hybrid
Asrock AM2NF3-VSTA, AMD 64 Dual Core 4000, 1gig ram, 2xpvr150, 1xwintv nova T500, 1xconextant 4x security cam input card

1 X MD
Asus M2NPV-VM, AMD 64 3200, 512mb ram, Silverstone Lascala LC02B

3xMD
Biostar 200n, AMD Sempron 2300, 512

Zaerc

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Re: uk rig to replace sky+
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2007, 10:48:16 pm »
About the single nic setup.

Advantages:
You save about $5 and 1 PCI slot.

Disadvantages:
Worst case scenario you will cut your bandwidth in half, although in all honesty your internet connection is likely going to be a bigger bottleneck then that.
"Change is inevitable. Progress is optional."
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Pastor

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Re: uk rig to replace sky+
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2007, 03:40:36 pm »
Hi jayzee

I am using LinuxMCE to replace my Sky+ box here in Ireland, I am using the Hauppauge PVR500 twin tuner card and it works great. Also saves a PCI slot. I am still in the proces sof getting it all to work but it will be more flexable once it is sorted. My biggest problem is getting the epg sorted. I have so far beeen unable to get my hands on a grabber for Sky's Irish lineup. This is a work in progress.

The multiroom option works very well, I have a hybrid core and one other MD at the moment and I am able to watch live tv on both without any problems. There can be lag sometimes because of the network will upgrade the network soon.

Perhaps you could use a MB with two network interfaces on board? I have an ASUS board on the core that has both interfaces on board and it works a treat again saving a pci slot.

Keep us posted as to how things are going.

Paul

jayzee

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Re: uk rig to replace sky+
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2007, 02:24:04 pm »
Its been a few dayd and things are progressing -  slowly, good times
having audio and svideo problems, bad times

In the end I went with an asrock AM2NF3-vsta motherboard, It was reasonably cheap and was the only one I could find that has 5 pci slots which should be enough.

It has a built in sound card, C-media CM6501 and although it works within the KDE desktop it seems to be causing linuxmce a few problems,

When first installing linux mce it runs through the avwizard and sound is heard.

then when linuxmce boots, App_Server has problems starting. After fidiling around for a while I realised that on the LimnuxMCE Launch Manager I saw no sound driver in the box under the audio tab and when I click on change audio settings nothing happens.

i had a look around the forum and found a way of disabling the sound "modprobe snd-dummy" and then App_Server seems to start ok

So It seems my sound card although being available in the kde desktop doesn;t want to work with Linux MCE, any idea how I fix this?

the problem with the video is that I have a pvr150 and am inputting the signal from the back of my sky+ box via a s-video cable, I get a picture but it is flickering  as though i haven't got a setting quite right but i don't know what to alter?

As I was expecting there are a few issues with getting linuxmce setup and it has taken me a little while to get an MD up and running but am getting there with that slowly too.

the main issue I have experienced so far is working out how to work out whats going on when it doesn't seem to work. working out how to get into the avwizard again after inital setup was not obvious but now I have worked out holding down the left shift button allows me to do that.

J
« Last Edit: September 04, 2007, 02:26:30 pm by jayzee »
Core/hybrid
Asrock AM2NF3-VSTA, AMD 64 Dual Core 4000, 1gig ram, 2xpvr150, 1xwintv nova T500, 1xconextant 4x security cam input card

1 X MD
Asus M2NPV-VM, AMD 64 3200, 512mb ram, Silverstone Lascala LC02B

3xMD
Biostar 200n, AMD Sempron 2300, 512

jayzee

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Re: uk rig to replace sky+
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2007, 03:21:38 pm »
right, abit more investigation into the sound issue has led me to try
the commands "aplay -L", "aplay -l" both of which bring back info about the soundcard suggesting it is a USB device.

I have then tried "sudo alsamixer -n 2" which brings up the mixer app for the sound card.

So It seems that the soundcard is there and working ok?

it just seems to be App_Server that is confused, is there a way to edit the config of the audio like you can with the video by editing /etc/x11/xorg.conf?

J
Core/hybrid
Asrock AM2NF3-VSTA, AMD 64 Dual Core 4000, 1gig ram, 2xpvr150, 1xwintv nova T500, 1xconextant 4x security cam input card

1 X MD
Asus M2NPV-VM, AMD 64 3200, 512mb ram, Silverstone Lascala LC02B

3xMD
Biostar 200n, AMD Sempron 2300, 512

jayzee

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Re: uk rig to replace sky+
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2007, 06:39:03 pm »
for those of you still reading.

after problems with the App_Server not starting correctly with what looked like an issue with the onboard sound card I put in a spare SB live that i had lying around. disabled the on board sound and started her up.

this time Linux MCE starts up fine no problems with App_Server running fine and sound operating as it should.

so my problems is the onboard sound it looks like, but for now I will continue on with the SB live although it would be good to get rid of this again at some point so i can free up a pci clot again for hopefully a pci card that will alllow me to input my analog phone line - any suggestions?

have now also got the first MD up and running although this did initally cause me problems.

the MD kept getting stuck starting up, I tried over and over again not being able to figure out what the issue was. In the end I tried to use a new network cable and hey presto md started first time no problems. the thing is the original wire had been running a windoze box without a problem so I think this is definitely soemthing people should be aware of.

otherwise it is sortingout the s-video picture which has a continuous flickering in the middle with the picture behind that is flickering. the s-video was fine when it was going into the back of my TV so it must be a setting or something??

J
Core/hybrid
Asrock AM2NF3-VSTA, AMD 64 Dual Core 4000, 1gig ram, 2xpvr150, 1xwintv nova T500, 1xconextant 4x security cam input card

1 X MD
Asus M2NPV-VM, AMD 64 3200, 512mb ram, Silverstone Lascala LC02B

3xMD
Biostar 200n, AMD Sempron 2300, 512