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  1. #1
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Anyone Build Your Own DVR?
    I'm contemplating building my own DVR. I have an extra PC sitting around. Big hard drives are cheap. The Hauppauge PVR-500 looks awesome. There are several DVR software packages (SageTV, MythTV, BeyondTV, Windows Media Center, GBPVR, etc.) that look promising.

    So why build my own instead of just using a Dish PVR, a Tivo, etc.? There's a lot of extras that the home-built packages can do:

    1) Whole-house networking. Add a cheap ($100) media extender in any other network-accessable room (wired or wireless) and you can access everything from there. Watch it wherever you want, no matter where you recorded it.

    2) Rip my DVD collection and access them everywhere in the house without having to find the DVD.

    3) Skip commercials automatically.

    4) Access the web, music, weather, our digital pictures, and lots of other stuff on the TV.

    5) No monthly fees.

    6) Easily add HDTV recording capabilities.

    7) Record (or watch) two or more things at the same time (with extra cards).

    Has anyone built their own? Which software did you choose? How well does it work for the things I mentioned? Any tips or suggestions?
    Michael Coley
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  2. #2
    Affiliate/AM Moonlighter dflsports's Avatar
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    I really have to get back to building mine. I have the hauppauge 350. Bought it last year and have yet to work with it much past installing it. I also have a MediaMVP by Hauppauge (wired version) that works pretty well.

    I tried GBPVR using the MediaMVP, worked ok. The kids loved having cartoons on demand.

    I never really had a chance to test the setup as much as I would have liked. I just installed Ubuntu and was reading a hack that is suppose to work with the 350 but have yet to try it. Keep us posted on your progress I need some motivation to get back to my pvr.

  3. #3
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    I was really serious into building a HTPC (home theater PC) for awhile, but eventually gave up on it. I even had a sweet case picked out to put in the A/V rack. There are two main reasons I put it off:

    1) Satellite support. In order to use DirecTV (our current provider), I would have to still have two satellite tuners hooked up to the HTPC. Cable isn't available in our neighborhood because Comcast hasn't bothered to run the lines yet.

    2) HDTV support. We don't have HDTV yet, but it seems like it would be a stumbling block when it would come time to add it. I can't remember all of the specifics, but it seems like the only way to get HDTV was OTA (over the air) with an antenna. Doesn't do much good for all of the HDTV satellite signals.

    What I ended up doing was "modifying" my two DirecTV TiVo units to allow multi-room viewing (streaming) so I can watch shows in the family room or the bedroom without having to record them in both places. I'd love to have my DVDs on demand, but that will have to wait for another day.

    There was a rumor that DirecTV was going to release a tuner card for PCs, but that hasn't come to light yet. And CableCARD will be interesting--that is the one hope I see for the future of HTPC. But there are *so* many ways to restrict content based on DRM.

    Michael

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    I know popular science had an article about this a while ago. I have a subscription, but it might be on their website too. WikiHow has some basic info http://www.wikihow.com/Build-Your-Own-Tivo
    Jason Rosenbaum
    Affiliate Manager
    MINDsprinting

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador
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    Another good site for HTPCs (especially their forums):

    http://www.htpcnews.com/

    Michael

  6. #6
    Merchant & ABW Ambassador
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    HTPC cases can get really expensive...and they usually use a micro MoBO

  7. #7
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I don't care about the case. I'll just use an old PC. All of my A/V equipment is in a hidden room.
    Michael Coley
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  8. #8
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    Hi Michael,

    I am involved in a digital media monitoring project and we use Superview media servers to record off-air but the underlying application is Beyond TV - quite nice indeed. I would recommend it.

    CanadianDave

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager cbsturg's Avatar
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    I had a buddy that ran MythTV and it was nothing but a headache. It seems like everytime I went over there, his box was open and he was trying to figure out the configuration of the system. That could just be a "user stupidity" error, but even when the software was running, I wasn't that impressed with it. Maybe it's best feature was support of picture-in-picture. He had a TV that I sware was one of the first color TV's ever made, but he could still watch two shows at once.

    My brother-in-law installed GBPVR and I'm a huge fan. I plan on making my own DVR this summer, and I will go the GBPVR route. The only downsides are that it must be run on a Windows box and it's not open source. It is free, and a new update was just released, but it's not open source. However, the program is extendible. From their website
    GB-PVR supports open interfaces, but the core engine code is not publically available. You are able to develop your own plugins to extend GB-PVR, and there are several examples available to get you started. Plugins can be developed in C#, VB.NET or C++.
    The software supports security features that include setting different permissions for different TVs. That way you can decide what content your kid's TV is able to get. Additionally, it supports running emulated games directly from its interface.

    All things considered, GBPVR is fairly easy to install and get running. If your not a Linux expert, I'd steer away from those solutions. The lack of frustration qualifies having to use a Windows box.

    A word of caution: you can't use just any video capture card. There are certain cards that the software supports. Here's a link to supported capture cards
    Chris Sturgill
    "All my life I've had one dream, to achieve my many goals." - H. Simpson

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