Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Build Your Own DVR

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the no-build-mine dept.

Television 267

prostoalex writes "If you have an old computer that had been laying around for a while and are ready to spend a bit on hardware to make into a Digital Video Recorder, this article from Make magazine contains a step-by-step guide on building one. The author spent $150 on TV card and $70 on BeyondTV PVR software." (And with a Linux-friendly capture card, MythTV would save the builder $70.)

cancel ×

267 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Kill all Muslims! (-1, Troll)

Kill all Muslims (845937) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395090)

In Jesus's name!

Why is this on Slashdot... in 2005? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395107)

This is like a Slashdot-with-trainig-wheels article. Doesn't everyone already know you can do this?

The guy is not so dumb as to waste $70 (4, Informative)

putko (753330) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395116)

The author's description implies the guy could have saved money if he'd used free software.

When I read this, I thought, why would someone who is smart enough to build a PVR waste money unnecessarily on software?

From RTFA, it appears that because the software is bundled, he didn't pay the $70. It was "free as in beer".

Re:The guy is not so dumb as to waste $70 (3, Informative)

bdc0 (541532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395139)

An the author does has his act together. There are various common problems such as automation that he explains work-arounds to. Sounds like he actually used the stuff.

In my experience... (4, Informative)

grolschie (610666) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395333)

There is currently no PVR software that allows capture to DVD. The ones that offer DVD burning, do it after the capture. Time consuming, not convenient. You still can't get close to the convenience of a box-top DVD recorder.

Also, just don't buy a TV card (or AGP card with TV tuner) made by ATI. You'll have nightmares with drivers and ATI software like the rest of us ATI users do.

Re:In my experience... (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395455)

Even if the software supported that feature, it would be a mistake to use it on most systems. DVD burning is something you have to do all at once, unless you're short of coasters. Running a lot of CPU intensive processes, such as recording and TV show and encoding it to DVD format, has a high liklihood of causing a fatal interruption. Maybe you could do it on a high-end system -- but a consumer DVD recorder [macmall.com] is a lot cheaper.

Set top boxes (2, Interesting)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395456)

Unless I'm mistaken, all set top boxes that can record as they go- can't fit nearly the same length of video on a DVD as a PC can that encodes after the fact, for the simple reason that they can't pick the VBR

(this was at least the case for some first gen machine I looked at)

I'd rather have 2 hours & 10 mins of DVD that took 2-4 to encode, than 60 minutes recorded in real time...

Re:Set top boxes (2, Interesting)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395776)

I'm not sure if you are tlaking about PVR's that have dvd burners or set-top dvd burners, but my set-top dvd machine can burn anywhere from 1 hour up to 10 hours on a disk (Although I've never tried more than the 4 hour setting since even at that setting it starts to look as bad as vhs).

Re:In my experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395657)

Geez I wish I'd read this 3 days ago. I bought an ATI tv wonder pro thinking it had ok driver support but in my haste, I didn't realize the "pro" part of the name implied it had a completely different chip inside, the os driver is barely a hello world program, and of course ati driver support is shit.

I wrote a long rant at ati.com but the session timed out before I could submit and now I'm all pissed off and now am seesawing between trying to help write the driver and just jacking out 150 on a different card.

More than $70... (5, Insightful)

jmcneill (256391) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395117)

The author spent $150 on TV card and $70 on BeyondTV PVR software." (And with a Linux-friendly capture card, MythTV would save the builder $70.)

Lets not forget the license fee for Windows XP -- that's significantly more than $70, I'm sure.

Re:More than $70... (3, Funny)

nxtr (813179) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395141)

But in reality, who worries about their Windows XP license fee?

Re:More than $70... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395236)

People who don't want to go to prison?

Re:More than $70... (2, Interesting)

homeobocks (744469) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395248)

People in Canada. Woot!

Re:More than $70... (2, Interesting)

JWW (79176) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395284)

A lot of MythTV users build their own machines.

Buying the "Other" OS for that box is expensive.

Also, my myth box has never been tainted by having ever had that other operating system touch its disks ;-), unlike the machines you buy from Dell or whoever.

Re:More than $70... (1)

hillg3 (656728) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395313)

sure, but then we might as well factor in the original cost of the computer - so who knows how much it costs now.

Re:More than $70... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395361)

Had you read the article, you would have learned that he had an "extra" license for Win 2000, and that is what he used. He mentioned upgrading to XP, but said that he didn't.

Re:More than $70... (1)

jmcneill (256391) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395504)

Had you read the article, you would have learned that he had an "extra" license for Win 2000, and that is what he used. He mentioned upgrading to XP, but said that he didn't.

