Where the Magic Happens

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Where the Magic Happens


Post by makryger » Thu Jun 30, 2011 2:37 pm

Ever wonder what the HTPC behind My Channel Logos and TunerSalad is? What magical system has access to every country’s listings? How does he test 48 tuners at once?! Well, sorry to disappoint, but my system is probably no different than any of yours. In fact, over three years ago, I set out to build as budget of a PC as possible. With the help of some newegg rebates, Bing Cashback, and ebay refurbs, I built my HTPC for about $350 at the time. Of course, it went through some iterations through the years… from analog STB+clearQAM to ATI DCT (+$211 in 2010), to InfiniTV (+$250)… from 250GB HDD, to 1TB HDD (+$80 in 2010), to 64GB SSD+1TB (+$70) … but overall, its been a pretty cost-effective venture, and has been mostly the same, stable system for these past three years. While I probably never would have rented an HD DVR, I like to tell myself that I’m getting 4x the DVRing without the $30 per month in STB fees. If you ignore the MCL and TS donations, I’ve more or less broken even with what I’ve put into the HTPC. I’ve saved loads and loads of time by using Media Center as my DVR. (Although I’ve also wasted loads of times on places like TGB :P)

So let’s start with the innards of my HTPC. I’ve labeled all the main components here. A couple interesting things of note-
- My SSD is just hanging out freely in the unusued 3.5” external slot… didn’t have anything to hold it down with
- The HDD is secured beneath the Bluray Drive
- An internal Serial Header is connected to the regular HDD LED. Using LEDSDriver, it tells me when I’m recording something
- I swapped out the green PC Power LED in my case with a Blue LED. MY soldering techniques aren’t great… it doesn’t always work :/
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Here's what the case looks like from the front: (There's a black cover that goes on top too)
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The next pic is a peak behind my TV. I worked really hard to get the system to look as clean as possible- its really really easy to end up with a tangled mess of cables. In the end, I shoved a bunch of extra cable length under the TV Stand, making it pretty neat. Other things to note…
- The External Serial cable, from a $15 PCI Serial card, goes up to the TV, and turns the TV on and off via a cmd script that is run when the PC is turned on and off (with the help of MST)
- One USB goes to an HP IR Transceiver. Don’t really use the IR Receiver part, but I do use the blaster, which goes over to the Audio Receiver to turn it on and off at the same time as the TV commands. The transceiver is hidden in an alcove behind the right TV stand drawer
- Another USB is to an RF dongle, for use with my Dell Gyration Remote
- Last USB goes to a 1TB external HDD, hidden in the an alcove behind the left TV Stand drawer. It keeps my ripped DVD movies, and DVRed movies.
- I have a cable with DVI on one end and HDMI on the other end. For some reason, I could never get this motherboard to play nicely with HDMI. I gave up trying to fix it and just used the DVI port on the HTPC
- Optical Toslink cable goes to the Audio receiver
- I have 100 Megabit Ethernet coming in from the wall (see final picture)
- Then the power, which goes to a Belkin surge protector, also located in the left hidden alcove.
- Of course,theres the coax cable to the Ceton Card too.
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Finally, here is a front view, as you can see the HTPC on the right fits very well into the set up. The Black Gloss with Silver streak works well with the Sharp 46” LCD TV (LC-46D64U ). On the left, I’ve got Logitech Z-5450 Audio Receiver. The front three speakers are wired to the subwoofer, and the back two speakers (on each side of the couch) are wireless, and communicate with the Audio receiver. You can see on the far right that I’ve removed the replaceable insert on the RJ-11 faceplate, and strung some Ethernet through the wall so I don’t have to rely on a wireless connection to my router.
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My Channel Logos XL: Get your Guide looking good! ~~~~ TunerSalad: Increase the 4-tuner limit in 7MC

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Post by holidayboy » Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:36 pm

Me likey :)

TGB.tv - the one stop shop for the more discerning Media Center user.

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Post by newfiend » Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:43 am

Nice.. One of these days I'll dust .. Then I can post my messy setup..LOL

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Post by volfan6415 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:11 am

No need to dust newfiend just post as is....there is no way your setup is more dusty than mine....

Nice setup .... I am suprised that you don't even need to use tunersalad in your setup???? Has this always been the case?

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Post by makryger » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:50 pm

Nope, no TunerSalad for me! In fact, I rarely need more than 2 tuners (mostly because my roommate refuses to use an extender for some reason). I bought the Ceton card because it was cheaper than the HDHRP. Mikinho over at MissingRemote graciously tested the program before releasing, as he seems to have every possible HTPC configuration known to man.
My Channel Logos XL: Get your Guide looking good! ~~~~ TunerSalad: Increase the 4-tuner limit in 7MC

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