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Home-Grown TiVo Stories?

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the cheap-and-perfect-preferred dept.

Television 480

PolyDwarf writes "I'm in the process of figuring out how I'm going to build a homegrown TiVo machine (i.e. a computer sitting next to or in my home electronics stack). My question for is "What's worked best for you?" Most solutions I've researched are great if you have regular cable. However, satellite systems and digital cable boxes seem to present a special challenge, in that the software on the PC needs to know about an IR connector that is then hooked up to the front of the digital cable/satellite box. Who has done a solution like what I'm researching? What cases/processors/memory/TV Card/IR transceiver/OS/software/etc worked out for you? Did the end result justify the pain and hassle?"

cancel ×


Tivorules (-1, Offtopic)

obotics (592176) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776628)

No matter what, don't you have to subscribe to the tivo service? even if you build the tivo box yourself?

Re:Tivorules (1)

Berylium (588468) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776677)

He's talking about building a PVR that does all the functions of a TiVo without actually being a TiVo.

Re:Tivorules (1, Informative)

DankNinja (241851) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776684)

Check out Freevo [] .
It uses XMLTV for listings.

Tivo-like (3, Insightful)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776711)

He wants a computer based PVR, not TIVO. Happily, TIVO has not copyrighted the concept (yet).

Sounds like you want something small, silent and with one of those nice Hauppage cards - and a really big HDD!

Re:Tivo-like (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776788)

You mean patented the concept. With all the copyright and patent posts on slashdot, you'd think you would be able to tell the difference. If you can't think before posting, please leave your mommy's computer and go back to your sandbox, script kiddy.

Re:Tivo-like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776828)

Step off Jack.


Nina Simone, jazz singer, dead at 70 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776855)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - jazz singer Nina Simone, was found dead in her home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss her - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying her contributions to popular culture. Truly a musical icon.

Go Team! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776634)

f i r s t POST!

Re:Go Team! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776732)

No, you aren't!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Try again later.

Freevo and linux (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776638)

Freevo and linux have been working pretty well for me. Just setup xmltv and go.

Re:Freevo and linux (2, Informative)

Deffexor (230167) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776693)

Freevo can be found here: Freevo []

(for those of you who don't know how to use Google yet... ;)

Re:Freevo and linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776787)

Thanks. I've googled 6 times this morning and my hand is getting tired. Plus I think I'm going blind.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776646)


start with the right OS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776647)

The first thing to do is to start with a BSD-based OS. Then you don't have to worry about GPL infection.

Whoo Hoo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776648)

First post. =P

I am and will forever remain a coward.

What worked best? (-1, Offtopic)

Kelerain (577551) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776649)

My question for is "What's worked best for you?"

Not watching television.

Sorry, but its true. I watch less than 2 hours of TV a month, and don't miss it for a second. Sometimes I'll watch movies with friends or similar, but after the internet who needs a passive entertainment format with spoon fed concepts and ideals? Then again, I'm an avid slashdot reader.. Probably microsofts fault anyway.. Ok, I'll stop now.

Re:What worked best? (-1, Offtopic)

OS2_will_prevail! (630613) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776742)

Not watching television.

My God! There are two of me! When I got married (omg...7 years ago!) we decided we didnt have the money for a TV. After a couple of weeks, we decided we did not miss it in the least. (Of course, we were busy with "other things" at the time too...)

Re:What worked best? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776808)

and no one cares, the person that asked this question did not mention anything about a choice between, building a pvr, or not watching tv.

i wonder why people that dont watch tv have to justify it to others constantly. with all that free time i guess, they have nothing else to do

Re:What worked best? (1)

confused philosopher (666299) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776878)

Look at yourself. You watch TV and you still have time to harrass people as a Coward on /.

You are a model TV watching citizen, that all should look up to. /. is a lot like a Tivo. You can let the best parts build up, and then just watch the good stuff.

Mini-ITX form factor (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776650)

A great place to look for small form factor machines is over at [] , great small form factor stuff. For software, and a bit of scripting is your friend :D

Re:Mini-ITX form factor (1)

dwight_hubbard (239128) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776833)

Most of those boards have CPUs with wimpy floating point units that can't handle mpeg encoding of video and suck up most of the processor just doing decoding.

mythtv (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776651) looks promissing, version 0.8 works well, dunno about the receiver stuff as I just have cable.

Re:mythtv (5, Informative)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776839)

Yes, I'm very happy with mythtv. With the 0.8 release, it's split between a front-end and a back-end. You can record all your programs on one machine and watch the recordings (or live TV) from any front-end machine, even if the front-end machine doesn't have a tuner card of its own.

Mythtv also has hooks to execute any command you desire to change the channels. Plus a web front-end (mythweb) for viewing program info and recording a program or deleting old recordings.

It doesn't recommend stuff for you to watch and it won't think you're gay if you tape Will & Grace.

Noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776652)

I am only a few weeks into my project..but my biggest concern is noise. I would be interested to hear what cases/fans/disks people use to keep noise to a minimum.

Re:Noise (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776713)

Turn the TV off, the noise goes way down.

Re:Noise (4, Informative)

agilliland (657359) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776794)

seems like one good way to cut the noise and design a scalable system is to provide independent frontend and backend systems. I know mythtv does this. This way you can run a "server" that can do all your recordings and store all your media and be as loud as it wants since it will be anywhere in your house on a network. Then you can attach any number of frontend clients to tvs or monitors ... and those can be hacked down mini boxes of all sorts. To keep the noise down you wouldn't use HDD's or many fans, you would just netboot or boot from cd or floppy. There are also some using XBox as a frontend as well. Pretty nifty if you ask me.

Re:Noise (1)

MrGibbage (303753) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776881)

I put mine in a cabinet above my tv. I don't hear the fans at all. I have heard about some people using larger fans that rotate slower. There's some mention of them at Check it out.

Re:Noise (3, Informative)

craw (6958) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776882)

Check out this site [] for information about quieting your system.

Read avs forums (5, Informative)

scootr1 (159749) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776658) &forumid=26

They'll be your friend.

Regular cable is best, just because of TV tuner cards.

Also check out if you want to go the linux route.

My setup (4, Informative)

Kallahar (227430) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776663)

I have an old Celeron 433 with an STB TVPCI (BT848 chipset). For software I'm running IULabs IUVCR (their site seems to be down) which changes the channel and sets all the encoding options. Everything captures to AVI, which I then play on that computer or any other on the network (nothing has TV out yet)

For scheduling everything is run through the MS Task Scheduler and is under manual control.


Re:My setup (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776817)

1) Iraq didn't attack us. 2) Iraq doesn't have WMD. 3) Are we also going to "free" Iran, Syria, Egypt, SA, etc?

You're all burned up about the fact that it's working, aren't you? Syria closed their border with Iraq yesterday. Support for Hezbollah and Hamas is eroding in the republic.

If things keep up, we won't have to liberate those other countries. They're going to liberate themselves.

Buy a Tivo (3, Insightful)

pgrote (68235) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776664)

How many of these topics will we see?

They are $200 and you save time, money and effort. Even the geek effect isn't worth it this time.

Spend the money and help a company.

Here's a list of sites that can help if you're married to doing this:
Freevo []

Re:Buy a Tivo (3, Insightful)

niai (310235) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776722)

You cannot watch XVID, DIVX, real streams, or wmp streams using your TIVO.

Re:Buy a Tivo (1)

Evil Adrian (253301) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776750)

Isn't that why you have a computer?

Re:Buy a Tivo (1)

pgrote (68235) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776757)

And neither can my fridge. So what?

For 99.9% of the people in the world all they want is PVR functionality. For those .1% who want more 90% will never use the functionality they add. Never.

Add to this that 100% of statistics are made up and you'll see where I am going.

Re:Buy a Tivo (4, Insightful)

elmegil (12001) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776758)

And you will be stuck paying a monthly fee to the service provider until they go out of business, you may be locked into firmware upgrades which may restrict your ability to do things like skipping commercials, etc.

Personally, I prefer the idea of building something that I know I have full rights to modify as I see fit and don't have to pay perpetual fees for.

Re:Buy a Tivo (2, Insightful)

pgrote (68235) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776784)

That's great. So, can I have some of the time you have?

It's well worth it for me to have the best device invented since the car FREE MY TIME and no longer FORCE ME TO BE A SLAVE to the TV programming gods.

$4.99 a month and all I had to do was plug it in, connect three cables and turn it on. Kick ass. Count me in.

As for being a more open platform, check out:

Tivo Forums []

Re:Buy a Tivo (4, Insightful)

merlyn (9918) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776807)

You also don't get the quality of the program guide if you don't buy a TiVo and subscribe to their service. I've seen the public ones. No other guide service comes close to what I get from my TiVo.

Re:Buy a Tivo (1)

AnonymousComrade (465177) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776768)

And you can't make backup copies of (<cough>rip</cough>) DVDs with a TiVo. And you don't get the backend/frontend separation that comes with MythTV [] . And the geek effect is absolutely worth it! :-)

Re:Buy a Tivo (3, Informative)

Quarters (18322) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776843)

(cough)yes you can(cough)

TyStudio []

That, plus a DVD burner and life is good. Heck, it even lets you cut out the commercials before you burn.

Re:Buy a Tivo (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776861)

Forgot to mention... just pump your DVD player into the TiVO and use it as a dumb recorder. Then TyStudio the stuff off as an MPEG. Makes it dirt simple to archive shows too.

Re:Buy a Tivo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776769)

Tin Hats know Tivo is watching.

