A perfect HTPC with MP & PVR Scheduler & faster XP

Discussion in 'Tips and Tricks' started by STSC, January 9, 2006.

  1. STSC

    STSC Portal Pro

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    How to setup a perfect HTPC with MediaPortal and PVR Scheduler

    This is my configuration of my HTPC with following features:

    - Live TV and Timeshifting
    - TV Recording
    - Schedule recordings in the MediaPortal EPG
    - Schedule recordings on the web. I prefer tvinfo.de, but you can also use tvtv
    - Watching DVD and SVCD
    - Playing CD, MP3
    - HTPC gets woke up from S5 mode ( the PC is off ) for recording
    - HTPC gets woke up from S5 mode ( the PC is off ) for sync
    - HTPC gets woke up from S5 mode ( the PC is off ) on modem ring
    - MediaPortal gets started for recording even when it's not running

    Short explanation of the power states:
    S3 - Suspend-to-RAM (STR) = Standby in Windows XP
    S4 - Suspend-to-Disk (STD) = Hibernate in Windows XP
    S5 - Soft-Off. = Shutdown in Windows XP

    My HTPC system:

    P3-S 1133@1133@1,1V passive
    ASUS TUSL2-M
    256MD SD-RAM
    Hauppauge PVR350
    Creative Soundblaster
    MSI FX5200LE
    120G Samsung SV1204
    Toshiba SD-M1712 (Silent Firmware)

    Here is what you need to get a smoothly running HTPC. Install the software in this order:

    MS .NET Framework 2
    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/...cb-4362-4b0d-8edd-aab15c5e04f5&DisplayLang=en

    MediaPortal 2.0 RC2
    http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=107397&package_id=125856&release_id=379214

    NVIDIA PureVideo Decoder
    http://www.nvidia.de/object/dvd_decoder_de.html

    PVR Scheduler 1.3.9
    http://www.pvr-scheduler.de


    Setup MediaPortal:

    For me the best decoder is the NVIDIA PureVideo Decoder. I use this decoder for playing DVD, movies and for the Hauppauge PVR350. I also made a couple experiments with the Intervideo Codec, DScaler and the internal MP codes. I got by far the best results with the NVIDIA Decoder and with also the less cpu usage. First of all make the general configuration of MediaPortal with the MediaPortal Configuration Wizzard. This one will be started when you start the MediaPortal setup for the first time. I think that I don’t need to say more because this one is almost self explaing. After that I made the following changes in the MediaPortal setup:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The next step is to configure your TV card. I think everybody knows how to do this. I just need to restore my TV Channels that I have configured in one of the previous MP version. You should backup your channels once, then you don’t need to make the channel scan any more.

    [​IMG]

    This is actually all what you have to do, to get a smoothly running MediaPortal on a 24h running system.
    But my HTPC shouldn’t run all day long, so I use the PVR Scheduler, that my HTPC gets switched on and off for the right time. It does the following:

    - Starts my HTPC for recording
    - Shuts my HTPC down after recording, but not when I’m watching something
    - Start MediaPortal for recording. PVR Scheduler is recording as Windows service, that means it's always running.
    - Updates the tvguide.xml at certain times. It wakes up the computer, runs the updater program and enters standby mode again.
    - Gets the data from the online EPG like TVinfo or TVTV and schedules a recording in MediaPortal.
    - I can also start my HTPC by a phone call. Then PVR Scheduler tries to get any scheduled recording from TVinfo/TVTV and shuts my HTPC down again.

    For these feature you need to install PVR Scheduler with MediaPortal support. When you start the PVR Scheduler GUI for the first time you need to make sure that MediaPortal and PVR Scheduler works together. This is probably the most difficult step, because the Windows XP or another firewall might block certain HTTP/TCP ports:



    [​IMG]

    The next step is to import all channels to PVR Scheduler. PVR Scheduler will also get the MediaPortal recordings even when it doesn’t know this channel. But you need to configure the channels when PVR Scheduler is supposed to schedule a recording for MediaPortal, like from TVinfo/TVTV. You can configure your channels in Settings->Options->Channels. If you want to use TVinfo/TVTV then you also need to enable this in Settings->Options->EPG.

