XBMC World class Home Theater setup

Home theater planning

Making your Home into Theater is costly affair and needs some good planning as well. here is the Check list that you would need.

  1. Room size – A good Hall with proper ventilation and noise proof setup with least sound reflections (I use 15 by 30 feet room where all my hardware and softwares are placed)
  2. Atleast 8 to 10 input Electric points to connect various devices, each having a switch to On / Off independently.
  3. Full HD LCD or LED TV with 2 or more HDMI Input Cable Ports.
  4. HD TV Service Provider – In India you have Tatasky, Airtel, Sun and few others (I have subscribed to Tatasky HD Service provider)
  5. High Speed Internet Service Provider – Its preferred to have from 4 MBPS to 10 MBPS Speed and unlimited download options. If you have low speed connection there will be too much of buffering,  so please be careful while choosing your service provider and plan.
  6. AMD or Intel CPU Based Desktop Machine (or Laptop) that can run Windows or Ubuntu Operating System
  7. Home Theater Sound System: There are various HT Systems available , Bose / Onkyo and few others (I use 5.1 channel Onkyo HT System with Digital Dolby sound)
  8. Sony HD Handy Cam Optional (Sony is what i prefer to use, please use what you like)
  9. Mouse and Keyboard.

architecture and hardware setup

Sony HD, Onkyo, AMD, Ubuntu on Linux, XBMC etc are my recommendations , please feel free to use alternatives and what suits your needs and budget, example you can Buy a cheaper LG LED TV or Samsung,  

  1. Inputs
  • Internet Service Provider : Connection from the ISP will be given to Router, I use Cisco Router with 4 network connection points, each of these points can be connected to various devices and make a network out of it. One of the connection is given an a Linux Box that would act as our Media Server,  please choose the one that suits you.
  • HD DTH Provider : HD Service provider allows you to view various Standard Definition and High Definition channels, Currently i am using Tatasky HD Service
  • XBMC Media Server : We will be using XMBC (http://xbmc.org/) as our Media Server that will be running on top of Ubuntu Operating System on a AMD 6 Core Processor with 12 GB RAM Desktop Machine. this will help us get all the Media content through internet
  • Network Computers and External Driver : Each of the Computers in the network and  external Hard Drive can also be an Input to your Home theater system. I am using Seagate GoFlex 2 TB External Hard drive, this allows me to store all the downloaded media files and content, this would be my local content repository. However i can also store the downloaded media files on other systems in the network as well.
  • CDs and DVDs : CDs and DVDs played in DVD RW Drives on Linux Box.
  • Radio Antennas : Onkyo Home theater system comes with its own tiny wire , that acts as a Radio Signal Receiver, that auto tunes and picks up all the FM and AM Radio Stations.
  • HD Handy Cam : You can also connect a Sony Handy Cam to the TV Directly, these Handy Cams have their own Hard disk and stores files in AVCHD Formats
  1. Connections
  • XMBC Media Server : Linux Box with XMBC Installed acts as our Media server connects to Internet through Router and Gets various Online Channels. that also includes Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, Youtube, and 1000s of various TV and Radio Channels through its easy to use Add Ons, We would be connecting HDMI Cable from our ASUS Mother Board CPU, this board also allows Optic fiber connection to our Home theater system. they have great add ons and very easy to use.
  • HD Handy Cam : this is connected to TV directly through HDMI Cable.
  • Radio Antenna : this is connected to Onkyo Home Theater as a simple single Wire
  • HD DTH Provider : this is connected to TV through HDMI Port, To home theater system through co-axial cable.
  1. Output
  • LCD or LED TV : Sony Bravia 46 inch or more, this gives you a thrilling experience, you can use its own speakers they are very good , or choose home theater system speakers
  • Home theater speakers : I am using Onkyo HT System 5.1 channel Digital Dolby, now i think they are also providing 7.1 channel HT System, Bose is also good but a lil heavy on my Budget :-)

software setup Installing ubuntu 11.10

Go to http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/download , and download 64 Bit ISO file, Burn it on a DVD, Insert DVD into DVD Drive of your AMD Box, Boot from DVD Drive, this will install the Operating system, it takes some time to install, install the Updates, allow it to be Downloaded, install the AMD Proprietary Drivers as well , this will change the Display resolution to HD

