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.

Objectives:

  • Broadcast all 32 Freeview TV Channels, and all 22 Radio Channels to any connected device in the house.
  • Allow individual devices to record any channel, at any time, regardless of who else is watching the stream.
  • Build up a ‘central repository’ of commonly watched TV recordings on Network Attached Storage. (Maybe some integration here to find out what each family member ‘likes’ on Facebook, then automatically scan the EPG for this program, and tune in and record at the correct time.)
  • Remove the need to have any form of TV aerial and tuner in every room.
  • Central ‘box’ running Linux that distributes the channels across a 1Gbps backbone network.
  • Streaming should be done using multicast, so that bandwidth does not increase when more users are tuned in.
  • Send emails to users when a new recording is avalible.
  • Possible web portal to allow users to login and set new recordings, list recordings, view 7 day EPG, delete recordings, and organise into folders?

Hardware:

  • So far, I’ve got a few desktop machines kicking around which I can use as servers for streaming.
    • Might need to chop them up and mix them about to get a good spec.
  • Multiple network cards needed on streaming hub. (Maybe 2x 100MB/s cards?)
  • A few DVB-T PCI Tuner cards.
    • 1 for each multiplex needed.
    • Or a dual tuner card for two multiplexs. (Half number of cards).
    • Maybe look into a DVB-T2 card for FreeviewHD channels? Depends on price.
  • A few Raspberry Pi’s (Model B) to act as clients.
    • One connected to each TV in the house.
    • Might need wireless cards for those in areas not connected with Ethernet yet.

I think I’m going to have to look into this more, but from what I’ve seen around, this is definitely possible.

Just might take a bit of work getting the Sky subscription decoded, and I know this has been the centre of attention for a while for many people wanting to record SkyTV on their PC, let alone broadcast it round the whole house.

  2 Replies to “TuxTV – Concept”

  1. James Davies
    January 23, 2012 at 18:52

    Hi Rob, project sounds great. I too have been watching the progress of the RPI. I guess my plans are simpler but along the same lines. I’m wanting to build a home media network with a big NAS at its heart so  my iDevices and all TV’s in the house can access content. I feel that most of the big electronics firms are missing out on the whole concept of media server integration into their TV’s which is to make the whole idea more appealing; in short the interfaces look about as exciting as a dinner party with a bunch of accountants. Thats where I found XBMC and would be using the RPI to plug into a HDMI port and provide the xBMC interface which looks great and has loads of great add-ons like hulu or free cable. 
    Your project goes way beyond that though and I had thought about whether the RPI could be used as some sort of PVR (I had the same comment at the in-laws over Christmas- its great to be able to record TV but I dont want it contained to one box and one TV, i want to be able to access it everywhere- even remote from the house via VPN)

    I’ll be watching your project with interest but I have no coding or linux background- would you consider doing a video tutorial?

    Best of luck

    James 

    • January 23, 2012 at 19:18

      Hi James,
      Thanks for the comment! It’s great to see interest in my projects. You’re right, most companies are missing out on this. Watching clips from CES this year has however shown that this is something they are interested in (Particularly Samsung). Ubuntu have also created a special TV version of Unity. This isn’t on release yet, but it does look amazing. (www.ubuntu.com/tv). Definitely something to keep an eye on! I’ve been looking at XBMC too, but I’d have to try and modify it to be able to work with some sort of backend, which stores all the recordings. I’m looking to make something like 4TheRecord (http://www.4therecord.eu/), which currently only runs on Windows (yuck!). I can 100% agree with you on the one recording, one box thing. I hate having stuff on the Sky box, that I want to watch on my iPad. It’s annoying to know that while I’m sat bored on the train or something that I could be watching the rest of something I missed the night before. Plus, I don’t really want to pay the extra money for Sky multi-room. The bill is enough the first time round, without all the extras! Also a 500GB drive isn’t enough (not that sky let you use all this), and I have having to delete stuff when the drive gets full. Even more annoying is when it fills up, and it doesn’t remind you, so you miss a recording! I’ll admit the VPN idea would be good, but I don’t think standard broadband uplink would put up with the streaming from the NAS externally. Live TV streaming outwards wouldn’t really work either, and no doubt the lovely people from TV Licensing would have something to say if they found out. 4TheRecord does have a web interface with a flash player I believe. This could do the job, but I’m sure it would be very laggy.

      With regards to the Video tutorial, when I have something up and working I will certainly create a tutorial post explaining it all. 🙂

      Thanks,

      Rob

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