I would get the cable-specific Silicon Dust box - which stands alone,
doesn't take up space in your PC, is available over the LAN, and is
accessible by any device on the LAN - not just the PC.
I only have OTA, but I think that SiliconDust's cable product is called
He's got a satellite connection so he'd use the DVB-capable option.
I learned about the SD products from a neighbor -- one of only two
folks in the neighborhood to run "satellite" (the other being the
exCIA spook on the next street). Most other folks, here, use Dish,
CATV or OTA (us).
It also eases one more dependency on the PC's hardware that you don't
have to worry about when you move to a new PC (anyone remember ISA?
MCA? PCI? PCI-X? etc.)
It also lets you use a "CPU-chip, memory and video interface" to drive
your TV's (one for each TV) instead of having to site a "real PC"
by each TV (with fan, large power supply, etc.).
I record TV shows on my PC, then stream them over my home network using a
"media streamer". This provides many advantages, including being able to
watch shows I've recorded, videos I've downloaded from online sources
(youtube, etc.), video I've ripped from my DVD's, or home movies I've
On Fri, 1 Apr 2016 04:19:49 -0000 (UTC), HerHusband
Since this PC will be used as an appliance more than a traditional PC,
I doubt the system hardware will change before the card is obsolete. I
have had PCs hooked to TVs for about 16 years and you find it is
really a pretty handy thing. I have a "smart TV" but my PC connected
TVs are a lot smarter.
Ed Zachary ! This comp's only function is to play media on the TV . I have
my desktop and one virtually identical (slower processor) out in the shop .
The wife has a laptop to do her facebook (shudder) thing . I've had as many
as 7 comps networked (when I was down in Memphis) but I've scaled back ,
left the older comps for the G-kids to have fun with .
But how do you *get* the media onto that PC?
If the PC has an optical disc drive, you can use it as a DVD player.
If the PC has a USB interface, you can play media from storage
devices connected to that USB interface.
If the PC has extra disc capacity, you can copy media onto its internal
store. Once there, you can play that media.
If the PC has a network connection, you can stream content from
<somewhere> on The Internet. Or, "play" files remotely mounted
(e.g., from a "network share" exported by some other machine on
your network) elsewhere in your home.
But, you can also prune the "extra" functionality out of the PC and
just treat it as an appliance: a device dedicated to "playing content"
on the attached TV, speakers, etc. You can then *source* the content
from any of these other places AS IF they were part of the PC and the
PC was part of the TV.
Put a similar PC/appliance on *each* TV and all of those TV's can benefit
from the content sources you have available. Likewise, hook a pair of
speakers to each PC and you can listen to any of your music collection,
podcasts, internet radio, etc. on each of those machines.
However, using a COTS PC to access media outside the home means you have now
opened that box up to potential remote exploits (we all know how great
MS is at producing secure products!)
I am really trying to get rid of all of those bits of plastic. Vinyl,
tape, CD, and DVD
The smallest TV in our house is 40" and all support VGA so the three
that are not "smart" have a PC hooked to them. Any old curb side XP
machine will work if it is 3gz with a gig or two of RAM. "Flash" is
the biggest power hog. If I am just running a local player a 1gz with
1/2 a g of ram works fine. If you are willing to run an older version
of Flash, you can run a lesser PC
On 4/1/2016 10:30 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
We've been trying to get rid of the media (CD/DVD/vinyl/dead trees/etc.)
AND the "plastic boxes that play them"! I'm aiming for an ascetic
*appearance*; no "technology black" boxes piled up anywhere, no thermostats
on the wall, no doorbell annunciators, etc. Everything has to be able to
hide *inside* the wall (e.g., 1G Jboxes) or inside the device of which it
is logically a part (e.g., put the computer, power supply, and amplifier
*in* the speaker and just run a network cable to connect it to the wall).
A newer box will tend to consume less power. The Dell FX160's
draw < 15W and run at ~1.6GHz. I think there is a dual core
version as well.
We don't run flash. Anything that we want to watch gets converted to a
more portable format. Eventually, we'll have a single audio format
and a single video format -- doing the conversions *as* we add the media
to our library (e.g., my network speakers use a proprietary encoding
that lends itself well to reliable network delivery; so, dropped packets
don't compromise the quality of the listening experience).
Most UPnP servers require the client to be able to decode whatever
format the requested content happens to have (e.g., OGG, WAV, MP3, etc.)
*or* will transcode on the fly to a specific target format (wasteful
of resources and limits how many clients the server can support
simultaneously). If our clients all expect "my" audio format, then
why not store the content in THAT form and do the conversion once?
On Fri, 01 Apr 2016 10:47:24 -0700, Don Y
>I'm aiming for an ascetic
I built this to hide my stuff. There are 2 satellite boxes, a ReplayTV
a PC 2 UPS's and a CD carousel behind the stone panels on both sides
of the fireplace.