Of course, so are the cable and satillite companies.

Re:Buy a Tivo (1)

binaryslave (560472) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776792)

The problem with Tivo is that it is not just $200 dollars. You have to pay for the subscription so the hardware will work. That means shelling out another $200 for lifetime of the company or 10 bucks a month.

Re:Buy a Tivo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776809)

That's OK. I bought a very cheap Chinese 19 inch TV, so I have plenty of dough to buy a TiVo.

Why to do it yourself... (1)

I'm a racist. (631537) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776818)

The main reason I see to doing this myself would be to integrate everything.

I want an entire home theater system based around a PC. This means, no TV, no stereo reciever, no rack full of other shit. Instead, I want a PC, a nice set of speakers, a projector (and optionally a monitor too).

I want to be able to access all my media (movies, music, tv, radio, etc) from one interface. The big advantages to this are the convenience (assuming it works out okay), the space efficiency, the re-use/sharing of components (hence cost efficiency, maybe). This is quite possibly the best bang for the buck available (if it's really doable). Sure, there's also a geek factor to go along with it, but that's on top of the other benefits.

In my case, I don't care if it looks like typical home theater equipment. Afterall, it's not typical home theater equipment. A regular case is fine, it makes cooling much easier, and being able to put it somewhere to keep the noise to a minimum is nice too. A wireless keyboard/mouse/remote setup would be good for anyone who lives alone, because you could send the output to multiple devices (projector, regular tv, monitor, etc), but use one computer to control everything.

Having a central storage device, with the ability to backup to CD/DVD, is also a major plus. The upgradability and scalability are nice too. Let's not forget, the MPAA has no say about what features I might implement on such a system either.

Re:Buy a Tivo (1)

Synn (6288) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776845)

I own a Tivo and plan to build a media box one of these days.

For one thing, by building it myself I have a lot more options with what I can do with it: internet accessible, play DvDs/mp3/ogg/mpegs, etc.

For another, I won't have to put up with a monthly fee or ads.

With Tivo your box does what they want. If you build it yourself it'll do what you want.

Re:Buy a Tivo (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776853)

Actually, it's not so much the expense that is the issue as it is the lack of features. TIVO still stores captured programs in a proprietary (encoded) format that prevents you from directly downloading the content for burning on VCD/SVCD/DVD. It also (unless you purchase one of a series of NIC kits) does not have a NIC natively.

The $200 for a TIVO (which is the low-end version, read "small HD") is not that bad, but then you add more space, a monthly subscription, NIC kit, etc, etc. to get where you want to go and you ARE talking about a lot of money.

My personal favorite is MythTV ( It doesn't solve the satelite control issue, but provides for some really nice features. For instance:

1.Record/Playback via NUVRec (easliy ported to MPEG)
2.Web interface (remote scheduling)
3.Game center
4.MP3 player
5.Free channel listings download
6.Multiple TV tuner card (multiple recordings)

The cable t.v. route may not be as bad a deal as you first think. Many traditional cable broadcasts have improved in quality and selection. The quality isnt such a big deal because you're typically playing this back on a T.V. or going to SVCD with it. I will admit that the price cable tv broadcasters want to charge can be outrageuos. One of the biggest advantages is being able to have multiple taps into the cable tv line (no charge) and record multiple shows at once.

All in all I can see many reasons for the effort/hassle of a home-brew TIVO.

Re:Buy a Tivo (1)

subzero_ice (624972) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776885)

From your comments I thin you are one of those M$ people who are willing to shell out money for everything they want you to buy. Spend the money and make your life easier by keeping the remote control of your life in your hands.

Re:Buy a Tivo (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776887)

"How many of these topics will we see?

They are $200 and you save time, money and effort.

Even the geek effect isn't worth it this time.

Spend the money and help a company."

Or you can reuse an old computer and save the environment. *eyeroll*

Seriously, though, PC-based PVR != Tivo. You can (easily) dump shows to your laptop. I found that useful when I was sent on a rather boring business trip. You can also easily archive what you capture, which isn't very easy to do today with Tivo and related units. It may not seem that important to you, but the reason to do that is so that you can watch a show in order. You Farscape fans know what I'm talking about.

Then there's the whole matter of just being tinkerers. Why spend $200 (plus $10 you convienently forgot to mention) on a non-upgradable device when you've got old computer parts laying around that can do it almost as well + the benefits mentioned above?

I have a Replay TV today, and I'm quite satisfied with it. I still wish I had my old PC-based PVR, though. I liked watching Quantum Leap while fartin around on the net.

Re:Buy a Tivo (4, Informative)

oGMo (379) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776901)

They are $200 and you save time, money and effort. Even the geek effect isn't worth it this time.

It took me at most an hour to hack up a script to record using Ruby [] and mp1e [] from RTE. Here it is [] , and here's a sample listing [] . Real hard. Not. It finds dupes, conflicts, and can easily support multiple cards just by running multiple instances.

