htpc

The journey of building my HTPC is nearly complete, time to break it down. ;)

Hardware:31K5nD4iRbL._SS400_

Software:

Started w/ LinuxMCE 8.10 beta2. Install went fine. Setup however was a pain. Several problems:

  • VIDEO: The Hauppauge card conflicted with the on-board video card. Linux would not start until extensive tweaking of grub menu. Then could not get the correct drivers to work with video card to support the High Graphics options (nice graphical overlays with moving background..etc). So I blamed it on me not thoroughly investigating the compatibility with LinuxMCE. Then I purchase the GeForce 9800 and was able to get the graphics functioning.
  • AUDIO: The GeForce card was supposed to support S/PDIF pass-through from the MB through the graphics card then through the dvi to HDMI adapter to the TV. After researching and attempting to fix for hours, I was able to upgrade the alsa-mixer/drivers and enable the PCM channel. I was so excited to hear the test bleep come through the TV to the BOSE.
  • FORUM TIME: http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=9367.0
  • STORAGE: I purchased 3 x 1TB hard-drives for storage. I am planning on buying a smaller SSD for boot but currently will just use a small partition on one of the 1 TB drives. Adding the drives was not very simple. It did require partitioning & formatting the drives in shell and then adding to through the Orbiter.
  • TV TUNER: Never could get it to work. Tried for hours, spent a lot of time in forums.
  • X10 HOME AUTOMATION: Was able to get the unit to turn on and off lights in certain parts of the house that had x10 modules. The CM15 adapter was not automatically supported by LinuxMCE so it required some file downloads and googling to get it to work. It worked pretty sporadically, but I really don’t think I had the adapter plugged in to the right circuit for the modules to get proper signals. It was really just a side project, and I was pretty busy so I didn’t spend a lot of time on it.
  • MISC: <- for additional problem notes later.

LINUXMCE IS RUNNING: So after several days of messing around, I finally get down to converting my dvd collection to digital format. 200+ dvds. That took several days and over 1.5 TB of storage.  LinuxMCE created 3 files per movie(2 files for meta-data and encryption keys and the third was a .dvd file). The .dvd file is basically a renamed .iso image.

BETA VERSION BUGGINESS FINALLY TAKES ITS TOLL: So I reluctantly begin to investigate the possibility of running Win 7 64-bit with Media Center. Looks promising w/ Media Browser Plug-in. Install and everything goes extremely smooth. Until…

LINUXMCE .DVD IMAGES ARE ENCRYPTED: VLC will open the .dvd files, however in Media Center the files are garbled.  So now the dilemma is using DVD-Decrypter to remove the encryption on 200+ of my movies. Sounds like its going to take a long time Right?

WRONG! SCRIPTING SAVES THE DAY: So after researching for some time to see if there are any programs to mass decrypt .iso files, I decide to write a simple vb script myself. With the help of some friends, the script is completed and ran overnight to convert my entire collection. DOWNLOAD HERE (Requires AutoIt, Daemon Tools Lite, & DVD Decrypter)

FEELING PRETTY HAPPY: So now that my personal DVD collection is converted and decrypted, I can put the original disc’s in storage. Media Browser is running very nicely. Very Snappy response. I loaded the Hulu Desktop plug-in and am able to launch and watch Hulu shows from Media Center. For the future, when I purchase more dvd’s and want to back them up, I have setup a Media Center plug-in called Auto Rip n Compress. It seems to be working great, and puts the .iso wherever you specify.  Then I use Meta<browser/> to detect the movie and download the correct meta-data and folder/backdrop images.

TODO:

  1. Test TV Tuner Card
  2. Figure out best/cheap/safe way to automatically backup media collection
  3. Sync pictures/music with my MACs
  4. Buy IR blaster and configure my Logitech Harmony Remote to control everything
  5. Buy Blu-Ray burner and configure automated media backups
  6. Finishing touches (Dolby boot sounds, theater atmosphere)
Caroline Arp says:

Can I just say what a relief to find someone who basically knows what they’re talking about on the internet. You always know how to bring an issue to light and make it credible. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

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  • brandon fiquett
  • tech enthusiast, developer, engineer, scuba instructor, minister, K2FIQ.

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