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53% Off OCZ Verttex 3 120G SSD

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53% off OCZ Vertex 3 120GB SSD
I just noticed that Newegg has a Shell Shocker sale on the OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-120G 2.5" MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD). Normal prices is $149.99, on sale for $79.99. This is a limited time offer and limited to 3 drives per person.

Update: 6/2/2012 Unfortunately this offer has expired but today only you can find a good deal with rebate and coupon for this Intel SSD. Make sure you use the coupon code at checkout and send in the rebate form. Intel 330 Series Maple Crest SSDSC2CT120A3K5 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive - $89.99 (w/ $15 off code "EMCYTZT1783" & $30MIR) + Free Shipping at Newegg.com, exp. 6/20

I've been using an OCZ Vertex 2 SSD as my desktop's system drive for over a year and it's increased the performance of my system tremendously. The specs of the Vertex 3 indicate it's twice as fast as the Vertex 2.

I'm thinking of picking one up I just bought one to use as the system drive for my HTPC build. Using an SSD as the root partition on Mythbuntu will make the boot much faster and having root and the media partitions on separate disks will also improve the performance of the media drive.

NewEgg has a warehouse near me. Got my SSD yesterday (next day) with 3 day shipping :)


How To Buld an HTPC: Part 3 : PSU - Antec EA-380D PSU Review Video

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Antec EarthWatts EA-380D Review Summary

Antec EA 380D PSU

HTPC DIY Rating

4.3 out of 5
4.5/5
4.5/5
4/5
For my MythTV Frontend/Backend HTPC I chose the Antec EarthWatts EA-380D PSU to power my system. The EA-380D is an ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V compatible power supply which delivers up to 380 Watts of continuous power. The 80+ Bronze Certification means it has been tested to be at least 82% efficient.

The Antec EA-380D feels like a solid power supply. I haven't had any issues with it since I built my HTPC. The exhaust fan for the power supply is near silent which is a great bonus for a media pc.

Note: Antec decided to not include a power cord for environmental reasons. 
Check Prices: Amazon, NewEgg, TheNerds.net

How To Build An HTPC: Part 2 : Chassis nMediaPC 6000B

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nMediaPC 6000B Review Summary

nMediaPC 6000B HTPC Case

HTPC DIY Rating

3.8 out of 5
3.5/5
3.5/5
4/5
For my MythTV Frontend/Backend HTPC I chose the nMedia PC 6000B chassis.  The 6000B is about the size of a mid tower case but is styled to look more like A/V equipment than a standard PC case. The design is simple and elegant looking

Build quality is what you would expect for a lower priced PC case but the 6000B feels sturdy enough and I didn't find any sharp edges while working inside the chassis. The case holds up to 6 internal hard drives, 1 optical drive and comes with 3 very quiet fans. 
Check Prices: Newegg

How To Build An HTPC: Part I : Hardware

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Now that I've decided on an HD DVR system it is time to select the computer components that would make up my HTPC.

I am planning on using the free, open source MythTV software to act as my media center and I plan on running it on Ubuntu using the MythBuntu distribution so my hardware selections factored in compatibility with Linux. The hardware below should also perform well if you plan on using Windows Media Center.

In future posts I'll go into more detail about the hardware and how to put everything together but bellow is my HTPC hardware requirements and the hardware I chose to meet those requirements.

DIY Flexible Fractal Window HDTV Antenna

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Flexible DTV Antenna
When I first got an HDTV I still had SD service from my satellite company and couldn't check out the HD quality. After searching the web a bit I came up with a few DIY HDTV antennas. The first one I built was a fractal antenna. It wasn't exactly to spec. I made the antenna out of some paperclips, staples, cardboard and a balun I had.

It didn't get a lot of channels but it got quite a few and the signal strength of the channels I did get where very good.

I've also recently been checking out the flexible HDTV antennas like the Paper Thin Leaf Indoor HDTV Antenna and the Walltenna Clear Indoor HDTV Antenna because I found I get very good reception when I had my RCA ANT1650R HDTV Antenna mounted in a window but it was awkward to keep in place and prevented me from opening the window. Since I went ahead and purchased the ClearStream2 antenna I didn't want to spend money on another one but I wanted to see if I could make a homemade flexible HDTV antenna.

Cheap ClearStream2 Antenna Plus VHF

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ClearStream2 + VHF Temporary Mount
I've been trying to improve my over-the-air TV reception. I'm currently using a diy 4 bay antenna I made out of copper wire that has been doing pretty good but there are some channels I'm missing. One of the antennas that keeps getting recommended to me is the ClearStream2 Complete from Antennas Direct.

The ClearStream2 Complete builds on the ClearStream2, which is a great UHF antenna. The problem with the ClearStream2 is that it doesn't pick  the high-VHF signals which are available in my area. The ClearStream2 Complete adds a VHF antenna to solve that limitation.

The only issue is I didn't feel like spending $120 on an HDTV antenna and I was planning on just making another DIY antenna with slightly different specifications to improve my current one.

Time to Make My Own HTPC

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I decided to take the time to build myself a home theater PC, HTPC. It will eventually also serve as a home back up server for my other computers and devices too.

A couple of years ago I got my first HDTV when one of my big old tube TVs died. I know, very late to the game but TV hasn't been that important to me lately. I have a few shows I watch but I've been watching more and more video on my computers.

My Satellite TV service is standard definition (SD) and when I first connected it to my TV I was very disappointed with the picture quality. SD output on a HDTV leaves a lot to be desired. Imagine viewing a low resolution YouTube video fullscreen.

I didn't feel the need to upgrade my Satellite Service to HD. In fact, I've been cutting down my Satellite package lately and didn't want to go in the other direction. One day I noticed the majority of the shows programmed in my Satellite DVR were on local channels. Channels which I can get free over the air.

All these channels passing through my body but I needed to find a way to get them into my TV to see what it was capable of.

I found some DIY DTV antenna plans online and in a few minutes I managed to make a simple antenna using paper clips and cardboard. I didn't catch a ton of channels but it was more than I expected and the picture quality was amazing. Even better than the HDTV programming I've seen through cable or satellite HDTV because the over the air (OTA) signals are not overly compressed by the cable and satellite channels.

Eventually I worked on getting better antenna reception but there was one major thing missing. A way to record the OTA programming. After using a DVR for a long time I can't go back!

I looked into different options such as TiVo but I decided I wanted to build my own. Building my own DVR gave me these benefits I couldn't get from most other commercial DVR options:
  • Complete control over the hardware and software I choose which allows me to add more features whenever I want.
  • It can serve as a computer because, well, it is a computer. These days there are a lot of benefits to having a home server. Instead of having a different DVR device, backup device, file sharing device, you can have it all in one box to save on space and power.
  • No monthly service fees. TiVo is about $20 per month which I think is expensive. My satellite provider only charges $6/mo for my DVR service.
I spent a long time considering the choices for HTPC software, hardware, antennas and more which I will share here. Including instructions and videos on building and setting up my HDPC.