The neverending computer update

A side hobby of mine is tinkering with computers, I know quite a shock to those that know me. I always have lots of computer equipment littered around collecting dust and what not. About a year ago I started to put together a computer to use as our home theater PC, HTPC. HTPCs are usually connected to a television and used to show videos, pictures, play music, etc.

For the past year this HTPC was not really fulfilling it’s true potential. I was only using it as a file server for our TiVo’s. Now that unto itself was beneficial as we could place all of our photos, music and videos on the HTPC and all of our TiVo’s play any of the content on it.

Last month I decided that it was time for the HTPC to become more than just a file server and get all the required components to output true HD to our big screen TV in the basement. I ordered a faster CPU, more memory and a couple of Terabyte hard drives.

I was a bit surprised when I went to hook up the drives that my old motherboard did not have the SATA ports that were advertised on the box (Collecting dust in my closet). This required me to purchase a new motherboard, and a new video card.

When the motherboard and video card arrived I knew it would be better to reinstall Windows from scratch than to try to jury rig it all together. So a few hours of installs, updates and patches later Windows was installed. But I still had an issue, the computer would lock up when it tried to shut down, probably due to a bad driver.

So after moving all my drivers to a separate folder I reinstalled Windows again. Another 3 hours down the drain, but success as Windows could start up and shut down properly. Now I could play with the system and see what it offered.

The new video card could support 1080p but my older HD TV proved this was too hard to read the text on the screen at 1080i, so I switched to 720P, much better. I installed all my software to convert videos, stream them to my TiVos and to play movies in the basement.

sony_sata_blu-rayAbout this time my last component came in the mail, a Blu-Ray drive. The new drive would allow us to watch the newer format Blu-Ray discs on the big TV in the basement. A simple upgrade, so I thought.

After removing my old DVD drive and putting in the new drive I turned on the PC. As it hummed to life I flipped through the manual of the new drive, anticipating what extra software I would have to install to play the BR discs. When I looked up I saw that Windows locked up while booting up. An hour of tweaking start up settings did not get my any further. Nuts, I have never had a windows boot up issue with a new drive before.

Three more hours later I had Windows installed from scratch again and was installing my software again. At least I was getting good at this part. I pulled out a BR disc, Batman The Dark Knight. The new, albeit crappy, default player loaded it up. The picture looked great, but no sound. Oh no, what is wrong now.

Flipping through Windows settings and defaults I ran across the fact that my new Video card has it’s own sound device for the HDMI cable. This was the default, so no sound was coming out my other sound device. A simple setting fixed this and I was getting sound. Not HD Surround sound due to the crappy video player bundled with the Blu-Ray drive, but at least sound.

So the only things remaining are to reinstall my TV cards so I can timeshift ATSC, Clear QAM, and NTSC cable and the HTPC should be complete enough… For now.

08. March 2009 by Rick
Categories: Uncategorized | 4 comments