If you have been reading my recent series of blog post about XBMC, I did mention I would be looking at Live TV in XBMC. And in fact most of the comments and feedback I have received has been from people asking to know more about Live TV and PVR functions of XBMC.
Now before I start a disclaimer as I am not an expert on this at all and there are several XBMC PVR Clients and back-ends which can be used.
As I already know a little about DVBLink and this works with XBMC I have decided to go this route. I purchased a new BlackGold BGT 3620 dual DVB-T2 tuner card, I have install this tuner and the DVBLink software on to my Windows Home Server 2011 HP Microserver box.
In Part 1 I think I will give a basic overview of DVBLink back-end and then in Part 2 we will look at the XBMC client(s) and the front-end. OK so here goes!
DVBLink is a software product from a company called DVBLogic, visit their home page for more product information:
“Our range of DVBLink products for NAS and for Windows based PC's offers everything you need to enjoy your favorite Satellite (DVB-S/S2), Cable (DVB-C and QAM), Terrestrial (DVB-T/T2 and ATSC), IPTV and Analog TV channels and recordings within your home network and on the go!”
The base product is DVBLink Server:-
“DVBLink Server is a core component of the DVBLink product suite that ties all DVBLink products together.”
DVBLink Connect! Server is an add-on:-
“DVBLink Connect! Server lets you enjoy your favorite TV channels throughout your whole house and on the go.
Access live and recorded TV content in your home network in XBMC, Windows Media Center, running on network computers, on DLNA enabled clients such as Sony PlayStation3, on netbooks and laptops, and on Xbox 360.
Stream your TV channels over the internet to desktops and mobile devices like laptops and netbooks using your web browser.
Stream your live TV programs to your iPhone, iPad, Android and WinPhone devices and even set recordings using the EPG remotely on your phone.”
“DVBLink TVSource seamlessly integrates TV channels from Satellite, Cable (DVB-C and ClearQAM) or Terrestrial (DVB-T/T2 and ATSC) tuners into DVBLink server infrastructure, including support for SD and HD video, multichannel audio, EPG information, teletext and subtitles.
Programs from these channels can be recorded onto a hard disk of a host system (NAS or PC) and live and recorded TV can be streamed to Windows MediaCenter and its extenders, XBMC, DLNA clients, mobile clients for iOS, Android and WinPhone platforms and to web browser interface.”
Now I no longer have any Windows MCE HTPC’s running so all of what I will be covering is a solution without Windows MCE. But there is no reason why you could not run DVBLink with both Windows MCE and XBMC clients together.
Once I had installed the BlackGold drivers for the new tuner card, I was able to select the Sources tab in the DVBLink configuration webpage and configure the two tuners (its a dual tuner card). In the screen shot below you can see DVBT1 and DVBT2 which is the names I gave to each DVB-T tuner.
Tuner configuration – Device type as I am using UK Freeview over the air aka DVB-T / DVB-T2 I selected Terrestrial.
Under the TV Providers tab I selected DVB-T UK (Full Frequency Range)
On the Scan tab the Transponders are listed and you press the Scan button to start scanning for the TV and Radio channels. When completed it will then list the channels found and on which Transponders.
EPG Scan tab, I am currently just using the in-built eit scanner, this scans the DVB stream also known as in-band - for guide data.
I found that in order to get EPG data for all the channels I had to run the EPG scan routine several times until all channel data had been discovered.
If you click on the EPG Stats button after a completed scan it looks like this
Channels tab – I didn’t have to do anything in this tab
I then had to repeat this tuner configuration process for the second tuner on the dual tuner card.
Back on the main DVBLink Configuration page under the Channels tab there, this is where you select the channels that the tuner(s) have detected and select them. This means that any channels you select here will be available to the DVBLink system and HTPC clients. Any junky channels like shopping or adult etc I did not add / select so I will not see any of those channels in my EPG / Channel List.
Simply tick the channels you want and click the right arrow in the middle to move those channels in to the selected channels list.
There is also a play button on each channel which is so you can preview / watch that channel. I did have some issues with Google Chrome and VLC and the previews would not play for me in the browser.
Once I had selected all the channels from each of the tuners, you then need to merge the channels, I just selected the Merge by name option.
You can see in this screen shot that each channel has two instances below it, this is because I have a dual tuner. If you had a quad tuner presumably you would have four instances of each channel.
In channel settings you can review and edit the channels, edit the names and channel numbers if required. There is also parental control options to lock individual channels I have not tried the parental controls as yet.
In the EPG sources tab, this is where you assign the EPG source to a channel. So when you first look in this area all the channels are blank like the 4Music channel you can see in the screen shot below. You have to highlight the channel from the pane on the left and then find the correct / matching EPG source in the right pane, if you double click the EPG source in the right pane it will assign it to the highlighted channel, see second screen shot and look at the 4Music channel again.
I assigned all my EPG sources manually one by one but there are also Automatic EPG source assignment options.
On the settings tab you can see the default port numbers for the DVBLink server you can also specify a user name and password which the clients would then need to access the server. There are also backup and restore settings options which will be handy once you have done all the initial configuration you can backup your setup and then use that to restore if you have to rebuild the server or whatever. There are also various other settings on the settings tab none of which I have edited as I left them all at default settings.
TV and Media Library
Channels and Guide
If you select the TV and Media Library tab you are taken to the Channels and Guide area, here you can now see all the channels you selected earlier and you should see there is guide data and you can click the Play button on each channel to play that channel.
TV records tab displays recorded TV shows, I only have one recorded show which I recorded last night. As I am not using Windows MCE when I select to record something from the EPG in XBMC it is the DVBLink Server recorder that handles it.
If I select the sub option of Scheduled Recordings if looks like this, I don’t currently have any recordings scheduled. But you can see the free space on my server.
By default DVBLink is set to store recordings some where on the local C:\ drive of the server, can’t remember the path now. I wanted to change the location of where the recordings are actually stored. To do this I clicked the Settings button on the top right, selected the Schedules tab and then edited the recording path to point to the D:\ServerFolders\Recorded TV folder of the WHS.
So that is a quick basic overview of DVBLink, if you haven’t used DVBLink before hopefully this will give you a better understanding of the “back-end". In the next part I will look at the “front-end” i.e. the DVBLink XBMC add-ons, yes there is more than one. I may also cover some of the other clients like iOS and Android as well.
Overall DVBLink is a great way to centralise your tuners and distribute your Live and Recorded TV to all devices / clients on your LAN and you can also access Live TV / Recorded TV / EPG from outside the home via the WAN.