zen.org Communal Weblog

July 25, 2011

MythTV for beginners

Filed under: — elana @ 07:15 GMT

B built us a MythTV box, and did a lot of the documenting here. Today P turned on the tv and found that the recording files were there, but were empty.  Now, I’ve only had one cup of tea, so I’m not firing on all cylinders, but something at the back of my mind said “I bet the HD is full.”  And it was. Phew. /deletedeletedelete

I have  a lot of things I have to learn.  I know that B added some channels to the Myth setup a couple weeks ago, and it took him something like 2 hours.  There is going to be a day when I shut down the shuttlecraft (our Myth box), but I want to prolong that as long as possible. We’ve used the Myth interface for so long, it would be strange to move to something else.

Maybe I can teach P Unix, and he can play with MythBuntu?

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June 26, 2009

Copying between MythTV and TiVo

Filed under: — brendan @ 13:15 GMT

I put a bunch of shows from our MythTV box in Ireland, and want to copy them onto a Series2 TiVo in the US.

I got TiVo Desktop, paid $25 to make it TiVo Desktop Plus, and configured it the way I was told. But no matter what tricks I play, I can’t get it to actually start copying stuff—well, usually. I did “Add Video…” and picked a folder named “tivo-transfer” with two test mpeg show files in it. Once, and I’ve not yet figured out why, the Now Playing list showed “tivo-transfer” (with the description of the first show in that folder) in progress. Hmm. Meanwhile, the non-Plus approach of making it get a file from the “My TiVo Recordings” folder and selecting it on the TiVo itself worked.

For the moment, I just went into the TiVo Desktop -> Preferences and made it use the ‘tivo-transfer’ directory, then on the TiVo selected a bunch. It’s started transferring stuff (though it’d sure be handy if the “Transfer Status” display of TiVo Desktop, which shows files you’re getting from the TiVo, would also show transfers going from a PC back to the TiVo).

I submitted this stuff as a Feedback message on the TiVo website, but I’ve no idea if I’ll actually hear back. In that message I offered to help beta-test any development version they may have going which avoids this.

I’ve also tried the previous 2.6.2 version, but at least under Vista that blew chunks and wasn’t willing to get started.

Also looked at their support page, but no golden answers.

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December 21, 2008

Our MythTV Box — the anatomy of a possible corpse

Filed under: — brendan @ 21:04 GMT

I’ve searched but found I never actually noted the equipment I’m using for our small under-the-TV MythTV box. I’ve got more than one reason to note it:

  • Shuttle SN45GV2 Barebone PC, Socket A (uses an AMD CPU instead of Intel)
  • AMD Sempron 2600+ 1.833 GHz processor
  • Corsair Value S. PC3200 DDR-DIMM 512MB memory

We’re having some trouble with it, and I’m not yet sure if it’s the Hauppauge PVR-350 card or if the system’s motherboard is failing. For a good year I’ve found the system’s Ethernet port is unreliable; for a while I was using a USB wireless dongle, and then switched to a Linksys USB200M adapter (which sucks, crappy little plastic door thingy keeps the cable in—until your 1 year-old bends it til it snaps off, at which point no matter what effort and tape you use, you’ll not get the thing to stay connected). But in the past few months we’ve found sound dropping out, so there’s no sound watching live TV and some recordings are missing their sound. (Permanently.) I’ve restarted the NTL Pace box but it makes no difference. Only a system reboot actually corrects it.

Some friends on the MythTV-Ireland mailing list suggest perhaps the motherboard’s dying. Since sound on the system (aplay KDE_Error.wav) still works I’m suspicious of the Hauppauge card.

I’m just making this post so I’ve got the specs of the Shuttle box and its processor written down somewhere other than obscure email archives. Just in case. 🙂 Next possible step: take the PVR-350 card out of the Shuttle box and see if it works differently in my desktop PC. Problem is time to do anything like that. 🙂

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April 4, 2007

MythTV on any PC in your home

Filed under: — brendan @ 20:43 GMT

I recently figured out how to make it possible to install the mythfrontend client on other systems in our house rather than just on the TV in the livingroom. e.g., I can watch the news in a window here upstairs in my office while I’m working (cough).

The fundamental step I had to take was running mythtvsetup and change both the host and Master Server IP addresses to be their real address (192.168.20.23) instead of 127.0.0.1 as had been laid out in the instructions.

