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Most Hackable Coupon-Eligible DTV Converter?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the least-locked-down dept.

Hardware Hacking 479

An anonymous reader writes "So I've finally gotten my DTV coupons, now I have to choose a converter before the analog signals go dark. I'd like to get one that is hackable, but haven't had much luck finding information about the internals of the units available. My question is: What chipsets do the different coupon eligible converters use, and which one is the most hackable? It'd be great to be able to send my own MPEG stream and have it displayed, or to grab the raw stream out of the device."

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Why bother? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552673)

They are just going to extend the deadline again; might as well wait a few more years. Hopefully by then the devices will be even more hackable.

Re:Why bother? (1, Insightful)

IconBasedIdea (838710) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552705)

Wouldn't an earlier generation usually be easier to hack than a newer model?

Re:Why bother? (2, Funny)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552731)

Yes, but then you can only play VHS tapes. :-)

Re:Why bother? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552973)

I wouldn't count on that.

Yeah, yeah, they're killing the analog broadcast because they need the frequency. Yeah, sure. In Europe, we're "ahead" of the times again, we got our digital boxes, our analog signals were shut down and the frequency ... well, did they find someone already to buy it? I dunno.

At least part of the reason to switch to the artefact-ridden compression-fest that digital TV is, is simply that it offers more chance to get some kind of DRM into the stream. And for this your chances to a hackable box decrease over time, when they find and patch more and more holes.

Older, hackable, boxes, i.e. the ones you buy now, might be grandfathered because they don't want this rollout nightmare to happen again.

Sold (3, Informative)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553147)

1. In the US the spectrum is already sold
2. I highly doubt that we'll be seeing DRM on broadcast television any time soon.

Re:Why bother? (5, Informative)

pin0chet (963774) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553215)

What are you talking about? There are no "holes" to be patched--MPEG2 transport streams are unencrypted. Though I don't doubt that content owners would surely love to impose DRM on broadcast content, it's simply not provided for in the ATSC specifications [stanford.edu] for MPEG2 over-the-air transport streams.

The infamous Broadcast Flag--the only element of DRM to have ever loomed over broadcast television--is dead and buried. Besides, none of the DTV converters currently available have any DRM-compliance built in.

Barring the highly unlikely event that Congress decides to modify the ATSC spec after tens of millions of TVs with DTV tuners are owned by consumers, there is zero chance of DRM becoming an issue with digital television programming.

Re:Why bother? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553355)

>The infamous Broadcast Flag--the only element of DRM to have ever loomed over broadcast television--is dead and buried. Besides, none of the DTV converters currently available have any DRM-compliance built in.

You must be using a meaning for 'dead and buried' that I'm not aware of.

If this were so, then there would be no way to turn it on. And if it were turned on, then nobody would looking at this flag. Neither is true. Otherwise, the Microsoft debacle (is that redundant?) would not have happened.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9946780-7.html [cnet.com]

And big media are working hard to close the analog hole ASAP. Like their recent application (which was denied) to disable DVR's and analog outputs in exchange for letting people see movies in HD earlier than they have been releasing them to TV now.

And aren't HD analog outputs going to be turned off in 2010 or 2011?

Re:Why bother? (4, Informative)

badasscat (563442) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553479)

At least part of the reason to switch to the artefact-ridden compression-fest that digital TV is, is simply that it offers more chance to get some kind of DRM into the stream. And for this your chances to a hackable box decrease over time, when they find and patch more and more holes.

Europe != the United States.

Listen. The word "switchover" is kind of a misnomer. We're not switching "over", we're just switching "off". We've already got digital signals and have had them for years. That's how people get OTA HDTV. The standards are defined, the signals are being broadcast. All we're talking about doing here is turning *off* the analog broadcast. The digital feed is a known quantity.

Digital broadcasts in the United States are much, much better than their analog equivalents. You won't be getting HDTV with one of these converter boxes, but you'll be getting the SD sub-channel, which has the advantage over analog of zero static. There is nowhere that anyone who watches analog TV can claim that. Personally, I don't see any compression artifacts at all on OTA digital broadcasts, HD or SD, although obviously the SD channels are lower in resolution than the HD ones. Over the air digital broadcasts, which is what these converter boxes are for, are actually the only way to get a full-bandwidth signal currently. (All of the cable and satellite companies molest the signal in various ways to maximize bandwidth.)

