Expensive Setup

I have now almost completed the purchases for my expensive setup, so I've expanded the itemised list below:
  • Finance: Cancelled my credit card over a dispute - just after raising its credit limit! - and switched to using my debit card for all purchases. Used Quidco wherever possible and also registered my debit card with Quidco for offline purchases (e.g. stuff I had to go to a real store to try out - mainly furniture).
  • Rooms: Settled on two downstairs rooms (a bedroom and a lounge) to put all the gear and aerial/dish feeds into.
  • Power: Bought two 8-socket APC UPS'es - one for each room. Four sockets on each are surge and battery protected, so vital items go on those such as the PC, monitor and wireless router. Do not put anything on the battery protected sockets that would needlessly suck power and isn't needed to keep the recordings going.
  • Furnishings: 2 computer desks from work are now assembled and placed in the two rooms, 2 executive leather chairs (not bought yet), a leather sofa for the lounge (not bought yet).
  • TVs: 42" Panasonic Viera plasma for the lounge, 50" Panasonic Viera plasma Smart TV for the bedroom. Neither will be hung on the wall before you ask. 50" plasma will be wired to a router for its Smart TV goodies.
  • Terrestrial aerials: Existing roof aerials and cables were stripped out and replaced with two new aerials (aligned to two different TV regions as a precaution) attached to two separate chimney stacks. White aerial cables now feed into the two rooms and directly into a dual TV tuner card (no splitters/boosters), which is installed in 2 PCs.
  • Satellite dishes: Existing single LNB dish and pole at the back of the house was removed and two new dishes with a quad LNB each were installed on two chimney stacks on the roof.  Four white cables from each dish go down the front of the house, into the appropriate room and then directly into a quad tuner satellite card. I won't use an octo LNB/single dish solution because this would be a single point of failure (plus I'd have to buy a second quad tuner card for each PC for redundancy if I went octo).
  • Computer monitors: I already had a Dell 24" LCD monitor, so I purchased a second 24" LCD monitor, this time an Acer. 24" 1920x1080 monitors aren't that expensive, so I really don't recommend anyone using anything smaller.
  • Audio: Two identical LG 5.1 systems (receiver plus speakers, with HDMI cables used to connect everything up) have been purchased and the lounge 5.1 system is already wired up and working well. This isn't really for Olympics audio - it's more for US TV shows and movies - and probably is an optional purchase for most people.
  • Remote controls/wireless keyboards/mice/phones: Purchased a Logitech Harmony 700 to combine the increasing number of remote controls into something manageable. Liking the Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse I bought with one of the PCs and the set that came with the Revo 3700 is good enough too. Not using any phone/tablet remote control stuff yet though.
  • Custom-built PCs: ASUS motherboard, i7 2600 CPU, 12GB or 16GB RAM, cases with enough bays for at least 5 SATA drives. Both delivered and working, with extra goodies purchased separately installed inside the case. Both are dual bootable between 64-bit CentOS 6, which I wanted because it's what we use at work on desktops and servers, gets 10 years of free updates and is a free clone of the expensive RHEL (a rock solid commercial Linux) and 64-bit Ubuntu 12.04 (which gets 5 years of updates). Now running one PC with a git snapshot of tvheadend under a "headless" Ubuntu 12.04 setup. Had to get a git snapshot because the 2.12 release is 18 months old and doesn't include some critical fixes needed for recording (e.g. the 2.12 release has an epic fail with BBC One HD audio - it just goes silent leading up to the next programme!).
  • Revos: Both are now set up with 64-bit Ubuntu 12.04 + XBMC 11.0 + PVR, though there are some hang issues with XBMC + PVR that may need a newer build. Second Revo was simply cloned from the first one with rsync (hostname and IP were changed of course). I've not installed Nagios servers/clients yet on any machine, but that's coming soon.
  • Filestore in PCs: Intel and Corsair very high speed 240GB SSDs - used as system partitions and also as a temporary data buffer area for simultaneous recordings. 8 * 3TB very fast Seagate drives (being purchased one per week!) - 4 to go in each machine. When each recording to SSD completes, it will be copied from SSD to HDD, checksummed to ensure it wrote to HDD OK and then will be deleted from SSD (yes, I have TRIM active - no RAID is being used).