The article summary suggests that this is a possibility for others who are looking to build a personal video recorder. Had you read the Slashdot summary of the article:

If you have an old computer that had been laying around for a while and are ready to spend a bit on hardware to make into a Digital Video Recorder, this article from Make magazine contains a step-by-step guide on building one.

Sorry, we don't all have "extra" Windows licenses lying around.

Re:More than $70... (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395754)

"Lets not forget the license fee for Windows XP -- that's significantly more than $70, I'm sure."

That's one of the reasons I keep my Win2k cd around. No calling home to ask for permission to run.

For the record, Win2k makes for a great OS on a PVR machine. The one I built worked for months without a problem. (months as in up-time.) The only reason I shut it down was because I didn't have room for it when I moved.

The author actually spent (3, Informative)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395122)

$150 on the capture card and didn't have to spend $70 on the software because it came with the card.

Yeah I admit it, I rtfa.

Re:The author actually spent (2, Informative)

dragon_imp (685750) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395370)

Of course, it would be nice if the article wasn't misleading. In this case, "bundled" does not mean "free as in beer."

Hauppauge's PVR-250 comes bundled with both BeyondTV and SageTV -- TRIAL VERSIONS! Both have 30 day trial periods.

I have 3 of the PVR-250 cards and I chose SageTV for my Home Theater PC [terrystockdale.com]

Re:The author actually spent (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395747)

I bought my pvr-150 bundled with a FULL version of BeyondTV 3.5. So there...

The idea has some merit, but... (5, Insightful)

holyshitholyshit (877523) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395128)

1. an old computer is going to be a big hulking mess compared to a DVR

2. the DVR will use much less wattage

3. the DVR doesn't cost much more anyway

PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395205)

1. an old computer is going to be a big hulking mess compared to a DVR
2. the DVR will use much less wattage
3. the DVR doesn't cost much more anyway


Amen, thank you.

If I could get a DVR for the price of TV card + the software, and no more hassle, I'd buy one.

In fact, it would solve the problem of getting digitised programs off a standalone DVR. However, as this would require leaving my computer all the time (wattage, noise), and more importantly, restrict what I can do with it (bad enough if you use Windows and want decent recording quality- means you can't run game X when your favorite program is on; I run Linux, and not being able to boot into that at will is a killer, straight off, for me).

The 'old computer' is, as you say, still going to be bulky and noisy (and ugly), and quite honestly, if you want analog recording, you're going to need a pretty decent machine to capture at full resolution. The only machine I can dedicate to this (I use my laptop as a wireless X server for my main machine) is my old Pentium-233. *Way* too slow...

So, buy a new PC. Cheap one? Still noisy, bulky, and power hungry; and no cheaper than a standalone box, if slightly more flexible.

Shuttle-type case (nano-ATX where the *hell* are you?); getting expensive, and I'd have to start questioning the merit of not just getting a standalone DVR.

For me, the latter are likely to come down in price to mass-market breakthrough price by the end of the year; the main problem is getting the video off them. But that in itself isn't enough to persuade me to spend more on the 'cheap' option of a new PC.

On the other hand, maybe I just don't care enough about TV to consider the ultimate flexibility that a new nano-PC based solution would give to be worth the money. I'll wait for my cheap off-the-shelf box and use my VHS recorder in the meantime.

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395257)

If I could get a DVR for the price of TV card + the software, and no more hassle, I'd buy one.

Can you?

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395355)

Badly-phrased; I should have said "If I can convert a PC into a PVR for the price of a TV card + the software, with no more hassle, intrusiveness or power consumption than my current VCR, I'd buy one."

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395871)

But a PVR is considerably more useful than a VCR. Why does it have to have the exact same footprint to be acceptable? (note: your new phrase of question changes the meaning significantly)

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395346)

(all prices in Canadian $$$'s)

My DVR is on a dedicated IBM NetVista desktop box (P4-1.4Ghz, 256MB ram) I got refurbished for $200. It has a 180watt power supply which is whisper quiet and has more than enough to juice for the components I have inside. It's currently got a 200GB hard drive I picked up for about $100, an Asus E616 DVD rom drive for $40 (the quietest region-free DVD drive made I think) and a low end ATI radeon card with TV-out for about $50. For capture, I use the Plextor m402U, which cost me $129, also in Canadian funds. Last but not least since I have a satellite dish, I picked up an IR blaster for about $20. Grand total about $400 Canadian. Then I threw MythTV on there and now I have a DVR that is better than anything sold on the market today. Best of all since the Plextor divx encoder does it all in hardware over USB2, I can add a second or third with almost zero extra load on the machine.

