Building a PVR

Inspired by Make, I’ve decided to get my hands dirty again by building a PVR (personal video recorder) for fun. Tivo’s aren’t available in Canada and any of the commercial units are just a tad too "closed" for my liking.

I’m going with MythTV as the core application running on Linux (there is a decent overview of MythTV here). The distro I’ve chosen is the very slick KnoppMyth. It looks like it is definitely the quickest way to get to the end result without having to spend a lot of time hacking Linux (which I have done in the past and would prefer not to have to do again).

Gaining access to Canadian TV listings was a little bit of a concern initially but it looks like MythTV works with a feed from Zap2it Labs.

I downloaded the latest version of KnoppMyth a couple of days ago and the Hauppauge PVR-350 and PVR-500 cards arrived this morning.

The PC I chose is an off-lease Dell GXF240 (P4 1.7 – small desktop). I liked the form-factor, but the card cage may be a little small for the cards (at least the PVR-500). I’m hoping I can get them to fit, but think I’m going to have to do some Dremel work. It was only a couple of hundred bucks, so I don’t mind experimenting.

The 300GB hard drive, DVD burner, and PC should be arriving shortly. Then it’ll be time to get to work.

3 thoughts on “Building a PVR

  1. I’ll be watching anxiously as you build new toys.
    I love the utility and loath the futility that is my Cogeco rental DVR.
    You’re not out to have some fun now, are you?

  2. I tried to do this here in Australia. We use DVB here, not sure what Canada has, but I had huge problems getting the DVB device to work, even though it was a supported device. On the mac however it just works in iTele ( on the Mac. I struggled for 2 days trying to get it stable under linux to use in MythTV but in the end just gave up.

    It’ll be good to see how successful you are with the analogue tv.

  3. Thanks Greg,

    I monitored the KnoppMyth forums quite extensively before taking the plunge, so I’m pretty sure that the cards I’ve chose can work well (If I can get them to work is another story :-))

    I’ve got several other people watching with some interest as well. If I’m successful I think it’ll spawn a rash of MythTV building here.

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