Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Hitting a home run with Network DVB Tuner

This is the HDHomeRun network DVB (digital TV) tuner made by Silicon Dust.  In Australia, it is marketed by kaiser baas. I got mine for AUD 145 at JB Hifi (after haggling a little.)

It really is a fairly small device - about 12cmx12cm and maybe 3cm high. 

The front LEDs represent power (on the left) and each of the two independent tuners (on the right)
On the back, merely a power receptacle, a network port, and an antenna socket.

There is some bundled software that you can use, but it's not strictly necessary.  It will get a network address from a local DHCP server.  Then, pointing a web browser to that address from any computer on the LAN will give ID information and links to online instructions and downloads.

This is one of the pieces of the puzzle for me to build my ultimate convergence system.  Hitherto, my only computer tuner has been an analog TV card.  Not only was that limited to the analog channels, but the signal had to be converted to something that could be recorded on digital media.

This device changes all that.  A digital transport stream can be recorded from each tuner, already in a format ready to store and play back from.  Each tuner can grab an entire multiplex of channels.  Using Windows Media Center [sic] this is not fully utilised - the beast from Redmond only allows one channel to be recorded per tuner.

Using MythTv (on Linux, naturally) changes that. Theoretically, I could record all the channels on each multiplex on each of 2 tuners, which in current Australian conditions would mean 8 simultaneous recordings.  In practice, this is probably impractical without a Gigabit LAN, which I don't have. However 4 simultaneous recordings works very nicely on a Fast Ethernet (100Mb/s max).

It's also possible to have multipleHDHomeRuns, but I haven't got quite that ambitious yet.  I'm only now starting to make inroads on all the recordings I banked up during the university year that I didn't have time to watch.

This is an excellent TechToy that I highly recommend.