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (5, Insightful)

The Vulture (248871) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395372)

Some people like the simplicity and cheapness of a commerically available DVR. Some people prefer to build their own. I say, to each their own. Building a DVR isn't for everybody, and it can be quite expensive.

My reasons for building my own (using MythTV):
1. I can put in multiple tuners. Two tuner units came out six months ago at best, if my memory serves me correctly. I've been using two tuners for over a year now, and I now have three tuners in my machine (a PVR-250 and a PVR-500). This is very convenient when there's three shows on at the same time that I want to watch. (A typical Tuesday night at the moment has Law and Order: SVU, The Shield and Masterminds all on at the same time, 10PM). The scheduler in MythTV can accomodate that fairly well with only one or two tuners, mind you.
2. The user interface on a lot of the DVRs that come from the cable companies is awful. It's slow, full of ugly colors, and unstable
3. I use my MythTV machine as my file server as well. So, I was going to have the PC on 24/7 anyway.
4. MythTV plays back DVDs also, not many DVRs currently do that.
5. I have complete control over the unit. I can skip commercials at will. I don't have to worry about my DVR expiring shows on me (except when I run out of disk space). My demographics aren't sent to some company. My DVR doesn't pop up ads on me.

I picked MythTV because it met my needs. If a Windows program worked well for me, then I would have used that, just to make it simple.

-- Joe

You missed one big drawback (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395760)

Forget about DVD players; do any DVRs have DVD burners? If you're enough of a TV fan to want a DVR in the first place, odds are there are at least a couple TV shows you enjoy enough to want to archive indefinitely or take to friends' houses. MythTV doesn't do DVD or DVD-ROM burning itself yet, but if you're willing to go outside the Myth interface there's other free software capable of doing the rest.

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (0, Troll)

NineNine (235196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395761)

Maybe, just maybe, instead of wasting so much time building PVR's, you should take some time to think about your TV fetish and realize that you're wasting your time watching and recording absolute crap. I would contend that there is virtually nothing on TV worth watching, hence, my lack of a TV.

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (4, Insightful)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395847)

Your argument against is actually the beauty of PVR's.

TV full of crap? Get your PVR to record the few shows a week you actually like, that are often on at stupid hours. Then you can sit down at your lesiure and put on whatever you like from what your PVR's recorded over the last few days.
Use a PVR as to filter out all that garbage, and suddenly TV is a lot more tolerable.

This is the main reason I have a PVR. It (MythTv) also holds my entire audio collection, about 100 DVD's and 2500 digital photos.

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395808)

I'm just curious, how much did that WinTV PVR 500 cost you and did you have an easy time getting it to work? I'm thinking of buying one for use on Debian Sarge in my own DVR, recording antenna TV. Please reply...

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (2, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395823)

>Two tuner units came out six months ago at best, if my memory serves me correctly.

Not true. My old hughes tivo has been doing two tuners for three years now. I paid next to nothing for it (well under $200) when I got DirecTV and am floored by what people are spending on DIY approaches. To each is own indeed, but when the DIY costs twice as much as a stand-alone its a geek hobby like case-moding or building the fastest and latest and greatest for idle cycles or the occasional game.

>The user interface on a lot of the DVRs that come from the cable companies is awful.

I can't speak for other brands, but my Tivo has a great interface and remote.

>My demographics aren't sent to some company.

You can opt-out of Tivo demographic data. Call em.

>My DVR doesn't pop up ads on me.

Mine doesnt either.

Granted, if you want a file server, DVD burner, etc then go the DIY approach, but the commercial products certainly are not as bad as you make them out to be.

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (5, Interesting)

kfhickel (449052) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395418)

wrong, wrong, wrong.

The power of a PC based DVR (I use BeyondTV myself even though I have a linux server in the house too), is not that you put one next to every TV. That would be "stupid". Instead, you put one in the basement where you don't care if it's noisy, then you put a $90 MediaMVP box from Hauppage on each TV, and wire it to a switch.

Compare that to putting a TIVO on 4 TV's, even if you get the box for free, it's $1200 for the lifetime guide access (which is free with BeyondTV), and then more money if you want the home networking option so that you can move programs from one TIVO to another.

Now, my setup cost more than $1200 (but not that much more), but then my BeyondTV machine is also my X-10 house controller machine, is a 3.2ghz p4 hyperthreaded with 1gb of 800mhz dual channel ram, a 100gb 7200rpm disk for the OS and 4 seagate ata133 7200rpm 300gb drives in a stripe set for the data volume. It's also my backup server. And I can watch any program from any TV in the house.

