View Full Version : Newest of the Newbies

2004-02-10, 02:33 PM
Okay, you've seen Newbie posts. *Well, I am the newest of the newbies. *I don't have a tuner card, I don't have any software in relation to dvrs, I don't have Tivo, have never had Tivo, nor have even seen Tivo. *Yes, I am the one. But I'm not a total dimwit, I do have some skills, and I think I can pull this off.

The whole concept of Tivo has puzzled me for a while. *Being a programmer, and also working in IT with hardware, I couldn't quite understand why a subscription was needed to pull this off (recording). So, I'm quite happy to have found this forum, and the gbpvr website.

So, my question is, what steps do I need to take to get started building a dvr from ground zero, with very little knowledge of Tivo-like software and hardware?

I have a spare computer and a 80GB drive in it. What is the recommendation of processor and video card (I was going to be purchasing a motherboard, cpu, and video card this weekend to rebuild this machine anyway)? I would like to use this machine as a dvr.

I can install Windows 2000 Pro or XP (Is the Home edition okay), whichever is recommended. And from what I've read, the Hauppauge PVR350 is the card of choice?

Once I have the machine built, is my next step going to be to *download the beta-version of GBPVR, and follow the setup instructions? What then?

We have DirecTv as the source of our televisions. *My goals are to build a Tivo like machine and to gain a better understanding of this technology works.

Thanks in advance, Tex.

2004-02-10, 07:13 PM
You could cover a lot of ground trying to reply to that post...

Processor depends on what you what to use you Home Theatre PC (HTPC) for, and what special requirements you have. Some people are looking for slower processors so that they can be passively cool as part of a silent HTPC for under the TV. Other need the fastest processors that they can get so that they can do things like watch HDTV streams, or re-encode video files to other formats (e.g. mpeg2 -> mpeg4).

XP Home would be fine.

I have a Hauppauge PVR350 and love it. It does have pros and cons you should be aware of.
PROS: Output is very good on a TV, much better than most regular video cards. Can playback MPEG streams with very little CPU usage, making older spare machines viable. Like the PVR250, it also uses very little CPU when recording MPEG movies.
CONS: The TV out can only be used for playing back MPEG video. You cant see the desktop or any other applications. SageTV and GB-PVR are capable of showing their menus and OSD on the TV out, but no other applications can.
In summary, the PVR350 is a great card for a PVR/Tivo type application, but not that great if you want to other stuff with your HTPC (like watch AVIs, surf the Net etc). Alot of this can be overcome if you have another TV out on a regular video card and switch inputs when required (or use an attached monitor).

Subscriptions do give you convenient easy access to television listing information. XMLTV is a viable alternative, but can be a bit of a pain in the ass. XMLTV tend to grab there information of web pages that show TV listings. Sometimes these companies change the layout of there web pages (sometimes just to stop XMLTV), and things stop working until some makes change to the XMLTV grabbers.

Companies like SageTV and SnapStream that provide TV Listing in their PVR applications, are hiding some of the costs. These companies will be being charged alot of money per week for the right to distribute TV Listing information. If sales of these products drop to below a certain point, I imagine the TV listing will be dropped. Luckily these products also support XMLTV, so there is an alternative even if they go out of business.

It'll be interesting to see where the market goes in the next couple of years. Tivo was a unique product for a long time, but this year I think where going to see alot of consumer products with integrated hard disks. Several new DVD recorders have been released (or are about to be) that include hard drives for PVR functionality. We're also seeing cable companies offering this functionality. That said, its great stuff to play around with and you do get more flexibilty from a HTPC that a specific piece of hardware.

Try the water. Get your feet wet.

2004-02-11, 09:10 AM
For the EPG-bit,
I'm looking into writing a bit of simple software (probably just a script) that should be able to create xml-EPG's from Teletekst using vtplus that works now with the hauppauge pvr350. This way there is no such thing as subscriptions or even internet access needed to update the epg. However I don't know when it'll be up and running, but I've figured out a simple architecture for the whole stuff...

BTW, sub, is it necessary to have the programs in the epg ordered chronologically? I hope not... and does it matter where the channel id's come (well at least before the program I think).


2004-02-11, 09:49 AM

You might want to look at the "tv_sort" option in "xmltv". That's what I use to validate and sort my listings.


* *tv_sort - Sort XMLTV listings files by date, and add stop times.

* *tv_sort [--help] [--by-channel] [--output FILE] [FILE...]

Read XMLTV data and write out the same data sorted in date order. Where stop times of programmes are missing, guess them from the start time of the next programme on the same channel.

Tv_sort also performs some sanity checks such as making sure no two programmes on the same channel overlap.

* *--output FILE write to FILE rather than standard output

* *--by-channel sort first by channel id, then by date within each channel.

The time sorting is by start time, then by stop time. Without --by-channel, if start times and stop times are equal then two programmes are sorted by internal channel id. With --by-channel, channel id is compared first and then times.

You can think of tv_sort as converting XMLTV data into a canonical form, useful for diffing two files.

2004-02-11, 11:39 AM

Is tv_sort a part of XMLTV Automate? I have problems with overlapping shows etc. that could be solved through this.


2004-02-11, 12:51 PM
Thanks Sub,

I will be getting my feet wet this weekend I suspect.

I will continue reading this forum to learn as much as I can. *As for the processor, I am mainly interested in building this machine to record and playback on the television. I have other computers to surf if I want.

Thanks for the xmltv tip and the info on subscription fees and program listings.

2004-02-11, 01:00 PM
Quote[/b] (jui @ Feb. 11 2004,12:39)]@MaNIaCv1

Is tv_sort a part of XMLTV Automate? I have problems with overlapping shows etc. that could be solved through this.

Yes, XMLTV Automate is essentially an add on program that allows you to schedule when you want to grab and sort the tv listings. XMLTV does all the work. You can get the latest version here *


Give this command a go, you might find it solves your problem.

xmltv tv_sort --by-channel --output tvxml.xml source.xml


2004-02-11, 03:25 PM
Quote[/b] (MaBo @ Feb. 11 2004,10:10)]BTW, sub, is it necessary to have the programs in the epg ordered chronologically? I hope not... and does it matter where the channel id's come (well at least before the program I think).
No, they dont need to be in chronological order.