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[Updated - fixed images] Hardware over the years

chaslinux Offline
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Video  [Updated - fixed images] Hardware over the years
Post: #1
[Image: antec_NSK2480.jpg]

Before XBMC/KODI we used MythTV to PVR the analog signal of our local TV provider. Our MythTV box was a relatively underpowered Athlon XP with a Hauppauge PVR 150 card. Initially we ran KnoppMyth, but ended up switching to MythDora because it was slightly simpler/quicker to set up. I bought a nice Antec NSK2480 case to give it more of a "media centre" feel. I gave the case to a friend a few years back. It was a good case except the slits for the expansion cards were machined way to narrow. We rarely spent time in front of the TV and our provider was talking about going all digital so we started thinking about our upgrade path. All digital would mean buying a new ATSC TV Tuner card and we weren't really all that happy with our provider, they'd recently dropped a number of services and increased the price of everything "to help us better."

We looked at our PVR habits and it turned out that most of what we did was record movies. We'd also been accumulating DVDs. The cost of DVDs had dropped and living close to an inexpensive DVD seller made this even easier. XBMC made a lot of sense at this point. Initially I used the Linux command line program "transcode" to rip our DVDs. I could be remembering incorrectly, but I believe the Athlon XP had a 1TB hard drive. It was sluggish, but worked for a time.

[Image: xios_ds_media_play.jpg]

A little later the first Android boxes capable of running XBMC started to appear. One of the local computer stores happened to carry one of these Android boxes, the PIVOS XIOS DS Media Play. Compared to today's Android boxes the DS Media Play is ancient, but at the time it was pretty nifty. It had enough USB ports to support 3 external USB drives plus a port for the remote receiver. We bought the optional "sense remote" but found neither of them were particularly useful. The XIOS DS could barely run XBMC on Android, but you could also flash the box with a custom tiny Linux firmware plus XBMC that resulted in much better XBMC performance. XBMC on Android at this time was in the pretty primitive stages. XBMC ran on the XIOS DS but the tiny distro lacked the ease of use and the flexibility of a "full blown" machine running a complete Linux distribution.

Still the XIOS DS could also play Android games, it was really tiny, and considering the hardened plastic, quite well built. The power button was a sturdy plastic button. The XIOS DS featured HDMI out, prior to this we were connecting via VGA + audio cable.

[Image: dell_inspiron_mini_10.jpg]

Eventually we switched back to a "PC." In actuality a Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook. We'd used the netbook in between the Athlon and XIOS DS Media Play, and although it lacked the HDMI port of the XIOS DS, having a full blown distribution on the netbook offset the lack of the HDMI port (we weren't playing any content better than DVD quality at this point). The netbook seemed to make sense at first, it was a compromise between the power of a PC (full blown Linux distro) and the smaller size of an Android box. Our collection was growing and we added a 2TB drive connected via another external enclosure (3TB total). We used this for about another year and a half and added another external drive. At this point we began to evaluate the "smallness" factor. Things weren't small with 3 drives connected via external drives. It was also a big mess of cables, not just USB cables, but power warts needing to be plugged into the wall. I'm sure everyone has seen those pictures of many plugs plugged into a single receptacle... it wasn't quite that bad thanks to power bars, but it was too much for the area.

[Image: antec_sonata3.jpg]

Our son also bought a TV and wanted to access the movies, so it started to make sense to look at going back to a larger PC with all the drives stuffed inside. I bought a used Pentium D-based system stuffed inside an Antec Sonata III case. It came with 2GB of RAM. I upped the RAM to 4 GB and found an open box special on a 1GB Nvidia GeForce 210 fanless card at a local computer store. For awhile the drive configuration inside this machine was as follows: a new 250GB drive (sealed in an anti-static drive and I confirmed using gsmartcontrol that it had 0 hours), a 1TB drive and a 2TB drive. I found a better processor a week or two later, a Core 2 Quad Q8300 (4 x 2.5GHz). We run Xubuntu along with an HP Media Center remote. I love this remote because it's simple to configure (LIRC on Linux and just select Windows Media Center remote) and it's got a lot of nice features some dedicated remotes don't (pressing the numbers for letters, etc).

[Image: corsair_spec01.jpg]

This box has actually been our KODI server pretty much ever since. We changed the case for a Corsair Carbide Spec-01, removed the 250GB drive and the 1TB drives and replaced them with 2 x 3TB drives. One of the 3TB drives is 98% full with around 76 blu-ray rips. The 2TB drive holds our DVD collection (around 700 now) with storage to spare. The last 3TB holds the OS and the first 4 seasons of Game of Thrones ripped from Blu-ray. I haven't bought the 5th and 6th season yet as the prices are still a bit high. The first season shipped new with 2 of the disc 3 rather than the 5th disc which made me think no wonder people get frustrated with retailers. We've also had issues with DVDs from our local big box store. They sometimes get shipments of DVDs that are bubbled/bad. You can't always tell from the cover.

