Author Topic: New LinuxMCE Home Setup – Guidance and Advice Needed  (Read 2192 times)

B34N

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New LinuxMCE Home Setup – Guidance and Advice Needed
« on: February 20, 2010, 08:30:27 pm »
   I've been reading the Wiki and the forums in an attempt to get started on setting up LinuxMCE for my house.  I have been running a Mythbuntu back-end with three MythTV front-ends for the last few months.  I am fairly comfortable with those setups and what it takes to get the MythTV up and running

   Below are my plans to get moving forward with LinuxMCE.  I apologize for the long post but I wanted to be as thorough as possible.  I greatly appreciate any guidance and advice.

In order of importance, this is what I'm looking to initially do with LinuxMCE:
  • replace current MythTV setups
  • whole-house audio using Pandora.com and personal audio library
  • control everything using Blackberries
  • basic lighting automation/control
  • replace broadband router's DHCP

What I'm hoping to do with LinuxMCE in the future:
  • home security using motion detectors
  • climate control
  • telecom (integrated with security)

Wiring:
   My core, switch, patch panels and audio amplifier(s) will be mounted (shelf or rack) in an unfinished portion of my basement which doubles as my exercise and utilities room.  My plan is to run Cat 6 UTP solid CMR 23AWG and 12AWG CL2 rated 2-conductor speaker cable (both likely will be purchased from monoprice.com).  The speaker cable will be run to in-wall speakers (to be installed) in rooms that will NOT have MDs.  Assuming multiple amplifiers or multi source amplifiers in the basement with the core, will I avoid the need to install volume knobs and be able to control everything using my orbiters?  I plan on having my orbiters (Blackberries) connected via WiFi instead of bluetooth.

Core:
   I will be purchasing a new MB, CPU, RAM, NIC, video card (if on-board not sufficient), case and PSU for the core.  At least initially, my core will be used as a hybrid connected to a nearby TV in my exercise room.  I suspect that it may remain as a hybrid since I will need something to provide the whole house audio (Pandora.com).  Simply by going to Newegg and searching for a MB with built-in NVIDIA, I came up with http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813141015 which handles LGA 775 processors has NVIDIA GeForce 9300 on-board and plenty of room for a NIC and an internal tuner card.  Does this look good and are there any suggestions on a CPU to pair it with?  Would 4GB RAM provide a benefit over 2GB RAM?  I plan on using my existing SATA DVD, 70GB HD and 1TB HD.  I would install the OS on the small HD and keep media on the larger drive.  Another idea I have toyed with was getting  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813500036, ditching the internal tuner card, add a NIC to the PCI Express and using a 16GB Half MiniPCI-E SSD (already own) for the OS.  Would this be sufficient?

Tuners:
   My MythTV setup is currently running using a Happauge WinTV-HVR-950Q (USB) and a Kworld ASTC 115.  I plan on using the existing Happauge with the core.  I may skip using the Kworld since I don't want to rip apart my existing MythTV setup until the LinuxMCE setup is running, the Kworld requires firmware updateds to get up an running and if I went the Atom based route described above, I won' t have a slot for it. 

   Is it safe to assume that if a tuner worked with MythTV that it should also work with LinuxMCE?  Also, does the tuner's quality make any difference if all it is being used for is to capture ClearQAM content?  My newbie understanding is that digital tuners don't do decoding and only transfer a digital stream to the HD.  If that is correct then shouldn't a cheap USB tuner like http://www.meritline.com/hybrid-usb-dongle-tv-stick-geniatech-u6012---p-35677.aspx perform just as well as any other unit?

Lighting Automation
   Initially I plan on controlling a few switches and my landscape lighting.  Most switches that I will replace are either simple 2-way or 3-way.  In the cases where dimmers are present, they on 3-ways which I suspect I would just replace the standard switch and keep the dimmer set to the same level if it saved me money.  Should I start out with Z-wave using the Aeon Labs USB Z-Wave interface with built-in inclusion remote (US) or are there more cost effective options since I have only basic needs at this time.  I do foresee needing to eventually go to Z-Wave for the security and climate control, so does it make sense to just start out with Z-Wave.

MDs:
   For now I'm planning on using my existing machines as MDs.  All my TVs will be connected using HDMI.  I don't currently have a surround sound setup and I don't have any immediate plans for one.  In the longer term I suspect that I'll want new MDs for which I'm thinking of a similar Atom 330 system as described in the Core section above. Would running those as diskless systems be a good choice or will I run into some problems trying to do so?

Orbiters:
   I have two Loop pointers (http://www.hillcrestlabs.com/loop/) which I don't foresee having any problems getting them up and running.  We hope to use Blackberries as the primary orbiters, especially for the whole-home audio, since they are generally only an arms reach away from us at any given time.  My plan is to get the Blackberries up and running using JavaMO.  Will we be able to control Pandora.com running on the Core from the Blackberries?
   
Other:
   WiFi will be provided through a router which is currently running as a basic WAP and is not handling  anything other than authentication and encryption.

