[mythtv-users] TV Tuners, backend PC, etc

Mark Boyum circushair at gmail.com
Fri Dec 23 16:29:48 UTC 2011

On Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM, Diego Rivera
<diego.rivera.cr at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello, all!  First off, sorry for the double-post - had some trouble with
> the first e-mail going out.
> I'd like to configure my home setup to have a rather beefy Backend PC with
> LOTS and LOTS of storage for the media (music, videos, movies, etc, you know
> the drill...), and several smaller front-end PC's, each with HDMI, each
> connected to its own TV.  Naturally, the front-end PC's wouldn't need to be
> as powerful as the backend since they wouldn't handle any
> encoding/transcoding, only playback.
> I'm hoping to equip the backend system with a Ceton tuner (the 4-channel
> variant, for encrypted QAM), and a couple of Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250
> dual-tuners (for clear QAM and Analog).  This is tentative and the equipment
> count may vary, but what won't change is the use case that I want to
> achieve.
> I'd like to be able to freely tune each TV set (via its frontend PC)
> independently to a live TV stream (obviously coming from any of the
> available TV tuners, on the *backend* PC).  If possible, I'd like to be able
> to independently initiate recording on the stream being watched from the
> frontend box (i.e. to be recorded/encoded in the backend).  Additionally,
> for instance, if I wanted to use a laptop as a viewing station, the same
> features would be available.
> It's my understanding that all of this is possible, but I'm unclear whether
> the "watching live TV over the network" would be feasible and moreso whether
> it would be user-friendly (i.e. as opposed to actually having to select the
> tuner, etc).  For instance, ideally one would simply select to view "channel
> 7" in the UI and the backend/frontend would decide which tuner that can
> support that channel is available, and produce that stream for the user's
> viewing pleasure.
> For videos and whatnot (call it "buffered" content) I know this works
> perfectly, which is why I'm not asking about that :)
> Can you MythTV experts make any recommendations as to strategies to follow?
> Would MythTV be deployed on all tiers (backend and frontends)? Is there any
> documentation you recommend I read on how this could/should be best
> accomplished?  What about (recent) hardware guides? I know there's a
> (monthly?) HTPC construction guide being produced, but I was unable to
> re-find the link... any pointers here will also be very much appreciated.
> For now, budget isn't an issue - I'm not rich by any standard, but I want to
> draw the plans and diagrams that will give me the functionality I want, and
> THEN decide what functionality to cut in order to reduce the budget to where
> I want it to be.
> You should assume that any network connectivity will either be 802.11n
> wireless (2.4Ghz most likely, possibly 5Ghz as well), or 100Mbps ethernet
> (if necessary).  The key feature is that I want the frontend PC's to simply
> be playback stations - their only input is whatever the backend PC makes
> available as output streams.
> Thanks!  And happy holidays!
> Diego Rivera

The one thing I would recommend is to avoid depending on any wireless
networking.  It may work fine but it can also stop working for no
apparent reason.  Wireless bandwidth is not dependable for a good
acceptance factor In my experience.

Other than that it doesn't look like you're trying to do anything
unreasonable.  You'll find that "Watching Live TV" receives little
assistance from this list.  But it does work transparently to the user
and I don't think you have to worry about picking a tuner if you stick
to one virtual tuner per physical tuner during setup.

Perhaps the best thing to do would be to get the tuner and set things
up on a spare box as a combined frontend / backend so that you can see
for yourself how it runs.

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