The acronym PVR stands for Personal Video Recorder. Basically, it's what a TiVo is: a system that will record television shows onto a hard disk. But instead of buying a TiVo and paying the monthly charge, I made my own through the magic of the MythTV program for Linux.
MythTV lets you put together a system that will record programs like a VCR, but makes it easy to schedule recordings with a full program listing. You can also pause live TV and it'll keep recording it for you so you can resume watching it at any time. But MythTV goes beyond this basic TiVo functionality by adding a music playing function, video game emulation, image gallery viewing, and even a weather information module; all on your television. Although, the best feature would have to be the ability to completely skip commercials.
Here's the hardware that I used to construct this media box: Mini ITX box, Zotac IONITX board (Atom 230), 2GB RAM, 500GB HD. I now record only off of the air (antenna) for HD programming using a HD Homerun.
- Controlling a DirecTV STB via USB
- MythTV Contributions (local)
- Installing MythTV (somewhat old)
Dropped DirecTV, got a new Myth box, and now only record OTA HDTV using a HD Homerun. Very nice setup and I can finally record/playback HD content! Using MythTV 0.22 on Fedora 10. It was a little sad powering down my Shuttle that served me so well for over five years, but it was time to move on.
Made the switch from DISH to DirecTV, and got the new channel changing script to use a direct serial->USB connection instead of the infrared device I had to use with the DISH box. Much more reliable on channel changes now. Upgraded my SVN version and got MythArchive (mythburn's replacement) working. w00t! Here is the script for DirecTV HD receiver model H20 channel changing if you need it: directv.pl.
Got mythburn all configured and working, so now I can easily export shows to Video DVD. It makes animated menus, has a cool intro movie, and is easy to use. myth2ipod still works great for exporting to my video iPod. Finally, it all comes together.
Thanks to this page, I was able to compile mythfrontend for my iMac. Now I have a nice 20-inch widescreen Myth frontend added to the mix (master backend/frontend, plus three frontend machines). I also finally got my Avermedia M179 hardware MPEG2 encoder card working on a fresh install of Fedora Core 3. Finally my old RedHat 9 Myth box has been upgraded. Since I had all my recordings in a separate 160GB drive, I just moved that over and didn't lose any old recordings. Big thanks go to Jarod for his guide.
I finally solved my IR transmitter problem. I have been using a homebrew IR transmitter with lirc for a while, and every now and then it would miss a digit on a channel change. Very frustrating to pull up the latest Stargate SG-1 recording and find an hour of Mexican fiesta music instead. Not that there's anything wrong with Mexican fiesta music, but it's not what I was expecting. So I ordered a MyBlaster and used Bill's great perl scripts to control it. No more lirc, and more importantly, no more missed channel changes!
My Shuttle box has been running a bit hot, so I bought a new fan from endpcnoise.com. I got the 80mm Nexus fan, and it is *really* quiet. And I thought the stock Shuttle fan was silent... Not only is it absolutely noiseless, but it provides better air flow, keeping the box nice and cool. Oh yeah, and a month ago I bought a 160GB hard drive, bringing the total space up to 240GB. I have it partitioned such that I can store about 160 hours of video recordings now. The rest of the space is for my music, video, and game collections.
Got my Myth box hooked up to my Sony HDTV using component RGB cables and this converter box. Now I have the output from my Myth computer displayed in true 720p HDTV resolution! BTW, for those interested, the modeline I ended up using is:
ModeLine "ATSC-720p" 74.176 1280 1312 1376 1650 720 722 728 750
I updated the streaming music patch against CVS as of Feb 8. You can grab the files here: musicstream.020804.patch.tar.gz. Included is a .diff file for existing files in the mythmusic tree along with two new files you need (shoutcaststream.[cpp|h]). SomaFM is back!
Thanks to the great little patch to MythMusic by Stefan Franks, I'm now able to listen to streaming MP3 music. Finally, Groove Salad in MythMusic. You can grab the patch here. See the original post on the dev list here.
Rebuilt my Myth box from scratch because of a weird hard disk failure that corrupted some random files. Took the opportunity to update to the sleek them by Joel Feenstra. Check it out here. Also of note is the up-and-coming MythBayes project.
Finished up the small IR transmitter circuit so that th Myth box can change channels on the Dish Network receiver. I used the circuit found at lirc.org. I think I can call my Myth box complete now.
I created a new theme for MythTV. It's available on my local contributions page. It's kinda purple/grey in colour.
The myth box has been working well. Got the IR receiver hooked up so I can navigate around the Myth interface with my Sony universal learning remote. Now I'm in the process of building a custom IR transmitter to control my DISH sat receiver. The ActiSys IRDA device I got can only transmit at 38KHz and the DISH network box expects a 56KHz signal. Right.
The Myth box successfully recorded Seinfeld for me last night. Victory! The music module is also now working after I reinstalled with RedHat 8.0 instead of the newer 8.1beta. Still waiting on that IR interface, though.
So far I have the image gallery, weather, game, and tv modules working. The two remaining issues are 1) cannot change channels from within MythTV because my serial IR device hasn't been delivered yet (so I can't make my computer send signals to my Dish box), and 2) the music module has some GUI lock-up issues.
The CPU was delivered today, and so it began. A full write-up is available here.
The Shuttle XPC, memory, and hard drive were delivered today. Still waiting on the CPU and the IR tx/rx.
Got the CVS version of myth installed and working. Detailed instructions on getting/compiling the CVS (up-to-date) version are here. I also upgraded to version 0.5.8 of XMLTV. I also started experimenting with lirc but it's a little difficult with the IR hardware still on order. The tuner card takes broadcast or cable signals and can select channels internally. The satellite feed off my Dish Network is an encrypted MPEG-2 stream which must be decypted by the receiver box. Therefore all channel changing must take place on the sat box itself. In order to make this work, MythTV supports having an external command change channels instead of the internal tuner channel selection. So, using Lirc and a serial infrared transmitter/receiver, the computer can change the channel on the satellite box by sending IR commands like a remote control. Also, using the IR receiver lets me control the computer with my Sony programmable remote.
Got an ATI Wonder TV VE tuner card for $39. So I started by installing the 0.7 release of MythTV to try it out.