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Review: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4G Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick For PC, Playstation 3, Android and Steam

ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4GHz Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick for PC (Windows XP/7/8/8.1/10), the PlayStation 3, Android devices and Steam.

For the sake of clarity, this is a review of the ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4GHz Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick for PC (Windows XP/7/8/8.1/10), the PlayStation 3, Android devices and Steam. It was purchased with hard-earned cash, so this review reflects that in terms of value for money.

The controller was purchased to compliment a RetroPie set-up and for occasional use with games on Steam.


The ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4GHz Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick is designed and manufactured by Dongguan Zhi Dong Electronic Technology Co. Ltd. in China. They are Amazon Marketplace Sellers and offer an incredible piece of gaming hardware for the money. A wired version of this model is also available with the same features as the wireless one. Both controllers are Plug and Play and PC fully compatible. They both contain a 360 core, which means that they are recognized as XBOX 360 controllers.

Check prices on amazon.co.uk:-

ZD V Full Vibration Feedback WIRELESS Controller Gamepad Joystick

 

ZD V Full Vibration Feedback WIRED Controller Gamepad Joystick


Packaging

The ZD V Full Feedback wireless controller arrives quickly and is packaged in a brown cardboard box when ordered from Amazon. Inside is the blue cardboard box that houses the wireless controller and its accessories.

Packaging: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Packaging: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Two polystyrene inserts protect the ZD V wireless controller during shipping. You will find the controller in a plastic bag (not shown) for additional protection. The palm grips of the controller are protected further with easy-to-remove plastic film.

Inside the Box: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Inside the Box: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Inside the box are the ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4 GHz Wireless Controller GamePad Joystick itself and  a second bag containing a 2.4GHz USB dongle; a USB to micro USB cable; a USB to micro USB adapter to enable connection to Android devices, and a folded piece of paper containing the operating instructions, product specifications and manufacturer details.

Contents: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Contents: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Manufacturer Details & Product Specifications:

  • Dongguan Zhi Dong Electronic Technology Co. Ltd., China.
  • Model: ZD-V208
  • Product size: 156 x 105 x 65mm
  • Working modes: XInput / Direct Input / Android
  • Interface: USB 2.0 / 3.0
  • Product weight: 210g
  • Battery: Non-accessible, rechargeable polymer lithium battery.
ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Features & Operation

The ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4GHz Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick is equipped with the following buttons, triggers and joysticks:

Controls: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Controls: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Both the LEFT STICK and RIGHT STICK are stick buttons and can therefore be clicked: LSB and RSB.

The trigger buttons [LT & RT] feel like single click buttons. They are, in fact, pressure sensitive buttons that provide linear graduation through pressure sensing. This means that the harder you press them, the greater the input value sent to your game. This feature means that the gamepad can be used in conjunction with racing games that require progressive braking and acceleration, or shooting games, where a one click shot is all that is needed.

Shoulder and Trigger Buttons - ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Shoulder and Trigger Buttons – ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Integral Rechargeable Battery

A micro USB port, located in between the shoulder and trigger buttons, is used to charge the on-board lithium battery and connect the controller to an Android device. The battery can be charged by connecting the device to a suitable 5 volt power supply via the supplied USB cable. A computer USB port or mobile phone charger will suffice. A charging unit is not supplied with the product, presumably to keep the cost of the units low.

The ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4 GHz Wireless Controller GamePad Joystick is shipped with the battery partially charged. The temptation is to start using the game controller straight out of the box without fully charging the battery. I encountered numerous problems when I did just this, problems that disappeared when the device was fully charged later.

Since the lithium battery is integral with the controller, this means that it cannot be changed easily.

Important points for consideration are these:-

  • If the battery runs flat during a gaming session, the battery cannot be replaced. Instead, you would have to connect the controller to a charger, which means that you are now tethered to your charger until the battery has sufficient juice for you to remove it.
  • Lithium batteries have a finite lifespan due to the repetitive cycle of power depletion and recharging. When the battery begins to fail to hold charge for a decent period of time, then changing it may be difficult and expensive.
Rear View: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Rear View: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

After a full charge, the ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4 GHz Wireless Controller GamePad Joystick battery power lasts for a considerable amount of time. On a full charge, the battery lasts between 8 and 15 hours of continuous game play. These figures are in line with the published specifications.

Connection

Connection to gaming hardware if relatively simple. Just insert the wireless USB dongle into a USB port of your gaming equipment and select the operation mode of the gamepad with the HOME button.

On a PC platform, the gamepad is Plug and Play – except for Windows XP. For use on Windows XP, you will need to download and install the 360 controller driver from Microsoft’s official website before plugging in the USB dongle.

PS3 and Android platforms are Plug & Play.

How to Turn the ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4GHz Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick ON and OFF

  • TURN ON: Press the HOME button.
  • TURN OFF: Long press the BACK & B buttons together. Alternatively, the gamepad will automatically turn off after a reasonable time of inactivity.

Mode and Indicator Light Status

Press the HOME button to cycle through the input modes compatible with your device. The  colour of  the indicator light specifies what mode the gamepad is in.

The indicator light will flash until it detects a suitable driver on your gaming system. The indicator light will then shine constantly. Modes can be forced by long holding the HOME button.

Input Modes: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

Input Modes: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

  • Use the XInput mode to enable the full vibration feedback feature. It is recommended for PC / XBOX360 games that have been written to provide vibration feedback.
  • Use the Direct Input mode for the PS3 and other platforms like the Raspberry Pi.
  • Use the Android mode when paired with an Android device.

Note: the full vibration feature will only work in XInput mode AND when the games have been written to support it.

Exchange D-PAD and LEFT STICK Functions

A great feature of this gamepad is that the D-PAD and LEFT STICK controls can be swapped easily, back and forth, by pressing BACK and the LEFT STICK BUTTON at the same time.

