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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 11:27 am 
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Location: Mechanicsburg, PA
Hi! I work for a small company called StormLogic, and we're MythTV enthusiasts. In particular, KnoppMyth is what let us get into it so easily, and now we're hooked. We've been working on ways we could help support the MythTV community (which includes all of us) and we've decided to create a web store focused on providing hardware for MythTV, something I think no other company is doing at the moment.

Our initial goal is to sell components, but we plan to eventually sell certified systems as well. If you would be so kind as to take the time to answer our survey questions, we can start stocking our store with things you want to use in your MythTV boxes. Then we can help you get things cheaper than current vendors on PriceWatch.com. To that end, I'd like to ask several questions.

(In all the following questions, "components" include, but are not limited to, digital and analog capture cards, HDDs, DVD drives, motherboards, CPUs, CPU heatsinks and fans, cases, case fans, and cabling of all sorts.)

What MythTV components (makes and models, if possible) do you plan to purchase in the next 6 months?

What MythTV components (makes and models) would you purchase in the next 6 months, but only if you could get them cheaper than you've seen them? For example, maybe you've had your eye on a SilverStone or Ahanix case, but you find them too expensive.

What components do you own (makes and models) that you would recommend to a fellow community member?

Do you seek silent or quiet components, or do you only focus on the price-to-performance ratio?

Do you prefer motherboards and CPUs that support underclocking/undervolting to give comparatively high performance with less heat output?

Is there anything else you'd like to see our store offer the MythTV community?

I also wanted to say that we can generally get reseller arrangements with vendors for minimum quantities of 10, meaning that buying 10 or more items yields a nice discount. So if a group of you would like to get together to order something we don't have in our store, contact me to see what price we can get you on 10 of any given item. Getting the price is usually fairly quick, though it may take some lead time for us to add it to our store.

If you have any questions for us, you can reply here or email me directly.

Thank you very much!

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 12:23 pm 
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Location: Nashville, TN
well right off the top of my head I am looking for a desktop oriented atx case cheap, and the best I've found is around $100 with power supply. I can get ugly white ones cheap, but I'd like a black one. Doesn't have to be fancy, just cheap.

Also the vga -> component converters seem rather high. I went to ebay to get mine.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 2:54 pm 
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Xsecrets wrote:
well right off the top of my head I am looking for a desktop oriented atx case cheap, and the best I've found is around $100 with power supply. I can get ugly white ones cheap, but I'd like a black one. Doesn't have to be fancy, just cheap.


I found these in the ~$100 price range at xoxide.com:

http://www.xoxide.com/cavalier4.html (probably around $113 with shipping)
http://www.xoxide.com/vtechcase3.html ($75 with cheapest added power supply; shipping extra)

There are more options from various manufacturers if you want to drop the size down to micro-ATX.

Do either of those cases interest you?

Xsecrets wrote:
Also the vga -> component converters seem rather high. I went to ebay to get mine.


I just did a quick search, and I see what you mean. What make and model did you choose? Can I ask why you went this route instead of getting a video card that had TVOUT or using something like a Hauppage PVR-350 for TVOUT?

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 7:09 pm 
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Location: Nashville, TN
that cheap one looks pretty good for what I want right now. The reason I'm not looking at microATX is because the new MB I have is ATX I already have a coolermaster 620 for my existing microATX MB, and don't have much money to spend on this additional one.

As for the converter the reason behind this is to get hdtv resolutions. I currently have a vid card with svid out and I am using that, but I just got a pchdtv card, and If I'm going to start getting hdtv recordings I'm going to use hdtv output. And unfortunately my TV only accepts component for htdv input. so I did not have the option to use dvi or vga.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 7:30 pm 
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Location: Central California, USA
What i've been noticing is that fanless power supplies can get really, really expensive. It's counter-intuitive: take out a fan, charge more. But I suppose the slack has to be taken up in heat sinks and more efficient .... whatever it is that's in the PSU.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 9:10 pm 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Damn. I just imported an Ahanix DVine6SQ to Australia for a lot of money. (no Australian companies had it or even knew a distributor)

* Big/quiet hard disks?

* VFD/LCD displays that use a serial connection (so I can plug it in to the unused SER2) instead of the parallel port.

