[mythtv-users] 2nd try at a MythTV FE/BE design

John Drescher drescherjm at gmail.com
Thu Oct 11 09:58:55 UTC 2007

> After reading over the many welcome comments in my first attempt at
> designing my
> first MythTV box
> (http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/mythtv/users/289526),
> I've put together my revised shopping list.
> I'm tired of VHS tapes and multiple VCRs so I've decided to build a MythTV
> box.
> While I've used various flavors of UNIX for the last 20+ years as both a
> user
> and a developer, this will be my first Linux machine and my first build. I'm
> planning on following the instructions in "Practical MythTV" and using
> Ubuntu to
> set up a combined FE/BE. I want some room for expansion - more disk and
> capture
> cards.  If this works out like I hope, I'll probably split the FE and BE in
> a
> couple of years. I'd also like it quiet. It'll be in the entertainment
> cabinet
> with the TV.
> I'm looking for recommendations to the following. Over built? Under built?
> Too noisy? Too hot? Too ugly? Too geeky? Not geeky enough?
For the most part this looks good to me.

> The TV is not digital and wont be for a few years yet.
> I have 3 different inputs:
> * analog cable
> * cable converter box for scrambled channels - Motorola DCT2224/1662/ACDEG
>   - It has a 9 pin Female D connector labeled data
>   - It has what looks like a phono plug labeled IR
> * and the afore mentioned VCRs - I'd like to convert some of those tapes...
> Here's my current http://www.newegg.com shopping list...
> I'm not sure which case I like better. The 288 supports a VFD display. But
> it
> doesn't look like it is Linux compatible. Is there a consensus as to which
> of
> these is better? How about other cases - preferably < $100?
This is my biggest dilemma on not making a box for the living room. I
mean with an AMD AM2 system the case will probably be the most
expensive item in the build which I find a little disturbing. I have
not come to a conclusion on that one after much searching. I do know I
want a 100% black case that is about the length and width of a VCR and
has exactly one external 5.25 bay and no external 3.5 bays. And then
it has to look good and not cost a fortune. I mean my $50 dvd player
looks good and it does not have a $250 case...

>       nMEDIAPC HTPC 288BA Black Steel & Aluminum Panel MicroATX Media Center
> / HTPC Desktop Computer Case
> http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811204022
>       Model #: HTPC 288BA
>       Item #: N82E16811204022
>       $99.99
>       nMEDIAPC HTPC 200BA Black Aluminum/Plastic/Steel MicroATX Media Center
> / HTPC Desktop Computer Case
> http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16811204004
>       Model #: HTPC 200BA
>       Item #: N82E16811204004
>       $89.99
>       FSP Group (Fortron Source) FSP400-60THN ATX2.0 400W Power Supply - OEM
> http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16817104032
>       Model #: FSP400-60THN OEM
>       Item #: N82E16817104032
>       $41.99
> Not sure if this is quite enough. Just going by what the reviews say about
> it.
> Is 400W enough for this base system plus a couple of more disks and another
> capture card?
More than enough. My main desktop at home is a dual processor Opteron
2.4G with 3 Seagate 7200.10 drives, nVidia GForce 4 card, 4GB of
memory, two hauppage PVR cards and my system hits 220W under full

> I'm also considering the Antec Fusion cases. They come with a PSU, so I
> wouldn't need the above. Do both of these VFDs work with Linux? Or just the
> Veris model? Not sure I'm happy with only 2 HD slots.
> I've gone cross eyed looking at cases. Does anyone have a better suggestion?
>       Antec FUSION Silver Aluminum/steel MicroATX Media Center Computer Case
> 430W Power Supply - Retail
> http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129131
>       Model #: FUSION
>       Item #: N82E16811129131
>       $179.99 - $20.00 instant rebate
>       Antec Veris Fusion Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel/ Aluminum plate front
> bezel MicroATX Media Center Computer Case430W Power Supply - Retail
> http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16811129030
>       Model #: Fusion Black
>       Item #: N82E16811129030
>       $219.99 - $20.00 instant rebate
>       ASUS M2NBP-VM CSM AM2 NVIDIA Quadro NVS 210S Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
> http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16813131072
>       Model #: M2NBP-VM CSM
>       Item #: N82E16813131072
>       $76.99
Sounds good to me. At work I have purchased dozens of ASUS boards and
they work very well.

