MythTV hardware starts arriving; installing the remote control

Today, the motherboard, DVD drive, remote, and memory arrived. Over the weekend I got ready and prepped the case. I had to scrounge around today to find screws to install the motherboard since none were included.

I discovered that I will not be able to use the DVD in this computer. That’s ok, I put it into my desktop instead. My deskop had a PATA DVD, and this is a SATA DVD, so I just swapped the two. Now my desktop is all SATA, which makes linux a bit happier anyway. I was unable to use the DVD in the HTPC because my old power supply does not have the new SATA style power connections.

It’s not yet possible to boot up the HTPC yet since there’s no CPU. But I did get the remote control working in Ubuntu on my desktop. I followed the instructions on the Ubuntu site for installing LIRC. That took about five minutes. You also need to get it working with MythTV, so follow these instructions. I used the second lircrc file for myth from here. Note that it has mappings for mythtv, mplayer, and xine, while the other lircrc file did not. Some of the mappings are not what I want, like hitting play during playback pushes the video ahead a few minutes, so I may have to tweak it. Note too that mplayer looks for the lircrc file in a different place, so you have to symlink it like it says in the instructions.

Update 2007-08-22: I was having trouble with the key repeat being too fast, which meant that programs would "hear" me press a button twice when I only pressed it once. You can edit the .lircrc file to only hear the Nth button presses. Very flexible in that you can specify this for each button, but no global option (boo). XBMC for linux worked right out of the box. It appears to have its own config file but no control over double keypresses.

Update 2007-09-05: I ordered a laptop-style power supply for the MythTV box, the PicoPSU 120 kit. SilentPCReview reviewed an older kit; mine does not have a fan in the power brick. Advantages: 95% power efficient, no heat added inside the case (the power brick is outside, on the power cord), and no fans. Did I mention no fans? I had read that at low power, regular power supplies can be quite inefficient. I forgot to measure the power use on the old PS. I think it was about 53w. But I’m sure of the new power draw: 20w! The CPU scales down to 1GHz when idle (playing music = 1% CPU, so about the same). At that rate I could keep it on all the time. Normal power supplies have built in fans and the case is designed to use that fan, so I still have to research how hot everything gets. Since this is a new motherboard, Linux can’t yet read the temperatures. (People have backported the beta Ubuntu kernel with success, but I’ll wait until next month).