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Whole House DVR Project...About to pull the trigger

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JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
Edit: Added quick project summary:

04/14/2016: Initial Parts List
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7923012&viewfull=1#post7923012)

04/17/2016: Logitech Harmony 650 Remote - Initial Test
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7923763&viewfull=1#post7923763)

04/19/2016: QNAP TS-453A NAS + 4x5TB Hard Drives
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7924104&viewfull=1#post7924104)

04/19/2016: QNAP TS-453A NAS - Initial Speed Tests
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7924192&viewfull=1#post7924192)

04/21/2016: QNAP NAS Web Browser Interface, Plex Web Browser Interface
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7924904&viewfull=1#post7924904)

04/28/2016: TV Shows & Movies into Plex - Initial Thoughts
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7926681&viewfull=1#post7926681)

05/13/2016: HdHomeRun Prime Cable Card Tuner is HERE!
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7929885&viewfull=1#post7929885)

05/16/2016: Messing Around with HdHomeRun Prime
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7930544&viewfull=1#post7930544)

05/18/2016: Cable Card Activated, NextPVR & Kodi Working in Windows 10
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7931010&viewfull=1#post7931010)

05/21/2016: NVIDIA Shield is HERE!!!!
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7932024&viewfull=1#post7932024)

05/26/2016: FLIRC IR USB Dongle to Make Harmony 650 Remote Work with Kodi
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7932807&viewfull=1#post7932807)

06/01/2016: Kodi/NextPVR Have Issues - Dissapointed...
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7934211&viewfull=1#post7934211)

06/01/2016: SageTV??? Is it the Answer???
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7934304&viewfull=1#post7934304)

06/02/2016: SageTV - Initial Thoughts - WOW WOW WOW!
(http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7934490&viewfull=1#post7934490)

- - - -
System Configuration
- - - -

06/08/2016: Final Hardware List - "Production" System (http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7935798&viewfull=1#post7935798)


06/08/2016: Backend Server Software Configuration (http://www.overclockers.com/forums/...-the-trigger?p=7935801&viewfull=1#post7935801)

- - - - -

A bit lengthy...but worth the read...


I currently use Brighthouse cable...

So, about 3 weeks ago, my "whole house" DVR solution from them stopped working. I can still record things on the main box, but the other boxes cannot "see" the main box. I can only watch recorded content on the main box. Hence, defeating the purpose of a "whole house DVR".

Brighthouse obviously messed up something on their end...so I called them to fix it. So far they have done:

1. Replace the cables boxes (3 times now)
2. Rewire the cable coming into the main junction
3. Rewire the cable in my house
4. Rewire it again

The last clown ripped up all of my MoCA 2.0 stuff...put in junk splitters...I just about lost it...he could barely speak English. He blamed the MoCA stuff for the DVR boxes not working. I tried to explain to him that they operate on different frequency bands, and the stuff he put in is causing high signal loss on the MoCA band (went from 1 Gbps to 200 Mbps). He said he fixed the whole house DVR...but it still didn't work. He said my MoCA was causing problems. I unplugged my devices...and it still doesn't work. He left, and I plugged it all back in.

So - they broke something, and I am sick and tired of waiting on the "we will be there between 1200 and 600" B.S. for them to try something new.

I started researching different options. I have come down to "HDHomeRun Prime" and "InfiniTV 6-eth". Both boxes are pretty cool. The InfiniTV has 6 tuners versus the HDHomeRun Prime only having 3. However, HDHomeRun is working on a DVR software package that can record directly to NAS devices (Synology, WD, etc.)...this software is still in the alpha/beta stage, but they are still in the running.

The basic problem with this DVR approach is dealing with program content marked as "copy once" versus "copy freely". If you don't have the right hardware and software, you can only view "copy once" software on the hardware it was first created on.

"Copy Once" used to only be the premium channels (got to watch my Game of Thrones), but cable companies are starting to mark content from TLC, SiFy, etc. like this as well (varies by region, but you will be assimilated.)

And before you go there, ALL (yes ALL) of the freeware DVR/PVR/etc. options out there do not handle "copy once" content properly. Most of them let you watch it live, but they don't let you watch it recorded. Don't want this approach, as it's not much different than the broken Brighthouse system now.


After doing A LOT of research, it looks like there are only 2 options:

(1) Use HDHomeRun Prime or InviniTV 6, connect to a Windows 7 or Windows 8 box running Windows Media Center. Each TV must have an XBOX-360 to act as a "Media Extender" off the Windows Media Center PC. This will allow each PC to access the "main" DVR, and watch recorded content that is marked "copy once". The XBOX-360 is the only piece of hardware out there that can act as a media extender for Windows Media Center for Windows 8. You can get new XBOX-360 for about $200...less than the cost of a decent power HTPC.

