Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sounds Good

Did I mention that I fixed my sound issue? It was a setting in two places:

  • Myth Front End - pointing to wrong sound device
  • System sound device in OS

I can't remember the exact details, but when I next look, I'll update this post with better information on it.

VFD Update
Well, more of a lack of an update. I still don't have this fully working. I also didn't get my remote fixed up... requires a few patches.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

VFD - Day 1

Well, not really a day. I have spent a few hours fumbling around with this though. I followed a mish-mash of instructions from the following sites:

It 'kinda' works, in the sense that I can send messages to the VFD panel, and they will display (IMON VFD), but Myth cannot connect to the lcd0 device. (Could not connect to LCDd: connection refused.) I get this message one of two ways... if I already have LCDd running, then I can't connect because it is already bound to something (mythlcdserver needs to start LCDd itself), if I kill LCDd, and run mythlcdserver -v all (verbose output), then I get the error above.

The MythTV Imon page also has some good information on my LIRC remote too, especially the part about the remote pad... that should help me along on finishing the remote configuration.

Anyway, time to go and eat... I guess I will finish it later.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Extreme Tech Toys

Not really Myth, but kinda related

Okay, so, in a little bit, I will relate this back to MythTV, but for now, here is what is going on.

I took 3 books out of the library on Wednesday, just out of the sake of interest:

  • Extreme Tech: RFID Toys
  • Extreme Tech: Linux Toys
  • Extreme Tech: Podcasting

Why? (you might ask)... Well, curiosity I suppose.

Book 1: RFID

So, this is interesting stuff, and why NOT incorporate it into everyday life. Here is a snippet of what projects are in that book:

  • Front Door Security (RFID enable your deadbolt)
  • Car Security (RFID enable your car locks)
  • Pet Door (Only YOUR pets come and go)
  • Computer Security (put RFID in your keyboard)

...and the list goes on. Anyway, I can see an application for the computer, put that in here, and not have to worry about my 85 keystroke password with symbols, mixed case, no words, numbers, etc. Beyond that though... I don't know. I guess I could kinda do the door (back door to the loft), but there isn't enough payback... I'm hoping SOMEBODY can suggest a practical, and useful application... I feel a NEED to put RFID in something (maybe in the guitar, so it plays for me).

Book 2: Linux Toys

Ok, so this is where I can relate back to MythTV... since it is, technically, a Linux Toy. Now that I have (ha, ha) conquered it, what is my next Linux Toy? Here is what the book suggests:

  • Entertainment projects (MythTV covers ALL of these)
  • Home Network (done that)
  • Digital Receptionist (Vonage takes care of it)
  • Digital Picture Frame... hmm.

Well, maybe the digital picture frame is it... I mean, we have THOUSANDS of pictures of our cat, and we don't get the time to see them all, maybe a rotating picture frame is in the works. I have a few old laptops I could cannibalize (or, am I getting desperate for SOMETHING to do?)

Book 3: Podcasting

If a tree falls in a forest, does a podcast get made of it? Seriously though, what do I have to say, and IF I said it, WHO would want to listen (I could play -poorly- my guitar). This is interesting stuff though... recording and stuff. Anyway, here is what this book has to offer:

  • Finding and subscribing to podcasts
  • Choosing your podcast format
  • Producing with gear you already own
  • Recording
  • Finding a host
  • Uploading

When I REALLY stop to think about it, I think maybe two people (including my wife and I) would listen to anything I created... so, maybe this (however cool), isn't for me... but, I may try it out just for fun.

MAYBE we could podcast the upcoming trial of the now famous Michael Righi.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Back Up and Running... MythTV 0.20.2

Ok, my MythTV is back up and running, to the same state it was prior to the swing over to Schedules Direct from Zap2It labs. Whew, what an ordeal. Here is what I did to get back to where I am now...

