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I'm building a "Do-It-Yourself" (DIY) home theater system based on MythTV.

This system will allow me to view, record, pause and rewind digital television as well as manage my household's digital media library of video, music, photos and other recordings (e.g. home movies). Besides accomplishing the major functionality goals of this system, I also expect to have substantial usability and feature gains over the commercially available alternatives.

To go along with the free software, I'm purchasing a few hardware components to create the system.

  1. A small, quiet, cool but confident "front-end" which will be the computer that sits next to my TV.
  2. A small external 1.5TB drive that serves as storage.
  3. A small network-attached HDTV tuner called the HDHomeRun [1] (which will allow me to turn any pc on my network into a front-end)

The computer coupled with MythTV software will allow me to do anything with my home theater from playing PC games like a karaoke system [2]

Computer[edit | edit source]

I'm either going to build a PC
Or, buy a Dell Studio Hybrid
Or, buy a Logic Supply system

UPDATE -- I bought the Dell Studio Hybrid. At the Dell Outlet, I got a 250GB system with 3GB of RAM for just over $400. Can't beat that. However, the system arrived with a dead video chip, so Dell is sending a technician out to replace the motherboard.

Storage[edit | edit source]

I've had a good experience so far with my Fantom Drives external terabyte disk drive. That one is used for system backups. So, I'll buy another one that I can dedicate to video and media.

HDHomeRun[edit | edit source]

The HDHomeRun is pretty slick in that it will stream video over the network to any PC, and that stream can be tuned by VLC (a free video player). So, simply by installing VLC on my wife's laptop, she can watch TV on her laptop.

It's a dual ATSC [3] / QAM tuner network device. It's about the size of a small hub or VHS cassette, has 2 coax inputs and an ethernet port. You plug it into your antenna and/or cable and then into your home network and you can stream HD to any computer on your network and it even streams perfectly via WiFi. It doesn't have WiFi built in, only Ethernet. Currently on, you can get this for $150. Some may call it the open source Slingplayer, and although there are some similarities there is no Slingplayer with a ATSC tuner.

Since it has two tuners, I'm going to plug one into my Comcast cable box to receive whatever QAM they make available. The other one I'm going to connect to a home-made HDTV Antenna I was amazed to find out that you can build a HDTV Antenna out of coathangers that works better than the ones you can buy in the store. [4]

The SiliconDust HDHomeRun plays nicely with MythTV so that configuration should be a piece of cake.

Cost[edit | edit source]

While theirs [5] cost $18,000, my setup will only cost $1,000 $700 + $700 for the TV

System / Feature AOpen MiniPC Duo MP45-DR from Logic Supply $1,029 Studio Hybrid from Dell $869
Date: 2009-03-22 2009-03-22
Pics and Vid mp45-dr_pic1_big.jpg flash
Processor: Intel Core2 Duo Mobile Penryn Socket P P8400 FSB 1066Mhz 2.26GHz Intel Core2 Duo T9300 FSB 800Mhz 6MB cache 2.5GHz
Memory[6]: 2GB Total (2 x DDR2 800MHz SO-DIMM 1GB) Up to 4 GB memory size (3.25 GB recognizable) 4GB Shared Dual Channel (2 x DDR2 667MHz SO-DIMM 2GB)
HDD Mobile & Flash: 160GB 2.5" Seagate SATA 7200rpm (needs mainboard w/ SATA) 160GB SATA 5400rpm Hard Drive
Operating System: Ubuntu 8.10 Pre-Installed ("Build & Test" Required) Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium Service Pack 1
Display: No Monitor No Monitor
Video Card: Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X4500 Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 System includes DVI and HDMI ports. VGA is not supported
Optical Drives: Slimline SuperMulti DVD-RW Slot Load CD / DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Drive) 8XDVDRW
Sound Card: Integrated Realtek ALC888 HD audio 5.1 channel Integrated Stereo Audio with 5.1ch digital output (S/P DIF)
Accessories: TV Hybrid TV-Tuner Card - ATSC
Wireless: Intel PRO/Wireless 3945BG PCIe Mini Card optional
Wireless Antenna: 2.4GHz/5.8GHz Wireless Antenna 108mm (4") w/ Pigtail Cable
Keyboard and Mouse: Dell Wireless Desktop Keyboard & Mouse
Media Reader: Dell 7 in 1 Media Card Reader
  • Secure Digital (SD) Memory Card
  • Multi-Media Card (MMC)
  • Memory Stick
  • Memory Stick PRO
  • xD-Picture Card
  • Hi Speed-SD
  • Hi Density - SD
Network Card: Intel Integrated 10/100/1000 Ethernet Integrated 10/100/1000 Ethernet
Speaker: None No Speakers (Speakers are required to hear audio from your system)
Build and Test: Build & Test: Barebone - Standard (3-5 full business days) unspecified
Warranty: 1 Year Warranty (Standard) 1Yr Ltd Hardware Warranty, InHome Service after Remote Diagnosis
Expansion slots (may already be used) 2 PCI Express Mini Card slots
Front Access 2 USB 2.0 ports headphone
2 USB 2.0 ports
card reader
Back Panel I/O 1 DVI-I port (HDMI via included adapter)
1 LAN port
1 eSATA port (bootable)
4 USB 2.0 ports
2 Wireless/TV tuner holes
3 Audio jacks: line-out/S/PDIF-out, line-in, and mic-in
1 DC power jack
1 LAN port
3 USB 2.0 ports
3 Audio jacks: line-out/S/PDIF-out, line-in, and mic-in
1 DC power jack
1 1394 firewire port
Dimensions (w x h x d) 6.50" x 1.97" x 6.50" 7.7" x 2.8" x 8.3" (not including stand)
Power 20 V DC @ 4.5 A
Includes AC adapter (brick) and cord
DVI to DVI/VGA splitter cable
DVI to HDMI adapter
S/PDIF converter
Hard drive/CD-ROM adapter card
User manual
Utility/Driver CDs
Media Center remote control with 2 AA batteries

Not Included[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  2. Ultrastar Ultrastar Deluxe (not related)
  6. May not all be accessible. This is a limitation of the current PC architecture and the desktop OS in a 32-bit system. The BIOS in a system with a 32-bit processor and a 32-bit OS might recognize the full 4GB. However, the system will reserve part of that memory for use by system devices and will not allow the OS to access the full amount. In order to access the full 4GB of available memory, the computer needs a 64-bit enabled processor and a 64-bit enabled OS. Currently, our systems can only support a 32-bit processor and a 32-bit OS. If you are using a mainboard with Intel's 945GM chipset (or other similar chipset) with 2 memory slots available for a total of 4GB memory, you will not be able to access the full 4GB of memory unless your system meets the requirements as stated above. However, you will be able to access about 3.25GB of memory, as long as you install the total 4GB.