Perspectoff Setup

From LinuxMCE
Jump to: navigation, search

Here is my setup, step by step.

House construction

  • Built my house. I included a central wiring closet where I located all my telephone connections in a patch panel (including a DSL output with DSL filter), all cable connectors (including satellite dish and extra wiring from a wireless antenna used for Internet) to a patch panel, all my CAT5e wiring (to a patch panel), and all my whole-house speaker wiring (to a patch panel with Banana-plug connectors). I also have analog Greyfox cameras (power over Ethernet type) terminating in this closet, with RCA video outputs (from their own patch panel). This wiring closet is air-conditioned. It is dedicated to house electronics only. I Included plenty of power outlets and surge protectors.
  • Replaced house switches with X10 switches. Connected an X10 CM11A serial adapter to the serial port of the PC used as a Core server. However, I somewhat regret this decision and in retrospect would have used the superior Insteon system.
  • Placed a whole house HTD MA-1235 audio amp (12 channels) in the wiring closet. Connected each speaker wire to one channel, independently.

Core server PC selection

  • For a hybrid Core/Media Director PC I used a Walmart $299 W3644 Gateway/eMachine with 64 bit Sempron (at 2.1 GHz, 512KB L2 cache, 1600MHz system bus), 1Gb dual channel DDR RAM, nVidia GeForce 6100 series integrated video with 128 Mb shared video memory, 160 Gb HDD, DVD-CD RW, Targus wireless USB mouse. (Drawbacks: not enough PCI expansion slots).
  • Placed a Bluecherry video capture board in a PCI slot (although in retrospect I would have used a PCI-express slot for this board and saved the PCI slot for something else). I connected the RCA outputs from the analog cameras to the Bluecherry video capture board using RCA-BNC adapters. (No sound).
  • Added a second Ethernet NIC card. It is best to use a Gigabit speed card. This card will be used for the "internal" LinuxMCE network, which likes faster data transmission speeds. Choose carefully if you want to use a PCI-Express slot or a PCI slot. The card must match the slot you intend to put it in.

LAN configuration

  • I plugged my home router (which was connected to my DSL modem) into the original Ethernet port of the PC. I bought a second Gigabit wireless router and connected the second Ethernet NIC card of the Core PC (my Walmart PC) to a LAN port of the router (not the WAN port!). This second router became the switch/router for the "internal" LinuxMCE LAN.
  • Using my laptop, I connected to the new router wirelessly and entered the administration web page of the new router. I turned off the DHCP capabilities of the router. (This allows the PC to provide the DHCP for the internal LinuxMCE network, instead.)

Installed Kubuntu 7.10 Gutsy on a second partition

  • On a separate PC, I downloaded Kubuntu 7.10 64 bit edition (since my processor is 64 bit) and burned it onto a CD according to the instructions (I happened to use InfraRecorder on a Windows PC).
  • Downloaded the live CD version of the partition manager Gparted and burned it onto a CD (using InfraRecorder on a Windows PC).
  • Booted the Gparted Live CD on the new Walmart PC that I intended to use for the LinuxMCE server. This showed the active partitions. I chose to keep the pre-installed Windows on the machine in its own partition, but shrunk the Windows NTFS partition down to about 20 Gb. This left me with about 135 Gb free space. I saved my changes and exited the Gparted Live CD.
  • I then booted the Kubuntu 7.10 (AMD64) Live CD. I chose the "Install Kubuntu Option." I selected my initial user id and password and computer name, writing down the info and taping them to the PC, so I would not forget them. I went through the installation choices, and when it came to partitioning, I chose to do "Guided partitioning of largest available free space."
This placed Kubuntu on the 135 Gb from the previous step, with a small swap partition.
  • The Kubuntu installer automatically recognized the Windows partition and OS and confirmed that this was the only other operating system. The GRUB bootloader was then configured automatically.
  • Upon rebooting, Kubuntu was the automatic OS at the top of the GRUB boot list. I allowed Kubuntu to start automatically.