More or less, here is the punch list of activities:

  • backup old data
  • reinstall OS
  • configure OS (wireless, video drivers, etc.)
  • myth initial setup
  • mythtv setup (video card, display, etc.)
  • upgrade to Myth 0.20.2
  • setup listings, and run mythfilldatabase
  • ensure video feed works
  • get channel changing working
  • test a recording

Step 1: Back-up existing System

The first thing I did was backup my existing data. Essentially, this meant archiving everything under the /storage directory to an external disk drive. Next, I performed a backup of the mythconverg MySQL database. The instructions that I used for this came from a post on g-ding.tv (http://g-ding.tv/?q=node/2008), but essentially, this is what I did:

  • mysqldump -u mythtv -pmythtv mythconverg -c > mythtv_backup.sql
  • grep "INSERT INTO \`record\` " mythtv_backup.sql > restore.sql
  • grep "INSERT INTO \`recorded\` " mythtv_backup.sql >> restore.sql
  • grep "INSERT INTO \`oldrecorded\` " mythtv_backup.sql >> restore.sql
  • grep "INSERT INTO \`recordedprogram\` " mythtv_backup.sql >> restore.sql
  • grep "INSERT INTO \`recordedrating\` " mythtv_backup.sql >> restore.sql
  • grep "INSERT INTO \`recordedmarkup\` " mythtv_backup.sql >> restore.sql
  • grep "INSERT INTO \`recordedseek\` " mythtv_backup.sql >> restore.sql

I then moved the restore.sql file off to the external drive as well, along with the perl scripts used to change channels (I had made modifications to them), mine were in /usr/bin... I use directv.pl, but also copied directv3.pl and rca.pl just in case I needed them. I also copied my .bash_history files over from both mythtv and root users... some good nuggets end up in there.

Now that everything that I cared about was moved off the mythbox, I was ready to start it over from scratch...

Step 2: The refresh

While preparing to refresh, I had a debate (with myself) over what OS to use... should I stick with MythDora 4, or should I try running MythTV on Ubuntu? I opted to stick with the MythDora 4 (based on Fedora Core 6).

During the refresh, I opted for the "automatic" setup of the disk. I removed my secondary data drive (500 GB SATA), leaving the other 500GB SATA drive in for the refresh. During setup, I selected the following additional software:

  • MythTV Digital Video Recording System
  • Video Capture Device Drivers
  • Wireless Networking Support

NOTE: I had to use my Acer LCD monitor for the initial install and configuration of the OS, my Plasma is not recognized initially, and will not display until the settings are adjusted.

Step 3: Setup of OS, restore data

There are a few things that I do to setup the OS before I run through the myth setup, but these are based on my circumstances, and may not be required by others. Here is my extra config:

  • configure the wireless networking to talk to my wireless router with WEP
  • install NTFS support for external disk drives (yum install ntfs-3g). I do as su
  • reboot
  • add mythtv user to groups: root, wheel (wheel for sudoers)
  • edit /etc/sudoers, and remove comment in front of line %wheel ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL
  • restore my .bash_history files
  • restore MySQL database (again borrowing from previously mentioned link) using the command: mysql -u mythtv -p mythconverg < restore.sql Note: Run this from wherever you have the archived file.
  • restore all data to /storage directories (recordings, videos, etc.)

Step 4: Upgrade to MythTV 0.20.2, configure Backend

This is pretty straight forward, I just did the following:

  • yum -y upgrade \*myth\*

That brought me to the newest release of MythTV, which has the support for Schedules Direct. I then ran the mythtvsetup, and selected the Schedules Direct feed for my listings. (Of course, you have to register with Schedules Direct first, and pay the $15/3 month fee).

Once the backedn setup was complete (identified capture card, source, etc.), I then ran mythfilldatbase to grab the channels and populate the listings database. This took a while...

The next step was testing. I had some serious issues at this point with the LIRC, so I tested the channel changing scripts from the command line to ensure that they worked... they didn't (directv.pl get_channel should return the current channel, but instead, would retry 4 times, then give "Error excessive retries"). Here is what I knew:

  • Nothing in BIOS had changed, and it worked before
  • Cable was fine, it worked before the wipe and upgrade
  • Scripts were fine, they were the ones that I archived, but now none of them work

So, I spent some time troubleshooting this.