D-PAD LEFT STICK Exchange: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

D-PAD LEFT STICK Exchange: ZD V Full Vibration Feedback Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick

If you want to use the ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4GHz Wireless Controller Gamepad Joystick with RetroPie on the Raspberry Pi, then this function is fantastic for choosing the optimal left thumb controller for a particular ROM, quickly.

Conclusion

The ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4 GHz Wireless Controller GamePad Joystick is rich with useful features that make it a versatile gaming accessory. With its 360 core and its range of compatibility modes, it can be used in conjunction with many gaming platforms. And, being a wireless controller means that you will not be tethered to your gaming hardware and restricted in range as you would be with its wired counterpart.

This gamepad feels good in the hands of both adults and children. It has been designed and produced to a quality resembling that of a PS3 controller. The construction is good; the buttons respond well and the joysticks work with precision.

Positives:

  • A versatile wireless controller with a XBOX 360 core, resulting in cross-platform compatibility. Fully compatible with PC, PS3, Android and other devices using Direct Mode.
  • Full vibration feedback when used in conjunction with compatible games.
  • Integral battery with continuous play time of 8 to 15 hours.
  • JD-Switch: The ability to swap the D-PAD and LS controllers in-game.
  • LT & RT are pressure sensing switches. This means linear and precise control in racing games is possible, depending on how you press.
  • Very good build quality, resembling that of a PS3 controller.

Negatives:

  • The controller is made from black glossy plastic, which attracts fingerprints. Very easy to wipe clean though.

Buy:-

ZD V Full Vibration Feedback 2.4GHz WIRELESS Controller Gamepad Joystick

ZD V Full Vibration Feedback WIRED Controller Gamepad Joystick

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Lightroom in Ubuntu

Lightroom in Ubuntu

This guide shows how Adobe Lightroom can be run in Ubuntu through a virtual machine, courtesy of Oracle’s VirtualBox.

This video illustrates the functionality and responsiveness of Adobe Lightroom 6 running on the following hardware, native operating system and virtual machine:-

  • Dell XPS420 – Intel® Core™2 Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40GHz × 4  and 4GB RAM.
  • Host Operating System: Ubuntu 14.04LTS (64 bit)
  • Guest Virtual Machine: Windows 7 (64 bit) Home Premium.

The video also illustrates the seamless integration of Windows 7 with the Ubuntu desktop environment, allowing both Linux and Windows programs to be run side-by-side.

In today’s terms, the Dell XPS420 is an old desktop machine. Newer PCs, with faster processors and more RAM are likely to perform much better than shown. But it is worth noting that I have had success in getting Lightroom to run adequately on an even older Acer Aspire laptop with a slower dual core processor and less RAM.

Video Details:

  1. Browsing a webpage with Mozilla Firefox in Ubuntu. Re-sizing the browser and moving it around the Ubuntu desktop. Browser then minimized.
  2. Clicked Start on the VirtualBox Manager to launch the virtual machine installed with Windows 7 (64 bit) Home Premium.
  3. Typing password to logon to Windows 7.
  4. Windows START > Calculator and then maximize Mozilla Firefox from Ubuntu.
  5. Windows START > Adobe Lightroom.
  6. Showing the speed of Adobe Lightroom 6 Library by double-clicking a few images to maximize them.
  7. Folder removal then imported back to demonstrate the import speed: 20 x RAW NEF image files totalling 380MB.
  8. Chosing a RAW image to develop.
  9. Zooming in 1:1 then spot removal tool use to conceal sensor dirt.
  10. Image to black and white and various adjustments made.
  11. Zooming in 1:1 and out a couple of times to look at detail.
  12. Pressing F on keyboard to view adjusted image in full screen.
  13. Exporting image: 18MB NEF file exported to 795KB 1060 x 1600 jpg (95% reduction).
  14. Exported image then displayed with Windows Photo Viewer.
  15. Back to the Ubuntu Firefox browser to demonstrate that it is still responsive.
  16. Closing down Lightroom.
  17. Shutting down Windows 7 to return the Ubuntu desktop.

Getting Lightroom to Run in Ubuntu

Check the specification of your PC. It needs to outperform the minimum requirements of your Ubuntu operating system AND the version of Adobe Lightroom you wish to use.

Minimum System Requirements: Ubuntu | Adobe Lightroom 6

Take note of the operating systems that are capable of running your version of Adobe Lightroom and make sure you have an appropriate installation CD/DVD and licence key to hand.

Please follow my guide on How To Install VirtualBox in Ubuntu. It describes how to install Oracle’s VirtualBox; make a virtual machine and install the Windows 7 (64 bit) Home Premium operating system; how  to install Windows Guest Additions CD Image and how to integrate the two environments of Ubuntu and Windows 7 seamlessly to make one unified desktop. The article shows you how to share files and folders between the two operating system and install Windows software.

Once you have Adobe Lightroom installed on your virtual machine it is time to tweak the settings of that virtual machine to make it snappy. These tweaks made Lightroom more responsive for my hardware.

Base Memory: As much as you can afford. 2GB is the minimum requirement for Adobe Lightroom. Leave at least 2GB for Ubuntu.

Processors: From a Quad Core Processor I dedicated 3 of those cores to the Windows 7 operating system.

Execution Cap: Reduced from 100% to 90%. This prevented Windows 7 from stalling programs in Ubuntu.

Video Memory: From a 256MB GeForce Graphics Card, half of that memory given to Windows 7.

Acceleration: 2D & 3D switched on. Made little difference. Lightroom reported that it could not find a GPU to assist in processing.

