Mac for driving multiple Monitors as TV's

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Joined: Jun 8 2004
Posts: 39

I'm not sure how the multi-tv wall setups are done in bars, so this may be making things a bit more complicated than necessary.

Seeing as how everybody now has to have LCD monitors, there are tons of high quality Tritron CRTs around. I've bought a matching pair of Sony GDM-400PS's for my G4 and they're great. If I could find more local screens of this quality I'd horde more - shipping is the catch when paying for these beasts.

A relative square made up of 9 CRTs hooked to one mac would give tons of desktop space:

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I'm guessing that is possible using 5 dual-head cards or 4 dual heads and one single VGA out.

Am I correct in assuming you'd need 9 seperate Tv tuners to display a seperate channel full-screen on each monitor?

More inportantly, could you resize TV windows to cover two monitors at a time, or the entire setup?

Beyond just displaying TV, this could lead to some cool, strange art projects incorporating live video into backgrounds, furniture, ect.

Any ideas? I guess 4 screens could be done with 2 dual head Radeon 7000's and 4 tuners. Or do the tuners send out their own VGA signal?
That could possibly work in a 9500/9600.

I'm also thinking about converting a spare Powerbook G3 into a semi-portable LCD TV. The keyboard and trackpad could be removed and replaced by a wireless keyboard/trackball communicating to a Bluetooth-USB adapter. A USB tuner could provide television signal, but I really like to find out a way to do that wirelessly - so that the box could be carried around. An 802.11g card would give wireless net connectivity, and its possible wireless TV sorround sound could be done with an iTunes hack and an Airport Express.

So, for this PB G3 TV Project - is there anyway to rebroadcast the standard cable spectrum in the home to be picked up by other receivers?

Oh my TVC15, Its got more channels...

Tom

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 359
Video mirroring

If you want the same channel or picture on all the monitors then you can use video mirroring.

Wayne

alk's picture
alk
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 373
Not pretty

What you want to do would be awesome!

But I don't think it will work the way you want it to. If you want TV on each monitor, you're stuck. QuickTime won't let you use more than one video source at a time, IIRC.

Secondly, PCI TV Tuners stink. They have to make compromises to push that much data across the PCI bus. Now imagine how much your performance would suffer with 4 (or more) TV tuners! Yikes!

The best solution that I can think of is a whole bunch of ATI Xclaim VRs with external TV tuner pods. That will give you a good picture on each monitor directly attached to the Xclaim card... But you'll still have problems with QuickTime not allowing you to use more than one video-in at a time.

You might also invest in a 6-slot Mac like a 9600 or PowerTower Pro. That would make things considerably easier for you (imagine dual head cards in all 6 slots! That's 12 displays! Better invest in central AC, though, because all those monitors are going to make that room very hot...)

What OS are you planning to use?

Good luck!
Drew

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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I think it is possible. In ba

I think it is possible. In bars I beleive they use some sort of scan converter splitter thing that splits up the resolution and sends each TV a different part of the signal(top-right-corner,etc.) For computers I have done 3 video cards in a PC before (one built in AGP and 2 PCI card) and it worked nicely. I played back some widescreen divx files and stretched the Windows Media Player window so almost took over all three screens. The computer wasn't quite up to the task (Pentium 120) but I was just experimenting anyhow. I don't see why you couldn't accomplish the same thing on your mac by spanning the desktop across multiple monitors and stretching your playback window (TV or otherwise) to fill the whole setup. The only problem I ran into was some color troubles: the PCI cards weren't quite decoding the divx correctly somehow, but mpegs faired better. You might have better luck if you use all the same PCI cards. Good luck on your awesome TV-wall thingy.

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Joined: Jun 8 2004
Posts: 39
Yeah I'm sure the bar "TV Wal

Yeah I'm sure the bar "TV Walls" are completely different, I mentioned it just for comparision. And to bring up the point that expensive as they may look, a setup like that is probably easier than what I'm trying to do.

However...

1. My idea also makes a wall of Macs Smile

2. Ok the last TV I bought cost me $15 (an interesting piece of tech itself) and no one in my family has ever bought the ultimate top of the line TV, but I can't recall seeing a DVD look as good on any TV as it does on my monitor or Powerbook.

3. I'm sure the PCI tuners aren't HDTV compatible but someday there will be HDTV versions...and The Wall itself should be up to the task.

4. No one could walk into your living room - don't even think about hiding this away! - and not say "What the hell is that???"

This isn't actually a project yet...the Lombard to TV/Mac would almost certainly come first as its much smaller and cheaper. Right now I'm just trying to work out if its possible.

Even without a Mac as the centerpiece, this could be a neat idea. I paid under $100 for the 19" Trintron I'm using right now and I'm sure a pallet of (preferably) 20"'s could be found cheaply. I got this idea while looking at an old Apple Hi-Res monitor that I pulled the case off of (painting). A well designed 3x3 monitor cabinet could put the screens close together and not make this thing a monster to move - screens could slide out individually. Cooling shouldn't be that much of an issue, though some system of fans should be in place. I had two of these Sony's right up next to each other when I had a spanned desktop and there wasn't any picture distortion so no worries there if the monitors are new and of good quality.

Walky, that's what I was thinking would be the best part - streching a window across all the monitors. Or just 4 or whatever layout you wanted. That flexibility (if it would work) would be the best part. You could surf the net while surrounded by 8 TV channels.

A six slot Mac would be the way to go. Or get ahold of a Digidesign expansion chassis. If this was at all possible on a IIfx that would of course be the way to go Wink

Just out of curiousity, were there ever any Nubus TV tuner cards? Or PDS, LC PDS ect ect? I've built up quite a collection of old Nubus cards but I can't really think of any tuners. There was a Radius TV system that I think had a tuner to it. It consisted of a big external box that connected to a Video Engine card. Pretty sure this was pre-VideoVision and all that stuff.

Oh now I'm just getting too many ideas. keep the comments comin!

Tom

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Joined: Dec 26 2003
Posts: 584
erm

Are there actually PCI tuner cards for Macs? As far as I know they're Windows-only...

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alk
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 373
There are

And as I said above, they suck.

I've got the IXMicro Turbo TV in my PowerTower Pro. Image quality bites the big one.

There are other solutions like the Formac DV Studio Pro analog->DV box, USB tuners, or the Xclaim VR w/ external tuner pod. Xclaim VR will offer the best video quality as it can write the video directly to the hardware/frame buffer/display instead of cramming all that data down the PCI bus and through the CPU - that's how all of Apple's stuff works and consequently why TV on the Performas looked as good as it did (which still wasn't that amazing - awfully blurry). USB tuners might be OK for low-bandwidth uses (or when there are few devices on the bus), but they'll bite for full-screen, multi-screen, full-motion TV.

None of them are going to allow the OP to do what he wants to do...

I'll say it again, QuickTime only lets you monitor one video source at a time! So even if you had 200 video sources/tv tuners, you could only watch ONE AT A TIME!

Peace,
Drew

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Miglia AlchemyTV TV Tuner PCI cards. . .
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Joined: Jun 8 2004
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I'm glad I came across this..

I'm glad I came across this... I just purchased four 17" studio displays for $30 Smile

Now I want to connect my 15" powerbook to them, or will pull out my G4 upgraded 8500.

Any suggestions?

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Damien