[mythtv-users] Absolute newbie stumped

Jacob Steenhagen jacob at steenhagen.us
Thu May 21 16:34:17 UTC 2009

My 2c follows....

Tom wrote:
> I've been reading the archives at Gossamer and poking all over the web
> for enough info to just get started with MythTV. I've been at this for
> two months. All I know so far is that that I think I want two ATSC
> tuner cards and I'm thinking of starting with MythDora, since I have
> some passing familiarity with FC.
I currently run MythDora and while it was easy to set up, the first
chance I get I'll be going back to CentOS (ie, when I can get my digital
tuner card working under CentOS). Fedora has its uses, but I don't think
what's essentially a TV-watching appliance is one of them. For that, I'd
prefer CentOS (based on RHEL) which has a much longer support cycle.
I've been burned before running Fedora Core (yes, back when it was FC)
and not staying on the upgrade treadmill. Of course, the advantage to
Fedora is it has the newer kernels which have more hardware support
(which is why I'm back on it). Also, you have to go a lot more manual
work to install Myth on top of CentOS than you'd have to do if you just
pop in a MythDora CD and follow the wizards.
> l'll probably begin with one capture card. Comments I've read on
> MythTVtalk.com seem to indicate that dual capture cards are overpriced
> compared to a pair of single cards. Dunno if that's really true.
It's always nice to start out easy and expand up... and one of the nice
things about Myth is that you can do that.
> I need to decide what capture cards I want so I know what bus they
> plug into so I can start looking for a machine or motherboard & cpu
> combo. I  need to record OTA (ATSC). No cable or satellite in the
> cards for the present.
As others have said, the HDHR (http://www.silicondust.com/) has the
advantage of not requiring any slots in your computer (nor any kernel
mode drivers, AFAIK)... I don't have one personally as I can't afford it
right now, but they do seem nice. It also has dual ATSC tuners built
into it so you get the advantage of that w/out any of the hardware
issues that can arise from putting two cards in a computer.
> I want to record SD for now, but leave the way open for HD. Playback
> (for now) will be s-video, but there's a HDMI equipped television in
> my future. Not next week, mind you. But some day.
Once you have an ATSC capture card (which, being that analog broadcasts
stop next month is the only sensible thing to do for OTA), capturing SD
vs HD is just a matter of which channel you tune to. Personally, I don't
mess w/HDMI on my TV and just use its VGA input (only works if your TV
has one of those, obviously). Then I just run an audio cable from my
sound card's output to the TV input for computer sound. It seems like
there can be issues with getting sound to work on the TV if you use
HDMI... though I've never tried it.
> I also know that software decoding is probably not the way to go;
> getting a capture card with hardware to offload that process from my
> CPU(s) is probably smart.
> I see here someone using a DViCO FusionHDTV7 Dual Express card.
> Doesn't look like it was painless, but he apparently got it to play. I
> was told at one point, "just get a Hauppage 300" or some such thing,
> but I can't find those for sale new with a warranty. Poking around
> their site at e.g.
> http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/prods_hvr_internal.html
> shows me a list of cards and few hints about which if any would play
> nice for MythTV. Most lists of cards that people are using seem to
> date from 2005 or earlier, and I don't know who to believe
Probably the card they're talking about is the PVR-350... which has both
a hardware encoder and decoder. Back in the day, you could use that card
as your capture card and also configure it as the video card for X.... X
would show the menus on the card and when you started watching a show
it'd pipe the MPEG2 stream to the card's built in decoder and give a
really nice picture for the video. That setup has gone the way of the
dodo for a couple reasons. One, it's an analog tuner which will soon be
useless for OTA (still useful to some for cable, FiOS, etc). It's also
SD only so it doesn't do much for you if your watching on an HDTV. Two,
while it worked for basic X display, it doesn't support any kind of
OpenGL. 0.21 (I think it was) introduced some OpenGL effects (mostly
just the fade between menus) in the UI which the display part of the the
PVR-350 doesn't support at all. I believe 0.22 is gonna have even more
OpenGL goodness. I still use my PVR-350 (and its built in MPEG2 hardware
encoder) to do analog capture from cable, but use a normal video card
for display.

Which brings us to the newer ways of doing hardware decoding: XvMC and
VDPAU. XvMC is supported in some of the older (5xxx and 6xxx, I believe)
NVidia cards and is a very basic form of hardware assisted video
decoding (I don't think it's a full decoder at all). VDPAU is in
development on the trunk (w/some backports done but not officially
supported by the Myth devs) that's much closer to being a hardware
decoder (it may even be an actual decoder, I'm not sure). It's supported
on the 8xxx and 9xxx NVidia cards with the beta drivers.
> I go back & forth on the subject of front-end machine in the same box
> as the back-end, or two separate machines.
I run as one machine... Only one machine has to be powered on 24/7 and
it's instantly ready whenever I wanna watch it in the living room. I
have a remote frontend in the bedroom, but it's rarely turned on and
rarely used (maybe because of the time to boot, maybe because the TV is
only SD, maybe a combination...)
> So could someone point me at a recent list of cards known to perform
> well with Myth, with reasonably low extra hacking effort required?
Sorry, I can't... I can tell you I have a PVR-350 for my analog
recording and an HVR-1250 for my digital.

Hopefully my rambling helps you some....


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