Virtual Machine Settings for Adobe Lightroom | VirtualBox

Virtual Machine Settings for Adobe Lightroom | VirtualBox

How to Install VirtualBox in Ubuntu

How to Install VirtualBox in Ubuntu

This step-by-step detailed guide illustrates the way to install VirtualBox in Ubuntu and then install Windows 7 within a virtual machine to run seamlessly with the Ubuntu desktop. This allows software designed for Windows to run alongside Linux-based programs.

The main benefits of this – over having a dual booting system – are speed and convenience.  You won’t have to wait for either operating system to  shutdown before you boot into the other, nor will you have to save and close down work before re-boots.

Steps Covered:

  1. How to install VirtualBox in Ubuntu.
  2. How to create a virtual machine with VirtualBox and install Windows 7.
  3. How to install Windows Guest Additions CD Image.
  4. How to integrate Ubuntu and Windows 7 desktops, seamlessly.
  5. How to share files and folders between Windows 7 and Ubuntu in VirtualBox.
  6. How to install software on the virtual machine.
  7. Adobe Lightroom running in Ubuntu via seamless integration with a Windows 7 virtual machine.

Requirements:

  • A reasonable PC.
  • An Ubuntu operating system.
  • A Windows 7 installation ISO file and activation key (1). Remember! A 64 bit version is best for computers that contain more than 3GB RAM.
  • Ample hard disk space to accommodate a new operating system.
  • Plenty of time and no distractions.

(1) – Almost any operating system can be installed within a virtual machine, provided you are able to obtain the correct ISO file. This guide details the installation of Windows 7 (64 bit).

Terminology: The Difference Between Host and Guest Operating Systems.

The host operating system is the operating system on which you install VirtualBox. In this case, Ubuntu. And Ubuntu will host the guest operating system, Windows 7.

1. How To Install VirtualBox in Ubuntu

1.1 Select the Ubuntu Software Centre Icon and in the search field, type virtualbox.

Ubuntu Software Centre | VirtualBox

Ubuntu Software Centre | VirtualBox

1.2 Select VirtualBox (Run several virtual systems on a single computer) and then click Install. You may need to enter your administrator password.

Ubuntu | VirtualBox Install

Ubuntu | VirtualBox Install

1.3 Once installed, close the Ubuntu Software Centre.

1.4 Click the Ubuntu Unity ‘Start’ icon and type virtualbox in the search bar. Select VirtualBox to run it. The Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager window will open.

Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager

Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager

2. How To Install Windows 7 in VirtualBox

2.1 Open the Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager as described in step 1.4, then select New.

2.2 In the Name field, enter a description that best describes your virtual machine and guest operating system. If you specify what your guest operating system actually is, the Type and Version fields alter to match automatically. If they do not, ensure that you select the correct type and version before proceeding and clicking Next.

VirtualBox | Configuration for Windows 7 (64 bit)

VirtualBox | Configuration for Windows 7 (64 bit)

2.3 Move the slider to select the amount of memory (RAM) you want to allocate to your guest operating system. The more RAM you make available the better, but be careful not to starve your host operating system of memory.

VirtualBox Memory Allocation for Guest Operating System

VirtualBox Memory Allocation for Guest Operating System

2.4 Create a virtual hard drive now.

Create a Virtual Hard Drive Now | VirtualBox

Create a Virtual Hard Drive Now | VirtualBox

2.5 Choose the VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image).

Create a VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image)

Create a VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image)

2.6 Select Dynamically allocated.

Create a Physical Hard Drive | Select Dynamically Allocated

Storage on Physical Hard Drive | Select Dynamically Allocated

2.7 Choose a reasonable amount of storage space for your guest operating system. Take into account the space needed for the operating system itself and the size of the programs you wish to install on it. Since we have opted for Dynamically allocated disk space in step 2.6, the size of the virtual hard drive will grow as more data is written to it, up to the maximum specified here. This maximum cannot be altered later, so chose wisely.

VirtualBox Hard Drive Size

VirtualBox Hard Drive Size

2.8 Click the Create button to complete the main configuration of your virtual drive.

2.9 Your new virtual machine will be shown in the Oracle VM Manager. Right click that drive and select Settings…

Right Click New Virtual Drive and Select Settings

Right Click New Virtual Drive and Select Settings

2.10 If you see a warning triangle and Invalid Settings Detected then click the warning box to address the highlighted issues.

2.11 Go to System and select the Processor tab. If your computer has multiple CPU cores, you can stipulate here how many cores will be dedicated to your virtual machine and guest operating system.

VirtualBox | Select the Number of CPU Dies for your Virtual Machine

VirtualBox | Select the Number of CPU Dies for your Virtual Machine

2.12 Select Storage and the Empty CD icon beneath Storage Tree. Under Attributes, select the CD/DVD Drive location icon and select Chose a virtual CD/DVD disk file…

Select your Windows Operating System ISO File

Select your Windows Operating System ISO File

Navigate to your Windows installation ISO file and Open it. The ISO file will then be shown underneath the Controller: IDE. Click OK. Effectively, this step inserts your Windows installation disk  into your virtual machine. Your virtual machine will boot from this when it is first switched on.

2.13 You are now ready to start your virtual guest machine for the first time. Click Start.

2.14 If you receive an error regarding VT -x/AMD-V, it means that you do not have that type of hardware acceleration enabled in your BIOS. At this point you will need to re-boot your computer and enter the BIOS system to enable it. Not all BIOS systems are the same. You will need to look for this setting. It is generally found under the Performance or Virtual Machine Monitor headings.

BIOS Virtualization | Dell System XPS420

BIOS Virtualization | Dell System XPS420

2.15 When your virtual machine runs for the first time, it will begin to install the operating system that you specified in step 2.12.

Ensure you select Custom (advanced).

