OK folks, just a quick update. I figured out a few quirks and have hooked it up to my TV now.
After dealing with the memory issue the system has been extremely stable and been on virtually 24hrs a day. I got it hooked up to my regular TV (32″ CRT, about 7-8 years old) and have been watching TV, DVDs, movies, and playing music on it ever since using MediaPortal software.
I’ve loaded up plenty of software to make things easier, and added some customizations.
- Added a plugin called MCE Replacement Plugin (get it here, get more info from here), which includes a replacement driver for the Microsoft MCE remote. Basically this lets you customize how your PC receives signals from the remote, and lets you control and external set top box (STB) like a cable box or satellite receiver, external amp, stereo, etc.
- Installed and configured XMLTV which downloads the TV Guide information (get it here, get more info from here). This is set to download every day.
- Installed Nero (came with the DVD burner) so I can burn CDs, DVDs if need be. It also includes a neat tool called DriveSpeed which lets me reduce the speed of the drive. The reason being is that even tho this thing can read or burn a DVD at 16x, and a CD at 48x, it has to spin very *loudly* in order to do so. So by reducing the speed, it spins nice and quiet-like. It has an option to set the speed at startup (which I enabled), and you can quickly return to normal speed with a few clicks should you need to.
- Installed DivX, DVRMSToolbox, and Arksoft Crunchie. If you aren’t familiar with Crunchie, it is a really sweet tool. You set it to run at a specified time, and it looks thru a folder you set (my TV Recordings folder) and converts any files that match criteria you set to a compressed format. It will automatically crop and reduce size, then delete (optionally) the original after its done. This way, nightly I take a 1 hour tv show that might take up 2-3GBs and compress down to about 200-300MB. The quality is still good enough that I can watch later and not notice the difference unless I’m really paying attention.
- I turned on FTP services from within IIS in Windows. That way I can access the recordings from anywhere. I went thru a lot of fits trying to figure out the firewall settings (don’t forget to open both port 20 AND port 21). But once all that was done, it is now working. I have the ports blocked by default on my firewall and will only open them when needed
Then I spent the better part of 2 weeks fiddling with the color. Boy, this was a project. And I still can’t get it exactly the way I want it. I couldn’t figure out if the colors were off due to the source, the video settings, the mediaportal settings or some combination. Eventually, I set everything back to default, and upon recommendation by a member on the MediaPortal forums I installed Nvidia’s PureVideo Decoder (30day free trial) and now have “real nice” color (but still a little different from the normal cable. I’m happy with it now tho.
- The TV signal is currently sent from the STB to the MPPC by s-video cable, then again from MPPC to TV by s-video.
- Audio goes by RCA cables from the STB to MPPC, and then again by RCA from the MPPC to the TV.
Now for the photos.
Here the lovely Olivia Munn from Attack of the Show is talking about… um… well it doesn’t really matter what shes talking about :) But here you can see the MPPC in the lower left corner. It is currently sitting on top of a basstube that used to be in my VW (still figuring out what I’m going to do with it now) because the audio cable I had was too short to reach any further. I’ll be picking up a cable this weekend that will allow me to put it on the floor. If I become more adventurous, I may actually put it in the space below the TV where the old DVD/VCR combo and some DVDs are currently.
In this photo there is a close up of the MPPC. sitting on top of it is the IR Receiver (receives the signals from the remote). This comes with the Microsoft MCE remote kit, which includes a remote, the receiver, and 2 IR blasters (that send signals to other devices). I will have to think about where I want to put this long term. In the short term, its just fine where it is. I may also configure another universal remote that I have to imitate the MCE signals, as well as control other equipment, not sure yet, and thats another project unto itself.
This photo shows a closeup of the cable box under the TV. The cable snaking in from the left is the IR Blaster from the back of the IR Receiver (shown above). it sits in front of the cable STB held in place by some scotch tape. Not sure how I will hide this later.
Here is a close-up of the close-up of the IR Blaster
And here is Kevin Pereira on Attack of the Show. This shot shows some of the MediaPortal interface onscreen.
More details as they develop…