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OTA + IPTV + FTA in one box. Build or buy? Help

Discussion in 'Free To Air (FTA) Discussion' started by glover31, Apr 13, 2017.

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  1. glover31

    glover31 Topic Starter SatelliteGuys Pro

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    Hello.

    I am looking for a little input. I have been using an FTA/ xbmc satelite reveiver for sometime. I am thinking that its ability to add iptv channels is difficult. Usefull when they work. The media player usefull. Youtube usefull. But perhaps I might get a little more with a antenna. Or even better. building my own rig. Any suggestions? I currently have a media center pc box. No components. Just the box. If I did build. Not really sure what I would use as a system os. Hoping I can just Buy a box. Help
     
  2. glover31

    glover31 Topic Starter SatelliteGuys Pro

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  3. Pi314

    Pi314 SatelliteGuys Pro

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    The OTA / FTA combo part is something I am interested in.
     
  4. dem0nlord

    dem0nlord SatelliteGuys Pro

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    I'm glad I made the switch from STBs to computers. So much more versatile/customizeable, plus the ability to upgrade/add as many tuners as you'd like. I use Linux/tvheadend with USB ATSC and DVB-S2 tuners feeding multiple Kodi clients on my network. The backend can be done on low end PC hardware, I've even done it on a Raspberry Pi. There are many options, a lot of which depends on how complex you want it to be.
     
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  5. Radioguy41

    Radioguy41 SatelliteGuys Pro

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    Personally the best OTA tuner (with PVR capability) I've ever owned is the Homeworx HW-150PVR, available thru the Walmart website for $34 (with free pickup at your local store). Also available thru Amazon, some with free shipping. Not sure you can build something that capable for that kind of money. Just sayin. :)
     
  6. Titanium

    Titanium AI6US Lifetime Supporter

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    As we get closer to the ASTC 3.0 launch, I would be hesitant to buy a FTA STB with a built-in ATSC tuner. While we don't know a timetable for this voluntary transition, it is something to consider.

    I use a Silicon Dust Homerun networked ATSC tuner and able to watch/record from any media set-top, PC, Mac, smart phone, tablet, etc. likely to buy a 3.0 version when it is launched.
     
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  7. Comptech

    Comptech SatelliteGuys Pro

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    And don't forget a EPG that fully populates!
     
  8. Titanium

    Titanium AI6US Lifetime Supporter

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    Doesn't the Homeworx EPG populate from the broadcaster or is it an multi-week IP database?

    One reason I use the Silicon Dust is for the 14 day and seasonal episode EPG DVR scheduling. The limited EPG provided OTA by most broadcasters makes DVR scheduling manual and frustrating.
     
  9. primestar31

    primestar31 SatelliteGuys Master

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    Brian, are you saying that the Silicon Dust tuners have a EPG that comes from somewhere other than just the channel PSIP data?
     
  10. Titanium

    Titanium AI6US Lifetime Supporter

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    Yes. I joined the go fund me on the software development and get the EPG data at no charge for several years. The EPG feature is part of a DVR package and will have a subscription. I haven't been following the public release, so not sure of the cost.
     
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  11. dem0nlord

    dem0nlord SatelliteGuys Pro

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    There are some other ways too. I do a scrape of zap2it.com and tvheadend pulls in that data, I did set it to 14 days but might be able to do even more, I never checked that. Can be done with USB/PCI tuners or HDhomerun which also integrates into tvheadend.

    I haven't gotten to it just yet but my intent is to set up additional accounts with zap2it and/or tvguide to pull more guide data in for the FTA channels I have saved. I figure between their grids for satellite providers and some local broadcast markets I can cover most of them.
     
  12. ancient

    ancient SatelliteGuys Pro

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    Does your media center PC box have PCIe slots? If so, you can install DVB-S2 tuner cards such as those made by TBS. They also make external tuners that are USB connected but personally I'd tend to shy away from those, having read too many comments about them running hot.

    Basically what I run is a desktop computer running a long-term support (LTS) version of Ubuntu Server edition (no desktop, it's just a server), and on that I have installed TVHeadend as my PVR software, and the driver software for my TBS cards. I also use zap2xml to get TV guide data.

