So a few weeks back, a buddy of ours received notice from a friend that Dell had an incredible deal on their website: $160 off a 500GB external hard drive. Price after rebate: $80. Yes, 500GB for 80 fricken dollars. Well, it suffices to say we ordered a bunch. I bought two for myself, expecting to be able to extract the drives from their chassises (can you even make that world a plural?) and stick them in my MythTV Backend. Of course, most of us figured it was a pricing error on their website and the orders would be cancelled or the price amended and a correction issued to we, the customers. A suspicion confirmed when we discovered, later in the day, that the discount had been reduced to a mere $60 (if I recall), and another hard drive, far more expensive than the one we ordered, now tagged with the $160 price cut.
Anyway, fast-forward a couple weeks, and lo and behold, much to our surprise, the drives start showing up! Pretty nice ones, too. Snazzy aluminum case, nice little stand, the whole works. And today, mine arrived! So this evening, I extracted the drives from their cases (turns out they were Deskstars in a straight-up USB HD enclosure) and installed them in my backend. Voila! Another 500GB (they’re set up in a mirror), or 206 hours of recording time, available for our enjoyment! Great success!
Oh, and Jen, if you find this boring… piss off! ;)
So, I was perusing the MythTV mailing lists, when I came across a post which linked to this device (actually, it linked to the 1210, but the 1220 is better, IMHO):
In short, for $800, you get a rack-mountable enclosure that will take up to 12 SATA drives and present them to a host PC. Which means I could turn that into a massive MythTV storage device! As a bonus, it comes with literally all the gear you need to get the thing working: all the drive mounts, cabling, an eSATA PCI card, screws… it’s a very complete package.
Unfortunately, I should probably actually, you know, finish our basement first before I start drooling over such things. And after that, I’d still want to buy a proper server rack. And a couple rackmount cases so I could rack up my firewall and Myth backend. And then there’s all the gear I want for my media room, such as an HD-capable projector, screen, gear for a myth frontend, some sort of audio system…
Yes, it’s true! The MythTV frontend works! But what about the RAM, you ask? Well, I decided to take the stick back to Best to get a refund/swap/something. It was at this point that I discovered that, surprise!, I can’t get a refund! Apparently it was a final sale or something, which I evidentally didn’t realize at the time. This is especially shitty since I’m willing to bet that the stick is simply incompatible with the board, for whatever reason. But, they’re testing it anyway… and if it turns out to be good, I’m either going to try to get it swapped for a DDR2-533 stick or a store credit. And worst case, I could probably sell it.
Meanwhile, I decided to head to Futureshop and buy a stick of DDR2-533 ($71 “open box”, even though it had never been opened). My thinking was that, if I get a working stick out of Best, I can always return the new stick to Futureshop. After all, they’ll give me a refund. And, surprise surprise, with the new memory, the EPIA board POSTs just fine. Shocker!
The bright side is I now have a working Living Room Frontend! It’s not yet perfect, of course. The video output isn’t perfectly scaled to the screen size (apparently the TV-out chipset isn’t fully supported under Linux, yet.. yay!). DVD playback is very jerky (although the CPU isn’t pegged, so something else is going on there). And there are a bunch of things I haven’t finished, such as getting the VFD working, or enabling suspend-to-RAM.
OTOH, TV playback, itself, is perfect, with no tearing or stuttering, and the IR receiver I picked up works beautifully (although I need to adjust the receiver position a bit to improve reception). So overall, I’m pretty happy with it.
Update: Well, I got the VFD working! It was pretty darn easy, too. Lircd, the software I’m using to receive IR signals from the remote, has a driver for the display device, so I just needed to install lcdproc, and voila!, it works!
So, you remember that dead EPIA board, right? Yeah, the one I was going to use in my Living Room Frontend as part of my MythTV project? Well, after shipping it Fedex some time last week, it finally arrived at Logic Supply yesterday morning, and underwent testing. And can you guess what happened? Oh yes, I bet you can! The board booted just fine for them! Oooh, surprise surprise.
But, how can that be, you ask? Didn’t it exhibit some odd behaviour, such as powering up without the power switch being hit? Well, according to the support guy at LS, the board comes with AC loss auto-restart enabled by default! What this means is that, if it notices the AC get connected, it will automatically boot itself (which is good for a system you want on all the time). This mislead me into believing something was going wrong, when in fact it wasn’t. This, coupled with the fact that the board simply won’t POST without RAM installed, lead me to believe the board was toast when it was, in all probability, the RAM the whole time.
Damnit I hate hardware hacking.
Anyway, the bright side of all this is that Andy, another co-worker/buddy of mine, was visiting Princeton, New Jersey (where our corporate head office is). So, on the return path, I had LS overnight the board to Princeton for $25, and then I had Andy bring it back across the border. Result? Three day turn-around on the cheap!
Unfortunately, now I have a problem. I need to test my RAM. However, I’m not yet aware of a DDR2-compatible box that I can utilize for the purpose. And until I can verify the memory, I can’t really move forward on the FE. Did I mention how much I hate hardware hacking?
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