And there's absolutely no DRM on OTA digital broadcasts. The industry tried to add some by asking the FCC to mandate a "broadcast flag", but that went nowhere. OTA signals are DRM-free - some *may* have the flag in a vain hope that the receiving hardware will respect it, but no currently-produced receiving hardware that I know of does. And I doubt any of the stations bother even inserting the flag anymore.

Older, hackable, boxes, i.e. the ones you buy now, might be grandfathered because they don't want this rollout nightmare to happen again.

They're not "rolling out" digital. It's already here. All this program is supposed to do is help people who haven't already upgraded, even though they've had about ten years to do so already.

Just stop watching TV (3, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552681)

There's really nothing on.

Re:Just stop watching TV (3, Informative)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552719)

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA!!!!

Re:Just stop watching TV (2, Informative)

Flentil (765056) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552767)

That's on cable, not broadcast TV.

Re:Just stop watching TV (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552889)

That's on TPB. Not everyone has access to US TV, you insensitive clod!

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552931)

I fail to see the problem.....

Re:Just stop watching TV (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553169)

The problem is that there is a show. You maybe get to see it when you're in the US, you may start to like it. Yet you come back home to your country and find out that it's not available. No network is showing it. Maybe you're in luck and you'll see it in a few years, when they got around to ruining it with completely inconsistant and/or ignorant dubbing. Maybe you'll never get to see it.

What should you do? You can wait, and see just how much they fucked up with the dubbing this time. If you want to see it in English, you're entirely out of luck anyway. And given any chance no network finds it "not appealing to the masses" and won't go through the hassle of dubbing it at all. Or they turn around and produce a horrible knock off (IT Crowd suffered this fate, for about 4 episodes) because hey, the dumb viewer doesn't know the original anyway so he won't notice.

Any suggestions?

Re:Just stop watching TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553359)

P2P looms large here. It's how we get Dr. WHO before the Scifi channel gets to cut it up and release it here.

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

Daswolfen (1277224) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553409)

its called Bit Torrent... ... know it, love it.

It's why I can watch Doctor Who and Torchwood when the come out, rather than waiting for them to air here. If it wasn't for BT, I never would have seen great shows like Merlin, IT Crowd, and ReGenesis.

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

Malevolyn (776946) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553031)

Yeah, but everyone has access to BitTorrent. Whoops, did I just let that slip? Sorry, major networks!

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

gavanm (79661) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553443)

"There are many copies"

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

mdalal97 (256621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552779)

that's generally not on broadcast television

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552821)

Isn't that on the verge of being finished anyway?

Re:Just stop watching TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553051)

You need a special viper and some spare cylons to receive Galactica transmissions OTA.

Re:Just stop watching TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553083)

It was on a few days ago :) Was fun to watch.

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553107)

I'm waiting for them to re-imagine Quark into a new TV series..

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553273)

I'm waiting for them to re-imagine Quark into a new TV series..

Probably turn Ficus into Mother-in-law's Tongue.

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

irving47 (73147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553461)

Only if Odo is the co-host. And it's a weekly variety hour format.

Re:Just stop watching TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553303)

which comes over cable or satellite. when you sign up for those you get a box with the subscription.

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

hendrix2k (1099161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552761)

You must be using analog... from the future.

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553149)

Nothing is analog in the future. Even you aren't analog in the future. The future is DIGITAL!

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553347)

Anything worth watching on TV is also on Usenet/PB etc.

Re:Just stop watching TV (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553487)

Hey, I think I read about you on The Onion! I'd provide a link to the article, but the meme of providing the article link in response to posts like this got old a while ago.

Paradox (5, Funny)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552707)

It's kind of impossible to get a useful answer to your question on Slashdot... You see, if someone gives you a valid link to something that is actually useful, it gets modded up. It will immediately sell out, and you're back to square one. :-)

Um.. WHY? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552723)

WHY would you want to waste your time even doing that? What's the point? There are DTV tuners on USB sticks that are likely easier to hack than some single-purpose hardware like these converter boxes!

