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Compact MythTV Frontend. Advisor: Professor Wilsey. David Kesler. Dustin Grimmeissen. Richard Anderson. MythTV. Open source software intended to replace TIVO and other proprietary DVR systems Runs on a Linux machine storing video and other media to the hard drive

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Compact mythtv frontend

Compact MythTV Frontend


Professor Wilsey

David Kesler






  • Open source software intended to replace TIVO and other proprietary DVR systems

  • Runs on a Linux machine storing video and other media to the hard drive

  • Media can be played back from hard drive

  • Can have multiple frontends serving media off a dedicated backend

Mythtv problem
MythTV Problem

  • Users may not want to purchase a PC to sit next to their TVs

  • PC’s are large and often unsightly

  • Separate frontend/backend allows for a small, low power computer by the TV

    • Small general purpose computer are expensive

Desired features
Desired Features

  • MythTV communicating and playing video from a backend

  • NTSC output on an S-Video cable to a television

  • Finished product size of approximately 50 cubic inches


  • Software:

    • An x86 Gentoo image less than 64 mb

      • With MythTV Frontend Compiled

    • A compiled Gumstix image with:

      • Framebuffer and core system drivers < 10 mb

      • X-Windows server

      • DirectFB Graphics Library

      • SDL Graphics Library

      • Sample Framebuffer Graphics Applications


  • Hardware:

    • Board capable of converting digital RGB signals to drive a VGA monitor

    • Successfully connected the board to the Gumstix, displaying the contents of the framebuffer on a VGA monitor

    • Hardware meets space requirements

Design process
Design Process

  • Base system:

    • Used Gumsitx as the base system

      • Features:

        • 400 MHz ARM Processor

        • 64 MB of RAM

        • 16 MB of internal storage

        • MMC/SD Slot for high capacity permanent storage

        • Built in Ethernet and audio capability

      • Why:

        • Extremely small form factor

        • Low power, heat, and noise

        • Several features built in

Design process1
Design Process

  • Software:

    • Compiled Linux image using Gentoo for x86 architecture, with MythTV frontend included.

    • Attempted building Gentoo image for ARM processor, but found MythTV to be infeasible.

    • Created Gumstix image from scratch, manually building framebuffer drivers and core system programs.

    • Compiled and installed framebuffer testing applications to Gumstix.

    • Compiled and installed DirectFB and SDL graphics libraries for future development.

Design process2
Design Process

  • Hardware:

    • Initial design planned on utilizing Sigma Designs EM8620L or similar graphical processing unit

    • Second plan involved converting the Gumstix LCD controller output to S-Video

      • Created circuit board utilizing Analog Devices ADV7120 and AD723

      • Intended to interface with Gumstix through a CPLD downsampler / interleaver

Hardware design
Hardware Design

  • Initial Test: Display colored bars using signals generated from a CPLD

    • Could not generate proper NTSC signal

  • Discovered output of ADV7120 can directly drive a VGA monitor

    • Successfully interfaced ADV7120 with Gumstix and VGA monitor


  • With further work it may still be possible to convert the Gumstix LCD controller signals to an NTSC signal

  • Due to the limitations of 16-bit color running MythTV or a movie player may not result in acceptable video quality

  • Due to cross-compilation difficulties, getting MythTV to run on an ARM processor may be unfeasible anyway

  • Compiled graphics libraries may allow for other media players to be compiled and executed in place of MythTV