MyPVR
My Personal Video Recorder Project

MyPVR by flurdy

Hosted by MyPVR. My old version.

Start date: November 2004. Last update: March 2005.

Costs so far: 0. Time so far: 15 hours.
Expected costs: 500. Expected time: 100 hours.

Primary Aim: To build a working PVR. And document it.
Secondary Aim: If I enjoyed building it, I will sell it and build another one, and so on...

Index

Past

Research

Investigated what PVR is, what it would do for me, which type to go for, how much it would cost roughly, how much time it would take roughly.

Decision

Decided on MythTV based PVR that I would build myself.

Hardware choices

Case

Aesteitically the most important choice. Important element is "where will it be located". If in lounge, then it will have to be good looking, quiet, and fit in your cabinet. If it is in a PVR rack or in a study, then functionallity is more important.

First I planned to get this CoolerMaster case, the ATCS 620. However they have stopped making it, so is hard to get hold of.

Then I thought about gettin an Antec Sonatra. Which I know (as I already own one) is quiet, practical, and good looking. It is however quite bulky and would have to be next to my tv stand or behind it.

In the end I have decided to get a Silverstone LC11. It is nice looking, has room for several HDs and cards, and good cooling options. It is quiet, but not as quiet as the Sonatra.

Motherboard

This depended on which case I went for and what processor I wanted. Size wise the Silverstone requires a µATX. Future proofing an AMD64 964 pin motherboard makes sense, but I am keeping cost down so went for Socket A type. Packing in as many features on the motherboard as possible is a bonus, as I only have 1 AGP and 2 PCI slots available. So onboard suround sound and networking is a must, while a decent onboard graphics card would have been nice, but not always viable, especially as I would require TV-out port. Another thing I required was SATA. In the end the MSI's K7N2GM2-ILSR

Processor

With the cheapest Socket A Sempron being 1/3 of the cheapest pin 754, 940 Sempron & AMD64s, then the choice was Sempron 2400 OEM. If you use a tuner card with encoding chip then cpu power is not a priority.

Tuner Card

Many around, but the Hauppauge 250 & 350 is what other users of MythTV recommends. 350 is a 250 plus a tv out decoding chip. I'd get a 250 as I will use the gfx card's tv out, as I read the 350 isnt that good with non tv programs, ie menues, games etc.

Gfx Card

A powerfull card is not needed as it will only be 2d. TV-out is off course essential. Also a silent card is beneficial. Hoped to find a motherboard with tv out, but not the case. Need to be Nvidia based as ATI is not that good in Linux. Settled for Asus FX5200 with no fan.

Sound Card

Not neccessary as motherboard comes with sound chip. Could upgrade to Sound Blaster Audigy. but mpeg2 audio does not require that level of perfection.

Drives

May upgrade later to dual layered dvd burner, as they are about ~50 nowadays, however I am keeping costs down, so Ill just get a cheap dvd reader for now. I went for a silver colour( not needed but just in case) Sony.

Floppy disk is of course not needed.

Hard disks does get trashed with PVRs. So I needed high performance, mass capacity, ultra quiet disks. The Seagate Baracuda 160GB SATA seemed to fit the bill. Will probably extend this with more disks later on.

Fans

The case comes with three fans: a front 80m intake fan, a side 80m outtake fan, an internal 80m psu fan.

Additionally I will use a super quiet cpu fan. The Zalman Super Flower Cooler is just that.

A gfx fan is not needed as its passively cooled. Also a hard disk fan is not needed, as the intake fan cools them slightly.

Memory

Don't think with encoder tuner card, that large amount of memory is required. So I will get 512Mb initially. PC2700 333MHz is compatible with the cpu and motherboard. The PC3200 was actually cheaper. Corsair CMX512 is recommended by Asus.

Networking

A PVR needs internet access to update its EPG, (tv guide). As it will be located in the lounge, and I have not wired that room, then it would need WIFI. I have got wifi working fine on my linux laptop, however its a task id probably leave till last, so Ill probably run a wire down the stairs untill the missues complains enough.

Accessories

Keyboard & Mouse

For a lounge based box, I need some nifty looking accessories, otherwise what is the point of good looking, box if it has an eye sore of a keyboard? A minimalistic wireless is the only option:

Cable box integration

As I will be getting my TV Feed through a digital tv cable set top box, I need to control this box from my PVR box. Red-Eye Serial is just the trick.

Cables

I will need some S-VHS / Scart etc etc cables. Maybe some converters for the tv in to the tuner.

Remote control

A snazy and functional remote is also desired. While a wirelss mouse might do the trick at the start.

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Next

Purchase

Dabs
CPU Fan: Zalman Super Flower ALCU: 31.68
Hard Disk: Seagate 160GB SATA : 59.93
Memory: Corsair 512MB XMS : 66.03
DVD: Sony Silver 16x ROM: 15.99
Motherboard: Asus A7N8X-VM400 : 48.52
Processor: AMD Sempron 2400 OEM : 34.99
Hauppauge WinTV PVR 250 : 93.49
Delivery: 5.11
Total: 296.70
					
Scan
Case: Silverstone LC11S : 98.70
Gfx Card: Asus 128MB FX5200 : 32.83
Delivery: 10.00
Total: 143.28
					
Lets Automate
IRDA: Red-Eye Translator : 35.25
Delivery: 2.00
Total: 37.25
					
Sub Total

477.23

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Future

Software

OS

This will be Linux system, and initially it was going to be a Gentoo based system. However after trying to set up Gentoo on another box for a few months, I realised it is not for me. Why? I simply have not got the time. It is an excellent distribution, and using the handbook I got a system up and running in the first week. However after each update there was too much configuration to be done, and Xorg broke my system every time. Didn't help I forgot what stage I was at between each time I tried to do some with it. If you have more time to spend on it than 1 hour a week late on a sunday evening, then it may be for you, but not me.

So I am going to use the tried and trusted Mandrake. Set up of dusins of Mdk boxes, server, desktops, the like, so I'll have it installed, updated and configured in hours.

PVR Software

As mentione before my PVR software choice is MythTV. It is a well established, well supported, wide spread Open Source solution. Installing it should not be an issue. Setting up the different modules will take some time.

Other

RivaTV

Configuration

More Hardware

2nd Tuner

More disks

DVB Tuner

DVD Burner

Wifi

Fans

Maybe some QuietPC fans.

2nd PVR Box

Back End
Front End

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Contact

You can contact me to dicuss pvr related matters, with tips and opinions, purchasing PVRs and related hardware, co-operate and assist on this project or MyPVR.org. Or if there is a legal issue. etc. etc.

Contact flurdy directly to discuss this project.

Contact MyPVR.org to discuss PVR in general, or if you want to add to the site.

Contact Bionic House if you want purchase a PVR or have someone build it for you.

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Reference

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