Re:Um.. WHY? (2, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552765)

There are DTV tuners on USB sticks that are likely easier to hack than some single-purpose hardware like these converter boxes!

I have one of those DTV tuners on a USB stick. Where do I plug the TV into it? How can you "send your own MPEG stream and have it displayed" with it?

Re:Um.. WHY? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552819)

There are DTV tuners on USB sticks that are likely easier to hack than some single-purpose hardware like these converter boxes!

I have one of those DTV tuners on a USB stick. Where do I plug the TV into it? How can you "send your own MPEG stream and have it displayed" with it?

By plugging it into your computer's USB port and streaming Media Center to your Xbox of course.

Re:Um.. WHY? (2, Funny)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552947)

Cool. Can you give me a link to the source tarball for this "Media Center", and schematics for an Xbox?

Re:Um.. WHY? (3, Insightful)

vistapwns (1103935) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552991)

Do you have the source code and schematics to your TV and included cpu/roms? Or your microwave or washer/dryer? Car?

Re:Um.. WHY? (2, Informative)

teknosapien (1012209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553465)

Do you have the source code and schematics to your TV and included cpu/roms? Or your microwave or washer/dryer? Car?

well yea I actually do have these schematics, most manufactures include them in the cabinet of the appliance. So if you would just poke around those mysterious machines you'll find them

Re:Um.. WHY? (1)

pleappleappleap (1182301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553469)

Getting schematics and ROMs for my TV would actually be pretty easy. My microwave and laundry applicances are simple enough that the devices are self-documenting. I do have schematics and diagnostics/repair information for my car.

Re:Um.. WHY? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553035)

Since both of these are non-open source products I would have to say no. If you insist on doing it yourself and not taking advantage of millions of dollars already spent on R&D, then invent it yourself.

Re:Um.. WHY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553481)

It's been done, many many times. XBMC can do XBox streaming. It can do UPnP MediaServer "streaming". NFS, SMB, mDNS. It will run on generic computer hardware. There are dozens of other open source projects doing the same thing. Though none of them are particularly polished, this is essentially a solved problem.

Re:Um.. WHY? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552873)

Get a newer video card for your computer, THAT'S how! Even the cheap PNY Nvidia-based card I just bought recently has composite, s-video, and component video outputs on the back. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel!

Re:Um.. WHY? (3, Informative)

michrech (468134) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552771)

The DTV tuners on a USB stick won't be as nearly free as the converter boxes would be my first guess... ;)

Re:Um.. WHY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553275)

As far as I know, none of the boxes currently available for near $40 will give you HD, they'll only give you SD.

And, of course, the program is out of money so if you don't have your coupon, you're out of luck.

And the coupons expire any way.

Ars Technica's Don't Delay the DTV Transition [arstechnica.com] article makes some very good points about how Congres messed up the DTV converter program though a horrible compromise.

Coupons? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552729)

So I've finally gotten my DTV coupons

If you're so hard pressed for cash that you had to get a coupon for a converter unit then MPEG streaming should be the least of your concerns.

I thought that's what the coupons were for, poor disadvantaged people who couldn't otherwise afford them. Not slashdot hackers looking for some free stuff to mess with.

Re:Coupons? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552793)

>poor disadvantaged people

Well, from a relationship standpoint, slashdotters fit the bill.

And shush, you'll let the po-po know about his scheme.

Re:Coupons? (4, Insightful)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553089)

Nope, the coupons were to mitigate the ass-pain caused by having to go out and buy one at all. There are still plenty of people who don't have satellite or cable, even though they can afford it, because they only watch the weather in the morning and the news in the evening or some such. To them it's an added expense for no added benefit; hence the ass-pain mitigating coupons.

Re:Coupons? (5, Insightful)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553297)

There was nothing in the program about it being for poor disadvantaged people. They are for anyone affected by the lack of analog OTA signals. If you were affected, you were eligible. You just assume that anyone who still uses OTA signals rather than cable of satellite is poor and disadvantaged.

Re:Coupons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553431)

Hey, this is America, buddy! If I want a shitty, government-subsidized converter box, then I'll damn well get one!