Saved .iso image files to disk

  • Once Kubuntu was fully loaded (and had finished its automatic configuration), I opened (from the KDE menu) Multimedia-->K3b. I chose to option to "save the .iso image only" and chose to save it in the /home folder. I then placed the Kubuntu Live CD into the CD drive and used K3b to copy the .iso file from the CD onto the hard drive (into my /home folder). I then made sure it was named kubuntu-desktop-7.10_amd64.iso, because this is the name the LinuxMCE installer expects (and is the original name of the file).
(Alternatively, the original Kubuntu 7.10 Desktop .iso file could have been downloaded from the Ubuntu website again and saved, but this would have taken an additional 20 minutes and duplication of efforts.)
  • I downloaded the .iso CD 1 and CD 2 for LinuxMCE RC2 from the download mirrors and saved them to my /home folder.

Installed LinuxMCE as a hybrid

  • I then followed the LinuxMCE installation instructions as documented. I chose to set up the PC as a hybrid, even though I only plan to use it as a Core. That way, if I change my mind or desire to have outputs to the whole house sound system, I can use the Media Director capabilities.
  • I chose to have this PC be a dedicated LinuxMCE PC. This is better because it boots up into LinuxMCE automatically (in the event of a power failure it set to reboots automatically and therefore restarts LinuxMCE automatically).
  • The system installed. When prompted to insert the CDs or choose for the location of the .iso files, I simply pointed to my /home folder. This is somewhat faster than using CDs, which copies the .iso images onto the hard drive as the first step, anyway.
  • The computer reboots, starting up LinuxMCE. Further auto-configuration occurs. The AV Wizard then starts, and I set my output characteristics, as shown in the instructions. I just set up the lowest defaults for my PC (since I had no multimedia connections to it, yet). I ended the demo video/wizard (I hate wizards) and exited to the KDE desktop.
  • The Launch Manager was displayed, and I unchecked the "Auto-start Media Director" box, leaving the "Auto-start Core" box checked.
Now the PC restarted as a Core server only, not a hybrid.

Connected a peripheral PC

  • In my living room is a CAT5 jack. I confirmed which CAT5 connection in the wiring closet corresponded to it. I then connected the wiring closet's CAT5 connector that corresponded to this wire to one of the router's 4 LAN ports. (I had already turned off the DHCP on this router and had connected the 2nd NIC card of the LinuxMCE Core server PC to one of the router's other LAN ports, using a short CAT5 connector cable).
  • In the living room I made a long CAT5 cable. I plugged this into the CAT5 RJ-45 jack. I plugged the other end into a laptop (on which I happen to dual boot Windows and Kubuntu. I tried to netboot LinuxMCE, but it failed with a kernel panic (failure to load OS). So, I instead installed LinuxMCE in the Kubuntu partition, and allowed it to start through the Grub bootloader. I did not set it to autostart as a Media Director. In fact, I did not enable any autostarting at all, but start it from the Launch Manager.

Now I was up and running in LinuxMCE, with a Core and a Media Director.

Began setup of LinuxMCE (Users, Rooms, basics)

  • I added an initial user, setting it up as a "master user" (with privileges to modify the configuration).
  • From the LinuxMCE Admin Website-->Wizard-->Basic Info-->Installation wizard I added my city and state, which sets longitude and latitude, useful for sunrise and sunset times. I also set my preferred audio format.
  • From the Admin --> Wizard-->Basic Info-->Rooms wizard, I entered all the significant rooms of my house. I tried to do this with the House Wizard that started automatically, but it sucks and I closed it. It doesn't allow for the number of rooms which my house has, and renaming them is a pain. The admin website is much better.
  • I learned that I could access the LinuxMCE Admin Website from any PC in the system through a web browser, from the address: This worked only if I connected wirelessly to the LinuxMCE LAN router. However, the core was on my home LAN, so I could use from any PC on the LAN, once I enabled Outside Access. I therefore used my laptop (the one that wouldn't netboot) to access the Admin website this way.
  • I had used a monitor, mouse and keyboard with the Core server. I removed these and put them elsewhere, to save space in the wiring closet. Now I used my laptop to do the admin stuff instead.

Added Generic Web Orbiter

  • I set up a Generic Web Orbiter interface according to these instructions. This allowed any laptop (even those not running LinuxMCE) to be used as a Web Orbiter remote control, by logging into and entering my master user id and password (created a few steps ago). (In reality, I ended up using the Web Orbiter from my laptop on the "external" LAN at To do this, Outside Access must be enabled.)