(2) Use HDHomeRun Prime, with the alpha/beta DVR software and connect into my NAS. Get small HTPC for each TV to connect into the DVR software. You can get a $100, small Windows 10 PC (complete with Windows 10 license) for this purpose. Won't do much else, but you can get it.

(3) TiVo (enough said)


Option (1) leaves me flexible, but will cost more out of pocket $$. But, I can get Media Center remotes for the XBOX-360 that look a lot like the Brighthouse remotes we have now (my wife IS NOT computer savy...so this has to pass her muster as well.)

Option (2) is more risky, as out of the box I don't know if the DVR software project will be successful. The folks at HDHomeRun have a pretty large mandate for what they are trying to accomplish...but they are already running 6 months behind their original schedule.

Option (3) is just stupid...really...pay $600 or more for hardware AND $14.99 a month...seriously? Oh wait, I can become a "lifetime member" for another $600...so I have to lay out $1200 or more...sorry


Regardless of option (1) or (2), I will end up saving about $35 a month from the cable company (will not have to pay the monthly box rental)...but I will still have to rent a "cable card" to go into the main HDHomeRun or InfiniTV box. So, the hardware will pay for itself in short order.

Thoughts please?
 
Last edited:

Nimblor

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
I am currently using system #1 with 3 extenders and a hdhomerunconnect and hauppauge card for free QAM. I have been thinking about getting another homerun. You can get xbox360s cheaper every day. The 4gb ones are just fine and you should be able to find them for right around $100. If they are more you can sell the remotes and games because they usually come with a pile of stuff on craigslist. Old xbox360s do the job fine but can be very loud so be aware.

I was thinking about building a dedicated w7 box to run WMC and Plex and whatever else but I have not gotten around to it yet for a variety of reasons. Eventually I will need to go to W10 on my main rig.

We use a harmony 650 remote with the xbox 360. It has high WAF. One button fireup and shut down. It is very intuitive and has a built in help mode. You can have the xbox360 boot into WMC. Plex and netflix and whatever can be run without a xbox live gold acct which is handy. Plex prefers unique logins on unique machines.
 
OP
JrClocker

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
Thanks for the feedback.

I'm going to go with option (2) and give the HDHomeRun DVR software a try. If it doesn't pan out, I can take this system to an option (1) easily.

Will be buying parts soon!
 

(G{in}[AK)TION]

Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2011
What is the system doing that you dont want it to do? What is it actually supposed to do? You cant just tell us that "its not working" and expect us to know what exactly the problem is.
 
OP
JrClocker

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
What is the system doing that you dont want it to do? What is it actually supposed to do? You cant just tell us that "its not working" and expect us to know what exactly the problem is.


From my original post:

A bit lengthy...but worth the read...
So, about 3 weeks ago, my "whole house" DVR solution from them stopped working. I can still record things on the main box, but the other boxes cannot "see" the main box. I can only watch recorded content on the main box. Hence, defeating the purpose of a "whole house DVR".


I think that's pretty clear.
 
OP
JrClocker

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
Brighthouse actually sent out a guy this time who knew what he was doing...he spent about 5 minutes in the house, said there is a problem on their end, replaced something at their junction box (which is right outside my house), came back in and POOF...whole house DVR was working again.

So much for the "value proposition" of selling my custom solution to my wife - hehe.

Still going to buy the HDHomerun Prime box though...will just be a delay in "full system commissioning" - hehe.


I'll post back here once I get the box up and running, and give my feedback on their DVR software that is still in the alpha/beta stage.
 

S_I_N

Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2004
Location
San Antonio, Texas
as a time warner tech I could of told ya after they rewired the whole house and it still didnt work even after replacing the boxes its something on the other side coding or signal incomin to the house. WHDVR doesnt take alot to work properly as long as each box is home run and the proper filter/splitters are used.
 

wagex

Chapstick Eating Premium Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
http://kodi.wiki/view/HDHomeRun
a cheap android box that can run kodi or like a fire tv or what ever, wonder how well that would work as your set top boxes.
alot less wasted power and smaller and simple to use.
 
Last edited:
OP
JrClocker

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
I knew that already! I wish you could have told the other clowns that came out before.

These were not Brighthouse guys, but contractors. They would not listen to me at all. I was caught in the Contractor-Two-Step...with these guys showing up, doing work that was not needed, and charging Brighthouse for it.