  • checked in /dev to ensure that ttyS0 was there
  • ensured that permissions of ttyS0 were adequate
  • installed minicom to test com port... testing showed that the port worked fine, so that wasn't the issue
  • ran: sudo setserial -a /dev/ttyS0 this revealed no problems
  • downloaded a Windows client to test the cable with (http://www.dtvcontrol.com/), this would validate cable was still working.
  • AH-HA! when I went to plug the cable into my window laptop serial port, I noticed that the cable had become disconnected at the junction from the serial cable to the null modem... NO WONDER IT WASN'T WORKING.

So, now with the cable actually plugged in, I tried the scripts again, and they worked... probably worked all along. I have a D11 set-top box from DirecTV, so I had to go with 9600 BAUD rate. Once I validated the settings, running directv.pl get_channel returned the channel my box was tuned to.

Finally, I ran ivtv-tune -c 3 to ensure I was tuned to the proper channel to receive the video feed. (I also put this into my myth backend setup afterwards so I wouldn't have to do it every boot up).

I verified that I had a video feed, could change channels with the remote, and could schedule recordings. I setup a show to record for a test, and went for lunch. When I came back, it had worked.

Back in business!

Next Up

So, this puts me back where I was before the change to Schedules Direct. I still have the following bugs to work out, and now have more motivation to do so:

  • Get VFD working
  • Finish mapping remote buttons
  • Fix volume control issue from within Myth (can't control volume)
  • Expose Myth Web through my firewall

That will be a job for next weekend, now I need to relax.


Saturday, September 8, 2007


You may have noticed an absence of posts here recently. Mainly, this is because I'm a slackr (slacker - but with the 'new' way of spelling). What should I have been posting here? I should have been posting about the setup of my VFD, or the final programming of my remote, or the fixes to get my wireless settings to stick... but, I didn't. Do you know why? Because I didn't do any of those things, instead, I got the engine running, and decided that a sun-roof, and air-conditioning, and an alarm system weren't that important, I'd do them later (a.k.a. those were all bells and whistles that I would at some point put in).

Well, now I will be posting a bit more. As many of you know (and many of you might not), Zap2It is now gonzo from a scheduling point of view... so, we in the world of Myth are all franticly swinging over to Schedules Direct for our listings (also, it is a pay service, not free as Zap was, but it isn't too costly).

This is the cause of what will be some activity. I attempted to update to the new scheduling system, when a "world of hurt" came raining down on the Vegan Myth. The first attempt at implementing the schedules direct fix caused my recording system to no longer function (I could watch live tv, and my old recorded shows, but could record no more). It seems that something happened to my database to lock me out of recording, also, no new schedule info was working. My second attempt caused the video capture to go belly up, so I could now record, and get the new listings, but I could only record static (snow). Funny thing though, if I did a cat to file of the video (cat /dev/video0 > test.mpg), then played it back through VLC, it was fine. So, the device was functioning, but just not within Myth.

I worked furiously over this last week to get all back to normal, and after playing with the ivtv settings, thought I had it... in fact, I had (for about 30 seconds) real video playing through Myth again. I setup a recording to test it, and went to bed.... the next day, I tried to watch the recording, and it was just "white screen"... not even snow. THEN, I noticed that the cat to file from the device was also just white. I conferred with my resident Myth expert, and we determined that the ivtv install was not properly matched to my kernel, so I upgraded that to 0.10.5... this blew away my Nvidia drivers, and my x server no longer worked...

To fix the 'x' issues, I had to modify my xorg.conf file to remove the nvidia driver (which used to work), and put in the 'nv' driver... this works, but not in Myth. I removed and reinstalled the NVidia drivers, which (once again) blew up my x server... After fumbling around again, I was able to restore back to a working system (sans Myth).

