We had been wanting to have an electric guitar for a long time. We had an acoustic only guitar for a long time. I really did not want an extra guitar, so I checked out some of the prices for kits to convert our guitar for electric and most of the prices were modest enough, but I happened to see an article at http://www.instructables.com on how to make an acoustic guitar electric. The project would involve less than ten dollars in parts and go to the re-purposing the old guitar. I went ahead and followed the instructions ( using a transducer, wire, a bit of solder, and a phono plug) and the results were fantastic. Kudos to the author of the article. Then came the fun part. I had managed to rube goldberg a cable to test the newly electrified guitar, but I wanted a real cable. In checking our several retailers, they wanted (after tax). close to a whopping fifty dollars for just a six foot cable. That is unacceptable. We have plenty of coaxial cable and I can probably dramatically improve on my Rube Goldberg cable with a couple of connects for just a few bucks. Every dollar counts at holiday time. I had bought an extra transducer, so I may make it into a microphone considering the excellent results of the guitar!.

One of the most amazing things is to capture video for later use. So far I have only captured video our family has created. I have never really set the vcr to capture a program either. For educational purposes (i.e. our classes)I would like to be able to capture some media to enhance the learning experience. Sometimes people call this a Tivo, like a soft drink is called a coke. Just a generic term to relate to the same thing. You can rent a box from your provider if you want a simple answer or you can actually use a home computer to do the same thing. With linux we have been using a software system called Mythbuntu. Things have changed in media industry, so there is a mandate to update equipment.

So it is time to update our Mythtv (the computerized digital video recorder aka cdvr or dvr for short) now that digital is upon us. There is also another nice project called LinuxMCE. We decided to redo our install (front-end/back-end combo) from scratch. Now that Ubuntu 9.10 seems to be stable, we will use Mythbuntu as a base for this project. We went to the site and downloaded the iso and then burned it to a cd. Most people by now know how to do this, if not let me know and I will steer you in the right direction. Next we went to the hardware requirements on the mythbuntu site to see if our existing system would still qualify to run Mythbuntu. The more you want to do with Mythbuntu the better machine and capture card you will need.

One other important feature to consider is what kind of video/audio signal you will be receiving. I am not an engineer, so I can not spout volumes of details of digital and analog signals. Suffice it to say if you are using an antenna you will need a digital capture card. If you are using a commercial carrier via cable or the like it will be digital also unless you have had it for a long time and never converted to the new format. I will probably install both the old analog (for old camcorder compatibility) and a digital card for the new formats. My cable is still analog but we use the dtv converters to compensate. Go to http://www.dtv.gov/ for more info One of these days we will convert. You probably can only get an analog card used (second hand). Digital cards vary in capability and costs. I just bought a cheap one to get the lay of the land and later might get a better one when I know what I am looking for. Most people in the Mythbuntu community might recommend a Haupauge. You will want to do your own research and decide for yourself which one is best.

Instead of using the machine I have set up for mythtv. I decided to use a bit more powerful machine. I am in the process of adding the digital card and maybe other upgrades this week. Oh, it it’s been fun. The old power supply went pop and I shut off the system quickly. Replaced the power supply with my last spare one. but had to purchase an extension to get the cable to the motherboard. I need to get a couple of extra atx power supplies as spares. Powered up the system and a fan was mis-behaving, so I fiddled with it and it seems ok. Turned off the machine and Installed the digital card. Turned on the machine again and inserted the mythtv cd in the cdrom drive and started the install. It was actually easier in the past except that in setting up the card, I had to tell mythtv it was a digital card instead of an analog card. Anyway it works great with a coathanger antenna. Pics coming soon.

Mythtv information sources:

Blueray on linux
Blueray install help

Good places for mythtv info:
Mythtv cast forum
ubuntu.com community MythTV
wendy.seltzer.org mythtv

Instant networked media device idea. Going to strip one of my old pc’s down to the bare bones to put in an old dead vcr case. Get an ide to compact flash adapter to use compact flash as a hard drive. Then I will use a dc-dc ps with a laptop type power adapter for a super quiet ps, Probably install a light linux with xbmc. Might add a brushlless super quiet fan for the ps. Maybe eventually add an ir port. Wireless keyboard and mouse should do the trick, since may use it to stroll the web also.