My Humax YouView box died recently and I’ve had a craving to build a new DVR, I’ve still the tuners left over from my previous HTPC the JukeboxHD.

For frequent readers you’ll know I’ve been trying Linux more and more so to start with I tried building a Kodibuntu based HTPC using an old laptop.  After a few days of playing I still couldn’t get my tuners to be picked up so decided to give Mediaportal a go.  I used this on my first HTPC way back when with some success but never for live TV, I have to say it’s come along a great deal as within 20 minutes I was watching live TV from my old HD HomeRun tuners.  I decided that before taking the plunge, and waiting for payday, I ran on the old laptop for a few weeks to make sure it was stable and it was.

It would also give me a few weeks to research the latest options in embedded motherboards as I’d like to build the whole thing, including the case, to replace my now deceased set top box.

Simple requirements; Small, low power (consumption), and fanless.  To use my existing HD tuner, a Blackgold BGT3620, it would also need a PCIe slot.  Functionally it would also need to be able to record a couple of TV channels at once while watching a movie.

After a bit of hunting I came across the ASRock Q1900TM-ITX, a fanless quadcore Baytrail-D motherboard in the Thin-ITX format.  This is the same 17cm x 17cm base as Mini-ITX however this board is only 20mm or so tall!  For a low profile HTPC build it’s difficult to beat.  I was concerned about performance but then came across this video of the Mini-ITX version of board running Windows 8.1 and Mediaportal, it booted to MP so fast I was convinced;

 

For software, Windows 8.1 and Mediaportal 1.11 and the final hardware specs are;

  • ASRock Q1900TM-ITX
  • Corsair Vengeance 8GB RAM (low voltage)
  • Seatgate 1TB SSHD
  • Blackgold BGT3620 tuner
  • Silicon Dust HDHomeRun (first gen)
  • Microsoft eHome IR transceiver

The case is going to be custom built, the design has already begun but more on that in a later post, but for now I can say that boot times are around ~25 seconds from cold to Mediaportal’s homescreen and I can record six shows while watching HD video (1080p) over the network.  Already exceeded expectations and I’ve not even started tinkering yet! For those curious; all six channels were SD, CPU was just over 50% and it was using ~21Watts according to my power measuring plug.  It also using ~21Watts when idle which I need to figure out too.

I have to say, after being initially worried about a Baytrail board I’m not worried any more!

As the case isn’t built yet the “Woody” is currently sitting naked on my coffee table.  The name comes from the design of the new case but I can’t resist double entendre!

The components currently lack a case, I tend not to let that stop me!

The components currently lack a case, I tend not to let that stop me!

For those curious as to how thin Woody’s board is, have a look at it compared to my workphone;

Samsung Galaxy S4 on the left, ASRock Q1900TM-ITX on the right.  Considering one is a full PC motherboard the difference in size is impressive.

Samsung Galaxy S4 on the left, ASRock Q1900TM-ITX on the right. Considering one is a full PC motherboard the difference in size is impressive.

All in all, happy so far and can’t wait to get the case built!  It will involve a laser cut transparent lid and 3d printed brackets for the tuner.  I figured it a good excuse to learn a few new tricks along the way.

Stay tuned for more!

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One Response to New PVR

  1. […] new PVR I built back in May didn’t have a case at the time and though I had lofty plans to make a […]

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