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

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glover31

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SatelliteGuys Pro
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.
Looks as though I can fit a motherboard inside with 4 slots max
 

glover31

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
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.
I am confused. Why are some of the cards for dvb have multiple coax in? My current set up for a normal stb has just the one in. What is the benefit of 4?
 

harshness

SatelliteGuys Master
15,739
Salem, OR
Looks as though I can fit a motherboard inside with 4 slots max
Because your goal was a multi-function box, this may be a problem. You'll need at least two tuner cards and the small mainboards often have a shortage of PCI-e slots.

You'll also want to evaluate the power requirements carefully and make sure you have cooling under control as the tuner cards consume more power and generate more heat than other cards (except for display adapters).
 

harshness

SatelliteGuys Master
15,739
Salem, OR
I am confused. Why are some of the cards for dvb have multiple coax in? My current set up for a normal stb has just the one in. What is the benefit of 4?
Because there are different modulation standards used world-wide, they provide a separate input for each standard so you don't have to switch cables. In the case of the four input models, they have two inputs for each of the two tuners. This probably doesn't apply CONUS.
 

glover31

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
I have decided I will be adding a new multi triax lnb brackets to both dishes as well. pick up on a few more sats. I just got a satlink ws-6906 to help me out a bit. As far as my part hunting goes. I am looking at refurbished pcs. Seems its cheaper to get my hands on a newer motherboard and intel chip used then buying new. I have used amd for years but they run much hotter and thus drive up the electric bill. I was looking at i3 i5 and i7. But thinking that maybe for fta + ota + iptv I really should not need anything more powerful than dual core. Still looking. Point is to find a board with 3 to 5 slots.
 

harshness

SatelliteGuys Master
15,739
Salem, OR
Your doing good to find a modern computer with more than two slots these days. Since so many featured on-board graphics and sound, interest in card slots is way down on all but the DIY gaming systems.
 

iBoston

SatelliteGuys Pro
I have a couple questions.

Viewing multiple channels at the same time. I would assume you would be limited to the number of coax imports to the number of simultaneous streaming to devices when dealing with multiple satellites?? Is that limit lifted if you have two coax inputs when dealing with one satellite?

Also how long does it take to do a channel change? Being its an tcp stream, does it take a 3-4 seconds to switch between channels??

I would love to see someone upload a video that shows there own client side of the headend system navigate the channels, and watch etc... Anyone know of any links?
 

harshness

SatelliteGuys Master
15,739
Salem, OR
Viewing multiple channels at the same time.
I don't think it is reasonable to expect something like a Hopper or a Genie out of an MPC -- especially when it comes to live viewing.

None of the content comes out of the sky, air or cable in TCP/IP form. Something like an HD Homerun can do this for DTV and QAM, but you would still need to have a server to pick it up and centralize the experience.

I would imagine (perhaps incorrectly) that switching from one type of source to another (between OTA and FTA for example) would require significant monkeying around (formally leaving one media and entering in to a new media a selecting a new channel) in something like Plex. If you have a streamer now, think about what it takes to jump from Netflix to Hulu or YouTube to Amazon Prime.
 

ancient

SatelliteGuys Pro
312
USA
I am confused. Why are some of the cards for dvb have multiple coax in? My current set up for a normal stb has just the one in. What is the benefit of 4?
Sorry, I have been dealing with some other things in my life and haven't visited this forum for a few days. Anyway, the thing to remember is that you can only view or record one mux at a time per tuner. That means that if you have a single tuner card, you can only view or record the channels from a single mux. If you have two programs you want to watch at 9 PM and they are on different muxes, you would be out of luck. If they are on different channels on the same mux, then you are fine, and can watch one and record the other, or record both at the same time.

One way to avoid conflicts is to use dual or quad output LNB's - this gives you the equivalent of two or four individual LNB's pointed at the same satellite. You need a separate cable for each LNB output, and a separate tuner input for each incoming cable. So, if you have a dual output LNB and a dual or quad input tuner, you can watch or record shows from any two muxes at the same time.

Now what if you have two satellite dishes? Well, you could put dual output LNB's on each dish, so you'd have four LNB outputs in total, and run those into a quad input tuner card. Then you could watch or record up to four muxes simultaneously, although only two of them could be from one dish. Or you could use a dual tuner card, connected to two DiSEqC switches, and then run the output of one side of the LNB from each dish to DiSEqC switch A, and the other LNB output from each dish to DiSEqC switch B. Then you could watch or record from only two muxes simultaneously, but those two muxes could be from either dish. Of course you could have more dishes, a quad tuner card (and/or more than one tuner card), multiple DiSEqC switches, etc. depending on what conflicts you need to avoid and which satellites you are receiving programming from.

