Linux DVR/MythTV Box

There’s a lot of information out there for building a MythTV box out there. I figured I’d throw in my two cents, and hopefully help people that encountered some of the same problems I did.

First, the hardware.

I picked a good case; it’s a low profile case (so you need low profile cards!). It was pretty cheap, looks nice, and came with a power supply. $20 not including shipping. ($40 with shipping)

Front of Case

Since I was on a budget, I picked up a cheap Motherboard and a low power CPU. I had to purchase a Heatsink/Fan elsewhere since the one that came with the CPU would not fit on the motherboard and had a non-standard 4-pin fan power cable.

AMD Semperon LE-1150 Sparta 2.0Ghz 45W CPU ($40~)

BioStar AM2 Motherboard ($40~)

Combined, these were $80. While I might have liked more speed for this price, I felt the low power consumption was worth it.

2GB – 2x1GB DDR2 667 ($40)

A 60GB SATA Laptop drive (had it laying around) performs beautifully. It’s resonsive, and best of all whisper quiet. It’s not much space, but I have a seperate computer with nearly 500GB of free space that I’ll probably be using for NFS.

60GB SATA Laptop Drive ($45)

The PVR-150 (150MCE-LP) capture card performs well; it has a built-in MPEG encoder which takes stress off the CPU (very useful in this case). New this card is around $75, but you can get one off ebay for $20+ less if you feel cheap.

Haupage PVR-150MCE-LP ($75)

This card had trouble dealing with the splitters I was using (900mhz and 1100mhz). Removing the 900mhz helped. My cable was being run from the 3rd floor to the basement, which might have been a problem too (no other capture card I’ve messed with had this trouble, not sure if it’s something with this card or just a weird quirk my card had).

Now, I needed a card with S-Video or RCA out. I ended up getting a GeForce 4 MX440 64MB. Ebay for this; new low profile video cards are quite expensive. This isn’t a major performance card, but it’s low profile (mine had only a heatsink, so even less noise). It’ll do fine for TV watching, and some light game plaing.

GeForce 4 MX440 64MB Low Profile ($20)

Top of PVR

The last thing this setup needed was a remote control. An ATI Wonder (supported by Linux) was cheap on ebay.

ATI Wonder Remote ($10)

ATI Remote

To get the remote working in Linux isn’t very hard (although it would be nice if lirc would auto-detect controllers). The information is available on mythtv’s website here:

One important suggestion is to disable the lirc_atiusb module, by adding the following in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist

blacklist lirc_atiusb

Add the correct module in /etc/modules


Reboot; lircd will no longer hang and your remote should work. 🙂

This setup plays and records video flawlessly (I don’t notice anything while recording and watching at the same time). I play emulators on it (N64, PSX, etc.) with USB-> N64/PSX adapters and definitly think this is worth it. It’s totally silent.

For only $300 including shipping, this isn’t too bad. It could definitly use a larger drive, but personally I like the idea of a central server to store my library (if only to keep down on the noise here in my TV room!).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.