My Media Center Setup

I’ve had a few questions on what sort of setup I have for my VMC box, and as it’s changed recently (from 2 recorder machines to just one) I thought I would share.

First the Network :

I have quite a complex ‘home’ network going on, and it’s not really something that I expect other home users to replicate, although if you want to do something similar, just shout, I would be glad to help. But anyhow here is what it is.

I have a multi site setup running Windows Server 2008/2003, my house is site one, with a Server 2008 x64 in core mode handling DNS/DHCP/LDAP/Active Directory/Storage. I then have an Exchange 2007 Server handling email/webmail/syncro to WinMo devices for my family, and then a server 2003 x86 server running ISA 2006 for internet access in and out (as well as VPN for site 2). Site 2 is my Parents where they have a Server 2003 x86 server running AD/DHCP/DNS for that site, they connect to exchange through the VPN tunnel (L2TP+IPSEC) and that tunnel also handles the AD/DNS sync.

The 2008 server also has over 5Tb of storage assigned to it, and handles the network shares that I store video and DVD Rips on.

Second the TV:

I’ve recently switched from having a second box running VMC with two tuners as I can now have 8 in the main VMC PC (4xDVB-T and 4xDVB-S). This box is a 2.6Ghz Core2Duo with 3Gb ram (would have more, but a bug in VMC stops DVB-S from working with 4+GB). This then has 2x250GB drives in a raid 1 setup for the OS and 4x500GB drives in a raid 5 configuration for the Recorded TV. I keep the Recorded TV on the local PC and not on a network share for IO reasons, as even at 1Gb/s the performance is nothing like good enough to record from 4xHD DVB-S and 4xDVB-T SD broadcasts. The raid 5 configuration though happily handles 1xHD and 5xSD records as I have done that on more than one occasion without issue.

The machine also has an LG combo HD DVD / Blu ray recorder in it for watching HD movies.

The downstairs machine and 360/PS3/Wii all are hooked upto a Panasonic 32” LCD, yes I would like a bigger one, but really for where we sit in the room anything bigger than 37” would be OTT to be honest. They all go through a Denon AVR2307 amp for audio.

The iMate picture frame also uses the WiFi to get to the VMC box for pictures, and sideshow information.

I then have an XBox 360 running as an extender in the bedroom hooked into a Dell 19” Widescreen PC Monitor, and one of my old 5.1 receivers. This gives us the ability to watch telly in bed if we want.

All of the network is connected via Cat5E and runs at 1Gb/s (although the 360 and PS3 both have to have the ports at 100/full)

So as you see, you can setup a really good home system with VMC, testimony to the fact that Microsoft’s product, although not perfect, and perhaps missing a few features, can be extended to the nth degree.