0Antec Fusion Remote HTPC Case LogoCreating a new DIY HTPC from scratch

Pulling togeth­er a lot of pre­vi­ous posts here is a guide on how to build and set up a fully fea­tured DIY HTPC from scratch…

1. Build the PC
  • See my post about a typ­ic­al HTPC hard­ware con­fig for £425
  • Install Win­dows 7
  • Install all drivers, espe­cially GPU drivers
  • Set a pass­word, enable auto­lo­gon and enable remote desktop (via my sys ctrl pan­el, remote settings)
  • Dis­able pass­word required on wake via power con­trol panel.
  • Set sleep on after a short period.
  • Dis­able screensaver
  • Ensure the default win­dows 7 scheme is enabled (this speeds up boot-up and logon)
  • Dis­able the win­dows 7 star­tup sound (slightly speeds up boot up, and avoids noise when PC wakes to record)
  • Dis­able Media Cen­ter star­tup sound and anim­a­tion via registry.  Open reged­it and browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionMedia CenterSettingsMCE.PerUserSettings.  set “enable­Star­tupAn­im­a­tion” and “enable­Star­tup­Sound” to a dword value of 00000000 (cred­it to Mikey‑Z on Hack7MC)
  • Down­load and install an AV app — I recom­mend Microsoft Secur­ity Essentials
  • Down­load and install your browser of choice (e.g. Fire­fox)
  • Down­load and install an unzip util­ity — I recom­mend Win­RAR
  • Down­load and install some basic codecs and plu­gins: Java, Flash Play­er, Shock­wave, Adobe Read­er, QT Lite, Real Alt
  • Con­sider using speed­fan to con­trol fan speeds
  • Change time sync serv­er to pool.ntp.org and don’t noti­fy when clock changes — import­ant to make sure pro­grammes record at the cor­rect time.
  • Run Media Cen­ter and com­plete first setup
  • Set up your TV signals
  • Add ITV HD (if you have freesat)
  • Dis­able 7MC screensaver
  • Exit 7MC

2. Install DIY freesat (if you want freesat)

3. Con­fig­ure the codecs for optim­al per­form­ance and broad file support

4. Tweak and add fea­tures to 7MC

  • Use TunerSalad to increase tuner num­bers if neces­sary.  Update: the latest ver­sions of tuner salad are no longer free.  We recom­mend you buy the latest ver­sion for the very small price of $3.40.  If you want the free old ver­sion, please find it on our down­loads page
  • Down­load and install Media Browser
  • Con­sider down­load­ing and enabling SQL­ite to improve Medi­aB­rowser per­form­ance Update: Medi­aB­rowser now uses SQL­ite by default
  • Down­load and install Vir­tu­al CloneDrive 
  • Set up Media Browser and point it to folders con­tain­ing any loc­al videos.
  • Change the set­ting in “extenders and iso” to point to Vir­tu­al CloneDrive
  • Run Media Cen­ter and open Media Browser once to com­plete first setup.  Then exit Media Center
  • Down­load Images­By­Name to enhance the Media Browser metadata dis­play — extract to C:ProgramDataMediaBrowserImagesByName
  • Down­load and install Tuner­Free MCE for Inter­net TV support
  • Down­load Media Cen­ter Mas­ter and use it to down­load metadata for all your loc­al videos
  • Down­load Stark Cov­ers from our down­loads page to enhance the cov­ers down­loaded by Media Cen­ter Mas­ter — it is pos­sible to auto­mate this pro­cess, which I will post about sep­ar­ately later
  • Down­load Guide Tool and use it to rearrange, com­bine, and man­age your chan­nel listings
  • Down­load and install MyChan­nel­Lo­gos to enhance the 7MC chan­nel guide.  Update: the latest ver­sions of MyChan­nel­Lo­gos are no longer free.  We recom­mend you buy the latest ver­sion for the very small price of $3.40.  If you want the free old ver­sion, please find it on our down­loads page
  • Use Media Cen­ter Stu­dio to cus­tom­ize your themes and Media Cen­ter start menu.
  • Open Media Play­er (32bit) and add your music folders to cre­ate a music lib­rary.  This may take a while.  Note — it is worth pre­vent­ing Media Play­er writ­ing to your tags or it may erase all the tags — do this via options: lib­rary: retrieve…
  • Con­sider using a ram­disk to speed up the media play­er database
  • Down­load and install Remote Potato to enable man­aging your 7MC TV Record­ings remotely
  • If you have an Android phone install RemoteDroid to use your phone as a remote key­board and mouse
  • Enable wake-on-lan if you want to wake the PC remotely to sched­ule record­ings.  If you need to wake it from anoth­er loc­al com­puter, via the inter­net, see my post about a webpage script that does just that

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