God forbid the mouth-breathers not have access to free TV anymore. I guess our government takes the same approach to the ignorant masses that the Romans did: keep them fed and entertained and they'll be easy to rule over.

P.S. - What an age we live in! I can post to /. in the bathroom on a laptop as rivers of rancid diarrhea gush from my anus.

HDHomeRun (5, Informative)

raw-sewage (679226) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552749)

Not quite what you asked for, and I don't know if you can use your coupon (I'm guessing not)... but the HDHomeRun [silicondust.com] allows you two capture MPEG streams. It integrates well [silicondust.com] with MythTV [mythtv.org] . It has an open source library [silicondust.com] . Pretty sweet little device in my opinion.

Re:HDHomeRun (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553213)

The whole point of the coupon program is that they're not usable for anything close to that cool. The answer to the submitter's question is: none.

Seconded, kind of... (3, Informative)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553331)

I'm the happy owner of an HDHomeRun. It's a fantastic device, and I highly recommend it, but it's not a coupon-eligible converter. Normally, I would say to chuck the coupon aside and get it anyway, but the reason why the HDHomeRun isn't coupon-eligible is its lack of an RF output. You have to get the stream off the network, you can't connect it straight to the tv.

Now, I have a mythtv box connected to my TV, so that's not an issue for me. If you have a computer serving as a media center I most definitely recommend it, but if you just want the streaming as a bonus, and still want RF output, then it's not for you.

Again, this is not a criticism of the device. I absolutely love mine, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a way to stream unencrypted HD to their computers. Silicon Dust also has excellent forum support to help you set it up if you need it. However, if you want a converter box to hook directly up to your TV, this is not the device for you.

just sad (2, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552757)

perhaps you should throw out your coupon or give it to someone who can't afford to purchase one and missed getting a coupon. If you're looking to hack something you should use your own money to buy one and not mine.

Thank you.

Re:just sad (4, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552811)

use your own money to buy one and not mine.

It's just as much his money as it is yours. Not that the whole program isn't a boondoggle already.

Re:just sad (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552911)

You can look at it as "as much his money as GP's".

I suppose, then, that we're saying that a tax dollar belongs equally to all U.S. citizens.

Which means that even if it's as much his as mine, it's still roughly 99.9999997% not his money; less than a penny of the value of the coupon is "his", outside the purpose of the coupon program.

I agree with GP's sentiment. The program exists for a reason, and geek hobbying isn't the reason. Buy your own toys.

Re:just sad (3, Informative)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553143)

And how, again, is attempting to improve the functionality of the equipment somehow invalidating his claim to the money?

Are all consumers eligible for the coupon program?

Yes, but supplies are limited. There are 22.25 million coupons available to all U.S. households. Once those coupons have been used, there are an additional 11.25 million coupons available only to households that solely receive their TV broadcasts over-the-air using an antenna. Households with TVs connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service are not eligible for this second batch of coupons. Consumers can apply for coupons until March 31, 2009, or until the funds are exhausted.

From the governments website itself.

Re:just sad (1)

Cramer (69040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553423)

And, seriously, how are they going to verify that? Call up every cable company and satellite provider to run every name and address past them?

I'd bet the vast majority of coupons have been sent to people who don't need them -- they can aford a $40 converter box, and very likely don't need one anyway. The people who really could benefit from it, don't even know about the coupon program.

Re:just sad (4, Informative)

nsayer (86181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553451)

But the coupons aren't coming out of tax money, they're coming out of the license fees paid by Verizon for the 100 MHz of spectrum being taken away from the UHF TV band.

You could argue, I suppose, that it all comes from the US treasury and so it offsets taxes, but the linkage is quite strong, since the conversion to digital has enabled the extra spectrum to be leased, which brought in the funds to pay for the coupons to subsidize the converter boxes.

And yes, the conversion to digital really has enabled the band to be compressed. ATSC is more generous with adjacent channel allocation rules which allows the broadcasters to be packed in together tighter than was the case with analog. In particular, adjacent channels are allowed to be used by broadcasters transmitting from the same site. This is why channels 33, 34, 38, 39, 43, 44 and 45 will all be coming from Sutro tower post-2/17. You weren't allowed to do that with NTSC.

Re:just sad (5, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552919)

If you're looking to hack something you should use your own money to buy one and not mine.