    For terrestrial OTA TV you can either add another TBS tuner card that supports ATSC, or a different model if you are not in an ATSC country, or in some areas of the world you can use a HDHomeRun device, which can be anywhere on your local network (so ideally you'd put it close to wherever your TV antenna cable enters your house). Either will work with TVHeadend.

    If you don't like Linux there are Windows-based PVR backends such as MediaPortal or NextPVR. Linux (Ubuntu Server) is more secure than Windows and it's free, so that's what I use.

    You will also need a box running Kodi to connect to your TV. Do NOT buy a pre-loaded "Kodi box" as these are highly illegal in many jurisdictions, because they are loaded with third-party piracy addons that are not approved by the Kodi developers and that can break your entire system (and guarantee you will get no support whatsoever in any official Kodi support forums). Instead, install Kodi on a system you build to use (as a small HTPC box, for example), and only install addons from the official Kodi repository. Kodi will serve as your "frontend" software, and TVHeadend as your "backend" software. You can have many frontend systems, but you usually will have only one backend system. You CAN run Kodi on the same box as TVHeadend if you like; many people do that, but if you plan to do that you'll want to run a standard Ubuntu desktop rather than Ubuntu Server as your OS (if you have already installed the server edition you can just add a desktop package).

    One thing I would personally avoid is the software known as OpenElec or LibreElec. That is a package that's supposed to make it easy to install and run Kodi and optionally TVHeadend, but the tradeoff is that they make it very difficult if not impossible to go "off the ranch" and install any of the other software. It's like being in a walled garden with a very high wall. You get what they want you to have and nothing else unless you are very clever in getting around the limitations. One thing you may have difficulty doing is installing the drivers for your tuner cards. If you want to experiment with one of those go ahead, but don't say I didn't warn you.

    This type of setup will give you the greatest flexibility but it is definitely not an "install and forget" type of thing. If you don't want to learn anything, but would rather just plug something in and have it work, then this is not a solution for you. If you hate having to search the Internet to find solutions to minor issues that may arise during or after installation, again this is not a good fit. For a more complete setup tutorial see this blog post or any of the many videos on YouTube that show how to install and set up TVHeadend for DVB-S2 reception. Just keep in mind that they do things a little differently in other parts of the world, so information applicable to an install in Europe may only be partially applicable here, and also TVHeadend has a tendency to make significant changes in portions of its interface between versions, so videos or screenshots that show an older version may not look the same as what you will see when you install the most recent version of TVHeadend.
     
  13. dem0nlord

    dem0nlord SatelliteGuys Pro

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    Out of date info. The 5927 has a fan.


    Couldn't disagree more, it makes a great frontend, even runs well for me on a $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W.
     
  14. ancient

    ancient SatelliteGuys Pro

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    Be that as it may, I still think internal cards are more reliable. Also for those combining their frontend and backend in a single box, I would want to know how noisy that fan is. Just because a fan is small doesn't mean you can't hear it, and you really don't need constant fan noise in the background unless it's almost negligible. I understand the appeal of an external device, since so many computers nowadays don't include card slots, but if you are building from scratch the PCIe cards are probably a better choice.

    I simply recommend that people avoid OpenElec and LibreElec, and I stand by that recommendation. You are free to disagree, but you lend zero credibility to your position with that statement. If you are really going to try to argue that a $10 Raspberry Pi Zero will make an acceptable frontend then I have nothing to say to you. Go play with your toys. Some of the rest of us would like real HTPC's that aren't going to give us constant frustrations.

    I will guarantee you that if you ever try to watch a high-bandwidth 4:2:2 signal you are going to wish you had something a lot better than a Raspberry Pi. We actually tried using a Raspberry Pi for a child's bedroom and it pretty much sucked, it got replaced by a better system within a month or so. The minimal system we've found to be usable for a frontend of those we've tried is a MSI Cubi. I'm not saying there isn't anything else out there that's lower-priced that will work, because obviously I haven't tried everything. But, I am kind of fed up with the limitations of the Raspberry Pi, and I would have to be really super desperate to use one for a HTPC frontend, and I'd only do so until I could get something better. Granted, it will work with some channels, but if you are going to claim that a Raspberry Pi makes a "great" frontend then you and I are living in two totally different realities, and IMHO you are setting a really low bar for something to be considered "great".

