MurrayW wrote:I finally have time to attack this whole house AV automation process and want to try to do it right like so many of you experts here do. I could really use some advice on what has worked best for you.
Here are some of the things I want to be able to do right now:
1. Use Mainlobby and/or universal remote to watch live TV with my DirecTV STB's connected to my TV. Pausing live TV is not a major need for me.
I have since replaced all my DirecTV boxes with DirecTiVo's that I am in the process of hacking and networking together so that I can get recorded shows off of any DirecTiVo and watch them from another DirecTiVo hooked to a different TV. I have gone kind of overboard
on this replacing the hard drives with single or dual 250 GB, 300 GB or 500 GB hard drives (I'll have somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5 TB of space on these DirecTiVo's). I am using a Fujitsu Stylistic 3500X touchscreen and the DirecTiVo peanut remote. I have TVLobby set up but don't often use this when watching TV -- I'll use it to browse the listings more than anything else. Typically, I only use the touchscreen to get started -- I hit the TV/TiVo button on my main overlay and it turns on and sets the proper inputs on my TV (Sharp 45" LCD using the MLGeneric plugin and my Yamaha receiver which is serially controlled using the MLYamaha plugin. The DirecTiVO is controlled by a USB-UIRT. I might choose one of my 6 or 7 "favorites" screens to go to the channel I want to watch, i.e. I don't need to remember that ESPNHD is channel 73 -- just go to the Sports favorites or the HD favorites scene and press the ESPN button. From there on out, we generally use the remote which sends the IR signal to a USB-UIRT and controls the TV (power and input) and receiver volume serially or the DirecTiVo via IR. The touchscreen does come in handy for large volume increases since I have buttons and a slider to change the volume by 5 decibels at a time.
MurrayW wrote:2. Record local OTA HDTV with a MyHD card and SD TV from DirecTV with a WIN-PVR 150 card. Be able to access these recorded files and watch them using DVDLobby and TheaterTek on all TV's connected to HTPC's.
With the hacked DirecTiVo's I am rethinking this. I do have a Fusion HD card and 2 Hauppauge PVR150's that have been sitting unopened in their boxes for the past 6 months. I'll probably install them at some point and use them in addition to the DirecTiVo's (I'll be able to record 13 programs at the same time between these 3 PCI cards and my DirecTiVo's that I will have subscribed to DirecTV -- not that there will ever be 13 things I want to record at once!
). I will probably just access these shows I record off these PCI cards through the TiVo's interface -- at some point I will probably look at SageTV as well.
MurrayW wrote:3. Use DVDLobby to watch DVD's (I have a small collection of about 15 -- most of them will be rented) using HTPC's connected to TV's. The 15 or so I own will be stored on the server hard drive and the rented ones will be played from the dvd drives of the HTPC's.
This is what I have really done the least with. I am not a big movie watcher and my wife prefers to go out to a theater to watch her movies. The one or two times a month we may watch a rental DVD, we do it outside MainLobby (although I do own DVDLobby and have played around with it a little). I have an HTPC hooked up to my Sharp TV and play the DVD's using TheraterTek which I currently control using a wireless mouse. I definitely need to spend a little more work this, but haven't made it a huge priority yet. This is probably where I differ from a lot of other users on this forum.
MurrayW wrote:4. Use XMLobby and a modified toslink XMDirect receiver to listen to XM radio.
I am am mechanically challenged, so I coaxed another member of this forum to modify an XMDirect unit for me. It worked fine until I tried to hook up an outside XM antenna to the unit and I broke the center post off of the antenna input -- I found someone locally who said he could take the mod off of the current box and install it on another one for me, but he wasn't able to do it. So I bought another mod and he put it on my new box. This was real low priority for him, so I just got it back last week (he had it for 4 months!) and haven't had a chance to install it again -- I'll carefully hook up the antenna this time!
MurrayW wrote:5. Use WebLobby and WeatherLobby on wireless Fujitsu 3400 and 3500 clients.
I've got weather lobby set up (waiting for the new version to be released) and have used weblobby in the past. We don't browse the web from this tablet nor do we have security cameras so I haven't been real motivated to do much with weblobby. One of these days...
MurrayW wrote:6. Use MLCallerID.
I bought the NetCallerID box about 2 years ago and one of the PC modems that Cinemar recommended but haven't done anything with these yet. When the new MLCallerID is released, I will probably get a little more motivated.
MurrayW wrote:7. Use MusicLobby to play my ripped CD's from the server.
I've got this setup on the touchscreen for 3 zones and will spend some more time once the new MusicLobby is released. I have about 75% of my CD's ripped -- I need to hurry up and get the remaining 25% ripped while I still have cheap labor available -- I paid my youngest son $0.25 per rip last year. He just turned 16, so his rate may be going up soon.
I am sure there is other stuff I left out, but this will do it for now.
Up until now, I have used my HTPC connected to my living room TV for a lot of this stuff, but because of stability issues and limited PCI slots, I want to spread out the load among more PC's (I have 4 wirelessly networked desktop PC's and enough spare parts to build 2 or 3 more). I am planning on doing some extensive wiring to get away from wireless networking for my PC's other than my laptop and Fujitsu pen tablets. Also at the same time, I would like to relocate most of my AV gear and HTPC to an adjacent room next to where it is now connected to the TV. Since I am going to be tearing up walls and putting in a bunch of cat5e wires, I want to make sure that I have this well planned out before getting started.
My questions mainly concern where I should put some of my PC components and if I need 1 media server and another PVR PC or if I should/could combine them both in the same computer.
My media server will house MLServer, my ripped CD's and ripped DVD's. Which of the following, if any, should also be part of my media sever:
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1. A caller-ID capable modem and the Net CallerID device.
2. XMDirect receiver (which would also be connected directly to my HK AVR-525 receiver).
3. Win-PVR 150 and MyHD cards (my main objective is to be able to use these to schedule recordings that I would watch using TheaterTek on various HTPCs connected to TV's).
If #3 above works with the media server, then I wouldn't need a separate PVR PC, otherwise I could have a dedicated PVR PC that would have the TV capture cards to record TV shows and save them on the media server.
I posted something similar to this on the AVS Forum, but got no responses. I would really appreciate some input here even either from your experiences or opinions.
I ended up going with 2 separate PC's which I know is overkill. I have one that is my MLServer computer and another one that I mainly use to play DVD's. I'll decide what I want to do with the TV cards that need to be installed once I get to that point.
I am tired now after typing all that! Hope this maybe helps someone else.