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Making a home DVR

Last response: in Home Theatre
February 4, 2013 8:19:57 PM

I just bought a new laptop and my old desktop at home has a intel core I7 processor with 8 gigs ram and windows 7 ultimate on it. I have been getting upset with my comcast DVR lately. It keeps locking up and and i have to unplug from power and plug it back in. So i was going to try and make my own. I just dont know what to get for hardware and if some of it can be done. So i will give you what i would like and you tell me if it is doable and maybe recommend some hardware

1. Replace comcast dvr with something that can use a cable card to record hdtv i dont have my own antenna for local i get them through comcast
2. I would like to be able to record up to 4 shows in hd or sd
3. i would like to share this between the living room and the tv in the bedroom
4. i want the tv in the bedroom to be able to watch something different either live or from dvr and setup recordings for shows if they like
5. What kind of a remote do you use to control it? (I've never played with this kind of stuff and i dont want to have to use a keyboard and mouse to control it or do you have to?)

Is there a way to do this? We just sold our house finally and are renting a townhouse right now so i cant run any wires through the house unless they go across the floor. I have wireless setup in the house for the laptop and i can plug my desktop into the network without a problem

More about : making home dvr

February 5, 2013 12:45:21 AM

What you're looking to do is very doable, but it would be much better if you had any way to hard wire the two systems to a network. Understand that there are some down-sides (minor IMO) in going to a cablecard ready solution:

1) If you're a fan of the TV Guide Channel, you don't get that anymore. Of course, there is the freely downloadable Electronic Program Guide (EPG). Normally, this guide is updated often enough to provide 14 days worth of upcoming programming data, but there are reports of occasional update failures. I think the least amount of programming data I've was 10 days, but I've seen reports of users having only six days of data.

2) There is no support for On-Demand programming from Comcast (or any cable company). On-Demand requires two way communications from the DVR/Set Top Box and the cable company. Cablecard ready devices (or the cablecards themselves) are only one way receivers.

As for your questions:

1) Any of the cablecard ready devices will work for you.

2) Only the Ceton InfiniTV4 (USB or PCI-E) has four tuners, but you can mix and match devices at will (each device will still need a cablecard from Comcast).

3) The TV in the bedroom is going to need some sort of media extender (or another PC). If you can somehow make this a hard-wired connection, the Ceton Echo is the newest extender available or if you have an XBox in the bedroom, you could use that as well.

One thing you should know. All programs recorded from Comcast (and I suspect all cable TV providers) are tagged with DRM restrictions. From what I know, there are three levels:

1) Copy-Freely: This means once the program is recorded, you can watch it, manipulate it, or move it to any other device.
2) Copy-Once: Unless I'm mistaken, this means that once the program is recorded, it can only be viewed on the system the did the recording. It cannot be manipulated in any way and *I believe* not viewed from any other system.
3) Copy-Never: Programs flagged this way cannot be recorded at all (never actually come across this).

4) This would depend on your setup. An extender, attached to the network, can be assigned an available tuner. With either of the Ceton devices, one tuner could be statically assigned to the extender. With any other cablecard device, the tuners are dynamically assigned as part of the network.

Just as an example, during football season, when I can multiple games of interest playing at the same time, I have one of my Ceton tuners assigned to this PC. The card is physically installed in my HTPC just a few feet away. I can play the main game live on the HTPC and at the same time, have the secondary game playing live on this PC. Of course, my PCs are hard wired to my home network.

5) I'm using an older style Microsoft Media Center Remote Control. If you look other remotes are available from companies like Hauppauge (recommended), Pinnacle, Adesso (I think), and even Rosewill. If you already have a Logitech Harmony Remote, that could be programmed to control your HTPC (DVR).

In all honestly, I can't say how well using a wireless connection would work in assigning a tuner to the bedroom PC. I live in a small apartment and cannot cut holes in walls either, but I did have the cable connection running from the living room to the bedroom. I purchased a DIY kit to swap the single coax cable pass-through to a dual coax cable/cat5 pass-through.

As for the system you want to use, the Core I7 system and 8GB of RAM is more than enough to do all that you're asking. I've done all that you're asking with my HTPC set up (listed below).

-Wolf sends
April 12, 2014 8:29:32 AM

I am interested in this as well. My Comcast DVR has had 5 failures in 3 months needing to be replaced twice in that time period. I've several older computer lying around, and RAM and HDD's aren't all that expensive right now. Just need to get a copy of Win 7.

I'm thinking of using the following parts I've got lying around:
AMD Athlon II X3 435 (2.9 GHz)
4 GB of RAM
XFX Double-D Radeon 6850
500W PSU

I just need to get a PCIe card that takes cable card like the Ceton InfiniTV4 and then find a way to output to multiple rooms, probably with a Media Center Extender or two.
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April 12, 2014 9:14:20 AM

If the other rooms are wired for Ethernet wired networking, you're good to go with the Ceton Echo. If not, you need to look at other networking options like Media over Coaxial Alliance (MoCA) or Powerline Networking.

Personally, if you're looking at simultaneous playback in up to three rooms, I'd probably be looking at the Ceton InfiniTV 6 Eth six tuner card.

-Wolf sends
August 31, 2014 9:10:56 PM

I would like to do the same thing except I want to get rid of the cable company EXCEPT for the Internet. I figure I can get local channels for free by buying an entena.I should be able to get BBC news as well as a few others. I'm not sure what software I would need to be able to get more channels and something to schedule recordings.
August 31, 2014 10:16:17 PM

There is no software to "get more channels". You'll only get the channels that broadcast in your area with an antenna and a TV Tuner card that will pick up your TV signal. Once you have a tuner installed, you can use Windows Media Center or some other Media Center program for scheduling recordings.

-Wolf sends