I told these contractors that the problem was not in the house and it was on the Brighthouse end...but they ended up rewiring the house 2 times, and replacing the boxes 3 times. They were just running on auto pilot.


1 of the contractor clowns actually said: "look, the picture is better".

I said..."um...isn't that a digital HD channel?"

He said, "yes".

I said, "so how did you rewiring the house make my picture better on a digital HD channel?"


When I called Brighthouse this last time, I told them I wanted one of their Techs, and not some contractor..."or else".

The guy that came was a Brighthouse employee. He listened to me (unlike the contractors), made the appropriate changes on their end, and didn't touch any of the wiring in my house.


I thanked him, told him that I always get top-notch service from a Brighthouse employee, and asked him to give my feedback on my contractor experience to his supervisors...he said he would. A real professional guy.
 
OP
JrClocker

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
http://kodi.wiki/view/HDHomeRun
a cheap android box that can run kodi or like a fire tv or what ever, wonder how well that would work as your set top boxes.


Yup...I did a fair amount of research on this...

Kodi, XBMC, etc. is great for over-the-air broadcasts, but not won't work for "copy once" copy protected format. (See the original post).

All cable companies are moving towards "copy once" on more than just premium channels (i.e. TLC, SiFy, etc)...varies by region. (See original post).

I'm not interested in putting an antenna on my roof! :D
 

wagex

Chapstick Eating Premium Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
Yup...I did a fair amount of research on this...

Kodi, XBMC, etc. is great for over-the-air broadcasts, but not won't work for "copy once" copy protected format. (See the original post).

All cable companies are moving towards "copy once" on more than just premium channels (i.e. TLC, SiFy, etc)...varies by region. (See original post).

I'm not interested in putting an antenna on my roof! :D

interesting, i wouldnt know i havent had cable in years :( i do have sling which is neat and has most of the channels we watch and is cheaper. everything else we watch later on netflix, or stuff. alot of channels let you stream the shows after they air free anymore.
 
OP
JrClocker

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
OK - I'm finishing up the research on this and will be pulling the trigger and buying parts next week (playing in a golf tournament over the weekend...priorities - hehe).

I wanted to get some feedback from you guys before I buy the hardware.

I split this into 2 categories: (1) background stuff (was going to buy anyway) and (2) Whole House DVR stuff (just for this project.) I am putting the two together, as they will be "the system" when running...but the "background stuff" is not required if you are doing to do this yourself.


Background Stuff - Total: $1,370.96

RAID NAS: QNAP TS-453A (4-Bay NAS): $599 - Amazon
- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004HKIB6E...lid=1P2W7FK9J1VMN&coliid=I180W50ECJQIT4&psc=1
- Overkill for a NAS, but it has tons of processor horsepower, and it designed to be used as a universal media server. Of main interest is the Plex server.
- Has 4 network ports that can be aggregated to allow for a total of 4 Gbps of bandwidth (my switch supports this)

4 x 5TB WD Red Hard Drives: $771.96 - Amazon
- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LO3KR0U...lid=2156OCI5DH9UR&coliid=I2AJ3IHBHWBH36&psc=1
- Will setup as RAID 10...total of 10 TB of storage
- You guys already scared me away from RAID 5 (hehe), and RAID 6 doesn't make sense for only 4 drive bays


Whole House DVR Stuff - Total: $792.46

HDHomeRun Prime: $112.50 - Amazon
- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004HKIB6E...lid=1P2W7FK9J1VMN&coliid=I180W50ECJQIT4&psc=1
- 3 tuners, interfaces with cable card for DRM content
- 1 Gbps network interface

HDHomeRun DVR Software: $60 - Silicon Dust
- https://www.silicondust.com/products/hdhomerun/hd-homerun-dvr/
- Recording component runs directly on the QNAP NAS
- Can also run on a Windows, Linux, Apple machine as plan B
- The software is still under development, but the latest release looks pretty cool
- Currently only Windows Media Center (Windows 7, 8, and 8.1) and this software support DVR functionality of DRM content. Nothing else does!

HTPC Viewer: NVIDIA Shield Pro 500 GB: $249.99 - Amazon
- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XO7AK1U/ref=twister_B00U37EA38?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
- Will need 2, one for each TV
- Silicon Dust has "player" software already working for these devices
- As a bonus, I can "stream" games from any of my PCs and play them here...pretty cool to be able to do that in my living room!
- the 500 GB is probably overkill right now, but gives me expandability for only $50

Remote Control: Logitech Harmony 650: $59.99 - Amazon
- http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Harm...&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00
- Will need 2, one for each TV
- Already has "scripts" that work with NVIDIA Shield, Plex, and HDHomeRun products
- Part of the deal with my wife is that the new solution has to be just as easy to use as the current remotes from Brighthouse
- This is a cool remote...will be "testing" it with the current Brighthouse DVR components


I contacted Brighthouse, and they will send a technician over for free to help me get the HDHomeRun Prime box working with their cable card. Additionally, when I officially get rid of the Brighthouse equipment, my cable bill will drop by $40 per month. So, my payback period for the equipment (not including the NAS...was going to do that anyway) is 19 months...not too shabby!