[Image: red_led.jpg]

Last year I picked up some LED lights to put around the television. The seller sold about 4 x the LEDs our local provider carries for the same price, but it took a little over 4 months to appear. I tend to shake a lot when trying to solder, but I managed to connect each of the 4 solder pads so the LEDs go around most of our television. The sticky tape on the back of the LEDs isn't fantastic. If I were doing this again I would create a balsa wood frame and stick the LEDs to the frame, then mount it to the back of the television.

We live in an apartment and don't have a lot of storage space so our DVD/Blu-ray collection was really starting to get out of hand. Initially everything was stored under our television, but even this wasn't enough. We started storing the DVDs in boxes in our storage area (which is mostly filled with Christmas decorations, our fake tree, and seasonal stuff). After a couple of boxes it was clear that we'd end up with too many boxes, so we started discarding the DVD cases, keeping the inserts in a shoe box and putting the DVDs in those DVD binders, then sticking the full binders into the boxes. This way we were able to store a lot more DVDs and Blu-rays. One of the reasons for hanging on to them was the fact that we've used different software over the years to rip/transcode and ended up with media in a variety of formats. And in the past year I've started re-ripping to include subtitles.

[Image: dvd_collection.jpg]

The media is shared to other systems in the house via SAMBA SMB shares: DVD, Blu-ray,TV, and Blu-ray-TV. Our son currently has a Zotac ID81. Even with the RAM maxed out the Xubuntu/KODI performance was pretty lousy so we needed to change the 250GB drive out for an SSD. I'm not sure what it is with the Zotac boxes, but we've worked with a couple in the past and we would buy an Android box over a maxed out Zotac box (that said I'm running a nice Zotac video card in the desktop I use to rip media). The box is connected to our network via gigabit, we don't use wireless for any of the systems in the house except phones and tablets. There's actually a second gigabit switch in his room so we didn't have to route 2 cables through the living room wall. In our bedroom we have a wireless router with gigabit ports. The router acts as a second access point for better wireless coverage and serves Internet to my desktop PC and a Zoomtak T8H which we have connected to an inexpensive RCA 32" TV. Before the Zoomtak box we had a MyGica ATV 582. The MyGica was a decent box but when we upgraded to Android 5.0 and a newer version of XBMC it was dreadfully slow. The box worked best on Android 4.4 so we attempted to re-flash it with the old firmware and were just a tiny bit too impatient and ended up bricking it. The Zoomtak T8H seemed like a logical evolution as it had a bit more RAM and better specs overall, plus a 64bit processor (future-proofing a bit). We dealt with support from both companies and MyGica was heads and shoulders better support than Zoomtak, but the Zoomtak box so far has been pretty solid. The one gripe I have with most Android boxes is that I'm not a huge fan of some of the remotes. I guess I've gotten use to the flexibility of the HP remote despite it's larger size.

[Image: zoomtak_t8h.jpg]

Like our son's box it's connected to our network via the gigabit LAN port. I actually considered the NVidia shield over the Zoomtak T8H, but the additional cost and fact that NVidia chose to advertise PLEX rather than KODI turned us off the shield. The fact there was a national distribution center for the Zoomtak boxes also factored into our decision.

My desktop ripping systems is an older A8-5600K based system on a Gigabyte F2A85XM-D3H motherboard with 16GB (2 x 8GB) 1866MHz GSkill Ripjaws RAM. There's a cheap 120GB Kingston SSD as the primary OS drive for Windows 10 with 500GB of a 1TB WD Blue as a data drive for Windows and 500GB as an OS/DATA drive for Linux Mint 18. Most of the time I use Linux Mint to rip media. I bought a license of MakeMKV a couple of years ago to rip Blu-rays, it's been a real blessing. For DVDs I typically use Handbrake.
(This post was last modified: 2017-08-17 21:21 by chaslinux.)
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HiFi88 Offline
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Post: #2
Hi Chaslinux,

Thanks for sharing your setup. Reminded me about how time fly. I got a large collection of DVD myself from when I was member of a DVD club back in the late 90' stored in the old black DVD box style. I did upload them to my old computer at one point and used it as server had it running 24/7 but the fan started to be a bit noise so I turned it off with the result I never really look at these movie's any more. Perhaps as I got a new TV and then changed the cabling too.
Anyway I now still got the original black DVD box and I was thinking it is a shame to throw them out, and as you pointed out the software formats changes over time and the DVD's they are still in mind condition.
Now I want to rip them again and at the same time file the DVD in a less space, you mentioned you had gotten some sleeves for shoeboxes and I found some binders on-line saying you would save 69% space sound good (see below) but do you have any advise Confused

Secondly not sure I want to place my DVD's in the basement may be a bit damp over the winter and I hear but never seen that DVD's can rust and deteriorate at the edge. Not sure if that is true or not ??