If he has an analog-only TV, he is entitled to a coupon. End of story.

The poor people who didn't act earlier are also entitled to a coupon, but not his coupon. Any problems that the program is having getting coupons distributed are due to government incompetence, not coupon recipients.

These coupons are paid for from the proceeds that the government made selling the old TV bandwidth. They compensate TV owners for the diminished value of their property resulting from the government action, so the coupon fund is not your money to begin with.

Re:just sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553087)

And the crack head on welfare is using his welfare check to buy crack. It's fine because he's eligible for welfare right?

Ohh, crack's illegal. So he's using it to buy a 47" LCD TV. And of course complaining about not having enough for food.

Re:just sad (1)

Breconides (253014) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553099)

Even if the coupons were "paid for" by the proceeds from the bandwidth sale, that is still money that we could have put towards other things, thereby needing less tax dollars.

This is just another example of how with government regulation and socialism no one wins. Oh, except for the bureaucracy of course.

Re:just sad (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553235)

Sorry you are blatently wrong. A bunch of no-name cheap electronics manufacturers just made off with some of your money in a way that they never would have had the opportunity otherwise without your consent in a perfectly legal manner. Sounds pretty win for them.

Re:just sad (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553251)

Yes, everything is money that could have spent elsewhere.

If only you were in charge.

Which you aren't.

Possibly because no one cares what you want to spend the money on and you haven't convinced them to. I'm glad. I paid good money for a TV which would have stopped working after this transition and the fact that the government used part of the proceeds from selling off that spectrum on a program that provided me the money to retrofit my TV to work with the new system is appropriate to me.

You are just another example that people will find reasons to bitch about anything, except themselves of course.

Re:just sad (1)

SinGunner (911891) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553249)

I didn't get the impression that he currently converts his analog signal into MPEG, so it seems like he's attempting to use the coupon to upgrade his TV, which is not within the scope of compensating TV owners for the diminished value of their property.

Re:just sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552977)

I agree completely. The coupons are to prevent people from becoming disconnected from the media. They are not for this, and he is wasting our money. His too.

Re:Pffffffft...that's all of our money (1)

grocer (718489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553005)

The FCC took in 19.6 billion for the 700 mhz spectrum auction selling an asset of the US government...which last I checked is every US citizens.

Re:just sad (1)

gmor (769112) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553027)

If a company makes a hackable device, it's in everyone's interest for that company to be rewarded, so that more companies will make open devices. The question of whether the government is wasting vast sums of money on subsidies is independent. But given that thousands of Slashdotters will be using their subsidies (if they haven't already), let's direct those funds constructively.

I wish I had known of a geek-friendly device. Just to keep my old TV usable, I bought a random converter box, and now both of them are off for weeks at a time. I would use a more flexible computer-controlled one much more often. If you can kill two birds with one stone, why not?

Re:just sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553049)

Who the fuck are you?
Whe the fuck are you to judge what he is doing is wrong?
Who the fuck are you to judge?
Who the fuck are you?

Re:just sad (1)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553137)

Why should it matter to you whether he hacks his coupon-funded box, takes it apart for spare resistors and copper, or uses it to shim up a wobbly table? I mean, it's not like the coupons could be used to cure cancer. The stated intent of the program is watching television, for chrissake.

Re:just sad (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553329)

It's not your money or his money, it's Verizon's money. They bought a chunk of the 100 MHz of spectrum being given back from the UHF band, the coupons are coming out of that.

Re:just sad (1)

excesspwr (218183) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553349)

"give it to someone who can't afford to purchase one "

good idea. I'll put it up for sale on Craigslist

Republicans? (2, Interesting)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552805)

Why is this tagged republicans? Did I miss something?

Re:Republicans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552883)

Because the editors feel everything that dumb that happens as a result of government is the republicans' fault. It was funny at first. Now it's just sad, really.

Re:Republicans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552897)

Now it's tagged !republicans. If we had metatags, and I had a slashdot account, I would tag the !republicans tag !duh.

Re:Republicans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552957)

Because EVERYTHING is the republicans fault.

Re:Republicans? (1)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553241)

Not the good things...

