Connect rackmounted HTPC to TV 50-100 feet away?

Raystream

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I currently have a Media Server that I am slowly putting together that will be rackmounted soon. Only problem is... is that it is in the basement and at least 50+ feet from the tv in my room. So my question is what is the best way to connect the Media Server to the tv in my room?

I have looked at S-Video cables that are 50-100 feet long, but will that be able to handle a HDTV signal? What about signal degredation?

Raystream

P.S. I plan on adding more Tuners to the Server and connecting it to more TVs in the house over time.
 

mrgstiffler

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I'd say your best bet would be to toss another computer in your room and use it as a media center extender. If you were thinking about picking up an Xbox360 next month, it has this functionality built into it...
 

IDversusEGO

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yeah, you need a client server type setup. seperate PC's or xboxes at each tv to playback the files fromt he server. as for the svideo, no it is not HD capable. component, DVI, or HDMI.
 

Raystream

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Hmm, eek... A Client/Server setup is what I am trying to avoid. (Mainly because of the noise in the room) I basically wanted the rooms to be silent from any fan or hard drive noise whatsoever. Plus the energy costs. <- Already have 11 computers in the house and growing. :eek:

Is there any other solution?

Raystream
 

revo2001

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Raystream said:
Hmm, eek... A Client/Server setup is what I am trying to avoid. (Mainly because of the noise in the room) I basically wanted the rooms to be silent from any fan or hard drive noise whatsoever. Plus the energy costs. <- Already have 11 computers in the house and growing. :eek:

Is there any other solution?

Raystream

Passive cooling! There are many ways these days to get away with a computer that only has one fan(the cpu fan). Compared to fans hard drive noise is usually already minimal, and with only one or two fans in a PC you shouldn't hear much. Plus, for around $20 if you check out htpcnews.com forums there's a guide for a cheap way to sound proof a PC.

A client/server setup is a great way to do things when it comes to htpc's. Especially if you have a gigabit network.
 

CrimandEvil

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Raystream said:
Hmm, eek... A Client/Server setup is what I am trying to avoid. (Mainly because of the noise in the room) I basically wanted the rooms to be silent from any fan or hard drive noise whatsoever. Plus the energy costs. <- Already have 11 computers in the house and growing. :eek:

Is there any other solution?
No theres not, take one of those PCs and convert it into a client HTPC box (eg make it quiet and look nice enough).

You should always have realistic expectations for each project you work on, stringing a 10+ ft svideo cable isn't something I would have planned around due to signal degradation.
 

Raystream

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First off, Thank you to everyone that has replied to this thread.. you have been very VERY helpful. Secondly, I guess I will be going after a small form factor low power Mobo/CPU solution for the client. So it comes down to how fast of a solution should I be going after? I have heard Epia boards are great, but then I also hear they are not powerful enough for what I am planning on doing. :confused: And then there are the Pentium-M and Jetway board solutions.

Any thoughts or ideas are greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Raystream
 

CrimandEvil

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Loki008 said:
or wait for the xbox360 to stream the media
All we know is that it will only work if you're running MCE, if your not then your out of luck.
Raystream said:
First off, Thank you to everyone that has replied to this thread.. you have been very VERY helpful. Secondly, I guess I will be going after a small form factor low power Mobo/CPU solution for the client. So it comes down to how fast of a solution should I be going after? I have heard Epia boards are great, but then I also hear they are not powerful enough for what I am planning on doing. :confused: And then there are the Pentium-M and Jetway board solutions.
Well my suggestion would be to look at the PCs you currently have and decide if it would be possible to build a system from one of those. I wouldn't even look at the Epia mobos unless I was going to run linux on them and even then I still wouldn't bother with them. The Win drivers are horrible, TV out on them is subpar quality wise and they're underpowered for all but the most basic things. Only chance I'd run one is to an old SDTV but even then it would have to have a hardware encoding TV out card.

I would only go with a Pentium-M if you could afford it but there isn't really any good mobos for a P-M HTPC out there right now.

For price/performance I would be inclined to suggest a socket 754 AMD system but then you have a major issue of any sort of longterm investment. Sure it'll be fine for now and maybe even the very near future but what about in the next year or two? You'll be severally limited in upgrade potential then.

I'd go for a s939 A64 setup if I was buying new, if I was trying to save some money I would retrofit an existing system.
 

