Alan’s Build Log: #7.1

It is amazing what can happen over the weekend. Get some yard work done, and of course have lots of time to evaluate and re-evaluate what direction I want to take for this whole digital home aspect. I am somewhat tied to the Microsoft platform because of my investment into CableCards. I would like to say QAM and OTA could take its place, but the fact of the matter is that they provided a seamless transition from a cablebox PVR (still have it on one TV) to a Media Center Setup.

My original plan was to use dual extenders, specifically the SageTV extender to play back the high def rips and an MCE extender for the rest. After further review I was unable to find any real evidence that Blu-ray rips (converted to .mkv without encoding the video) would playback on an extender. There are a couple of documented processes to do the container change but frankly they are kind of messy. I can’t imagine Microsoft allowing any sort of decrypted Blu-ray streaming at this point in the ball game. So what is a guy to do?

Well, I have decided to stick it out with a stand-alone HTPC at my main viewing area. I’ll explain my Blu-ray harddrive playback techniques in Monday’s tip of the day. I am cataloging all of this with (commercial MyMovies replacement) plugin and cataloging database. I have added a few movies and I am loving it :).

In summary:

  1. Converting Blu-ray to .mkv is possible and not too hard. is your friend for more info. It basically involves stripping out your primary movie/audio streams and combining them into an .mkv file with another set of tools. I’ll give a few of these a whirl for practice :).
  2. I am not convinced that the SageTV extender will playback Blu-ray style bit-rates and the platform change for just Blu-ray streaming seems rather silly to me.
  3. Hard drive based Blu-ray playabck is easy. Extender not so much. Tip of the day coming soon.

On the server front, I installed an additional 750GB HD to my WHS server in anticipation of my DVD rips. I plan on adding a couple of more terabytes this summer for more Blu-ray rips. So far, I have noticed that a Blu-ray disc stripped of just the movie file and audio file is 16 to 26 GB. Oh an my wiring skills suck, I can never seem to make a neat build, even inside a P-180.

Beyond that, I need to finally eliminate that pesky PVR box upstairs. I am unable to do that with only two CableCard tuners. Nothing kills the WAF quicker then having a lack of tuners available. Sometime in the near future, I will have to break down and buy a third tuner.

Stay tuned. I am sure I will flip-flop a little more over the next few weeks. 😉