One small disclaimer, I have never attempted to run a positioner motor using Tvheadend, so I don't know how well that works in a scenario where you want to receive multiple satellites, therefore my examples assume fixed dishes locked onto a single satellite. But hopefully this explains why multiple input tuner cards can be useful. Also a small caveat, if you see what appears to be a dual input tuner card, check the specs carefully - some single tuner cards also include a "passthrough" output, so you can run a "slave" card or receiver. So there will be two coax connectors on the card, but only one is an input.
 
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ancient

SatelliteGuys Pro
312
USA
I have a couple questions.

Viewing multiple channels at the same time. I would assume you would be limited to the number of coax imports to the number of simultaneous streaming to devices when dealing with multiple satellites?? Is that limit lifted if you have two coax inputs when dealing with one satellite?

Also how long does it take to do a channel change? Being its an tcp stream, does it take a 3-4 seconds to switch between channels??

I would love to see someone upload a video that shows there own client side of the headend system navigate the channels, and watch etc... Anyone know of any links?
See the reply I just posted to glover31, it answers your first question (I hope).

Channel changes can be tricky with North American FTA. There's really no set time. The majority will pop in within a second or so but a few of them can take several seconds. I guess it just depends on how they are modulating the signal and whether you have a good signal coming from the dish.

I don't know that any North American really wants to reveal what channels they are receiving, not if they are smart, anyway. That would be a good way to get channels scrambled. :oldmad However if you search YouTube I'm sure you can find plenty of examples from Europe of people showing what they can receive and how fast channel changes take place. That's not going to be the same because their FTA is a somewhat different animal, but it will at least give you some idea.
 

ancient

SatelliteGuys Pro
312
USA
I would imagine (perhaps incorrectly) that switching from one type of source to another (between OTA and FTA for example) would require significant monkeying around (formally leaving one media and entering in to a new media a selecting a new channel) in something like Plex. If you have a streamer now, think about what it takes to jump from Netflix to Hulu or YouTube to Amazon Prime.
I don't know about Plex. If you have both types of tuners coming into Tvheadend (say a HDHomeRun tuner for OTA and a TBS card for FTA) the all the channels appear in the same list in Kodi and there is no special procedure needed to switch from one to the other. If you have more than one backend (say one for OTA and another for FTA) then it gets slightly harder (making Kodi use two backends is a little tricky), but if you can get it working then all the channels still show up in the same list in Kodi, so no delays or "monkeying around".
 

glover31

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Sorry, I have been dealing with some other things in my life and haven't visited this forum for a few days. Anyway, the thing to remember is that you can only view or record one mux at a time per tuner. That means that if you have a single tuner card, you can only view or record the channels from a single mux. If you have two programs you want to watch at 9 PM and they are on different muxes, you would be out of luck. If they are on different channels on the same mux, then you are fine, and can watch one and record the other, or record both at the same time.

One way to avoid conflicts is to use dual or quad output LNB's - this gives you the equivalent of two or four individual LNB's pointed at the same satellite. You need a separate cable for each LNB output, and a separate tuner input for each incoming cable. So, if you have a dual output LNB and a dual or quad input tuner, you can watch or record shows from any two muxes at the same time.

Now what if you have two satellite dishes? Well, you could put dual output LNB's on each dish, so you'd have four LNB outputs in total, and run those into a quad input tuner card. Then you could watch or record up to four muxes simultaneously, although only two of them could be from one dish. Or you could use a dual tuner card, connected to two DiSEqC switches, and then run the output of one side of the LNB from each dish to DiSEqC switch A, and the other LNB output from each dish to DiSEqC switch B. Then you could watch or record from only two muxes simultaneously, but those two muxes could be from either dish. Of course you could have more dishes, a quad tuner card (and/or more than one tuner card), multiple DiSEqC switches, etc. depending on what conflicts you need to avoid and which satellites you are receiving programming from.

One small disclaimer, I have never attempted to run a positioner motor using Tvheadend, so I don't know how well that works in a scenario where you want to receive multiple satellites, therefore my examples assume fixed dishes locked onto a single satellite. But hopefully this explains why multiple input tuner cards can be useful. Also a small caveat, if you see what appears to be a dual input tuner card, check the specs carefully - some single tuner cards also include a "passthrough" output, so you can run a "slave" card or receiver. So there will be two coax connectors on the card, but only one is an input.
Thank you. I think that answers my question. I think. At this point the plan is in fact to have fixed dishes only. No motorized equipment. I currently have two dishes set up. Each with a single standard lnbf for ku. I just recieved the kit in the mail. Took a while to get here. I intend to monkey around and start pulling in at least an extra sat. I have two special brackets. I will post pictures soon. I have been heavily researching prices for the parts to build. It takes time to find good deals when doing a build. And takes time to find parts that are not junk. I might have a donor pc coming but not sure. If so I will have my cpu and dvd drive. Possibly power supply. Thats the biggest cost really. I intend to stick with intel as amd tends to run hotter thus running up the electric bill. Not a good combo if using this box as a everyday stb.
 
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