I followed the instructions at

http://www.bus.ualberta.ca/yma/mythtv/Mythtv.htm

for fixing remote permissions which boiled down to

% mysql -u root -p rootpw_for_mysql
mysql> use mysql;
mysql> SELECT Host, User, Select_priv, Insert_priv, Update_priv, Delete
_priv FROM user;
mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* to mythtv@”%” IDENTIFIED by ‘mythtv’
WITH GRANT OPTION;
mysql> flush privileges;
mysql> SELECT Host, User, Select_priv, Insert_priv, Update_priv, Delete
_priv FROM user;
mysql> exit

With that, the SuSE 10.2 desktop system I’m using now could use the various mythtv* packages, just pointing it at the .23 backend server. Not everything works…going into Watch Video doesn’t work, but presumably because I’ve got to tweak a setting somewhere. Likewise, I have to have music mounted as /video/music if I try to choose Listen to Music. But watching recordings and live TV works just fine.

Of course looking now, I see that Jarod Wilson’s Tips’n’Tricks to his awesome HOWTO on installing MythTV makes mention of all of this. Oops. 🙂

B

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March 28, 2007

MythTV users of Ireland, unite!

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:15 GMT

Justin Mason has just launched a new mailing list for folks using MythTV in Ireland. Everyone can come out of the dark corners of the bogs and start putting together our collective experience to make really good alternatives to Sky+ or the other commercial products that’re out there.

Watch what you want, when you want.

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September 14, 2006

MythTV 0.20 upgrade under Fedora Core3

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:36 GMT

Using to MythTV 0.20 under FC3 appears to be going well so far.

After the “smart upgrade” and a reboot, I found that mythfrontend wasn’t coming up. It failed to start, as did mythbackend, because of

2006-09-14 15:14:10.068 Connected to database ‘mythconverg’ at host: localhost
2006-09-14 15:14:10.070 Upgrading to schema version 1136
2006-09-14 15:14:10.071 DB Error (Performing database upgrade):
Query was: ALTER TABLE program ADD listingsource INT NOT NULL default ‘0’;
Error was: Driver error was [2/1060]:
QMYSQL3: Unable to execute query
Database error was:
Duplicate column name ‘listingsource’

new version: 1136
2006-09-14 15:14:10.072 Database Schema upgrade FAILED, unlocking.
2006-09-14 15:14:10.072 Couldn’t upgrade database to new schema

Even though my full dump of mysql before doing all of this doesn’t actually have ‘listingsource’ in the program table it emitted. Weird.

To fix it, I had to do

mysql -umysql -p mysql mythconverg
> alter table program drop listingsource;
> quit;

and then make mythbackend do its stuff in front of me so I knew it’d actually succeeded:

sudo mythbackend

Once that was happy having done a bunch of upgrades to schema versions incrementing to 1160, it finally calmed after emitting

2006-09-14 15:20:19.384 AutoExpire: Required Free Space: 2.1 GB w/freq: 10 min
2006-09-14 15:20:21.298 Reschedule requested for id -1.
2006-09-14 15:20:21.795 Scheduled 260 items in 0.5 = 0.15 match + 0.35 place
2006-09-14 15:20:21.801 Seem to be woken up by USER

With that, I did a Ctrl-C and restarted it with

sudo /sbin/service mythbackend restart

Now it’s up and humming. Almost happy; bugs include:

  • the preview play of recorded shows has a very blue-tinted color now
  • mythmusic fails cuz libmythmusic.so can’t resolve mm_support (possibly cuz of libexif and the fact I’m running FC3 vs FC5, supposedly)

Otherwise, so far so good. Others are having some trouble with this new version, though, so I wouldn’t jump on it yet.

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March 3, 2006

Why Watch TV may not work under MythTV 0.19

Filed under: — brendan @ 15:42 GMT

I did an apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade -u on our MythTV box to update it to the latest and greatest. After doing the upgrade, though, we were no longer able to watch live TV. I read through the release notes and found the LiveTV part had changed drastically. (Hmm, is it about here you’re wondering why I upgraded everything before reading what was changing?)

The LiveTV change makes it possible to watch something for a while, hit record, and have it save everything you’ve seen so far.

