[mythtv-users] Multiple frontends/backend storage with digital boxes

Eric A. Litman elitman at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 17 13:07:59 EST 2004

"Hans Friedrich" <hans at misfithill.com> wrote:

> I currently have three digital cable boxes, each hooked up to a tv in a
> different room in my house. I want to be able to watch a live show and
> record a live show simultaneously from each of my digital cable boxes.

Do your cable boxes have dual tuners, and are you able to watch/record
simultaneously with them today? If it's your intention to be able to
watch/record simultaneously from any TV (rather than any cable box), this
isn't really an issue, as you could aggregate your tuners (logically or
physically) and the watch/record process becomes transparent to the viewer.

> I  want all my recorded shows, as well as my 10,000+ mp3s, to be stored on
> a fourth pc running mythtv and available on my tvs. this fourth box will
> be used strictly for storage, but not used for playing or video, and
> will be located in my home office.

Here are a few issues to consider:

1. If you're going to be wirelessly networking these machines, or bandwidth
is an issue in your home, you may want your tuners/cable boxes local to each
2. Centralizing all of your tuners/cable boxes onto one server (perhaps the
4th server you mention above) simplifies installation and administration,
and can allow you to distribute less expensive frontend machines - Xboxen,
spare PC's, etc. It also helps to prevent loss of an input source in the
event someone mistakenly turns off a cable box. In this case, you will want
MythTV on that 4th box.
3. Resist the temptation to get as small a box as possible for your master
backend server.You will fill all of your drives with recorded video faster
than you anticipate, and you will want to add more storage. Plus, you'll
need PCI slots for each of your tuners.
4. PVR-250s are worth the investment over and above a capture card w/ no
hardware encoder. The jury's still out on PVR-350s for reasons you can
readily find both on this list and the ivtv mailing list.

> I'd like my pcs located next to my tvs to be as thin of clients as
> possible.

You can go *really* thin on the frontend, even so far as to go diskless and
boot from Compact Flash. For somewhere in the neighborhood of  ~$350-400USD
each, you could put together frontend machines considerably smaller than
your current digital cable boxes.Get yourself any small form-factor machine
with a CF slot

> Ideally I'd be able to run the pcs located by my tvs as
> frontends only, and do all recording on my Big Box, but I don't know how
> this would be possible considering the need for my digital cable box and
> my tv tuner cards to be located together.

You don't need tuners on the frontends - that's the beauty of the
client/server architecture of MythTV. On that one backend machine, insert 3
tuner cards (PVR-250 or otherwise), stack the cable boxes atop each other,
make sure you have enough serial/usb/whatever ports you'll need to control
each of those three boxes, and you'll be set.


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