Introduction – What Can Cord Cutting Do For You

A year ago I was shelling out hundreds of dollars a month to the cable company.  I got tired of it and started searching for a better way.  Sure there is TV over the internet like Sling and Playstation TV, but you end up paying nearly as much for them as you do for your cable.  I kept searching and started to piece together my setup.  Now I can’t imagine ever going back.  I’m now going to show how you too can set up this system

Why do I want this system? What exactly can it do?

In a few words, a lot.  In a lot more words, here is a non-inclusive list:

  • Automatically download your favorite shows shortly after they are aired (Possibly even before if you live on the Pacific Time Zone)
  • Automatically search for and download movies
  • Automatically organize and consistently name all of your media
  • Stream all of your media to your smartphone/tablet/fireTV/etc
  • Watch Live local Television Channels on any TV in your house
  • Watch several Live Cable Channels
  • Play Steam games
  • Much more which I have forgotten

I’m sold and I want one, but it sounds expensive

The total price of all the equipment is actually not as expensive as you might think.  I believe all told I spent $600-$700 on my setup, but you can actually get started for much less.  Also remember, once you are done you will probably save around $100 month on your cable bill.  In that sense it pays for itself.  At the absolute minimum, you will need the following:

  • SmartTV or Smart Device for each TV you wish to view on.  This device must be capable of installing and running the PLEX app.  Personally, I recommend the Amazon Fire Stick or even better the Amazon Fire TV.
  • An old computer that you can turn into a server.  This is where I spent most of my money as I built a new machine that doubles as an HTPC.  You can use your general use desktop but a dedicated machine is preferred.  Machine specs aren’t too important but I would look for something with at least a quad-core CPU.
  • HD Homerun (Only needed if you want Live Local TV)
  • HD Antenna (Only needed if you want Live Local TV)

That’s it.  Some of that you probably already have reducing your cost even more.  I do want to note so it doesn’t catch anyone by surprise, there are a two services which I pay.  One of these services has a monthly fee of $19.95.  The other has a one time fee of $30

That doesn’t sound too bad.  How can I build it?

In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting step by step guides on how to build your own system.  I foresee three main subjects that may be broken up into various subsections.

  1. Setting up your server – Many people probably already have hardware ready or may have no use for an HTPC, so I am going to start with the software side of things.  This guide will cover from start to finish on how to setup your server.  At the end you will have a working server which will download all of your TV shows shortly after they air, download movies, and stream them to your various devices.    This guide is based heavily on a guide by Trent Foxingworth that has laid dormant for years.
  2. Building an HTPC Server – The second phase of the guide will cover the building of an HTPC.  This is for those who want something a bit more than a FireTV.  This will extend the functionality of your server going from a Windows interface to a Kodi interface.  I’ll also go over PC building for those who are unfamiliar with the process.  how to get access to Live broadcast television will also be discussed here.
  3. Advanced Tips and Trick – The final phase of the guide will be a general catch all.  In it I will go over various upgrades I have made and features I have added.  This includes being able to stream Steam games to your HTPC server.  This part of the guide will never technically be finished as I am always learning new things and looking for things to tweak.

OK, I’m ready to start

Before we begin, let me list a few assumptions I will be making with this guide:

  1. You are running Windows 7 or higher.  I personally completed this setup on Windows 10 so my steps and screen shots will be from that respect.  I’m not familiar with Macs or Linux, so unfortunately I may not be able to help.
  2. You have a basic understanding of networking.  I’m going to be doing my best to walk you through this, but every router is different so knowing how to forward ports will be a definite plus.
  3. You are using a dedicated machine.  While I stated earlier that this isn’t a requirement, it does make things easier to start with a clean slate.

With all that in mind get your PC ready with a fresh install of Windows 10 and I’ll see you all in a bit.

Next: Server Guide Part One – Laying the Foundation

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