Installation of Windows 7 (64 bit) in VirtualBox

Installation of Windows 7 (64 bit) in VirtualBox

And then select the unallocated space you created as a virtual drive.

Unallocated Space for Windows Installation | VirtualBox

Unallocated Space for Windows Installation | VirtualBox

2.16 Install your Windows operating system.

3. How To Install Windows Guest Additions

3.1 With the guest operating system installed and booted to the Windows desktop, maximize the VirtualBox window to make it full screen. Notice that the Windows environment does not rescale when you do this. We need to install something called Guest Additions in the Windows system to enable this. Hover the mouse pointer over the top menu bar to reveal the VirtualBox menu. Select Devices > Insert Guest Additions CD Image…

VirtualBox will check your host system to see if you already have the appropriate Guest Additions CD Image downloaded for your guest operating system. If it cannot be found you will be prompted to download it. Click Download.

VirtualBox Guest Additions Download Prompt

VirtualBox Guest Additions Download Prompt

And then confirm the download.

VirtualBox Guest Additions Confirm Download Confirmation

VirtualBox Guest Additions Confirm Download Confirmation

3.2 When the Guest Additions CD Image has been downloaded, you will be asked: “Do you wish to register this disk image file and insert it into the virtual CD/DVD drive?”.

Click Insert.

Register & Insert Guest Additions CD Image File

Register & Insert Guest Additions CD Image File

The Guest Addition CD Image is then made accessible through the Windows virtual CD drive. Navigate to Windows START > Computer to view in Windows explorer.

VirtualBox Guest Additions | Windows Virtual CD Drive

VirtualBox Guest Additions | Windows Virtual CD Drive

3.3 Double-click the CD Drive (D:) VirtualBox Guest Additions icon and launch the VBoxWindowsAdditions application by double-clicking it. Hit Yes when asked, “Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?”

Oracle VM Virtual Box Guest Additions Set Up

Oracle VM Virtual Box Guest Additions Setup Wizard

3.4 Work through the installation process by clicking Next and Install if asked for permission to install device software. Re-boot the guest operating system when prompted to do so.

4. How To Integrate Windows 7 and Ubuntu Desktops

4.1 When the guest operating system re-boots, you should notice that resizing the VirtualBox window also resizes the Windows desktop too. This demonstrates that the Windows Guest Additions are working properly.

4.2 To integrate the guest environment with the host operating system (i.e. integrate Windows 7 with Ubuntu, seamlessly), hover your mouse over the top menu bar to reveal the VirtualBox menu and select View > Switch to seamless mode. To switch back, move your mouse to the bottom centre of the screen to access the guest operating system menu.

Alternatively, you can use the quick-key combination of host-key + L to enable and disable seamless mode. The host-key default is the right control key. Right Ctrl + L.

Seamless integration means that the Windows task bar is accessible at the bottom of the Ubuntu desktop and both Linux and Windows programs can be run side by side.

Seamless Integration of Windows 7 with Ubuntu | VirtualBox

Seamless Integration of Windows 7 with Ubuntu | VirtualBox

 5. How To Share Files and Folders with VirtualBox

5.1 The installation of Windows Guest Additions should allow drag and drop functionality between the host and guest operating systems, either one way or bidirectionally. By default, this function is disabled. In the VirtualBox menu, select Devices > Drag’n’Drop > and your direction preference.

5.2 The clipboard can also be shared between host and guest operating systems in a similar manner. Select Devices > Shared Clipboard > and your direction preference.

5.3 Devices > Shared Folders Settings… allows the sharing of host folders with the guest operating system in order that files can be shared between them.

VirtualBox | Shared Folders

VirtualBox | Shared Folders

To add a new folder for sharing, click the add folder icon on the right. At the drop down menu entitled Folder Path, select Other… then navigate to your designated folder and click Open.

Before adding the share, you are given the opportunity to provide a name for the shared folder, make it read-only and auto-mount it. Tick Auto-mount then OK. Click OK to exit the settings menu.

5.4 Shared folders are shown as network shares in the guest operating system.

Network Shares | VirtualBox

Network Shares | VirtualBox

In Windows 7, START > Computer > Network > VBOXSVR to access your shared folders.

6. How To Install Software on the Virtual Machine

To install software on your guest operating system you have a number of options:-

  • Use the browser of the guest operating system to download the software and install it from the appropriate download folder.
  • Make an ISO file of the installation CD/DVD and have that available in a shared folder on the host operating system as described in step 5.3.
  • Make an ISO file of the installation CD/DVD and mount that in the same manner as described in step 2.12.
  • Enable Drag’n’Drop and move files accordingly.
  • Use the Shared Clipboard to Copy files from the host to the guest operating system.

7.  Adobe Lightroom Running in Ubuntu via Seamless Integration with a Windows 7 Virtual Machine

Adobe Lightroom Running in Ubuntu | VirtualBox

Adobe Lightroom Running in Ubuntu | VirtualBox

Once your virtual machine is running with folder shares, it is quite easy to start testing various types of software.

See Adobe Lightroom 6 working in Ubuntu.

To get Adobe Lightroom installed I shared two folders with the virtual machine; one that contained the installation files and a second that contained my photographs. I installed Lightroom from the Network Share described in step 5.4.

Photographs were imported into Lightroom’s Library by adding the second Network Share to Folders.

Kodi Not Scraping

Kodi Not Scraping

If the System Attribute flag is set on a Windows folder containing a movie, TV shows or music, then Kodi (XBMC) and Mediaportal will fail to register that these folders even exist during a scrape. This means that media inside them will not show in the integrated file managers and will be missing from the relevant media libraries. These folders are simply ignored during scrapes.

This problem seems to be specific to the Windows operating system. Scraping the same media from a Linux-based Kodi installation will work perfectly.

