[mythtv-users] Do I understand MythTV correctly?

Joseph A. Caputo jcaputo1 at comcast.net
Fri Jun 4 11:35:37 EDT 2004

On Friday 04 June 2004 10:39, lawrence.mandel at utoronto.ca wrote:
> Hi,
> So I've been reading through the MythTV manual and users mailing list
> and if I understand what I can do with MythTV I'm amazed.
> Let me setup the scenario I have in mind.
> I can setup a MythTV backend on a P4, 2GHz, 512 Megs, and large HDD
> with two Hauppauge 250 cards (no sound card?). One card will be
> connected to a digital cable box and the other to regular cable. The
> one connected to the digital cable box can be configured (with some
> sort of IR device) to control the cable box. I can then setup one or
> more frontends on other machines (Hauppauge 350 card and SB live with
> 5.1 surround) and connect via ethernet to the backend. The frontends
> will have full functionality and be able to view recorded programs
> and live tv (by selecting the source from the backend.)
> Is this right? Can MythTV do all of this?

Yes.  One note, though... a PVR-350 is a waste in a frontend-only 
machine.  Either configure those machine(s) as slave backends (since 
the -350 can record), or go with a less expensive TV-out option, like a 

> If so I have a few questions.
> 1. What would you recommend to use for the backend machine? I would
> guess a P4, 2GHz, 512 Megs, large (>100Gig) HDD and two Hauppauge 250
> cards will work. Should/can I use a more/less powerful machine? Do I
> need half a gig of ram?

That's plenty of horsepower for a backend-only with hardware encoders.  
You could probably get away with sub-1GHz if you wanted.  Better to 
spend the money on more HD storage!  As for RAM, I have 256MB, so you 
don't *need* 512.

> 2. At what point should I look at adding a slave backend machine
> rather then upgrading the single backend machine?

See above; if you're really planning on getting PVR-350's for your 
frontends, then they should really be combined slave backend/frontend 
machines.  Other than that, if you're using hardware encoders, add a 
slave backend when you run out of PCI slots.  For analog tuner card + 
software encoding, add a slave backend when your CPU can't handle 
encoding N simultaneous streams.

> 3. Has anyone connected the frontends wirelessly to the backend? Does
> 802.11b work ok or do I need to use 802.11g?

Some folks have reported varying degrees of success with 802.11b if they 
encode using MPEG-4 at a low resolution/bitrate.  If you're using 
hardware MPEG-2 encoders, that would mean you'd have to transcode the 
recording to MPEG-4 before you could watch it, which would probably 
eliminate the possibility of LiveTV on the wireless frontends.  802.11g 
would be better, and of course 100MBit wired is the best option (well, 
GigaHertz Ethernet...).

> 4. This is the where do people recommend going for hardware question.
> I want my frontends to look cool (not a crappy beige box.) Anyone
> know of a good computer shell shop? Preferably something thin. How
> about a good shop for purchasing the rest of the hardware I need?

Sorry, I've got a beige box myself :-(

> 5. Finally, from what I've read it's safest to use Hauppauge 250 and
> 350 cards but they do cost more then other cards. Can anyone
> recommend other TV input and TV output (with COAX connection) cards?
> I don't want to sacrifice audio and video using MythTV.

For TV-in, there are a few other hardware encoder cards.  The AverMedia 
M-179 and Yuan ??MPG-xxxx?? are basically equivalent to the PVR-250 
(without the IR remote receiver), but may be difficult to come by these 
days.  IIRC, the Yuan cards have the added benefit of being 

For TV-out, the most popular choice seems to be the Nvidia GeForce4 MX.  
Most cards only support either Composite (RCA) and/or S-Video for 
TV-out; you're unlikely to find too many choices with RF (Coax) output.  
You'll probably need an external RF modulator for that, but the quality 
won't be as good.  Then again, if you've got a TV that only takes coax 
in, the biggest limiting factor in your video quality might be the TV 



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