Granted, it doesn't track showtime changes, and it's not fancy at all. But it gets the job done, it was easy to write, it's easy to modify, and it's been recording all the TV I watch for the past few months without a hitch. It cost me an hour of my time.

Spend the money and help a company.

Why would I want to do that? TiVo isn't exactly a "nice" company, either. It might be one thing if these came with open specs for modification, pulling the files off and burning them, and modifying the source to do what I want. But they don't. And they won't.

Here's a list of sites that can help if you're married to doing this:

How could you forget MythTV [] , particularly when Freevo is just a ripoff of MythTV source?

just buy a damn tivo (5, Insightful)

Naikrovek (667) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776666)

they're not THAT expensive, and its probably not worth the effort at all to try and duplicate all that functionality.

I suppose its one thing if you want to do this for the purposes of learning how to do it, but if you're going to build it to try and save money, just buy a tivo. you're going to wind up spending as much or more money and a LOT of time fine-tuning everything to your preference, and working out little bugs with a self-built solution.

so, unless this is a project that's more about the journey than the destination, get a tivo.

Re:just buy a damn tivo (1)

Sosarian (39969) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776716)

WTB Tivo in Canada?


Re:just buy a damn tivo (1)

caino59 (313096) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776723)

oh come on.

with an id that low, you should have a custom pvr, at least two!

you naysayer!

may your geek status be revoked, please turn over your password now.

just kidding ;o)

good to see someone use common sense ;oP

Re:just buy a damn tivo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776731)

tivo is great for the average person.. but the programs are stuck in the box. it can only playback one stream at a time, and can only record one stream at a time.

this is simple technology that is going to become a commodity, particularly through cleverly written open source software.

Re:just buy a damn tivo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776747)

I agree, buy one, if possible get the integrated satelite/pvr unit. I've had a directv/tivo combination for almost 2 years and i love it. the unit was only $80 installed with a year contract (which was much cheaper than my cable bill) and they even lowered the monthly cost of the tivo subscription to like $5.95.

The best part of this setup is that I can record 2 shows at once because I have a DLB. Or I can watch one and record another. This is an incredible feature. It's quiet and works like an appliance. Although it might be fun to build one, it certainly isn't the most efficient in terms of cost or features.

Re:just buy a damn tivo (4, Informative)

falser (11170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776782)

Yup, don't go the homebrew route if you want to save money and have a robust, simple, solution. I'm in the process of building a freevo/mythtv box. It's a lot of work to get the drivers working, I'm getting poor performance with an AMD 1.4GHz machine, and the software is not ready for prime time. The remote control that comes with the Leadtek Winfast TV2000 is a little flakey - it works, but not all the buttons are functional under Linux. Overall it's just one big expensive pain in the butt.

There are only a few reasons that you might really want to go this route:

1) you already have the spare parts you need
2) you live outside the US where Tivo is unavailable
3) you like spending lots of time getting stuff to work in Linux
4) you absolutely need the extra functionality that Tivo does not give (DVD burning, network capability etc.)

Otherwise, Tivo with the unlimited subscription is cheaper and less hassle.

Re:just buy a damn tivo (1)

splattertrousers (35245) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776857)

TiVo has lots of flaws:

  • $13 monthly fee.
  • If TiVo goes out of business, you're screwed.
  • TiVo doesn't remember what shows you've seen, so it keeps recording the same ones over and over.
  • TiVo doesn't understand that there might be multiple people who use the same TiVo. Therefore there's no way to tell it that one person is ready to delete a program but the other person isn't.
  • If you want to record two shows simultaneously and don't have DirecTV, you need to get two TiVos (which is fine) but you also have to pay two monthly fees.
  • TiVo requires a phone line.
  • It's hard to add storage space to a TiVo. You have to crack the case, remove the existing drive, and replace it with a new one.
That's just some of the problems with TiVo.

Some guidance (2, Informative)

smalloy (600866) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776685)

Some guidance may be found at Search for "HTPC" (Home theater personal computer). Granted, the basic HTPC goes well beyond Tivo-like functionality and worries about things like progressive-scan DVD output, and doing Tivo-like things with High Definition sources.

What Ever Happened??? (1, Offtopic)

dirkdidit (550955) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776688)

What happened to the days of using a VCR? Yes its not cool or geeky or even the best quality but it certainly suffices for tape delaying a show. Plus a good VCR costs like $60 nowadays with tapes to be had for under a buck. Cheap and a tried a true technology(plus no monthly fee!).

Re:What Ever Happened??? (4, Insightful)

Nugget (7382) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776743)

What happened?

VCRs are being replaced by better technology that does more, better, and provide a much more useful experience. VCRs perform only a small portion of what a PVR does that it's really unfair to compare them.

