Thursday, February 04, 2010

DirecTV Serial/USB Channel Changing for Hauppauge HD-PVR using DVBLink

A few months ago David shared his step-by-step, how to setup the Hauppauge HD-PVR on MediaCenter with DVBLink.  Today he takes that how-to a step further and shows his method for channel changing – read on for all of the details.

NOTE:  This is a guest post by DavidBasic guidelines for writing and submitting your own guest post at GeekTonic can be found here.


Many people have trouble setting up serial/usb channel changing using DVBLink, DirecTV and Windows 7 Media Center.  I am going to show you the software, hardware and steps I used to get channel changing that is 99% accurate (sometimes it misses the NFL Sunday Ticket HD sub channels).

Software used

  • HDPVR IrBlaster Bridge - This is a drop in replacement for the Hauppauage IR Blaster DLL. It currently supports talking directly to the DirecTV STB via the serial port.
  • (Optional) DirecTV Channel Control v1.0- This is a utility that will allow you to change channels and control your external direcTV set top box using the low speed data connection (home control) port in the back of the receiver.  This is only needed for the NFL Sunday Ticket HD

Hardware used

  • DB9, F/F, Null Modem Mini Type – monoprice
  • 2 USB to Serial Convert Cables (DB9M/USB B female converter and USB A/B cable) – monoprice

Steps to setup

Install HDPVR Ir Blaster Bridge.

Connect the USB to Serial Convert Cables to the DB9 Null Modem and install the drivers.

Setup DVBLink to use the HDPVR IrBlaster Bridge or the custom hooks(Optional).


NFL Sunday Ticket and some of the other DirecTV sports packages use sub channels for the HD channels (ex. 703-1).  I had to use the following to allow me to be able to correctly change channels to the sub channels.

Download DirecTV Channel Control.  Extract it to a folder, I just put the directv.exe in C:\ to make it easy to find.

Edit the change-channel.cmd file located at C:\Program Files\DVBLogic\DVBLink\Data\HDPVR\Hooks.  My channel-change.cmd code change-channel.


After following the above steps I was able to have 99% accurate channel changes through USB.  It was faster and more reliable than using an IR blaster and it only cost about $18 for the extra cables and adapters.

About the author:  David is an HTPC and Home Theater enthusiast.  He has a Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science and is currently working at a Private College in Virginia as a Web Technical Analyst.  He has built a theater in his basement from scratch.  He did 80% of the work himself.  After starting with XBMC on the original Xbox, he moved to an HTPC running SageTV, then now to Windows 7 Media Center.

Read more of David’s HTPC writings on his website

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

SageTV – True HTPC Support on Windows Home Server

Windows Home Server

Windows Home Server is a great product that provides users a simple way to centralize all of their files and provide easier ways to back up and restore that data when needed.  But one of the things it would be perfect for is something Microsoft hasn’t offered to MediaCenter users.  Thankfully SageTV has had WHS support for quite a while now and provides a solid, robust solution for serving your media to the TVs in your home via WHS.

Jason Smith is a new blogger on the Home Server Show and has a great writeup on “SageTV on the Windows Home Server”

If you’re a Windows Home Server user, a SageTV user or even a Windows MediaCenter user this is a must read.  Jason is mostly complementary to SageTV, but he’s very fair as this quote from the article proves:

“Obviously SageTV isn’t all sunshine and roses with puppy dogs smiling at happy babies. There are a few issues with Sage that would need to be considered."

I loved that quote.  Be sure and stop over at the HomeServerShow and check out the full article

AVerMedia AVerTV USB HD DVR – Capture Content via Analog Hole

AverMedia USB HD DVR


A few days ago I hooked up with the fine folks at AVerMedia to learn a little more about their new USB HD DVR device set to compete with the Hauppauge HD-PVR.  This device, like the Hauppauge HD-PVR captures HD content (up to 1080i) via Component Video In and therefore uses the “Analog Hole” to record and tune the content you want from Cable and Satellite.

My interview with AVerMedia was with Stephen Dix, VP of Sales & Marketing and Dominic Wong from engineering.  I’m really glad I had the chance to talk one-on-one with these guys as it gave me good insight into where AVerMedia is in the HTPC market and where they plan to be going forward.  I’ll get into the companies history and future plans with the North American HTPC market in a future post but the basic takeaway from my conversation is that AVerMedia is very serious about HTPC and working towards increasing their presence in the U.S. market.

AverMedia USB HD DVR Ports

There seemed to be some confusion when AVerMedia’s AverTV USB HD DVR was first announced at CES.  Despite several reports that it recorded with a HDMI input this is not the case.  Here’s the inputs and outputs on the device:


  • Component Video In
  • S/Video In
  • Composite Video In (on front)
  • Composite Left/Right Audio In
  • Power
  • USB


  • Component Video Out (1080p) pass through
  • HDMI Out (for playback directly to TV – not for HTPC)
  • Composite Left/Right Audio Out
  • IR Blaster

Note two things in those specs above:  First, there is no Optical audio in or Optical audio out.  This is a biggie for some as it means no 5.1 audio.  But if priced right this might not be a huge deal really.  I confirmed with AVerMedia that this first generation of the device will only have stereo audio.

Secondly you’ll note the HDMI output.  At first this seems a strange addition as it doesn’t record from HDMI.  But it will allow you to connect the device to a TV with HDMI inputs.

