I'll try to answer your questions one by one..
I'm a little confused on exactly how A/V equipment physically connects to the system.
If I have a core and 2 MD's, I gather I hook the cable box up to a video capture card in the core.
You could, however, you could also put the video capture card in one of your MD's
Will I be able to watch two different channels at the MD's with one cable box or will I need two cable boxes hooked up to the Core?
Depends on your configuration, to watch 2 LIVE channels, you'll need 2 Capture devices & Cable boxes.
Keep in mind, that while you may only have 1 Source (for lack of a better term), that 'source' can be controlled by linuxmce. This enables PVR functionality..
so, you could watch LIVE TV on one MD, and a prerecorded video on another.. or BOTH can watch LIVE TV (same channel)
If the latter is the case, does that mean 2 video capture cards installed and what happens when I need 6 or more?
Simple, you just add them. The capture devices can be located on the core and/or MD's
I have a PVR150 Cable capture card in my core, and 3 DVB-S cards in MD's.. Linuxmce controls which stream I want to watch..
Likewise how do other A/V devices physically connect?
For instance, Cable box + CD changer + DVD Jukebox + Satellite Box, etc.?
It really doesn't matter.. as long as you tell linuxmce how you have them connected... think of the wires connecting your devices together as pipes.
You need to tell linuxmce what pipes go where..
Here's an example:
you have a cable box. out of it, you have AUDIO/VIDEO Composite going to your Capture card..
Also, out of it, you have HDMI or DVI (or whatever) going to your TV's input 1.
Make sure you TELL linuxMCE that you have made that connection... even though it seems retarded.. here's why:
When you watch LIVE TV, normally linuxmce will stream the output of the Capture card to your TV..
When you tell it you have another connection (that is much better), linuxMCE will tell your TV to switch to input1!
Then, when you activate the menu, or do something else, it switches back..
I don't see anything on the wiki that adequately explains the physical hookups of all this equipment. I need this info before purchasing hardware so I know what to purchase.
Is the video/audio transmitted to the tv's from the core over ethernet? If so, what is the point at which the traffic is too heavy for smooth playback and what is the solution?
Yes, the video/audo transmitted to the TV's are ethernet.. however, your question is very VERY open ended.
it depends on the quality of the stream, how many streams currently playing, speed of your ethernet..
I'm running 1000Mbit, streaming 3 HD videos to different MD's, recording from DVBs, watching live satellite on another MD, etc etc etc...
I have yet to run into a 'bandwidth' problem. When I was experimenting with wireless however, I DID see limits, as the bandwidth for wireless is SHARED across all nodes.
Hope that helps, Lots more info in the wiki, and I HIGHLY SUGGEST you take the time to watch the video carefully, all this is demonstrated in the video.