Thursday, January 8, 2009

I got a Popcorn Hour

I got a Popcorn Hour A-110 (AKA Networked Media Tank) media player just before Christmas.

I've had my Squeezebox network music player for a couple of years now, and along the way I've got hooked on
  • the idea of storing my digital media centrally

  • running a low power server

  • hacking around with Linux
So now I'm going to have a go at streaming video. The Popcorn Hour seems like a good device to do it with.

My video content is DVDs ripped in full to ISOs using DVDFab (free version). I'm not compressing or discarding any of the non-movie content yet. But as each title takes 6-8GB, I might look into one or both soonish...

So far, I've had perfect success viewing this content on my TV in these ways:
  1. From an external disk (NTFS formatted), connected to a USB port on the Popcorn Hour.

  2. From an NFS share hosted on my fit-PC mini server, with the content stored on it's internal disk.

  3. As previous, but with the content on the external disk, connected to a USB port on the fit-PC.

  4. As previous, but using Samba instead of NFS.
For options 2-4 this is streaming via a pair of Devolo Homeplug AV adapters (AKA powerline networking). One adapter is connected to my router in the "server room". The other is connected to the Popcorn Hour in the TV room.

I hadn't expected the Homeplug setup to work. Quite a few people have reported problems with powerline networking on the Popcorn Hour forums. (And I had previously been unsuccessful streaming this way to a Hauppauge MVP box - it stuttered badly whatever I tried.) So was resigned to somehow running a cable from one end of the house to the other. But happy day, it is working flawlessly for me - at least for this standard-def content.

And my fit-PC handles streaming the video over NFS and Samba without breaking sweat.

Loads of scope for geeky time suckage with this. So more posts may follow.

(It took me absolutely feckin' ages to successfully export an NFS shared from a directory mounted from the NTFS formatted USB disk, but that's a whole other story.)


  1. I work with who sells a competing box to the PCH. (EGreat EG-M31B)

    Amazed your are networking over your power cables and that it is working! I will mention that to some folks and try it out.

    Does that work for HD content streaming?

  2. Hi Paul. Yes, this was a pleasant surprise!

    Looking on the PCH forum, I am not alone. But it seems like success streaming video over homeplug/powerline network to the PCH can be hit and miss. I'm just happy it's working in my setup.

    Since writing the post, I have switched from NFS to Samba which is also working just fine. (While experimenting briefly with the MediaMVP box I had a bit more success with NFS than Samba, which is why I tried NFS first on the PCH.)

    I have no HD content, so can't comment on that for now I'm afraid. Maybe later...