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View Full Version : Building my own PVR (think a 2.6GHz Tivo)... for $125!!!


pr_capone
08-02-2006, 11:02 PM
I could never have imagined I would get such a sweet deal as this but here goes.

$25 (Yeah.... TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS) for a Shuttle XPC ST62K barebone system. I got it from the computer company I work for.

http://web.shuttle.com/share/simages/productimages/st62k.jpg


Scavanged a 60 GB hard drive from an old system. - FREE

256MB PC2700 Ram - $10

2.6 GHZ Intel Celeron Processor (New in Box) - $30

Hauppauge TV card - $50.00

Zonet USB Wireless Network - $10.00

----------

All I have to do now is install the necessary software and BOOM (damn... that was very Madden like)! Now I can go to church with the wife as KC is kicking the shit out of the team of the week without worries.

Pause live TV, skip commercials.... the works! Best part is that I will be able to access the PVR from any computer in the house and no having to mess around with VCR tapes, DVD's, or waiting to D/L the game via torrent.

Also, since the games will be encoded in DIVX, I will be able to upload the games for you all to D/L in case you miss the game or just want a copy! :D

Moooo
08-02-2006, 11:07 PM
Sounds neat. What sort of software does it take to do something like that, though?

Moooo

pr_capone
08-02-2006, 11:10 PM
It really depends on wether you run Linux or Windows. If you run linux, there is a piece of software out there called MythTV.

If you use windows, you can use software called Sage TV.

As long as the TV card you have has hardware encoding, its a minor strain on your system if you decide not to build a seperate box like I did. :D

Guru
08-02-2006, 11:20 PM
I will have to look into this.

Guru
08-02-2006, 11:23 PM
Can I get one of those systems from you for 25 bucks too?

pr_capone
08-02-2006, 11:25 PM
Screenshots of SageTV (prolly what I'm gonna use)

http://www.sage.tv/0_imgDir/v5Menu.jpg

http://www.sage.tv/0_imgDir/v5epg.jpg

http://www.sage.tv/0_imgDir/V4Info450.jpg

http://www.sage.tv/0_imgDir/V4OSD450.jpg

http://www.sage.tv/0_imgDir/V4Search450.jpg

pr_capone
08-02-2006, 11:25 PM
I will have to look into this.

This is where I got my start

http://www.byopvr.com/

stanleychief
08-02-2006, 11:27 PM
I use SageTV on my PVR.. it's pretty nice in that it lets you have multiple tuners in one PC, therefore allowing you to tape multiple shows at once. It also has remote clients so you can watch live TV and recorded shows from other PCs or media extenders in the house. If you are a big Linux guy, they also have a Linux version available as well as their original Windows version.

http://www.sage.tv/

Another popular choice is BeyondTV. I had problems with this particular package a while back and ended up buying Sage. It might be worth a look again, and it also supports multiple tuners and is fairly easy to setup.

http://www.snapstream.com/

You might also look into some other free frontends, like MediaPortal. MediaPortal runs in Windows and is easy to setup, supports PVR functions and has an excellent media center interface. The only downside is that the PVR ability isn't as good as the paid solutions.

http://www.team-mediaportal.com/

Of course if you want to sell your soul to get easy integration into the OS, you could just throw a copy of Windows Media Center Edition 2005 v2 and call it a day. Just don't expect to be able to recode that video to another format from DVRMS without a little bit of pain.

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/default.mspx

pr_capone
08-02-2006, 11:27 PM
Can I get one of those systems from you for 25 bucks too?

Well to be honest, my boss didnt know what he was sitting on. He brought me 3 of these to put up on eBay. Before listing it, I offered him $25 bucks for one and he took it.

The other 2 sold for $150 each.

I would love to help out a fellow planeteer, but I dont see my boss taking $25 for another XPC rig again.

Moooo
08-02-2006, 11:28 PM
How much video does 60 gigs get you? 100 hours? 50? 200?

Moooo

Guru
08-02-2006, 11:28 PM
Well to be honest, my boss didnt know what he was sitting on. He brought me 3 of these to put up on eBay. Before listing it, I offered him $25 bucks for one and he took it.

The other 2 sold for $150 each.

I would love to help out a fellow planeteer, but I dont see my boss taking $25 for another XPC rig again.


Damnit Carl!!!! :cuss: :cuss:

ROFL

stanleychief
08-02-2006, 11:31 PM
How much video does 60 gigs get you? 100 hours? 50? 200?

