Media Server PC Project

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Steve Wolstrup, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. Steve Wolstrup

    Steve Wolstrup Auditioning

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    Hello everyone, this is my first post here so I thought I'd make it one that will hopefully be of some interest to others. If I'm rehashing an old topic or posting in the wrong forum, I'm sorry, I did a search, but didn't come up with anything close.

    I've set up a Media Server PC in my home. Well, it's going to be anyway. Its primary function will be to stream music, movies and pictures all over the house via the wireless network (which is already in place). Additionally, I would like to ad DVR functionality to it by including a TV card and using Snapstream's Beyond TV 3. What I'm not clear on, is what TV card would be suitable to record DirecTV programming and what other accessories I'll need.

    Has anyone else done this? If so, how well did it work and how much did it cost (roughly)?

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Do a search for tivo. I posted a question several months back asking about software like tivo. i was given a link to a company that bundles software with a video card. It seemed like a great setup, but I couldn't justify the price at the time. Don't remember the name right off, but do a search and it should come up.

    Got a question about the wireless stuff. Are you sure you're going to be able to stream video around? If you only have 802.11b there's no chance (without LOTS of compression). With 802.11g it might be possible (though i seriously doubt it would work for HDTV). For audio and pictures it should work. Also, if you have encryption enabled on your network (which you really should) this will cause a minimum of roughly 10% slowdown in overall network performance. So have you tested this to make sure it will do what you want?

    EDIT: I think the software I was linked to was called SageTV. But do a search and I'm sure you'll find others too
     
  3. Steve Wolstrup

    Steve Wolstrup Auditioning

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    Thanks SageH,

    I will do a search. I have a wireless-G setup, but *might* run wires under the floor if I decide to go all the way with it. I'm sort of running into the same trouble with the cost/benefit ratio. A regular Tivo is only like 5 bucks a month with DirecTV and is ready to go. This just seems like a fun project.
     
  4. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Do you also have to pay extra for the Tivo to start out with? The SageTV packages run as low as about $149 with no monthly fee, so they aren't too bad. My problem was I always convince myself I need a higher end model and I'm a college student so I can't really afford any of it. It would definitely be a fun project. If you have an HD TV you should also do a search for some software that allows you to up-scale DVD's to HD quality. There are a couple programs that are frequently used around here.
     
  5. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

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    Can you actually get tuner cards that work as satellite receivers? I have an ATI Tv-Wonder, but that only works for plain cable. Sure, you could connect the satellite to the RCA/Coax/Svideo inputs, but you'd still have to manually control the channels.
     
  6. Tony Loewen

    Tony Loewen Stunt Coordinator

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    Morning all, how is everyone?

    I just got myself a new laptop with integrated 802.11g and a linksys wireless router for the main computer, which I am using as a media server. My plan for it is, when we move into our new house in about a week or two, is to run a FP directly off of the desktop, mostly because of location and I have all of my HTPC apps already installed on it. I have the entire Family Guy series ripped onto a Maxtor 300 GB external firewire hard drive connected to the server. This hold all of my movies, music and TV shows. All of my movies are in Divx format, for space consideration, although I haven't yet converted Family Guy. It is still in VOB files that I play through PowerDVD. My movies play very smoothly over the wireless on the laptop, probably because of the divx compression. Family Guy is still very reasonable smooth, although there are a few very short stalls in playback. I'm not sure if this can be attributed to the fact it is over wireless, or because it is in the uncompressed Mpeg-2 format, or if it is because it has to get from the firewire drive to the main CPU to the wireless router to the laptop. It is not a problem when I am just using the laptop as a portable TV to laugh at Peter Griffen's crazy antics, but I wouldn't want to have it connected to a projector for HT display. Maybe I'm just a perfectionist, because it really isn't that bad, we are talking about 1 or 2 quarter to half second stalls on a 22 minute tv show. The main CPU is a pentium 4 2.0 GHz processor with 768 MB ram, and usually a few processes running in the background. The laptop is a mobile Pentium 4 3.06 GHz with 512 MB ram, usually running on battery, and usually when I decide to watch some movies or Family Guy, the battery is down at about 20 - 25%, so I'm not sure if that makes a difference either.

    For me though, I will be running the theater (projector, receiver) off of the computer that locally stores the files, and using the wireless just when the mood strikes me.

    For TV tuner I have a USB 2.0 Pinnacle PCTV Deluxe, and it's pvr is pretty good, and it captures all the way up to MPEG-2 Res (720 x 480). I had them throw it in with the laptop, but I think it was $150 - $250 CDN. No complaints with it. I went with USB so I could use it with the laptop if we decided to take it with us to a friends place and capture some of our old home videos and crap, and because I am quickly running out of pci slots.

    Hope this info helps you out!

    Tony
     
  7. Tony Loewen

    Tony Loewen Stunt Coordinator

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    Chris, I had wanted to do the same thing. The house we are moving into has a dish but no receiver, so I wanted to run the raw sat signal into the coax on the capture box, and use some sort of software decoder. This, apparantly, is not possible at the time. There are sat cards that you can buy, I think Hauppauge makes a few and there are others. I asked a few questions here and they helped me out. My post has since slipped of the bottom of the board, so you would have to ask again if you were interested. We have since decided to go with a receiver instead and not persue it any further.
     

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