Archive for January, 2009

Having a two year old, I’ve discovered that the DVR quickly gets filled with things like Backyardigans episodes and Diego episodes and such and that doesn’t leave room for the important things like football. At one point, the solution was to get all the episodes on DVD, which we did. However, DVD’s in the US suck. When Ryan asks for “Dinosaur puppy” (Backyardigans “Cave Man’s Best Friend”), he doesn’t want to wait 5 minutes to find the DVD, put it in, forward through the 5 or 6 “previews”, wait for the FBI warning, then select the right episode (4 per disk). We ended up just leaving the episodes on the DVR as it’s much faster to get those started.

Thus, I decided it was time to setup a streaming media system to put all the kids movies, tv shows, etc… on. I finally got it all setup and working this past weekend. What does it include:

  • Playstation 3 – this is the device that will decode the streams. The Playstation 3 has a built in “DLNA/UPnP” client so it’s really just “plug it in, it will find the server and start streaming off of it”.
  • Marantz SR6003 receiver – my old receiver (Marantz SR7000 from 2001) didn’t do HDMI at all. Thus, I upgraded to a new receiver that can do HDMI switching so sound and video from both the Comcast DVR and the Playstation 3 can use HDMI. I still only have the 5 speakers (Cambridge Soundworks) so I’m stuck at 5.1 right now. Will upgrade to 7.1 some other time.
  • BuffaloTech TeraStation Live 4TB – this is the media server that I’ve stuck in the basement. It’s 4TB of space (RAID5 makes it 3TB usable). It has a built in DLNA certified media server. Thus, just put music or videos or pictures in the configured directory on the TeraStation and the PS3 just sees it.
  • PS3IR-PRO – the PS3 is only controllable via bluetooth. That doesn’t work well with my Harmony 880 remote. The PS3IR-PRO converts IR signals to bluetooth to allow the Harmony to control it.

It turned out the HARDEST part of the whole process is getting the video into a format that the PS3 will actually play. I’ve used ffmpeg and such in the past to rip DVD’s to my computer, but the PS3 is apparently very picky about the settings for the video, formats, etc…. I had one mp4 playing fine, changed one little encoding setting, it no longer played. Very annoying. I finally settled on using the h264enc script. It has presets for the PS3 that get the setting all correct and such. With the “ps3hq” preset, it’s not exactly fast (15fps or so on my older computer), but the results are very good.

The issues I have remaining:

  1. Programming the Harmony – this still needs some work. Swapping out the receiver which is used by ALL activities pretty much required redoing everything from scratch. Just need to spend some time to get all the buttons back to working the way we had it before.
  2. 100BT -> Gigabit – it turns out, I only have cat5 wiring in my house from the basement to the living room, not cat5e. It’s not connecting at gigabit speeds. Haven’t decided if it’s worth the hassle to replace it. It’s not needed for the streaming so it’s not really a big deal.

Anyway, it’s now all working. I have my old computer busy ripping DVD’s to mp4′s. That’s going to take a while, but in the end, it’s worth it. No more flipping DVD’s, no more waiting for FBI warnings and previews, etc….

The things we do for our kids….. (yea, for the kids. That’s the reason…. )

;-)