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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 10:58 am 
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Human wrote:
Chimera is, in fact, such a cool name that we had already planned to use it for another system :) Some names we rejected: Slime Mold, Giant Frog, and Gelatinous Cube.


I guess Shambling Mound is out then too, huh? :)

Looking forward to new systems coming out from you guys. A HDTV-capable front end would be great.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 4:23 pm 
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Location: Mechanicsburg, PA
ceenvee703 wrote:
I guess Shambling Mound is out then too, huh? :)


:)

ceenvee703 wrote:
Looking forward to new systems coming out from you guys. A HDTV-capable front end would be great.


Well, the performance requirements on an HDTV front-end are almost a superset of the requirements of an HDTV back-end. The only thing that sets them apart is the presence or lack of a tuner card. I don't know if it's possible to make a front-end only HDTV box using general-purpose hardware that isn't just begging to have a tuner card slapped in so it could be a back-end too.

The closest thing I can think of to your desire would be the kind of box I mentioned earlier, a back-end that would record HDTV and transcode it down to a size that would work on low-performance computing hardware. That would give you the benefits of a digital signal without the need to have a powerful processor to decode it.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 6:05 pm 
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Human wrote:
The best retail price we found at launch was $127, and now it's $123.69. Are you sure you aren't looking at the prices of refurbished boards?


When I first posted, the best I could find was 170. Now with a rebate, you can get them for about 104 from Newegg.

Human wrote:
Keep in mind that the overall rating for this board is 4/5 with 110 reviews. Any bad experiences would have to fall into the categories of bad boards, Windows problems, operator trouble, or people doing things with the boards that we don't do in Dragon. The frequency of these events is not clear from the few bad ratings. We have had nothing but great experiences with this particular board...


Right, I'm not saying this is a bad board, I'm just saying why I want to know how you tested your boards so I could test mine. No motherboard has ever been produced with a 100% defect-free rate, I just want to check it out while I can still return it.

Human wrote:
As a raw hardware test, we run memtest86 and prime95 for extended periods of time, to test RAM and the overall stability and heat characteristics of the system.


Cool. That's what I was wondering. Thanks. :-)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 10:29 pm 
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Posts: 23
There was a guy for awhile that was creating a HD Frontend from a via-chrome project mpeg2/4 chip. Using some mini motherboard with onboard decoders. Pretty freaking sweat but never got finished. And now his site is like MIA...so I guess he never finished. His site was like http://mythhd.info .

That would be the ultimate frontend!!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 10:35 pm 
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vtphilk wrote:
There was a guy for awhile that was creating a HD Frontend from a via-chrome project mpeg2/4 chip. Using some mini motherboard with onboard decoders.


It's an interesting concept, but I'm not sure that would have the power to decode 1080i content, even with an onboard mpeg2 decoder. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the site disappeared? :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 9:57 pm 
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Posts: 35
Human wrote:
However, we have some scripting that auto-detects Dragon based on what it can poll about the hardware. Technically speaking, Dragon is our exact spec, and you're free to build variations on that spec, but those are not Dragon. You may not benefit maximally (or at all) from Dragon-specific scripting included with the next KnoppMyth release. At this time, we do a strict check on the CPU. Failure to match tells the script that it isn't a Dragon, and Dragon auto-configuration steps won't run.


When you say "strict" check on the CPU, how strict? I notice that there are two versions of the Athlon 64 3200+ (I assume the specs on the mythic.tv site just over looked the '+' since I can't find a plain old 3200 anywhere). One with a Venice core and one with a Winchester core. It looks to me like the only difference is the voltage (the Venice does 1.35/1.4 where as the Winchester does 1.4 only). Oh, and the price. ;)

Also, would the Dragon scripts fail to run automagically if I build a box with extra tuners (specifically one extra pcHDTV card and a Haupage 500)?