Added analog security cameras

  • I used the instructions here to add the interface for the analog cameras. The instructions are simple -- there are lots of extra options that I didn't have to worry about. The cameras worked the first time.
The Web Orbiter started up and there, under security, were my cameras! I clicked on each icon to see the display of each camera. Sweet!
  • Now I wanted to add a scenario to view the four security cameras at once. I decided to put this scenario in the "Living Room", one of the rooms I had initially set up. LinuxMCE Admin Website-->Wizard-->Security Scenarios. Under the Living Room was a default option to create the "New quad camera security scenario." I clicked on it, entered the description I wanted to show up on the Orbiter button ("All cameras") and then selected the four cameras I wanted displayed in the quad panel. I again clicked the "New quad camera security scenario" button. Then I did a quick regen.
  • I quit the web orbiter and restarted it, choosing the Living Room from the room button on the main menu. Now I saw an "All cameras" button alongside buttons for the individual cameras. Clicking on it, I was able to see all four cameras on one screen. I then went back and unclicked the individual cameras from the Living Room Security Scenarios, so that I wouldn't see a button for each individual camera on the Orbiter Security menu.

Added a Security scenario

Adding a security scenario can be a bit quirky. I used this method while blundering around.

  • LinuxMCE Admin Website-->Wizard-->Scenarios-->Security Scenarios.
  • Choose the room to which you wish to add the scenario. I chose "Living Room".
  • Click the "New quad security camera". That is the quirky part. All new security scenarios are created from this button in this wizard.
  • Add the description. This is the text that will be displayed on the button created in the Security menu on your Orbiter. Keep it short. For my test scenario, I called it "Send an alert"
  • Click the "new quad security camera" button again. This creates the scenario.
  • The "Send an alert" scenario is now listed under Living Room.
  • Click on "Edit(Wizard Mode)".
  • (The "Edit(Simple Mode)" is truly for adding quad cameras. Use Edit(Wizard Mode) for everything else.)
  • Edit scenario using Wizard: Advanced Wizard.
  • A "Command" box will appear. Here is where you (finally!) enters the commands that the security scenario will perform. I wanted to Display an Alert on my Orbiter screen, so I chose the "Display Alert" from the dropdown box.
  • I entered some alert text: "Alert from the Living Room!" and clicked Save.
  • I then did a quick regen and a quick reload of the router.
  • I brought up my web orbiter again, switched to the Living Room, and in the Security category menu was the button "Send an alert". I clicked it and the message "Alert from the Living Room!" appeared on the Orbiter screen for a few seconds (then disappeared with the next Orbiter refresh).

Added an event in response to security camera motion detection

Dog method

  • Because I had to puzzle this step out, I took a break and fell back on my old home automation system.
  • Trained my dog to bark when the pizza guy came up the steps.
  • Trained my dog to sit (delayed command execution) while I got change from between the sofa cushions.
  • Commanded my dog to take the money to the front door, fetch the pizza, and verify exact change (an advanced scenario).
  • During this entire time my media remained visible on my UI2 alpha blended on-screen Orbiter.
  • I think my dog should be integrated into version 0804. How about it?

Admin Wizard method

  • Add.
  • Description: I wanted to detect motion on my camera, so I entered "Entry motion detected."
  • New event: I wanted to detect motion, so I selected "Movement is detected".
  • What device?:
  • I left it as "=" (although I think "contain" will also work).
  • From the dropdown box I selected the surveillance camera that monitors the front door. Update.
  • Add commands using: Advanced Wizard.
  • Device: "Generic Proxy Orbiter" from dropdown. I want to send a message to the Web Orbiter as a command.
  • Display Alert.
  • I entered the text to be displayed in the alert: "Somebody is at the front door!" Save.
  • Do an Orbiter Quick Regen (for voodoo reasons) and a quick reload router.
  • Walked in front of the front door camera with my laptop (on which I had restarted the Web Orbiter). The message "Somebody is at the front door!" should have been displayed. It wasn't. So I tried the next method.

Admin Advanced Method

I'm still sorting this one out.

  • Create advanced event.
  • Description: I wanted to detect motion on my camera, so I entered "Entry motion detected."
  • New event: I wanted to detect motion, so I selected "Movement detected" under the Security section.
  • A new screen appears and the new event is listed.
  • Edit the Criteria.

Ok, so far this doesn't work, either. In fact, I can't get motion detection to work at all.

Zoneminder method

  • Decided to go back to Zoneminder.
  • Partitioned my hard drive, installed Kubuntu 8.04 (Hardy), Zoneminder, and MythTV.