[mythtv-users] Advice for under-tele box?

Christopher Flynn flynnguy at gmail.com
Tue Oct 19 12:28:16 UTC 2004

On Tue, 19 Oct 2004 10:52:51 +0100, George Styles <george at ripnet.co.uk> wrote:
> a) Smallish / good looking (maybe a shuttle?) 

Shuttles are very popular for frontend systems. However if you want to
make it one box then it can be a little inadequate. If small is your
main concern, take a look at the Mini-ITX like the EPIA motherboards.
I think they are a little underpowered for a frontend/backend but for
just a frontend they may be what you are looking for.

> b) Powerful enough to decode MPEG2 (I have DVB cards)

I think if you look on the mythtv.org site you will find minimum
system requirements for different setups. I don't think you'll have a
problem if you're capturing on a backend.
> c) QUIET (the most important factor!) 

Yes, this is very important. I would suggest looking around at the
different silent fans. Also make sure your video card doesn't have a
fan. A lot of the faster ones these days have fans on them which is
great if you want to get more performance but bad if you want a quiet
video card. I ended up getting a Chaintech 5200FX but there were a
bunch of other 5200s that had fans so make sure you double check. Also
you may want to go with an OEM CPU and get a quiet fan and a largish
heatsink. I went with a retail heatsink/fan combo and I will probably
be replacing it sometime in the future. Also watch out for case fans
and power supply fans. Seagate hard drives, from what I remember, seem
to be among the quietest.

> d) Has SCART output with RGB out (I think the Americans call it component?).
> Composite output from a video card is very poor quality compared to the XBox
> connected via SCART RGB. 
> I think the RGB output may be the hardest to achieve, although I read
> somewhere that you can con some video cards into outputing at a frequency
> that TVs can accept. Any insight/experience? 

I think a lot of that depends on what video card you have. I don't
have an xbox so I can't really compare what I have to that but I like
my Chaintech nVidia 5200FX. It doesn't have component output but it
has S-Video and you can buy S-Video-> component adapters. The main
reason I got it is because it has DVI out and a hardware mpeg2
decoder. In the future I hope to get a HDTV and will hopefully use the
DVI out for that. For now I like the quality of the S-Video. I don't
really know anything about SCART except what I just read on wikipedia
so I can't help you there. RGB is actually different from component
out. Component is also sometimes refered to as RCA. The video is one
cable and then a Left/Right audio cable. I don't know what kindof luck
people have had with vga->RGB and I'm not sure of the quality. Sorry I
can't be of more help on this issue.
> e) preferably with a remote control (although I can add that later if
> needed) 

If you are handy with a soldering iron, check out the lirc web page
and look at the serial interface. It is pretty easy to build and I fit
all the components (except the IR) into a plastic hood for the DB9
connector. You can also buy one pre-made... the link's on the lirc
site somewhere.

> f) As cheep as possible :) 
> I dont believe that I need a very powerful system (i think the XBox would be
> powerful enough if it has a little more ram) so Im thinking around the
> 800MHz to 1GHz mark (any more and cooling becomes a problem). 
> Finally I am considering trying to boot it from compact flash to save on
> hard drive noise, but that is a 'later' project. 

That would be a nice project and something I've been looking at for a
while now for a different project. If you do try this and succeed I
think a howto would be in order ;-)

> I assume many on this list have already built such a box, and am interested
> in experiences of others. 
> I am not interested in a device that can just 'play' MPEG over the network
> as I want the full Myth GUI. 
> Also, a couple of PCI slots would be nice so I could maybe move the a DVB
> card or 2 into it and use it as another backend (but I realise that this may
> be incompatable with my 'small' requirement) 

Yeah, most "small" computers like the shutttle typically only have
about 1 PCI slot. However depending on your TV layout, there are some
very nice cases that look like stereo components. I have a Ahanix D5
and it's a little deep but it fits a full ATX motherboard, 2 hard
drives and a cd/dvd drive.

In order to really get what you want you will probably have to build your own. 
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Gandhi

More information about the mythtv-users mailing list