IDversusEGO

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also, if you are just looking at paling back files from a serevr, there are several other options like the Media MVP and some of those stand alone boxes that look like dvd players.
 

Raystream

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Currently there are no computers in the house that I can convert as you can see from the following picture. Note: The RJ45 cables are Cat5e

Home_Network_Current.jpg


And the following is from my current plans and from what I understand you guys are referring too.

Home_Network_Proposed.jpg


So am I correct that you guys are recommending a MCE Extender for each HTPC? Also, all of the TVs are Standard Signal TVs right now. We don't have plans for another year or so to upgrade them to HDTV. I just wanted to see what I could do in the way of future proofing things. Though the Coax is currently RG59, and I have plans to upgrade that to RG6QS.

Raystream
 

Roach

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Sorry for not contributing to this thread but...

HOLY SHIT.

Actually on second thought I can sort of contribute. If I were you I would get a whole bunch of xboxes for cheap and softmod them and put XBMC on them. Once you get one setup exactly how you like it you can easily image the drive onto the other boxes and your set. I would think it would be cheaper than making multiple HTPC's. I'm sort of in the middle of doing this with one of my xboxes, but once I get a better handle on it though I might end up doing to every TV in my house.
 

CrimandEvil

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Well are you running MCE? Can you wait for the 360? Do you think you could mod a current Xbox?

If you can't then no we're not talking about an MCE extender. What we are talking about is two systems: 1.) the Media Server 2.) The client box that would pull all of it's content from the media server and is connected to the main TV. For each TV after you can use a Hauppauge MVP.

I would suggest getting SageTV and a copy of SageClient and use that along with either Xlobby or Meedio (both have plugins to run Sage embedded). Set up SageTV on the Media Server to run in Server mode and let it record all your shows and host all your vid files and then run SageClient on the Client system connected to the main TV.

One suggestion I would make, do you really have both a media server and a file server? If so "merge" the boxes together so that your media server is also the file server, it just makes sense.
 

IDversusEGO

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yeah, wow, those servers are a little out of hand huh? file server, backup file server, media server, exchange server. typically, a media server is just a file server with a special name. Exchange isn't huge, so it can usually be run on a file server. I see the need for backup, but to simplify your setup, you could just use a mirrored array. If data is your concern. for the game server, if you are hosting internet gaming, there are services out there for cheap that let you run colo game servers for not too much money and offer way better WAN performance.

as far as the clients go, something to consider would be the Hauppauge MediaMVP. Sage supports it with a custom plugin right now, but 3.0 will have full support out of the box. It limits playback codecs though. I would suggest small PC for each PC. I use a 1ghz for my SDTV with a fx5200 or ATI 9600 and svideo output. passive cooling and low wattage PSU is very capable. For a client, you need very little devices, so a small PSU is fine. each of my pc's has 1 dvdrom, 1 wireless NIC, and the small vid card. I use onboard sound for those.

if you are into thee modding, the xbox works well too and is cheap.
 

Loki008

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since i see you are looking for a total of 8 HTPC's i am definatly going to recomend the mod'ed xboxes, get them preowned at like EB games or something since your going to void the warenty anyways, get that and the IR kit for them and you have a kick ass HTPC system for cheap.

~$1000 for 8 used xboxes and remote kits

~$3200 for 8 low end htpc's

add an extra ~$300 - $800 if you decide to mod all the xboxes with larger harddrives, but if they are strictly for HTPC i dont see why you would really need to, if you are going to store games and such then it would, from the looks of your diagram i would say maybe 3 or 4 would need larger harddrives for gaming
 

Raystream

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Well after looking at things for a while I finally decided on going the XBox route. Just seemed much more feasible, and a lot better looking in the living room then another computer. Only thing I haven't decided on is if it is worth it to mod all of them.

Has anyone here tried the Media Center Extender Kit and XBMC? If so, what do you like better? I heard from a Channel9 video over at msdn.com that the XBox Extender Kit doesn't have all of the features that WinXP Media Center Ed. has?

Also, what is the best type of cable to run to the Xbox? I currently have a little over 3000 feet of Cat6 STP Screened cable coming my way and I'm hoping that will work very well?
Cat6_STP_Cable.jpg


Also for those that have a server+Media Center Extender setup... What is a good amount of HDD space, Ram, and CPU Power on the server? I am really worried about the server feeding to at least 5 XBoxs, and the server having a melt down in the CPU and HDD arena. I was thinking of 2 or 3 300GB SATA's.

