[mythtv-users] Building a myth box, wanna look over my components?

Mike Isely isely at isely.net
Wed Dec 15 03:46:49 UTC 2004

On Tue, 14 Dec 2004, Derek Gathright wrote:

> Case: Cooler Master Cavalier 2 Black ATX Desktop Case With Analog Dial
> & 300W Power Supply,
> $105
> Motherboard: ASUS "A7N8X-E Deluxe" nForce2 Ultra 400
> (Soundstorm right?)
> $89

I have a desktop system built around this motherboard.  I put it together
last May.  Now, I'm no novice at this, having been building PCs from parts
since roughly 1988.  I'm still trying to get that system to stabilize.
Of all the systems I have assembled, that one has been the worst by far.
For the mythbox I'm putting together now I specifically avoided nforce2.
This might be just me or something strange with the surrounding hardware.
The instability causes hard lockups on the order of every few weeks so
it's been a very slow chase trying to find the root cause(s).  Maybe your
experience will be better.  If so, I'd love to hear about it.

> Video: Rosewill nVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Video Card
> $52.50
> Processor:  AMD Mobile Athlon XP 2600+
> $95
> Ram:  1x512 Mushkin basic green 2700
> Tuner:  PVR250MCE (Where should I buy this from?  Newegg and ZZF are
> out.  And isn't there problems with some newer retail versions?).
> Thinking about a PVR500MCE.  How's the support under myth? (I'll
> probably go look this up myself)

I just picked up a new Hauppauge PVR-250 from buy.com last week for $125.
Using their free shipping in effect at the time I got the card in 3 days.
Usually I find that buy.com's prices aren't the best, but in this case
they seemed to beat everyone else I checked.  Though it is a very "new"
PVR-250 I got it working fairly easily - having done my homework on it
first.  You'll definitely need the new tuner kernel patch and the 0.3
series ivtv drivers.  But it works great for me; using hotplug under the
2.6.9-ac14 kernel the card was autodetected and the correct driver loaded
(including the selection of the correct tuner) without having to do
anything whatsoever to set it up.

> Hard Drive - ~200-250 gb (I find one on rebate)
> Total = ~$600
> Not a complete Myth noob.  Got an HD3000 box working last month, but
> the NTSC sucked so bad I ditched that idea until I research what ATSC
> signals I can get either OTA or unencrypted cable.  So anyways... for
> a remote, I'll use either a Remote Wonder I or II that I have lying
> around.

I picked up an "ATI Wonder Pro" from CompUSA as one of their
post-thanksgiving specials.  I haven't tried the tuner card yet, but I've
been playing around with the remote.  This is ATI's RF remote, and there's
some good and bad about it:

Good: The ati_remote kernel module simply "works".  Again using hotplug,
everything autodetected and loaded the instant I plugged in the USB

Bad: The ati_remote kernel module is a /dev/input type of driver, so the X
server started immediately to use it.  I had a working mouse, driven by
the 8-way mouse direction pad on the remote and the "left" and "right"
mouse buttons on the remote.  That was actually pretty cool, but this is
really bad for mythtv because mythtv discourages the use of the mouse and
kills the mouse pointer any time it is inside the mythtv client area.  (I
really wish I could turn on that mouse - if only to make it easier to use
in a window on a system that is primarily a desktop PC.)  Worse still, the
other buttons - as core input events - (almost) all get picked up by the
keyboard driver and get mangled through the X server as keypresses.  I
guess that's not so bad, but for some reason the chan+- buttons aren't
being seen by the keyboard driver (yes, I checked that input events are in
fact being generated).  The "correct" way to handle this situation is
really to have mythtv pick up the raw events from /dev/input/eventX for
the remote and completely avoid the X server crud.  But again, mythtv
appears designed to get everything as keypresses, which therefore requires
this crazy path through the X server and the loss of the chan+- buttons.
I guess I can live with that, but I'm trying wife-proof this setup (it's
the only way it is going to be accepted in this house) and with this
remote there are going to be lots of buttons which won't do any good and
will just serve to confuse...

On a more general front, I think I may have a big problem with how mythtv
handles its input (from the 'wife-proofing' point of view).  Many
keypresses are multiply-defined in various ways by mythtv which may or may
not make sense for a given remote control.  I'm still looking into this
(and yes I know I can change keydefs via mythweb but I'm not sure if I can
untangle the overloading that way).

> Anyone have any reccomendations on hardware?  A64 processors are
> almost so cheap right now I might go with one of those, throw a 2800+
> in there and it would add on about $30, but I'd lose Soundstorm, but
> then again... I'd gain 64 support for future use.

I just assembled a dedicated mythbox using a Shuttle SB61G2V3 and a 2.4GHz
P4 proc with 512MB of RAM.  I'm no Intel fan, but the nforce2 issue I'm
having caused me to shy away from another AMD rig for now.  So far this
dedicated box is performing great without even breaking a sweat.  The
mainboard has an embedded "Intel Extreme" graphics controller and for NTSC
at least performance seems not to be an issue.  I have a nvidia 5200-class
AGP card standing by in case it would have been a problem but so far the
hardware is performing great.  All of the above parts were purchased
through newegg.com last week, plus the PVR-250 from buy.com.  (I also
added a 300GB hard drive that I scavenged from the previously-mentioned
nforce2-based desktop system.)  Distribution of choice is Debian testing,


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