Tuesday, March 29, 2011

nMedia 2000b

 This is an amazing case that matches my Onkyo receiver perfectly except for the LCD color. The "PRO-LCD OEM" screen must be purchased separately and it turns out that nMedia have stopped making their standard green screens in favor of blue LCD's without updating any of their online material. Grrrr! I sent them an email to see if they still have the older ones lying around but unfortunately they don't. The issue is more than just about visual consistancy with my receiver but also readability and subtlety. The bright blue LCD is neither readable nor is it subtle. Unless you turn your HTPC off at night the screen will be burning your retinas out and startling the natives for miles around.

One good thing is that the screen works great with LCDproc and the LIS driver. For some reason the LIS driver is missing from the Ubuntu LCDproc packages, which is annoying.
What you need to do is:
  • download the LCDproc source and unpack
  • cd into the directory and run ./configure --enable-drivers=all
  • run make
  • *DO NOT* run make install, simply copy the created server/drivers/ to /usr/lib/lcdproc/
  • edit /etc/LCDd.conf and set Driver=lis
  • restart LCDd and lcdproc and configure to your taste

USB issues with HP IR receiver

Every now and then my IR receiver will fail with errors like this in dmesg:
device descriptor read/64, error -71
device not accepting address 12, error -71

When the device does show up in lsusb:
0471:060c Philips (or NXP) Consumer Infrared Transceiver (HP)

I have not ever been able to track down the issue so if anyone has any ideas please let me know.
Tried so far:
  • unloading ehci_hcd kernel module (no longer works as the module is integrated into the kernel)
  • adding acpi=off to the kernel line in the grub config
  • adding noapic to the kernel line in the grub config

Some suggestions have been to run a powered USB hub but I don't want to do that on a sleek HTPC build. I don't reboot that often so I can live with it but a solution would be good.

HTPC Setup (Software)

I decided to use Ubuntu 11.04 with MythTV installed. I did not want MythBuntu as I wanted a full GUI and also to run XBMC as the front end.

HD-PVR and Mythbuntu:

I used a Hauppauge HD-PVR to record off my TW cable DCH3416 mainly because I wanted a better frontend. The interface on the cable box itself makes me want to cry every time I see it. Time Warner really needs to update their stuff. The HD-PVR should work out of the box with Ubuntu 10.04 and later, I'm not sure about earlier versions. However, I had a hard time trying to get the ir transmitter working. Even when I could get it to work it would not survive reboots or OS updates. An outline of the HD-PVR with MythTV is here.

To bypass the flaky ir transmitter issue I just went with direct control over firewire described here. I would definitely recommend the 6200ch script documented there and here for use with the Motorola STB's. My particular model (DCH3416) was not defined in the script so I added my model_id to the 6200ch.c and recompiled. I didn't bother to get recording working over firewire as I already had the HD-PVR.

Next is XBMC as a frontend PVR:

XBMC has only experimental support for PVR functionality at this time and it seems that this is mainly being done through tvheadend. So in order to get this set up I needed some way to shift my recordings to XBMC in some way that was meaningful to it. XBMC is set up with a separate hard drive to the OS and MythTV. Once MythTV has recorded a show I use mythicalLibrarian to move the show into a folder on the drive where XBMC can see it. mythicalLibrarian interacts with MythTV's database to get more information about the show and then moves the file to the XBMC folder location and renames the file in the format XBMC understands: show/season/show.s01e04.mpg etc.

Info on the mythicalLibrarian script can be found here with thanks to 'outleradam' from the XBMC forum for getting that together. He is actively developing it and is very helpful. 

XBMC and watching LiveTV through MythTV:

Thank you to TechNazgul for his useful post.