>       Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 500 MCE White box PCI Interface Personal Video
> Recorder
> http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16815116628
>       Model #: 1081
>       Item #: N82E16815116628
>       $139.99
> I picked up a Hauppauge WinTV GO-Plus cheap from my local CompUSA when it
> was
> going out of business. Don't know if the card will work with Linux or not
> yet,
> but I figured I could make use of the IR Blaster and remote that came with
> it.
> I'd like to add another PVR 500 in the not too distant future.
You know the PVR500 is very very picky about signal levels so picky
that my PVR500 sits on my desk as a paperweight and I spent $55 more
for a PVR150 at newegg a few months back. See LNA samsung on the
ivtv-users list.

> The HD Homerun looks interesting when I go digital (probably in a couple of
> years).
>       AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Windsor 2.2GHz Socket AM2 Processor Model
> http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16819103747
>       Model #: ADA4200CUBOX
>       Item #: N82E16819103747
>       $74.00
Get the brisbane instead. It uses significantly less power:

> Do I need a fan or heat sink for this? It and the MOBO do support
> Cool'n'Quite.
The motherboard support should be more of reporting that the processor
has pstates. And then you have the kernel or a userspace app do the
cpu speed changes. I keep the fan speed constant. I used to use a
couple of user space utilities but now I just use the ondemand govenor
from the kernel and set these params in my local.start

echo ondemand > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor
echo 15 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/ondemand/up_threshold

echo ondemand > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/scaling_governor
echo 15 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/ondemand/up_threshold

This will make my cpus go to 100% speed if the processor usage is over
15%. I like this because it gives me good performance but this is for
my dual processor Opteron desktop so you may want to change your

>       Kingston ValueRAM 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
> Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model KVR800D2N5K2/2G
> http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16820134117
>       Model #: KVR800D2N5K2/2G
>       Item #: N82E16820134117
>       $98.99
> This is Non ECC memory. Is ECC memory better?
> Do other brands have better reputations?
I generally buy corsair xms but there are other  highly rated memories
on newegg. Although I generally do not but ECC with that is not also
registered (for servers), ECC is better because it will basically tell
you that there is a problem. I mean that you should get no corrected
ram at all. With mcelog (logs ram correction attempts) I have been
able to make ram stable in my server board at home and at work. In
both cases the ram was not corsair though.

>       Seagate Barracuda ES ST3500630NS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard
> Drive - OEM
> http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16822148151
>       Model #: ST3500630NS
>       Item #: N82E16822148151
>       $149.99
> I'll add more disk as I need it. Is the ES version worth the extra $40?
No you do not need the ES. However be careful to test your drive when
you get it. I purchase hundreds of drives for work and I find that
around 10% of drives I get in the last 3 years are either DOA or die
within the first 3 months. I believe the reason for the high failure
rate is two fold. At less than $100 per drive manufacturers do not
test as well as they did when drives were all $300. Also sometimes
newegg and others do not pack the drives well so the drive receives
too much shock while shipping.

>       SAMSUNG 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S203B - OEM
> http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16827151153
>       Model #: SH-S203B
>       Item #: N82E16827151153
>       $30.99
That is the model I would pick. I have several of the 18X PATA samsung
burners at work and they work great. I also have LITE-ON drives but
recently the quality has gone down so I buy only SAMSUNG for the last

> Is it better to use a PATA burner? Keep the SATA connectors open for HDs?
I would go for SATA unless you feel you will run out of ports.

> Although, the reviews for the PATA version of this burner weren't very good.
> What about keyboards? Do the MCE ones, with all of the their special video
> function keys, work with Linux? I'd like to go wireless. Probably not IR
> though;
> I suspect line-of-sight could be a problem.
> I'm also thinking about wireless LAN. My wired switch is half way across the
> house. It's a Netgear WGT624v2. Any card/USB dongle recommendations?
In 2004 I picked out a cheap card that had a 5 on the newegg rating.
It worked great. I am not sure the model as I retired the machine a
long time ago.

> Am I forgetting anything?
Nothing I can think of but its just before 6:00AM so I am barely awake...


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