Moooo

Depends on the quality you want to achieve. I get excellent results using 1 GB per hour. It is roughly cable TV quality at 720x480. This is assuming you are recording to MPEG 2 format.

pr_capone
08-02-2006, 11:34 PM
Depends on the quality you want to achieve. I get excellent results using 1 GB per hour. It is roughly cable TV quality at 720x480. This is assuming you are recording to MPEG 2 format.

Excellent... so my 60 Gigs should be more than sufficient to record the odd TV show and the Chiefs games to share with the Planet!

Moooo
08-02-2006, 11:36 PM
Depends on the quality you want to achieve. I get excellent results using 1 GB per hour. It is roughly cable TV quality at 720x480. This is assuming you are recording to MPEG 2 format.

So is 60 about what the size of a Tivo set is or so?

Moooo, who is just curious

stanleychief
08-02-2006, 11:42 PM
Excellent... so my 60 Gigs should be more than sufficient to record the odd TV show and the Chiefs games to share with the Planet!

It'll be a good start, but pretty soon you'll get bit by the PVR bug and you will end up wanting to tape everything. I'm currently up to 463 shows on my video library and it consumes 383 GB of space. It's an addiction really. :)

You might consider looking into a way to recompress that MPEG2 video down to MPEG4. You can chop the filesize easily in half while retaining almost the same quality picture. One good thing about Sage is that they have a ton of addons and all of them are free. The community really supports the software. Check out the Sage forums and you find all sorts of goodies like additional skins, commercial skipping software, recompression software, etc.

Congrats on the cheap PVR by the way. With that price, you can't go wrong!

pr_capone
08-02-2006, 11:45 PM
It'll be a good start, but pretty soon you'll get bit by the PVR bug and you will end up wanting to tape everything. I'm currently up to 463 shows on my video library and it consumes 383 GB of space. It's an addiction really. :)

You might consider looking into a way to recompress that MPEG2 video down to MPEG4. You can chop the filesize easily in half while retaining almost the same quality picture. One good thing about Sage is that they have a ton of addons and all of them are free. The community really supports the software. Check out the Sage forums and you find all sorts of goodies like additional skins, commercial skipping software, recompression software, etc.

Congrats on the cheap PVR by the way. With that price, you can't go wrong!
What version of Sage are you using?

stanleychief
08-02-2006, 11:48 PM
So is 60 about what the size of a Tivo set is or so?

Moooo, who is just curious

I think Tivos range in size quite a bit. I have an old one here at the house being used as a paperweight with a 20GB hard drive in it. I think the one we're renting from Time Warner has a 120GB drive in it. I know they are making larger units all the time as well.

Another trick people used to do with the older Tivos (not sure if it still works on the newer models) was to just go out and buy a new PC hard drive and connect it to their computer and run a software program called 'Bless Tivo' on it. After that, they'd just swap out the drive in their Tivo with the one they purchased, and they had an instant capacity upgrade.

Rausch
08-02-2006, 11:53 PM
Depends on the quality you want to achieve. I get excellent results using 1 GB per hour. It is roughly cable TV quality at 720x480. This is assuming you are recording to MPEG 2 format.

As long as it's stored in MPEG2 it should stream just fine to the ole Mac, or is there a software issue there?...

stanleychief
08-02-2006, 11:53 PM
What version of Sage are you using?

Current version I am running at home is 5.0.2. I am also using the SageMCE 16x9 STV plugin on the clients.

My home setup consists of a dedicated video server running in the basement connected to two TV tuners (in one PVR-500 card), and two windows client licenses. I have one client connected in my living room and the other in my bedroom. The bandwidth requirements to run the video over the network is light enough to be able to use even 802.11b wireless to get a smooth feed.

stanleychief
08-02-2006, 11:58 PM
As long as it's stored in MPEG2 it should stream just fine to the ole Mac, or is there a software issue there?...

Not that I'm aware of. You can certainly play the recorded files back on anything that'll play mpeg2.

As far as live streaming goes, you would just need some software to provide a stream from the captured signal. Sage also has what they call a 'Placeshifter' license that I think allows you to connect to the server via web browser if I understand it correctly. I would imagine this would be totally platform independent so long as you had the correct plugin to handle mpeg2.

Moooo
08-02-2006, 11:59 PM
Current version I am running at home is 5.0.2. I am also using the SageMCE 16x9 STV plugin on the clients.

My home setup consists of a dedicated video server running in the basement connected to two TV tuners (in one PVR-500 card), and two windows client licenses. I have one client connected in my living room and the other in my bedroom. The bandwidth requirements to run the video over the network is light enough to be able to use even 802.11b wireless to get a smooth feed.