Also I was looking at investing in HDTV Tuner Cards to future proof things... so should I have a dedicated Gigabyte Switch for the XBoxs to the Server?

My Current Updated Setup.


My Proposed Updated Setup.


Raystream
 

maxBR

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Whatever you do DON'T buy any used/refurb XBoxes. 90% of them get returned back to EB. Not worth the hassle. Definatly mod them and throw on XBox media center, it's an awesome program (and don't forget emulators!). The drawback is the lack of a wireless remote, and Xboxes are kind of loud.
 

Raystream

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maxBR said:
Whatever you do DON'T buy any used/refurb XBoxes. 90% of them get returned back to EB. Not worth the hassle. Definatly mod them and throw on XBox media center, it's an awesome program (and don't forget emulators!). The drawback is the lack of a wireless remote, and Xboxes are kind of loud.
What about getting some off of ebay? Also does XBox Media Center have the ability to act just like a Media Center Extender? I can not for the life of me find anything that says that it will. Just that it will stream this or that... not interact with WinXP MCE. Also, what do you mean by Wireless Remote? The XBox Controller or XBox DVD Remote?

Raystream
 

maxBR

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Raystream said:
What about getting some off of ebay? Also does XBox Media Center have the ability to act just like a Media Center Extender? I can not for the life of me find anything that says that it will. Just that it will stream this or that... not interact with WinXP MCE. Also, what do you mean by Wireless Remote? The XBox Controller or XBox DVD Remote?

Raystream
Xboxes off ebay might be fine, but still a risk i wouldn't take imo. EB/Gamestops are all broken though, so just don't go there. Sorry, I don't have MCE so i don't know what support is like for that in XBMC. If you can't find the answer here try poking around http://xbox-hq.com/html/

You have to use the xbox controller instead of a dedicated remote, unless you buy the dvd remote i guess, but that thing never looked all that functional to me and i don't own one.

I guess i am not that much help after all :p
 

valve1138

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Raystream said:
Has anyone here tried the Media Center Extender Kit and XBMC? If so, what do you like better? I heard from a Channel9 video over at msdn.com that the XBox Extender Kit doesn't have all of the features that WinXP Media Center Ed. has?

It works fine, until you want to play a ripped DVD out of a Video_TS folder.

I'm not sure if it plays DivX or XVid encoded video either.

The DVD playback thing was the reason I went with a SageTV setup.

As for server specs, MS has a page of what the server needs to be depending on how many clients it's feeding.
 

Raystream

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valve1138 said:
It works fine, until you want to play a ripped DVD out of a Video_TS folder.

I'm not sure if it plays DivX or XVid encoded video either.

The DVD playback thing was the reason I went with a SageTV setup.

As for server specs, MS has a page of what the server needs to be depending on how many clients it's feeding.
By any chance do you have a link to that page about the Server Specs? Microsoft recently changed everything because of the XBox 360. So so far I can't find anything.
 

valve1138

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Raystream said:
By any chance do you have a link to that page about the Server Specs? Microsoft recently changed everything because of the XBox 360. So so far I can't find anything.


They sure did move everythig around! Used to be a lot easier to find. All the way at the bottom.

Here 'tis: link
 

EQTakeOffense

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For you touch screens, what are you connecting them too/what is their function?

You have an AWESOME setup idea going, good job on that. Just don't see how the touch screens fit into play.
 

Raystream

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EQTakeOffense said:
For you touch screens, what are you connecting them too/what is their function?

You have an AWESOME setup idea going, good job on that. Just don't see how the touch screens fit into play.
Actually I threw them in there for another project. I am currently looking at putting in a Hai Pro 2 (I think that is the name of the product) Home Automation System. With the Touch screen I want to connect them to the Automation Server and have the ability to fully control the lights in the house, temperature, view the security cameras, view the weather outside, and a few misc things. If you go over to Mavromatic.com he is already in the works of doing something similiar. You can say I am doing what he did but at a much larger scale.

Raystream
 

EQTakeOffense

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I have kind of a personal question that you don't have to anwser: how much is this costing you in total?
 

