Archive for July, 2007

Shuttle XPC Barebone SG33G5M

Shuttle XPC Barebone SG33G5M

Shuttle Inc. announced its new product – Shuttle XPC Barebone SG33G5M. It’s a small form factor PC with stylish design and impressive functionality. The SG33G5M supports processors of Intel’s Coreâ„¢ 2 Quad, Coreâ„¢ 2 Duo E6000/E4000 series, Pentium Dual-Core E2000 series and Celeron 400 series and can accomodate up to 4GB of DDR2-800 memory in dual-channel mode. It can play HD video (thanks to GMA 3100 onboard graphics engine and HDMI output) and allows playback of copy protected HD content through HDCP. The sound should be hight quality with built-in 7.1 HD audio chip with Dolby Digital Live! and DTS Connect certification. The integrated Gigabit-LAN connector is well-suited for data streaming in the local network or fast downloads from the internet. The remote control for Windows Vista Home Premium/Ultimate and the integrated VFD display complete the HTPC view.

The Shuttle Barebone originally produced for Windows but you can install Linux based media center as well (MythTV for example). The remote control sensor is compatible with lirc_mceusb2 and the Linux driver for VFD display is also available. You might be interesting to see the Python script to communicate with VFD display because MythTV doesn’t support it directly.

The Shuttle XPC Barebone SG33G5M will be available shortly with recommended retail price is €328.00.

Personally, I prefer Mac Mini form factor or something similar to Silverstone LC16M. The Shuttle looks a bit heavy for me. But its VFD display is really cool! I like it.

[via eHomeUpgrade]

Ubuntu’s gonna be port to Samsung Q1

Ubuntu on Samsung Q1

It seems that Windows monopoly in the UMPC area is gonna be ended. TVease, producer of HTPC based on Ubuntu and MythTV, is planning to port full Ubuntu Linux distribution including OpenOffice, GIMP, MythTV to the Windows-based UMPC Samsung Q1. Since that company produces media centers with MythTV inside I suppose that the target of that port is a possibility to run full featured MythTV on UMPC.

Linux folks already tried to run (not install) Ubuntu on Q1 in LiveCD mode. So, TVease decided to expand and improve that. Well, let’s see how it’ll be. We expect release Ubuntu for Q1 of at least official announce on August.

[via eHomeUpgrade]

Full HD TV/PC combo from Compass Systems

Compass Systems 47-inch full HD PCTV

Korean producer of embedded systems Compass Systems announced its new product PT-47FHD. It’s a 47 inch Full High Definition LCD TV combined with full-blown PC. Unfortunately, there is no any words about PC specification and product price.

The PT-47FHD seems quite interesting. I suppose that it can be used as HTPC with media center software MythTV or MCE. And in that case you don’t need add dedicated media center PC for that TV.

The Full HD TV/PC combo will be available in Korea market in mid-August.

[via AVING.Net]

The latest Z-Wave chip cheaper and uses less power

Third Generation Z-Wave Chip

According to AutomatedHome the third generation Z-Wave ZW0301 Single Chip is available in production. Its features include the ability to support battery-to-battery networks, lower power consumption, and full interoperability with previous Z-Wave products. Depending on the volume, the ZW0301 has 15 to 30 percent lower cost than the 200-series generation of Z-Wave chips. This means that dimmers, switches, sensors etc which are based on Z-Wave technology will be also cheaper and more efficient.

Taking in account of Z-Wave initiative to combine TCP/IP and Z-Wave I can guess that Z-Wave will be at least one of dominate wireless technologies in the home automation area.

P. S. You can buy Sylvania Z-Wave Deluxe Starter Kit, included one remote control and two #2000Z plug-in lamp modules, for $99.99. Good opportunity to start automation of your home with leading technology!

Configure iMON PAD/VFD in LinuxMCE

iMON PAD and VFD

Preface

iMON IR receiver and VFD display are used by many producers of cases for HTPC. One of most popular of them is SilverStone. LinuxMCE doesn’t support them from the box but there is a way to add it into system. That howto explains the steps which should be performed to do that.

iMON PAD

The driver for iMON IR receiver is included in the LIRC distribution since version 0.7.1. To add it to LinuxMCE you should do following:

  1. Go to Advanced :: Configuration :: Device Templates, add new manufacture – SoundGraph, add a new template for that manufacture (choose LIRC Remote Control as Device Category)
  2. In the new template add a property – Configuration and put there LIRC configuration file for iMON PAD, for example, you can use that one – iMON PAD lircd.conf (2272).
  3. To be able to control MythTV add content of that file – iMON PAD MythTV lircrc (1454) into /home/mythtv/.mythtv/lircrc. For VDR replace LIRC section in the remote.conf by this codes remote.conf (1321)
  4. Go to Wizard :: Media Directors and add iMON PAD remote control by pressing the button ‘Add Remote’ on the bottom of the form. After that all needed LIRC packages will be downloaded and installed automatically. You shouldn’t do that manually!
  5. Quick reload router. You should see running lircd process:
    ps -elf|grep lircd
    and file /etc/lircd/lircd.conf should contain the content of iMON PAD property Configuration.
  6. To test you remote control you can use utility irw. Just run it and press a few buttons on the remote. You should see the actual IR command as irw output.