    Digital satellite transmissions come in many variations and a Raspberry Pi just can't deal with all of them. And it's not entirely because of the ARM based processor used in the Raspberry Pi, although I suspect that doesn't help. I had an older Acer Revo with an Intel CPU that couldn't play those high bandwidth signals either, and it had nVidia graphics. And of course, many standalone satellite receivers can't play those high-bandwidth 4:2:2 signals, either.
     
  15. dem0nlord

    dem0nlord SatelliteGuys Pro

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    Nor would I place any credence on what you have to say. You clearly don't know how to make tvheadend transcode on the fly, and looking at your prior posts you've stated a preference for LNBFs over LNBs, plus stated you don't know how to connect an LNB to a DVB tuner. No wonder you've had performance problems.
     
  16. mr3p

    mr3p SatelliteGuys Pro Pub Member / Supporter

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    Cool thread. I wish I had the time to learn how to setup and use Kodi/TVheadend for FTA. There is definitely a learning curve and unfortunately my free time isn't there. I did manage to install LibreELEC and TVheadend backend/frontend on KII pro box but it became a time drain. I think once setup it could definitely be great but it seemed like for stuff like blindscan, feed hunting, etc I would need to be frequently interacting with the PC which isn't my preference. I'm not sure I follow the objection to running OpenELEC/LibreELEC as they provide the best option for running Kodi which does work as great media player and PVR frontend. If the goal is to run other apps (Android?) then Kodi definitely doesn't seem to be the best option. Considering the only real STB option for 4:2:2 is AZbox and that is limited to mpeg2, I'm not sure the inability to decode 4:2:2 should be considered a negative. What I considered for a while was a backend PC capable of receiving/decoding 4:2:2 mpeg2/h.264 and 4k and streaming that to a RPi or Android box but decided to ultimately pass. Its great to have options like LibreELEC and TVheadend but for me I don't have the time to be maintaining a complex setup and would prefer using a single device whether that be an Android box or PC running frontend software connected to TV. What is the current status for running E2 on a PC?
     
  17. ancient

    ancient SatelliteGuys Pro

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    I don't need to know how to make TVHeadend transcode on the fly; why would I want to degrade the quality of the .ts streams? I'm sure if I wanted to do it I could figure it out, and I already do know how to change the stream profile, if that's what you are talking about. No, I don't like the old style LNB's that require the mechanical polarotor unit, I prefer to use equipment made in the 21st century that uses voltage switching of polarity, same as is used by all the commercial satellite providers (and I realize there are a lot of guys in this forum that prefer the older stuff, but that's not in any way germane to this discussion). Why would I want to use a finicky mechanical device that tends to go bad after a number of months or years? And finally, I don't know where you are getting that I don't know how to connect an LNB to a DVB tuner, since ALL my LNB's are now connected to DVB-S2 tuners (TBS brand). If you are searching really old posts to try to dig up some dirt so you can try to smear my credibility, I will freely admit that three or four years ago I was a real dummy when it comes to this stuff, but I have learned a lot since, including that in my experience a Raspberry Pi is no substitute for a real HTPC.

    Further, anyone who uses OpenElec or LibreElec has no business talking about the technical competence of someone who doesn't. Those distributions are specifically intended for people who don't want to learn anything. If you install one of those, you probably don't want to know how to use Linux in any way, you don't want to install drivers, and you want much of the setup done for you. And that is fine if all you want to do is OTA ATSC. But if you are trying to receive DVB-S2 signals from satellites, sooner or later you are going to bump up against the limitations of that software. Some people probably just accept those limitations, just as they accept that most satellite receivers won't play the 4:2:2 signals.

