Foxconn SFF PC not working out as I wanted it to

20 03 2012

I’m having a couple of issues with this darling little computer, with one of my televisions I get video blinking. The screen blinks on and off every few seconds. Hard to work with it when it’s doing that. With another television the screen is rock solid. I haven’t figured out what is causing this issue yet, just reloaded the box from scratch and am going to have another go at it tonight.

The other issue I have is that the E-350 AMD APU processor doesn’t seem to have enough power to run my Hauppauge 2650 CableCard and do all that I want. It gets slow and sometimes doesn’t respond to remote input for quite a while. Part of this issue may be caused by my wireless network and the computer looking to my home server for some files over the wireless.

I replaced the SFF (Small Form Factor) computer with an AMD dual core Phenom II system. It’s working out so far but does still snag on the wireless from time to time.

I’ve ordered a Netgear powerline 500Mbs system (XAVB5004 ~$130 + tax for the kit) to replace the wireless to this location. I received it today and will install it tonight. If it really helps speed stuff up I may try the SFF in that location again as that is my preferred machine for an always on DVR solution.

More updates soon.


That new computer that I just bought (and put together today) is on sale at Newegg for 15% off

1 03 2012

Hurry and get one, I am loving it so far. Review to come soon.

Discount code is EMCNGNJ29, not sure how long it will be good for.  This should make the cost about $93 + tax if you are in California.  It still has free shipping.



Ordered a new computer for HTPC use

29 02 2012

I settled on a platform for my next HTPC.  I didn’t go with the Intel family processor that I expected to buy, instead I went with an AMD E350 barebones system from Foxconn.  This barebones computer, add your own memory, hard drive and dvd rom, sounds like a bargain for $109 plus tax shipped from Newegg.comIf you prefer to order from Amazonit is available for $134.99 with free shipping.  I should get it in the next couple of days and will report back how good it is.

The Foxconn Small Form Factor (SFF) R40-A1 is a small computer case with a motherboard and power supply.  Here are the features of the computer that I am interested in:

HDMI output,

6 rear USB ports and 2 front USB ports

Two DDR 3 memory slots (maximum of 8GB)

On board Radeon HD6310 graphics for 1080p support

Dimensions 11.1″ x 11.02″ x 3.74″

Next report I will talk about OS install and how well this baby operates.

Whahooo, got my Tuning Adapter working this weekend

21 02 2012

After about two months of frustration my Tuning Adapter is finally working.  A Tuning Adapter is a device that is used to signal the cable company that you want to watch a SDV channel.  SDV is Switched Digital Video, channels with lower viewership are broadcast on demand instead of all the time to free up bandwidth.  These are channels like Speed, BBC America, G4, Fuse, Versus, and many more.

The Tuning Adapter sits between the cable company and the Cable Card device, in my case the Hauppauge 2650, to “enable” channels as I flip through them.  A Tuning Adapter is needed because the Cable Card device I have is not a signalling or bi-directional device.  A cable company DVR is a bi-directional signalling device and doesn’t need one of these.

Time Warner, my cable company, provides the Tuning Adapter free of charge when you pick up a Cable Card.

Hauppauge came out with an update to the firmware and software for the 2650, this new update worked and activated my Motorola Tuning Adapter.

Now that I can see and record all of the channels that I am supposed to be able to I am ready to replace the Time Warner DVR with my computer.

Here is a list of the channels that SoCal Time Waner has on SDV:

Unavailable Channels and Services with CableCARD™-equipped UDCP devices

The channels and services listed below are interactive services (VOD, channels delivered using Switched Digital Video technology) and therefore cannot be accessed utilizing a CableCARD-equipped UDCP device without additional, two-way-capable, equipment (i.e., a Tuning Adapter or a digital cable set-top box).

