CD/DVD Changers For PCs

SteveC

Storage is cool
Joined
Jul 5, 2002
Messages
789
Location
NJ, USA
Why are there no 100+ disc CD/DVD-ROM changers for PCs? I'd love to hook one up to my PC and be able to use a cataloging program, which would let me search for what I want, and automatically load the correct CD/DVD. It'd be much easier and faster than looking through all the CDs I have on and around my desk, and it would be great for HTPCs.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Messages
20,459
Location
I am omnipresent
Website
s-laker.org
Unfortunately, those devices, and similar ones from KDS, don't have any playback mechanism. The way they work is that you use a catalog program on your PC to read in the contents of a disc, then put the disc in the appointed slot of the changer.

Needless to say, this is several kinds of shonk (we haven't had enough aussie slang lately!) at once.

Also, $150 for something that can't play a CD is *way* too much money.

Escient, the CDDB people, had a standalone device that's designed to operate with CD jukeboxes and an internet connection. It would do the work of determining the title and track listings of CDs and snag the artwork from amazon.com or CDnow and store them locally. Someone I know from High School was the senior engineer on the project.
 

Buck

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Feb 22, 2002
Messages
4,514
Location
Blurry.
Website
www.hlmcompany.com

Fushigi

Storage Is My Life
Joined
Jan 23, 2002
Messages
2,890
Location
Illinois, USA
Mercutio said:
Escient, the CDDB people, had a standalone device that's designed to operate with CD jukeboxes and an internet connection. It would do the work of determining the title and track listings of CDs and snag the artwork from amazon.com or CDnow and store them locally. Someone I know from High School was the senior engineer on the project.
I checked there web site and didn't see an equivalent for video distribution. Know of any products that could handle audio & video together or just video?
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Messages
20,459
Location
I am omnipresent
Website
s-laker.org
Escient was purchased by Rio which in turn went bankrupt (assets are now owned by a liquidator) before such products could be developed.
 

.Nut

Learning Storage Performance
Joined
Jul 30, 2002
Messages
229
Location
.MARS
SteveC said:
Why are there no 100+ disc CD/DVD-ROM changers for PCs?...

Not true. I just walked by a couple of JVC MC-8600FU libraries, which have a 600-disc capacity (various CD and DVD technologies supported) and up to SCSI-attached 6 drives. These have been around for a few years now.

mc8000.jpg
 

Fushigi

Storage Is My Life
Joined
Jan 23, 2002
Messages
2,890
Location
Illinois, USA
This brings me to what I want to build this winter: A real HTPC.

My wife and I are considering enhancing our HT with a PC-based engine for playing DVDs, CDs, etc. The DVDs, CDs, AVIs, MPEGs, and whatnot will be stored online on as many large HDs as necessary. Probably a couple of TBs as we've over 600 DVDs, a couple hundred CDs, over a hundred Laserdiscs to digitize, and about 700 VHS/SVHS tapes to digitize.

Here is what we want:
- Voice control for load/start/pause/stop. Existing amp remote is fine for volume control. Something like "Movie, Memento", "TV, Star Trek, Next Generation, All Good Things", "Music, Cirque du Soleil, Dralion". The Movie/Music/category header is probably necessary to differentiate between shows and their soundtracks. We have Cirque's Dralion, for instance, on CD for the soundtrack and DVD for the program itself.
- Device switching. When selecting a program the amp should turn on and switch to the input designated for the HTPC, the TV should turn on and switch to the proper AV line, and the movie should start playing. No need at this point for other automation like light dimming or curtain controls. I expect all media sourced from the PC to flow from one set of A/V cables - S-Video and digital audio.
- Menu control; i.e. all DVD features available. Preferably via voice but remote OK.
- (optional) Re-compress DVDs to a more compact format to reduce HD requirements.
- Management database to track names & locations of files, cover scans, encoding specifics, any other associated info we think of.
- A "coffee table book" binder to place in the HT room. It should include a complete list of all media available. Preferably generated from the management database. This would be the reference for browsing the collection.
- Easy, preferably fast, method of adding new movies to the collection. Something like 1) add media to storage subsystem 2) add entry to database describing new media 3) train system for voice name of new media 4) go watch it.

Here is what we do not want:
- Dependence on a keyboard, mouse, or separate screen to drive everything. A separate remote is probably acceptable for tasks that aren't easily done through voice control.

