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alcimedes
I shot the sherrif.
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2007-06-12, 19:50

So I'm tired of waiting for someone to release a decent PVR system, and have decided I want to build one myself.

The software offerings for PVR stuff seem to be beefier on the Windows side, so a Windows machine it is.

That being said, anyone have any experience building their own PVR, and have any suggestions for a good place to start?

I want something small, so I'm thinking micro ATX, but it's been years since I've had to build my own machines so I'm totally out of the loop.

What's good, what sucks?

Google is your frenemy.
Caveat Emptor - Latin for tough titty
I tend to interpret things in the way that's most hilarious to me
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torifile
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Durham, NC
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2007-06-12, 20:18

Why not a core solo mini (get 'em used for cheap). Slap XP or MCE on there and use external storage. That's what I'd do if I were in your boat.
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Wyatt
On twitter: @bwyatt
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Near Indianapolis
 
2007-06-12, 20:18

Definitely go with micro ATX. Aside from that, decide on your software first and build your hardware around it. There's nothing more frustrating than having a great piece of software that doesn't work properly with the hardware you've built.

For tuners, go for one that does hardware encoding. That'll take a lot of the load off the CPU, and it'll allow you to have multiple tuners encoding at once.

Torifile's suggestion is interesting, but that won't allow you the expansion to have more tuners that a home-built box will. Start with a micro ATX machine, and if you decide you need to add more tuners than your board can handle, just buy a new case and motherboard that are compatible with all your existing stuff. Plus, with the mini, you're basically limited to USB tuners, and the options are just not as good.

For software, Windows Media Center is pretty decent. I'm not sure what editions of Vista it's included in, but you should probably be able to find XP MCE at NewEgg.com still.

When I had a Windows PVR box, I was using Media Portal. It's not as robust as Windows Media Center, but it is free. If you've got a spare XP disc laying around, you might want to try it out. Even though you can't record, you can still play around with the other features of the interface to see if you like it.

Twitter: bwyatt | Minecraft: bwyatt_IN
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torifile
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2007-06-12, 20:25

What kind of input are you looking to use? I know on my digital cable box, there's a firewire output that can be used to record from. No extra tuner needed.
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Windowsrookie
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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2007-06-12, 20:32

Media Center is included in Vista Home Premium.

Antec Makes some nice small cases. I used This one.

They also have These.
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alcimedes
I shot the sherrif.
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2007-06-12, 20:35

I was thinking of going with Snapstream with a Haupage WinTV-PVR-1600 in it. Although I'd rather have two cards than just one, so I can record two channels at once.

A friend has that software and I've been really impressed. (I especially love that it will go through recorded shows and delete the commercials, or at least it used to.)

In any case, not sure that changes any suggestions, but that's the software piece.

Google is your frenemy.
Caveat Emptor - Latin for tough titty
I tend to interpret things in the way that's most hilarious to me
  quote
Eugene
careful with axes
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hillsborough, CA
 
2007-06-12, 23:22

It's not worth it to build a PVR system that only supports off-air DTV, IMO. And the only game in town for digital cable is ATI's hulking TV Wonder...the internal versions aren't available to end-users yet.

And yes, you could hook up a Mac mini to a Motorola/Sci-Atlanta cable set-top via FireWire, but many of the channels/programs are flagged copy-once, which means to the DVR only, and not to the mini.

The most elegant solution is simply to stick with your cable company's offering or get a Series3 TiVo.
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alcimedes
I shot the sherrif.
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2007-06-13, 03:24

Sadly the cable company won't offer anything unless you pay for the $50 a month package, and I hate the idea of paying for the Tivo then the monthly fees on top of that. (close to $20 a month)

Plus with a computer based PVR, I can stream video files from my laptop to the PVR as well, and pull off Apple-TV type options for video, only with higher resolution and a wider variety of video formats.

Google is your frenemy.
Caveat Emptor - Latin for tough titty
I tend to interpret things in the way that's most hilarious to me
  quote
beardedmacuser
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: eastmidlandshire
 
2007-06-13, 04:54

If you have enough space, 4U rack cases can make nice PVR boxes. It gives you lots of room to add lots of drives and noise insulation.
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jyo
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: North West Arkansas
 
2007-08-19, 22:22

I am interested in creating an OS X-based PVR. However, I found a cool piece of hardware that I want to put an Apple mobo into: http://www.zalman.co.kr/eng/product/...x=234&code=029

This might not be practical, but it could be cool.
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alcimedes
I shot the sherrif.
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2007-08-20, 01:50

I went the lazy man's route and bought a HD Tivo. (not a series 3)

We'll see how that goes.
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ccoulson
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
 
2007-08-30, 16:28

You will be very happy with your Tivo. I have two Series 2's and one Series 3. Now, if only somebody would write an AppleTV hack to access Tivo content, I would be set!
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