* On my "far far away" wish list would be dual, triple or quad tuner cards. I want one antenna cable, one slot used, but multiple recording streams. Don't think these exist yet though.

I second the request for transcoders (i.e. VGA->component, SVideo, composite). Not all of us need super graphics cards (the one on my motherboard is good enough), but even high-end users with projectors sometimes need to give a recording to someone who only has a video. Extra marks if you can find a transcoder that plugs into an unused PCI or AGP slot, instead of being another external box to plug in.
[/list][/list]

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 Post subject: great responses!
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 11:49 am 
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Location: Mechanicsburg, PA
These are great responses, everyone. I'm assimilating the information as it comes. Please encourage others to post here, too, since we need enough information to see a trend and know what we should stock in our store for the community.

Here's my summary reply to the newest postings:

Xsecrets, nigelpearson: There's a VGA -> Component converter for HD on sale now for under $8.00: http://store.yahoo.com/efunctional/253-806iv.html I don't know how good it is, since I haven't evalulated it, but for $8.00 + shipping, it may be worth trying. It just looks like a converter cable, as opposed to a full-blown signal processor, but this means there's no external box to plug in. Xsecrets, what type did you order from eBay?

Jet_Jaguar: Yes, fanless power supplies are expensive. I'd recommend a quiet power supply that has multiple low-RPM fans instead. The heat dissipation issues are, as you say, why passively-radiating power supplies will cost so much more. Do you think a quiet (but not silent) power supply would fit your needs, or are you working on a case that needs to be 100% silent?

nigelpearson: We love the Ahanix cases, too, and yes they are expensive. We've approached another HTPC case manufacturer and found that we can probably sell cases for about 10% less than the current best retail price. We hope to do the same for Ahanix cases.

Where did you end up getting your case? Canadian companies are often a good place to go with overseas orders, since they tend to have better shipping infrastructure than US companies.

We've been looking at using Maxtor and Samsung HDDs. They each seem to have a line designed with quiet operation in mind. Do you have a brand preference?

We hadn't actually looked into the behavior of VFD or LCD displays in cases, since MythTV does such a good job with its OSD. But if we do end up getting a case with either supplemental display type, we'll be on the lookout for one with a serial or maybe usb connection.

In general, minimizing the number of cables you need to plug into the back of a MythTV box is one of our back-burner projects, mostly because it would require some customization between the motherboard and case, so some cards would stay inside the case and others would stick out the slots. So your desire to have N tuner cards behind the single connector is on our list :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 3:12 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2004 12:56 am
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Location: Central California, USA
nigelpearson wrote:
* On my "far far away" wish list would be dual, triple or quad tuner cards. I want one antenna cable, one slot used, but multiple recording streams. Don't think these exist yet though.


Well, Hauppauge has released the 550 mce, which has dual tuners on one card; you can buy it at their site, but I haven't seen it in any stores or even web sites yet.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 11:10 pm 
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Location: Nashville, TN
that $8 cable is just vga -> bnc it is not a converter and the signal is still RGB not Pr Pb Y that component inputs accept.

the one I got is the audio authority. I forget the model number it is listed on the wiki on the hdtv page.

and as for the hauppage 500 or whatever it is, even if you could buy one there are currently no working linux drivers for them, however they may be a great way to go in the not too distant future if the drivers can be ironed out.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 7:37 am 
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Location: Germany
I have to second Jet_Jaguar's comment about fanless PSUs. Noise can be a big issue when the PC has to be located in the same room. Even with a fanless PSU and no case fans (I am planning to put two in at half speed before the summer), I now have problems with the CPU fan and HDs. The problem is that the noise level is almost impossible to judge in a noisey store and the reviews that can be found are difficult to compare and are often dependent on the overall system configuration.

If I were starting again, I would probably look for:

A modded case with fanless PSU (preferably top vented for passive circulation) and oversized slow case fans on a thermostat.

A MB/CPU combination that can be underclocked and run at reduced voltage.

A quiet CPU cooling solution (I'm looking for that now as my "silent" fan isn't very silent).