 119 VH1 Classic
 121,879 CMT
 124 Youtoo
 125,297 Sundance
 126,293,877 Fox Movie Channel
 129,888 Nat Geo WILD
 133,881 MTV Hits
 134,882 MTV Jams
 135 VH1 Soul
 142 Current TV
 143,327,842 nuvoTV
 151 Lifetime Real Women
 153 GSN
 155,636 CCTV-9 (English)
 157 Mnet
 158,654 TVK1 (Korean)
 159 KBS World
 160 Gospel Music Channel
 162 TV One
 167,898 EWTN
 168 The Word Network
 169,899 Inspiration Network
 170,329,853,1414 La Familia Cosmovision
 171,1413 Discovery Fit & Health
 175 Ovation
 176 The Africa Channel
 177 Jewish Life TV
 181,896 PBS Kids Sprout
 188,893,1408 Boomerang
 191,874,1404 Science
 234 NASA TV
 244 Shop Zeal 1
 257 ESPN Classic
 258,864 Fox College Sports Pacific
 259,865 Fox College Sports Central
 260,866 Fox College Sports Atlantic
 261 CBS Sports Network
 262,735 NBA TV
 264 The Tennis Channel
 268 Outdoor Channel
 270 TVG
 272,318,856 GolTV
275 NHL Network
276 MLB Network
283 Encore
284 Encore East
285 Encore Drama
286 Encore Love
287 Encore Mystery
288 Encore WAM
289 Encore Action
290 Enocre Westerns
294 Hallmark Movie Channel
295 Flix
296 IFC
298 ReelzChannel
299 Chiller
305,858 CNN en Espanol
306,808 Once Mexico
307,806 Mexico 22
308,807 CBTV Michoacan
309,811 TVE Internacional
310,816 Canal Sur
311,829 History Channel en Espanol
312,844 Utilisima
313,830 Discovery en Espanol
315,834 Cine Latino
316,835 Infinito
317,772 Playboy TV en Espanol
324,839 Video Rola
325,838 HTV
328,854 EWTN Espanol
331,850 Sorpresa
392 ESPN Goal Line
394 Fox Soccer HD
395 Fox Soccer Plus HD
396 Gol TV HD
397 Galavision HD
 398 HBO Latino HD
 414 Palladia HD
 416 Velocity
 419 Universal HD
 420 Smithsonian HD
 421 Crime & Investigation HD
 422 MGM HD
 423 The Golf Channel HD
 426 ESPNews HD
 429,572 Starz HD
 430,522 Cinemax HD
 431 HD PPV
 435 Disney Channel HD
 443 Syfy HD
 447 HLN HD
 448 BBC America HD
 449 Investigation Discovery HD
 450 Lifetime HD
 451 Animal Planet HD
 452 Travel Channel HD
 455 History International HD
 457 Biography HD
 459 Nick HD
 460 Science HD
 461 Disney XD HD
 466 Fox Business Network HD
 468 Speed HD
 469 Versus HD
 470 MLB Network HD
 471 NHL Network HD
 472 NBA TV HD
 474 CBS Sports Network HD
 475 LMN HD
 476 Hallmark Movie Channel HD
 477 Hallmark Channel HD
 478  TCM HD
 479  AMC HD
 480  IFC HD
 481  HBO East HD
 482  Cinemax East HD
 483  Showtime East HD
 484  The Movie Channel HD
 485  Starz East HD
 487  E! HD
 488  Style HD
 490  QVC HD
 492  CMT HD
 494  Fuse HD
 495  G4 HD
 498  TV One HD
 504  HBO East
 505  HBO 2
 506  HBO 2 East
 507  HBO Signature
 508  HBO Signature East
 509  HBO Comedy
 510  HBO Zone
 511  HBO Latino
 512  HBO Family
 524  CInemax East
 525  MoreMAX
 526  MoreMAX East
 527  ActionMAX
 528  @MAX
 529  5StarMAX
 530  ThrillerMAX
 531  WMAX East
 554  Showtime East
 555  Showtime Beyond
 557  Showtime Extreme
 559  Showtime Too
 561  Showtime Showcase
 564  The Movie Channel East
 565  TMC Xtra
 574  Starz East
 575  Starz Cinema
 577  Starz Edge
 578  Starz In Black
 579  Starz Kids & Family
 607  TV Japan (Japanese)
 610  SBTN (Vietnamese)
 512  TV5Monde (French)
 513  RAI International (Italian)
 616  ART (Arabic)
 617  Tapesh TV (Farsi)
 618  RTVi (Russian)
 619  Russian Kino (Russian)
 620  PacSun
 621  C1R (Russian)
 622  RTN (Russian)
 627  Phoenix InfoNews (Mandarin)
 628  Phoenix North American (Mandarin)
 629  ETTV News (Mandarin)
 630  ETTV Drama (Mandarin)
 631  ETTV YOYO (Mandarin)
 632  ETTV China (Mandarin)
 633  ETTV Super (Mandarin)
 634  CTI Zhong Tian Channel (Mandarin)
 635  CCTV-4 (Mandarin)
 650  MBC (Korean)
 651  MBCD (Korean)
 652  SBS
 655  TVK2 (Korean)
 670  TV Asia (South Asian)
 671  Zee TV (South Asian)
 672  SET Asia (South Asian)
 673  Sahara Filmy (South Asian)
 680  TFC (Tagalog)
 681  GMA Pinoy (Tagalog)
 682  GMA Life TV (Tagalog)
 700  3DTV Special Events
705  ESPN 3D
 711-720  NBA League Pass / MLS Direct Kick
 721-726  ESPN Game Plan / ESPN Full Court
 731  GAME 1 HD
 732  GAME 2 HD
 733  TEAM HD
 752  Premium Events (PPV)
 753  Premium Events (PPV)
 755-768  MLB Extra Innings / NHL Center Ice
 771  Playboy TV
 773  Fresh
 774  Skin
 775  Penthouse
 776  TEN Clips
 777  Spice: Xcess
 804  Multimedios
 809  Sur Mexico
 813  Teleformula
 814  Centroamerica TV
 817  Sur Peru
 818  Latinoamerica TV
 819  Ecuavisa Internacional
 820  TV Chile
 821  Caracol Internacional
 822  TV Colombia
 823  TV Venezuela
 832  De Pelicula
 833  De Pelicula Classico
 836  Cine Mexicano
 837  ViendoMovies
 840  Bandamax
 845  Latele Novela
 852  Discovery Familia
 857  AYM Sports
 867  Fox Soccer Plus
 883  Tr3s

Thinking of building another PC

21 02 2012

  I’m starting to watch prices on motherboards for my next PC. This time instead of the H61 Intel chipset I want to run either the Z68 or P67. These chipsets are more robust and offer USB 3 and SATA 6GBs connections.

