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©Copyright 2011 by assassin @ assassinHTPCblog. All rights reserved. This guide and its contents are copyrighted by assassin @ assassinHTPCblog.

This may be used for personal use by the purchaser only; users are forbidden to reproduce, republish, redistribute or resell and material from this guide without the permission of assassin @ assassinHTPCblog.

Archive Description

Since software development and feature releases are decided independent of community preference, it’s often recommended to use beta software before it’s final release as well as a “previous” release after its next release is final. The intention of the guides is to show the best supported and functional release for HTPC usage, but in the case where you disagree with the guides “moving forward” on a release you can probably find the previous setup information here.

Archive

This is a holding area for older guides that moved out of their main section, and they should be used only as a reference at this point.

Table of Guides (with quicklinks):

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Enabling 20+ More Skins in XBMC

This guide will show you an easy way to add 20+ more skins in XBMC. You can do these 1 by 1 but this way will allow you to add many at once.

First download the Passion XBMC Repository located here. Do not unzip this file. Remember where you saved it as we need to point XBMC to it later.

Now go to the XBMC settings “Add On” section. Choose “Install From Zip File”

Next locate the directory where you saved the Passion XBMC repository and choose it. Hit “Ok”

XBMC will confirm that it is installing the Add-On Repository you just selected

Now exit all the way out of XBMC and restart it. This is the only way that I can consistently get the repositories to show up. Once you are back in go back to Settings and Add Ons.

Now click on “Get Add Ons”

Now click on the Passion Repository you just installed

Now located the skin directory and select it (you can also look at some of the other things included in this repo if you like. I mainly use it for the multiple skins)

Now we can see all the skin options that we can add. Pretty impressive. (Note: If these don’t show up immediately or say “Broken” give XBMC a little time to update itself. Then restart it and they should look the way they are listed below)

Let’s install one of the skins so I can show you how its done. I really like “Neon” so let’s use it as an example. First choose the skin from the repo and click “Install”

It will now download “Neon”

Select “Yes” to change to the recently downloaded skin

If you want to see what settings you can change in the “Skin” settings go to the main settings page and then select “Skin”. Change whatever you feel is necessary for how you use XBMC.

Now let’s take a few looks at how this new skin looks…

Here is just one of the many other options called Cirrus that you can install. Feel free to install and try them all!

Install the rest of the skins that you think look interesting from the Passion repo and see which one you like the best!

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Using and Enabling Theme Packs

Now that you have XBMC installed and have installed a skin (like Aeon MQ2 or Aeon MQ3) let me show you a way that you can install different “themes” which will change the look and feel of the skin in just a few clicks.

First let’s go to this webpage and look at all the different theme packs this developer has made for us to use:

I have XBMC with the Aeon MQ3 skin installed and enabled so I am going to download the ExtraPack Theme Darkness V3 – Aeon MQ 3 zip located at that webpage. Remember where you downloaded it to as we will extract the files and point XBMC to them later.

Let’s go to this downloaded file and right click on it and tell Windows to extract it. Just to be clear we are doing this completely outside of XBMC like a normal file. I made a folder called “XBMC Themes” that I put these themes into prior to extracting them to keep them organized.

This is what the 2 files look like after downloading and extracting

Now let’s go to the Settings -> Skin menu

Go to the Themes submenu and hit enter

Select the line that allows us to point XBMC to where we downloaded and extracted the zipped theme

Located the folder where you have your extracted file. Open the folder to reveal the contents inside

An important point to note here is to open your folder all the way up in xbmc until you see the actual files inside the extracted (unzipped) folder before hitting OK. Once you have done this click OK.

Now let’s exit out of the Settings menu and return to the main screen and take a look at the changes with our new theme “Darkness”

Now that we have added and enabled “Darkness” let’s take a look another theme. Let’s try “Warm” for a bit of a contrast. Repeat the steps above to download, extract and install this theme.

This is what “Warm” looks like after installation

As you have seen there are multiple skins and multiple themes for XBMC. Now you know how to install them and quickly and easily change the appearance to fit your style, decor or even mood!

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Adding CUVID for NVidia cards

NOTE: CUVID is now merged with LAV Video. So if you are using LAV Splitter, LAV Audio and LAV Video CUVID is now included in LAV and this guide is now somewhat obsolete but I will keep it as reference for you.