Re:Republicans? (1)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553171)

I was wondering the same thing. I'm pretty certain that, some days, the editors here at Slashdot are too busy having Obamagasms to realize that you can't blame Bush or the Republicans for every government ill.

HDHomeRun (3, Informative)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552813)

Why bother hacking one when you can get an HDHomeRun [silicondust.com] that has dual-tuners and it is networked across ethernet! Now it won't directly hook up to any TVs or what not, just computers. MythTV and other favorite software suites works with it just fine. It does have a $180 USD price tag though last I checked of which makes it out of your reach if you're having to get a coupon for a DTV converter box...

Re:HDHomeRun (3, Funny)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552845)

Why bother hacking one when you can get an HDHomeRun...

It does have a $180 USD price tag though...

Seems to me as if you went a long way towards answering your own question.

Re:HDHomeRun (1)

repetty (260322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553483)

HDHomeRun

I have one -- it's great.

Two tuners; both do either digital broadcast or unencrypted digital cable. Run one tuner one way and one the other.

It's a network-based device so it can my used by one or two computers on your home network (simultaneously!)

Very different from a simple USB tuner.

Lame. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552835)

You know whats really lame? The fact that people would request a bunch of coupons and now those of us who requested just a single one get none.

You know what else is really lame?
The fact that our system is so fucked up that they have to force broadcasters to change over to digital.

Bah. I want my free cake and to eat it too!

Re:Lame. (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552937)

There was a limit of two (2) per household.

Small amount of help (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552887)

nformation on this will most likely be hard if not impossible to find. You are looking for a group of people tech savvy enough to have media streaming from their pc, yet ones that have televisions old enough that they do not have a digital receiver. (Unless, of course, your TV does have a digital receiver, and you are just grabbing coupons, helping the government run out, and therefore delay the switchover... but I digress) While this is the internet, and there is probably a google group dedicated to this, I can't imagine there will ever be a significant percentage of the population that would do this; Either go all the way with a (relatively) new TV, or give up.

Unless of course you are trying to put linux on one of these.. then by all means, go right ahead.

Re:Small amount of help (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553199)

Hmmm... a Slashdotter tries to get some use out of his analog TV, and you automatically assume he might not also have another TV in the house? How many TVs do you think the typical 'dotter (who is out of mommy's basement and qualifies for his own coupon) has? The coupon program wasn't for people who didn't have a single digital TV set. It's for people who have any analog sets using over-the-air tuners. The two are not the same thing.

Tivax STB-T9 (5, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552927)

Tivax makes a converter box which is only about $15 with a rebate card and has a serial port [avsforum.com] on the back. I got two of them with my coupons. You can control the unit through the serial port (turn on, change channel, zoom, etc). You don't get access to the digital signal, what you get is a good quality analog picture at standard resolution, which your analog PVR can record. For me this was what I wanted; the HD stream itself is a deluge of data; you really don't want to capture it at full-res if you'll be watching on an SDTV. (In fact my old PVR box isn't fast enough to replay full HD video streams, it requires considerable CPU). I am using wish scripts to send the serial commands. Perhaps somebody has written code for MythTV to use it by now.

Re:Tivax STB-T9 (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553033)

interesting. Now I wish I would have gotten one of those instead of my Insignia

Valid info (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552981)

For the chipsets used, you can check the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_CECB_units .

But as to hackability, I seriously doubt that ANY of these unit are sophisticated enough to run a real OS with some hacking potential. If you're a hardware wizard, you might be able to do something, but I don't see the value in spending lots of time trying to hardware hack a box which costs $10-$20 out-of-pocket.

Re:Valid info (2, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553385)

If you're a hardware wizard, you might be able to do something

The basic task involved for these boxes requires them to properly and fully decode the broadcast DTV signals, then (to qualify for the coupons) downsample the signal and reencode it as NTSC.

As a rule of thumb in hardware design, you make it as step-by-step debuggable as possible - Which in this case means planning for a tap after the decoding stage but before the downsampling stage.

I would fully expect nearly all of these units to require nothing more complex than finding the right place to attach a connector or three to pull the fully-featured DTV signal from it, at a cost less than dedicated units that do just that, and you get to stick Uncle Sam for a portion of the bill.