   I am not a developer so I won't be much help in making progress on that level.  However, I am willing to participate by helping to document as much as possible. 

Thank you for making it to the end of this post!

Techstyle

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Re: New LinuxMCE Home Setup – Guidance and Advice Needed
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2010, 10:10:08 pm »
I don't think you can do whole house audio using Pandorra, I don't think it is possible to share the exact same 'Computer' window.  two media directors could be playing pandorra but they would be two different sessions, so different audio

you can do it with your audio and video although I am not sure how synchronised it is in 0810 becaues I haven't tried it.

B34N

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Re: New LinuxMCE Home Setup – Guidance and Advice Needed
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2010, 10:54:26 pm »
I don't think you can do whole house audio using Pandorra, I don't think it is possible to share the exact same 'Computer' window.  two media directors could be playing pandorra but they would be two different sessions, so different audio

you can do it with your audio and video although I am not sure how synchronised it is in 0810 becaues I haven't tried it.

Thank you for the response regarding Pandora.  If I'm using the core as a hybrid and playing content through Pandora, then couldn't that be a source which I could use for whole house audio?  I understand that it would not be able to play different sessions to multiple zones with the setup I'm describing, but I would be happy with one session playing to one or multiple zones.  I suspect that I could setup a scenario to get Pandora started on the hybrid, but how would I use an orbiter in a room without a MD to change the Pandora stations? 

Techstyle

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Re: New LinuxMCE Home Setup – Guidance and Advice Needed
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2010, 02:12:38 am »
Where today you can select an Audio or Video feed from the orbiter and play the same thing on all or selected media directors you cannot do this with a 'computing' screen.

You could take the output from one media director (whether MD or hybrid) and play that in each room external to the LMCE network.  You cannot control the pandora content from the orbiter other than controlling the mouse pointer (which means you have to see the MD screen)

I do think it would be a good addition to be able to project the 'computer screen' vid/aud from one MD to another but currently it is not available.

tkmedia

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Re: New LinuxMCE Home Setup – Guidance and Advice Needed
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2010, 06:16:56 pm »
One solution for pandora is the Roku net flix box which can be attached to a pvr card or soon the hdpvr.




HTH

Tim
My Setup http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Tkmedia

For LinuxMce compatible  systems and accessories
http://lmcecompatible.com/

B34N

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Re: New LinuxMCE Home Setup – Guidance and Advice Needed
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2010, 07:40:30 pm »
Thank you for the heads up regarding my desire you use Pandora for whole house audio.  It looks like I may need to revisit or make some adjustments to achieve that goal.  I'll also look potentially adding a Roku or Squeezebox as a solution.  Also it looks like WiFi may not be realistic at this point but I should be fine with Bluetooth.

Any thoughts on the other parts of the post?

B34N

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Re: New LinuxMCE Home Setup – Guidance and Advice Needed
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2010, 09:43:16 pm »
Updates

Wiring:
I ordered the cables as described. The in-wall speakers and cabling should be installed in the next week or so. I went without volume knobs. I also ditched rack mount as it significantly increased the cost.

Core:
I ordered a bare bones hybrid from http://lmcecompatible.com. After reading about the difficulties that people had with compatibility I feel that this was well worth the expense...and it really wasn't too much more than doing it myself. I will still add my own HDs and DVD drive.

Tuners
I never found an answer to if there are any quality differences between tuner cards. I found a Hauppauge WINTV-HVR-2250 Dual TV Tuner for $80 so I ordered that. The writeup looked promising http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Hauppauge_HVR-2250 I liked the idea of nothing hanging from the USB ports and having only one coax into the back of the hybrid.

Lighting Automation:
I ordered http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Aeon_Labs_Z-Wave_Interface_with_built-In_Inclusion_Remote but I have yet to settle on Z-Wave switches and outlets. I would really prefer toggle light switches over the large rocker style but it looks like they may be difficult to find.

Orbiters:
I'm going to have to figure out the orbiters as I go. It looks like my desire to control Pandora.com from my Blackberries is not going to become a reality at this time. I'm thinking that I should be able to setup an instance to get Pandora started on the Hybrid. Worst case scenario is that I'll use VNC and control the hybrid and change pandora channels from my netbook...or am I missing something (again).

I hope to document/video the setup process so newbies like me can learn from it.

dlewis

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Re: New LinuxMCE Home Setup – Guidance and Advice Needed
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2010, 04:40:14 am »
Check out this setup. It seems similar to what you want to do:

http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Alx9r%27s_Sample_Setup

Techstyle

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Re: New LinuxMCE Home Setup – Guidance and Advice Needed
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2010, 12:36:39 am »
Your desire to change Pandorra channels from your BB may be being looked at:

http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=9706.0

B34N

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Re: New LinuxMCE Home Setup – Guidance and Advice Needed
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2010, 04:14:56 am »
Your desire to change Pandorra channels from your BB may be being looked at:

http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=9706.0

Thank you. I saw the other day. I had wondered if it had anything to do with my asking about it in the chat room or if it was serendipity.