 INStalling xbmc XBMC v11 (Eden)  on top of ubuntu 11.10

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xbmc
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Reference : http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Installing_XBMC_for_Linux

NOTE : Suppose you have installed Gnome 3 Desktop Shell , and  XBMC is Installed if you go to Activities and Search for xbmc and click on it expecting it to start you will be logged out. this happens on Fedora 16 and Ubuntu 11.10,

Solution is simple after installation logout and login with XBMC selected in the wheel icon of login panel. below picture does not show XBMC but once XBMC is installed you can see XBMC there that needs to be selected

Optional : Post Installation, You might want to add more channels these are unofficial XBMC Channels, for example 18+ Channels, Sports Channels, News Channels, Indian Movie Channels, etc for that go to

http://passion-xbmc.org/addons/?Page=View&ID=plugin.program.repo.installer

Download and Install plugin.program.repo.installer-1.0.4.zip file, this is the current version while writing this Blog , it might change later,

Installation is simple you need to go to .xbmc/addons folder , drop the above zip file and then extract it, restart XBMC that will Install the new Add Ons.

You might later want to go inside XMBC console, by clicking on XMBC shortcut, and Add various channels by clicking Install Button.

Details on Unofficial Ads 

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Unofficial_add-on_repositories

List of Official Add Ons

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Category:All_add-ons

Bootable XBuntu : this acts as a Bootable Operating System, if you plan to have a dedicated Box for Media Center. please read the below link, i have not explored this feature

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=XBMCbuntu

XBMC Work in Progress on Video Addons – Forum Link

http://forum.xbmc.org/forumdisplay.php?fid=154

XBMC also works on Windows , its your choice to choose operating system and Hardware, you can also use Intel based CPU aswell 

XBMC UI

MY HOME THeater demo – 1000+ Channels, 200+ HD channels

Does that sound exiting ? yes thats what XBMC Add ons can give more than 1000+ Channels, and more than 200+ HD Channels , IPTV and lot more stuff, Including access to social and networking sites, Education and Entertainment 200%.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWROl9WXYI8]

XBMC Video channels that Work

This is India Specific , there are many channels that work  , many dont work, here is the list that i have seen working – this should inspire you further to setup XBMC today.

I also salute to the developer of these plugins and addons who have done a great Job writing them.

BOLD indicates HD and Great Channels to watch

—-> Indicates (Sub Channels under Previous Channel in top )