And (last thing), how far from the hardware spec can you deviate and still call it a Dragon? For instance, I'm planning on getting the motherboard, CPU, graphics card, and sound card listed, but I've opted for a slightly different case, power supply, DVD drive, HD (just a 320 instead of the 250), and memory (Crucial instead of what's listed). That feels to me like a close enough match, but I'm not holder of the reference, so I thought I'd ask. :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 11:48 am 
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pkscout wrote:
When you say "strict" check on the CPU, how strict? I notice that there are two versions of the Athlon 64 3200+ (I assume the specs on the mythic.tv site just over looked the '+' since I can't find a plain old 3200 anywhere).


Thanks for catching that! It's been fixed :)

pkscout wrote:
One with a Venice core and one with a Winchester core. It looks to me like the only difference is the voltage (the Venice does 1.35/1.4 where as the Winchester does 1.4 only). Oh, and the price. ;)


All of the checks are done in /usr/bin/KRPAutoDetect.pl, which is commented Perl code. You can take a look at that to learn more details about how it works, if my answers leave you wanting more.

The current checks just look at the CPU's name, as reported by /proc/cpuinfo. So as long as both processor variants have the same model name, that test will pass.

pkscout wrote:
Also, would the Dragon scripts fail to run automagically if I build a box with extra tuners (specifically one extra pcHDTV card and a Haupage 500)?


In the current scripting, yes, this will fail. We're trying to balance smooth automation with people's inherent desire to expand and tweak. We don't want to be too loose in our script's sense of what a Dragon is, since people who didn't even try to build a Dragon may end up having the automation run and do things they wouldn't have preferred. But if we're too tight on the test, people would feel restricted in terms of what they could add to their Dragon.

The ultimate solution will probably involve pulling out some of what is now Dragon-specific scripting and making it apply in general, when the right hardware is detected. As more automation is pulled out into the core distro, there will be less need for Dragon-specific tweaking.

pkscout wrote:
For instance, I'm planning on getting the motherboard, CPU, graphics card, and sound card listed, but I've opted for a slightly different case, power supply, DVD drive, HD (just a 320 instead of the 250), and memory (Crucial instead of what's listed). That feels to me like a close enough match[...]


If you have an automated method for determining what case a system has, that would be fantastic ;) Seriously, we only poll what is pollable. We can't detect your case, CPU heatsink, northbridge heatsink, or PSU.

The current scripting allows for >= 1GB of RAM of any type, but it does test for the PX-716A optical drive, so you'd be out of luck there. The HDD test just looks for a Western Digital drive in the BB, JB, or SB series that is 250GB or larger, so it sounds like that would match.

If you want to force KRPAutoDetect.pl to think your system is a Dragon, you can hack it while KnoppMyth prompts you for your administrative password when it first boots after an install. Just add this at line 6, as root:
Code:
exit(1);

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 3:24 pm 
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Posts: 35
Human wrote:
All of the checks are done in /usr/bin/KRPAutoDetect.pl, which is commented Perl code. You can take a look at that to learn more details about how it works, if my answers leave you wanting more.


Which kind of leads to just one more question. Short of actually installing Knoppmyth on something, is there somewhere I can get the scripts? I tried downloading the ISO, but I still can't dig deep enough to get the script. I ask only so that I don't have to ask anymore questions like the one I'm about to ask. :D

Is the remote on the list of "deal killers" for Dragon? I've opted not to get an RF remote (I already have an IR distribution system built into my cabinet and a nice IR learning remote).

Human wrote:
pkscout wrote:
For instance, I'm planning on getting the motherboard, CPU, graphics card, and sound card listed, but I've opted for a slightly different case, power supply, DVD drive, HD (just a 320 instead of the 250), and memory (Crucial instead of what's listed). That feels to me like a close enough match[...]


If you have an automated method for determining what case a system has, that would be fantastic ;)


Ah yes, I'm almost done with that. It only requires plugging an Apple iSight into the 1394 port on the Dragon and pointing it at the Dragon. I whipped up the case recognition software this morning. :D

BTW, I decided splurging for the Plextor would probably be worth it, especially if it saves me even 30 minutes during setup. With that in mind, I'll probably build this as a Dragon and then manually add the other tuner cards after I get everything working.