That sounds wicked...

If one was so inclined could they burn off something they Recorded to DVD to have it permanantly? I know with direct copying of dvd-dvd there ends up being copyright infringment the disc won't let it work too well, but that doesn't happen on Recorded stuff, does it?

Moooo

Moooo

Rausch
08-03-2006, 12:06 AM
Not that I'm aware of. You can certainly play the recorded files back on anything that'll play mpeg2.

As far as live streaming goes, you would just need some software to provide a stream from the captured signal. Sage also has what they call a 'Placeshifter' license that I think allows you to connect to the server via web browser if I understand it correctly. I would imagine this would be totally platform independent so long as you had the correct plugin to handle mpeg2.

I'd just link it to the 'puter to burn DVD copies.

All my games are on VHS and it won't be long before they're worthless.

pr_capone
08-03-2006, 12:08 AM
That sounds wicked...

If one was so inclined could they burn off something they Recorded to DVD to have it permanantly? I know with direct copying of dvd-dvd there ends up being copyright infringment the disc won't let it work too well, but that doesn't happen on Recorded stuff, does it?

Moooo

Moooo

Correct, and if you need some software that will clear up the DVD to DVD burning issues, just shoot me a PM. I have just the thing. :D

Rausch
08-03-2006, 12:09 AM
Correct, and if you need some software that will clear up the DVD to DVD burning issues, just shoot me a PM. I have just the thing. :D

Is it the old 3-stage rip/decode/burn software?

That's kinda' time consuming...

stanleychief
08-03-2006, 12:10 AM
That sounds wicked...

If one was so inclined could they burn off something they Recorded to DVD to have it permanantly? I know with direct copying of dvd-dvd there ends up being copyright infringment the disc won't let it work too well, but that doesn't happen on Recorded stuff, does it?

Moooo

Moooo

DVD video is really MPEG2 video with some extra features and a standardized layout. All you would need would be some basic DVD authoring software. Nero and Ulead both make such software at a reasonable price, and if you've purchased a DVD-R drive recently, chances are good that you've got an OEM copy of some sort of authoring software already. Nero is a really popular suite bundled with most DVD-R drives and has very nice video editing and authoring capabilities.

pr_capone
08-03-2006, 12:11 AM
Is it the old 3-stage rip/decode/burn software?

That's kinda' time consuming...

Negative. Its a piece of software called DVD Region+CSS Free

You will be able to burn any DVD with no copyright issues. Its made my burning go SO much faster. :D

greg63
08-03-2006, 12:13 AM
Very cool! Wish I could watch Live TV on my system. :)

Moooo
08-03-2006, 12:13 AM
Correct, and if you need some software that will clear up the DVD to DVD burning issues, just shoot me a PM. I have just the thing. :D

I don't have anything like that at all. But I was just admiring a cool setup when I see it.

Sounds neat. If I'm following right can't you view from different TVs with the wireless setup? It'd be nice to not have to worry about whether or not its saved on a certain TV's setup or anything...

Moooo

pr_capone
08-03-2006, 12:16 AM
I don't have anything like that at all. But I was just admiring a cool setup when I see it.

Sounds neat. If I'm following right can't you view from different TVs with the wireless setup? It'd be nice to not have to worry about whether or not its saved on a certain TV's setup or anything...

Moooo

As of right now, I will be able to view whatever I record on 1 TV and 2 computers. That is more than enough for me. I have one other TV that I wouldnt mind getting this set up on but that will have to wait until I can afford one more cheap rig.

Also, my previous comment was about your DVD to DVD burning issues with copyright. If you need a fix for that, let me know.

Guru
08-03-2006, 12:19 AM
Negative. Its a piece of software called DVD Region+CSS Free

You will be able to burn any DVD with no copyright issues. Its made my burning go SO much faster. :D


eh, it ain't free. :harumph:

stanleychief
08-03-2006, 12:20 AM
Is it the old 3-stage rip/decode/burn software?

That's kinda' time consuming...

I got sick of that game as well. I actually use Nero Recode to crunch the DVD movie down to x264 and just store it on the hard drive. It's a nice simple one step process and no loss in quality.

With large hard drive capacities getting up there (500GB+) and prices getting so low, it's not that much more expensive to just go buy another hard drive versus spending the same amount on recordable DVDs.

Considering that you can get a 400GB drive on NewEgg for $139, it works out to $.35 a GB. My average movies compress to about 2GB, so you're looking at $.70 to store a DVD worth of video. Pretty amazing.

