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 Post subject: Kodi
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:10 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:00 pm
Posts: 846
Location: The Twilight Zone
Part of running a successful Kodi setup is the program itself, but this is just the edge of a rather large sword. For me it started after I bought my current home. It was a wreck, all the wiring needed to be replaced, all the pipes and most of the plasterwork. Seeing as the builders were lifting boards and ripping out the walls I had a vision of the future and a small investment to make.

I bought a 24 port gigabit switch, 24 port patch panel and about a quarter mile of CAT6E cable. All good stuff, no going cheap on infrastructure. The cables went everywhere, every room in the house expect the bathroom. 6 in the study, 4 in the living room, 3 each in 3 bedrooms, 2 in the kitchen and one in the hallway. The switch and patch panel are in the attic inside a small 19” comms cabinet where all the cables terminate.

The one in the hallway plugs into a router with a gigabit port, I initially started with ADSL2 but Fibre has been put in the local exchange and I now have 52Mb BT Fibre. The router now distributes internet to anything plugged into the switch. The kids can have a fast connection in their bedrooms for consoles or laptops (because laggy gaming sucks). The study is where my PC is, it has just over 10Tb of storage. I have a network printers and the wife’s work laptop. I also have the first piece in the Kodi puzzle.

It is worth noting that I do not use Kodi to stream content down the internet, Kodi is dying because of these dodgy streaming plugins and I exclusively use mine to playback content I already own stored on drives. Some of this is music CDs or DVDs that I have converted, others as direct downloads in the normal array of file types like MKV or MP4.
Before this current house, my first foray into XBMC (as it was then known) was to buy a Foxconn NT535, it was very small and compact (about the size of a paperback book) and attached to the TV by HDMI and all the content on my PC was streamed to it over wifi. This was a disaster, wifi just isn’t fast enough to stream content. Movies would stutter and the higher the bitrate the worse it was. So using it to stream HD was pointless. I insist that all my movie collection needed to be in full 1080p, so I eventually bought duplicate HDDs and attached them by USB to the NT535. This is good for resilience, in case I get a drive failure I have a duplicate I can copy back from once I replace the failed drive. I also run a regular sync, every time I add new content to the collection. This improved the speed but the box itself wasn’t great and had trouble, it served a single purpose to be small and convenient but performance was poor, an Atom D525 and Intel 3150 graphics. I replaced it with a faster box. Then I began to compartmentalise. Fast forward back to the completed wired network and all devices being attached to it.

My PC is in the study, it has all my content, but I also now have a small case with an AMD E350 APU, 4Gb RAM and a small SSD for the OS running Windows 10. This is acting as a File Server. I have it attached to the inside of a cabinet with a second batch of HDDs. It does not have a monitor, mouse or keyboard attached. This provides the syncronised backup to the PC so I have resilience in case of hardware failure and if I take the PC for a weekend of LAN gaming the family can still watch all the stuff on the TV. All the stuff on the File Server is shared to the network and despite only having power, USB HDDs and a network cable attached it is totally functional and any work that needs doing can be done via Teamviewer remote access, but usually nothing has to be done. All syncing is done from my PC and Windows 10 automates all Windows Updates including required reboots in the middle of the night, I usually use a tablet to do all this but equally can do it from my phone or any other PC.

So now we have a central, networked resource with multiple attached drives. I find this better than NAS drives as the drives are cheaper, easier to expand or add to and I won’t run out of network ports. There are 6 USB ports on the File Server, 2 x 5Tb USB3.0 drives are currently attached and the other 4 can be taken up by docks. I own 2 x twin docks, but at present I do not use them. As I add to the drives in the main PC I will buy drives in pairs – one for the PC, one for the dock at the same time. The PC has 10 full drives bays and 2 more by an internal cage so possible 12 drives and the File Server could have 6 x twin docks to make beautiful symmetry of 12 drives each. Even if I never buy any drives bigger than the 5Tb drives I already have I really can’t see me going over 60Tb of storage, but if I do there is always eventually upgrading the PC, the File Server, bigger HDDs or the docks. So back end storage, resilience and network distribution are all sorted for the long term.

Back to the living room, this is where the magic happens. I do all this hard work so when I’m in the living room I don’t have to do anything apart from sit on my ass and use a remote control. I do have a Logitech K400R keyboard with inbuilt trackpad for compact PC usage, but generally the power switch is off and it sits under the sofa. There are 3 profiles setup for Kodi – Parents, Kids and Adult. During the day we flick between profiles so when browsing between movies the kids won’t see things they shouldn't. The fanart backgrounds going from A Bug’s Life to A Nightmare on Elm Street are not helpful for young ones, plus I like to have autoplay of next video enabled which is good when the kids are cramming endless episodes of Wacky Races. So each profile only has access to specific sources. I don’t want to play the kids movie Robots only to finish and run straight into Rocky Horror Picture Show, the kids would be mentally scarred for life. Folders on the HDDs are not just split into TV and Movies, I have made separate folders specifically for Kids TV, Kids Movies, Movies, TV and Horror Movies. So the Kids profile only has 2 sources, Kids TV and Kids Movies. The Parents profile adds Movies and TV. The Adults profile finally adds Horror Movies. Parents and Adults profiles are PIN protected, Kids is not. All profiles also have access to my Music collection, home movies and family photos.

The HTPC in the living room I now use is custom build using a nice Silverstone, the MILO ML05B. Inside is a Gigabyte mainboard, ITX and powered by an AMD A8-7000 series and 4Gb of RAM. Playback of full 1080p content is absolutely flawless, not a trace of stuttering or buffering. The backend network is more than capable and the PC also butter smooth and all goes through the onboard Radeon R7 class graphics and HDMI. It has a basic install of Windows 10, Kodi and nothing else. I do keep the HTPC in a closed cabinet with a glass window so I used to worry that heat could build up, but the chip is very low wattage, the PSU 80+ efficient and the OS installed on a 60Gb SSD. Combined with the excellent case the onboard sensors tell me that even when in full operation and the cabinet closed for hours on end the ambient temperature of the case is only 35c and the APU a measly 43c. It never breaks a sweat.

The future has arrived though, we recently replaced the TV with a 50” 4K display and 4K content is slowly looming into view. I have already done the math and even uncompressed 4K will not have a problem unless I start getting multiple streams being pulled over the network simultaneously. The Living room HTPC might have a problem, even if the onboard A8-7000 and Radeon R7 could handle it, the onboard HDMI couldn’t. So the case is capable of fitting a half-height graphics card. They will make one that can do it and swapping out a chip for the latest APU is a doddle, even swapping out the mainboard for a new architecture is a pretty light task. My sofa now becomes my resting place, Kodi feeds me all my entertainment and my remote control is the only thing I need from there.

The next project is the bedroom, swapping the living room TV means I now have a spare 42” 1080p TV. I will be building a motorised TV ottoman for the bottom of the bed, building in another copy of the HTPC from the living room and then I can watch it all from there as well. I may never get out of bed again after that point.

HDDs.jpg [ 252.41 KiB | Viewed 2455 times ]
Netbox.jpg [ 155.93 KiB | Viewed 2455 times ]
HTPC.jpg [ 112.8 KiB | Viewed 2455 times ]

Last edited by backbydemand on Tue Jun 14, 2016 4:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
###coming soon, watch this space###
 Post subject: Re: Kodi
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:37 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:08 am
Posts: 122

and i just plug my laptop into the tv via hdmi when we want to watch a film. :lol:

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