Bighitter

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I have a tablet/slate-PC that I use as the touch screen interface for my crestron processor. I am currently only controlling the A/V equipment, the HTPC and some lights though I will soon fully be controlling alarm, HVAC and cameras as well.

I program and install this stuff for a living so my costs are much cheaper than most.
 

EQTakeOffense

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Bighitter, do you think it's worth investing the time and energy to do it yourself, or do you think it's better to hire someone like yourself to do it profesionally?

An Electronic Home is an EXTREMELY complicated task to do. You have an alarm system, video camers, lights, tvs, computers ect. ect. to connect together. It is obviously possible but alot of work. I'm intrested in doing something like this eventually and that's where my question comes in. I'm just wondering if it's worth it to do it myself and learn everythign I need to know, or to do it profesionally. My biggest concern is just how much technical knowledge there is and what resources there are.

So, Bightter, I have a second question now, what are good resouces to learn what a home setup like Ray is doing needs?
 

Bighitter

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Wether or not to hire a professional to perform your install or to go the DIY route is really dependant on many factors, not the least of which is technical ability. It is possible to go the DIY route and have a very nice turn out as alot of people on forums such as this and AVS, HTS and HTF all proves. Really it comes down to how fast do you want it, how easy do you want it to be and how much do you want to pay for it. They are all very tightly intertwined and will have an effect from one to the other. Most of my customers are either too old to care about the technology to learn about it, they just want thier TV and DVD's to work with 1 button press. OR, they are too busy and value thier time to much to spend the hours and days and possibly weeks and months to complete the project. There are plenty of sources of info out on the web about installing and controlling home theaters and other automation options.
 

EQTakeOffense

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Are there any specific sources you recomend? I don't want to sound lazy, it's just you know what you're talking about and I trust you. I dont' wanna search on the web and find some crap website and have me get off on the wrong foot. I will search on the web, I just want to know if there are specific websites you like or what not.
 

threeclaws

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Just so you know, an Xbox will not give you HD playback it is an unfortunate drawback to what is in my opinion the perfect media player.

Good luck with whatever you decide on.
 

Raystream

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I was going through looking at reviews of the XBox Extender Kit and ran across the following -> http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/mcx_xbox_review.asp The review seems pretty good, but the results are bad...

Performance

The Xbox Extender takes about twice as long as a dedicated Extender to connect to the Media Center PC and then "boot" into the Media Center environment, a period of time that can be measured in several seconds but is nonetheless annoying when you plop down on the couch and want to get started with some serious television browsing. More annoying, however, is that the actual performance of the device is worse as well: As you navigate around the Media Center UI on the Xbox, button clicks are followed by slight pauses before anything happens. The effect is like Media Center in molasses, and that's not a good thing. Dedicated Media Center Extenders just perform better.

Microsoft product Manager Tom Laemmel told me recently that the performance of the Xbox Extender shouldn't be surprising, since it's a software product that's emulating a hardware device. And he's right. But I'm curious why Microsoft didn't take the step of copying the Extender software to the Xbox hard drive during installation. It seems like it would perform a bit better. It would certainly boot up more quickly.
Noise

Unlike a dedicated Media Center Extender, the Xbox is not silent. That's because the Xbox is, essentially, a PC that's been shoehorned into a small (well, relatively speaking) case. PCs have fans, and the Xbox fan is, to me, particularly loud. That's because the unit typically sits in your den, and not your home office, where PC fan noise is more common. Consumer electronics devices typically don't make much sound, and they certainly don't have fan noise. The Xbox, however, does. And this is a problem for my sensitive ears. A big problem.

Now, if you already use the Xbox to watch DVD movies, and aren't annoyed by the constant hum of the device's fan, which is most acutely heard during silent or slow passages in movies, than more power to you: The Xbox Extender is no more or less loud than the Xbox is during DVD playback. But if this sound bothers you, the Xbox Extender isn't going to make you very happy either.
Power up and down

Though the Xbox Extender remote control, like other Extender (and Media Center) remote controls, includes a Power button, you cannot use this button to turn on or off the Xbox. Instead, this button can only be used to power off the Xbox Extender software. Once you do so, you'll receive a message explaining that you can now turn off the Xbox manually, or insert another disk. And yes, that means you have to literally walk up to the Xbox and press the power button on the unit with your finger. There is no way to remotely trigger a power on or off. That's ridiculous, sorry. And the first time you're lying in bed after watching a movie until the wee hours of the night, see how excited you are about getting up to turn the darned thing off. Inconceivable.
Remote control incompatibility