Rausch
08-03-2006, 12:20 AM
eh, it ain't free. :harumph:

It can be...

Moooo
08-03-2006, 12:21 AM
As of right now, I will be able to view whatever I record on 1 TV and 2 computers. That is more than enough for me. I have one other TV that I wouldnt mind getting this set up on but that will have to wait until I can afford one more cheap rig.

Also, my previous comment was about your DVD to DVD burning issues with copyright. If you need a fix for that, let me know.

Thanks. I don't have a DVD Burner. My friend had one and ran into those problems. I haven't checked with him to see if he ever figured it out.

But once again, thanks...

Moooo

pr_capone
08-03-2006, 12:22 AM
eh, it ain't free. :harumph:
I have access to a *cough* demo *cough* version.

Guru
08-03-2006, 12:22 AM
It can be...


You know.... I have heard that.

stanleychief
08-03-2006, 12:25 AM
As of right now, I will be able to view whatever I record on 1 TV and 2 computers. That is more than enough for me. I have one other TV that I wouldnt mind getting this set up on but that will have to wait until I can afford one more cheap rig.

Also, my previous comment was about your DVD to DVD burning issues with copyright. If you need a fix for that, let me know.


Actually... you don't need another computer for your other TVs.. you just need this device:

http://www.sage.tv/extender.html

It connects straight to your TV without the need for a computer. It's a mini Linux based device that runs a dedicated Sage client and connects to your Sage server. For $159, it even includes the license key needed to connect to the server. Sage really has their act together.

Moooo
08-03-2006, 12:26 AM
It connects straight to your TV without the need for a computer. It's a mini Linux based device that runs a dedicated Sage client and connects to your Sage server. For $159, it even includes the license key needed to connect to the server. Sage really has their act together.

How much cooler can you get?

Moooo

pr_capone
08-03-2006, 12:28 AM
Actually... you don't need another computer for your other TVs.. you just need this device:

http://www.sage.tv/extender.html

It connects straight to your TV without the need for a computer. It's a mini Linux based device that runs a dedicated Sage client and connects to your Sage server. For $159, it even includes the license key needed to connect to the server. Sage really has their act together.

Yeh.... I saw that on their site.... even as of right now I cant affort that. But it will DEFINATELY be on my list of future purchases. :D

Moooo
08-03-2006, 12:33 AM
Yeh.... I saw that on their site.... even as of right now I cant affort that. But it will DEFINATELY be on my list of future purchases. :D

Christmas is only 5 months away. Not even that!

Moooo

pr_capone
08-03-2006, 12:35 AM
Christmas is only 5 months away. Not even that!

Moooo

LOL

For Christmas I bought plane tickets to go back home to Puerto Rico. lol

Perhaps I can suggest this to my mom or something... lol

Moooo
08-03-2006, 12:37 AM
LOL

For Christmas I bought plane tickets to go back home to Puerto Rico. lol

Perhaps I can suggest this to my mom or something... lol

OH YEAH!!! Much better pick, the trip that is.

I still wanna know if you get to keep the Mercedes in the one pic you showed us :)

Moooo

pr_capone
08-03-2006, 12:40 AM
OH YEAH!!! Much better pick, the trip that is.

I still wanna know if you get to keep the Mercedes in the one pic you showed us :)

Moooo
ROFL

I'll try... but I think I'm gonna be doing good to walk out with one of those giant chess pieces. :D

Rausch
08-03-2006, 12:40 AM
Christmas is only 5 months away. Not even that!

Moooo

Somehow there's less fun when Santa hands you a list n' budget instead of some Hulk toys and a new video game...

pr_capone
08-03-2006, 12:52 AM
Somehow there's less fun when Santa hands you a list n' budget instead of some Hulk toys and a new video game...
True..

I wonder if I should start dropping hints now.... or wait until x-mas is a bit closer. :D

pr_capone
08-04-2006, 02:21 AM
Woohoo!!!! I got it working!

I had to go down to version 2.2 to do it but it works!!!!

For some reason, version 4 of SageTV would not render the video file. 2.2 has done it and with FLYING COLORS!

I will do my damnest to have this completely set up come time for the first pre-season game.

I *WILL* have this thing up and running smoothly by week 1 and will have video goodness for all my fellow planeteers! :D

Moooo
08-04-2006, 04:34 AM
Somehow there's less fun when Santa hands you a list n' budget instead of some Hulk toys and a new video game...

THe last two years I've been on my own. The last two years' birthday presents have been part of my rent.

Reality sucks. I remeber getting Mario 3 for birthday, now THAT was awesome!

Moooo