  1. 1Channel – Fantasy, Drama, Horror, Japanese, Korean Feeds
  2. 4Players  – PC, XBOX, Ps3, Ps4 Games
  3. Al Jazeera – English Live News
  4. Borsen TV
  5. Canada On Demand – Includes Fashion and Many sub channels.
  6. CCCP TV – 1922 to 1997
  7. CNet Podcasts – HD
  8. CNet NEWS
  9. College Humor
  10. Comic Vine
  11. Danish Live
  12. —-> TV2 Nord
  13. —-> TV2 FYN
  14. —-> Lorry
  15. —-> TV SYD
  16. —-> TV MIDT VEST
  17. —-> TV2 OST
  18. —-> Folketinget TV
  19. —-> Danskespil DK
  20. Debilizator TV
  21. DMI TV
  22. DR NU Player
  23. DR DK Podcast
  24. E1.RU
  25. Earth Touch HD
  26. —-> Marine Channel
  27. —-> Lions Channel
  28. —-> Wild Life
  29. —-> Kids Channel
  30. Empflix (Adult Channel)
  31. Engadget (About Electronic Gadgets)
  32. ESPN Video
  33. Euro Gamer HD (Gaming Related)
  34. Fantasti.cc (Adult Channel)
  35. FightCasts ( Fighting / Wresting Videos)
  36. Filmi by Nature (Indian Channel)
  37. —-> Hindi HD / Bluray Movies
  38. —-> Hindi Movies
  39. —-> Telugu Movies
  40. —-> Tamil Movies
  41. —-> Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayam Music Videos
  42. FLW Outdoors
  43. Formel 1 (Formula Racing related)
  44. FOX NEWS (Make up, News , Events, International lots more)
  45. Funny or Die
  46. G4TV ( Gaming Related )
  47. Gaffa TV
  48. Game Reactor (Gaming Related)
  49. GFQ Network (includes Big Brother Series )
  50. Giant Bomb (Gaming Related)
  51. Guzei TV
  52. Internet Archive
  53. Jupitor Broadcasting HD
  54. Kino Live .Org (Full Length Russian Movies)
  55. Kino Govno
  56. Lube Tube (Adult)
  57. Massive Mag (Sports and Adventure)
  58. Mediathek
  59. MLBMC (Sports)
  60. NASA HD TV
  61. NascarX ( car races)
  62. NAT Geo HD
  63. NAT Geo Wild
  64. NOS Journal
  65. NRK
  66. Onion News
  67. Onside TV
  68. Oliyum Oliyum (Tamil channels / Youtube Tamil Videos)
  69. Pakee (Surprised to see many good Indian channels too)
  70. —-> Indian and Pakistani Channels
  71. —-> Includes South Indian, North Indian and many channels
  72. —-> Includes Youtube links
  73. PBS
  74. Photography Podcasts (HD)
  75. Planeta Online TV (Russian channels likes Fresh.TV, PIK,TV etc )
  76. Preview TV ( HD Movie Previews)
  77. Prima TV
  78. RBK.NO
  79. Reddit Videos (Interesting includes Controversial contents)
  80. Revision TV (Engineering and Electronics)
  81. RUHD
  82. Russia . RU
  83. RuTube
  84. Screened (includes Movie Trailers)
  85. SF Video Portal (Sports, News)
  86. Spiegel Online
  87. SVT Play (Music)
  88. Swiss Podcast
  89. Tagesschau (German content)
  90. TED Talks (Talk shows)
  91. The Science Network
  92. The Trailers
  93. TMZ (Raw and Uncut)
  94. Tube8 (Adult)
  95. TV2 NEWS
  96. TV2 Video (French)
  97. TV2 Denmark
  98. Tvigle (Russian)
  99. Twit (Tech talk, The Tech Guy)
  100. UBU (Korean / Chinese ? )
  101. Ua.ix
  102. Vesti.RU
  103. Vevo HD (Music Videos)
  104. Video Devil (includes multiple adult channels like xhamster)
  105. Willow TV (Cricket live matches / Highlights)
  106. Wimp.Com (Excellent HD Videos)
  107. World News live (includes CNN, Al Jazeera, French TV , CNN, BBC etc)
  108. Youtube
  109. Zapiks (Surfing)
  110. to be continued 

HD Channels at xbmc – supertv addon in Programs

There are many HD channels and some are very good SD channels available on SuperTV , that uses rtmpGUI list and Blackoutworm’s list

  1. BBC HD
  2. TNT SD
  3. HBO HD UK
  4. UK Cinemax
  5. Sky Movies HD
  6. FILM HD (UK)
  7. US HD Movie Channel
  8. UK Movies 4 Men
  9. UK HD Movies
  10. UK Cinemax HD
  11. UK MGM HD
  12. UK Classic Movies
  13. MTV Live HD
  14. Delux Music German
  15. Italy TV
  16. Radio 105 Italy (HD)
  17. Italy Top 40
  18. Virgin Radio Italy
  19. Kiss TV (Music Italy)
  20. Euro sport HD (UK)
  21. SKY Sports HD
  22. Nasa HD
  23. Pentagon Channel HD
  24. Free speech TV
  25. TBN
  26. FOX HD Italy
  27. True TV Brazil
  28. FOX Crime HD
  29. EU Entertainment
  30. US Movie channel 2 HD
  31. Sky Movies Horror HD
  32. Pushto Movies
  33. India TV
  34. News X
  35. NDTV Goodtimes
  36. this list is incomplete – great Addon

XBMC Remote

Normal TV remote will not be of much help as they control TV and not XBMC, so you might need to buy special remote controls one such remote is available here. they say it works on both Ubuntu and Windows installation.

http://www.pulse-eight.com/store/products/104-usb-hdmi-cec-adapter.aspx

Alternative solution is XBMC has its own inbuilt web based remote that you need to enable with in XBMC under Network Settings as shown in the below figure , note down the port and ip address of the XBMC machine, using this details u can control XBMC from your laptop or hand held devices , iphone, ipad etc. just note that port 80, 8080 are commonly used ports for other applications, so chose some different port number ex, 8282 ?