    However, all that said, let's go back for a minute to that "transcode on the fly" business. Although you didn't say it, it sounded like you were implying that TVHeadend could transcode a problem video stream to something that a Raspberry Pi can play, in real time. Now, that can work in some circumstances, where it's just a container issue. I've used an ffmpeg pipe in real time to fix a couple of channels that were not displaying the video correctly. But, that's not true transcoding. Transcoding where you are changing to a lower bitrate takes time, and it uses a lot of CPU resources. If you are using ffmpeg, I have found that transcoding typically takes about twice as long as the length of a recording, and that's on a fast desktop machine. Unless you have discovered some magic secret sauce (and I'd need to see it to believe it), there is no way you are going to transcode a high-bandwidth 4:2:2 signal down to something a Raspberry Pi can play "on the fly" (in real time). You can do it as a post-processing event, but not in real time, and if you try to do it on a Raspberry Pi I would not plan on viewing the recording the same evening.

    One of the big problems with TVHeadend is that their documentation kind of sucks, in some cases because it's not kept current with new revisions of the software. So it is not that easy to figure out how to do things (and if you find it easy, you could perhaps help a lot by contributing documentation). But I would be blown away if you can demonstrate how to do that type of video transcoding in real time, because that would mean they are using something much better than ffmpeg. Again, I know they can change the container (going from a .ts stream to matroska, for example - that's just a matter of selecting the correct stream profile in TVHeadend) but that is not the same as lowering the bitrate of a high-bitrate stream so that a Raspberry Pi can play it.

    I don't pretend to know everything (there are guys in this forum who know a lot more about this stuff than I do, especially those guys who eat, breathe and sleep Linux) but I have actually tried OpenElec and I have actually tried using a Raspberry Pi for a frontend (in fact I tried OpenElec on a Raspberry Pi!) and I quickly became very frustrated with the limitations. I should also add that while I have attempted to do this sort of thing with an original Raspberry Pi and a Raspberry Pi 2, I've never had a Raspberry Pi 3; it is remotely possible that the Pi 3 is fast enough to overcome some of the shortcomings of the earlier models. People are free to try whatever they want and if it works for them, more power to them. But if someone is starting out a a rank beginner, I would at least like them to know that if they choose to start out with OpenElec or LibreElec they are likely to encounter some limitations that they would not experience if they were running complete Linux build on a good backend system. I'm not denying those might be easier to set up and get working initially, but there are some very real tradeoffs down the road, particularly if you want to be able to install additional software for any reason.

    Anyway, I'm done. Use what you want, feel free to ignore everything I've said if you like. TVHeadend is not that easy to set up and use, so many people get frustrated with it and abandon it before really realizing how powerful it is, and unfortunately there is nothing I can say or do to fix that underlying problem.
     
  18. Cham

    Cham VE4GLS Pub Member / Supporter

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    I use two HDHomeRuns, one connected to a local antenna for local stations, and another connected to a long range directional antenna. Works great using the PC as a DVR. Fun little devices!
     
  19. harshness

    harshness SatelliteGuys Master

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    I agree with what you say in principle but I wonder if it will actually make any difference over the life of a piece of consumer gear.

    I expect that ATSC 3.0 as the broadcast standard is out at least eight years. This is my estimate based on the fact that ATSC 3.0 will have to be adopted voluntarily by perhaps 90% or more of the population in order for that to happen.

    That being the case, a DTV system will give you good service up to the point that everything must be replaced. I also expect that ATSC 3.0 tuners are going to be rather complex and very expensive until after ATSC 3.0 is mandated. The people who are most after ATSC 3.0 are the broadcasters and the TV manufacturers so I reason that tuners that aren't dedicated to a new TV or TV upgrade will be a back burner priority.

    At this point in time, I expect that you could still get a reasonable life out of something like a lifetime TiVo if that is your thing.
     
  20. glover31

    glover31 Topic Starter SatelliteGuys Pro

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    That is quite a wealth of information. Most a bit complex and confusing mostly because I have not played around. I do however run xubunu as my main pc os. I have windows 7 on the other partition. I want to be clear. This is to be a new built from the ground up. I am posting some pics so everyone knows what I am starting with.
     

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