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?
Well, today I decided it was time to get the IR blaster working in MythTV. This is the device that controls our settop box, so that we can tune channels in the digital tier.
Now, I decided to purchase an IR blaster (and receiver) from the guy running irblaster.info, and I gotta say, I couldn’t be happier! The blaster works absolutely perfectly, and I haven’t seen it miss a tune yet. Setting it up was remarkably straightforward:
- Plug into serial port.
- Install lirc kernel module.
- Copy DCT2524 configuration into /etc/lircd.conf
- Install channel.pl from [http://www.iwamble.net/IRBlaster_Howto.txt this tutorial] (along with some tweaks to make it behave well with our DSTB).
- Instruct Myth to use the channel change script.
And voila! Works like a charm. Tune times are a bit longer, now, as you’ve gotta wait for the box to get the key clicks and then switch, but overall, it ain’t bad at all.
Of course, this is all just testing. Until the replacement EPIA board arrives, we’ll be stuck watching regular ol’ TV for a while, yet.
Well, things are a bit stalled on the MythTV project, now. The Fedex guy came and took away the dead motherboard that was originally destined for the Living Room Frontend, so now begins the great EPIA Return Saga (tm). If all goes well, I’ll have a new board in a few weeks, with minimal fees in the forms of duty or taxes. I remain skeptical.
On the bright side, the IR receiver and blaster units arrived, so I’ll probably play with those this weekend. They look very well made, so I’m hopeful that they’ll work as advertised. ‘course, I was also hopeful that my EPIA board would arrive fully functional…
Meanwhile, the backend continues to work well. I continue to record The Daily Show and The Colbert Report during their late night showings on CTV (aka, channel 2, aka, one of the few basic cable channels I can currently access with Myth), and it seems to be doing the job quite nicely. I’ve also been noodling around with different plugins on the frontend, such as MythMusic and MythVideo, and everything seems to work as advertised.
Thus far, the only glitch was a period where the frontend started to stutter and generate prebuffering errors, but that could be related to running over a lowly half-duplex, 10 Mbs connection.