linux for blondes

tv cards

I thought that it would be a great idea to rip out an unused tv card from one of my old machines and see it I could get it working on my linux box. To be honest I have had variable success. I do have nice TV and video pictures appearing on my screen. I do not however have sound (although after much sole searching by more skilled computer whizes than me has come to the conclusion that it is the KDE sound driver blocking the sound to other less forcefull programs) I also have the ability to record videos which was the entire point of the exercise so that I could record my wedding video off a tape someone had given me and onto a dvd. However, again, this is with some provisos, namely that I can't do it under kde as it screws up the sound with its own all consuming drivers. In addition I have entirely failed to set up mythtv on a number of occasions and have given up with it as it has to be the most complicated and useless installation system in the world. 

Step One

Install a TV card! Not always as easy as it sounds as I did significant injury to my hands while trying to remove one of those anoying sharp metal things from the back of my case so I could use a PCI slot. I'm using a Hauppauge TV card. Not sure exactly which one but I know it has the bt848 chip set as the programs designed for that work.

Once inserted into its PCI slot I also had to connect the sound output from the TV card into the input on my sound card (which is broke - next article on buying and installing new sound card) and, of coarse, connecting the ariel.

Step Two 

The bttv driver is installed a standard in most kernals. You can check that out by typing dmesg after you insert your TV card to see whether they will speak to each other. I was luck and dmesg printed out ...

[17179594.052000] bttv0: Bt878 (rev 2) at 0000:01:09.0, irq: 217, latency: 32, mmio: 0xdc000000
[17179594.052000] bttv0: detected: Hauppauge WinTV [card=10], PCI subsystem ID is 0070:13eb

If you don't seem to have it already then you can get it from the web page which also has some useful hints and tips on setting up and running.

Step Three

Once installed and speaking to each other the next essential step is to find a program which will show the TV pictures. I installed TVtime first as it seemed nice and simple. I used synaptic to instal it to avoid much of the hassle of installation. The start up comand was tvtime and immediately a small blue screen appeared with the ominous words "no signal". But do not fear! Some minor setting up was required. 

Right click on the screen to display a menu.

Click on channel management.

Then click on Search for channels. 

There are a couple of hundred to go through so you need pacience for it but at about 150 it found my video recorder. 

Step Four

TVtime does not have video recording ability (PVR = personal video recorder) built in. However their site recomends mythtv, presumably as a sadistic way to disuade mery linux users from recording their videos onto their computer. I say this as mythtv caused me to bang my head off the table in frustration after one, two, nearly three hours of unsuccessful settup.

However, having said that I have to admit that their help pages are very indepth and do go over the set up in detail. Once you have got it set up you will be able to use multiple tv cards to record different programs, schedule your program watching/recording and much more. However, there are two computer users in my flat with considerable skill between us and neither of us has managed to trawl through the mythtv set up. Other, more determined, TV-watcher-slash-linux-user friends have been succesful but I am affraid I have given up.

Instead I tried xawtv. Much more simple and worked with the ease of tvtime. Install it (or use synaptic) and then start it up using the command xawtv.  The up and down arrows scroll through the various channels. Right click on the nice fuzzy screen to displays a menu. (a handy start up screen explains the basics but remember that its right not left click as that took me some time). 

To record a scene in an avi form then ...

Right click ont he fuzzy screen to display a menue.

Click on Record movie.

Change mode driver to microsoft avi format 

Type in the names for the files you are going to create

Select your preferences for sample rate, frames per second, audeo etc

Press the start/stop recording button to start recording

Press it again to stop recording.

And then click play back to admire your handiwork.

Unfortuantely, again, sound is an issue in KDE due to its all consuming sound drivers so I recomend switching to a more amenable operating system to do this such as enlightenment.

Stage 5

Sit back and enjoy the movie!