    [​IMG]

    You can configure PVR Scheduler for MediaPortal in Settings->Options->MediaPortal / TVcentral / myHTPC

    [​IMG]

    Active
    This enables the synchronization between MediaPortal and PVR Scheduler.

    Auto Sync MediaPortal
    When this is enabled, PVR Scheduler also synchronizes with MediaPortal in certain time steps. This is just a security synchronization and don’t need to be enabled. PVR Scheduler gets automatically be synchronized as long as the PVR Scheduler Plugin is enabled.

    Shutdown/Standby only when in HomeScreen
    When this is enabled, PVR Scheduler can only put the computer into standby mode, when MediaPortal is in the HomeScreen or is not running at all.

    No Shutdown/Standby when recording
    PVR Scheduler does not shutdown when MediaPortal is recording. Actually this will never happen, because PVR Scheduler is always supposed to know when MediaPortal will record something. So it can be disabled.

    No Shutdown/Standby when in Fullscreen
    PVR Scheduler does not shutdown when you are in the TV Fullscreen or Movie Fullscreen. Your HTPC will not be shutdown after a recording when you are still watching TV.

    No Shutdown/Standby when TV enabled
    PVR Scheduler does not shutdown when TV is on. Your HTPC will not be shutdown after a recording when you are still watching TV.

    Close MediaPortal before Standby
    This will close MediaPortal before PVR Scheduler puts the computer into standby mode.

    Disable TV before Standby
    Tries to disable TV in MediaPortal before Standby. This is not recommend. If you have any issues you should rather close MediaPortal before Standby.

    Start MediaPortal on Resume
    This will start MediaPortal again after standby mode, when the PVR Scheduler closed MediaPortal before standby mode.

    Always
    This has to be used in combination with Start MediaPortal on Resume and it will start MediaPortal on resume even when the computer entered standby mode manually.


    You also should make the right settings in the general tab. Usually you can use the default configuration. In the following picture you can see my configuration. I’m using the RTC Alarm to wake up my HTPC. The RTC Alarm is not supported for every motherboard. This can be configured in CMOSTimerConfig. This is pretty difficult and you need to read the docs. Most people will use the Hibernate Mode anyway, then just make sure that “Auto Standby†is enabled and the right preferred standby mode is set.
    You also have to set the right offset times. The offset times of PVR Scheduler should correspond to the default offset times of MediaPortal.

    [​IMG]

    The following picture shows the PVR Scheduler Plugin in MediaPortal.
    Here you can switch between the different automatic modes:

    Automatic off: PVR Scheduler will never enter standby/hibernate mode after a recording.
    Automatic on: PVR Scheduler will always enter standby/hibernate mode after a recording.
    Intelligent Automatic Mode (IAM): The PVR Scheduler will enter standby/hibernate mode after a recording, when the PC was started or woke up for this recording.

    Another thing is that you can see what PVR Scheduler will do next in the lower section of the screen.

    [​IMG]

    My Windows XP CD Image

    I tried to reduce my boot time of my HTPC. Therefore I made a new Windows XP CD with nLite. You can download my nLite Settings here:

    http://pvr-scheduler.de/Downloads/c=4.html

    I think that I could reduce my boot time by 30% - 50%. I haven't made any time measurements but it's noticeable faster now. Anyway if you can improve my settings don't hesitate to post them. Thanks.
     
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  3. thinksnow

    thinksnow New Member

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    Beautiful post! This is exactly what I was looking for tonight and your post is very, very well detailed!

    Thank you.
     
  4. Nefius

    Nefius Portal Pro

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    Very good post, and congrats that you have managed to get it all to work!
     