My Specific Problem

I have three media centres around the house, all being fed by a Synology Network Attached Storage (NAS) that stores all my media files. Two machines have Kodi installations on Linux operating systems. The main machine has a Kodi and Mediaportal installation on Windows 7 64-bit. On this machine, access to the NAS media is obtained by a network mounted drive under a local drive letter, “Y:”. That drive source has been added to Kodi and Mediaportal.

Initially, the addition of new media to the NAS caused no problems until I began to use a computer running Ubuntu to rename media files before moving those files to the appropriate folders on the network attached drive.

FileBot, the file renaming tool for Linux-based operating systems, seemed to be causing the problem by generating the Windows System attribute on renamed folders.

Although the two Kodi installations on Linux were able to scrape this new media successfully, the Windows installations of Kodi and Mediaportal were unsuccessful. The video files were missing from media libraries and could not be seen in the file managers. Windows explorer however, showed the folders and their contained files. The folders were there in the directory listing but were being ignored during the scraping process.

Solution

1) Go through the steps outlined in  the Kodi wiki for Incorrect and Missing Videos.

2) Determine if the System Attribute flag is on for missing videos:

By default, folder and file attributes are not displayed in Windows Explorer, but they can be enabled quite easily. Navigate to your media library. Right click on the column header and select Attributes. If Attributes is not visible, click on More… and select it from the list.

File Attributes Enabled in Windows Explorer

File Attributes Enabled in Windows Explorer

Look down your list of folders while paying attention to the attributes column on the right. Identify the folders that have the System attribute switched on. This will be denoted with an “S”.

The basic attributes list:

  • R – Read Only
  • H – Hidden
  • A – Archived
  • S – System
  • D – Directory

3) Deselect the System Attribute flag on folders:

There are two ways to remove the System Attribute flag on a folder.

i) The first way is to use the DOS command attrib in an elevated cmd window to change file and folder attributes. Due to the complexity and length of some of my file paths, I opted not to use this and use the next option instead.

ii) Download Attribute Changer, a very useful tool to do the work with just a few simple clicks.

Once installed, a simple right click on a folder or file displays the option to Change Attributes…

Selecting this option and then the Folder Properties tab shows the available attributes that can be removed or added.

Remove the folder’s System Attribute flag by unticking System in the Folder Properties tab. Click OK.

Refresh the directory listing to ensure that the flag has been removed.

Launch Kodi or Mediaportal to update your media library.

References:-

Tech Support Forum – Folders Stuck On Read Only

Unable to Open Gentle.config Root Element is Missing – MediaPortal Error

Unable to Open Gentle.config Root Element is Missing – MediaPortal Error

Cannot connect to TV Server  – MediaPortal

This error is produced when exiting the MediaPortal Configuration program. The file

c:\ProgramData\Team MediaPortal\MediaPortal\Gentle.config

is corrupt and MediaPortal cannot write to it to save your configuration settings.

MediaPortal Configuration Error

Unable to open Gentle.config Root element is missing

The corrupt file also causes a problem in MediaPortal itself, where MediaPortal cannot connect to the TV Server even though the TV Server name is correct. This will prevent access to the EPG and your recordings, even though the TV Server is running normally and capable of making recordings.

However, testing that same connection in MediaPortal Configuration will report success.

MediaPortal Configuration | Test TVServer Connection

MediaPortal Configuration | Test TV Server Connection

MediaPortal error logs will also report:

Gentle.config could not load because no XML root node was found

The solution is to replace the Gentle.config file with a working one from another MediaPortal installation you may have in your home. If you don’t have one, download the Gentle.config file from here. Right click the link and select Save Link As… Gentle.config

The file is approximately 6Kb in size, so will download quickly. Overwrite the corrupt file by copying the new file to:

c:\ProgramData\Team MediaPortal\MediaPortal\Gentle.config

Launch the MediaPortal Configuration program to adjust your settings and then close it. The error will no longer appear and your settings will have been saved. The MediaPortal to TV Server connection problem  will have been resolved too.

File corruption can be caused by a number of circumstances, normally associated with system crashes, hibernation failures and the Blue Screen of Death.

I get them a lot.

TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Freeview HD Dual Tuner Card Review

TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Freeview HD Dual Tuner Card Review

The TBS6280 DVB-T2 Freeview HD dual tuner is a low / high profile PCIe x1 card that generates mpeg transport streams at hardware level to enable the playback and recording of free-to-air Freeview HD and standard definition channels. Driver support for Windows and Linux means that this card can be used with many of the popular, free-source, Home Theatre software packages such as MediaPortal, Argus TV, TVHeadEnd & MythTV. It’s an excellent piece of kit for any HTPC enthusiast.

TBS 6280 Dual DVB-T2 Freeview HD PCIe x1 Tuner Card

TBS 6280 Dual DVB-T2 Freeview HD PCIe x1 Tuner Card

What it does

Hardware Transport Stream Generation

The TBS 6280 DVB-T2 tuner card has two tuners to receive free-to-air, terrestrial digital television broadcasts and convert that data into a MPEG transport stream (MPEG-TS, MTS or TS files) for immediate playback or storage. Effectively, the transport stream is a format container for multichannel audio, video & subtitles. It uses error correction data to preserve continuity when the broadcast signal is weakened. And since all this is done in the hardware, there is negligible loss of your PC’s resources. The dual tuners have good sensitivity, which means better reception for those in poor reception areas.

Simultaneous Multichannel Recording

Terrestrial digital television services are transmitted  on multiplexes (or Mux) and many stations can occupy a single broadcast frequency.

Since there are two tuners in the TBS 6280, it can receive the broadcasts from two multiplexes at once. This means that it is possible to watch and / or record more than two channels at once, provided that the chosen channels occupy the same two multiplexes.

