Installing TBS 6981 DVB-S2 Dual Satellite Tuner on Ubuntu 11.04

This is my first post in a number of posts I will be making detailing how I’ve got the (Almost!) perfect TV Server & Client setup for my house.

In order to make a TV server, you will need some form of tuner. As I’m a paying Sky customer, I’ve chosen to purchase 2x TBS6981 DVB-S2 Dual Tuners. These are currently priced at about £89, which is a good deal.

The cards are low-profile cards, but come with a bracket in order to fit them in larger cases. I’ve decided to put mine in my HP Microserver (which I blogged about here).

Without going into too much detail on the spec of the cards, they are pretty meaty.

Being a dual tuner card, it requires two drops from the satellite LNB (you need to run one cable for each input on the card. Don’t use splitters!)

As I have two cards, I needed to run 4 cables direct from the LNB on the satellite. If you only have a standard dual-lnb, or you’ve filled up all the slots on your quad-LNB, you will need to purchase either a bigger LNB, or a bracket to mount two quad-LNB’s on the same dish. You don’t need to go buying a bigger dish yet!

The cards will churn out both DVB-S (SDTV) and DVB-S2 (HDTV), which is great if you’ve got Movies or Sports in HD.

Each tuner can be tuned to one multiplex at a time, which is different to a channel. Multiplexes contain multiple channels. For example the BBC multiplex contains BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three (and CBBC), BBC Four (and CBeebies), BBC News and BBC Parliament.

When you change a channel, you are in fact changing a filter to filter out the channels you don’t want to see in the multiplex. So even when you are viewing BBC One, your box is in fact viewing all the BBC channels and just filtering out everything but the data for BBC One. This is great, because we can ‘exploit’ this to watch/record/stream more than one channel at a time on one tuner, leaving the other tuners free for someone/something else to use.

You can view all the mutiplexes and more information at Lyngsat. For Freesat/Sky UK we most commonly use the Astra satellite cluster at 28.2E (East). Details for all the 28.2E multiplexes are located here.

Continue reading


Playing around with XBMC Media Streaming

Sunday has become the day to play with technology. So expect more posts on Sundays now than normal.

I’ve been playing around with XBMC this morning, and I’m really impressed with the functionality and smoothness of the application.

I’m just in the process of testing how well streaming a DVD from my network storage across the wired network will work.

I’m hoping it runs smoothly, as it should with a 1Gbps backbone. I’ll post a tutorial later on how to rip DVD’s to play in XBMC, as I’m not sure if a pure rip, or just an ISO of the media will be better.

Continue reading


XBMC, Raspberry Pi and TuxTV

So after reading with great interest this post and watching this video, on the Raspberry Pi website I was really excited about using it as a frontend for my TuxTV project.

However it turns out, after a number of questions on the Raspberry Pi Forums, and a final blog post stating which codecs will be available to use, it seems this will not be possible at the moment.

To explain it simply, Digital TV (Freeview) within the UK is currently streamed using MPEG2 encoding. While the GPU within the Raspberry Pi can physically support it, the foundation say that the cost of the licensing to use MPEG2 is too much in relation to the price of the board, and including it at this stage wouldn’t meet the objectives of the Foundation.

Continue reading


A Decent PVR For TuxTV?

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll have seen the posts I’ve made about my TuxTV project.

I’ve been looking around at various customised bits of software in order to get some sort of frontend PVR that I can plug into the backend streamer.

I found 4TheRecord (4TR), which is a nice little software package that allows you to view and record TV, using a backend server and a frontend viewer. Both of these are provided, and it will work with most TV tuner cards. It also have a lovely web interface with an EPG for recording selection.

The only problem with 4TR, is that it runs on Windows. That’s fine if you’ve got a beasty box (or two) with 4GB of RAM, and loads of CPU power to burn running Windows. And that you’ve also got money to burn for a Windows license. But practically, if you just want to make use of an old machine, this isn’t any good for you.

Continue reading


TuxTV – Part 2

The more I think about this project, the more I want to do it.
I’ve decided that the best option is to complete it in two parts. The main reasoning of this is to test the functionality before I go the whole hog.

First off, I’m going to setup two servers that will power the backend. These will handle the incoming streams from the aerial, through a number of DVB-T tuner cards.
Continue reading


TuxTV – Concept

Flicking through the channels this afternoon has got me thinking (oh dear!). Currently, I have Freeview in my room, with a 500GB recorder, and SkyHD downstairs with a 500GB box.

All of the other rooms just have standard Freeview, with no recording facilities.

The thing that annoys me is that if someone else is using the Sky downstairs, I can’t watch anything that I’ve recorded earlier. There’s no physical way at the moment to get it off of the SkyHD box, which sucks because I might want to view it on my iPad.

Also at present, we can only ‘watch one, record one’ on the Sky box, and I can only watch what I’m recording upstairs, which is really annoying. At least with the HDD recorder I can burn it to DVD, but that’s still crap if I want to watch it on my iPad.

After some Googling, I’ve found a few tutorials to watch TV on your PC. Yes, that’s very cool, but that still doesn’t help my problem.

Basically, I want to be able to watch any channel, from any TV, PC or iPad (connected via wifi) in the house, at any time, regardless of whether someone else is watching it elsewhere in the house.

How am I going to do this? Linux.

Continue reading