As I mentioned previously, the Xbox Extender remote control is the best Media Center remote I've ever seen. Sadly, this benefit is completely tarnished by the fact that it is incompatible with every other Media Center/Media Center Extender remote control on the planet. That's right: It only works with the Xbox. This is a problem only because every other Media Center and Media Center Extender remote is interchangeable. That is, you can use any remote with any Media Center PC or Extender. Except the Xbox.

The key to this incompatibility lies with the use of the dongle from the Xbox DVD Movie Playback Kit. Instead of creating an IR fob that is compatible with Media Center remotes--which would have been more useful--Microsoft chose to reuse an existing part. Which is silly, because there's no benefit to doing so at all. But there are some negative consequences. Let's say you lose or break your Xbox Extender remote. Now what? Your only option is to order the exact part from Microsoft, and hope they're still being made. If it had been a standard Media Center remote, you could have used your existing Media Center remote control (remember, you get one with a Media Center PC), or you could order one of numerous replacements from any source on earth, including PC makers like HP and Dell, direct retailers like Directron, or from Microsoft. Heck, if the remote was compatible, you could choose to use the Media Center PC's remote with the Xbox simply because you liked it better. Now, that's not an option.

Has anyone had the above problems or found them an extreme inconvience when using a XBox Extender Kit? I just need a good reliable front end that people are not going to complain about and is as simple as possible while offerning the best there is.
 

threeclaws

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EQTakeOffense said:


The problem with those media extenders/players is a modified Xbox is cheaper and plays more formats.

That Dell Xbox does not have XBMC installed it has Xbox MCE installed, completely different.
 

EQTakeOffense

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The problem with those media extenders/players is a modified Xbox is cheaper and plays more formats.

Well, for the Dell one it's $280. For a new XBox it's $150. If Ray wants to mod it, it's up to him and how much time it's worth.

I think D-LINK HD media center extender is the best bet. For $250 you get:

MP3 (Up to 320Kbps)
WAV & AIFF (PCM only)
WMA
Ogg Vorbis JPEG (Grayscale, RGB, YCbCy only)
JPEG2000
BMP
(non-compressed)
PNG
TIFF (RGB only)
GIF WMV9
MPEG 1
MPEG 2
MPEG 4*
XviD with MP3 or PCM
AVI (MPEG-4 layer only)

just need a good reliable front end that people are not going to complain about and is as simple as possible while offerning the best there is.

I think it's a matter between if Ray feels like modding the XBox. If not, get D-Link.
 

threeclaws

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EQTakeOffense said:
Well, for the Dell one it's $280. For a new XBox it's $150. If Ray wants to mod it, it's up to him and how much time it's worth.

I think D-LINK HD media center extender is the best bet. For $250 you get:

You can buy a premodded Xbox with XBMC + Remote for $250 easily, not that it makes any difference because the Dell Xbox does not have XBMC on it which would be the only reason to go the Xbox route.

The benefit of the Dlink is the HD playback.
 

Raystream

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ok... I am just blown away by how much information you guys are providing me. Thank You! Now for the life of me I can't find a straight answer to this; But can a XBox modded with XBMC work as an Extender to connect to a MCE box, and be able to record, set recordings, and pause live tv?
 

Trepidati0n

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For a large scale home media distribution system, the XBOX + MCE combo CANNOT be beat for the price/performance ratio. It just does it well. With the new XBOX360 it will only get better.

I have a feeling i'll be ditching SageTV soon. The only feature we extensively use is "record series". This feature works well enough on MCE. I'm just waiting to see how well "upres" works with the xbox 360 and movies. If it does the job right, there will be a major overhaul in our house. As much as I like the flexiability of a PC...I just don't need it.

-tReP
 

threeclaws

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Raystream said:
ok... I am just blown away by how much information you guys are providing me. Thank You! Now for the life of me I can't find a straight answer to this; But can a XBox modded with XBMC work as an Extender to connect to a MCE box, and be able to record, set recordings, and pause live tv?

It can't ASFAIK.
 
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