Quite HDs and suspension systems (I've heard using 2.5" drives is a big improvement)

Capture cards with low power usage and heat dissipation (I'm holding off on getting a PVR250 as I'm afraid it will overheat my system).

Relatively inexpensive solutions are out there, the problem is that it takes some trial and error (which costs additional money for the failures) to set up. Some overal system recommendations from someone who has gone through the trial and error would be useful...

Allen

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 4:24 pm 
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Location: Mechanicsburg, PA
Xsecrets: May I ask what you paid for the Audio Authority 9A60? And would you have considered the Key Digital KD-VTCA3 if it were cheaper? Including shipping, it looks like retail for those two items are $117 and $208. We're still finalizing arrangements, but our rough pricing looks like $105 and $178 respectively, shipping inclusive. Please, nobody quote me on that yet - just giving you a preview :)

alien: We plan to have a good selection of quiet or silent components in our web store.

I think a lot of people want a system that's quiet overall. Do you have some dB value in mind for your realistically-ideal HTPC? (Where truly ideal would of course be 0dB :) )

We've also been tackling heat and noise. One thing that can help is running a duct between some ventilation holes in the case and the intake fan for the CPU heatsink. I've personally experienced a 20-degree drop in temperature by ducting the CPU intake. Otherwise, a poorly-ventilated case can just move the warm air around instead of creating the proper conditions for air flow.

Have you been to SilentPCReview.com? Lots of great reviews and advice there. If you come across any component there that you'd like to buy, post here and we'll add it to our candidate list.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 12:10 am 
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I ended up paying like $75 including shipping for mine from ebay, used. I would have considered the key digital one, but everywhere I looked it was far more expensive than the audio authority.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 6:58 am 
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Location: Germany
Do you have a picture of your custom duct? It sounds interesting. My MB temperature settles around room temperature + 8C, so I don't think case temperature is a problem now. It may be in the summer though.

As for goal dB levels, I often listen to music at conversation level. I don't want to know there is a PC in the room when I do, except for maybe in the silence between tracks (probably in the 20dB range). I've achieved that except for the HD. The CPU fan isn't bad, but could use improvement.

As for my next purchase, I'm looking at a quieter HD. For various reasons, I have a Western Digital at the moment which wasn't even worth a review on silentpcreview. I plan to buy a quieter one and use the first for backup. However, I have heard that the Seagates have reliability issues. The Samsungs look interesting, but don't come in a 200G size to match existing drive. I'm in no hurry...

If I were starting again, I would probably look at putting as many laptop components in the case as possible (CPU, HDs).

Allen

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 2:08 pm 
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Location: Mechanicsburg, PA
alien wrote:
Do you have a picture of your custom duct? It sounds interesting.


I don't have a picture of my duct, but if you go to http://images.google.com and search for CPU duct (as two words, not a quoted phrase), you'll see a bunch of great examples. You're more likely to find an example there that looks like your case.

alien wrote:
As for goal dB levels, I often listen to music at conversation level. I don't want to know there is a PC in the room when I do, except for maybe in the silence between tracks (probably in the 20dB range). I've achieved that except for the HD. The CPU fan isn't bad, but could use improvement.


Is there room in the case to sandwich the HDD or place it inside an active-cooling enclosure?

alien wrote:
As for my next purchase, I'm looking at a quieter HD. For various reasons, I have a Western Digital at the moment which wasn't even worth a review on silentpcreview. I plan to buy a quieter one and use the first for backup. However, I have heard that the Seagates have reliability issues. The Samsungs look interesting, but don't come in a 200G size to match existing drive. I'm in no hurry...


Once the 200GB Samsungs come out, would you go for one of those?

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 Post subject: Re: great responses!
PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 8:58 pm 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Human wrote:
nigelpearson: We love the Ahanix cases, too, and yes they are expensive. We've approached another HTPC case manufacturer and found that we can probably sell cases for about 10% less than the current best retail price. We hope to do the same for Ahanix cases.

Where did you end up getting your case?


sharkacorp.com

They weren't the cheapest for the case, but they were one of three companies that would ship outside of the USA, and they did offer cheap (i.e. not FedEx or UPS) shipping.

Tried a few Canadian companies, but one of them only shipped over the southern border, and one of them had horrendous prices on the case and shipping.

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