Or have we managed to dumb down the public enough that merely soldering a few wires or a connector to existing test points on a PCB has entered the realm of "hardware wizard"ry?

Re:Valid info (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553497)

Not only that but the purpose of these units is to create analog output. NONE of them are going to have a "raw stream" to grab.

S-Video with Apex 502 (4, Interesting)

sillivalley (411349) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553109)

The little Apex 502 is one of the few coupon eligible converters with S-video out.
If you have a TV or monitor with S-Video inputs, you'll get a better picture than using RS170 composite video (and much better than CH3/4 RF)

Re:S-Video with Apex 502 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553437)

First of all RS170 is black and white. You meant RS170A. Secondly, this myth about S-Video being oh so much better than composite is BS. Let me explain the big whopping difference between the two. S-Video sends the chrominance with associated burst on a separate channel from the luminance, which by the way is pretty close to RS170. On RS170A the sum of the luminance and chrominance signals are on one wire. I will admit that since everyone believes that S-Video is better that some engineers may have put more effort into routing this connection but from an analog perspective there really is no difference.

Well... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553175)

As far as using the output, there are ATSC converter boxes that can interface with the TiVo Series 2. Likewise, they could interface with anything that can accept composite or S-video and output IR signals.

Blonder Tongue makes ATSC demodulators that can work via Web or RS-232, but I doubt they're coupon-eligible, and like any professional AV equipment, the stuff is heavy, rack-mountable, heats up like a kiln, and will cost a li'l bit.

Your best bet is probably an ATSC capture device that works with MythTV. I won't begin to name any, since there are plenty out there. :-)

Dish Network (2, Informative)

dricci (470949) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553227)

Check out the Dish Network box. I admit, I haven't had a chance to actually try to use one of these, but the video I've seen of them in use looks really similar to their set top box firmware. Could just be some sort of theme though...

Re:Dish Network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553255)

Try reading the question next time.

He probably did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553493)

Dish Network makes one of the better reviewed analog to digital converters that is eligible for the coupon sales.

Re:Dish Network (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553267)

Woah.... how did you end up with that thinkgeek icon next to your name like that? :P

Probably hard to find now, but (1)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553383)

The Samsung SIR-T165 [audioreview.com] has a Firewire output that you can use to stream from your TV broadcast to your computer. However, later models have a lot more to offer in terms of stability and menu speed. A lot of these early models are slow and prone to locking up. They also don't receive channels nearly as well as the later models. But, if hacking is what you really want, go for the SIR-T165.

Use the Component Video hole (2, Informative)

Ped Xing (28860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553403)

Just make sure you get a converter box with Component Video out (also called YPbPr). Then you can use the Hauppauge HD PVR http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hdpvr.html to capture the hi-def video to a hard drive.

This is a solution that works for any HD settop box no matter what copy protection it provides, so long as it outputs component video.

Not sure what you're after... (1)

stalky14 (574130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553447)

Well, there's this [hdtvsupply.com] , but I think you'll need a few more coupons! If it's raw stream data you're after, you probably want one of the USB dongle tuners. I think there's a KWorld one out there for around $50. IIRC, their satellite DVB tuner cards were popular with the hacking community.

Warning! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553471)

Eat SHIT and DIE mother fucker!

Dear Submitter: You got a coupon... for this? (3, Insightful)

nobodyman (90587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553501)

No offense, I think hacking a DTV converter is a neat idea, but I think you've unwittingly highlighted a major problem with the DTV coupon program. I think the program was generally intended to ensure that people in fixed/low income situations would be able to receive television signals after the transition. Instead, the majority of coupons have been redeemed by early adopters/geeks who generally do not need a dtv converter in the first place or would have been able to afford one without a coupon. In my experience, most of the people I know that need a converter did not even know about the program -- the only ones who knew about it were fellow techs who haven't had an analog TV in years.

Now we have people (most notably the Obama administration) stating that the DTV deadline because the coupon program is out of funds and those very people that program was designed for *still* do not have a coupon or a converter.

So my question is: if this is just some "for the fun of it" lark that you're going on with these DTV converters, don't you feel like it was at least slightly unethical (or at least a violation of the spirit of the program) to get a hand-out from the government?

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