[mythtv-users] Do I understand MythTV correctly?

Shane Hetzel shane-lists at thehillpeople.org
Fri Jun 4 11:43:42 EDT 2004

Comments below:

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <lawrence.mandel at utoronto.ca>
To: <mythtv-users at mythtv.org>
Sent: Friday, June 04, 2004 9:39 AM
Subject: [mythtv-users] Do I understand MythTV correctly?

> 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
> Hauppauge 250 cards (no sound card?). One card will be connected to a
> 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
> box. I can then setup one or more frontends on other machines (Hauppauge
> card and SB live with 5.1 surround) and connect via ethernet to the
> The frontends will have full functionality and be able to view recorded
> programs and live tv (by selecting the source from the backend.)

Actually, there isn't much point to having a Hauppauge PVR-350 in the front
end. When some people build a combined backend/frontend machine, they make
use of the MPEG decoder on-board the card to save on CPU cycles, and that's
why you see people posting about using it for such. Since that's an
expensive tuner card, it really shouldn't be wasted in a frontend.  Lots of
people use (and revile) nVidia 440MX cards, because they're cheap, available
in half-height sizes for thin cases, and (for some people) built onto
several motherboards.

> Is this right? Can MythTV do all of this?

Yeah, so far as I know!

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

What would I recommend? The cheaper the better, my friend. If you're willing
to shell out the big bucks for cards teh do hardware encoding, then there's
no reason to spend money on CPU or memory. You could probably quite happily
get by with a sub-500MHz machine, if you have one laying around (ask your
friends, too). Also, I would use more than 256MB of memory. Really, 128
would be fine, except that the operating system would start feeling a little
cramped (especially once you start running apache for MythWeb).

Do yourself a favor and buy more hard drive space. Although in a backend
machine more drives can always be added later with worry for the noise

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

When you run out of PCI slots for PVR-250s, more or less. Really the
bandwidth of the PCI bus will come into play eventually, but you should be
able to get at least 4 in a single system.

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

Yeah, but not me. I just like cable. It's more of a pain to install, but
it's solid.

> 4. This is the where do people recommend going for hardware question. I
> 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?

I'd be tempted to go for a half-height case for the frontend, since it's
only got to have video and sound. The easiest route would be a integrated
(gasp!) mini-ATX motherboard with a nVidia nForce2 IGP chipset. For cases
I've become partial to Antec's offerings. They look good, are easy to use,
and are a lot cheaper than some popular alternatives (found on these
boards). I have the Antec Overture to house my combined frontend/backend
(full ATX), but you may want to take a look at the Antec Minuet (mini-ATX).
All "stylish" cases are more expensive than beige boxes, however.

I like Newegg, however other good deals may be found at z-buy.com and other
shops. Wherever you pick, it can be a very good idea to visit
http://www.resellerratings.com/ and get a feel for a company's reputation.

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

Oh boy, here's problem. While other cards may cost less, they invariably
take more CPU power to do the encoding for them. And, the more tuners you
have, the more horsepower you need. Now you NEED that 2GHz processor, and
that would just be for the two. I doubt if you could add a third card to
that backend.

There is some help, in the form of Hauppauge OEM cards. Lots of discussion
has been dedicated here to the selection of these OEM cards over the
year(s). Some of the newer models may not work with the ivtv drivers. Some
of the older ones work perfectly, however (I have a "Freestyle" model, for
instance.) Really you should go check out
http://ivtv.writeme.ch/tiki-index.php?page=SupportedHardware and check out
the forum and/or mailing list archives at http://ivtv.sourceforge.net/ to
make certain before you make any purchases.

I should mention that lots of other cards also require you to do audio
capture using a separate sound card in the backend. This requires a sound
card for each and every tuner card, cutting your PCI slots in half. That's
another reason why most people just go the easy route and pick up the
Hauppauge cards (or other cards that work with the ivtv drivers). Although
some brave souls do accomplish it with the other cards.

> Thanks,
> Lawrence


mythtv-users mailing list
mythtv-users at mythtv.org

More information about the mythtv-users mailing list