I receive broadcasts  from the Mendip transmitter where channels are assigned to the mulitplexes shown below:

Mendip Mulitplexes & Channels (17/09/13)

Mendip Mulitplexes & Channels (17/09/13)

So, for example: recording all the HD channels simultaneously would utilize just one of the tuners, leaving scope to watch or record channels from one other mux with the second tuner.

Since our favorite channels span just two multiplexes, there is rarely a time when a programme cannot be scheduled to record because there is no spare tuner.

What it does not do

The TBS 6280 tuner card plays no part in the final reproduction of the transport stream. If you experience micro-stutter, dropped frames or degraded picture quality the items responsible will be your choice of codecs and / or the hardware of your PC.

What’s in the box?

  • TBS 6280 DVB-T2 dual tuner card PCIe x1
  • Low profile bracket for conversion
  • Remote control and infra red receiver
  • A mini in-door aerial
TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Dual Tuner Card: Box Contents

TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Dual Tuner Card: Box Contents

TBS 6280 Physical Installation

  • The card is packaged with a low profile bracket and swapping it with the supplied taller one is relatively straight forward.
  • Fitting the card into an available PCIe x1 slot is a breeze. It couldn’t be easier.
  • This card boasts a RF IN and RF OUT connector (aerial pass-through). Fantastic news for those people with just one aerial connection at the back of their TV sets. My aerial connects here, then I use a connector cable to supply the RF signal to my TV. There seems to be no apparent loss in signal strength at the television by connecting in this way.
  • As my installation was part of an upgrade, I opted to continue using my more versatile, Windows Media Center remote instead of the one supplied. And as for the in-door aerial: it may work if you happen to live next door to the transmitter.

TBS 6280 Driver Installation

How to install the TBS 6280 driver – Windows

Visit the download section of tbstv.com by clicking here.

Download the Windows Driver set-up program; run it and install the appropriate driver for your operating system (XP/Vista or Win7).

Once installed, you have the option to install bundled software such as TBSViewer and TBSVHID Tool. Don’t bother with these unless you intend to use them.

There is no requirement to re-boot.

How to install the TBS 6280 driver – Linux

These directions are based upon the driver revision v130909. Visit the download site to ascertain the current revision and make that substitution if necessary.

You will need the unzip program installed. This can be obtained through the Software Centre application.

Launch a terminal window then type each line followed by ENTER:

mkdir driver
cd driver
wget http://www.tbsdtv.com/download/document/common/tbs-linux-drivers_v130909.zip
unzip tbs-linux-drivers_v130909.zip
tar xjvf linux-tbs-drivers.tar.bz2
cd linux-tbs-drivers

Depending on which version of Linux you have (x86 or x64), you will have to identify the correct driver to install from those just created from the above uncompression.

Type:

uname -a

Then depending on the output, select the correct driver for your operating system.

  • for x86 kernel 3.x (x86 32 bit installations of kernel 3.x): ./v4l/tbs-x86_r3.sh
  • for x86 kernel 2.6.x (x86 32 bit installations of kernel 2.6.x): ./v4l/tbs-x86.sh
  • for any x86_64 kernel (x86 64 bit installations of Linux): ./v4l/tbs-x86_64.sh

Then, type the following to install the correct driver for your system. This example shows the installation of the x64 bit driver. Substitute the highlighted file path and file name with the one appropriate for your system.

sudo ./v4l/tbs-x86_64.sh
sudo make && sudo make install

When complete, reboot so the driver can take effect.

sudo shutdown -r now

TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Review

I have set TBS 6280 DBV-T2 tuner card up and had it working with various combinations of operating systems and HTPC software. And it has performed flawlessly; waking from the PC’s sleep state without problems and never missing a recording.

The Good Points:

  • Dual tuners with good sensitivity
  • Receives terrestrial, free-to-air, Freeview SD & HD channels
  • Ability to watch and / or record multiple channels simultaneously, from two multiplexes
  • Works in Windows and Linux
  • The developers, TurboSight, seem committed to Linux as drivers are continually revised
  • Low profile option for media center PCs
  • Aerial pass-through
  • Wakes from PC sleep state without problems

The Bad Points (And these are minor bad points):

  • The Linux drivers are not open source
  • There is no infra red remote driver available for Linux, so the supplied remote will not work. However, Windows Media Center remotes work as normal.

OVERALL SCORE 5/5

The Codecs I Use for Windows Playback

With the right selection of codecs, both SD and HD video are crisp and vibrant while playback is smooth and faultless. I use the LAV filters in Windows, available with the installation of MediaPortal or separately here, at Sourceforge.

Not only is the video codec the best, but the LAV audio codec resolves a lot of the problems associated with audio playback on the Freeview HD channels. If you’re having problems with your set up, try these codecs out.

Google

HTPC Application Launcher

HTPC Launcher

LAUNCH YOUR FAVORITE HTPC APPLICATIONS WITH YOUR REMOTE

A neat, informative program that does the following:-

  • Allows the user to switch between popular HTPC applications such as MediaPortal, XBMC, Windows Media Center and many others, all from the comfort of your chair; with your remote control.
  • Displays the screen refresh rate.
  • Provides a summary of hard disk usage. Space remaining for recorded TV and the proportions of used space for movies, TV series and recorded programs.
  • Hides all desktop icons and restores them when the program is quit.
  • Configurable to run any application you choose.
  • Can be made to start when Windows boots.
  • Program window can be positioned by the remote, so it doesn’t spoil your desktop wallpaper.
  • MediaPortal SQL database repair with one remote key press.
Written and compiled with Autoit. Tested on Windows 7. Used 24/7.
Author: Tim Wolverson

INTRODUCTION

If, like me, you’re a HTPC enthusiast, the chances are that you will have tried a multitude of media center software in the pursuit of perfection. You will like some features in one product more than another. Your favorite product may lack a certain feature that you really can’t live without. So maybe now, you’re using at least two popular pieces of software to satiate your HTPC needs.