Hope to hear from you. Thanks



[Image: 30500-14145-20-2.jpg?1485897954]
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chaslinux Offline
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Posts: 8
Joined: May 2012
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Location: Ontario
Post: #3
(2017-08-22 09:02)HiFi88 Wrote:  used it as server had it running 24/7 but the fan started to be a bit noise so I turned it off with the result I never really look at these movie's any more. Perhaps as I got a new TV and then changed the cabling too.
Anyway I now still got the original black DVD box and I was thinking it is a shame to throw them out, and as you pointed out the software formats changes over time and the DVD's they are still in mind condition.
Now I want to rip them again and at the same time file the DVD in a less space, you mentioned you had gotten some sleeves for shoeboxes and I found some binders on-line saying you would save 69% space sound good (see below) but do you have any advise Confused

Secondly not sure I want to place my DVD's in the basement may be a bit damp over the winter and I hear but never seen that DVD's can rust and deteriorate at the edge. Not sure if that is true or not ??
[Image: 30500-14145-20-2.jpg?1485897954]

Thanks HiFi88. Over the years I've run into similar issues as you have with fans (both CPU and power supply) but I've had the fortune of running a computer refurbishing project for the past 12 years so getting fans hasn't been much of an issue for me. I would check to see if you have any computer recyclers in your area because if you do fans would be really inexpensive.

What I was doing before was storing the DVDs in their original box in cardboard boxes. Our storage space is small. We live in an apartment, so we generally don't have to worry about water issues. That said, we have apartment insurance if something were ever to happen. The one thing I've done is make a list of DVDs/Blurays and stored it online. Part of the reason is when I'm out hunting for DVDs/Blurays it helps me figure out what I have so I don't buy the same thing twice. The other reason is to fill out those sets of movies (for example: 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later). I haven't put my television shows online yet, but that collection is still relatively small (less than 30 shows).

Storing DVDs in their original cases was taking up to much space so I ended up buying a few of these:

https://www.amazon.ca/AmazonBasics-Nylon...B00DIHVMEA

Note: again not my affiliate code, just googled it.

I hear what you're saying about DVD degradation. To be honest the only DVDs I've had an issue with are a few that I've burned over the years. The answer on The Guardian seems to reflect this:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/a...ldadvdlast

They're basically saying commercially pressed DVDs could last anywhere between 20 to 200 years, but burned DVDs might not even last 15 years.

I don't expect my DVDs to last even 20 years, by then I'll have probably moved on and thinned out my collection. My biggest challenge at this point is backups and storage space (both physical and disk).

As for the "shoe boxes" I simply store the artwork (covers) in a large shoe box.

What you posted looks a whole lot better than how I'm archiving things, but it also looks like it could get costly if you're buying "sleeves" to fit binders. But I love the labeling and artwork.
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HiFi88 Offline
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Post: #4
Hi Chaslinux,

Thanks for the link to The Guardian DVD article, good info. I have not had any problems from what I recall with purchased DVD or music CD's. A few of those I burned myself or used for backup over the years did fail just like you mentioned but no major damage, just the computer reporting an error then a second new one was made as replacement. I guess it also depend upon the quality of the blank dvd's as the price dropped over the years I think so did the quality.

I checked out the link you send for the storage case you had purchased, its out of stock but I think I prefer something more solid than a nylon bag. The binder idea seem to be my liking. I found the supplier from the picture the other day, the binder is not that big enfact:

https://www.keepfiling.com/DVD-Binder-Se...145-20.htm

and I think I will contact them see if I could get a discount if purchasing larger quantity per order. They seem to offer this for other items.

As for storage space I need to find space, clearly the basement is not the right place for anything digital so a bit of rearrangement in the office will be needed Big Grin
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enhy Offline
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Location: Wood Green
Post: #5
Niiiice, thanks for sharing!
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HiFi88 Offline
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Post: #6
Enhy,

You are welcome. I actually ended up purchasing a few of these DVD binders this week. When I get my organizing done I will post a few pictures here.
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