The LAV CUVIDdecoder can be used for those that have bought a capable NVidia card. You will need to follow the above guide to setup LAV and Madvr. If you want to launch from Mediabrowser you will also need to follow that guide as well.

First let’s check and make sure your Nvidia card supports CUDA. You can do this easily with a program called GPU-Z (free).

First run GPU-Z and examine your card to make sure CUDA is supported. If yours has CUDA checked then proceed with this guide if you want to use LAV CUVID.

So what does LAV CUVID add?

It is a DirectShow Video Decoder utilizing the NVIDIA hardware decoder engine through the CUDA Video Decoding API (“CUVID”).
Its still in its early stages, but its already been tested thoroughly and supports all major formats that the NVIDIA hardware can decode, which are right now H264, VC-1, MPEG2 and MPEG4-ASP (DivX/Xvid). Both progressive and interlaced types are supported.
As a bonus, when decoding interlaced content, it can do full adaptive deinterlacing, the best your GPU has to offer.

Features
– Decoding of H264, VC-1, MPEG2 and MPEG4-ASP (each given appropriate hardware support)
– Full Adaptive Deinterlacing, including Frame Doubling (perfect smooth playback of 1080i/60 content!)
– Usable with all renderers! Including madVR, which is recommended for the best playback quality!
– NV12/YV12 output

First download the installer here.

Next install CUVID

Now open MPC-HC as an administrator. There are a few settings that are different from the settings above. First there is one more filter to add – LAV CUVID

This will install CUVID at the bottom of the filters. I want to move it up to just under the LAV Audio Decoder using the “Up” command.

Now you can see that I have CUVID listed as second on my filters. Hit “Apply” and “OK” when finished.

Now let’s open MPC-HC as an administrator, select a MKV to play and right click on the movie while its playing. Click on “Filters” and locate “LAV CUVID Decoder”. Select this to bring up the setting menu.

In the settings menu you can select which formats to decode with CUVID, what type of de-interlacing you want, the frame rate that you want to output, and a few other settings. These are the default settings but feel free to adjust them based on your setup and display.

You have now used this guide to setup LAV or LAV CUVID, madvr and MPC-HC! With CUVID and Madvr there are numerous different settings and filters that can be used to get different results. These settings are largely hardware specific and will also depends on what you think looks best. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings to see which looks the best to you.

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Changing the DirectShow filters in Windows 7

Windows 7 uses its own DirectShow filters for decoding several audio and video formats. Changing which filters get used used to require changing the Registry keys to adjust permissions which can be very confusing, difficult and dangerous if you aren’t experienced. This guide will show you how to safely and easily change these settings which will allow you to have better control with what is being used to play your files in WMC. I would only use this guide if you are trying to achieve a certain specific result. If your files are playing fine (which 99% of the time they should be) using the standard guides then DO NOT use this guide. If however there is one particular file type that isn’t quite playing correctly in WMC then this guide is worth exploring.

For this guide I have only LAV installed. If you have other splitters, codecs or codec packs installed your screen may look slightly different with more options than what I am showing.

So let’s get started. For this guide you will need a test file (pick the file type that you want to troubleshoot obviously) and the following 2 programs:

1. GraphStudio64.exe or GraphStudio32.exe (pick the one corresponding to your OS)

2. Win7DSFilterTweaker.exe

First, let’s render a media file in GraphStudio to see what filters are currently being used (this may or may not be similar to your setup. For the purposes of this guide it doesn’t matter). Here I am choosing an MKV (H.264) as its my favorite container. As you can see Microsoft Video Decoder is being used for the Video. This is pretty standard in Windows 7 and for me is perfectly fine. But I want to change this manually to LAV for this guide.

Now let’s run the Win7DSFilterTweaker

Here you can see the settings. Microsoft is being used for H.264

Again, I am just trying to change the H.264 filters. So let’s do that now and change this to LAV

Note: I noticed a few times that GraphStudio may need to be closed and you may even need to close and re-open the Tweaker in order to be able to change these settings. So if you run into issues try these tips.

So, now LAV is set to be your preferred filter. So let’s take a look how it looks back in GraphStudio. Click close and exit out of the Tweaker

Now let’s render that same MKV (H.264) file as we did before in GraphStudio and look at the results:

As you can see now we are using LAV Video as our default video decoder. Just one thing left to do — let’s play it back!

