: Mac Mini as HTPC


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blueroomelectro
2011-08-25, 01:43 PM
I'd like to use a pair of HDHomeRuns as ATSC tuners and a Mac Mini as a dedicated DVR connected to a LCD TV and controlled with an Apple remote.

As a bonus if it could transcode TV shows to ATV2 (I think the EyeTV3 software can do this automatically) and add them to iTunes so they can be watched on an ATV2 connected to the TV in the den.

Anyone doing this sort of thing?

tpont
2011-08-28, 11:04 AM
Hi Blueroomelectro,

Here's my setup:

- iMac with EyeTV3
- Dual tuner HDHomerun
- ATV2 on both TVs
- Outdoor Wineguard 8800 UHF antenna

I use the iMac as my main family computer and as a DVR. Every recording is automatically transcoded in iTunes for ATV2. I can watch my recordings on my iPod touch also. All this works very well.

I used to run Vista Windows Media Center as a DVR, was ok but I find Eyetv better.

stampeder
2011-08-28, 12:35 PM
Which generation of Mac Mini?

canuck22
2011-09-06, 10:04 PM
That's pretty close to what I do.

I have HDHomeRun with a dual tuner feeding EyeTV on a MacMini, which exports to iTunes which feeds two ATV2's. The export mechanism is automatic and seamless, including metadata. Works very well!

So far, I don't watch live TV unless I'm in front of one of the computers (which all have EyeTV installed). I watch everything recorded via Apple TV.

But I'm going to pick up a Channel Master ATSC receiver to feed my projector and TV. Mostly for when company comes :-)

Cheers!

I forgot - it's a current MacMini - 2011. I also used my 2010 iMac before I got the Mini. The export mechanism is resource-intensive, and the iMac became all but unusable during exports.

woodsyb
2011-12-01, 05:58 PM
I would like to build an HTPC using the Mac Mini platform.
I will be purchasing all hardware & software new.
I have Rogers cable and digital box SA Explorer 4250HD.
I have a 1 year old Sharp Aquos LED/LCD

Can anyone provide guidance/suggestions on TV Tuners software etc..

I want to record and play all TV (SD & HD)

Thanks for any help

blueroomelectro
2011-12-01, 11:50 PM
Well I scrapped using EyeTV3 and a Mac Mini (and I love OSX & iOS)

I built an HTPC around the A6-3650 APU and a pair of dual tuner ATSC cards. Windows 7 media center and XBOX 360 slim extender with Logitech 300i remote (wired Ethernet works perfectly, WiFi not so much)

An AppleTV2 rounds out the experience, movie rentals, music, Netflix, photos.

Although the Mac Mini is a slicker package the EyeTV3 software isn't.

57
2011-12-02, 01:08 AM
I have Rogers cable and digital box SA Explorer 4250HD.If you wish to record encrypted channels from cable, you need to use your STB and connect either via firewire (some channels will not record due to flags) or use the Hauppauge HDPVR (I can't remember if it works for Macs). A TV tuner is no use for recording cable since the channels are encrypted and the STB must be used as the tuner. There are threads on both topics in the HTPC forum if you search for those terms, or follow the links in the following Recording HD FAQ:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=14099


Here's a post useful for those new to the forum - FAQs, Search Tips, Optimization, etc:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=57741

slyboy
2011-12-02, 10:26 AM
Blueroomelectro,
Why did you decide to replace the 2 HDHomeRun boxes with a pair of dual tuner ATSC cards? What did you buy?

blueroomelectro
2011-12-02, 12:24 PM
The HDHomerun cards are excellent but...

Difficult to buy in Canada (Amazon Canada is DOUBLE the price of the US Amazon!)
I don't like tying up my wired network, they're 10/100 and when you plan on using multiple tuners this is something to consider. One solution would be connecting directly to a secondary NIC in the DVR PC.
You don't get a remote or IR receiver that works with WMC.
It does have a huge advantage if you want to keep the RG6U cable short and they do have excellent tuners.

I wound up using an HVR-2250 WMC edition (IR remote included, but I've yet to set the IR up properly to work with Win7 MC) and a inexpensive yet equally as good AVER Media Duet A-188 (Dual ATSC only PCI-E)

A pair of Yagis sit in the attic in Toronto's East end (one pointed to the US the other CN tower). The only major network I have trouble with is NBC (edge) and CTV is 99.9% but it's VHF-hi and my UHF Yagis aren't really cut out for that. The EyeTV3 software does not support disabling tuners for specific channels (a highly requested feature).

I recently acquired a ClearStream 2 antenna and it has amazing results. I've also played with the amazing ClearStream 1 and have considered a ClearStream 5 (VHF) to help out that Yagi (a better Yagi is probably a better solution though).

DavidT
2011-12-02, 11:13 PM
Huh?

The HDHomeRun Dual is officially sold at Newegg for $129 in Canada (only $30 more than in the US). The HVR-2250 retails for the exact same price.

I don't see what the problem is with it only being 10/100. Putting a Gig adapter would have been a waste of money since it will unlikely ever need to transmit faster than 20Mbps for 1080i feeds.

