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Thread: My 'Wall-E' system - steaming DVDs Pt1 - Storage

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  1. #1
    Automated Home Sr Member jaffab's Avatar
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    Default My 'Wall-E' system - steaming DVDs Pt1 - Storage

    As part of my home automation set-up (which my wife calls Wall-e, because its major part is an electronic wall control device), I wanted three things...

    1) Removal of all my CDs, DVDs (hundreds) and to be able to stream them everywhere
    2) Intelligent reduction in power usage
    3) Home automation and security (the usual mixture of lights on, off, alarms, heating controls etc).

    My home automation project was kicked off by two factors. First, we had just moved into a new house, and then one night, when my wife went to file the most recent DVD in the storage cabinets, my wife informed me that officially (when ever my wife does anything, its official in our house), our DVD storage space is full. She could not get any more DVDs into the storage areas, and declared ‘I will be bu***ed if we have to buy more furniture for DVDs before we move’.

    So I was left with a choice. Add no more movies to my (900+) collection, or finally make the leap and move to digital streaming and storage. That is what I am now doing, and I thought it would be worth going through the stages, in case anybody wants to tread in my footsteps.

    First we have the storage. I have done a lot of research and trials over the past few weeks on the subject of streaming. There are lots of types of receivers out there such as PVR, AVI receivers, etc – all of which can receive a movie stream over Wifi or cable, and play to TVs or PC screens. For me, as I have a PS3 anyway, I decided to use this to play my movies (this will work just as well on an Xbox, and I understand also on a Wii). However, I conclusion, that with the current release of the PS3 firmware, it is just not up to the job (at least, in terms of BluRay streaming and very high quality DVDs). It used to work perfectly, but Sony changed something after V2.50 of the PS3 firmware, and now it can stutter over wireless, so I was looking for storage which can be plugged directly into the PS3 for the short term, and then plugged into a router longer term for proper NAS (Networked Storage) streaming.

    After a lot of research, I have opted for two (twin) Buffalo Drivestation 1TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drives. Purchased from amazon.co.uk, each costs £78.96. I purchased these devices because (a) they are fairly cheap, (b) they are whisper quiet (external drives can be fairly noisy), (c) they are proved to work well with PS3’s (again, will plug into any player type device with USB2 connectors) and (d) they are low power (when the PS3 is not accessing them, they power down).



    Now, they allow both connection to a server or router, but for the short term, they also allow connection to the PS3 by USB port. I have the Hard drives behind my TV, connected to the front of the PS3 by USB cables (the cables you get with the drives are fairly short, but I have lots of spare USB cables floating around). I have 4 USBs on my Ps3 (some lower models I believe only have 2), so that’s 2 for the drives, one for a cable for charging a controller, and the final one for the wireless controller for Buzz (when I play buzz) – so that works out well. You wont ever see the drives, or hear them.

    Now, 1TB may seem like a lot, but its not. In my initial tests, a ripped DVD of say 2 hours, is around 2.5Gb in size of DVD quality (more about this, in a separate post). And 1Tb of disk actually gives you around 960GB of usable space. So that only works out at 372 films on a drive. With bluRay rips (at around 25Gb), that’s even less. Hence why I have gone for 2 x 1Tb drives. Even then, I wont fit all my disks on them, but the box sets (lost, heros etc) can remain on disks.

    You can purchase 2Tb drives now. However, the drives are new and the bigger the disk, the more likely it is to fail. By splitting into 2 x 1Tb, if one disk fails in a year or so, I only loose and have to re-burn half the movies.

    One word of note for anybody out there looking to do the same as me. Its important that whatever drives you get are either formatted, or can be formatted, with FAT32. Most external drives come as standard with NTFS file system in place, which the PS3 wont/cant recognise. The Buffalos come with FAT32 file system already in place, and FAT will support files upto 5Gb in size (I will cover the streaming of BluRays later on in a separate topic). Whilst NTFS will handle files of unlimited size, the PS3 wont recognise the drive.

    What I will do (when the drives arrive) is then to create separate directories of say Comedy, Action, SiFi, Adventure, Horror, Childrens, etc. Then the movies will sit within the directories. From the PS3 XMB, each drive will appear as a separate USB attached device (which I can rename if required), and selecting this will then show the categories, and then selecting a category will show the films. Pressing a film, plays the film (all of this has been tested on a borrowed Buffalo drive). And the quality is fab.

    I think the wife is more excited about us doing this than I am. Last night, she even said that the Ps3 was the best purchase ‘we’ had made over the last 2 years (as we use it for viewing photos, playing music, games (which she does not play) and now movies).

    Anyway, I will do another follow up post about the way that I am ripping movies, the formats I am using (any why), and the transfer to the drives.
    __________________________________________________ _______________________
    My life is Home Automation, and my PS3 clan friends at http://www.ps3crowd.com

  2. #2
    Automated Home Jr Member Mr_Orange's Avatar
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    can't believe you haven't gone for redundant storage

    With the number of DVDs you have, you really only want to rip them once. If one of your Buffalos dies, that's a lot of ripping to go through again.

    A proper multibay NAS like the Netgear ReadyNAS range would, IMO, have been a safer, albeit more expensive up front, option. They do 4 and 6 bay models, which offer RAID redundancy, hot-swapping of failed disks, and hot-swapping to larger disks, one by one, to increase storage.

    Anyway, an interesting read. Thanks for taking the time to write up your experiences.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the write up, very interesting, it's made me want to do something similar.

    What router have you got ?

    I've got the BT HomeHub 2 but really don't hold much confidence with that to attach an external hard drive to it for streaming movies.

  4. #4
    Automated Home Sr Member jaffab's Avatar
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    I havnt plugged the drives into my router. I have them now plugged into my home server (SBS2003) which runs my email, exchange server, OWA, plus my home automation, my music archive (to my Squeezeboxes), and security - its a very busy server.

    I personally then map on my Ps3 to the drives over the wireless network using my Netgear 834G, and they seem them as networked drives, and stream the movies over the net. Never had any delays or stutters or lag.

    Originally, I had them hardplugged into my PS3, but by runnin gthem through my server, I can now also stream the movies to my bedroom.
    __________________________________________________ _______________________
    My life is Home Automation, and my PS3 clan friends at http://www.ps3crowd.com

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