I confirmed that the device will not ship with a remote control.

Software Support:

  • TotalMedia Extreme 2.0 – comes bundled with the device and will be supported at launch
  • SageTV – AVerMedia has begun discussions with SageTV on support for the device.  I confirmed with Jeff Kardatzke (CEO of SageTV) of SageTV’s plans.  Kardatzke had this to say “

    “we do plan on working with AverMedia in the future to integrate support for the HD-DVR into SageTV”


No word on support for Windows MediaCenter and based on how the Hauppauge HD-PVR device has been shunned by Microsoft, I’d expect the same situation here.  I’m also guessing that 3rd part support could be added for Windows MediaCenter if DVBLink gets it working as they have with the Hauppauge HD-PVR.

Hardware Encoding

Despite reports to the contrary, the AVerMedia AverTV USB HD DVR does hardware encoding just like the Hauppauge HD-PVR does.  Matter of fact the AVerMedia will pack in a very similar chip for hardware encoding to h.264.  AVerMedia tells me the semiconductor in their chip is a little more advanced too – we’ll have to check that in some real-time testing.

Expected Launch Date?

The estimated time of arrival for the AVerMedia AverTV USB HD DVR April 2010 which is a month later than originally announced.

Expected Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price:

The plan to launch with a MSR of $199 which is pretty close to what the Hauppauge HD-PVR is selling for.  I expect this should keep some pressure on Hauppauge to keep their price down and could mean the AVerMedia will sell for discounts at lower prices down the road – great news for HTPC owners!

Other Info

A few other tidbits I learned about the device:

  • Will not include a remote control – not a big deal for me since I never use the one that came with my Hauppauge HD-PVR
  • The use of more than one of these devices at one time on a single HTPC hasn’t been tested thus far but in theory should work.
  • There is no fan inside for cooling.  Overheating is an issue Hauppauge had with their HD-PVR initially so we’ll watch this closely with the AVerMedia.


I’m excited about seeing competition for Hauppauge in this space – options are always a good thing.  Hopefully AVerMedia will put out a gen 2 device that supports 5.1 audio as well.

As soon as they are available I’ll have a full review of the AVerMedia AverTV USB HD DVR here at GeekTonic so stay tuned!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

TV Premieres, Finales & Specials This Week 01/31/2010

February is here and the new month brings us the final season of Lost – the one show we can count on to keep us scratching our head wondering what’s going on all the while we watch week after week.  There’s a few other new premiers and returning shows this week as well so read on.

Don’t miss the Ultimate Guide to the 2010 Winter TV Season Premieres with free downloads by premiere date & by show name!  I’ve updated this guide with some additions and network changes.


If you’re a fan of Lost or even a friend or family member of a Lost addict, you might enjoy the parody above by the FineBrothers.  Thanks to TVSquad for pointing it out!

Sunday, January 31

The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards (8pm on CBS – Available in HD) – Music awards show with Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce and other musical acts performing

Camp Woodward (8pm on FuelTV) – Season 3 premiere

The Cleveland Show (8:30pm on Fox– Available in HD) – Season 1 returns.

Family Guy (9pm on Fox – Available in HD) – Season 8 returns

American Dad (9:30pm on Fox ) – Season 5 returns


Monday, February 1

Kell on Earth (10pm on Bravo) – This new show follows NYC PR queen Kelley Cutrone and team as they work to build hype and buzz for the fashion industry clients that hire them.

The Secret Diary of a Call Girl (10pm on Showtime) Season 3 premiere

Blood, Sweat & T-Shirts (10pm on Planet – Available in HD) – New realityTV show

Worst Cooks in America (10pm on Food) – Season 1 finale


Tuesday, February 2

Lost (9pm on ABC – Available in HD) – After a review of the past seasons of Lost 9pm brings us a 2-hour premiere of the sixth, and final season of Lost

Kitchen Impossible (9pm on DIY) – Season 3 of the “how to make "fill in the blank” for your kitchen show.  Not food – but kitchen design.

Psychic Kids (9pm on A&E) – Season 2 finale

Austin Stevens Adventures (10pm on HDNet) – a new series on HDNet


Wednesday, February 3

The Woman Who Stops Traffic (8pm on Planet Green) – A new series

American Greed (9pm on CNBC) – Season 4 premiere

Launch My Line (9pm on Bravo) – Season 1 finale

Living With Ed (9pm on Planet Green) – Season 3 finale

Steven Seagal Lawman (10pm on A&E) – Season 1 finale

Shear Genius (11pm on Bravo) – Season 3 premiere

Thursday, February 4

Important Things With Demetri Martin (10pm on Comedy) – Season 2 premiere

The Sarah Silverman Program (10:30pm on Comedy) – Season 3 premiere

Friday, February 5

Smallville: Absolute Justice (8pm on CW – Available in HD) – a 2 hour Smallville movie

Saturday, February 6

Down Home with the Neelys (11am on Food) – Season 7 premiere

Frontline: Digital Nation (9pm on PBS – Available in HD) – A newsmagazine special about us – the folks who are “addicted” and very-connected to the digital realm.


So if you didn’t care for the Lost parody above, check out this one from last year.  A cross between Star Trek and Lost.  So true it’s funny…


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