I hates you PC hardware! Hates you!

The pvr needed some extra speed. I’ve been transcoding recorded shows to mpeg4 to reduce their size, and the poor P 1.8 was bogging down under the load.

"No problem" I thought. This is generic PC stuff. Checked the mobo specs then off to TigerDirect to get a Celeron 3.2 GHz. I shut everything down, grounded myself, removed the CPU cooler, popped the Pentium, installed the Celeron, replaced the CPU cooler, and fired the pvr back up again.

No video.

The hard drive spun up, the lights came on, but nothing else. The machine did not boot, nothing.

"Hmm, strange" I say. Swapped out the Celeron for the old Pentium, no change. I checked the powersupply voltages, they all look good – I think. So I’ve either hosed the mobo, or I’ve zapped two processors, or all three.

Hates it. Hates it I do.

Update: BORKED MOBO! (Grrr!) I’ve got it working again, but after all that I can’t use the new processor ’cause I can’t keep it cool enough (Double Grrr!).


The PVR saga continues…


Current Specs:

The remainder of the stuff is the same as my first attempt. I’ve decided to use a video card to drive The TV so I can get the 16:9 aspect ratio (which isn’t possible with the PVR-350 card’s tv out).

I’m unable to get the Nvidia card to display at The TV‘s native resolution (1366×768) so I’m using 1024×768 and The TV is scaling it up. Not perfect I know, but good enough for now.

To get the correct aspect and screen dimensions in X11 (and xine) I added the following to the “Monitor” section my XF86Config-4 file:

DisplaySize  600 330

To get the correct aspect ratio when playing video files I had to modify the mplayer settings in Utilities/Setup -> Setup -> Media Settings -> Videos Settings -> Player Settings:

/usr/bin/mplayer -monitoraspect 16:9 -fs -zoom -quiet -vo xv %s


I gave up on using the PVR-350 remote, there were too many times I ended up needing to switch to a keyboard. I replaced it with an IR keyboard (the ACK-580 from Directron) which works great. The range is excellent, however I cannot get the mouse pad thingie (in the upper right hand corner) to work. It works well on a Windows machine (Ick! I feel sullied!) but I cannot get X11 to see it.

Overall, I’m pretty happy. Some things I’m still want to work on/tweak:

  • Get automatic comercial skipping to work reliably.
  • Figure out how to transcode recorded shows to Mpeg4 to reduce their size.
  • Get torrentocracy working.

Building a PVR: Status


It looks like I’ve got a defective Hauppauge PVR-500. I set up the tuner in the PVR-350 and both of the tuners in the PVR-500. Everything looked like it was working fine so I started programming recording schedules. If I tried to use all three tuners at once – record two shows while watching a third – MythTV would hang (mythfrontend would loose connection to mythbackend).

I restarted and tried just switching through the cards (Y key). Every time I hit the second PVR-500 tuner I’d see the same symptoms.

Finally, I deleted all of the capture card settings and configured each of the tuners individually. That seems to confirm that the second tuner in the PVR-500 is failing. The /var/log/messages shows the ivtv drivers initializing the card/tuner successfully, but when MythTV tries to access the stream it times out and fails.

A thorough search of Google reveals that lots of people are successfully using this card with MythTV and/or KnoppMyth so it looks like it’s personal :-(.

Update: Not a defective card, an IRQ conflict. It looks like it’s unresolvable too. I’ve moved the card around (I’ve only got two slots) and mucked with the BIOS settings but I can’t seem to get both tuners to work at the same time.


I’m liking the ability of taking control of the TV. Using keyword and title searches is pretty cool. I’ve already told the box to record "Charlie Brown’s Christmas" and "A Christmas Carol" two specials I would have missed otherwise.


The noise – The GX240 is pretty quiet as far as PCs go, but it’s still pretty noisy in my quiet living room.

It’s ugly – I wish I had a AV cabinet to hide it in, but we have a pretty minimalist living room.


The hardware MPEG encoders/decoder do their job well. While recording one show and watching another the CPU is running at about 6% utilization. That’s pretty amazing.


DVD playback – I’ve only tried one commercial DVD (The Incredibles if you must know) and it didn’t work. It looks like there is a bunch of tweaking that needs to be done to make that work.

Update: It’s working now. Not a bunch of tweaking, just one step.

Remaining remote button mapping – There are several buttons that are not mapped correctly (or at all) on the Hauppauge remote.

Audio routing – I’ve got to scrounge the correct cables to get the audio from the PVR-350 card routed through the onboard audio card, to unify the TV/DVD audio, and so MythTV can control the volume.

Building a PVR: PVR-350 TV out

The Hauppauge PVR-350 card has a tuner, hardware MPEG-2 encoder, hardware MPEG-2 decoder, and TV out. By using the TV out and taking advantage of the hardware MPEG-2 decoder you can greatly reduce the load on your CPU.

However, X11 in KnoppMyth is not configured to use the TV out on the PVR-350 card by default. Luckily, there is a perl script called pvr.pl that will do this for you. First, su to root and run getpvr.pl and follow the instructions. getpvr.pl will ask you some questions and grab the correct version of pvr.pl for you.

Since there doesn’t seem to be a pvr.pl script specifically for KnoppMyth R5A26 just yet, I selected the R5A22 release instead and that seemed to work for me.

Also, the pvr.pl script will configure X11 to use the S-Video output on the PVR-350. If you need to use the composite output you’ll have to modify the /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 file directly.

Building a PVR: Hauppauge Remote

The PVR-350 card came with a remote control (as seen in an image in this post), model number A415-HPG (found under its batteries). I selected "Hauppauge Remote" (16) and then "Grey Remote" (b) when setting up MythTV.

After that lirc will see the remote through the IR sensor but the buttons are not mapped correctly. Using the lirc config files in the post by Russ in this thread will fix most of the mappings – though there is still some tweaking to be done.