The real win of a PVR is being completely insulated from scheduling and the learning capabilities which are able to record programs which you'll enjoy but aren't aware of yet.

Re:What Ever Happened??? (1)

Evil Adrian (253301) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776819)

VCRs perform only a small portion of what a PVR does that it's really unfair to compare them.

It's not, though. Most people use their PVRs to record stuff or to pause commercials. So, you ignore the commercial pausing stuff, and a VCR fits the bill.

At a quarter of the price.

And without a subscription fee.

Re:What Ever Happened??? (1)

steppin_razor_LA (236684) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776841)

You've got to be kidding.

VCR = terrible video and audio quality, poor scheduling, and limited capacity

Digital Cable is possible, but not yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776692)

Soon you won't have this problem with digital cable. CE manufacturers and the cable industry have agreed on a standard to allow for digital cable ready devices (like today's cable ready TVs and VCRs).

Soon (within the next year or so) you should be able to get a digital cable ready tuner card which would solve your problem. Since HDTV is sent over digital cable as well, dealing with HDTV is no problem either when you get ready for that.

Re:Digital Cable is possible, but not yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776903)

Since HDTV is sent over digital cable as well

Except for the fact that this is wrong, that is.

HDTV is most commonly sent over the air, using 8VSB modulation. It is also sent over direct-broadcast satellite. It is rarely sent over terrestrial cable.

MythTV, your mythical TV experience (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776697)

For a really nice PC based Tivo substitute, have a look at

Even more interesting, mythtv is starting to integrate support for a hardware MPEG2 encoder to be found at The first commercially available consumer MPEG2 encoder that has linux drivers;)

The set top box? (1)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776699)

Sure plenty of people have done this.

It's called the Set Top Box.

It was part of the dot com burst, I worked for a company called E-Cable that made their own servers running at the top of apartment buildings, which streamed video to clients with special outlets in their condo's. The company busted dot com style though.

Bell Canada also had a pilot project using servers and computers the size of VCR s called "Alex". Cyryx 233 MMX chips with special MPEG cards that streamed from the servers. This never materialized beyond a few prototypes in Quebec hotel chains.

Point being, you can find old hardware all over the place. But as a previous posted already noted, you need to subscribe to the service.

The obligatory (proactive) onion url... (3, Funny)

Nugget (7382) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776700)

To stave off all the wankers sure to fire up with their superior "I don't watch TV!" pablum, here's the obligatory article [] . Grow up, folks. There's plenty of quality programming out there and PVR's (TiVo included) are a great tool to filter the good stuff out from the worthless programming. Avoiding television because you don't like Survivor is like staying off the Internet because AOL is here. It just means you're incapable of scrutiny.

Re:The obligatory (proactive) onion url... (1)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776820)

Actually, no.

2003 is the worst year for TV.

Two CSI. Four Law & Orders. According to Jim. Big wolf on campus. Simpsons just plain out sucking; Funny but not well thought out like the mid to late 90's, CNN, etc.

What is good these days?

Really, I want to know.

Don't know how many times I'm going to post this.. (2, Interesting)

thedbp (443047) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776702)

My setup:

G4 500
200 GB internal storage
EyeTV TV tuner (1 coax in and 1 RCA video/audio in)
RCA video in/out
2 S-video out
1 S-video in
1 RCA audio in
1 RCA audio out
1 1/8" stereo miniplug in
1 1/8" stereo miniplug out
serial x 2
dual ethernet
DVD-RW (Pioneer 104)
Mac OS X Jaguar
Keyspan Remote
drives a 14" VGA and 27" TV
VCD DivX MPEG-4 etc. support
online scheduling w/ TitanTV
Full Internet Access
screen resolution on the TV up to 1024x768
and much much more

sound yummy? Its killer, and I'm putting together a web page w/ all the pics from the assembly and the final product.

Don't worry slashdotters, you'll get a peek at this beauty soon.

Re:Don't know how many times I'm going to post thi (1)

krow (129804) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776749)

So what do you think of the video quality?

Re:Don't know how many times I'm going to post thi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776862)

"Don't worry slashdotters, you'll get a peek at this beauty soon."

Yep, and then we're gonna slashdot you and your arrogant self-love into digital oblivion. God damn; I hate people that boast about their computer specs.

AIW (-1, Offtopic)

STiNGEREGNiTS (601786) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776707)

DO NOT BUY AN ATI AIW CARD for a total linux based solution. Not yet at least. I'm all over this idea with a friends help, but we can't get my AIW 7500 to work with mythtv or freevo. Any luck with AIW cards out there?

HTPC (2)

MrGibbage (303753) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776710)

First, check out Believe me, if it's been done, someone has written about it there. I have an HTPC (That's a home theater PC) which I love. I don't watch live tv on it, but I do watch DVD's. Now, some people have put tuner cards in theirs, and do watch live tv, and even have implemeted tivo-like features in them. What I really want though, is a directv tuner card for the pc. I know why there isn't a legal one yet, but I can't believe that no one has managed to make one yet. I'm not sure if there are any cable tuner cards yet.