And I certainly don't understand what you mean by "tying up" your wired network? A 10/100 device on a network won't slow down other Gig devices.

pjammer
2011-12-03, 10:04 AM
tpont and canuck22 thanks for your inspiration.

I've spent weeks (feels like forever) learning about how to get my mac based home to record and WATCH live TV through my home theatre setup.

I've got an older imac which i think we'll use as our transcoder/decdoder eyetv machine. If I hear you guys correctly, we just make sure that this imac is hooked up to view it's library from our Apple TV 2.

I've seen jailbreaking to put on xbmc on the internet but I can't bring myself to do it. I know I'd brick it.

I bought a dtv-5000 ($78 at Canada Computer) but I'm taking it back. It's an hdmi output'd ATSC receiver but it would stall after 4 mins of live tV... and make my living room sound like a rave with the repeating of the last word it transmitted. Oh and the quality of the HD signal was down converted to like 720 if you could get it, on channels that are coming through in at least 1080i.

So it sounds as if without a real PVR for atsc you can't watch live TV and record a tv show and watch it 1/2 way through the recording. (like start watching a show 10 mins into it so you can fast forward commercials etc).

The best we can do is record the shows on the imac, use the library sharing thing and watch them after it's done, correct?

Tikker
2011-12-03, 04:17 PM
Check out Plex for your appletv

It's a very nice front end and was really simple to set up

Highflyr
2011-12-06, 03:35 PM
Hi all,
I have a 1st gen ATV with atv flash. The issue is that it doesnt have enough processing power to smoothly play 1080p mkv files using nitoTV or Boxee.

I have an older 2007 mac mini that I'm thinking about using to play movies. I dont need a tuner card. my issue is that a dvi to hdmi cable would carry no sound.

Should I just build a cheap HTPC? Do most HTPC's run windows?

classicsat
2011-12-07, 09:58 AM
You can get boxes to inject SPDIF or stereo analog audio into HDMI.

An HTPC would run Windows (should be 7 Home Premium), or some form of Linux.

hugh
2011-12-07, 10:30 AM
highflyr, have you tried playing back 1080p mkv files on the mac mini?

blueroomelectro
2011-12-07, 11:14 AM
Huh?

The HDHomeRun Dual is officially sold at Newegg for $129 in Canada (only $30 more than in the US). The HVR-2250 retails for the exact same price.

I don't see what the problem is with it only being 10/100. Putting a Gig adapter would have been a waste of money since it will unlikely ever need to transmit faster than 20Mbps for 1080i feeds.

And I certainly don't understand what you mean by "tying up" your wired network? A 10/100 device on a network won't slow down other Gig devices.

I should have jumped on the HDHomeRun Dual for $69 on Amazon.com recently, must have been a sale price and I missed it. :(

You're right, the switch should keep traffic to a minimum for the rest of the network. I've got data going in and out on the HTPC at the same time via the XBOX extender, I just figured that keeping network bandwidth open would lead to less problems in the long run.

I did have a Mac Mini 2011 baseline i5 model and as slick as it was EyeTV3 isn't ready for prime time (no extenders, non configurable multi-antenna tuners). It's so slick I almost considered using bootcamp (Windows 7) on it but alas a bug in the SB chipset seems to impede it from 23.976 Hz playback.
http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2191941

danomac
2011-12-17, 05:02 PM
highflyr, have you tried playing back 1080p mkv files on the mac mini?
I tried playing 1080i/p on my mactel from 2009 and it overheated... :( I don't use the mac mini for a frontend any more. There's no GPU acceleration so I gave up and built a proper frontend with a silverstone case, IR, and a nvidia card.

danomac
2011-12-17, 06:24 PM
The HDHomerun cards are excellent but...

Difficult to buy in Canada (Amazon Canada is DOUBLE the price of the US Amazon!)
I don't like tying up my wired network, they're 10/100 and when you plan on using multiple tuners this is something to consider. One solution would be connecting directly to a secondary NIC in the DVR PC.
You don't get a remote or IR receiver that works with WMC.
It does have a huge advantage if you want to keep the RG6U cable short and they do have excellent tuners.

I bought one of the HD Homerun Duals off of newegg. The price different was $20 between newegg.com and **********... I ordered through the .ca site and paid the $8 shipping. Package arrived with no extra duties or taxes...

Granted, I have a gigabit network, and my htpc cases have IR built-in, so I had no need at the time. I did buy a HVR-2250 for the sake of self-containment though.

I must say setting up the HD Homerun took literally 5 minutes. I was quite impressed.

Laps
2012-01-05, 03:42 PM
You can get boxes to inject SPDIF or stereo analog audio into HDMI.

An HTPC would run Windows (should be 7 Home Premium), or some form of Linux.
calssicsat: what kind of box would I need to get DVI and audio from a Mac Mini to HDMI?

bobmac
2012-01-05, 10:23 PM
It would depend on which Mac Mini you have. The more recent ones has a hdmi port. The previous one has also hdmi.

Earlier models you could get a box that combines mini-display port and Optical port to hdmi.

With my Macbook pro, I just connected dvi to HDMI for video and mini jack to optical for audio and it worked well.

Now I have a newer Mac mini with HDMI

Bob