  These higher performance chipset will also allow for more RAM as the H61 is limited to two double sided DIMMs.
  I have parts sitting idle including a case with a decent power supply, spare hard drives and 8GB of DDR3 that was too fast to work in the H61 so I had to buy slower compatible memory. All that I will need to purchase for this next setup is a motherboard and CPU.

  I will again be looking at the “bargain” line of processors, either another Celeron or maybe one of the Pentium G600 series processors. Prices for i3s have come down recently, I may spend the extra to get the slight extra performance they offer.

  I’m also trying to figure out how I will get network to this new computer as it will be located in the family room and I don’t have any Ethernet wiring running there. I have dual band wireless N in the house but am having some trouble streaming video. When the wireless works it works great but a couple of times a week I have to reboot my wireless access point to clean up stuttering.

  I’m looking in to the Netgear Powerline Network Adapter Kit to see if it will fill my needs.  At $109 I don’t want to buy this unless I’m pretty sure that it will resolve my issues and be flawless in performance.

Using the My Movies WMC add on to organize my video

21 02 2012

I organize my shows in to three different volumes, recorded tv for the shows that I record, tv series for the tv shows that I download, and videos for movies.  This allows me to separate my shows so that they can be read and utilized by the My Movies Media Center add on.

  I use a media center add on call My Movies to help organize and display my movies.  This program initially takes work to organize your shows so that they can be recognized but once the work is done the program works great. For the program to recognize shows they need to be stored in a specific way.  Each movie needs to be in it’s own folder at the root of the videos storage area.  If there are sequels they each need to be in their own folder too at \video.

  Television series need to have one main folder for the entire series, within the parent you can have sub folders for seasons or not.  The file name for television series must contain the season number and episode number for the episode to be recognized.  An example is \tv series\chuggington\chuggington.s01e23.avi.  The s01e23 must be in the title somewhere and does not need to be seperated out by a period like I show here.  Sometimes when you download a series collection you will have to go through and identify / rename the episodes for them to be picked up properly by My Movies.  Identifying and renaming is probably the hardest part, I use resources like Wikipedia and Google to help find the season and episode numbers.

  My Movies adds two menu items to the media center main menu, Movies and TV series.  Here is what my tv series look like on the screen.

This is the TV Series main screen showing all of the series that I have available to watch.  The numbers indicate the number of unwatched episodes and the little eye in the lower part of the series picture indicates that I have watched some of the episodes.
This is the episode screen that you go to when you select a series.  Highlighting a show gives you details about the episode if they are available.

  The menus in My Movies can be configured to look and layout differently, some of the advanced features cost but the basic program is free.  I haven’t paid for the program yet and I am getting great use out of it.  I will probably pay shortly as I like to support projects that I enjoy.

I just built a new computer to use as a Viewing Station

21 02 2012

Two weeks ago I assembled a new PC to use as my front room viewing computer.  I assembled this out of some new parts and some parts that I had laying around.  What excites me most in this new computer is how powerful and inexpensive the processor is.  I used an Intel Celeron G530 processor for this build, this is the first Intel chip I have purchased in many years, all of my other systems run AMD processors.
  The Celeron G530 is the younger sibling to  the i3 and the Pentium G600 series processors.  It has 2MB of cache versus 3 on it’s bigger siblings, it is also clocked lower at 2.4GHz.  With dual cores and on chip video this processor easily powers my video station.

Here is a list of the parts that I purchased and also the parts I reused from previous systems.  If you don’t have parts laying around you would need to purchase these so I’ll put a value on the used parts to give you an idea of cost.

parts purchased
~$51                    Intel G530 CPU 2.40 GHZ 2M CACHE 2.4 2 LGA 1155 Processor

~59 – $30 rebate  ECS H61H2-M2 Socket 1155/ Intel H61 Motherboard

~$50                    Patriot Memory Sector5 G Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 PC3-12800

~$21                    Lite-On 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Drive

sub total = $181 – 30 rebate = $151

used parts found and reused

$50                     XION ATX Mid Tower Computer Case w/500 Watt Power Supply

$60                     Western Digital 160 GB Caviar SATA Hard Drive

$120                   Microsoft WINDOWS 7

sub total of re-used parts $230

Total of $381

For around the same price you could buy an off the shelf system that is equivalent or better than this system, an example is this G620 system at Amazon, HP Pavilion Slimline s5-1110 Desktop Computer – Black for $440. The advantage to building your own is that upgrading later to different processors, motherboards, video etc is much easier than in a branded computer.

This post was not meant as a guide to how to build your own system, there are many good guides available on the web.  My main point to this post is how good and how inexpensive the new Celeron G530 processor is.  If you want to build your own system and have some questions leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to answer.