XBMC BETA TESTING AREA:

Launching External Player for HD Audio Playback (Beta Guide)

The Beta XBMC HD bitstreaming guides are now complete and are located in the XBMC section. Thanks for the users that tested me out to verify that they work on multiple systems. We now have at least 3 different ways to bitstream HD Audio using XBMC.

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XBMC Option 2: HD Audio Bitstreaming for XBMC (Option 2)

This is another way to enable HD Audio bitstreaming for XBMC. This is perhaps the easiest way to get HD Audio enabled in XBMC for your HTPC.

The steps are easy and very straightforward.

First download the patched build here. Unzip this and install it (You can install it over your previous XBMC installation if you have one. You will not lose any data or setting changes)

Open XBMC and enter the “Settings” and “Hardware” screen. Set your settings to reflect your AV Receiver’s capabilities. Here I have chosen to use HDMI (this is the only way to bitstream HD Audio), chose my speakers as 7.1, and chose to have Dolby Digital, DTS-HD, standard DTS (denoted by “Core”), Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD. Notice at the “Audio Output Device” you should choose your HD Audio capable AV Receiver.

That’s it! This build makes it really easy to bitstream HD Audio with XBMC. Hitting “O” on your keyboard will bring up the stats about what XBMC is bitstreaming (note the DTS-HD MA)

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XBMC Option 3: HD Audio Bitstreaming for XBMC (Option 3)

This guide uses a different build of XBMC than the version used previously. Please refer to the first guide for an overview of audio options in XBMC if you are interested in bitstreaming HD Audio. If you have installed the “standard” xbmc build like in option #1 then you will have to uninstall that build and re-install this build instead to ensure proper playback.

First download the most recent DSPlayer build of XBMC from this link.

Now install the file

Finish the installation

Now we need to download and install LAV filters here [0.58 Updated 06.29.13]

Now go to the Start button -> Programs -> LAV Filters -> LAV Audio Configuration

Once in this menu we need to choose what formats you want to bitstream. I assume since you are installing the DSPlayer build to use HD Audio you have an HD Audio receiver with HDMI input and a HTPC with a HTPC that is HD Audio capable. As a reminder you CANNOT bistream HD Audio over anything but HDMI.

Let’s choose the formats we want in HD Audio (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD)

Once you have selected the formats you want click “Apply” and “OK”

Now download the following 2 xml files from my server

advancedsettings.xml

mediasconfig.xml

Now let’s relocate these files inside XBMC. As you can see below they will be placed in the Users -> User Name -> AppData -> Roaming -> XBMC -> userdata folder

Note: Despite running XBMC first and coming back to this folder I could never get the “dsplayer” folder to show up. So I just created one.

Make the “dsplayer” folder if you need on and place the mediasconfig.xml file inside this folder. Place the advancedsettings.xml file inside thte general userdata folder as I have shown below

Inside the dsplayer folder I created

Okay, now let’s go back to XBMC and take a look at some general settings. Take a look at the first few XBMC guides for other general settings but you may have to make a few changes depending on your specific system. Since my test system is not connected to a HD Audio capable device there may be additional options that are more applicable to your system that aren’t available on my test system.

In the the video settings change the Audio Renderer to your HDMI HD Audio capable device (this may different than what I have listed below depending on your system. Look for a HDMI setting).

In the display mode change this to Full Screen

In the Audio output settings make sure you system is setup with HDMI as the audio output and also set your appropriate speakers and tell XBMC you have a Dolby Digital and DTS capable receiver to allow bitstreaming (although this will likely be handled by LAV)

Okay, now let’s play a HD Audio file to test out this DSPlayer build and make sure that HD Audio is being bitstreamed. For this test we are going to use Wall E with DTS-HD.

Example Screenshots (many more below as well):

Once the file begins to play select “O” (the letter, not the number) on your keyboard to bring up the “O”nscreen display. This will show you the Audio. The screen directly below was taken BEFORE I installed LAV and made the changes to the userdata folders.

Now remember my test system is not HD Audio capable so the HD Audio files will not show up on my particular system. But you can see after I installed LAV and the userdata .xml files that LAV is being used to bitstream audio (see pic below). If your system is HD Audio capable then you will see the HD Audio feed (DTS-HD in the case of Wall E if I had a HD Audio system connected to this test system).

