Frankensteining Broke PBG4 into Media Center

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by rmbohanek, Apr 10, 2005.

  1. rmbohanek macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2005
    #1
    Just got the news from my wife that she broke her PB G4 TiBook (1 Ghz). She had the screen bent back way too far. Dogs were involved. Anyway, I was thinking about all the discussions regarding Mac Mini as a media center. What about using the shell of this PowerBook as a media center. My tv is a Samsung DLP with a VGA in. The PB TiBook shoul dhave enough muscle to do MPEG 2 encoding. Hook it up to a large honking external drive, get the eyeTV to do some heavy lifting as well. It has a SuperDrive so I can offload my tv to DVD-R's for archival. I would be a happy camper.

    I am just beginning my research, so bear with me.

    My thinking:
    - direct from the PB G4 into the VGA in of the TV (Is there a way to go through the primary video out of the PB? I know I can use the monitor out, but how do I get a PB that has no access to it's primary screen to recognize an external out)
    - eyeTV the best way to go?
    - Thoughts on big honking external drive
    - Experience from people on using a D-link Bluetooth adapter and Apple's wireless keyboard mouse to control the Beast? Should I use RF keyboard/mouse?
    - Software choices?
    - What am I missing?

    I am pissed at my wife (second situation), but this is a great opportunity to really augment my home theather.

    Cheers, and TIA,
    Bob
     
  2. MoparShaha macrumors 68000

    MoparShaha

    Joined:
    May 15, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #2
    It's a cool idea. Connect the PB via VGA and just set it up to mirror. Even in mirror mode, you can adjust the resolution, so you're not stuck at the native resolution of the PB. Even though the VRAM will be split between your TV and the non-existant internal display, I think your graphics card will be more than capable (64 MB radeon 9000 if I recall correctly).

    Definitely go with Bluetooth keyboard/mouse. The range is incredible. I can control my PB via bluetooth keyboard from rooms away. My RF logitech mouse dies after 8 feet. I'd recommend the D-Link adaptor Apple sells. It's the only one that can wake the machine from sleep.

    I'd also get an external firewire hard drive for your media. Just use the internal drive for booting, keeps things cleaner and simpler that way.

    As for playback software, use Quicktime Pro. I use my PB as a pseudo-media center, with all my ripped DVD's played through quicktime in full screen on my TV (via S-Video). I think it works out well. You can control the video easily with the keyboard, and Quicktime offers image and sound adjustments. In Tiger, Quicktime Pro is going to have floating controls when in full screen mode (Pro only), so it'll look even slicker if you're planning on upgrading to Tiger.

    I you want to use the PB as a DVR, I'm not sure which software is available.
     
  3. rmbohanek thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2005
    #3
    Thanks and additional question

    Great comments.

    My only question, and not actually looking at the PB itself right now I don't know how hard this will be, is that what happens when I have a PB that I can't access the built-in display. How do I setup mirroring when I can't drive the primary screen I would boot too. Once I can get the PB up, I will set up the TV to be the primary display.

    I will go with bluetooth then. :)

    Cheers,
    Bob
     
  4. ham_man macrumors 68020

    ham_man

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    #4
    This seems like something that is very viable. Many people have used headless PBs for computer use, and I think that yours can hold up just fine to the rigours that you would put it through. Like the previous poster said, I would definately get a wireless keyboard/mouse combo of some kind. I would suggest going Bluetooth as you can get the Apple wireless in Bluetooth. I would also suggest getting a large Firewire external drive and some DVD-Rs for backups or offloadings. I am not too big on software, so I will let someone else handle that...:)
     
  5. baby duck monge macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    #5
    your computer is smart enough to figure out is has a second monitor plugged into it when it's turned on even if it has never had one plugged in before. this should not be a problem (in fact, you can plug in the monitor while the computer is already turned on and it can deal with that, too).
     
  6. rmbohanek thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2005
    #6
    Thanks and Plan

    Thank you for the quick replies.

    So everyone can live vicariously through me, here is my plan:

    - Buy new PB. Wife gets old one. I currently have an AlBook that I like and wouldn't replace it unless this opportunity presented itself. I need to be portable so hence the laptop.
    - Give wife my AlBook G4 after I transfer my system to the new PB and hers to mine
    - Buy EyeTv 500
    http://www.elgato.com/index.php?file=products_eyetv500
    This has the capability to do HD. I wish I could get Universal HD (but I have Dish) because they are re-broadcasting Battlestar Galactica in HD starting I think today or next Sunday.
    - Buy a Cardbus FW800 card
    - Buy a LaCie d2 500 Gb external
    - Connect broke PB to TV, boot, engage mirroring, then select TV as primary display
    - Take Component Out from Satellite Receiver into the EyeTV (Only sucky part here is that the audio would be two channel, as I don't think the EyeTV does Optical In). Might do this through the A/V Receiver I have (Yamaha HTR-5750).
    - Be a happy media center on a Mac camper.
    - Post results and keep blog of project. Don't know where that will be hosted yet, but will post updates until that here. If anyone is interested in contacting me directly, my email is bohanek@mac.com.

    Cheers, and Thanks,
    Bob
     
  7. ham_man macrumors 68020

    ham_man

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    #7
    That sounds like a pretty good plan. I wish you the best of luck with it. As for hosting, couldn't you do it with your .Mac? :confused:
     
  8. baby duck monge macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    #8
    you don't even need to set the tv as the primary display is you are mirroring since both pictures will be exactly the same. you would only have to do this if you turned on spanning.
     
  9. zachj macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2004
    Location:
    Boston
    #9
    Might want to ensure that the setup will work before buying anything. Just set up the powerbook and plug it into the TV and make sure you get video and that that's the ONLY part that the dogs broke.

    Sounds very interesting . . . Always been my thought that a laptop would be a much better media center than the other boxen available.

    Z
     
  10. pdpfilms macrumors 68020

    pdpfilms

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Location:
    Vermontana
    #10
    I'm not sure exactly what you're saying here, but... the eyetv 500 does not work with dish HD. It only inputs broadcast HD and i think cable. Unfortunately, it can't decode a satellite signal. The documentation on the product is pretty unclear about this, but I made the mistake of purchasing one and then finding out it didn't work.
     
  11. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    #11
    VRAM is not split when mirroring, at least in PowerBooks. He'll have the full amount of VRAM on the TV.

    I suppose you'd need a separate audio recording device to capture the 5.1 sound? You could save a little extra expense and get a JVC D-VHS deck such as the HM-DH30000U. The list price is pretty high but you can find second hand ones for around $300. It records full spec HDTV, and you can bring the HD recordings into your Mac using VirtualDVHS (freeware) and you can transcode the transport streams for DVD with MPEG Streamclip.
     
  12. MoparShaha macrumors 68000

    MoparShaha

    Joined:
    May 15, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #12
    That's actually not true. The computer recognizes two independent displays, but just shows the same thing on both.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    #13
    I learned something new, thanks. Maybe this is unique to mirroring to TVs? I say that because when I mirror two computer monitors, System Profiler tells me I have my full VRAM on each display. Since I'm moving (and I've already relocated my second monitor) I can't produce a screenshot at the moment.
     

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