Friday, November 25, 2005

Airport Extreme Base Station Fails (Bad Power Supply)

My three year old Airport Extreme Base Station stopped working last week. It was dead with no blinking lights. My first impulse was to tear it open and see if there was a loose power connector, but after getting the bottom off, I saw difficulty in disassembling it further. Luckily, it occurred to me to attach my multi-meter to the station's power supply, and eureka, no voltage. The external power supply had failed not the hub itself.

Looking around the web, it seems most places are out of of stock for the AirPort Extreme Base Station Power Adapter (Part number M9479LL). Perhaps many are failing right now. But the Apple online store has it in stock, so I ordered one for $20 and problem solved.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

DVI and the Syntax 26" LT26HVX HDTV

I am not quite sure why HDTV manufacturers put DVI inputs in their sets if they insist on doing it in the most useless way possible, and with no particular advantage over the picture from high quality component inputs. A case in point is my Syntax LT26HVX. And I'm not saying that Syntax is any worse in this regard then any other manufacturer, a search of the AVS Forum will convince anyone that DVI is not used optimally on HDTVs, be they from Sharp, LQ, Syntax or whomever.

You would think companies would realize that there is a market out there for people who want to connect a MacMini up to their huge TV, do a little light web browsing from the couch, watch a DVD, watch their photo slideshows, maybe even hook up an EyeTV 500 and watch some recorded HDTV. These are people who are used to connecting up a DVI cable to their comptuter and have it "just work," not people who will download DisplayConfigX and play around with the horizontal back porch.

And yet, here we have a TV whose native resolution is a useless (not divisible by 8) 1366x768 pixels, and whose DVI EDID block apparently claims its resolution is 1280x768. There is no way we can blame Apple, NVidia or ATI for not working out of the box with such a device.

Anyway, I was curious as to whether I could get this monitor to work with the DVI output of my PowerBook G4 (NVidia Go5200 chipset), and so I downloaded DisplayConfigX, paid Harald his $12, and started playing around. I finally got a set of parameters which look OK, even if the picture is hiding maybe 10 pixels on the right hand edge. And I have to boot the computer first before plugging in the monitor or everybody gets confused.

So here are my DisplayConfigX settings. Use at your own risk, knowing that I don't know what these really mean. [Update: I don't think this looks very good. If you set up this monitor better, please e-mail me the improved settings.] [Update 2: I would say this looks pretty darn awful, so I'm removing these settings.]

I should also say that I have very few complaints about the LT26HVX as a TV, or as a VGA monitor with my MythTV setup (after going through all the trouble to get it just so.). Hi-Def input from either VGA or component inputs looks great. I do complain about the remote setup. I wish that all devices had a dedicated on, and a dedicated off command so my Harmony 520 infrared remote wouldn't turn it off when it was already on. And it would be nice if the TV had dedicated remote codes for each of its inputs, again so the Harmony wouldn't have to go though the fragile process of keeping track of the current input.

[Update 3: From this thread on lcd-tv-reviews, I learn that older Syntax models can be fooled into behaving sort of correctly by setting the aspect ratio menu item to 4:3. Unfortunately, the LT26HVX and other newer models do not let you change the aspect ratio of DVI content. Thus, you cannot turn off the scaler, and DVI signals from a PC will always look lousy.]

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

xorg.conf file for Dual Headed Linux With NVIDIA FX5200

I recently purchased a Syntax 26" LT26HVX HDTV for use as my main TV viewing monitor. I bought the Syntax for its good performance, low price, and good variety of input connectors. Right now I have it hooked up via VGA to my MythTV PC, s-video to my TiVo, s-video to my DVD player, co-axial to my regular analog TV, and I will be connecting a digital Comcast box to either the DVI port, or one of the component inputs.


It was troublesome, to say the least, getting the TV hooked up to my MythTV PC's video card (a Chaintech Geforce FX5200 AGPx4). First, its resolution is an odd 1366x768, which my NVIDIA driver does not like (1366 is not an even multiple of 8), and apparently the DVI connection is reporting the wrong maximum resolution, so I ended up attaching the VGA output of my video card to the TV and the DVI output to my Dell 2005FPW (1680x1050) LCD monitor; which is fine. And I ended up driving the TV at 1360x768, which is fine: I'm not going to scream about 6 pixels, and it really does look great.


Then there were the complications of getting two screens at once. And once everything was working, there was the realization that the system was not up to the task of displaying full screen video on the TV while doing anything, and I do mean anything, on the Dell. I may have to spring for a sprightlier video card. I had gotten the FX5200 because it was fanless and could handle my original single-headed system.


Regardless, it was quite a bit of work getting it to work, so I'm sharing my /etc/X11/xorg.conf file which works on my system (Fedora Core 4), and may be helpful to you. This all presupposes that you have a working NVIDIA driver installed (which is another big can of worms).


