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Thread: Build your own DVR?

  1. #1

    Build your own DVR?

    I just cut back my cable service and turned in my DVR's. Sick of paying $28 a month rental plus $9 for an extra digital outlet.

    I have been reading about building your own DVR. I need to upgrade no of my systems and was thinking of building a DVR from the old parts. I'm not sure if I understand 100% how to do this.

    I guess you would hook up the cable or over the air connection to the TV tuner capture card on the PC and then hook up the TV to your Vid card? Does that sound right? Also, I guess I can hook up my sound card to my Home theater system. The sound card I have in my gaming rig has a digital audio coax out but its the small 1.5 mill or whatever. Any one know where I can get an adapter for that?

    If anyone has any info or knows anything about this that would be awesome ...thanks!

  2. #2
    The Main Man Dewayne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Build your own DVR?

    You still have cable right?

    The cable would come into you TV card and it does it magic (watching or recording or whatever). Your video card with a s-video output can go to your tv. It the tv does not have a s-video input you can use a s-video to RCA adapter to do so.

    Yes you can use the mini jack off you sound card to get the sound. If you TV has a left-right input your ahead of the game. All you need is a 1.5 jack that is stereo with a left and right RCA connectors; it would look like a Y. I currently have something like hooked up to my 65" DLP

    It is late, but I will try to more into the details tomorrow, unless someone else wants to carry on...

  3. #3

    Build your own DVR?

    Well it's early and I haven't had my coffee.

    I'm somewhat familiar with this but haven't messed with it for a while. I'd say the easiest way to do it is get a HD capture/tuner card. I had one from ATI and it had and interface for TV. It downloaded a guide that showed the channel schedule and I could just mark what I wanted recorded and when. It would also let you do it on the fly if I remember right. I don't really mess with it all too much anymore because I don't really watch TV. The shows I do watch are available on the net. "Heroes" for example.

    Each Brand of Tuner/capture probably has it's own software similar and there is no doubt some freeware out there that is as good as if not better.

  4. #4

    Build your own DVR?

    S video? What year is this guy?

    Hopefully your tv has some sort of pc input, or HDMI, you can grab a dvi/hdmi cable pretty cheap. If your dont have a free port on your graphics card you can always just grab a second one for as little as $20. Some even can do the audio out via the hdmi cable too. Then your tv will be just another piece of your desktop, and you can fullscreen whatever app came with your tuner card on that.

    I had a hauppage a long time ago worked pretty nice, and it did come with some schedualing program. It wasnt like I selected the shows on a schedual or anything, but you could just tell it to record from xx:xxpm-whenever, with the ability to set it as a weekly or daily thing.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator tech-daddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Plano, Texas

    Build your own DVR?

    OTA (over the air) recording can be done like most people are talking here, however going over cable is a bit of a different story.

    The current standards have legacy analog cable that typically runs over service to a house, and can be viewed by a TV without using a STB (set top box), remember folks, HD is coming, and legacy analog signals will likley be replaced with digital.

    What this means is that the signal will likely be encrypted coming out of that piece of coax. You can get around this by getting a PC Card "CableCard" (from your signal provider) that will decrypt the signal and display it properly. You loose the on screen program guide, and the ability to request on demand movies via the remote (you have to call them in).

    And here was the thing that put me off on this about a year ago... and I dont know if it has changed or not....

    they dont make PC Card "CableCard" adaptors that we can buy and build our own machines. The only come on OEM machines that have built their machines to a specific specification, then the adaptor is allowed in the build. So, where did that leave me? It left me with a machine that I could not decrypt a signal with when I was trying to get my STB monthly rental fees removed from my bill.

    That is rather upsetting. Now.... I Have not loooked at the industry in the last year, so I dont know if this has changed.

    There are ways to get around the whole issue, but it requires a PC, and IRBlaster (that will send IR signals simulating channel changes to the STB that are generated from the PC), and that only will give you the active channel on the STB. If you wanted to record multiple shows with a multi tuner card over hte encrypted cable signal.... you could not do it.

    Hows that for being a wet towel on the party....

    Best of luck! Let me know how it goes!

  6. #6

    Build your own DVR?

    oh that sucks. I thought the HDwonder would let you change channels and descrable the signal but after reading the fine print is does say free over the air HD. There might be others out there though that would do this. Like I said I've been out of this for a while after I discovered I really don't watch TV.

    There has to be a system that will do this though. I wonder if you could do a TIVO hack or something. buy and old one and add a new HD or something. Perhaps google will answer this....

  7. #7

    Build your own DVR?

    Hey thanks for all the reply's. Like some of you I was getting the shows I watch if I missed one off the net. We would have disconnected cable altogether but its cheaper to keep the basic service with the internet. They actually charge more if I disconnect cable altogether! LOL.

    I was burning the shows to disc, but since I started thinking about this I decided to try hooking up this box which has an ATI 4870 HD card to my TV which is a 42 " Panasonic Plasma with HDMI. I got it working but no sound. I have an old Sound Blaster card and I could not get sound to work.

    So....if any one says the ATI cards decode what it actually says...they allow sound to be sent along the cable but without the HDMI decoding from a sound won't get any sound.

    So...this PC also has Realtek HD onboard I downloaded the ATI HDMI drivers for the realtek onboard sound ..and had to select the Realtek HDA HDMI out in the control panel and it finally worked! (I still did not have sound until I selected this in the control panel- Sounds and Audio Devices!)

    However, It is a stereo signal because my TV has a Toslink out and my receiver only has Coax type digital audio ins. Which I can get an adapter for but most shows you download don't have the 5.1 Dolby Digital recorded on them any way! My receiver sends out the Dolby Prologic Surround any way with a stereo source so it works pretty well. So I have the PC hooked up with the HDMI and the RCA audio outs going to my receiver.

    Ok so here's some funny info. I have a real nice Onkyo DVD player but it won't play Divx...I have a Divx player but my Onkyo dislays a much better picture. So I was downloading stuff and then re-encoding to a DVD format to watch on the Onkyo. Which typically took another hour or more. It would also change the format into a much larger file.

    Also, sometimes I would burn a disc and the sound would not'm just moving this box into the Living Room when I want to watch my shows etc. LOL....Its a little bit of a pain but takes less then 5 minutes to move and get setup since all I have to do is hookup the HDMI cord from the TV and the Power to the PC the keyboard and mouse!

    I think I am going to get a remote control for this and buy either a Blu-Ray burner or player for this machine and use this until I am able to build a dedicated machine for HTPC!

    Also, the picture quality is much better because I can download HD shows and movies and I don't loose quality by burning them!

    Long story short, I'm not going to worry about Building a DVR!

  8. #8

    Build your own DVR?

    check out

    I am short on time right now, but I will post back soon. I am building a DVR as well and have some tips/sites/softies to use.

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