I am.

I use MediaPortal and XBMC. And I switch between the two of them often. Why?

MediaPortal is very good at delivering Live TV, scheduling and making recordings, indexing them, managing them. And most importantly, watching them.

Yes, XBMC can do this too if you use the relevant plugins, but I found it difficult to use and unintuitive. No good for the wife then.

XBMC has a great feature that MediaPortal does not; the ability to adjust audio/video sync. Something that is very important to me when watching encoded material. The slightest deviation in lip sync can annoy me and make something great, totally unwatchable.

Plus, XBMC starts up much quicker than MediPortal. And I like the wide ranging add-ons available for it.

So I use both.

And I wrote this simple, informative HTPC Launcher so that I wouldn’t have to get out of my chair and launch either product by resorting to the mouse every time I wanted to switch. A couple of remote control key presses and it’s done.

GETTING STARTED

Download the zipped HTPC Launcher file.

Uncompress the file and copy the program folder to your Program files directory or a folder of your choice.

Enter the program folder and right click the exe file. Select Create Shortcut and opt to have it on your desktop. If the shortcut is created inside your folder, drag the shortcut out of the folder onto your desktop.

Now you can start the HTPC Launcher by double clicking on your new desktop shortcut.

It is recommended to have this program start on its own, each time Windows boots. To do this open up the Startup folder and place a copy of your shortcut inside it. Go to Start > All Programs, and right click on the Startup folder to open it.

CONFIGURATION

This program can be configured with the config.txt file, situated in the program folder. Double click this file to open it in notepad. You will be presented with the default configuration.

It’s relatively straight forward to understand. The items in square brackets are variable names used by the program and should not be altered.

key=”what ever appears here” is assigned to that variable. So your configuration details go between the relevant quotation marks.

When you have completed your alterations, make sure that you save your changes in notepad.

### CONFIGURATION FILE FOR HTPC PROGRAM SELECTOR ###
####################################################
#HARD DISK DETAILS
##################
[HD1]
key="C:"
[HD2]
key="E:"
[HD3]
key="D:"
[HD4]
key=""

#MEDIA LOCATIONS | PATHS - MEDIA
################################
[RecTV]
key="C:\Users\Public\Recorded TV"
[Movies]
key="E:\Videos\Films"
[TVShows]
key="E:\Videos\TV Series"

#PROGRAMS - CONFIGURATION
#########################
[Program1]
key="C:\Program Files (x86)\Team MediaPortal\MediaPortal\MediaPortal.exe"
[Image1]
key="Mediaportalogo.gif"
[Description1]
key="MediaPortal"
##
[Program2]
key="C:\Windows\ehome\ehshell.exe"
[Image2]
key="WMClogo.gif"
[Description2]
key="Windows Media Center"
##
[Program3]
key="C:\Program Files (x86)\XBMC\XBMC.exe"

[Image3]
key="XBMClogo.gif"
[Description3]
key="XBMC"

SECTION: Hard Disk Details

Here, you can specify how many hard disk drives you have in your PC that contain your media (up to a maximum of 4).

In the above example, there are three drives labelled C: / D: / E:

The option for a fourth drive letter has been left blank “”

If you only have one hard drive then enter that under [HD1]. It should look something like this:

[HD1]
key="C:"
[HD2]
key=""
[HD3]
key=""
[HD4]
key=""

SECTION:  Media Locations

Copy and paste your media locations in this section. These paths are used to calculate disk usage.
The easiest way is to do this is to navigate to one of your folders in Windows and right click the address in the folder window.

Select Copy address as text from the context menu. Then go to your configuration file and locate the correct key= . Delete any information between the quotation marks and with the cursor inbetween both quotes, press Ctrl + V on the keyboard to paste the exact address into the file.

[TVShows]
key="E:\Videos\TV Series"

SECTION: Configuring Programs

A total of three programs can be configured for launch.

[Program1] contains the full path and executable for the software chosen.

[Image1]  is the full name of the logo you want displayed in the HTPC Launcher window. Download whatever you need and save it in the program folder.

[Description1] is the button name.

The following configuration leaves the central button blank:

#PROGRAMS - CONFIGURATION
#########################
 
[Program1]
key="C:\Program Files (x86)\Team MediaPortal\MediaPortal\MediaPortal.exe"

[Image1]
key="Mediaportalogo.gif"
 
[Description1]
key="MediaPortal"
 
##

[Program2]
key=""
 
[Image2]
key=""
 
[Description2]
key="---"
 
##
 
[Program3]
key="C:\Program Files (x86)\XBMC\XBMC.exe"

[Image3]
key="XBMClogo.gif"
 
[Description3]
key="XBMC"

HOW TO USE HTPC LAUNCHER

For best results, make this the platform from which you launch your HTPC software, especially after a fresh boot of Windows. Enabling software to start automatically when Windows starts could steal the focus away from this application and prevent it from working.

  • To select an application to launch, use the remote’s navigation and select buttons.
  • Exit your media center software in the usual way to return control to this window.
  • The remote’s number buttons will place the HTPC Launcher window in different positions around the desktop. 1 will place it top left, 2 top middle, 3 top right, 4 left, 6 right, 7 bottom left, 8 bottom middle and 9 bottom right.
  • Pressing 5 will run the batch script, located in the program folder. It is currently configured to issue a command to repair MediaPortal’s SQL database.