I've got right aroun $1500 in the machine, including the OS and software licenses and 4 MediaMVP boxes for a total cost (not including network switches, etc) of $1820 (I got a deal on the MVPs) for 4 TVs, and I could have another TV for free if I put the server next to a TV.

4 TIVOs would cost more like $2000 (200/box plus 300 guide fee) and would have a lot fewer features and much less storage, and some amount more for the networking option.

So....

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395458)

But a standalone DVR is so limited in functionality, at least for now. In a few more generations, I suppose they will catch up with what a livingroom PC can do today - not just VCR functionality, but play (networked) video games, DVDs, huge capacity music jukebox, hold all your photos for a slide show, burn shows (or anything else) to DVD... plus whatever WebTV does.

I'm not saying a livingroom PC is right for everybody, but it probably makes sense for a lot of slashdot readers.

Mine is an 850 mhz computer I was retiring. Simply replacing the power supply with a quiet one, plus setting the hard drives to auto power-down, took the noise level below the heating, and the refrigerator in the next room.

It also hosts VNC desktops for my family members, accessible by laptop and the desktop computer in the study. I can even call up my wife's desktop from work to help her figure things out on occasion when she phones for help. And I run Linux Advanced Routing to prioritize VOIP traffic, which keeps the voice quality fine even when I'm listening to music at work (also streamed from my livingroom PC - no mp3's on work computers!).

Again, not yet for everybody, but it's all very nice and natural once you're accustomed to it.

Re:PC-based DVRs have massive drawbacks... (1)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395713)

nano-ATX where the *hell* are you?

Mini-ITX: 6.75" inches square

http://www.mini-itx.com/hardware/intro.asp [mini-itx.com]

Thinking about getting one of these as a MythTV head...

Re:The idea has some merit, but... (3, Insightful)

segmond (34052) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395404)

who has a 1.8ghz lying around? My main PC workstations are 450mhz.

Re:The idea has some merit, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395744)

who has a 1.8ghz lying around? My main PC workstations are 450mhz.

I get decent video quality on my 1 GHz box with software compression. Some newer TV tuners compress to MPEG in hardware, so a 450 MHz machine should be enough.

Re:The idea has some merit, but... (4, Insightful)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395579)

BUT...

DVRs (like Tivo, Replay, etc)may be commonly available where you live, but the aren't everywhere.

Here in Canada, the options for off-the-shelf DVR are:

1) whatever your cable company/satellite proivider will provide.

2) a set-top DVD recorder

3) buy a used Tivo/Replay box on E-bay and hack it

4) there is no 4

Interesting but pointless (0)

nxtr (813179) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395130)

My local cable provider carries only plain channels on analog cable. If I want specialty channels, I gotta get the digital set top box. It becomes impossible to DVR with a PC. Their solution is to get their set top box with DVR functions. The do-it-yourself DVR is a great idea if you like having 70 channels to pick and choose programming from.

Re:Interesting but pointless (3, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395148)

Well, MythTV (for one) supports infrared control of an existing cable box, so you get all the channels on the PVR you just use the set top box's tuner.

Re:Interesting but pointless (2, Informative)

JWW (79176) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395301)

It also recently got firewire support for use with cable boxes that have firewire output

Re:Interesting but pointless (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395818)

Really? As Johnny Carson used to say, "I did not know that."

Re:Interesting but pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395320)

It becomes impossible to DVR with a PC.

Heh? That won't have until July. And, only if the consumer electronics manufacturers cave.

Re:Interesting but pointless (4, Informative)

g8way (547878) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395384)

MythTV now supports capturing TV from a set-top box through Firewire-which would also save you the expense of a TV tuner card.

Free pvr software (4, Interesting)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395132)

Don't forget that one can get excellent free PVR software, too. In fact, I'm surprised that Make Mazazine didn't go this route -- far more the DIY style. I run GB-PVR (www.gbpvr.com), which can handle DivX, audio, etc. and has plugins for weather, cartoons, and is skinnable. It enables you to select free tv listing from zap2it which cover Canada and the USA, and also supports various XML listing feeds for elsewhere on the planet.

I also recommend checking out the Hauppage (www.hauppage.com) PVR-150 through PVR-350 series, as well as their MediaMVP box, which allows streaming your tv across ethernet to your television. I suspect you could create a very useable system with free software for well under $100. Just be warned that you'll chew through about 2GB per hour of HD space. The old 30GB drive that's serving as my PVR storage doesn't really cut it in the modern world!

