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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