Print Story Attention MythTV Infidels
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By priestess (Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 12:31:10 AM EST) mythtv, linux, sky, virgin, freeview, hardware (all tags)
So since Telewest/NTL/Virgin are dropping Sky One from their service, seems like I'm likely to have to download all the stuff that I was watching on that channel. Which means I might as well ditch the entire cable TV service really given that I've already seen all the shows they have on constant repeat everywhere else.

Might well just build myself a MythTV box I should think, with a couple of freeview DTV cards and a nice fat bittorrent connection. Finally merge my computer and telly like I've been meaning to for ages.



It all looks a bit confusing frankly. Anyone (especailly anyone in the UK) actually built a freeview MythTV box? What video card will I need what TV cards will I need? How cheep a CPU will I be able to get away with?

I shall be attempting to research this during compile-times and things while at work today. All help appreciated.

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Attention MythTV Infidels | 26 comments (26 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
DVB-T PCI Cards by priestess (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 12:41:33 AM EST
Looks like Freeview's technial standards/protocols are called "DVB-T" for "Digital Video Broadcasting - Terrestrial" and there's a list of PCI cards that can handle it in the LinuxTV Wiki. Presumably all of which have working Linux drivers I guess.

Quite a few. And no damned prices on that list. Grr. Guess I'll have to google a price for each interesting looking one.....
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Not quite by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 02:18:52 AM EST
I have a Windows Media edition box that I'm planning to convert to Knoppmyth when I have a moment or two.

Recording programs on a Sempron 3000, I haven't seen cpu load exceed 35%. That's doing software MPEG encoding. I some performance stats are on the MythTV FAQ here. A modern CPU shouldn't have any problems, but a decoder card with built in MPEG encoding puts it beyond any reasonable doubt. Hauppauge seem the best supported and established TV cards.

My system (Sempron 3000, nvidia 7300 GPU, 1gb ram, 320GB drive, aluminium thermaltake case, MCE remotes and keyboard) cost a little over £500 including Windows MCE, so deduct £70 or so for no Windows. The case was about £100, so again you can make savings here if you don't want your system to look like a hi-fi component.


Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
Hauppauge by priestess (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 02:41:52 AM EST
They seem to call their cards"winTV" which is confusing coz all those winModems never used to work with Linux, so I kinda assume anything with the Win prefex is a Looser card. But looks like that's not actually the case here.

Wow. The pci cards are like twice the price of the USB things. Hummm. Wonder why that is. Can I use two USB plugs instead I wonder?

Yeah, the case doesn't matter a damn, I have a groovy TV shelf with a cupboard underneath and I guess the computer box will go in the cupboard and be completely invisible. Hummm. Assuming the remote controll reciever is seperate from the case anyway.

Sounds like it's doable, I can borrow 500 quid and pay it off before the end of the year in the savings from not paying the cable subscription.
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[ Parent ]
last time I looked into it by garlic (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 02:27:57 AM EST
was a few years ago -- but at the two problems I saw was that a) you couldn't use a junker PC if you wanted to complicated things like record and playback at the same time, and b) it was about as ready for primetime as linux was, so you'd better like screwing around trying to figure out why you couldn't watch shows instead of just watching shows.


Yeah by priestess (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 02:45:31 AM EST
It's gonna need buying a new box for it I think, which will be better than my (under the)desktop I would imagine since that's years old now.

I kinda like the fucking about stuff, it's fun!

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as ready for primetime as linux by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 03:26:29 AM EST
Once you get the Linux box set up the way you want, it tends to be lower maintenance than Windows.

Well, assuming you're a Regular User, not a Gamer or other Bleeding Edge Enthusiast.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Our company by gazbo (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 02:40:52 AM EST
Amongst other things provides IPTV using Linux servers.  He's also running a MythTV system at home, and I recently asked him about TV cards.  He said that you can't go wrong with the Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 500.