Hope that helps.

Re:HTPC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776884)

I think there are several technical obstacles. The biggest one is that, so far as I know (and I haunt the sites) no one has ever broken the encryption on DirecTV HU cards. This means that while pirating is routine, you still need a *REAL* HU card in the system to do the actual decrypting. This also means that any alternate hardware would have to emulate the real DTV boxes with respect to the hardware and software interface with the card. It could probably be done, but it would require a great deal of custom-designed circuitry, and of course it would be illegal due to infringing patents and/or copyrights. So, it could not be sold openly. This is way beyond the capabilities of the average hobbiest to produce, and there's no future in trying to market it.

What works best? A REAL TiVo, ya cheap bastard! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776724)

Just suck it up and buy one, don't waste your life dicking around with disparate parts trying to build a somewhat reasonable facsimilie. The real thing fits perfectly in your entertainment center, and you don't have to worry about massaging any program data into whatever you've hacked up.

Just get the cheapest Series 1 that you can find on eBay, pay for the lifetime subscription, pump up the drive space, and add Ethernet. That's what I did-- no fuss, no muss.

Re:What works best? A REAL TiVo, ya cheap bastard! (3, Interesting)

katcoker (572335) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776738)

Only - you can't burn DVD backups of TIVO recordings. I have had my TIVO since Christmas 2000 LOVE IT, however am currently building a TIVO replacement because of the burn issue.

Re:What works best? A REAL TiVo, ya cheap bastard! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776798)

Only - you can't burn DVD backups of TIVO recordings.

Says you. I've done it on my G4, with an ethernetted TiVo. It takes some time, because I like to edit out the commercials and that adds a few steps-- but I do have a DVD of a couple commercial-free Simpsons episodes that was created when I worked out the process. []

Right now I'm trying to learn some of the development gewgaws on OS X so I can build GUI-based app to do retrieval and conversion to MPEG-2 parts of the process with a few clicks.


Here's a build your own walkthrough (3, Informative)

jd142 (129673) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776727) [] . Found it this morning for the earlier discussion.

I'm not sure it's worth the work... (2, Insightful)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776736)

I've looked into setting up something like this myself. I thought it'd be pretty cool to run a PVR using Linux with MythTV, but there are a number of issues that make it impractical.

First, I'm not sure at all what components to pick up for such an endeavor. Linux only seems to run the high-end stuff with any level of reliability, which begs the question of whether or not it is worth building something like this with Free Software if the hardware costs are enormous. But the overhead of using open source code rather than software written by the companies making the hardware evidently shows.

Second, trying to find a decent remote control for something like this seems pretty hard. I've heard of various solutions, but all seem to involve familiarity with device drivers and writing your own glue code. Not fun.

Then there is the sound card issue. Windows seems to make Dolby output easy, but just getting the sound card to run at all can be an issue under Linux. I run two -- one off the motherboard (through ALSA) and a Sound Blaster Live! through OSS, and I can't change the mixer settings on the Live! card. On Windows, it just detected everything and it worked.

So in conclusion, it seems like such a project might be feasible, but I don't know if it would be worth the time and investment. TiVos don't cost as much as I could see spending in time and money to homebrew a Linux solution. If you're looking for something even more powerful than a TiVo, you might as well sink the money into a Windows Media Center PC. These things will handle just about anything you throw at them.

I triple guarantee you... (-1, Offtopic)

Tuxinatorium (463682) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776740)

...In Soviet Russia, TiVo is not an AOL keyword and all Cowboyneal's base are belong to dying *BSD.

MythTV is great (5, Interesting)

foom (29095) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776746)

I just built myself a new MythTV ( box a few weeks ago with the following hardware:
Shuttle SK41G case+MB+PSU - $250
120GB Maxtor Fluid Dynamic Bearings 5400RPM HD - $130
WinTV dbx model 401 card - $100
Athlon 1800+ (I did not need to get this fast a processor, but I wanted speed left over for other things too) - $60
512MB DDR ram: $70
New remote control: $20
Total: $630

It works great, does ff/rew/pause of live TV, downloads TV listings off free websites, lets you record all showings of a show, has a webserver builtin so you can set recordings remotely, etcetc.

It also looks pretty and works great with a remote control so you really can use it like a set top box.

There are even optional modules for showing the weather, playing MP3s, and running various emulators/games.

It also supports multiple frontends and backends, so you can make an ultimate setup with 10 tuner cards and 20 TVs all connected to the same video storage if you're so inclined.


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776779)

Can't get more accurate than that. A lot of decent TV cards have remote controls that work with lirc which makes things inordinately easier than getting something external like an irman. Add an LCD from crystalfontz or something (MythTV has built in interaction with LCDd).