# Xorg configuration created by system-config-display

Section "ServerLayout"
Identifier "dual head configuration"
Screen 0 "Screen0" RightOf "Screen1"
Screen 1 "Screen1" 0 0
InputDevice "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
InputDevice "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
InputDevice "Mouse1" "CorePointer"
EndSection

Section "Files"
RgbPath "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/rgb"
ModulePath "/usr/X11R6/lib/modules/extensions/nvidia"
ModulePath "/usr/X11R6/lib/modules/extensions"
ModulePath "/usr/X11R6/lib/modules"
FontPath "unix/:7100"
EndSection

Section "Module"
Load "dbe"
Load "extmod"
Load "fbdevhw"
Load "glx"
Load "record"
Load "freetype"
Load "type1"
Load "v4l"
Load "dri"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Keyboard0"
Driver "kbd"
Option "XkbModel" "pc105"
Option "XkbLayout" "us"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Mouse0"
Driver "mouse"
Option "Protocol" "IMPS/2"
Option "Device" "/dev/input/mice"
Option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
Option "Emulate3Buttons" "yes"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Mouse1"
Driver "mouse"
Option "Device" "/dev/lircm"
Option "Protocol" "IMPS/2"
Option "SendCoreEvents"
Option "Buttons" "5"
Option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
EndSection

Section "Modes"

# 1680x1050 @ 60 Hz
# Horizontal pixels
# Front porch: 104 Back porch: 280 Sync width: 176
# Sync polarity: - Scan rate: 65.29kHz Active pixels: 1680
# Vertical lines:
# Front porch: 3 Back porch: 30 Sync width: 6
# Sync polarity + Refresh rate 59.954Hz Active pixels: 1050
# Pixel clock: 146.25MHz
# Pixel clock digital: 119 MHz
Identifier "16:10"
Modeline "digital:1680x1050@60" 119.0 1680 1728 1760 1840 1050 1053 1059 1080 -hsync +vsync
Modeline "1680x1050@60" 154.20 1680 1712 2296 2328 1050 1071 1081 1103
ModeLine "analog:1680x1050" 146.2 1680 1960 2136 2240 1050 1080 1086 1089 -hsync +vsync
Modeline "1360x768@60" 84.50 1360 1392 1712 1744 768 783 791 807
EndSection

Section "Modes"
Identifier "HDTV"
Modeline "1360x768@60" 84.50 1360 1392 1712 1744 768 783 791 807
EndSection

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "Monitor0"
VendorName "Dell"
ModelName "DELL 2005FPW"
UseModes "16:10"
HorizSync 30.0 - 83.0
VertRefresh 56.0 - 75.0
Option "dpms"
Option "XVideoBlitterSyncToVBlank" "0"
Option "XVideoTextureSyncToVBlank" "0"
EndSection

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "Monitor1"
VendorName "Syntax"
ModelName "Olevia 26 HVX"
UseModes "HDTV"
HorizSync 30.0 - 83.0
VertRefresh 56.0 - 75.0
Option "dpms"
Option "XVideoBlitterSyncToVBlank" "0"
Option "XVideoTextureSyncToVBlank" "0"

EndSection

Section "Device"
Identifier "Videocard0"
Driver "nvidia"
Option "ConnectedMonitor" "DLP"
VendorName "Videocard vendor"
Option "ExactModeTimingsDVI" "True"
BoardName "NVIDIA GeForce FX (generic)"
BusID "PCI:1:0:0"
Option "ConnectedMonitor" "DFP, CRT"
Option "IgnoreEDID" "1"
Screen 0
EndSection

Section "Device"
Identifier "Videocard1"
Driver "nvidia"
VendorName "Videocard vendor"
BusID "PCI:1:0:0"
Option "ConnectedMonitor" "DFP, CRT"
BoardName "NVIDIA GeForce FX (generic)"
Option "ConnectedMonitor" "CRT"
Option "IgnoreEDID" "1"
Screen 1
EndSection


Section "Screen"
Identifier "Screen1"
Device "Videocard1"
Monitor "Monitor0"
DefaultDepth 24
SubSection "Display"
Viewport 0 0
Depth 16
Modes "digital:1680x1050@60" "1280x768" "800x600" "640x480"
EndSubSection
SubSection "Display"
Viewport 0 0
Depth 24
Modes "digital:1680x1050@60" "1280x768" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
EndSubSection
EndSection

Section "Screen"
Identifier "Screen0"
Device "Videocard0"
Monitor "Monitor1"
DefaultDepth 24
SubSection "Display"
Viewport 0 0
Depth 16
Modes "1360x768@60" "800x600" "640x480"
EndSubSection
SubSection "Display"
Viewport 0 0
Depth 24
Modes "1360x768@60" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
EndSubSection
EndSection

Section "DRI"
Group 0
Mode 0666
EndSection
 
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