You can see the “I”nfo of the file being played by hitting the “I” key on your keyboard

One other really neat feature of this player is that you can pull up and control the LAV settings (and many other video settings) from within the player. To pull up LAV select the movie reel icon on the bottom right

Now you can scroll down to the bottom and find the LAV menu which will launch the LAV settings screen where you can change your settings in LAV right from within XBMC.

Special thanks for paid user mariob33 who tested out this guide while bitstreaming HD Audio. He sent me these screenshot examples from his HTPC:

You are now able to bitstream HD Audio in XBMC! Now that this is installed and working properly download other skins and plug-ins with the help of the other parts of these guides!

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XBMC Option 4: HD Audio Bitstreaming for XBMC (Option 4)

This guide will show you how to launch MPC-HC (Media Player Classic Home Cinema) which can playback your HD Audio files from the XBMC interface. Please refer toOption 1 for an overview of audio options in XBMC if you are interested in bitstreaming HD Audio. As mentioned above you will first need to install XBMC before using this guide to enable HD Audio bitstreaming by using MPC-HC as an external player.

First let’s download and install the latest MPC-HC build (I prefer the .exe version as its the easiest to install). Make sure to grab the appropriate version (32 or 64 bit for your OS).

Note: If you are wanting to use a renderer like MadVR (see advanced tab) then download the 32 bit version only regardless of your system. I suspect most users will not want to use MadVR and should download the MPC-HC version that correlates with their OS.

MPC-HC Link

Now install from the file you just downloaded

This will finish the installation. After the install is complete you will receive this prompt if you do not have DirectX installed. Let’s do that next

Download and install DirectX runtime from here

 

Make sure you DE-select the annoying Bing Bar adverstising

It will now download and install. This may take a few minutes.

Now let’s download ffdshow (choose your appropriate version 32 vs 64 bit)

Note: Again, if you want to use Madvr in the future download just the 32 bit version regardless of your system.

Check this website for the newest versions.

Now let’s run the file we just downloaded and install it. Keep all default settings for now. We will change some of these later.

If you haven’t already done so make sure in Start -> Control Panel -> Sound you have your HD Audio capable output HDMI device selected as the default output. Remember that only HDMI can carry bitstreamed HD Audio souces (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD) from an HD Audio capable sound device.

Now let’s re-open ffdshow and start to change some settings for XBMC. First go to the Start button and open ffdshow Audio decoder configuration

Scroll down to “Output” on the left and select all the sources you want to bitstream to your AV receiver. Click “apply” and then “OK”

Now let’s open MPC-HC and go to “View” and then “Options”

Now make the following changes in the “Output” menu (this is where you could enable Madvr if you so desired). Click “Apply” and then “OK”

Next adjust the “Internal Filters” menu to deselect “Matroska” and “ogg” in the source filters. Deselect “h264/AVC (FFmpeg)” and “VC1 (FFmpeg)” in the Transform Filters.

Now let’s adjust the “External Filters”. Select “Add Filter”

Find and select “ffdshow audio decoder”. Select “OK”

Now change the merit to “prefer” for this filter. Hit “apply” and then “OK”

Now select “Add Filter” again and find the “Microsoft DTV-DVD Audio Decoder”. Click “OK”

Now this time select the merit to “Block” this filter.

Exit out of all the programs. Now we need to download and install this piece of computer code from my server.

Playercorefactory.xml

Let’s take a closer look at this xml file that will be the communication between XBMC and the external player. Below you will notice the “<filename” area. If this is different than where your MPC-HC.exe file is located this area MUST be updated in a XML piece of software. I prefer XML Notepad 2007 because it is free and easy to use. So let me briefly take a diversion from the guide and show you how to update this. If you note the “rule filetypes” this will only launch MPC-HC for MKV files with 1080p in the filename. This comes in handy for blurays ripped to MKV. You will have to change the rules for the way you have your specific files saved and played. There really is no “one way” to do this and because of this the code will require some tweaking and adjusting to meet your specific needs.

Will all that said the following code will play mkv files with “1080p” in their name. This is just one example that I am trying to show. You can visit this xbmc wiki for more information.

