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My DIY Linux PVR
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
  Test OS Installation Complete
The best way to ensure that all hardware was successfully manufactured, shipped and installed was to load the evil OS, Windows XP onto the newly assembled PVR and check all major levels of functionality. The installation went well after I figured out that Windows will always install itself in the SATA mass storage device with the lowest channel number, regardless of a C:\ or D:\ drive label assigned during partition creation. I set the video card to clone a single desktop to the VGA/DVI and S-Video connections, with resolution set to 800x600 for correct TV display. It took me a while to find the LCD panel-like adjustments for the S-Video connection that would keep the taskbar and start button from being cropped out of the picture. I took the advice of a few found reviews and installed a trial copy of SageTV to get PVR functionality up and running quickly. I was pretty happy with the ease of installation and use, though SageTV also required uncovering a hidden config option of screen XY adjustment to get menu positioning down pat.

Everything fit smoothly in the standard stereo enclosure, a minimum of only 5 wires to connect the whole thing made installation a breeze. All was well until I heard all 6 fans at full speed during a recording session. The two OATES fans, smallest in the case and standard on the Abit AN8 were raising hell at all times. All fan noise was exacerbated by the closed-back enclosure that reverberated sound back toward the listener. Soon I discovered the other cause of fan noise. Temperature sensors on the motherboard put CPU temp at 70 degrees Celsius during encoding and only slightly less than idle. I knew that this was far over the 50 degree average experienced by most Venice core owners and immediately shut-down and pulled the PVR from the enclosure before hardware damage was done.

Operating under the same conditions on top of the test bench (my subwoofer), showed a full tilt CPU temperature of only 51 degrees (Celsius), this proved that the fans were doing their job, but that the tight confines of my stereo enclosure were to blame for the low air flow and high temps.

And so the DIY Linux PVR sits on top of my subwoofer, happily recording with the help of SageTV and Windows XP. Some day in the near future I'll find an used, open enclosure on Craig's List and some day in the less near future I'll suck up the motivation to put my nose to the grindstone and begin the work of duplicating hardware and software functionality using Linux and MythTV. Until then, I've got a growing queue of Battlestar Galactica episodes to watch and a dwindling queue of Netflix movies saved to disk awaiting a quiet sunday after noon of full attention and popcorn.


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Thanks, Steve
 
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A project log (Plog) documenting the planning and assembly of a Linux PVR.

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