Re:MythTV is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776891)

You do realize that you could buy a Series 2 Tivo and a few years service for that price, don't you? Plus then you don't have to waste the time building the damn thing.


MythTV (4, Informative)

pz (113803) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776754)

The MythTV Project [] is what you want. As often noted on Slashdot, it does nearly everything that TiVo does, and a heapload more. It's open source, and under active development ... however, it's not quite at full functionality. The most recent stable release is version 0.8 and while not without some bugs seems to work quite nicely. I've paired it with a AVerTV Studio TV capture card, a Shuttle FV25 mainboard, and a Celeron 1.4 GHz processor. To my understanding, MythTV supports external tuner devices such as satellite systems. Installation/construction is straightforward but not for the faint of heart. Some RPMs exist for certain required components, but much of installation involves the "./configure; make; su; make install" cycle.

IF -- and this is a strong supposition -- you either have spare hardware laying around that's pretty strong (eg, in the GHz range rather than 100s of MHz) or have a weird bent on building your own systems, then by all means roll up your sleeves and dig in! However, if you are looking for the least expensive or easiest alternative, then buy a used or refurbished TiVo.

Cable. (2, Interesting)

labratuk (204918) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776760)

While the temptation to make a PVR is really great at the moment, what with mythTV and friends getting better and better, it really isn't practical at the moment. At least here in the UK, for me, it isn't.


All but 4 (well, 4.5 counting ch5) channels are sent through cable for me. Admittedly, those channels do have the better programming on, but it would be somewhat lame not being able to record cable channels.

For instance, I have digital cable (ntl). All the decoding is done in the cable box and shoved through to channel 7 on the tv. This means you can only record from one pre determined cable channel. Unless you somehow set up lirc to send a 'channel change' ir command to the cable box every time it wants to change cable channel. I've thought about this, but it would be tricky and probably unreliable.

The question really is: can I justify building a PVR for just 4 channels?

Re:Cable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776844)

actually it is reasonably easy and reliable, check for transievers

Re:Cable. (1)

dwight_hubbard (239128) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776856)

The functionality to handle changing channels on a remote cable/sat box via an external channel changing script is already in mythtv and supported.

Re:Cable. (2, Informative)

notNeilCasey (521896) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776889)

Many Digital cable receiver/decoders have a serial port on the back that can be connected to your PVR System and controlled by it using a script you'd have to write. Barring that, yes, you can set up a script using lirc to change channels.

From the MythTV FAQ:
Is it possible to have MythTV change the channel on my digital cable/satellite box, instead of my tuner card?

- Yes. In the setup program, under "Input Connections", you can configure a command to run whenever the channel needs to be changed on an input which does not have a tuner. In the 0.7 release, this was a global option in the configuration file, "ExternalChannelCommand".

My Answer For You (4, Informative)

dbretton (242493) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776766)

My question for [you] is[,] "What's worked best for you?"


Pandora Systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776771)

There is a small outfit selling pre-built systems that look pretty good. Box is called the Orpheus from Panadora Systems. Allows HD PVR and comes in a chassis that looks like a stereo component.

MCE clone (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776774)

Myhtpc seems to be coming along pretty well if you want to run your pvr on windows

Dear Slashdotters, (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776790)

My name is Laurie Garrett. I am astounded by what I've read here.

As I scanned the correspondence on this URL I found myself imagining tens of thousands of reasonably intelligent, energetic souls wasting precious moments of their lives and collective brainpower over an extraordinarily silly exercise. I saw an enormous web of cross-referencing and communication herein -- of wasted 'community'.

Ten years ago, before the Great Dot Com Crash, Silicon Valley pundits waxed eloquent about the great 'community' of the internet, and the 'new global democracy' it represented. But people, this is a fraud. Do you imagine for a moment that the participants in the WEF -- whether they be the CEOs of Amoco an IBM of the leaders of Amnesty International and OXFAM -- waste their time with Internet chat rooms and discussions such as this? Do you actually believe, as you type your random thoughts in such Internet settings, that you are participating in Civilization? In Democracy? In changing your world?

I beg of all of you -- the Internet addicts of the world -- to turn off your TVs and computers now and then and engage the world. Go have actual eye-to-eye conversations with your family, friends and neighbors. Read a great book. Argue politics over dinner with friends. Go to City Council meeting. Raise money for your local public library. Teach your 12-year-old algebra.

Climb a mountain.

Execute a dream.

Be a citizen of the real world.

As I read through the electronic conversation on this URL I was reminded of documentary I saw years ago about 'Star Trek' fans. In it, William Shatner (AKA Captain Kirk) stood before hundreds of people dressed as Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans and assorted other imagined aliens. Somewhat bemused, Shatner looked at the sea of masked and oddly dressed humans and said, "People, I have only one thing to say to you: Get a life!".