The drawer units on the right were not installed in this picture and
there was still some wood trim out that was not done,.
You can't run the latest Flash on a 1.5gz single core machine.
Then you are not streaming. They all either want HTML5, Flash or
I only use MP3 for audio, usually 320b.
I am trying to decide on a format for video but my player handles just
about everything I throw at it.
On 4/1/2016 12:22 PM, email@example.com wrote:
We have stuff all over the house:
- 10 "network speakers" (the electronics housed in 1G Jboxes adjacent to each)
- 2 "help, I've fallen and I can't get up" monitors (essentially the same as
the network speakers but mounted in ceilings of bathrooms)
- HVAC controller (also drives two speakers for doorbell annunciator/paging)
- security system
- 11 network cameras (with configurable motion detection)
- laundry controller (mentioned elsewhere)
- water controller (metering, filtration/conditioning, irrigation)
- utilities (monitor gas and electric)
- weather monitoring (on the roof)
- swamp cooler (*in* the swamp cooler)
- 3 "user consoles" (my "accommodation" for SWMBO's aversion to "all this tech"
- water heater (leaks, temperature control, cycling, hooks for solar)
- garage door interface
- 2 WiFi access points
- 5 localizer beacons (to track where the occupants are currently located)
- 24 "general purpose" network drops (each independantly firewalled)
etc. Aside from the "user consoles", you'd not know any of this stuff was
"in" (literally, HIDDEN IN) the house. If you peek at the bottom
shelf in the kitchen cupboard, you'd suspect *something* unusual was happening,
here! (where the switch, UPS, database, etc. hide)
You don't run it on a 1.5GHz machine! You convert it to a form
that a slower machine can process. It doesn't take much horsepower to
display full-motion, live video!
Anything from a "live stream" gets transcoded (if we want to view it "live")
or "converted and stored" if we want to view it at a later date.
E.g., I deal with audio in all sorts of formats -- but my network speakers
can only *play* it in my proprietary format. So, anything "live" gets
transcoded ("converted on the fly") to that format. Anything that I want
to replay, later (e.g., CD rips) gets *converted* and stored (it should be
obvious that the "converter" is the same device that does the transcoding;
the difference being whether the results are stored or consumed "live")
I keep a 500G archive of MP3's (for PMP's and "PC usage"). But, this
is "distilled" from my lossless format, elsewhere.
I have to choose a format that is appropriate to supporting multiple
concurrent clients "tuned" to the same media stream. I don't want
to have to double the capacity/horsepower of my server just because I have
doubled the number of clients listening to a particular radio or TV
program (at the same time). E.g., if one client wants to listen to
an audio program, the load on the server is exactly the same as if
30 clients want to listen to that same program.
Doing the same for video makes sense (imagine you were delivering video
to displays mounted on the backs of airplane seats; or to 100 rooms
in a hotel; or to dozens or hundreds of students in a school; or
hundreds of seniors in an assisted care facility; etc.). As each of
those clients can potentially "drop" packets, you don't want the clients
all trying to re-request those dropped packets from *the* server! That
means more clients results in more workload for the server.
Instead, you want a format that allows clients to request dropped packets
from *peers* (similar to how a torrent works). The more clients you have,
the more *peers* that you have to get assistance from! So, you can
keep adding clients without having to move to bigger and faster servers.
A solution that SCALES like this has to carefully consider every aspect of its
implementation -- so you *can* shift some of the responsibility to peers
without forcing them to take on an extraordinary amount of work.
Nice, great job!
I don't really have much to hide in the living room. My tiny M6500A media
streamer sits nicely next to my Sony Blu-Ray player (which also streams
Netflix). My audio receiver sits on the shelf below.
The majority of my technology is located in my computer in my home office.
It records and streams my shows, as well as control various lights, pumps,
and fans around the house.
Only if you're streaming from a web server.
Local streaming uses different protocols over your home network.
Until recently, I used 30Mbps MPEG2 for all of my videos as it had the best
quality, was widely supported by most devices and video editors, and was
easy to stream.
However, h.264 video has now reached a similar compatibility level and
offers better quality. So I now use 30Mbps h.264 video and AC3 audio in an
I would think a centralized technology closet, basement, or spare room
would make more sense with everything home run back to that tech core. If
the amp fails, you replace the amp, not the speaker and network connection.
Decide to change things, just swap a few cables in the tech closet.
Yep, same here.
All of my audio is 320K MP3 as that format is widely supported by most
devices, including my smart phone and the stereos in our cars.
Video is generally h.264 MP4 with AC3 audio. I use 30Mbps bitrates with my
personal home videos, and 9Mbps for anything that I can easily replace (TV
shows, movies, etc.).