Re:Free pvr software (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395265)

Might as well cover titantv.com listings as well.

Though currently I do use zap2it service as well, but really everyone in some fashion is using zap2it. Most individuals just don't know your listings are coming from the same place.

If you can spare the time to get MythTV to work (3, Insightful)

mauriceh (3721) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395134)

Reliably?

Myth has a long way to go yet.
And some really awkward assumptions for defaults.
"No, you should not see the cursor, that would be too easy to use"

Free does not necessarily mean "best"

Re:If you can spare the time to get MythTV to work (2, Informative)

w.p.richardson (218394) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395153)

Answer: Knoppmyth [mysettopbox.tv]

Problems solved.

MythTV would save the builder $70 (0, Redundant)

dhofstra (865358) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395146)

Mythtv would have saved him 70 bucks, and not having paid windows tax on the machine in the first place would have saved even more. I've been a completely happy mythtv user for about 1.5 years, and I am just blown away at it's quality and reliability. Good job isaac and company! Dave Hofstra

Re:MythTV would save the builder $70 (1)

HillBilly (120575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395431)

I would rather have my teeth removed through my arse then try to Install mythTV again. I created a partition on my htpc box for linux and mythtv. Big waste of time.

Re:MythTV would save the builder $70 (1)

dhofstra (865358) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395514)

You are hardly the typical slashdotter then. Using knoppmyth you could be up and running in literally 1 hr. I have used Mandrake and Suse both, and could get those distros up and running in only a few hours. Plus, there is plenty of good documentation on the mailing list, and IRC channels if you need any help.

Re:MythTV would save the builder $70 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395891)

I would rather have my teeth removed through my arse then try to Install mythTV again.
I can understanding wanting to try to install MythTV again, but why on Earth do you want to have your teeth removed through your arse first?

And for $99... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395155)

You can buy a TiVo that works out of the box...

Re:And for $99... (1)

Armadni General (869957) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395354)

Mod parent up. He speaks the truth that nobody wants to hear.

Re:And for $99... (1)

SpudB0y (617458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395362)

Circuit City has them free after rebate occasionally.

Free as in beer.

Re:And for $99... (2, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395441)

You can get dirt cheap inkjet printers and razor handles too.

Make that $398 (1)

antizeus (47491) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395448)

That's $99 for the box, and $299 for a lifetime subscription (or else about $13 a month if you don't get that).

It's probably still worth it, though.

Re:And for $99... (1)

PR_Alistair (819738) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395470)

No Tivo in Canada.

Re:And for $99... (1)

FredThompson (183335) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395535)

There is no commercial TiVo schedule feed for Canada. There is a very active Canadian hacking community with filters to grab scheduling information from the web and use TiVo hardware on the Northern side of the border.

Re:And for $99... (1)

PR_Alistair (819738) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395590)

If it were any harder than plugging it in and turning it on, I'd just use Myth.

EFF shameless plug (4, Informative)

NotoriousQ (457789) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395162)

In honor of Broadcast flag becoming law on July 1st, EFF hosts a Broadcast flag awareness and PVR building page [eff.org] with many resources on how to build you own. A good starting place to see many solutions and find many links

probably better to just get the real thing (1, Insightful)

updog (608318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395181)

You could build it yourself, but even after many hours of tinkering you're still going to have a product which is:

-noisy
-unable to record more than one digital channel at once, and you'll still need a cable/satellite receiver to record digital at all
-terrible form factor
-clunky user interface
-limited epg (electronic program guide)

I'm usually all for tinkering and rolling your own, but in this case I would suggest just getting a Tivo, or better yet a DirectTivo or a DVR through your cable company (usually an extra $10/month). Everything will just work, you can record multiple digital channels at once (even multiple HD in many areas), and some DVR's even have music/games/pictures software built in.

Re:probably better to just get the real thing (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395208)

MythTV has stuff like weather, news headlines, etc.
It was a pain in the ass to set up for me though. Driver support for some cards is dismally bad.

Re:probably better to just get the real thing (3, Informative)

The Vulture (248871) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395304)

Yes, MythTV can be a bit of a pain to setup, and yes, driver support for some cards is bad.

I know that I'm going to sound like a total ass for saying this, but... You need to do some research.

If you read the mythtv-users mailing list, you'll find that the PVR-250 seems to be the best supported card (unfortunately, unless you have one of the newer ones). PVR-150 support is iffy, but I have a PVR-500 and a PVR-250 (one of the first generation ones) working fine, with a driver that is listed as "testing" in ATrpms.

