Dec 01 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 18

So today I was doing a bit of stress testing of the frontend system to make sure that it was ready for me to put back into use.  It turns out there were still a couple of bugs to work out.  You may recall from this blog post that I ended up using Fedora 15 with KDE as the desktop environment.  It turns out that under certain circumstances there is a problem with this setup using 100% of one of the CPU cores.  I happen to run into this situation.  I didn't notice it right away since it's a dual core system and the other core is sitting idle most of the time but I did setup the system monitoring widget and noticed that one of the cores was completely pegged out.  Running top showed me that it was "plasmadesktop" that was hogging all of the resources.  A quick Google search showed me that this happens to people running the version of KDE that comes with Fedora 15 and newer.

It sounds like this happens when a system wakes up from suspend and is running multiple "panels" - the bars at the top and bottom of the screen - and various widgets.  Basically, this is resolved by disabling or removing the various widgets and panels that were added in addition to the original ones.  Since this is a dedicated frontend I removed everything that I had added, including the system monitor that I added that found this problem in the first place.  Once this was done I put the system to sleep a couple of times and made sure that I did not have high CPU usage when it woke up (or a couple hours later).  It seems like removing the panels and widgets took care of the problem for me.

Nov 30 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 17

Well, it turns out that I'm a moron.  Apparently everything was pretty much working for me already.  I had all of the pieces, I just didn't put them together correctly.  After days of work I finally have LIRC recognizing my remote inputs properly.  Basically what happened is that I configured the startup script for LIRC to load the correct driver for my IR receiver with the correct device and the correct parameters.  I had the correct config file being used to interpret the key presses correctly.  I had it all.  The problem was that I was doing all of my testing by launching the LIRC daemon from the command line instead of via the startup script that I had configured so none of my tweaks were being taken [facepalm].  Needless to say, after verifying this by running the command line with all of the correct parameters and then again verifying by rebooting the system and having it launch automatically, the remote control is now being properly identified and controlled via LIRC.  I can now launch irw and see all of my key presses as they happen.

At this point there seem to be only a few tweaks left to make before the system is ready for use again.  First, I need to setup the MythTV frontend application to automatically launch at login.  Next, I need to make MythTV always appear on top of the screen; it is currently being covered with the top and bottom panels of the window manager.  Finally, I need to configure the LIRC configuration file to interpret the button presses and pass them to the various applications, like MythTV.  Once I've got that in place, I think that all of the major components will be in place and I can put the unit back into service.  Yay.

Nov 26 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 16

I guess I got a little distracted today.  In doing some of my research for using LIRC with my iMon IR receiver that is part of the Antec Fusion 430 Black case, I ran across a couple of web pages that discussed getting the LCD screen working with LCDProc.  So that's what I did today.  Now when I go through the MythTV menus my LCD screen shows the menu entry that's highlighted.  If I have a show open it'll tell the name of the show and the description, the progress bar, and other stuff like that.  If nothing important is being displayed it will show the time.  It works very well in my opinion.  That's one thing that I never got working under Ubuntu.  The LCD screen was just glowing blue but not displaying anything, not even the time.

In other news, I was playing around with mplayer some today and found that all of the transport controls work there just fine.  What is going on with LIRC and MythTV?  I've even tried to create my own lircd.conf file using irrecord.  I found another program similar to ir-keyboard that I mentioned yesterday, called evtest.  It also recognizes all of the buttons on my MCE-emulating Harmony remote.  There must be something simple that I'm missing...

Oh well, time for bed.  More work to do tomorrow.  It seems like I'm so close but can't quite get to where I want to be...

Nov 25 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 15

I've done a bit more research into this remote control thing and found a couple of commands to use for debugging.  First is ir-keyboard.  If I run ir-keyboard with no options it will show me what device is found, what protocols it is capable of and which one(Drunk it is using.  In my case the output looks like:

Found /sys/class/rc/rc0/ (/dev/input/event5) with:

        Driver imon, table rc-imon-mce

        Supported protocols: RC-6

        Enabled protocols: RC-6

        Repeat delay = 500 ms, repeat period = 33 ms

In addition, I can run ir-keyboard -t and it will put the IR receiver into test mode.  Every time I press a button on the remote it puts up the codes and key names that it decodes.  According to this, everything it being seen properly and should be working.  I guess it's just an issue with the handoff to LIRC that's the problem.  I'm a step closer but still confused...

Again, I can say that the hardware is working fine and it's a software config issue that's holding me back.  Now to figure out what that is...

Nov 24 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 14

Well, I've had a bit of time to look into the new Fedora 15 load and it appears that without doing anything with LIRC at all I have basic directional pad controls on my remote working.  Volume also appears to work.  However, when I install LIRC and point it to lircd.conf.mceusb I get nothing when running irw.  If I do lsmod | grep imon I see that the imon driver is loaded by default, which is apparently what I should be seeing.  Obviously the hardware is connected right and recognized because some of the buttons work.  I guess I have a bit more research to do to figure out what has changed in this new kernel update.