Avoiding quality degradation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776791)

All the above stuff is great - but - what if you are using a satellite source as input (e.g. Dish Network)?

My understanding is the Dish Network broadcasts in MPEG-2 format, and the receiver decodes this. If this is the case, then any solution which doesn't intercept the signal before its decoded with result in a degraded output. Tivo claims to work with Dish Network but so far I've received no response to an inquiry regarding whether or not they recompress the video. I'm assuming they do... and if so, any setup which duplicates Tivo will also suffer degradation.

So is there any way to get around this problem? Dish Network doesn't really provide any info. I would get one of their PVRs if I knew how to copy their internal hard drives onto my computer and be able to archive each show as an mpeg2 file without any recompression.

can tivo do all this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776795)

Aren't the tivo's with 80 gig drives more like $350-400? I'm sure there's a street price. But $200 seems a little low. Also can tivo serve as an mp3 jukebox, burn dvd's and vcd's?

I'm in the research phase of the same project. Inherited a free computer with a 500 mhz celeron.

Figure a 60$ tuner card, 100 gig drive (90) and a dvd burner (250?) will cost me the same as the 400 tivo. If I really want to get fancy I'll throw it in a $150 sound dampened black a/v computer case and I'll be good.

Of course that still leaves lirc to go, but I need something to do when I can't sleep.

my experience with a PC as DVR (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776825)

I've just installed an All-in-wonder 7500, and while it performs ok, it probably isn't as good of a solution as buying the real thing (tivo).

while i am allowed to schedule weekly recordings, the recording software sometimes crashes (if i try doing other things), which might not happen if you just have a dedicated box.

price-wise, i blew close to 200 bucks on hardware alone (card + HD) and am now getting mediocre performance.

i'm still satisfied that i can record tv shows, and convert my vhs to vcds (thank you apex:), but if you're looking for the best solution, i'd say go with tivo.

How about Alienware? (2, Informative)

valkraider (611225) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776826)

Alienware [] seems to have a good model [] , looks nice too. Apple [] needs to bring back the Cube [] for this very purpose...

Re:How about Alienware? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776896)

$1700 for the basic model and $2900 for the high-end one?!?! Jesus christ! I could petrify Natalie Portman or even hire a hit man to take out *BSD for that much cash!

Any cheap DVB capture cards? (2, Interesting)

tzanger (1575) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776868)

That's what's holding me back from going mythtv -- I am on ExpressVu and want to be able to save the MPEG stream directly to HDD or at with a minimum of screwing around.

There are some DVB PCI cards from Germany (ExpressVu is standard DVB, throw in your access card and you're done) but they're on the order of $400!! I've been through the schematics of my old 2700-series receiver and while I can tap off the digital audio, the unencrypted MPEG video stream seems to never leave the custom decrypt/decode chip. :-(

I suppose I could use RCA out and an IR mouse to change channels, but I am really looking for something I can put all in one box and, as I said earlier, not screw around.

Next up: "How can I build my own car?" (3, Funny)

markv242 (622209) | more than 11 years ago | (#5776869)

"I'm too cheap to purchase an awesome product from a company that needs consumers, so how can I build my own [insert product here]?"

This is -1 Redundant, but just buy a Tivo. The Tivo service alone is worth the subscription fee, and Tivo v2 users who have a Mac will absolutely love the new Media Pack, allowing for Rendezvous discovery of iTunes / iPhoto libraries.

If you want a Tivo, buy a Tivo. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5776904)

Seriously. It works.

I tried to roll my own. I bought an ATI 8500DV specifically because they touted their awesome TV-on-Demand capabilities. Seemed perfect.

8500DV: $235

Until I tried to use the damn thing. Oh. It doesn't work well with my motherboard. I was planning to upgrade anyway.

Refurb motherboard: $50
XP1800+: $95
ATX Case: $40
DDR RAM: $100

Okay. We're up and running. TV-on-Demand works great. Scheduling recordings isn't that good, tho. The software's pretty bad. Can't do anything automatically. Can't clear out old searches. No conflict resolution. Only a week's worth of data. And it sure wasn't cheaper than a Tivo when I figure in the cost of the new PC. But I can handle setting up scheduled recordings once a week. And the live TV stuff is great.

Oh. The live TV stuff stops working if the machine's been running for a few hours. Maybe I should upgrade to the latest drivers and software. Great. Now it doesn't work with one of my games. Try a different version. Now TV-on-Demand is worse. Try a different version. Hey! Finally have a setting that spits out SVCD format. Too bad TV-on-Demand is totally broken now.

And so began the downward spiral. After a few weeks, I just bought a damn Tivo. $200 for the unit, $80 for a network adapter (series 1), $250 for lifetime service. About what I spent on the computer solution with one major difference. IT WORKS. I can leave it alone for days, weeks, months at a time.
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