I have absolutely no problems setting up MythTV, in fact, it's basically copy/paste. Why?
1. I use supported hardware
2. I use ATrpms for the RPMS (on Fedora Core 3)
3. I follow Jarod Wilson's MythTV HOWTO at http://www.wilsonet.com/mythtv/ [wilsonet.com] , which the community contributes to in order to keep it up to date
4. I read the mythtv-users mailing list (and the -dev list, and ivtv and atrpms-devel as well, but most users don't need to do that).

-- Joe

Re:probably better to just get the real thing (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395750)

Well, when I set it up it was "use the hardware I had" as opposed to getting the 250 (which I understand is kind of hard to find now because so many people want them)
I was using the pcHDTV(TM) HD-3000 (the one the eff reccomended which avoided the broadcast flag).
Didn't work 100% of the time and no errors popped when it didn't.

To be fair, while building it, I came across a whole bunch of other problems (bad ram, a hard drive that was funky, video card was a pos), but it really bugged me that I had spent 20+ hours setting up a glorified VCR.

With KnoppMyth, you probably would get running in 20 minutes with your setup. (so yeah, everyone else who is reading this, get the 250 or some hardware from their tier 1 list, save yourself some angst)

Re:probably better to just get the real thing (1)

NotoriousQ (457789) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395334)

Meanwhile with a standalone TiVo and a separate receiver, you get:
-analog
-separate box with poor channel control
-multiple remote controls
-same crappy epg, as now the boxes are not connected
-one channel at once period
-"updates" that remove features you want
-additional monthly subscription

With a PVR supplied by your TV company, you get:
-recording of only those shows they want you to record. Just wait for broadcast flag.
-"updates" that remove features you want
-potentially poor choice of options (good luck attempting to upgrade the drive on the receiver you do not own)
-inability to extract shows in a easy to rad format

The ready solutions have a lot of problems as well. I am taking the option of rolling your own. At least I will be able to record the Superbowl (the first thing that will for SURE broadcast flagged) when my friend asks me to.

Re:probably better to just get the real thing (1)

updog (608318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395606)

-recording of only those shows they want you to record. Just wait for broadcast flag.

No, all DVR's I'm aware of currently allow you to record whatever you want to record. Even with the broadcast flag, with your cable-company provided DVR, you'll still be able to record what you want, you just won't be able to re-distribute it (which you can't currently do anyway with a cable-company provided DVR's, because the streams are re-encrypted before being stored to disk).

Re:probably better to just get the real thing (1)

NotoriousQ (457789) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395919)

you'll still be able to record what you want, you just won't be able to re-distribute it

How can you be so sure of this. For now all DVR's are letting you record what you want, but sooner or later someone (most likely NFL) have a reason to not want recording of their show to be made (perhaps they want to sell the broadcast of the superbowl on DVD). Then they find themselves in position to be able to stop all recordings, and poof...bye bye to your DVD. Some will complain, but since it is one show, and not that heavily recorded, the number of complaint will be few, and they will be quashed. Then they will take away another show, and then another, and then the only thing you will be able to record are the sitcoms and the local news.

By the way, I made a mistake on the Broadcast flag, as that will affect over the air recording only. The cable companies will introduce / have introduced their own recording flags, which their own receiver / PVRs support. Law is not going to matter on cable.

But returning to the discussion...when the cable / sattelite will say you will not reord this show...you will not record that show with their PVR period. Not even in degraded quality. The whole point of having a standalone box is that you will be able to ignore all their rules completely.

It may be difficult, but it is certainly more free.

Re:probably better to just get the real thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395371)

But of course a commercial product will not allow you to do the following things:

- backup DVD's or CD's to your hard drive for watching on other PC's in the house
- stream live or pre-recorded tv to other pc's in the house
- re-encode files to different formats depending on the quality needed (eg: low bitrates for exercise shows)
- replace specific components when technology matures (I just threw out my Hauppauge 150 for a Plextor M402U that does divx hardware encoding)
- etc

So ya, all-in-one units are fine if you are lazy and are willing to live with the significant limitations imposed on you, but for people who know how to do it and don't mind tweaking, there is no going back.

Re:probably better to just get the real thing (1)

p0rnking (255997) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395394)

#1 Not everyone can get Tivo, let alone DirectTivo
#2 A cable company's PVR/DVR is limited in what in can do, and what you can do with it, such as weather, emulators, mp3s or whatever format you use, RSS feeds, harddrive space, networking ....