How to Reduce the Minimum Fan Speed of a nVidia GT430 Graphics Card

How to Reduce the Minimum Fan Speed of a nVidia GT430 Graphics Card

If you have an  nVidia GeForce GT 430 graphics card and you want to reduce the card’s minimum fan speed, then these instructions should help you achieve that with relative ease.
ASUS 1GB GeForce GT 430 PCI-E 2.0 with Low Profile Bracket

Introduction

Cards like the ASUS 1GB GeForce GT 430 graphics card are often incorporated in slim Home Theatre PCs (HTPC) because of their low profile fit and their relatively low cost coupled with their high performance at decoding High Definition (HD) video content.
These models have a cooling fan sat inside the heat sink that helps govern the temperature of the GPU. The minimum fan speed is set in the card’s BIOS as a percentage of it’s top rotational speed. My card’s minimum fan speed was set at 60%. I had read of other minimum fan speeds, such as 65%, when I started to research this.
Initially, the card was quiet enough for use in my HTPC. Over time however, the fan became louder at it’s minimum, idling speed. And I wanted to quieten it down by reducing it’s minimum speed and adjusting the fan’s speed v GPU temperature curve. I found I could do most things with software except reduce the hard-coded minimum fan speed. A BIOS hack was required.
I found that a great number of people had been asking how to do this hack via many different internet forums. Solutions were not clear; the posts were old and a lot of the links for the necessary software were dead.
I found two noteworthy sets of instructions here to flash the device from a bootable usb stick running DOS. No matter how I tried though, I couldn’t get mine to flash. And I think it’s because the software revisions have moved on.

Guide for Flashing BIOS of nVidia GPU – techpowerup.com
Bootable USB Drive, Flashing nVidia GPU – Recovering From a Bad Flash – bjorn3d.com

It’s worth checking out how to recover from a bad flash and be prepared for such an event.

What You Will Need

I did everything in Windows 7 x64. There was no need to create a DOS bootable usb drive. All I had to do was re-boot the PC when the BIOS flash reported as being successful.

NiBiTor
nvflash (windows version)

EVGA Precision X

Method

Download NiBiTor and nvflash (windows version) and unzip them if necessary by extracting them to their own folders. Remember their locations.
Download and install EVGA Precision X on your computer.
Click once on Windows Start and type in cmd where it says Search programs and files. Do not press Enter.
The cmd program should be shown at the top of the list under the heading: Programs. Right click on it once and select Run as administrator. Click Yes when prompted.
The command console should appear and look something like this:

Double click the nvflash folder and right click on the directory path at the top of the folder window.

Select Copy address text from the context menu.

You can see here that my nvflash folder resides on my F drive at
F:\GT430 BIOS FLASH\nvflash_windows_5.142

Now click on the cmd window and type cd and a space. Right click and select paste.
The full directory name should be pasted into the window like this:

Press Enter to change into that directory. Notice that if you have your files on a different drive to C, you will have to change to that drive before hand like I have done here with F:

Back Up the Original ROM

In the cmd window, type

nvflash -b original.rom

and press Enter

This will make a back up copy of the nVidia card’s BIOS to your nvflash directory with the filename
original.rom
You can use a filename of your choice.
It is important at this stage to make back up copies of this BIOS image. Store a copy on a usb stick. Store a copy on another PC. Should things go wrong, you will need access to this file. A bad flash may prevent your card from outputting any display at all. So it’s no good just to have the one copy on that machine. You won’t be able to see to get at it!

Modify the BIOS with NiBiTor

Go into your NiBiTor folder and run the program.
Go to File > Open BIOS…
and select the file original.rom from your nvflash directory

You should see something like this as you browse the different tabs:

Change the Min fan speed here to something like 30

Then go to File > Save BIOS…

and select a new name for you modified ROM. Ensure you don’t overwrite your back up file.

Save this file to your nvflash directory. I used the filename:

modified.rom

Ready to Flash the BIOS?

The files in your nvflash directory should look something like this:

The nvflash files; the modified BIOS and your back up file.
Note: I have two back up files of the original BIOS in this screenshot entitled backup.rom and GF108.rom. You will just have the one back up file entitled original.rom
WARNING: The next command starts the flash process!
Ensure that this process is not going to be interrupted by anything.
DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK
Click on the cmd window once more and type:

nvflash modified.rom

and press Enter

The BIOS will be flashed with your modifications. Wait until the program reports success, then reboot your PC.
In the event that the flash goes wrong, you will need your original BIOS rom file to attempt a blind flash using a usb stick. Details of how to do this are explained in the links I gave in the introduction.

Controlling Fan Speed

Launch EVGA Precision X

  • Tick Windows Start Up so the software runs every time Windows boots. If you click on the settings icon (the two gears in mesh – top right) you will be able to select Start minimized if you don’t want this screen to appear every time Windows starts.
  • Change the minimum speed of the fan. (I believe that there is another value in the BIOS that prevents the fan from stalling at low rotational speeds). I found  I couldn’t enter values less than 31% even though I’d set the minimum value in my modified BIOS to 20.
  • Ensure Auto is ticked.

Now click on fan curve and ensure that Enable software automatic fan control is ticked

Here you can drag the points on the curve to create your own profile of fan speed vs GPU temperature. Experimentation and monitoring is key here. Spend a while monitoring your GPU temperature under different conditions of load. Playing games for example will cause the GPU to generate lots of heat. That heat has to be dissipated effectively or your GPU will burn out.
This profile works for me but the sole use of my card is the decoding of HD video. What I’ve done here is:
  • halve the fan’s minimum speed
  • keep the fan at it’s new minimum speed until the GPU temperature hits 68’C
  • then increase fan speed accordingly to maintain 68’C – 74’C operating temperature range when decoding HD content
In a nut shell; silent operation at the expense of running the GPU 10 to 15 degrees hotter than before. It may lessen the card’s life but my HTPC is almost silent now.