May 29, 2006

MythTV

I recently decided to put together a MythTV PVR for myself. Here’s what I got to work with:

Note (April 7, 2006): Since I moved to Palo Alto, the MythTV box has undergone a few changes. I no longer have a cable box, so the ’slightly ghetto’ IR blaster is no longer in use. Also, living on the East coast made me spoiled for timeshifting channels, I don’t have that luxury here, so I added a second tuner to the box, an ‘AVerTV Go 007 Plus’. It’s low-profile let it fit well into the Pundit-R, but it’s not a hardware tuner, so anything captured on that has to be done in software.
I also added a DVD drive to it, so I can use it as my primary DVD player. (It’s actually a DVD-RW, so maybe I’ll look into a plugin to record shows to DVD direct from the box)

I only ran into one issue assembling the PC. The full size PCI cards don’t really fit into the Pundit-R, they’re a little too tall. This meant that it had some issues with the PVR-250. It eventually went in, with a little physical persuasion. I just have to remember how tight it is should I ever have to take it back out.

Inside the tiny caseHere’s a shot inside the Pundit-R (with a temporary CD-ROM drive)

As Gentoo is my current Linux distro of choice, I didn’t see any reason to go with anything else on this computer. The installation went without issue, and getting MythTV and everything it needs is a simple emerge mythtv on Gentoo.

Getting the TV output on the Pundit was a little trickier. I had to use ATI’s binary drivers, and their documentation is seriously lacking. It served as a great reminder of the reasons I prefer NVIDIA cards when I have the option. Once I got the TV output working, the XVideo extension was not enabled on it at all. This is a major problem because then all the video scaling/etc. has to be done in software, putting a much greater load on the processor. Eventually I found the option (undocumented, of course) called OverlayOnCRTC2 that enables XV on the second display. (For some reason the TV would not be the primary, even though the CRT turns off when the TV is enabled).

I also had to put together an IR blaster to control my digital cable box. This went without problem, following the instructions here.

IR BlasterMy homebrew IR blaster, with it’s very sophisticated mounting mechanism.

Everything else went perfectly according to plan. With the addition of MythWeb, I can schedule recordings from my main PC, or when I’m away from home.

CaseThe finished product.