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DIY TiVo

So, I got a TV capture card for Christmas (a Hauppauge PVR-150). There wasn’t really a specific reason for wanting one; I just thought it would be fun to play with. There’s a pretty impressive application for Linux called MythTV, which is at a minimum a TiVo-like program, but has many different add-on modules which can make a computer running it into a pretty powerful multimedia center. Despite a lot of complaints about how hard it is to set up, I got it up and running Sunday evening on my desktop box with only a few minor hangups. It works very well; I even got the remote that came with my card working fairly quickly. After installing a few of the add-ons I can browse and play my music and video collections.

Of course, there’s only so much you can do with something like that on my desktop computer in a bedroom of my apartment. MythTV has another cool feature, though. It can use different boxes for the frontend and backend, meaning I could set up my desktop as the backend box and have it do all the capturing and storing, but have my laptop as the frontend, which would control the application and display the content. So, that was Monday’s project (as you can tell, my New Year’s activities were pure excitement). The only hassle there was I had to wipe out my laptop and reinstall Ubuntu, because I had broken the update-manager program during my vacation and couldn’t upgrade to Edgy. Oh well, it needed it (and it’s now Windows free!). Now I have my laptop in my living room connected to my TV, running MythTV. Well, not really. There are a few glitches still to be worked out:

1. I have no remote to control it with. My Hauppauge remote connects to my capture card, which is in my bedroom. I’ll have to get an IR receiver.
2. My TV has video syncing issues that need to be fixed.
3. There’s the occasional slow down, on account of me streaming video across my apartment’s network. It’s pretty rare, but I have a low tolerance for that sort of thing.
4. The quality is noticeably below that of watching cable normally. Granted, it’s better than certain channels and it’s definitely watchable, but as I said, I don’t like tolerating that sort of thing.
5. MythTV has taken to crashing whenever I try to back out of watching live TV. It just started doing that, so I need to figure out what I changed.

That was my fun yesterday, anyway. Now it’s back to the grind, I guess.

Categories: Tech
  1. TMM
    January 3, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Cool, this is one area I’m excited to get into once my experience with Linux rises above pronouncing it correctly. I’m assuming your streaming via a wireless LAN, is that correct? When I finished my basement I ran cat 5 to the family room in hopes of avoiding lag if I ran off a computer in another location. Interesting stuff.

  2. January 3, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Nope, it’s all wired, actually. My apartment complex is pretty new and every apartment has a DSL router/modem and the rooms are all wired.

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