Fanless small box for Mint DVB-T PVR?

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Fanless small box for Mint DVB-T PVR?

Postby T.J. Crowder on Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:24 pm

Hi all,

I'm looking for recommendations for a fanless, small PC to use as a set-top box (UK "FreeView" aka DVB-T) and PVR in the living room. I've always wanted our PVR to be Linux-based, but both times I've tried before I've run into too many hardware and software problems and run out of time for the project. So I'm looking to buy something that is likely to work without too much hassle (e.g., well-supported, known good chipsets, video drivers, sound drivers, etc.). Of course, I also want it to be cheap. :-)

I have a Hauppauge Nova-TD USB tuner stick (for UK "FreeView") which I suspect from this page will probably work (they seem to be well-supported).

Goals:

  1. Hardware that works with Mint out of the box or really easily -- video & audio via HDMI, MCE-like remote (I already have that) via IR built into the Hauppauge Nova-TD (ideally, although I have some cheap IR receiver lying around as a fallback)
  2. Only need SD playback (not HD), but it must not be jerky, even when decoding m4vs, avis, etc.
  3. Silent (no fans at all)
  4. No need for it to come with storage, I have an SSD I can put in it and plan/hope for most recording and playback to be over the network (WiFi if possible, wired if necessary); I have an HDD I can put in as fallback.
  5. Won't actually burn you if you touch it :-)
  6. Inexpensive
  7. Good-looking (note this is at the bottom of the list...but it's on the list)
One thing that I'm aware of is that if I'm using USB for the DVB-T, potentially reading two streams from it, and writing those out over the network, potentially whilst watching something else also via the network, a cheap mainboard chipset might struggle a bit.

Would the MintBox do the trick? Or any of the pre-built Mini-ITX units out there?

Thanks in advance to anyone taking the time to reply!

-- T.J.
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Re: Fanless small box for Mint DVB-T PVR?

Postby AlbertP on Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:51 pm

The present MintBox has no working IR. That will come with the next motherboard revision of the computer.
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Re: Fanless small box for Mint DVB-T PVR?

Postby T.J. Crowder on Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:09 pm

AlbertP wrote:The present MintBox has no working IR.

That's okay. As I said, there's an IR receiver on the Hauppauge stick, and I have another one if there's a problem with that one.

-- T.J.
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Re: Fanless small box for Mint DVB-T PVR?

Postby The-Wizard on Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:22 pm

seems a lot of effort when dvb-t [freeview] top boxes are available with Linux embedded OS


Specifications

Freeview HD X403P PVR HDMI
1.Linux Operating System
2.HD+ PVR +1CA1CI+SCART
3.10/100Mbit Ethernet Interface

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Re: Fanless small box for Mint DVB-T PVR?

Postby T.J. Crowder on Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:30 am

The-Wizard wrote:seems a lot of effort when dvb-t [freeview] top boxes are available with Linux embedded OS

I thought that too. So I bought one of the most highly-recommended ones (a Humax HDR-FOX T2). You know what? It's absolute rubbish. Rubbish UI; underpowered processor; obvious, basic features missing (top-and-tail, recording categories, ...); corrupted recordings if you record two at once from different muxes (and we have good signal, basically didn't get corruption from our old [and loud] WMC box before it died); supports iPlayer but so badly it's almost literally painful to use... I don't know how it got 4:5 from 217 reviewers on Amazon.co.uk. They must be upgrading from a VCR.

Prior to the WMC box we had a DigiFusion "Toppy," which was only better than the Humax if you researched, downloaded, and installed TAPs written by the community and posted at http://www.toppy.org.uk/. And even then...

And we'd like to do other things with it, like video calls with in-laws in the States.

And these boxes turn a wonderful, open OS into a closed, back-room OS. You can hack a Humax (like the Toppy, there's a community out there), but you know what? I'd much rather hack Linux Mint.

Are you actively recommending the X403P? As in you have one and use it? I don't see it for sale in any major UK retailer (not that I'm really looking for a Humax-like thing again anyway, and not that I looked hard -- basically a search turned up mostly Alibaba links).

-- T.J.
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Re: Fanless small box for Mint DVB-T PVR?

Postby Oscar799 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:11 am

Moved here by moderator

I hope Oscar799 doesn't mind me jumping in here, but in answer to your report, there is not meant to be a message attached to Oscar's post, the entire thread was moved here and this post is to simply to inform you of that fact.
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Re: Fanless small box for Mint DVB-T PVR?

Postby The-Wizard on Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:30 am

not particularly we are on freesat just that when we were on sky i insisted on a Linux box [as opposed the the standard windows one they were offering at the time] cost me an extra £40 but worth it, so i knew that there were manufacturers out there,

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Re: Fanless small box for Mint DVB-T PVR?

Postby Toneloc427 on Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:00 pm

Since the MintBox Pro runs on the T56N, I would assume that anything else with that APU should work pretty easily. You could source a Jetway NF81 Mini-ITX motherboard and Serener GS-L05 chassis. LogicSupply.eu currently has a promotion on the full system; not sure if they'd give you any kind of break if you want to use your own SSD.

I believe you can also find a heat pipe for that case with a Fujitsu D3003-S2.

Jetway also has a smaller form factor box, the JBC371, that's similar to the basic MintBox, and relatively cheap. Only problem is it has DVI instead of HDMI, which is probably a dealbreaker if you want more than stereo audio.

I don't know that I'd consider either of these "good looking" but they're at least easy to hide.
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Re: Fanless small box for Mint DVB-T PVR?

Postby cereus on Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:45 pm

I've looked into building a PVR a couple years ago ... had a Hauppage TV stick ... shoulda kept it!

Anyhow, I've gotten by with OTA and Netflix!

Linux support seems pretty shakey, back then!

Anyhow, I was actually looking around today, to see if anyone's built anything w/o a hard-drive ... figured to run Mint "live" off USB ... seems to work, very well! Wife confiscated my HP Mini ... so now all I've got is a tablet ... it's fine for most stuff ... but I'd like to have a PC handy!

Figured if I could slap something together for a couple hunderd, plug in a "live" USB, and go ... that'd be slick!

This post reminded me, it'd be nice if whatever I built, could take a Hauppage stick, and maybe record a few NFL games (and fast-fwd thru the commercials!) ... so I'd be curious to see what ya end up with, here!

BTW, that Mintbox looks very cool ... but I just can't see $500 for something like that?! ... I can get a purdy nice laptop for that kinda cash! Still, anyone know if/where I can buy just the case?! :mrgreen:

I was also thinking ... I just recently got a Roku XS ... supposedly it runs Linux ... anyhow, I figure it's already got most of what I'm looking for ... for $100, if I could install Mint on it, that would work! ... with only one USB, it'd tough running a wireless mouse, and wireless keyboard, though! Still, that's about what I'm looking for?! Anyone ever heard of someone hacking a Roku and installing another Linux?! :?
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