Here is the budget:
- Whatever it takes, but reasonable. Figure a few hundred for the base PC + more for disk space + more for whatever video card is the best solution for this (AIW?) + whatever software is needed

Some thoughts:
- 300GB 5400RPM drives should be fine with a small 7200RPM drive for OS.
- The PC itself will be mounted in the basement below the HT equipment so noise and cooling are not issues.
- OS can be anything that this all works for; Windows, OS X, Linux. As long as the associated hardware can take the amount of disk this will consume.
- PC backup won't be done beyond OS & apps. In the event of a disk failure or corruption, it's basically a given that the videos will have to be reloaded from source material. Well, things that are digitally acquired or imported from non-digital media (SVHS, etc.) may get a one-time backup.
- This will not be used to copy rented DVDs. We generally do not rent; buying is cheap enough and we prefer the flexibility to watch whatever, whenever. This is simply housing the collection of discs we've purchased.
- I'm guessing off the shelf voice control like Via Voice or Dragon would be sufficient. Even just the basic version as all we really want is voice command & "macros"; not dictation.
- Source discs, at least for CDs & DVDs, will be placed in plastic-lined boxes and stored in our basement. It has a cool temperature and a dehumidifier to keep them safe. Boxes will be labelled with their contents using a printed label slid into a plastic sleeve for easy updating and durability.
- What gotchas exist if this is extended to multiple sets?
- Big project, and very time consuming. We probably won't actually execute this until late Fall or Winter.

Please feel free to suggest products and tips that will help us build this.
 

Howell

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Feb 24, 2003
Messages
4,740
Location
Chattanooga, TN
I think you should consider starting with a universal remote with macros at least as a backup to the voice control.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Messages
20,459
Location
I am omnipresent
Website
s-laker.org
I could stand to do an LCD touchscreen, I think. Even if there are wires involved.

What sucks about my setup is that I need two remotes for everything, because my ATI remote is RF and everything else... isn't (I use a Rotel RR969 for the rest). XP will do voice control, apparently. I haven't tried it yet.

Fushigi, the biggest problem I have (aside from remote-related gripes) is indexing all my stuff. Ultimately I do it all with plain-text files (for my collection of jukeboxes) and a perl script to gather images, music and movie files into easily-accessed folders from all over my network.
 

freeborn

Learning Storage Performance
Joined
Feb 4, 2003
Messages
131
Location
Longmont, CO
My post will not help find a CD changer. However, I feel I have a better solution. My computers are all networked with my house server running Windows 2003 Server. I also have an Escalade 7850 with 8 7200.7 160GB drives in it in RAID-5. This RAID-5 array is primarily my whole house CD archive. I purchased a copy of Alcohol 120 (http://www.alcohol-software.com) when it came out and with frequent updates I have not found a CD I cannot backup and run the image as though it were the original. I love this setup because the other 5 computers in my house can all mount the same CD image at the same time and of course have access to the entire collection. My original software CDs get imaged once and then stored in CD notebooks in my closet. Anyway for around $2000 or so you should be able to set up something simmilar and after the initial imaging time have your entire collection readily available for all networked computers. Of course the array could be much smaller with significant cost savings.

Free
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Messages
20,459
Location
I am omnipresent
Website
s-laker.org
Doesn't do RF.
I need something with compatibility with my changers (all five of them) and with my ATI remote. I don't think that product exists.

Free - That stuff is great, up to a point, but from my standpoint it is in fact cheaper to just buy more changers (I'm kind-of locked into Sony for that, since Sony changers can be daisychained and treated as one logical unit) and my data storage - and I probably have more disk space than any two other people here - is sufficently occupied by non-music file types that I couldn't "waste" it like that..

My current project, btw, is figuring out how to shoehorn over 3TB of hard disks into only six computers.

Sigh.
 

P5-133XL

Xmas '97
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Messages
3,173
Location
Salem, Or
Mercutio said:
I probably have more disk space than any two other people here. ... shoehorn over 3TB of hard disks into only six computers.

Sigh.

I've got over 1.7TB (in one machine = 8x250GB [WD2500JB's with two mirrored] ), anyone here have 1.4+TB, so we can prove Merc is wrong?
 

Pradeep

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 21, 2002
Messages
3,845
Location
Runny glass
600 DVD's assuming 8GB per disc = 4800 GB. That's a fair bit of storage. Adding in the LDs and the CD's, perhaps 6TB? I would suggest 300 DVD changers like Merc has. Couple of those at ~$400 is going to be much cheaper. Is there a limit to the number that can be daisy-changed?
 

Pradeep

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 21, 2002
Messages
3,845
Location
Runny glass
What kind of TV/audio system is it going to be hooked up to Fushigi? Ideally you could use component to hook up the video.
 

freeborn

Learning Storage Performance
Joined
Feb 4, 2003
Messages
131
Location
Longmont, CO
P5-133XL said:
Mercutio said:
I probably have more disk space than any two other people here. ... shoehorn over 3TB of hard disks into only six computers.

Sigh.

I've got over 1.7TB (in one machine = 8x250GB [WD2500JB's with two mirrored] ), anyone here have 1.4+TB, so we can prove Merc is wrong?