XBMC as Media Server – UPNP

Media server is an interesting concept, you can have all your movie collection in a hard disk or group of hard disks over the network. add these movies into movie library with in XBMC, once you have collection, XBMC automatically fetches movie information such as actors, posters, movie details, ratings etc from online movie database. and creates thumbnail movie images.

XBMC supports UPnP protocol (Universal Plug and Play) what it means is other devices that support UPnP protocol if they are in the network can access Your movie Library using XBMC as Media Server.

XBMC, MEDIATOMB with Freeagent Threatre plus

FAT (Seagate Freeagent Theatre Plus) is a HD Media Player from Seagate, this is one more great device . this can play all sorts of files such as AVI, DAT, MKV, WMV, MP3 etc format files stored in a Hard Disk or External Storage Device connected via USB Cable.

http://www.seagate.com/www/en-au/products/home_entertainment/hd-media-player/

The advantage of this Device is it can play almost any type of Audio – Video file that can be played on a computer. But the disadvantage is its very limited ability to access internet content – weather report, flickr, youtube and some radio channels, Netflix is not available in India so its really of no use for us here. they really need to improve their firmware to make something like XBMC but it might take years for such a thing to happen.

Since XBMC Supports UPnP and Seagate Freeagent Threatre Plus can also access UPnP devices over the network , it is possible that Your Video Library can also be accessed through Freeagent Threatre Plus Media Player Device connected to your TV.

You can also run your own Media Servers on Linux, MediaTomb is one good free media server that you can try your hands on

http://mediatomb.cc/

If XBMC and Mediatomb both are running on two different Machines, Free Agent Threatre Plus can see both these as Media Servers, and run your Media Collection, Media servers not only help you access your movies, but they do lot more for example if you have a movie by name “Batman.avi” it collects the corresponding details of the Movie from online Movie Database such as IMDB

Future of XBMC

If someone from XBMC Development team is reading this blog here is my wishlist as an user. to come up with a single hardware box, that works as a small desktop computer that is of a size of a DVD player. this should include RAM, Chipsets, Operating system pre-installed, XBMC installed over the OS, DVD drive to reinstall OS incase of any software changes, inbuilt wired and wireless network connections. all put together.

Also few USB drives, Inbuilt Remote Control, Resolving 60 sec Buffering Problems, connection. Options for user to also do all that he can do with a basic laptop such as Browser, check mails , etc.

This “Future Box” will Kick out and replace every DTH Service Providers out of their Business as they are NOT able to grow with technology changes or changes to user requirements.  as of today people are not able to add Free to Air channels despite paying high bills to their DTH Service Provider.

I am using Optical cable for my Onkyo HT System from Fedora OS
1. go to system sound settings , under output tab select Radeon HD Digital Sterio HDMI
2. Input tab internal audio analog stereo
3. Hardware Tab, Radeon HD 4200 -> Digital stereo hdmi input
internal audio -> digital stero output + analog stereo inputUnder HDMI Audio SettingsAudio Output -> HDMI
Audio O/P Device -> HDA ATI SB iec958 0 alsa
passthru output device hda ata sb iec958 0 alsa Final Thoughts and Wish List : This is greatest level Television can reach nothing Beats XBMC User Interface and ease of use as of today, especially on Open source operating sytems, having internet connected stream 100s of information, Gaming, Scientific and extertainment channels, from 1000s of sources. With channels like HBO HD, TNT HD, MTV HD, Nat Geo HD, Discovery HD, CNET HD and 100 other such great HD channels from across the world , Entertainment is On Demand as you like.   Avoid using HD DTH Provider completely XBMC is 100 times more advanced than any DTH Service providers offering especially in India and you can also save huge subscription charges.

Caution : This also includes adult channel plug ins – please be careful incase children are using these systems, not sure how the security at add on levels would work Click here to view Author Profile Email : softwarearchitect73@gmail.com