<playercorefactory>
<players>
<player name=”MPC-HC” type=”ExternalPlayer” audio=”false” video=”true”>
<filename>C:\Program Files\Media Player Classic – Home Cinema\mpc-hc64.exe</filename>
<args>”{1}” /fullscreen /close</args>
<hidexbmc>false</hidexbmc>
<hideconsole>false</hideconsole>
<warpcursor>none</warpcursor>
</player>
</players>
<rules action=”prepend”>
<rule filetypes=”mkv” filename=”.*1080p.*” player=”MPC-HC”/>
</rules>
</playercorefactory>

To get XML Notepad 2007 go to the Microsoft download center located here

After this is installed run the program and open Playercorefactory.xml (the file you downloaded above)

On the “Tree View” on the left you can see the individual components of this file. Expand the “player” and select “filename”. Here you can see the path of your mpc-hc file. Here you can highlight, hit “delete” on your keyboard and copy and paste the file path of your mpc-hc file (the path might be easier to find if you make a shortcut of the file and then select “properties” from the shortcut to see the path. From there you can just copy and paste the path to XML Notepad)

Example of my shortcut link (please note that if you copy and paste from here be sure to remove the quotation [ ” ] marks from the file path)

Now let’s locate the XBMC roaming user data folder. You can see where its located at the top of this picture

Let’s paste the file you just downloaded from the server into this folder

Okay, now let’s go back to XBMC and see how this looks when it is playing (notice the file below is a MKV with “1080p” in the title)

The MPC-HC screen will flash for a second to let you know that this program is starting

The movie will start playing shortly

If you hit the “Windows” or “Esc” key you can get out of full screen mode and confirm that you are in MPC-HC

Finally if you press Ctrl+j you can bring up the On Screen Display showing you various stats about the file you are playing

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TED for the HTPC

Legal Disclaimer: Assassin HTPC in no way endorses or condones the acquisition of illegal or copyrighted material. Downloading these materials is at your own risk and we take or assume no liability for these actions. By reading this guide you agree to this disclaimer.

NOTE: Please also see my VPN guide on setting up a VPN which improves greatly internet security.

TED (Torrent Episode Downloader) is a great little program that allows you to download episodes automatically just like a DVR using torrents. To use TED download the link here (I will also host it on my server here in case the link is ever taken down)

Now install the software

Once TED is up and running you can add your favorite shows by clicking the “Add Show” button.

A list of predefined shows will appear from the dropdown from which you can select which shows to download.  Once your preferences are set to your liking click save and whenever TED detects a new episode it will automatically initialize your BitTorrent client and begin downloading.

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Downloading and Adding Torrent Files to your HTPC

This is the final of the 3 free guides that I will include so that all the guides are located in one place. Torrent files are a very popular way to download files to your HTPC. In this guide I will show you how to download and add torrents to your HTPC to expand your library. (What are torrents?)

Legal Disclaimer: Assassin HTPC in no way endorses or condones the acquisition of illegal or copyrighted material. Downloading these materials is at your own risk and we take or assume no liability for these actions. By reading this guide you agree to this disclaimer.

NOTE: Please also see my VPN guide on setting up a VPN which improves greatly internet security.

Downloading torrents is extremely easy. You will need 2 pieces of free software.

  1. uTorrent which is a a tiny and efficient bit torrent client.

  2. Peerblock which blocks “known bad” computers from accessing yours and vice versa. As the makers of peer block state this “can help protect you from the bad guys”

After downloading and installing these 2 programs make sure that peerblock is running in the background. It is a good idea to update peerblock at least once a day -AND- before you begin any new downloads.

Now let’s open uTorrent and view its main screen.

Next let’s tell uTorrent where you want to save your completed torrent files. Go to “options” and select “preferences”.

Here you can tell uTorrent where you want your files saved. Pick a location on your HTPC where you want to store your torrent data. Click on the button labeled “1.” to select where to store your new torrents. Click on the button labeled “2.” to select where to store your completed torrents. I like to select my largest hard drive and make a folder called “Torrents” with a “New” and “Completed” folder inside. I then review the torrent before moving it to my HTPC library (HD Movies, Movies, or TV Shows for example).

Since this is a tutorial we will select torrents that are very easy to locate. If you have a favorite torrent site you can select a file from there as well.