Re:probably better to just get the real thing (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395796)

Hmm, I'm looking at a Asus Pundit-R for my setup to go in the living room. Of course I could put the whole works in the basement and run nothing but an IR receiver up to the TV, but in any case:
  • Several HTPC cases are rated at under 30dB - slightly louder than a whisper - that's better than my ExpressVu receiver
  • I can record one show (at a time) for each tuner card I have. you'll need that digital cable/sat box regardless of your choice, unless its an all in one unit
  • I like the style of some of the form factors better than a lot of the other stereo equipment I've seen.
  • I can customize Myth if I really want, but I like the default interface just fine... pretty simple and easy to use as far as I'm concerned
  • The EPG on Myth is better than my local cable provider and Bell Expressvu - by far.
  • Myth can play DVDs, give me local weather and news (and /. headlines) in seconds, act as my MP3 player. It's upgradeable. I can play games on it. I can pull the recordings I've made off of it and burn to DVD.

Oh yeah, everything above where I said "I" can do it, my wife who is not a computer person, can also do it.

Braindead way to do it. (4, Funny)

loraksus (171574) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395183)

http://www.mysettopbox.tv/knoppmyth.html [mysettopbox.tv]
Assuming you have the right hardware, etc.
If not, prepare to spend a couple hours finding drivers / recompiling / all that fun stuff.

Maybe it is just me, but I don't feel like installing 3 distros and spending hours trying to get some hardware to work, sometimes "just fucking works" is nice.

$150 too much (3, Interesting)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395190)

$150 is way, way, way too much. I got a fully functional TV tuner card that I use with mplayer as a DVR and it only cost me $6 (I got a good deal). But www.pricewatch.com puts capture cards around $20.

Re:$150 too much (1)

g8way (547878) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395409)

The Hauppage PVR-250 card has an MPEG-2 encoder chip, which offloads a bit of strain from the processor. It's definately useful for lower-powered PVR machines (heat/noise concerns), and the picture tends to look better. Hauppage did recently release the PVR-150, which is around the $60-70 mark, and also encodes to MPEG-2 with (supposedly) equal quality.

Re:$150 too much (1)

sarahemm (707486) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395756)

They've also recently released the PVR-500, which is a dual-tuner version, so you can record two channels at once, or watch live tv on one and record using the other one.

Not enough on TV to make it worth the effort.. (1, Insightful)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395224)

There are around 4 shows a week our household likes to watch. If we miss one, I get it off of bittorrent. I'm sure they are fun and convenient, but just not worth it for the limited use. You know, if I really gave it enough thought, we would just do away with cable at $20/month and get our shows from the the 'net.

Re:Not enough on TV to make it worth the effort.. (1)

Free_Trial_Thinking (818686) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395267)

Can't the tv industry get your IP address off of bit-torrent and sue the pants off of you?

GOPchop for removing commercials? (2, Informative)

Bryce (1842) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395225)

Since this uses the Hauppauge WinTV-PVR, I wonder if GOPchop [gopchop.org] can be used to delete out the commercials? GOPchop 1.1.6 just came out, adding a bunch of patches, and it sounds like the 1.2.0 release is around the corner. Also planned is adding some commandline operation mode, so in theory if you had a way to detect commercial breaks, maybe it could be set up to auto-skip? That'd be a neat trick.

Re:GOPchop for removing commercials? (2, Interesting)

sokoban (142301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395542)

Well, one littel trick I ahve found to get rid of commercials is to Use Closed captioning as an indication. Most shows are closed captioned. Most commercials are not.

How to get a FREE DVR (3, Interesting)

AgNO3 (878843) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395263)

Call current provider and say, "I'm thinking of switching to another provider because they will give me a free dvr. If you can match that I will stay with you." That's how we got our Dish netowork DVR. Which does 2 tvs. Recently talked to comcast about switching to them but said we want dvrs for 4 rooms. They said yes. (we want on demand feature from comcast) So will probably switch to Comcast when our dish contract is up in a month. Only reservation is that we hear comcast dvr sucks. Dish's is pretty nice.

Fine Until (1)

Phil06 (877749) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395274)

Fine until the people who make the content find out how easy and cheap it is to copy then clamp down with digital rights management included in the broadcast.

enough fucking PVR guides (0, Troll)

fallendove (875598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395305)

The geek community knows they exist thankyouverymuch

but (1)

sakura the mc (795726) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395328)

can i run mythtv on freebsd? never bothered to look, never used freebsd for such an application.

also, does it defeat the broadcast flag bs thats supposed to go down in june(july?)?

Editing fun (2, Interesting)

TheMediaWrangler (817300) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395353)

I use a 3rd party capture card for DVR just so I can make funny edits to clips from the shows that my friends watch. Can't do that with Tivo.