Standing by I have 12 7200.7 Plus SATA 160G drives and the Escalade 8500-12. I need to wait for another couple of paychecks to get a double wide case and 3 of these: http://8anet.com/merchant.ihtml?pid=1119&lastcatid=62&step=4

This I will add to my server along with my 1.1TB (base 10) RAID array and add another 1.7TB RAID (base10) array along side it. Total storage on the server will then be 2.8TB (base10). The first array is full but with the new one brought online it should last me the remainder of the year. :)

I've built one of the 8500-12 arrays using this same equipment and have it running in my lab at work so I know it'll work. I probably need more than my 400W power supply though :( to run both in the same box.

Free
 

Fushigi

Storage Is My Life
Joined
Jan 23, 2002
Messages
2,890
Location
Illinois, USA
Pradeep said:
600 DVD's assuming 8GB per disc = 4800 GB. That's a fair bit of storage. Adding in the LDs and the CD's, perhaps 6TB? I would suggest 300 DVD changers like Merc has. Couple of those at ~$400 is going to be much cheaper. Is there a limit to the number that can be daisy-changed?
Most of the DVDs are not dual-layer, so I think an assumption of 5GB/disk is probably more accurate.

This is intended to be a single-source for all digital and digitized media.

Are there any DVD changers that play DivX encoded DVD-Rs? In addition to the hard media this source will also support my 80GB and growing DivX/MPEG collection. And MP3s.

I realize we're talking TBs of data. That's one reason I asked about re-encoding discs to reduce their size. DivX-ing a DVD will reduce it to CD sizes but you (IIRC) lose menus. I don't want to lose the menus.
 

Fushigi

Storage Is My Life
Joined
Jan 23, 2002
Messages
2,890
Location
Illinois, USA
Pradeep said:
What kind of TV/audio system is it going to be hooked up to Fushigi? Ideally you could use component to hook up the video.
Currently, digital audio & S-Video to a Denon AVR-5700, from there to a calibrated 35" JVC tube. Mid-term I will replace the current slightly mismatched speakers with a nice 5.1 mated set (budget: $2000-4000). Long-term, the TV will become secondary to either a projector or a 50"+ plasma set (if the quality improves & prices come down enough; budget: $3000-5000). At that time, I'll take the component plunge.

The Denon already switches component sources. The back panel of that thing is nothing but a cooling fan & connectors. See page 6 of the manual.
 

Pradeep

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 21, 2002
Messages
3,845
Location
Runny glass
Another problem with encoding them all with DivX at CD size is that you are going to lose the DD/DTS soundtracks. And as you improve the TV/audio system, the quality loss could be too much to bear. Also the time it's going to take to compress 600 DVDs may not be worth the money you could earn working during the same time? Also do you want to keep the disc extras or just keep the menus and the main movie?

For indexing of DVDs I use DVD Profiler:

http://dvdprofiler.com/dvdpro/index.html

You can enter the disc by UPC or title, it downloads cover art automatically. I just have the free version, the pay version dls higher quality art etc. I believe it will now add automatically if you use a DVD-ROM drive.

Here's my collection (very out of date): The pay version doesn't have the ads.

http://www.dvdprofiler.com/mc.asp?alias=Pradeep&type=O&sc=C&ls=T
 

Fushigi

Storage Is My Life
Joined
Jan 23, 2002
Messages
2,890
Location
Illinois, USA
Pradeep said:
Another problem with encoding them all with DivX at CD size is that you are going to lose the DD/DTS soundtracks. And as you improve the TV/audio system, the quality loss could be too much to bear. Also the time it's going to take to compress 600 DVDs may not be worth the money you could earn working during the same time? Also do you want to keep the disc extras or just keep the menus and the main movie?

For indexing of DVDs I use DVD Profiler:

http://dvdprofiler.com/dvdpro/index.html

You can enter the disc by UPC or title, it downloads cover art automatically. I just have the free version, the pay version dls higher quality art etc. I believe it will now add automatically if you use a DVD-ROM drive.
I was under the impression there was a codec/addon for DivX that supported DD. If not, I'll have to look elsewhere. Also, while CD size would be nice, I'd settle for anything that reduces the file sizes without too much in the way of sacrifices. Reducing a 4GB movie to 2GB would still be a 50% reduction.

As for the time factor, I don't expect to finish this job in a weekend. We're talking weeks of encoding, even if I do it on 4 PCs at a time (new box, my box, wife's PC, and my laptop).

I would like to keep the extras, although they aren't as important as things like languages and subtitle tracks, which are mandatory. I've a number of multilingual discs that my wife will watch in English vs. me watching in the original language with subs.

I'll check out DVD Profiler.
 

blakerwry

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Oct 12, 2002
Messages
4,203
Location
Kansas City, USA
Website
justblake.com
DIVX is a video codec, it compreses video.. it is not a file format. It is a video stream format... and even then it is only 1 version of the mpg4 video stream format.

You can use DIVX in the AVI format, which will certainly accept AC3 sound or other multi track high quality audio to be multiplexed with the video stream. Infact, the AVI format allows you to multiplex several audio streams so you can even keep bi-lingual audio.
 
Top