There's also a WinTV Nova-T-500 which has two tuners in, but he's not tried it yet so can't be 100% certain it's as solid.  I've got a box of the feckers sat right next to me; maybe I should ask if I can nick one for "testing".


I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

Holy missing bits of sentence, Batman! by gazbo (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 02:42:53 AM EST
Insert this at an appropriate place:

My boss sets up a lot of these servers and is also...


I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

[ Parent ]
Ask if you can nick a handful by priestess (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 02:43:35 AM EST
Keep two, send me two. I think you have to have two so you can record one channel and watch another as far as I can tell.

Don't suppose if he knows if these half-the-price USB ones work just as well does he?
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Sadly he's not in today by gazbo (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 02:46:23 AM EST
But if you can wait till tomorrow I'll ask.

The beauty of the Nova-T-500 (assuming it works) if you'll not actually need two cards as it has two tuners on the card.


I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

[ Parent ]
(Assuming it works) by priestess (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 02:59:10 AM EST
The linuxtv wiki says:
   * Dual DVB-T tuner card.
   * PCI 2.2 card using 3.3V. Failed to run on PCI 2.1 system.
   * Card contains a USB2.0 device with USB host controller. See DVB_USB for further details
   * Device/drivers suffer from a serious problem. The USB DVB-T tuners seem to occasionally "disconnect" and reconnect during a tuning operation, this causes the kernel to oops requiring a reboot.

"Serious problem" doesn't sound good, might be better off sticking to two individual cards I guess. Damnit.

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Bandwidth issues by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #12 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 03:28:55 AM EST
USB is lower bandwidth than PCI, so I would think you would prefer a PCI card. Especially if you have two tuners on the same bus. Even if the card does the encoding video will still require lots of bandwidth.

And RAM. The more RAM you can stick in the MythTV box, the better.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Encoding? by squigs (4.00 / 1) #13 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 04:01:55 AM EST
DVB-T is sent as an MPEG stream, and I think the PC does the conversion (and possibly even the demultiplexing).  But even at maximum, you only need to handle 32 MBit/s.  Well within the limits of USB2. 

[ Parent ]
Yes, this is correct. by Gully Foyle (4.00 / 1) #15 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 04:20:36 AM EST
Usually the PC does the demultiplexing. Some single tuner cards will even let you record one channel and watch another so long as they're in the same multiplexed stream!

[ Parent ]
Update by gazbo (2.00 / 0) #22 Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 03:59:44 AM EST
Just spoken to my boss:

The one I said worked well does indeed work well, but it has analogue tuners not digital.  Oops.

The one with "serious problems" can be kicked and prodded into working, but it requires a lot of work.

USB solutions work fine, though he stresses that he's never tried to use two simultaneously so can't guarantee there's no bandwidth issues (but is quite confident there won't be).  The one he's used is this (random link from Google, not an endorsement of the shop) and he says it works fine BUT you'll need the most recent kernel.

It is also ludicrously cheap, so I think I'll buy one too.  But until I get a new box, I would be running it on Windows.

HTH, HAND etc.


I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

[ Parent ]
Cool by priestess (2.00 / 0) #23 Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 05:22:45 AM EST
Looks just the trick.

We've talked a lot about TV Tuner cards, and not at all about graphics cards. Can I get away with a cheepy built-in thing from a Dell motherboard, or will I need fancy accelerated graphics I wonder?

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Hummm by priestess (2.00 / 0) #24 Tue Mar 13, 2007 at 02:22:09 PM EST
Have the thing here, first hour or so's worth of trying to learn what firmware file have to go where has left the thing still not working.

I think.

So it's not plug and play on Debian anyway.

Will have to examine it more closely when Ihave more time.

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[ Parent ]
Hrm by gazbo (2.00 / 0) #25 Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 12:21:08 AM EST
I've no experience with it myself, so I can't give you any pointers.  The only thing I'll suggest is to make sure you've got an absolutely up-to-date kernel installed.