At least I have hope now that I will reach my goal of a working remote eventually.  That's a step in the right direction anyway.  Any thoughts or ideas of things to try?  Leave me a comment!

Nov 23 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 13

Ok, after a good night sleep I have cooled down enough to be productive again.  I decided to reinstall Fedora 15, this time using KDE as the desktop instead of Gnome.  I'm sure that if I had dug into it far enough I could have figured out how to resolve the windowing issues that I was facing.  Maybe there was a desktop effect that I could have turned off somewhere or something but I didn't feel like figuring out that problem when all I want to do is get the MythTV frontend up and running.  So I decided to kill that installation and load up Fedora 15 with KDE as the desktop environment this time.  The rest of the install process was identical as far ask I can tell.  After I got the graphics drivers and MythTV installed I found that I did not have that screen corruption issue.

I did still face the second problem that I reported in my last entry - MythTV playback was corrupted.  This problem turned out to not be as big of a problem as I originally thought.  To fix it I went into the setup options for TV Settings -> Playback and changed the profile to High Quality.  Once I completed that, playback proceeded as normal.  I'm sure that down the road I may tweak the playback profiles some more to get a bit more out of it, but at least it works now.  That's as far as I'm going for now.  I'm still a little annoyed that I had to go through that in the first place.  

Needless to say, WAF is not at its highest right now.  Hopefully there will not be many more setbacks in this process.  Need to get that remote figured out...

Nov 22 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 12

Ok, it seems that every time I take a step forward I also take one back.  So before jumping into setting up the remote I decided to take a quick spin through the desktop and then MythTV to make sure the basics still work.  Now I'm very glad I did that.  I don't know exactly what's going on here because I've never seen anything like it but I'm getting some major visualization issues in my desktop.  What happens is that I open a window and everything looks fine.  Then if I try to move the window or resize it, the window tilts 45 degrees.  That's not the best description so try this.  Imagine a vertical bar that makes up one row of pixels.  Then shift that bar of pixels 45 degrees.  The edges of the windows wrap.  So instead of columns of icons like this: ||||| I see "columns" of icons like this: /////  It's all very messed up.  I wish I had a screen cap of it but I don't.

To make things even worse, I can get to Mythtv and the issue shows up there as well.  But that's only the start of the problem there...  If I try to launch a recording, the recording launches but the playback is at about half time and the image is almost like a checkerboard with the "white" squares showing the correct video image and the "black" squares showing orangish/red blocks.  Arg!  I'm about to give up!

Help me Obi Wan Kenobi.  You're my only hope!

Nov 21 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 11

Welcome back to another exciting entry into what should have been a well planned out and straight forward upgrade from MythTV 0.21 to MythTV 0.24.  Here's a recap:

1) Upgraded the backend

2) "Upgraded" the frontend

3) Got MythTV working on Windows

4) Performed integration testing

5) Failed integration testing - Frontend no workey.  X-Windows doesn't load, then no remote

At this point I was faced with a decision - get a different IR receiver or load a new OS.  I decided to go with an OS upgrade.  This time around I went with Fedora 15 x64, primarily because it is the most recent version of Fedora that I already had downloaded.  Installation was very straight forward following procedures previously mentioned.  As it turns out, the kernel used in this version is so this gets me to the 2.6.38+ that I apparently need to get my remote working.  I didn't get so far as to test it out tonight but I did get Fedora loaded, MythTV installed and the graphics driver loaded.  Tomorrow I will verify that what I have so far is working and then dig into the remote some more.  Until then, have a good day/night depending on when you are reading this.

Nov 20 2011

Blog - TiVo Goes HTPC

When choosing the perfect chassis for a home theater PC (HTPC), something that is more "consumer electronics" (CE) looking is often desired. Missing Remote reader, Kirby Baker, didn't just buy off the shelf in his quest. He modified a TiVo Series 1 chassis and built an extremely capable HTPC inside. Kirby did an awesome job and it is a lot of fun to think about the possibilities of old CE chassis!

You can check out his original thread in our forums. After the gallery, is the system build list and description of the steps involved to modify the TiVo Series 1. We would love to see more of these creative re-uses so let us know if you've come up with something.


Here is the hardware list:

Nov 20 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 10

I've been doing a bit of research today and it doesn't look good.  Getting the remote working a matter of installing LIRC (either with yum install lirc or else building it manually).  In the past, once it's installed, I've had to load the lirc_imon kernel module which is the driver for my Antec Fusion 430 Black IR receiver.  Then I would copy the correct lircd.conf file - in my case lircd.conf.mceusb - into /etc/lirc/lircd.conf.  Once the module is loaded and the config file is ready, you start the lirc daemon and then run irw.  At this point every time I press a button, it should register on the screen.  But that isn't the case this time around.

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