  5. The_Stig
    • Team MediaPortal

    The_Stig Retired Team Member

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    And by the way: STSC is the programmer of PVR Scheduler...so ask if something isn't working :)
     
  6. simone72

    simone72 New Member

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    Yesterday I heard about MediaPortal, I already knew MCE and powercinema. The last one was installed on my pc, but was not working very well. MCE is expensive. So I tried installing MP. After Downloading .NET and some other things I finally was able to install MP. But now he doesn't recognise my tvcard. And I'm having trouble with the EPG. Tonight I am going to follow your instructions first. Maybe my mediacentre will work tonight? :D

    Simone
     
  7. James
    • Team MediaPortal

    James Retired Team Member

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    I would just like to add about the power states:

    S3 - Suspend-to-RAM (STR) = Standby in Windows XP
    S4 - Suspend-to-Disk (STD) = Hibernate in Windows XP
    S5 - Soft-Off. = Shutdown in Windows XP

    I tested my PC with a power meter from work and found out the following:

    S3 - 6.6W
    S4 - 5.5W
    S5 - 5.5W

    So there is no difference between S4 & S5 in terms of power usage and S3 is not much different. After which I think I will be leaving my PC in S3 for the quick wake up time.

    It is funny that most new PCs don't turn off when you shut them down, because of soft power switches, wake on LAN, etc. All features that most people would never use.

    /James
     
  8. trailboy

    trailboy Portal Member

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    Hello STSC,

    I have a low specs computer (similar to yours) and would like to know if you have done any kind of windows tuning.

    Have you shut down any services?
    Removed components (with nLite or similar)?
    Done anything special to make it run faster?

    I created a Window XP Pro unattended CD with http://www.nliteos.com/ and set it to tune my Windows install to the settings I wanted so that I would not have to do it manually afterwards... I did not do many changes though. Classic theme, no windows desktop cleanup wizard, system restore turned off, fast switching user turned off and some other only.

    I have not started shutting down unwanted services (remote registry edit and others) but will try that path quiet soon...

    What about you? Have you tuned up XP in some way?

    Can you watch xvid or divx encoded videos? What about .avi with ac3 sound? You do not say anything about installing ffdshow...

    Your tutorial is amazing and would like to have some more details if you still have some time to spend to answer us.

    Regards.
     
  9. STSC

    STSC Portal Pro

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    I would not say that this is a low spec HTPC, because everything works fine and fast. It's a matter of software components and drivers.
    Ok, it's a P3-S and the motherboard has an i815 chipset, which is of course quite a lot of faster than your CUV4X. The funny thing is that my HTPC installed XP faster than my old XP2400+ on a KT333 board.

    Right now I have a slightly tuned XP with a couple removed things, but not very optimized. But to be honest I couldn't recorgnise a big difference between the standard Win XP SR2 and the tuned one. I can send you my XP config (nLite) if you like, then you can further optimize it.

    I can watch DivX. I tried the original DivX and ffdshow. The cpu usage with ffdshow is better, I can't remember the exact value, it was something between 5-10%. I would go for the recommended ffdshow for MP, if you want to watch DivX.

    Usually I have something about 35% cpu usage when I'm watching TV and timeshifting.

    I haven't tried an .avi with AC3 yet. Where can I find one.
     
  10. STSC

    STSC Portal Pro

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    I added my nLite settings for a faster Windows XP boot time. If you can improve them please let me know.


    When I get some time I will add some information how to wake up your HTPC by NVRAM / RTC Alarm or the new webinterface in PVR Scheduler.
     
  11. infinite.loop
    • Team MediaPortal

    infinite.loop Retired Team Member

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    Show System Specs
    at first nice tutorial :)
    but some screenshots are out of date and PVR-Schdeuler has a few problems with MP0.2 RC4 and latest SVN

    those modified WinXP installation CDs can lead to unexpected un-recoverable problems.

    same for codec packs and system "optimizing" tools i.e. registry "cleaners".

    btw. the MediaPortal Plugin PowerScheduler is also able to manage the standby/hibernate process.
    PVR-Scheduler is not free.
     
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