Tech Nerdery

Beyond the Catlin MythTV Project

Now that MythTV works (but alas, it still doesn’t output to my TV, and the HDTV signal is choppy as hell on the P3 1GHz machine), I am thinking beyond it to move my home to the next level.

For a while now I’ve talked about home automation, integrated with the computer network, available from the TV or computer. Something I thought MythTV could be extended to do.

Well, some other people have decided to not extend MythTV, but to build an over-arching program that controls MythTV, Asterisks PBX, some home automation stuff, and a bunch of other neat stuff.

It is called Linux MCE
(More details in this great video discussed here if you are interested)

I’m slowly building parts to work towards this, and here are the details on how.

Did you know Newegg has wishilsts now….how exciting for nerds like me.

Step 1) Get parts for turning current AthlonXP 1800+ machine into a “Core” system for the Linux MCE. The core system does not have to be super beefy if it is not going to run the front-end / video decode. I plan on taking advantage of the parts from Step2, and MythTV’s capability to off-load tasks to other computers for re-encoding video and doing simultaneous recordings.

Parts List for Step 1

Step 2) Get new desktop. I still haven’t decided if this is going to be an Intel or AMD based system. So I’ve spec’d both (I’m still waffling on a couple of things on there, and as always lists like this are subject to change relative to the latest and greatest / price cuts that happen on the market)

Intel Desktop Parts List
AMD Desktop Parts List

Step 3) Upgrade Home Theater stuff. HDTV, receiver, and maybe some new speakers. I don’t like any of the Blue-Ray / HD-DVD stuff yet cuz it is still a stupid format war that I will automatically loose at if I bother to participate. So, I ignore it until the problem goes away and prices drop.

For this I’m planning on something in the 32″ to 47″ LCD (preferably LED back-lit) 1080i or 1080p from Samsung (resolution depends on the prices when I finally have some money for this)

The receiver will probably be Dennon, cuz I like them. Unless something higher-end drops into the realm of affordability.

All these components need to have RS232 or the ability to control over HDMI, because I want the controller to be able to turn things on and off for me with a single remote press (watch the video for LinuxMCE linked above, this feature is pretty sweet)

Step 4) Build Home Theater PC. Focus here is on ability to do two streams of HDTV (I like PIP) but have a very quiet hard drive and fans. Style and ability to go into the stack of media components around the home entertainment center is also important.

Incomplete List of Parts from newegg Need to add a quiet small hard drive (or perhaps a Compact Flash Adapter Instead), a TV Tuner Card, and a case.
The case will most likely be the SilverStone Milo ML02
(Review Here

Step 5) Re-do antennas (or add to my DIY antenna), Cable wiring, network wiring, and buy a distribution amplifier.

Step 6) Rebuild old P3 1Ghz with a quiet Hard Drive and cooling fan for SDtv upstairs / DVD player / security monitor. (No monitor, just a TV output)

Step 7) Plan home security / automation. I’ll start with the Garage Door. It keeps getting left open by all three of us (well, at least Elle and I, since Lauren doesn’t drive right now), and I was thinking it would be great to have a switch in the house, along with an “Open” indicator. Then I’ll add some IP based webcams, and maybe some dimmer switches (can you dim those new florescent bulbs?).

Step 8) Sell house, and start over from scratch 🙂

And there you have it, my next really big multi-year project. I’m just glad I know I can make the mythTV part work going into it.