Custom HTPC and Home Media Server

mediaServerandHTPC

[Benoit Frigon]‘s builds are a tribute to tidiness: both his HTPC and media server are elegant creations packed full of features. He has quite the knack for clean builds in this form factor; his PBX server was met with high praise earlier this summer.

For the HTPC, [Benoit] gutted and cleaned an old DVR case and modified it to house a Mini-ITX board. He added standoff mounts to support the motherboard, then sketched up a template for the IO shield as a guide for cutting the back panel. The front of the DVR case originally had a 4-digit 7-segment display and a few simple buttons. Though he kept the original button layout, [Benoit] chose to replace the segment displays with a 20×2 character LCD. The new display is controlled via a python script on the HTPC, which runs an OpenElec Linux distro with XBMC 12.0.

The HTPC’s hard drive bay is a bit lighter these days, because [Benoit] decided to migrate his media storage to a separate server. Inside the new home media server is yet another Mini-ITX motherboard with an embedded Atom N2800 that runs Ubuntu Server. Live television streams via a WinTV HVR-2550 TV tuner and TVHeadend software. The case originally suspended the tuner from the IO bracket on the back (and nowhere else), which left the rest of the card dangerously unsupported inside. [Benoit] solved the problem by building an additional aluminum bracket that firmly holds both the PCIe riser and the tuner. Check out both builds’ pages for downloadable templates, software details and bill of materials.

Record eight 1seg stations at once

multiple_tv_mpeg2_stream_capture

[Aaron] tipped us off about a project over at mobilehackerz. They built something of a PVR for 1seg broadcast stations (Google translation). The 1seg broadcast standard is aimed at mobile video service and available in countries like Japan and Brazil. Their terrestrial TV signals (ISDB-T) are divided into 13 segments per channel but the HD broadcasts only use 12 of those segments. This allows the 1seg data to be broadcast in the 13th segment.

mobilehackerz wanted to record each station’s complete daily broadcast. So they picked up a bunch of USB tuner fobs and chained them together with two powered USB hubs. The video is delivered in a type of MPEG2 format so once pulled out of the air the stream can be dumped directly onto disk. It seems they’ve got some code available for this system but even with the translated page we can’t really figure out what it does. If you’re Japanese skills are strong, fill us in with a comment.

At 3000 yen (about $34) per tuner this is not the most economical PVR capture system we’ve seen. Add to that the 15 fps broadcast and we’re not sure this is of all that much use. But then again, if you have to ask “what is it for?” you’re missing the essence of the hack.

PS3 DVR How-To


If you glanced at the PS3 and thought it was too expensive, this might help you justify spending your green. [ken_vs_ryu] put up a mini tutorial on running mythtv under Linux on the PS3 with an external USB capture device. When you consider the cost of a decent machine, video card and blue-ray drive, it’s not a bad deal. (I’m not sure how many Plextor ConvertX encoders you can run at once.) To get things working, you’ll have to thumb through the Gentoo Wiki for the details on setting up the ConvertX.

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