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Xbox 360 Freezing When Using the Network Connection

The Simpsons Special Edition Xbox 360

Doh!  My Xbox hates the internet.

The title pretty much says it all.  I have diagnosed my Xbox 360 freezing problems down to the network connection.  Any activity that uses the network connection will freeze my Xbox.

At first I thought it was Xbox Live activity that was freezing the Xbox since I am always connected to Xbox Live.  I tried going offline and it seemed to be ok.  As soon as I tried Media Center it would freeze.

I tried clearing the hard drive cache based on what I found online and what Xbox Customer support emailed me.  That didn’t work either but the Xbox worked great as long as the Cat5 was not connected.

I then tried removing the hard drive and playing games.  That worked great so I connected the cat 5 and tried to connect to Media Center and it froze again.

So basically the Xbox works great with no Cat5 connected and freezes consistently with Cat5 connected.  If I cannot get on my network and on Xbox Live this thing is basically a paper weight.

There has to be something that can be done.  I am going to test my friends Xbox on the network tonight to see if it is my network or the Xbox.  There has to be something that can be done to fix this that does not involve me spending any money or sending it to Microsoft.

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Cable Card Works on My Old Laptop

Now that Microsoft has opened up the flood gates on Cable Card usage in Media Center there are a lot of people that may be wondering if that old PC could be repurposed as a Media Center.  I have thought about it as well as I talk to friends about adopting Media Center so I decided to run a test.

I took my almost 5 year old laptop which is currently running Windows 7 RC and setup Media Center on it.  Since the tool to enable Cable Card has not been released yet I used the Cable Card hack to get my ATI Cable Card running on my laptop.  Here is the equipment list for the test:

  • HP Pavilion dv4000 Laptop running Windows 7 RC (1.73 GHZ Pentium M, 1 GB Ram, 1.0 System Rating)
  • ATI Digital Cable Card Tuner (1.17 firmware)
  • Linksys DMA2100

Step 1 – Install the TV Tuner:  The first thing I did was install the Cable Card hack which worked like a charm with no hiccups.  I think unplugged the ATI DCT from my main Media Center PC and plugged it into my laptop.

Step 2 – Run TV Setup: The next step was to run the TV tuner setup.  I only setup the one ATI DCT so the test was with a single tuner.

Step 3 – Test HD TV on an extender:  My laptop does not do well with HD video.  I know this from testing Home Group in Windows 7 with HD recordings from my main media center PC.  Because of this I used the extender as part of this test.  The extender was connected wirelessly while the laptop was hard wired via Cat5 to the network.  Below is a picture showing system resources while watching Hellboy on HBO HD.  There is also a YouTube video demonstrating the performance.

Low Power Media Center

Not bad huh?  This should definitely give hope that the cost of entry into Media Center is going to be low.  Of course you can buy a cheap desktop PC that blows this laptop out of the water and just add a cable card tuner to it.

Moving Your Family to a Media Center Whole Home Solution – Part 2

In my first follow-up to my post on moving your family to a whole home Media Center solution I wanted to give a better idea on what I have in my setup and how it’s all connected.  We have four rooms in the house where we can use and enjoy Media Center.  The following diagram explains what equipment is where and how everything is connected:

Media Center Network

Office:  The home office is where I centered the Media Center and all the supporting components.  I have dual monitors connected to the Dell XPS 420 so I can use one as normal PC monitor and the second to watch Media Center at the same time (actually doing that as I write this post).   Audio is just stereo via computer speakers.

Master Bedroom:  In the master bedroom we are using a Linksys DMA2100 extender that is directly wired into the network.  It is connected to the TV via a single HDMI.  This is a nice clean setup with the least amount of cables (4): two power plugs, one network cable and the HDMI cable.  The DMA2100 looks great on this TV and fits the master bedroom scenario perfectly.  Audio is stereo via the TV speakers.

Living Room: The main TV is located in the living room.  Because of this I am using an Xbox 360.  It gives the closest experience to actually having the PC connected to the TV.  It also looks great over a VGA connection on this TV.  Audio is full 5.1 surround sound.

Guest Bedroom:  The TV in the guest bedroom is rarely used so it is the only TV that is still standard definition.  The great thing about Media Center is that I can still watch all of my HD content on this SD set and it looks like an amazing DVD. Audio is stereo via the TV speakers.  This is also the only wireless scenario I have.  The guest bedroom is right underneath the office so the wireless signal is fairly strong.  I have had experienced a few disconnects over extended viewing sessions but overall it worked great and streamed HD content just fine.

I’ll keep on digging deeper into other aspects in future posts.  Hopefully this helps answers some questions for those considering Media Center.

Both Tuners Working

Both tuners are now working! Time Warner came out again for the third time on Friday and this time we got everything working. The technician brought out 4 more cable cards and 2 of them were good and 2 were bad. It took about 20 minutes to get the card installed and all the proper channels tuned in. Not bad at all.

I was also able to add the splitter back in and get both tuners working off of one cable line.

I had the first test of the system this past weekend as I had a house full of family visiting. We watch live TV, recorded TV and movies off of the hard drive. It worked great!! I had one small hiccup, but it was very minor. Nothing that was noted by my guests.

So far so good. I still am trying to WebGuide and remote scheduling working before I can close phase 1.

Moving my Cable Outlet

As part of my Media Center Project I have to get a cable outlet in the same vicinity as my new network outlets. I am not going to run cable across the room. Since I will be using the media center itself to watch TV in the office going forward, I have decided to move the outlet that is in the room rather than add another all together.

So the current plan is to put a blank cover on the current outlet and cover that up. I will then go into the attic and hijack the cable that is going into that room already and redirect it over to the other side of the room.

If I split the wire and leave to active outlets this will cause unnecessary signal degradation since I will not be using that outlet again. I do want to leave myself the option to reactivate the outlet though for when we eventually sell the house.

Network Pictures

I finally found a camera to take a few pictures of the work I did a last week as part of my network project.

Here is the 6-Port outlet that I installed in my home office. Installing this box was probably the easiest part of the install. Thanks to my closet attic space I have direct access to the framing behind the wall. This allowed me to do a quick, easy and clean install.

I am currently only using 3 out of the 6. The 3 not in use have blank covers in the slots. The 3 in use are primarly for use with Media Center so they connect to the Master Bedroom (1) and the Living Room (2).

Master Bedroom Outlet Living Room 2-Port Outlet

Here is a picture of the PVC pipe I ran down the side of my house. The purpose of this pipe is to run network cable from the attic down into the crawl space and up into the living room wall.

It’s 1″ in diameter and 22 feet long. The day I installed this was pretty windy so it was kind of a pain to have this laying against the wall swaying in the wind. Once I got the first bracket installed it became a lot easier.

Here is a picture of the PVC elbow going into the brick on the side of the house. The PVC going through the brick is about 5″ long.

Finally, to the right are a few of the tools I used after the wire was run. Starting on the left are the network outlets. Very easy to install using the provided punch down tool in the middle. I bought a punch down tool but was able to return it once I realized that one was already provided (and it worked great). And last to the far right is the much needed wire cutter/crimper tool.

New router

One of the new pieces of equipment that I am thinking about is a new router. My current router is 6 years old and I would like to up date it to take advantage of advances in technology since I bought mine (especially improved wireless).

In my research I came across the Linksys Ultra RangePlus Wireless-N Broadband Router. This router has a great wireless range, incorporates the new wireless “N” standard and looks great!

I haven’t read any reviews on it yet, but it has definitely caught my interest. It’s not at the top of the list but I do want get it!