As I mentioned above iMON remote control is supported by LIRC from the box. But to use iMON PAD buttons you have to re-compile LIRC with applied patch LIRC-0.8.1 iMON PAD patch (2099):

tar xvjf lirc-0.8.2.tar.bz2
CD lirc-0.8.2
patch -p1 < ../lirc-imon-pad2keys.patch ./configure make make install

  • download sources of LIRC 0.8.2 and diff file from Ubuntu site.
  • untar LIRC sources and apply diff to build the package:
    tar -vzxf lirc_0.8.2.orig.tar.gz
    CD lirc-0.8.2
    patch -p0 < ../lirc_0.8.2-0ubuntu8.diff
  • Apply iMON PAD patch:
    patch -p1 < ../lirc-imon-pad2keys.patch
  • Build the package:
    dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot
  • Note:

    • if you see error message 'dialog not found!' install dialog:
      apt-get install dialog
    • if you get en error: configure: error: C++ preprocessor "/lib/cpp" fails sanity check install build-essential:
      apt-get install build-essential

    iMON VFD display

    Note: the LCDProc includes supporting of iMON VFD display since version 0.5.0. You shouldn't compile it from the sources just install LCDProc using apt-get -
    sudo apt-get install lcdproc
    and define imon driver in the LCDd.conf.
    • Download the latest snapshot from venky.ws.
    • Untar the tarball: tar vzxf lcdproc-X.X.X-imon.tgz
    • Go to the lcdproc-X.X.X-imon directory, apply this patch Patch for LCDProc-0.4.5 (1377) to avoid display good bye message after PC will be switch off.
    • Prepare installation:
      aclocal && autoheader && autoconf && automake -a
      or get already patched version - Patched iMON LCDProc 0.4.5 (1307).
    • Run ./configure && make && make install
    • Copy LCDd.conf to /usr/local/etc or modify script /etc/init.d/lcdd to point on LCDd.conf
    • Copy Debian scripts to the /etc/init.d:
      cp scripts/init-lcdd.debian /etc/init.d/lcdd
      and run update-rc.d lcdd defaults to create symlinks to start/stop lcd daemon and client.
    • Make a symlink: ln -s /usr/local/sbin/LCDd /usr/local/bin if you install LCD in the default path.

    The configuration file LCDd.conf contains a set of options for LCDd. Most of them are already defined. So, probably you won't touch that file. However, it might be useful for troubleshooting set following options:
    ReportLevel=5
    ReportToSyslog=yes

    To get more debug information in the /var/log/syslog.
    It's also possible to run LCDd from command line:
    LCDd -c <config file> -d <driver>
    In our case the command should be like that:
    LCDd -c LCDd.conf -d imon

    Enable VFD display in MythTV

    You can find the setup options in Utilities/Setup->Setup->Appearance->LCD device display. Tick the box Enable VFD device and a few options appear. To bring some data to VFD display mythlcdserver should be run.

    Enable VFD display in VDR

    To be able use VFD display with VDR you have to install plug-in vdr-lcdproc:

    • Download and untar somewhere appropriate version of VDR sources (1.4.7 in case of LinuxMCE)
    • Download the latest version of vdr-lcdproc plug-in
    • Untar it into <your_vdr_src_dir>/PLUGINS/src and make a symlink - ln -s lcdproc-0.0.10-jw2 lcdproc
    • Build plug-in: make plugins. Note, for AMD64 you should add option -fPIC to the CXXFLAGS into lcdproc Makefile. Otherwise you'll get this error:
      /usr/bin/ld: lcdproc.o: relocation R_X86_64_32 against `a local symbol' can not be used when making a shared object; recompile with -fPIC
      lcdproc.o: could not read symbols: Bad value
    • Copy <your_vdr_src_dir>/PLUGINS/lib/libvdr-lcdproc.so.1.4.5 to the /usr/lib/vdr/plugins
    • Add a new config file plugin.lcdproc.conf into /etc/vdr/plugins and put there following options:
      -h 127.0.0.1
      -p 13666

      Where -h defines LCDProc host and -p - LCDProc port (you can find those values in the /etc/LCDProc.conf)
    • Restart VDR:
      sudo /etc/init.d/vdr restart
    Note: if by some reason you don't have VDR sources just install VDR headers:
    sudo apt-get install vdr-dev
    apply that patch - LCDProc VDR Plugin (1186) to the vdr-lcdproc sources
    CD lcdproc-0.0.10-jw2
    patch -p0 < ../lcdproc-0.0.10-jw2-package.diff
    and build the package
    dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot
    Then install created package and restart VDR.

    Now your VFD display should display information from VDR.

    You may use my built package for AMD64 - vdr-plugin-lcdproc AMD64 (1250).

    Media Director Issue

    To compile lcdproc on diskless media director you have install following packages first:

    • gcc
    • libc6-dev
    • kernel-headers
    • libncurses5-dev
    • dialog

    Troubleshooting

    If your remote control or VFD display doesn't work check following:

    • LIRCd needs /dev/lirc0 and LCDProc - /dev/lcd0. If you cannot see them then something is wrong.
    • Check /var/log/syslog. It can contain an error message about problems with LIRCd config file. This is a common case (at least for me).
    • Check connection iMON VFD with USB port. I spent some time to figure out why my remote doesn't work but iMON VFD USB cable was plugged not very well.

    See also

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