ReplayTV (3, Insightful)

Mochatsubo (201289) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395402)

Before building your own PC-DVR, you should take a long look at Tivo or ReplayTV.

For example. A 40GB ReplayTV unit is $99 + $299 activation. From there you can upgrade hard drive to a huge capacity for the cost of a bare drive. It takes 5 minutes to set up. The interface is serviceable. The GUI is adequate. Video quality is good. There are programs to get files from the Replay unit to your PC.

It just works. And for god sakes it is just TV. You might save some money but you gotta ask yourself if it is really worth the time and energy.

-w

grammar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395437)

It should be "If you have an old computer that had been lying around"

ho hum...another boring day at Slashdot, huh? (0, Troll)

FredThompson (183335) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395503)

First it was repetitive "imagine a Beowulf cluster of these!" posts.

Then the BYO DVR posts.

For a while, it appeared reposts of hackaday would take the top repetitive post topic.

Well, it sure looks like the BYO DVR/MythTV/My-time-is-worthless posts are back in the top slot.

Next up, make your own printer paper. It's "free" because your time is worthless.

Bah! Why does this junk keep getting posted? Make a BYO-DVR-MythTV-my-time-is-worthless section to Slashdot and keep these out of the main page.

But the missing piece is... (0)

afabbro (33948) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395512)

...the monthly guide, right? Am I missing something, or is the utility of a DVR without some kind of automatically-updated programming guide kind of missing the point?

I am not much of a TV watcher, but if I could set a DVR to search for and grab old movies I want when they're on and tuck them away for a rainy day, then I'd be interested. But "pausing live TV" and such have little interest for me...

So without a guide, your remaining option is to search the TV Guide or whatever yourself...right?

Re:But the missing piece is... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395602)

USA-based mythtv users enjoy an "almost free" 14-days-ahead program guide courtesy of Zap2it; the price is every three months we have to fill out a 20 second online survey which asks about our TV viewing habits. no big deal, and no privacy issues a la TiVo.

the program guide information which comes from Zap2it is high quality, complete with a lot of metadata, and covers all possible USA channels on all possible USA networks. a happy customer here.

Nonstandard. To lie. (1)

Lariano (822949) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395518)

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition considers "to lay" as an intransitive verb nonstandard usage. So let's let the

"old computer that had been laying around" lie around instead.

Source: http://www.answers.com/lay&r=67 [answers.com]

Just some friendly pedantry...

Freevo (1)

MHobbit (830388) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395541)

There's Freevo [sourceforge.net] , an open-source PVR software. There's another way you could save even more money.

Re:Freevo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395614)

Another PVR.

http://fftv.sf.net/ [sf.net]

The Internet is my TiVo (1)

qengho (54305) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395611)

Since I (finally!) got a broadband connection, I've been using BitTorrent to grab stuff I've missed. Despite the *AA's efforts, a few sites still provide torrents for TV shows. And I figure I'm not violating copyright if I download a show, watch it, and then trash it. The shows I really like, I'll buy the DVD later...

That dell.... (1)

Palal (836081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395624)

That $299 Dell server is sounding better by the minute

My MythTV experience (3, Interesting)

DrJohnnie (93092) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395643)

I put together a mythtv system from an old computer; it was a way for me to learn more about linux.

But, then after the motherboard went bad (bad caps.) I bought a new motherboard, processor, and memory ($159.) It wasn't "pretty" enough (girl friend didn't like the case next to the TV.) So I bought a silver stone case and power supply ($190.)

Can't forget the two tuners; pvr-250 ($120) pvr-150 ($60.)

Total $529...

My ReplayTV, refurbished 5040, $350/with lifetime service.

I paid $179 more for a homemade pvr and some linux experience. Not to mention a fun and frustrating hobby.

I think it was worth it, but my girl friend prefers the replay.

another thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395671)

you can do with the PC is hooke another PC/PS2/xbox and the likes and make what i call "Worlds greatest moments in gaming: A Snapshot of history"

Digital Cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12395708)

Does this work with a digital cable box? Can you use it to view the channels on digital cable (e.g. HBO, etc.)?

Any info about it working with the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 3200 would be appreciated.

HD DVR (1)

mgbaron (457884) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395865)

Can anyone recommend a good hdtv tv card? I'm curious about building one of these and have several questions about it.

How much hard drive spaces does and hd feed take up per hour?

What software is compatible with HD (I'm flexible with windows or linux)?

Thanks

Or... (1)

SFSouthpaw (797536) | more than 9 years ago | (#12395879)

You could just go to http://btefnet.net/ [btefnet.net]
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>