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.
I’m not too sure on the cards I’m going to get yet. Depending which server I fit them to, I might just get USB instead of PCI. Cost is also going to be an important factor, for standard definition freeview I’m going to need one card for every multiplex. For those who don’t have an engineering degree, a multiplex is a collection of channels that are all being digitally streamed on the same frequency block. In theory, when you change the ‘channel’ on your freeview or satellite box, you are in fact just changing the multiplex that the tuner is tuned into. Viewing BBC One is infact streaming the whole of the BBC multiplex down to your box, and then the software on the box just ignores the streaming data for all the other channels, apart from BBC One, which it passes onto the screen. Due to this, we can exploit the software functionality, by asking it to split each of the channels on the multiplex into a different digital stream, which we can then pass over the network to as many VLC clients as we want.
So to stream each of the 30 channels, and 20 radio stations, we need a tuner for each multiplex. This will allow us to watch and record any channel at any time, regardless of whether someone else is watching it. Currently there are 6 multiplexes for FreeView TV an a DVB-T2 multiplex for FreeviewHD. This means we need 6 DVB-T cards (or 3 cards that have dual tuners) and 1 DVB-T2 card for the HD. In theory, DVB-T2 cards will let you receive standard definition channels. If you can afford it, get 7 DVB-T2 cards. At the time of writing, these cards aren’t that cheap, so buying 7 would be costly, but would future proof the system.
I’ll write more later…