SO, now I am reinstalling from scratch... I will post on this episode later. FIRST though, I backed all my recordings and videos to an external drive, as well as backing up the MySQL mythconverg database.

The lessons I've learned:

1) being a slackr may have been good... I didn't waste any time setting up stuff only to have it blown away
2) maybe if I wasn't a slackr, I wouldn't have screwed up my upgrade...

Must return to the Myth re-install now...


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weekend Update


Okay, it again has been a while. The Myth is functional, and recording shows happily. We have now recorded 12 stages of "Le Tour de France", as well as a bunch of HGTV stuff. I have a few 'bugs' to work out still, but I do have the channel changing working, recording, LIRC (mostly)... I also have some stuff on my list that I just haven't spent the time to get done.

Bug List

General Fedora bugs

  • Upon reboot, need to run ivtv-tune -c 3 to reset tuner to channel 3

  • Upon reboot, have to manually reconnect to the wireless network, it will not autoconnect despite being told (in an angry voice) to do so.

Myth bugs Some of these seem not to be Myth bugs at a first glance...

  • After a period of time (about 20 minutes) power save kicks in and shuts off the monitor... this ONLY happens from within Myth, not when using XINE, VLC, or just in the OS in general. Movement of the mouse brings it back to life.

  • Sometimes, commercial flagging doesn't occur... but only sometimes

  • Volume control isn't functioning... you see the on screen message that mute is on/off, or that volume is going up/down, but it doesn't. Volume can be controlled from the OS though.

Unfinished Business

Okay, I still have some stuff that I haven't finished, but with watching the tour, having our place up for sale, and riding my bike, I've been too busy... I shall overcome, however, eventually.

  • Finish mapping remote buttons

  • Get VFD and volume knob working

  • Configure network for external access (includes setting up Open LDAP, finish configuring my firewall server, DHCP server and DNS server)

It is getting pretty close. It is working well enough for my Tour needs...

Monday, July 2, 2007

We have a signal

Ok, it has been a while, but I have been travelling with work, and putting in some longer days. Also, we went away for a cycling vacation in MA, so that took up some potential "Myth" time.

So, I had a special guest host in yesterday to provide some assistance with the remaining work. He is my friendly, neighborhood "Myth Evangelist". Here is the "punch list" of tasks we had to work on:

  1. get a capture to work without myth, just using the hardware
  2. get a capture to work in myth
  3. make sure live tv works (proves playback and capture at once)
  4. configure IR to work with the easiest remote (PVR 150)
  5. configure IR to work with intended remote (Silverstone provided remote)
  6. sign up for TV listings, and populate the database
  7. schedule a recording, and start playback after it begins
  8. get channel changing to work
  9. make sure mythtvweb is working from within firewall
  10. get VFD working
  11. get volume knob on case working

So, we got 1 - 7 working (mostly/kinda). Never got the PVR150 remote to work,but got the Silverstone one to work. There was also a strange issue that appeared with the Myth display, where it seemed to revert to the old 8 color VGA scheme... turned out to be an NVidia driver issue, that once resolved, worked fine. Item 7 was only partly successful as well, when the recording started, it started with a name of "", so it was unable to find it, or know when to stop recording... we had to restart the backend at this point. Some of this may have to do with the configuration of the signa... we are using an RCA D11 receiver for DirecTV, and I don't have the proper cable to perform the channel changing... this should be remedied by tomorrow.

So, we have a lot of the tasks complete, and most started. I need to still do the following now:

  • Finish the IR configuration - some of the buttons aren't mapped, so I just need to map those across to Myth.
  • I have the instructions for the VFD and volume knob tasks, will save those for last, nice to have features
  • Getting cable tomorrow for channel changing... hope this also resolves the capture of the name of the content for recording. May have to tweak this a bit though.
  • setup the external MythTV web for programming...

My goal is to have it all complete by July 7 in time for the Tour de France... here's hoping.

Again, a special thanks to the friendly, neighborhood Myth Evangelist.

P.S. No pictures today, but, I hope to get some up on Wednesday of it in action...