I could probably go cheaper for the bedroom "playing" box, but I would rather just have 1 configuration to keep troubleshooting simple.

I could probably go cheaper for both "playing" boxes, but I wanted to have expandability.


My implementation plan:
Step 1: Setup the NAS
Step 2: Move data from multiple hard drives onto the NAS (will take a while - hehe)
Step 3: Migrate from DNLA server to Plex server running on the NAS
Step 4: Setup HDHomeRun Prime live TV functionality...can watch TV directly from any Windows, Linux, Apple, etc. box...integrate into Windows Boxes
Step 5: Setup HDHomeRun DVR software on NAS...integrate into Windows Boxes
Step 6: Setup NVIDIA Shield devices and remotes, integrate Plex and HDHomeRun into these devices

Hopefully things will go well.

Thanks in advance for any feedback! :thup:
 
OP
JrClocker

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
Just got the Logitech Harmony 650 remote setup to work with my existing equipment.

Very easy to setup.

Very intuitive remote.

My wife has given the green flag to proceed...woo hoo!


 
OP
JrClocker

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
QNAP TS-453A and 4 x 5TB WD Red Hard Drives ordered just before lunch.

Arriving tonight by 9 PM (got to love Amazon same-day delivery). I'll post pictures later...
 
OP
JrClocker

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
Got the NAS and 4 5 TB WD Red drive:

IMG_1128.JPG


Here is a close up picture of the NAS:

IMG_1129.JPG

Mechanical Setup
Mechanical installation and setup was pretty straight forward. The drive bays easily pop out when the release is lifted, install 4 screws to hold the drive (screws are provided), and pop the drive back in.

Next, connect the power into the NAS and my UPS.

Connect the network cables.

Hit the power switch.


QNAP Software Interface
QNAP has a "Q Finder" app that you run on your PC to locate the NAS on the network. You can do some simple configuration from this interface. When you double click on the NAS it opens the webpage for the unit.

You can also get to the webpage directly by typing in the IP address for the NAS, or by selecting it from the "Network" area in the Windows File explorer.

The webpage is nice, and feels like you are in a GUI even though you are on a web page.

Configuration of the unit has been pretty straight forward so far. The biggest issue for me was having to research all of the various choices for setting up the drives, volumes, etc. to make sure I was choosing what I wanted.

There are A LOT of "standard" apps that get installed on the unit based on how you answer the setup wizard questions.

There are also A LOT of additional apps that can be installed on the NAS.

I'll post some screen shots of the GUI soon.


RAID Array Initialization
Once you setup a RAID array (I chose RAID 10), the NAS does everything else for you. After about 10 minutes, you are able to start using the space you have allocated while the NAS continues setting up the RAID array.

The initialization of the RAID array was pretty slow at first (it's a 20 TB array!). After about 4 hours, only 8% of the array had been built. However, I found this link:

http://forum.qnap.com/viewtopic.php?t=10268

I did a Putty connection to the NAS and followed the instructions. The building speed definitely increased. Between 1200 AM and 630 AM, the RAID build went from 8% to 65%.


Initial Speed Testing
I did some initial file copy testing to LUN I created, and was getting 30 MB (mega-byte) per second write speed while the array was building. Not bad.

I plan on doing some more testing once the array is completely built, and then doing some speed testing of an iSCSI LUN to see if these work faster.


Port Trunking
This QNAP device has 4 1 Gbps Ethernet ports on the back. I set both my switch and NAS for port trunking. My following set of testing will be to hit the NAS with multiple connections to see how well this feature actually works on the NAS.



More updates to come!
 
OP
JrClocker

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
Speed on this QNAP is pretty good. I am copying files over to it from 2 different computers over different gigabit Ethernet interfaces. Here is the data rate from 1:

Rate.jpg


Between 107 and 112 mega bytes per second. Right now the NAS is writing 220+ mega bytes per second.

Not too shabby!
 

ssjwizard

Has slightly less legible writing than Thideras
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Thats a fair bit faster than my old QNAP unit was looks nice!