HDHomerun Prime – love it!

25 07 2012

I purchased the HDHomerun Prime Cable Card Tuner last month and am loving it. This is better than the Hauppauge 2650 in a couple of ways,
1) it is on the network so all of my PCs can be configured to use it
2) it has three tuners

I’ve read that you need to call your cable company to configure each PC that uses the Prime, I’ve found this not to be true, once I got the first configured the next PC was able to see all of the channels without any assistance from the cable company.

It is truly nice to have my cable channels available on all of my PCs, I highly recommend the HDHomeRun Prime. Now I need to decide if I am going to keep the old model HDHomeRun or try selling it as it is uplugged at the current moment.


The DVR is gone, we are now 100% on HTPC for television viewing

24 07 2012

The DVR was returned to TimeWarner about a month ago and all viewing is now on HTPC.  The problems with the Hauppauge 2650 cablecard tuner went away when I stopped using sleep mode between viewings/recordings.  With the computer online 24X7 operation has become very smooth and virtually hiccup free.

The switch from the AMD X2 processor to the Intel Pentium G620 has lowered our power useage from ~120 watts idle to ~14 watts idle which makes running the computer continuously reasonable cost wise.
The main issue I am facing with the HTPC DVR is the issue with encrypted content from the cable card tuner.  Several channels encrypt all of their shows, these channels include Disney, Food Network and many others.  When you try to play this content on a PC other than the one that recorded it you get a message saying the content is protected and cannot be played.  This issue also comes up if you have to rebuild your HTPC, it can no longer play back protected content that it had previously recorded.

Low Power HTPC

12 06 2012

My HTPC that was connected to my cablecard tuner started acting up.  This was an AMD Athlon 2 Dual Core system.  I have the system on a UPS and am able to monitor it’s power usage through the UPS.  The AMD system was pulling about 120 watts on average.  The system started acting up (it turned out to have a memory problem) so I pulled it and replaced it with another system I had running an Intel Celeron G530 processor.

The G530 is the baby brother to the i3 family of processors.  The G530 is rated at 65 watts TDP, I was surprised to see my UPS indicate about 10 watts of power while idling.  This is with windows up, Media Center running but no shows recording or being watched.  With this low of power usage I’m going to dump  the MCE Standby Tool and stop putting the PC to sleep in between shows.  I think keeping the computer up all the time will make it more reliable and user friendly.

Oh No, my Hauppauge 2650 cablecard tuner has died

12 06 2012

Embarrassed Update:  It turns out it was not the Hauppauge 2650 that died but rather the power wart I was powering it with.  The replacement 2650 arrived and had the same issues as mine.  I replaced the power wart and my old 2650 is running great.

There is a story behind the power wart I was using, my original Hauppauge power wart died and they shipped me a replacement.  While waiting for the replacement I found one in my parts bin that matched the output so I put it to work.  Weird to lose two power warts in such a short time frame.  I now have the HTPC on a UPS so if it was power issues causing the failures I should be OK now.


My Hauppauge 2650 tuner started acting flakey, going offline and refusing to tune channels, usually rebooting the computer would fix the issue so I’m not positive the problem was Hauppauge’s.  Now the Hauppauge has died completely, all that I get is a quickly flashing tuner 2 light, all others are out.

Hauppauge’s warranty is 2 years and they’ve been good enough to pre ship my replacement, unfortunately it shipped by slow boat and won’t arrive for a week.

Thankfully my wife hasn’t returned her cable DVR yet so she is not out of business for this time.  All of the issues that I’ve been facing are not instilling confidence in her for this switch over to a PC DVR.  Hopefully all will work well soon.

UPDATE: Replacing My Wife’s DVR with an HTPC

23 05 2012

My replacement DVR is still not working fully to my satisfaction.  95% of the time it works flawlessly but then every once in a while I get errors like “tuner not found” or “no tuner available” or this morning Media Center came up and said “CableCard device found, would you like to install it?”.  A reboot generally fixes these issues.

I’m running a program on the PC called MCE Standby Tool, this program looks at the recording schedule and wakes the PC up to record shows and then puts it back to sleep when nothing is happening.  If a user starts using the machine, i.e. watching a program or using the remote it delays for a set period of time before putting the machine to sleep.

If I could work out these issues I’d be able to complete the conversion and get rid of the cable company DVR.
After moving several computers around throughout the house to find the perfect setup here is what I am currently running:

  • HTPC in family room (this is my main recording PC)
  • processor is Athlon II X2 260
  • memory is 4GB DDR2
  • hard drive is 1TB
  • Tuner is Hauppauge 2650 CableCard Dual Tuner
  • HTPC in front room (this one is on dual band wireless and is used only to view videos)
  • Foxconn Small Form Factor Computer with
  • processor AMD E-350 APU
  • memory is 4GB DDR3
  • hard drive is 10k RPM 74GB Western Digital
  • HTPC in bed room (this one is mostly for watching videos but can also record)
  • processor is Intel G530 (incredible processor for the money)
  • memory is 4GB DDR2
  • hard drive is 10K RPM 74GB Western Digital
  • Tuner is SiliconDust HDHomeRun dual tuner
  • Home Server
  • Windows Home Server 1.0
  • processor is older AMD X64 single core processor
  • memory is 2GB DDR
  • hard drives are 2 X 1TB and 1 X 1.5TB and 1 X 500GB

My next task is going to be upgrading my Windows Home Server to a new processor platform to cut down on it’s energy usage.  I’ve just ordered an Intel G630T processor and an H61 mobo for this project.  Updates when I get them installed.

replacing my wife’s dvr with a PC

22 03 2012

I think I’m almost ready to ask my wife to switch from her cable company dvr to my Win 7 Media Center PC with a Hauppauge Cablecard 2650 tuner.   If you look at my earlier posts you will see that I bought a low power HTPC system for this use but found it just wasn’t powerful enough. I’m trying to build a system that doesn’t delay, pause or skip as I want my wife to be happy with it.

After replacing the low power system with a dual core Athlon II system I found that my wireless N network was also too slow so I purchased a Netgear powerline adapter kit.

My system is now operating smoothly, no hiccups on the network and no hiccups caused by CPU performance issues.

Through this entire process the Hauppauge 2650 has been flawless.

One issue that I am still facing is that if I turn off the tv or change the source on the tv to something other than the computer while I have Media Center open I will find a black screen when I return to the computer source.  The answers I’ve found so far are 1) try to remember to shut down Media Center prior to turning off the tv or changing source and 2) if you get the black screen you can unplug and replug the hdmi cable or you can logoff or shutdown the computer and restart or log back in.  Anyone have any better ideas to fix this problem?

Powerline Adapter working well

21 03 2012

The Netgear XAVB5004 powerline adapter set that I installed last night is working quite well.  I copied a file to see how well it would work and saw speeds between 5.5 and 6MBs.  This is about 48Mbs, not anywhere near the 500Mbs the unit is rated at but plenty for streaming video.

I streamed several different videos, one a 1080p BluRay and the videos streamed flawlessly.

So far I am very pleased with this purchase.