The Dragon is a really nice reference, and it's really cool that the hardware spec is as open as the software. I could certainly afford to buy a Dragon, but I like the idea of being able to build it myself too.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 4:23 pm 
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Location: Mechanicsburg, PA
pkscout wrote:
Which kind of leads to just one more question. Short of actually installing Knoppmyth on something, is there somewhere I can get the scripts?

We have released some individual scripts that are of general use (see http://mythic.tv/contributed_code.php) but since KRPAutoDetect.pl is only useful in the context of a KnoppMyth-based installation, you can't get all the scripts separately. I could post them all here, but you'd need the context in which they normally run to use them properly.

pkscout wrote:
Is the remote on the list of "deal killers" for Dragon?


We don't test for a connected remote, just in case someone didn't plug it in by the time the auto-detection code runs. So you can use any remote you want, and it won't interfere with the auto-detection.

pkscout wrote:
I whipped up the case recognition software this morning. :D


:D

pkscout wrote:
BTW, I decided splurging for the Plextor would probably be worth it, especially if it saves me even 30 minutes during setup.


It's the quietest optical drive we've come across that handles just about every known optical media format, including dual-layer writable DVDs. You won't be disappointed.

pkscout wrote:
With that in mind, I'll probably build this as a Dragon and then manually add the other tuner cards after I get everything working.


That's the safest way to go about it.

pkscout wrote:
The Dragon is a really nice reference, and it's really cool that the hardware spec is as open as the software. I could certainly afford to buy a Dragon, but I like the idea of being able to build it myself too.


That's great to hear :) When you get to the point where you're installing the motherboard heatsinks (CPU and northbridge) send me a note, and I'll let you know what to expect. We've been delayed in putting together our assembly guide, and the only real stumbling blocks are heatsink-related.

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 Post subject: Dragon -- field playback
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2005 1:50 pm 
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Posts: 28
Hi.

I have a couple questions about Dragon. Ideally, I'd like a MythTV box that would actually display the fields of the frame at the correct time in the correct order on my TV.

Can Dragon display the frames in the correct order timed to the vertical refresh at 1080i? Would it use a real interlaced mode or 540p (My TV can't do 540p on the DVI connector)

What about 720p programs? Will it switch modes or will it resample the image?

Thanks much.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2005 2:03 pm 
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Location: Mechanicsburg, PA
volfy wrote:
I have a couple questions about Dragon.


Excellent! Thank you for your interest.

volfy wrote:
Ideally, I'd like a MythTV box that would actually display the fields of the frame at the correct time in the correct order on my TV.


To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what you're asking, but I'll try to answer as best I can. Your question really seems to revolve around X Windows, since Dragon uses X Windows settings to determine the resolution and refresh rate (as well as sync) for any signal sent out the DVI or VGA connections.

If you choose a modeline that is compatible with your set, all content would be automatically scaled by the behind-the-scenes action of X Windows to that resolution. If you chose, say, 720p resolution (1280x720) in X Windows, then 720p content would display natively, 480p content would be scaled up to 1280x720, and 1080i content would be scaled down to 1280x720. The scaling is automatic.

Does this answer your question?

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2005 4:04 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 1:45 pm
Posts: 28
Human wrote:
To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what you're asking, but I'll try to answer as best I can. Your question really seems to revolve around X Windows, since Dragon uses X Windows settings to determine the resolution and refresh rate (as well as sync) for any signal sent out the DVI or VGA connections.

Does this answer your question?



I want mythfrontend to display the correct frame at the correct time, I figure the nvidia card in Dragon works with this.

