The Treehouse Blog


PVR-500 w/ Samsung tuners – FC5 to FC6

by on Feb.13, 2007, under Linux

When I purchased and installed my PVR-500 this fall for MythTV stuff, it had very poor signal quality. I attributed this to my cable provider, and bought a ridiculous +24dB amplifier from WalMart to rectify the problem, which it did. After upgrading the box from Fedora Core 5 to Fedora Core 6, the reception on the box was awful. I confirmed that the change in kernel from 2.6.17 to 2.6.19, or the accompanying changes to the ivtv driver were the cause. After some research, it turns out that I have an “evil” Samsung tuner card, and that in 2.6.17 the internal amplifier on the tuner is not activated by the Video for Linux drivers. So, my original amplifier purchase was to compensate for a software problem. After removing the amplifier (not just turning it off as I had been foolishly trying as a test), the reception was mostly better. Some channels are better than before, but some are worse, and overall I think this was not a good change. However, there is no software setting for enabling/disabling the internal amp (apparently no good reason to turn it off), so I’m going to go with the internal amp instead of maintaining a custom kernel on the box, which is always a pain.

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Frustrating Day

by on Jul.12, 2006, under Happenings, Linux

Unfortunately, it seems that anything requiring cooperation and coordination is hard to do. I spent the day investigating a likely impossible solution to a problem that doesn’t end up needing solved. While at the same time still not having the ability to work on the problem that really needs solved. And no documentation or plan has been given to me other than 3rd party verbal snippets to the overarching project responsible for the whole situation. Sigh.

Luckily, other than this blog, I’ve been pretty successful at not letting the day ruin my evening. I got to visit with Chris a bit, following his trip to Illinois.

And one more note… recent kernel upgrades for FC5 require a new firmware image for the ipw2200 wireless driver, so remember that.

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Computer Stuff

by on Mar.18, 2006, under Computers, Linux

The storage capacity upgrade and RAID5-ification has been completed, following a week of computers and their components strewn throughout the house. Having a RAID5 include a linear md as a component was a bit challenging… had to make the kernel not try to assemble the RAID5 automagically, but wait for the mdadm.conf to do it. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the computer fun this week. Chris had a drive fail in his firewall, and the machine employed various means to make it impossible to install an OS on another drive. Still not sure what its problems are, having spent the afternoon in futile efforts to fix it.

[balleman@oak ~]$ df -h /storage
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
                      1.5T  739G  729G  51% /storage
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by on Dec.04, 2005, under Happenings, Linux, Networking

No structure here… just some random goings-on:

For the last several kernel updates for FC4, my DVD sharing using GNBD hasn’t worked. I guess those special ioctl()s aren’t getting translated over or something. And NFS or SMB sharing an encrypted DVD just doesn’t do anything good at all (ignoring the fact that NFS seems really sucky with the latest FC4 updates). So, after months of not being able to watch DVDs, I gave up, and bought a USB drive cage to attach a DVD drive to Oak. Works perfectly. Despite performance issues and cabling evilness, I still can’t completely rule out a stack of USB drives RAIDed as a bulk storage solution, especially with all of the device mapper coolness in Linux. Too early to be thinking of that, though, as the computer storage fund hasn’t matured yet, despite the fact that Oak is at 99% capacity.

As Doug has mentioned, Asterisk and VoIP is still pretty neat. I’ve setup a teliax account, since they have pricing like nufone with a whole lot of rate centers worth of DIDs (they’re essentially a Level3 reseller). So, we just need to get some VPN’ing set up. I’m in desperate need of some UT, and I think VPN might be a useful substitute for a LAN party this winter.

My grandfather (on my Dad’s side) has been in the hospital on and off for more than a month now. Currently he has pneumonia, is very weak, and not entirely coherent. Your prayers would be appreciated for what could be a difficult Christmas season for the family.

Things at Ship are going fairly well. I did shoot myself in the foot with the “ip arp inspection” feature of the Sup720 this week though. Does 15 pps of ARP traffic seem like a good default threshold for shutting down trunk ports to you? Me neither. Of course, I asked that question after two ports had been err-disabled. Hopefully Tim and I will get to do a real test of some VMPS soon, too.

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X10 Project

by on Sep.17, 2005, under Linux

One of the things I wanted to take care of this summer was some type of outdoor lighting to be used when coming home at night. There just isn’t enough ambient light to figure out how to insert the key into the lock. I was considering LED lighting built into the deck, outdoor lights around the deck, and automating the existing outdoor lighting. Seeing this as an opportunity to finally begin playing with X10, I dove in.

The first phase was to control the deck and garage outside lights with a wireless remote. I purchased some X10 light dimmer switches to replace the light switches, a wireless transceiver, and a remote control. Everything worked well except the remote range seems a bit short. Latency wasn’t bad… probably a little less than a second.

Phase two involves the hall light, and a computer interface. I bought a PowerLinc USB and downloaded the WISH / x10dev software. The only “gotcha” for the software was that it assumes your hiddev0 is in /dev/usb whereas mine was in /dev. The error messages were not at all helpful in figuring that out, unfortunately. At this point the interface worked, but I had some phase issues: my two lights were on one phase, and the computer interface was on the other. Instead of building or buying a phase coupler, I went with Doug‘s suggestion of moving breakers around instead. They’re really about the easiest plug-and-play devices in existance, but it was something that I had never done before, so I certainly turned off the mains. My current unresolved issue is that the latency between issuing a command on the computer, and the device receiving the command, is aboud three seconds… way too long, especially if you want to do about six commands for a single event. Still haven’t figured out if this is as fast as the interface goes, or if there is a software bottleneck.

So, there’s my X10 project summary. I’m pretty happy with the results so far. It’s not incredibly cheap (I’ve spent about $100 to control three lights… albeit with a wireless remote and computer interface), but it has achieved the goal, and now I know a bit about X10 🙂

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