Monday, June 25, 2007

MPEG-2 Player UP!!!

This should really be titled "A Productive Weekend In Spite of Myself", but that would be way too long...

Here's what went on. This is going to be mostly technical, so if you don't want to be inundated with another geek-post, then feel free to skip this and wait for the next post which will be less geeky in nature.

I spent a lot of time in the office this weekend cleaning it out, and taking my old Dell Precision 420, which used to serve as my main video editor, and turning it into a working MPEG-2 player. It started basically by trying to decide which flavor of linux I was going to use for this, and then I decided to go with Windows instead. You already know that part, since that was the gist of my previous post.

I found out a lot about the nature of AGP cards this weekend. It figures, since the best cards now are PCI-E cards, but if you have to use older technology, then it's good to know these things.

Anywho, here's what happened: A few weeks ago, we went to a garage sale in an eastern suburb of Indianapolis, and I picked up an Nvidia GeForce 6200oc with 256MB RAM onboard. Not a bad deal for ten bucks. I stuck it in my wife's computer a few weeks ago, actually. My editor runs an ATI Radeon 9250, also with 256MB RAM onboard. Last year, someone freecycled to me an ATI Radeon 9600SE with 128MB RAM onboard. The lady who gave it to me said that her kid "didn't like it", so she gave it to me.

Well, I now know why.

I stuck that 9600 in my Dell while building this MPEG-2 player, and after I'd installed the drivers for it and got it to a point where it was ready to go, or so I thought, the video came out black and white. I checked the monitor with one of my cameras. Nope, got color there. Swapped out S-Video cables, but that didn't work either. So I got online and found out that this problem was not unheard of. This kind of frustrated me, so I went ahead swapped it out with the GeForce card that I just had put into the wife's computer. She is only using one monitor, and won't be using the S-Video anytime soon, so it seemed to make sense. When I stuck that GeForce into my Dell, though, all I had to do was reinstall XP and away we went. I'd tried VLC Player to playback source video, but the video looked real choppy. I wound up using Ulead DVD player to play it back, and it looked real nice; not choppy and very stable.

I plan on the official stress test on this tonight and tomorrow (I'm going to get an hour of programming on a loop and see how it looks), but I have every reason to believe that we just took a gigantic step to getting Mater Dei Television on the air. It's not quite the way I wanted to do it, as I want to use a professional video card that will allow output independent of the AGP card (a Blackmagic Intensity HDMI card would be nice), but this will get us going.

The Windows Media Encoder will be next, and I may try it in my NEC server, for which I need an Ultra-Wide SCSI hard drive. I don't need a large one, since I'm just running the encoder, but I need something. Even an adapter which would allow me to use an existing SCSI drive that I already have would work. The downside is that it's an old server; Pentium Pro grade. The upside is that it's a quad-processor and it's got approximately 320MB RAM already installed, and it's the older style RAM, so coming across it via freecycle shouldn't be a problem. It can go upto 4GB RAM, which in this day and age is still high-end, although when this server was built, it was unheard of. This server may wind up running VLC Player to capture and stream video out to Peercast. Ideally, we can still use a linux distribution that will do that, with VideoLinux, Absolute, Slackware, and Dyne:Bolic being at the top of the list.

Sorry for such a long and technical post, but it is good news nevertheless.

One quick program note: I was actually thinking about doing a program on some of the older Church buildings here in Indianapolis. I'm going to run this by some friends of mine to see what they think.

Until next time...

Chuck, MI

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