OK, so if you start mythfrontend with -v you'll get something like this:

2005-01-08 09:55:33 nVidiaVideoSync: Could not open device
/dev/nvidia0, No such file or directory
2005-01-08 09:55:33 DRMVideoSync: Could not open device /dev/dri/card0,
No such file or directory
2005-01-08 09:55:33 Using audio as timebase
2005-01-08 09:55:33 Video timing method: RTC

In this example, mythfrontend won't correctly synchronize the frames to the video card because the RTC method doesn't know when the card is displaying what frame.

Without this you can have jerky playback during pans (check out the CNN ticker for example).

So requirement number 1 is getting the frames to display at the right time.

But that's just to display the proper frame. Since there are two fields per frame you need to get those to display in the right order. Instead, you can deinterlace the video which isn't too bad, but ideally, since I have a 1080i signal and a 1080i TV I'd love to just display 1080i content directly.

So you need a video card that can do 1080i under Linux, which I believe the Dragon video card can. But there are like a million gotchas which I was hoping that someone had sorted through for this hardware configuration.

Here's an example of some of the problems people experience:

http://mysettopbox.tv/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=37177

I guess I'd just have to buy a Dragon and play with it.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 4:56 pm 
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volfy wrote:
I want mythfrontend to display the correct frame at the correct time, I figure the nvidia card in Dragon works with this.

OK, so if you start mythfrontend with -v you'll get something like this:

2005-01-08 09:55:33 nVidiaVideoSync: Could not open device
/dev/nvidia0, No such file or directory
2005-01-08 09:55:33 DRMVideoSync: Could not open device /dev/dri/card0,
No such file or directory
2005-01-08 09:55:33 Using audio as timebase
2005-01-08 09:55:33 Video timing method: RTC


I don't see that error on Dragon. While I can't say for certain that there is a mechanism that syncs the frames as you describe, I can tell you that any video source with the correct video framerate and audio bitrate will not go out of sync. We regularly test hour-long 1080i content and never see a sync problem, nor have we seen one with public-domain DVDs that are 2 hours long or more.

volfy wrote:
Without this you can have jerky playback during pans (check out the CNN ticker for example).


I know what you're describing, and I've only seen this on weak or misconfigured systems. Prior to release, we had found the proper settings for Dragon, and all of our video tests did not suffer from what you describe. It's often called "tearing" because it looks like the image is being torn apart.

volfy wrote:
So you need a video card that can do 1080i under Linux, which I believe the Dragon video card can. But there are like a million gotchas which I was hoping that someone had sorted through for this hardware configuration.

Here's an example of some of the problems people experience:

http://mysettopbox.tv/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=37177

I guess I'd just have to buy a Dragon and play with it.


I have seen those issues with nVidia drivers past 6629. Unfortunately for us, the video card Dragon uses is too new to work with the 6629 drivers. I did not anticipate that users would want 1080i displays yet, so I hadn't yet tested at this resolution. (1600x1200 is the highest resolution we have tested to date.)

Your query has prompted me to obtain a 1080i-capable display so that I can explore these issues and hopefully work with nVidia on eliminating them entirely.

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 Post subject: microATX equivalent?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:42 am 
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What do you reckon (roughly) the closest microATX equivalent of this motherboard/configuration would be?


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 Post subject: Re: microATX equivalent?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 11:43 am 
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wonkyturk wrote:
What do you reckon (roughly) the closest microATX equivalent of this motherboard/configuration would be?

There'd be a lot of research and testing between now and a definitive answer to that :) When we researched the Dragon motherboard, we looked for certain capabilities that we only found in a few ATX boards. You could go through the same process yourself by searching PriceWatch.com for nforce4, S/PDIF, PCI-E, etc. and see what motherboards match.

The reason there's no simple answer to your question is that even motherboards with the same exact specs don't always work. I've mentioned before that we had the same nForce4-related failures on Gigabyte and other boards before we settled on the MSI. They all have the same northbridge chipset, but most of them failed (recoverably, but after corrupting the HDD data) after extended use. Be aware that just because you find a microATX board that has the same chipsets does not mean it will work for you. That's one of the reasons why reference platforms take time to produce.

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