First make sure that peerblock is running in the background. To do this click on the “show hidden icons” in the bottom right corner near the clock on your desktop. Click on it and update it before you begin downloading. Its icon is an orange or blue block as seen below.

Now lets go back to the main screen of uTorrent and click on “New Apps!” on the left panel which will take us to an area with easy access to torrent files.

Let’s click on “Pioneer One” which is a television show that we can download and watch. Click on install located under their icon.

Next click on “Episode 1” on the left and click on “Download Episode One” on the right.

You are now downloading the first episode of this TV show! Wasn’t that easy? Now select “Torrents” in the left panel and you will be brought to the main downloading screen of uTorrent.

On this screen we can see a few important pieces of information.

  • The file(s) that are downloading located under “name”.
  • The size of these files.
  • Percent done of the download.
  • Status (Downloading vs Done/Sharing)
  • Seeds (Very Important: These are the people actively sharing the files. The more sharing usually the better resulting in more reliable and higher speed downloads)
  • Leechers (Very Important: These are the people actively downloading the file from the seeds. You typically want a high seed to leecher ratio.)
  • Upload and Download Speeds: This will depend on the speed of your connection and the seed/leecher ratio as well as the seeds’ connection speed
  • ETA: Estimated time of arrival (how long the download has before completion)

Once the download has completed and you are finished using uTorrent right click on the file from the uTorrent main download screen and select “remove”. This will remove it from uTorrent which will allow you to move it on your HTPC to its new folder.

After removing it from uTorrent let’s go to where you told uTorrent to store your data. You should now see it in your folder. Right click on the file and select “Cut” – this will move it to its new location and delete the old file in the previous folder.

Since this is a TV Show lets go to your HTPC’s “TV Shows” folder.

Make a new folder named “Pioneer One”. Inside the “Pioneer One” folder make another folder named “Season One”. Now inside that folder left click and select “paste”. This will move this file into your new folder. I usually re-name my media at this point. Since this is the first episode of season one we need to rename it “s01e01”.

Its that easy! You just added a new TV show to your TV Shows folder!

Now follow the steps in the above guides to add this file to your media library. The end result should look something like this:

There are a lot of websites out there to use to search for media for your Assassin HTPC. Good luck torrenting!

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Usenet and Sickbeard for HTPC (Part 1)

Thanks for paid user thefever for helping me with the next 2 guides. If you’re unfamiliar with Usenet, you can read up about it here.

Usenet is commonly used to distribute completely legal user-created works, open-source software, and public domain material. As with all of our guides we do not encourage nor condone the use of downloading illegal material. So use at your own discretion.

You’ll need a Usenet provider. I personally use Newshosting. You can go here, and check out some reviews, and see which ones offer free trials, etc. You can pay monthly, yearly, and a few other options for some providers, but it is definitely worth the modest price when you see the speeds, availability, ease of use, etc.

After signing up with whichever provider you choose, be sure to take note of the “Server Information” they provide.

I highly, highly recommend signing up for an account with NZBMatrix as well. It’s only a one time charge of about $11 bucks, and it is absolutely, in my opinion a necessity. However, Sick Beard can be setup without an NZBMatrix account.

So let’s get started by setting up Sabnzbd+ first.

Download the latest version of Sabnzbd from here.

Run the exe file, and follow the prompts.

Be sure to select “Run at Start Up” and “NZB File Association”

Your browser should open, and you should see the Setup Wizard. If not simply navigate to http://localhost:8080/wizard/ in your browser.

Select your language and click Start Wizard.

Enter your credentials and sever information and click Test Server. Next.

Set as follows, and enter a username and password. Next.

If you signed up for NZBMatrix.com, enter your username and API Key. The API key can be found under “Your Account” and then “API”. Click next.

Sabnzbd should now restart, and if you have Windows Firewall enabled you should receive this pop-up. Select Allow Access. If you have another Firewall program, you need to allow Sabnzbd through.

Click go to Sabnzbd.

You should then be prompted for your username and password from Sabnzbd.

Next, we’ll configure some basic settings. Go to the “Config” button at the top, and then click “General” on the left hand side. Here, you can change theportofSABnzbdif needed. Configure the “Tuning” section as noted. If you have less than 4GB of RAM, leave the “Article Cache Limit” blank. Click “Save Changes”. If you changed, theportofSABnzbd, then you’ll need to click “Restart SABnzbd” and redirect your browser to the new port number. For ease of access, copy the API Key listed, and the NZB Key listed into notepad, and minimize it for later reference.

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Usenet and Sickbeard for HTPC (Part 2)

Next, we’ll install and configure Sick Beard. Sick Beard is an automated TV show downloader, and it’s pretty damn good at it.

Go here and download the latest version for Windows.

Go to your “Downloads Folder” and unzip Sick Beard, and Rename it for aesthetics if you’d like.

To avoid any confusion on the location of Sick Beard, or anything like that, I highly recommend moving the Sick Beard folder to your “Program Files (x86)” folder.

While we’re in here, we’re going to create and modify a few files and folders.

In your Sick Beard folder, go to the autoProcessTV folder and select “autoProcessTV.cfg.sample” and “SabtoSickBeard.exe”. Right click and copy both of these files. These are helper script files we will later use.

Navigate to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Sabnzbd\” and create a new folder. We’ll rename it “scripts”.

Paste the files we copied from the Sick Beard folder into the new “scripts” folder.

Navigate back to your Sick Beard folder and double click “Sickbeard.exe”. Your browser should open, and likely Windows Firewall will pop up. Allow Sick Beard access, or configure your firewall to allow Sick Beard.

If your browser window did not open, simply navigate to http://localhost:8081/home/ and you’ll see the Sick Beard home screen.

Go to “Config” and “General”.

Configure a user name and password, and change the port if needed. Be sure to uncheck “Launch Browser”. Save changes and go to “Search Settings” under “Config”.

Fill in your Usenet provider retention time. You can change your Search Frequency, but I’ve found 60 minutes to be adequate. Check “Search NZBs”. Change NZBMethod to SABnzbd. Fill in your SABnzbd URL (be sure to include “sabnzbd” and the trailing slash in the URL name), username, password, and API key you copied earlier. In “SABnzbd Category”, type “tv”. Click “Test Connection” and then Save Changes and proceed to “Config” and “Search Providers”

This is how I have my providers configured. Note that Newzbin does require a paid subscription, although I have found NZBmatrix to be more than adequate. Save your changes and proceed to “Config” and “Post Processing”.

This is how I have my Post-Processing configured. Sick Beard can fetch Metadata for Media Browser, Tivo, XBMC, WDTV, and PS3. I use Media Center Master, so I let it do all of the metadata fetching, however I configure Sick Beard to rename the file to make it easier for Media Center Master to fetch. Click Save Changes.

For the next step, be sure you have “Hide extensions for known file types” unchecked in “Folder Options” in Windows (under Windows Control Panel).

Navigate back to the “Scripts” folder we created earlier. Double click “autoProcessTV.cfg.sample” and open it up with “Notepad”.

Fill in your username and password, and if you changed the port for Sick Beard previously, change the port number as well.

Click “File” and “Save As”. In the “Save as type” dropdown, select “All Files” and remove the “.sample” from the end of the file, and save back into your scripts folder.

Before we start downloading shows, we need to adjust one more setting in Sabnzbd.

Open up Sabnzbd, and go to “Config” and “Folders”. Fill in the parameters for your scripts folder under “Post-Processing Scripts Folder”. Save Changes and go to “Config” and “Categories”.

Fill in the items as follows, and click “Add”.

Now we’re ready to add our TV shows to Sick Beard.

Open up Sick Beard if not already open. http://localhost:8081/home/ (default)

Under “Home”, click “Add Shows”. There’s two options for adding TV shows, the first one we’ll setup is adding a new TV show. So, click “Add New Show”.

Search for the show you’d like to add. I’ll use “The Walking Dead” as an example. Make sure the correct selection is listed and click “Next”. Do not click “Add Show” at the bottom.

Select the directory where you want the show to be added. I’d recommend using your default “TV Shows” folder if you have one. The directory selected will become the default folder for TV show downloads. Click Next. Do not click “Add Show” just yet.

Now we’ll explore the “Customize Options”.

The first option is to set the initial status of missing episodes. This can be changed later if needed. The options are Skipped, Wanted, Ignored, and Archived. Select the wanted option if you want Sick Beard to attempt to find and download the backlog of episodes, as in, episodes previously aired. This works very well for “Newer” TV shows, but not so well for older TV shows.

Be sure to check “Store Episodes in Season Folders”.

For “Preferred quality of episodes to be downloaded” you have the options of Custom, SD, HD, and Any. Custom allows you to set the quality to anything you’d like. SD is generally lesser quality avi files encoded with the xvid codec. HD is usually higher quality mkv files encoded with the x264 codec. Any will attempt to find any format. I prefer using Custom and setting it to “HD TV”. 720p WEBDL and 720p BluRay are generally the best quality, but are added to Usenet later than HDTV files are. They are also generally the largest file size.

Once you have all of your settings configured, you can click “Save Defaults” if you want Sick Beard to use this as the default for all new shows. Now click “Add Show”.

Sick Beard will begin loading data from thetvdb.com and show you information about the series as seen below.

If you click on the show name you’ll be brought to the series overview. As you can see, it’s already snatched all of the aired episodes from Season’s 1 and 2.

If we navigate over to Sabnzbd, we’ll see that all of the episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 are downloading. You’ll also likely notice that Sabnzbd is downloading at the full speed of your internet service. If you need to pause the download, or set the speed of the download as to not cripple your network, you can do so at the top of the queue.

After the download is finished, Sick Beard will process it and fetch metadata as needed. For the sake of this tutorial, I cancelled the other episodes of this series (I have them downloaded already), which is why you’ll see only one episode listed as successful.

If I navigate to the Series folder, I’ll see that it was successfully sorted, renamed, and the metadata has already been fetched by Media Center Master (I leave Media Center Master on 24/7 for this purpose). However, if you set Sick Beard to fetch the metadata, you will achieve the same effects.

Now, we’ll add our existing TV shows if applicable. In Sick Beard, go to “Home” and “Add Shows”. Select “Add Existing Shows”

It will automatically scan the directory you selected earlier for your TV shows and present you with a list of your current TV show directories. You can select which ones you want Sick Beard to watch for and download new episodes, or backlog episodes if needed. You must have your TV Show directories in the proper folder format, and they must have the .xml or .nfo files in place. Sick Beard relies on these files to process the TV shows. If you have other directories with TV shows, you may select those directories under “Manage Directories”. If you have a large TV library that happens to missing a lot of episodes, I would highly recommend setting the initial status of missing episodes to “Skipped” and then manually seeing which ones you would like to download. Select “Prompt for settings for each show” if you want to set individual options for each TV show, or select your options globally for your TV shows and click “Save Defaults” Be sure to select “Season Folders” and then check the directories you’d like to add to Sick Beard. Click Submit.

It will then bring you through all of your shows to confirm the correct show is listed with your directories and with thetvdb.com. After, you home screen will show you all of your shows listed, as well as next episode air dates, and status of the series. If you select a show, you can select episodes to download, if not downloaded, and a lot of other options.

A quick note about some shows. Sick Beard relies on thetvdb.com for TV show info, air dates, etc. Some shows listed on thetvdb are listed incorrectly when compared to the network’s listings. A perfect example is “American Dad!”. American Dad! is listed in it’s 7th season on thetvdb, but it’s network listing is Season 8. The releases of American Dad are listed as s08eXX, however, Sick Beard is searching for Season 7. Thus, whenever a new episode of American Dad! airs, Sick Beard doesn’t know to download it, because it’s not looking for Season 8.

(Edit: It appears thetvdb.com has finally fixed their listing for American Dad!, so this appears to be a non issue with this particular show, however it is a possibility with other TV series.)

Selecting “Coming Episodes” at the top will show you a list of upcoming episodes.

The last thing to do, to ensure Sabnzbd and Sick Beard are always running, and start at boot is to add shortcuts to the Start Menu. Create a shortcut for “Sabnzbd.exe” and “SickBeard.exe” and add them to the Start Up folder.

Alternatively, Pre-made shortcut files are available, as long as everything was installed to the directories mentioned in this guide. Also, it really bothered me that Sick Beard lacked any kind of icon, so I made one up real quick. I have the .ico file available if you’d like to change just the shortcut icon, or you can copy and paste the supplied sickbeard.exe file to your Sick Beard directory.

If you use the sickbeard.exe file, with the icon embedded, be sure to stop the sickbeard.exe service with task manager before replacing the existing SickBeard.exe file.

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