Getting Started… Again

Sometime ago, I had posted a blog about getting started in my new home. Well 6 months have passed since then and I have made some progress, but not a whole lot. Here is my original list.

  1. Finish home networking and phones
  2. Configure test bench
  3. Configure production/gaming machine (upgrade planned)
  4. Build new CableCard HTPC
  5. Install new HTPC in family room
  6. Install/build client HTPCs/TVs (3)
  7. Install and configure basic HA
  8. Configure WHS server for PC backup
  9. Configure WHS for DVD/Music streaming
  10. Bunch of other little things :). Like out door speakers, fold down LCD in kitchen, roof speakers upstairs.

I can tell you most of these items are not done :(. In fact, most of these items have changed all together. I have yet to finish the networking because I have nothing to hook up near my TVs and all the client/WHS/HTPC business hasn’t been started. I need to take another look at how I want to configure my setup and start in a nice logicial progression.

My first order of business was getting my HP 5880N TV replaced because it was damaged during the original shipping. It took the better part of 5 months but that is now behind me and we shall not speak of this again. I recently received a Sony 60A3000 as a replacement and I am very happy so far. Expect an amateurish review a little later on. I need to spend some quality time with an AVIA disc to properly calibrate this TV. I am really in love with this TV so far, it does an amazing job playing back DVDs from a 480i source.

So step #1 – Calibrate the TV with an AVIA disc for DVD playback and HD calibration disc once the HTPC is up and running.

Along with that, step #2 – Properly calibrate my speaker/receiver setup. 

In my opinion these two steps should be first on any home theater setup. 

During this six months, I managed a small amount of work. I mounted a 40" Sony Bravia LCD upstairs with a flush mount non-tilting system. It looks great but the wires were not run through the wall until I know what kind of system I will have upstairs.

Step #3 – Hide wires :).

The fun part starts next :). I had originally planned to build a CableCard HTPC but I am revolted by the fact that I have to buy a pre-built HTPC. It just isn’t right. I will be using a combination of QAM and HAVA to fullfill my recording needs. 

Step #4 – Build a HTPC – QAM, Quad core, Vista MCE, 3850\3870 Video Card are my initial specs

Software – Big Screen Photos, EMU, MyMovies are my first install plugins. Any other suggestions?

I have server hardware picked out and ready to go. I plan on having DVDs, pictures, and music all centerally located and available for all clients/HTPC hooked up via a gigabit network. This will also house a tuner and have SageTV installed on it. I will be using it for Placeshifting music to my work :).

Step #5 – Build a server – Possible WHS 

After all of this is functioning, I need to get an extender to the upstairs TV. I suspect this will improve the WAF dramatically. I will likely go the route of Xbox 360. I need to research the Live services such as movie rentals a little more. 

Step #6 – Media Extender for upstairs TV

Beyond these steps it gets a little foggy and my budget approval certainly doesn’t extend that far. Major concepts planned are home automation and thin clients for a couple of other rooms in the house.