I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

[ Parent ]
Yep, that'll be the first task by priestess (2.00 / 0) #26 Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 01:28:42 AM EST
I have the very latest kernel package, but that's not the sme thing at all. Lordy, I haven't compiled a kernel in years.

Hey ho.

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[ Parent ]
Built a test one over xmas by Gully Foyle (4.00 / 1) #14 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 04:14:37 AM EST
I used an ancient hauppauge analogue capture card in a Via EPIA M10000 that we had lying around (it's a 1 ghz low power C3 processor, with some hardware for fast video playback). I wasn't expecting it to work frankly, since the compression step needed with the analogue board is so cpu intensive. It was a near thing, but the M10000 was very nearly fast enough for watching or recording (obviously, not both at once). If you're using digital capture boards, then it'd probably work fine in such a slow box since there's no compression step (I think Myth just demultiplexes and dump the mpeg2 stream straight to disk). I'd guess that one of Via's newer, faster, fanless boards would be a good choice.

I also messed about with MythTV streaming from a server to a low power client and that was fine. Massive pain in the arse to set up though.

I used the MythTV package in Ubuntu Edgy universe, and basic functionality worked pretty much straight away with not too much fiddling on a clean install. Getting TV listings was a mare, but again that should be vastly easier with digital cards.

Alternative by stark (2.00 / 0) #16 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 04:57:58 AM EST
You can get a Topfield Freeview PVR which you can then hook up to your PC and upload programs which supplement the offical software. This allows you to set up rather good EPG / timer control stuff that is almost the equivalent of Tivo's season pass. You can also download TV recordings to your PC and burn them to DVD, should you so wish.

It's easier than setting up your own MythTV box and (arguably) cheaper. The main downside is that you "only" have 160Gb storage (enough for about 80 hours) and you don't have as much control (eg. you can't hook it up to the internet and set programs to record via a web interface, like you can with MythTV).

--
U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.

Question by priestess (2.00 / 0) #17 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 05:09:56 AM EST
Can I also upload stuff I download from a torrent into the box and have it play? Might be just as easy to do something like this if I could.

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[ Parent ]
Not really by stark (2.00 / 0) #18 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 05:13:23 AM EST
Not unless you can be bothered to re-encode it to the standard DVB-T (or whatever) that is used to broadcast Freeview. Possibly not really that useful if you do a lot of torrenting.
--
U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.
[ Parent ]
I don't right now by priestess (2.00 / 0) #19 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 05:23:30 AM EST
But the entire point of the plan is that they've taken away from me all the new Stargate/Atlantis/Battlestar, so I figure fuck 'em, I'll download it.

So gonna have to be a Myth box afterall then. Hey ho.

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My set up by Vulch (2.00 / 0) #20 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 05:44:52 AM EST

PC upstairs with a Hauppauge Nova-T card in it, controlled from Digiguide with the PVRRecord plugin. TVersity UPnP media server also running and uTorrent (purely for Linux ISOs of course). It's a few years old, 1.3GHz AMD cpu, 0.75GB RAM, several discs to the tune of 250GB or so.

Downstairs a D-Link DSM-320RD Media player plus a Freeview box and the old DVD player returned as D-Link messed up an upgrade and downgrading again resulted in the DSM deciding it was Region 1 only. I'm not impressed by their support.

It's taken some fiddling, setting up PVRRecord at first is tedious as it needs a file mapping the Digiguide channels to the cards channels. I'm not sure how it would cope with more than one card, it would be nice if it did as it doesn't handle consecutive recordings with just one. Hopefully I can update to a newer model with go-faster stripes later in the year.

Cool by priestess (2.00 / 0) #21 Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 07:14:33 AM EST
Lots of software toys to play with when the hardware eventually gets set up :)

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[ Parent ]
Attention MythTV Infidels | 26 comments (26 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback