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The missing link
03-11-2010, 09:52 AM
The missing link
I have been at this little project for about a year now. I am going to take a little time to explain what I found out and how I solved all of my issues and offer you something to help you.
First I will explain my end goal in all this so you can better understand what I was after.
I had several thousand DVD movies(4000+).
I wanted to place all of these movies onto hard drives so they could be accessed from a media player on any TV in my house. I did not want to use a remote control to control the media player.
What I really wanted to do was create a web application jukebox complete with database to fully control any one of the media players remotely. This way with a laptop or desktop or even IPHONE I could simply pick a movie and it would play on the TV of my choice.
Sounds like a tall order right?
Here is the end solution:
4 PCH-A110 with hard drives (HD size does not matter as no movies are stored on these drives)
6 DLINK DNS-323 (Dual Drive NAS boxes with 2 1.5TB drives in each for a total storage of 18TB)
The setup was simple but I needed to have the PCH's all map the network drives so my software could always access them in a known manner.
For this I used the application I found here called "NetworkMounter"
This application allowed you to pre-mount network drives to a folder on the PCH drive when the PCH boots.
So in my case I was able to pre-mount all of my NAS drives to the same directory structure on all of the PCH's.
Using the Media folder on the PCH you create subs for each one of the NAS drives. i.e.
My next issue was to create a Jukebox application. Being a serious .NET developer this was a simple task which I had completed in about a week.
I have several DELL web servers I have access to along with some beefy MSSQL servers as well. So this was not much of an issue.
I created a Jukebox application in ASP.net that basically has the same functionality as YAMJ with a twist. It does all of the same things but it also fully controls the PCH from a web page.
How does that work?
I wanted it to be smart enough to execute a command on the PCH unit of my choice.
It took me a while to figure this part out.
I found apps here that allowed you to control the units with telnet but that seemed like very sloppy way to do it.
The I found an app that allowed control from a desktop application using adobe air.
That was slick but it still did not provide the missing link. Then I came across an app that allowed pure web control of the PCH.
It used a PHP script on the PCH to execute commands via the web server on the PCH. Once I saw this I had my answer. I would simply add this script to my PCH and call it from my ASP.NET application to launch the movie of my choice.
This was accomplished using the .NET code below.
Public Sub geturl(ByVal url As String, UnitIP as string)
Dim aRequestedHTML() As Byte
Dim objUTF8 As New System.Text.UTF8Encoding
Dim strRequestedHTML As String
Dim strURL As String
Dim objWebClient As New System.Net.WebClient
' create a URL play string based on the UnitIP address.
' Example string: http://192.168.1.3:8088/pwrc.php?mode=fi...s/2012.iso
url = "http://"+UnitIP+"/pwrc.php?mode=file&file=/opt/sybhttpd/localhost.drives/HARD_DISK/Media/" + url
strURL = url
'Now go get that URL
aRequestedHTML = objWebClient.DownloadData(strURL)
strRequestedHTML = objUTF8.GetString(aRequestedHTML)
Yes this worked like a charm. I was even able to add a few more bells and whistles to the GUI to allow full control over the PCH from a remote computer using a web browser.
My GUI now has about all the same buttons on the remote control from within the web application. See photo below.
Now you are probably wondering why I am telling you all this. Well, my application is now fully functional and can be used by anyone with a web browser to control their own PCH's from my application.
This can be accomplished in one of two ways. If you are able to access your PCH from out side your home then my application will allow you create an account complete with user name and password so you would have full security over your own setup.
Then in your personal profile you would simply configure it with your setup. i.e. how many units do you want to control, ip addresses of those units, personal preferences etc.
Then once you login to your account you would have the Jukebox available to you like the one seen below.
This would also give you access to the same movie database others are using so you would simply add a title and if it already exists in the database you would have it added to yours without any further action complete with movie art and all of the movie details.
You would also have the ability to alter that information if you wish as well. So lets say you did not like the movie description as an example. You would be able to edit that along with all other details of the movie. This in turn would be stored in the database for others to choose as an alternative when they are adding a movie to their own personal collections. Everything can be altered including movie art.
All of your own personal data would also be available for export in ASCII delimited format as a CSV file that you could download. This way you would feel safe in knowing your own data is under your complete control.
If you do not have the ability to access your PCH from outside your home then you will need to setup your own web server that is capable of running ASP.NET with access to a MSSQL server and I can provide you with my source code as well as my database.
Why oh why would anyone offer up their web server and database to others to use for free?
Simple I have a selfish need. I want others to use my database so they can increase my movie database. This way when I get new movies someone else may have already added their information to my database and I will be able to add it to my collection in a snap. This way I get something out of it and so do you.
So bottom line:
If you find this interesting and would like to be a part of it please let me know. If there is enough interest I will get it all setup for you and provide you with the information you need to get started. If only one or two people are interested it is not really worth the time or trouble to get this going so I would like to get at least 20+ people before I even attempt it.
Even if all I do is provide you with my source code I would only ask that you provide me with regular updates with your own database so I can offer it to others as well.
Call it the community movie database or the CMD for short LOL.
Let me know what you think.
Example Interface below.
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