  • Networking: Netgear and Edimax wireless routers - plan is to drill a hole in the wall between the rooms and feed a long RJ45 cable through so that every computer (and the 50" plasma) in the bedroom is hard-wired into the Edimax (which has gigabit Ethernet ports) and the Edimax will be connected to the Netgear via the cable so that no wireless will be used in either room's permanent equipment. The Netgear router will be used simply like a "modem" (i.e. just do the ADSL connection - the Edimax will control the private network, though it's likely I'll use static IPs throughout rather than DHCP).
  • Backups: Until shortly before the Olympics, one PC will remain in CentOS 6 as its primary boot, but eventually even that will go headless like I've done with the second PC already. At that point, I will probably save anything in the CentOS 6 partitions I need to keep and then clone the Ubuntu 12.04 system partition on top of it as a backup. Both Revos are already in that configuration (the dual boot on them is just between two Ubuntu 12.04 setups [primary or snapshotted]). Occasionally, I re-clone between the two Revos as well if I've done a lot of setup work on one of them. So basically, I will have 8 copies of Ubuntu 12.04 on the machines, with 4 copies setup as a back-end and 4 copies as a front-end. Once the Olympics finish, one of the PC's HDD's will be put in storage as backups (both PCs will record identical programmes).
  •  Monitoring: The two Revos will be Nagios servers and all 4 PCs will run Nagios clients. Rather than e-mail or SMS alerts, I'm planning to use festival to mix in speech synthesis alerts into the TV's Olympic audio feed.
  •  Redundancy: UPS'es can survive about 30 mins on battery power only - perhaps chain one onto the other if power cut lasts longer than that? Each PC will be configured almost identically and record the same Olympics coverage. If the main Net connection goes down, I can temporarily tether to an Android mobile, though data limits on mobile networks would have to be carefully monitored. Note that whilst the actual recording doesn't require a Net connection, I will be surfing Olympics sites and may make use of the 14-day Radio Times XML EPG data (the 7-day EPG is over the air, so no Net needed for that). There are two satellite dishes and two terrestrial aerials, though the latter won't be recorded from unless both dishes and/or sat tuner cards fail.
  • Tuner cards: Two twin-tuner Freeview HD PCI Express cards and two quad-tuner Freesat HD PCI Express cards were purchased and installed in the 2 PCs. Both are made by TBS and both are recognised by tvheadend (albeit with the same model name for each tuner on a particular card!).
  • Using Revo(s)+PC as hard disk recorders: I'm now in the phase where the Revos and one backend PC are being used as a replacement for my old hard disk recorder. It's helping me find issues with both the front-end and back-end (sadly, there are some serious issues with both, so I've joined all the various forums involved and will post up those issues soon).
  • Full day test recording schedule: Euro 2012 and Wimbledon are the two big sporting events between now and the Olympics. The plan is to pick a day and record every single channel that has some movement on it (i.e. not studio bound), especially including all channels showing sport.
  • Live viewing schedule: I will plan what I want to watch live (most likely BBC One HD unless there's a "boring" sport on) and put each channel name/sport name/time in a data file. A script will periodically check that file and use festival to mix in speech synthesis to alert to a possible channel change needed (e.g. "Swimming on BBC Two in 30 seconds").
  • Recording schedule: I will mainly use the over-the-air Freesat EPG to programme events (may end up trying to script this if it gets tedious to manually set recordings).
  • Online grocery shopping with delivery to home :-) Asda FTW of course - cheaper than Tesco.
  • Disaster recovery scenario testing. How long can one UPS last with just a PC, wireless router and monitor on the battery backup? Add in Linux monitoring of UPS battery levels (yes, there's APC software for Linux, but since I'll be there all the time, I will do any manual shutdowns myself). Simulate a disk fault on SSD and HDD to see how you work around issues (tricky this one because what you're trying to avoid is long filing system hangs, which can impact the recordings badly).

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