That puts a lot of kit in a place that then needs to be aggressively
cooled. And, takes up a lot of space! Think about how many "field"
leads are involved there -- all the speakers, the microphone on each,
the drivers for the irrigation solenoids, video output for the TV's,
wires from all the alarm sensors, inputs from the weather instruments
on the roof, antennae/CATV feeds, phone lines, coax from all the cameras,
control signals for the PTZ camera bases, etc.
[I've already got ~3000 ft of CAT5 in place; I'd need more than that
if I was running field wiring to the "equipment cupboard"]
And, how many PC's do I stuff in that closet with countless "I/O cards"
to interface to all of this field wiring?
It's much simpler -- and more economical -- to put the computer *at*
the I/O. This also lets you *add* computers at other sites just by
snaking a length of CAT5 to the location -- assuming you don't already
have a "drop" there to exploit. E.g., there are 4 uncommitted drops
in the living room so I can put a floor standing "network speaker"
in each corner of the room without having to run "speaker wires"
from some central closet. Likewise, I can add a "network display"
(aka TV) in any room just by connecting to one of the uncommitted
network drops *in* that room.
My original implementation had 11 PC's in an "equipment closet" talking
to dumber processors distributed around the house. This would have cost
us the walk-in pantry (SWMBO wasn't keen on that idea -- in a house that
is already short on storage space).
Increasing the computational horsepower in each of these distributed
nodes allowed me to get rid of all of the PC's save one (COTS RDBMS).
And, lets the system grow by naturally adding more "motes" as the number
of I/O's increases (add another camera and you don't need to add another
PC to do the real-time motion detection *in* that PC)
Expound on this "media streamer , please ? The way I'm doing it is to put
it on a hdd in one of my comps , stream it from there to whatever box I want
to watch it on . I believe the intranet lag might be why I have had synch
problems , and have just ordered a 1Tb hdd to install in the "media box" .
Once I have a movie on a network connected drive, any other (PC) TV
can play it directly and if it is in a Windoze Media Player library
with the service activated my Samsung smart TV can play it too but I
found it easier to just spin them out to a USB drive and plug it into
the Smart TV directly.
A media tank is nothing more than a storage medium from which content
can be *pulled* to a device (an appliance or a PC) that will then
display it on a screen, play it over a speaker, etc.
How you get that content onto the server is a separate issue. The
HDHomeRun devices will push the content onto a "network attached
storage" (disk) device. Or, a computer can *pull* the content
from them and put it onto its own notion of storage
This is done by the magic of "standards": "Let's agree to support
these operations in this particular manner". So, two parties (devices)
can effectively co-operate as if they were parts of the same device
(i.e., the storage medium can act like it is part of the TV/display;
likewise, the storage medium can act like it is ALSO part of the
Beyond this, you can enhance the individual components to support
additional capabilities. E.g., I can configure my NAS to download
torrents while it is serving up stored content (to a TV).
The advantage to a media tank is that you can put *all* of your
"media" (movies, photos, music, etc.) on the device and then access
it from whatever devices you want -- over wired/wireless networks
[If the media tank is implemented as a PC, then you can conceivably
also access that content on the "PC's display" using a suitable
program to "play" the content]
I probably don't know enough to expound properly, but I have been using
something called SageTV for quite a few years.
What it does:
- Schedules/records TV programs
- Plays ripped DVDs from my NAS box or 24-7 PC
- Plays DVDs directly (although I have never done that)]
For Sage, you dedicate one PC somewhere in the house to be the "SageTV
Server". Other PC's (like the ones under each TV) run something
called "SageTV Client" which gives full/total access to SageTV running
on the server.
Alternatively (and this is what I have done) you can buy little black
boxes are totally silent (no moving parts) and pull 5-12 watts and act
like the "Client" PC under a TV.
Sage got bought out by Google and went offline for a couple years, but
now it is back as public domain software.
You can get the little black boxes used.
Only fly in the ointment is that, with the Public Domain version you
would have to pay $20-$30 per year for an Electronic Program Guide
service (i.e. the thing that tells Sage what TV shows are airing at what
The good part about Sage is that it will probably do almost everything
anybody in their right mind would want to do media-wise with a decent
interface. "Almost" because it does not web access... but I have a
$100 box called "Wetek Core" sitting next to my Sage box that does that.
The bad part is care and feeding. It is definitely not an "Appliance"
like TIVO... you have to work with it a little to get it doing what you
Sounds like my dedicated comp will do everything but the schedule/record
function and play on more than one TV . There are just the 2 of us here ,
she watches a lot more TV than I do . There are a couple of shows she likes
that she misses when she works a "swing" shift , I try my best to make them
available for when she has time . Oh , and we do have two TV's but only the
one in the "living room" can play from the computer , though both are wired
to the satellite receiver .
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.