Mythtv Part II


Some of my colleagues are hesitant to use Mythtv because they fear a lengthy setup process. But if the user spends a little time in the preparing and planning stage, they should be able to get a Mythtv system up and running in a relatively short period of time (say 2-3 hours which includes installing a Linux OS as well!).

We will not talk about Mythtv setup in this posting, but instead we will discuss the planning process prior to setup. The best thing to consider prior to Mythtv setup is to determine which type of CPU and RAM to select, as well as which type of peripherals that will work with the Linux kernel and with the Mythtv application.

One “rule of thumb” when using a computer to capture Television is to realize that displaying television images draws huge resources on your computer’s CPU. In other words, the better computer you have, the better the performance of playing and recording television. For my machine, I’m using a Pentium 4, 2.1 Ghz, 32-bit machine with 1.5 Gb of RAM. I have tested this configuration using both my HP and Amsdell machines and it worked… You should avoid using ATI graphic cards with Myth (such as the ATI Wonder card – Nvidia cards work well with Mythtv)…

The other “rule of thumb” is that recording TV shows and movies require a large hard disk capacity. If you are considering to “transcode” or convert your recordings into other formats (such as DVDs) you need a large storage space on your hard disk drive to perform this temporary work until the final result is stored on your DVD. My computer system has two drives: one 40 GB and the other 30 GB, and this would be a minimum amount that I would consider to store movies and yet have the room for transcoding. It would be better to get a larger hard disk, but I have read that some perfer to have a separate disk to store recording to improve overall performance. If you are using multiple disks, then you should look into LVM (Logical Volume Manager) to be able to have your system use multiple hard disks to be used on your system to maintain the largest possible storage space.

In order to capture the television signal, you need a video capture card, but here is where you should do your homework first. The best video capture card would be the type that has built-in memory (like a PVR or “personal video recorded” card) to put less load on the CPU. It is possible to go with cheaper video capture cards, but they lack the built-in memory and may affect performance.

In addition, it would be a good idea to visit the site to get recommendations on which video card has been proven to work well with Mythtv
[ ] For example, the Hauppauge PVR250 video capture card. A good video capture card should have at least two inputs:

  • Connection to an analog source (cablebox, antenna)
  • Connection to a digital source (Satellite service, FTA Satellite, Digital UHF antenna)

Note: Remember that television stations in U.S. will stop broadcasting in analog in Feb June 2009 and Canadian stations will stop broadcasting in analog by August 2011. This would affect people picking up analog broadcasts only if they are using antennas. This is due to a switch from analog broadcasting to digital broadcasting, and yes, there are digital antennas that are available for sale that can pick up stations from LONG RANGES… So don’t necessarily think you have to switch to cable or buy expensive boxes – there are alternatives!

It may be wise to consider video capture cards with multiple tuners or consider purchasing multiple cards so the you can watch TV while you are recording a scheduled program.

As for myself, I purchased the Hauppauge HVR1600 video capture card for the reason that it is a newer card, and seemed to be the only one available from the big box stores like Staples, Best Buy, or Future Shop. The Hauppauge HVR1600 just requires a little “tweaking” which I will discuss in the next posting “Setting up Mythtv”

Here is a Google Video that also discusses Mythtv:

[ Mythtv Video]

Here is a link to a webpage that goes into more detail about how
to prepare prior to setting up a Mythtv system…

Stay Tuned to the next post “Setting up Mythtv”


~ by Murray Saul on January 17, 2009.

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