Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Dual Input Hauppauge 250 PVR Card for Recording Digital & Analog Cable

Recording Digital Cable
I've been using the coaxial cable inputs at Tuner0 on both my Hauppauge 250 and my Hauppauge 350 thus far, but wanted to be able to record my digital cable as well. There's two problems to overcome for this task: getting the audio & video from my digital cable into MythTV, and changing the channel on my Motorola Digital Cable box. I'll start with the latter problem.

Changing the Channel on My Motorola Digital Cable Box
I bought myself a MyBlaster Serial IR Blaster from My.Tv store for $40 (plus tax & shipping). It's a pretty cool little box that I have sitting next to my MythTV box. It plugs into the computer's serial port, and faces the back wall of my family room.

I decided to go with this device rather than a simple short-range IR blaster that I could tape in front of the cable box because this one has a long range and I'd like to be able to control more than just the cable box. The signals are bouncing off of my back wall and back at the entertainment center without any problems.

I downloaded the user-contributed script for the MyBlaster, written by William Munson -- thanks William - excellent script. I made some small mods to it for my purposes -- I think the only changes I made were timing and device settings. The script one of several commands as the first parameter. For example, to turn on the device, use:

/usr/local/bin/ power

or, to change the channel to channel 33:

/usr/local/bin/ 33

So, I had to start by figuring out what my MyBlaster device code was, so I could enter that in William's script. I did some digging around, and found that this box wasn't actually made by Motorola, but by GE (as far as I can remember). The MyBlaster code for my cable box is "0276".

The script works great! I'm able to change channels on my cable box using MythTV without any problems. I'm very happy with my $40 purchase.

The Hauppauge 250's Inputs
This card has three video inputs it may choose from:
   * Tuner0 (coaxial cable)
   * Composite4 (A/V cables)
   * SVideo# (I haven't used this)

Tuner0 on the 250 has been working great to bring in the analog coaxial cable into the MythTV box, but I needed a way to bring the Digital Cable into the MythTV box. My digital cable box has two outputs: one for coaxial cable, and one for composite A/V cables. I did some rewiring so that the coax goes into the TV, and the composite A/V cables go into the Hauppauge 250's composite input. From trial and error, I found that this input is Composite4 (not Composite0, which would seem to make sense).

DataDirect for Digital Cable
Now that I have this new Video Source with several new channels, I have to tell MythTV what those channels are. To do so, I logged back into my DataDirect account, and added the new channel list. I had to unselect the channels I didn't purchase, including the HDTV channels and other premium channels. No reason to let MythTV think it can record a movie, only to tape 2 hours of "Premium Service Channel" error message.

Putting It All Together
I ran mythtvsetup to enter my new DataDirect channel list and map it to my Hauppauge 250. First, I entered the channel list in the "Video Sources" section. I named this new section "DataDirect Digital Cable" (the other was named "DataDirect"). Then, I mapped this new channel list to Composite4 on /dev/video1 (the Hauppauge 250 is my second card. If you only have one card, then you'll map to /dev/video0. If you have two cards, you'll have to figure out if it's /dev/video0 or /dev/video1 -- I think the standard is that /dev/video0 is the card closer to the AGP slot on your board. Here's also where you need to tell MythTV how to change channels using the IRBlaster script. I entered:


Since you can't splice digital cable like you can with analog, I'd like the Hauppauge 250 to use the coaxial analog cable whenever it can, and only hit the digital cable when absolutely necessary, so I can still use my digital cable box when it's taping something on network tv. There are two options for this:
* when setting up the DataDirect channel list, only select the channels that aren't on analog tv
* give the analog tv Data Source a higher priority than the digital cable source

I'm too lazy to unselect 78 checkboxes, so I chose the latter solution. If a recording is scheduled on ABC, MythTV will use the coaxial cable input. The preferences will probably also push off digital cable recordings if they're going to repeat on analog cable -- it's a great feature.

I then ran mythfilldatabase to go out and populate the database with the new channels and their line-ups. Last, but not least... I restarted mythbackend. If you don't do that, then the change-channel script won't be called. I'm not sure you'd even have access to the new channels if you didn't restart mythbackend.

Productive night... worth the extra work. I'm sure being able to tape all of my premium movie channels won't help my storage situation though...

** I'll include my script soon.

No comments: