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How To Make Media Center Download Torrents Automatically

I have been asked about my Windows Media Center setup and how I have it setup to automatically download tv shows and email me a message when they are complete for quite some time now. Well the time has now come, long awaited I know. I have been meaning to get around to this for well over 3 months now. Sorry about that but finally here it is.

First I think it would help if you read these articles first.

How to Install and Configure uTorrent
http://www.userbytes.com/how-to-install-and-configure-utorrent/

How to Install and Configure Peer Guardian
http://www.userbytes.com/how-to-install-and-configure-peer-guardian/

How to Spot the Best Torrents for Fast Downloads
http://www.userbytes.com/how-to-spot-the-best-torrents-for-fast-downloads/

Ok so like I was saying,  simply put, I have a computer tucked away in our tv armoire that is connected to our 42 inch HDTV, and it monitors RSS feeds for television shows that I tell it to look for, and it downloads them when they are available. When the download is complete, the computer sends an email notification that it is indeed finished and ready for viewing.

My Setup

Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
2.8 GHZ Intel Pentium D CPU x2
1.5 GiG Ram
500 Gig Harddrive
2 Video Capture Cards – Hauppauge WinTV PVR 150 with remote

I know its old but it has worked best for me for a long time now, since October 2006 I believe.  Media Center is Microsoft’s Digital Video Recorder, or DVR as most call it. You can pause and record live tv, schedule shows and movies to record for later viewing too.

My Media Center computer has two video capture cards with two cable connections connected to it with about 500 gigs of hard drive space. This allows us to record two shows at the same time, or view one while recording another. I know what you are thinking right about now. Why do I download shows when I can easily just record them? Well our cable connection is not in HD, and the recordings are great, but just not super crisp. There are several shows that we do not have programming for, like True Blood on HBO for instance. With my RSS downloading through utorrent,  I can monitor for that show and have it download for me. All the shows that are downloaded are also commercial free. However, you can easily skip commercials with regular Media Centers recordings too.

I have also had issues with my cable providers channel listings. I think its been a year now and they still do not have C-Span and FOX correct in the guide, so if I tell it to record American Idol, it will most likely record something on C-Span. This is one more reason we have to download certain shows.

Things you will need:

Ok, I am going to pretend you already have a Media Center computer setup and you have purchased your video capture card or cards and inserted them into your computer and configured them as per instructions that came with them. I am also going to pretend that you used the s-video out on the capture card and plugged it into the tv. On mine its on the back and in my menu on the remote its like AUX 3.

See I can easily flip from cable tv to the PVR. I could have two shows recording, something downloading, and I can switch back to the “real live” tv and watch something else. I know, sounds complicated but its not. Just re-read the previous few lines a few times.

Also I am going to keep pretending and think that your computer is connected to some sort of internet connection (network connection) so that you can download shows via rss and torrents from the internet.

Lets begin.

Its a good idea to go ahead and get organized before you get started.

I created some directories for my Movies, Torrents and TV Shows, so that later when I set up my RSS feeds I can easily point them to the correct folder.

In the TV shows directory I created several folders for shows that I know I will be setting up to download.

1. Install Divx. Download it from their website and just install it. Its really easy.

2. Install Utorrent, its simple just start the install and click next next next. Click here if you need help

After you install Utorrent, visit this link to understand how to setup and RSS feed with in it. http://ezrss.it/faq/

Then look at my setup. The feed I use is http://ezrss.it/feed/ OR http://rss.bt-chat.com/?group=3

Utorrent also has a web interface that you should also set up.
This is how ugrowl will communicate with utorrent to know when the download is indeed complete and finished.
You can not watch a video until its completely downloaded. Below is a picture of the web interface opened up in Opera my web browser.
This way I can easily inject the url to a torrent and let my Media Center PC download it. This prevents me from having to download it on my computer and moving it to the Media Center pc via USB Flash Drive or through the network. If you will notice, the url is a local computer name followed by a port number that I have blacked out.

This was covered more in the article How to Install and Configure uTorrent

I use http://ezrss.it/feed/ for my tv show RSS feeds. Sometimes the site is down, due to maintenance. When this happens, its worth noting that your expected downloads will not process until their site is back online.

In MY filter settings I am using this ” *txt*|*wmv*|*AC3*|*HR*|*264*|*720*|PROPER ” without the quotes to eliminate duplicate downloads and to not download what I cant use.
I just want HDTV AVI videos.

3. Install Ugrowl to work along with Utorrent. Visit their link if you get stuck, but its a basic install as well. Just next next next and see picture below for my settings for that.

The username and password here are the same as you set up for the web interface of utorrent. This has to be done in order for notifications to work

4. Install GROWL for windows. Again its just a simple install, visit their website for details.
This is the program we will be using to notify us when the tv shows we download are finished and are able to be viewed, so lets get started with the configurations.
You are going to want it to  automatically start with windows  see picture below.

Next, click on the applications tab within this program and all you need to do is click on Ugrowl, now in the middle click on Finished, then to the far right set it to TRUE.


Now move on over to the network, click the green plus sign, choose “click here to forward notifications to an email account“.
This is the last option in the list.

Click the edit link and set it to your server settings. Mine happens to be gmail.

The gmail settings are smtp.gmail.com for server and the port is SSL 587
Just put in your username and password.

5. Install Peer Guardian.  See my post on How to Install and Configure Peer Guardian for help

That’s about it. If all is installed and the feeds are pulling down, then they should download when they are available, and notify you when they are complete and ready to watch.

If you have any questions feel free to comment below.





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2 Responses to “How To Make Media Center Download Torrents Automatically”

  1. rob thomas Says:

    nice man, can’t believe there haven’t been any comments.
    as an aside, i just put win7 onto my htpc and it’s a quantum leap in quality. you should consider it.


  2. Gggirlgeek Says:

    7mc (Win 7) will not show avi or mkv files in the video or movie library. You can right click on the file in Windows and “Play with” Media center but it won’t list them in the library.

    Also you have to close 7mc again before opening another file or it will not play in Media center.

    Got uTorrent working brilliantly to download TV shows but I have no decent library for them.