The fix to let us again watch live TV through our MythTV box was to run mythtvsetup and look under Capture cards and modify the single /dev/video0 entry that’s in there to have a Default Input value of S-Video 0.

When I first set up the box, I’d set up two inputs, one from the “regular” cable (Tuner 0) and one from the NTL Digital Cable box (S-Video 0). The intent was to make the MythTV record shows off the regular cable so we could watch whatever we wanted from the digital cable (no channels changing out from under us). I found the quality of what was being recorded for regular cable wasn’t the greatest, so I finally ditched the idea and stuck to just recording programs off digital cable. (Hmm, perhaps I should give Tuner 0 a try with the new version?) I deleted the Tuner 0 input connection, leaving just S-Video 0.

So it appears the new way of capturing live TV in a style that can be retroactively recorded has closed the part of MythTV that would iterate through input connections if the default doesn’t work. Instead, it will throw you right back at the initial screen for the UI. (Actually, this change is more of a workaround; still need to look at the diffs and figure out the real fix to the code to make it stop throwing us back out.)

Having changed it from the old Tuner 0 to S-Video 0, I restarted mythtvbackend, then mythtvfrontend. Voila, we can again watch live TV and pause it when the phone rings or someone comes to the door. Or to avoid commercials by pausing til we know they’re done (commercials are considerably less frequent in Ireland/UK television than in the US, but they’re still there). Thanks, MythTV!

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June 6, 2005

MythTV can now play both MPEGs and AVIs — and our DVDs, too

Filed under: — brendan @ 04:19 GMT

After a little effort, our box can now play MPEGs properly! Until now there was always a problem with them: audio was never in sync with video, making it unusable. AVIs were fine, but MPEGs divided up between the Hauppauge PVR-350 card for video and our normal audio out. After I’d seen others make mention of using xine for MythTV, I thought I’d finally give it a shot. (I’ve used xine and VideoLAN, aka VLC, for playing mpegs under Linux, but not yet like this.) In only a few steps, it worked!

I first had to download xine itself, and use

rpm -Uvh libxine1-1.0.1cvs-050527.i686.rpm xine-ui-0.99.3cvs-050603.i586.rpm

to install the packages; those copies are regular nightly builds. In the MythTV front-end, I went through Setup to Video to Player Settings, and changed it from running mplayer to instead do

xine -pfhq --no-splash --audio-driver oss %s

Next, I created the ~/.xine directory and put these lines into the file ~/.xine/config:

audio.volume.mixer_volume:60
audio.synchronization.force_rate:44100
audio.device.alsa_front_device:default

Those values came from a forum or blog post somewhere, but I never wrote down the origin and Google doesn’t appear to have it. I’ll certainly attribute them to the source once I find out who it was. 🙂 The config file will be used by xine, and those values will get pulled in then included in the auto-generated version that xine saves back out to the file.

Finally, to make xine honor commands from the remote control I had to edit ~/.mythtv/lircrc and insert the xine entries from Peter Baumgartner’s blog. His are based on Jarod Wilson’s guide, with additions for xine. Continuing the trend, I adjusted mine to have the Stop button actually exit xine, not just stop it and show the xine banner:

begin
prog = xine
button = STOP
repeat = 3
# instead, make this quit
#config = Stop
config = Quit
end

I just had to restart the MythTV front-end (using the green button), and voila! I could use a .mpg file and it plays it all correctly; open up any part of a ripped DVD, and it looks right. Yahoo! Big step.

Now we can play Letter Factory™ for Patrick any time we want since we’ve got it ripped onto the box’s hard drive, instead of worrying about putting in the DVD all the time. 🙂 See? It just calls for the right motivation…

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May 2, 2005

Nearly fully usable MythTV box now!

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:23 GMT

The term “fully usable” is pretty relative, but we’re much happier now than we were a few weeks ago.

We can now:

  • See all parts of what’s being displayed on the TV screen. Before, parts just in from the border were past what the TV could show. This made the Setup stuff really difficult, since the little selection boxes showing checkmarks weren’t even there to tell if something had been turned on. I had to mess with the settings for appearance it ended up where I wanted. It’s still not perfect (a hint of the blue from the Fedora background on the lower right corner of the screen when it’s going from the MythTV front-end to Watch TV mode.
  • Go between recorded TV, live TV, and downloaded AVIs without having to switch the audio between the Shuttle’s L/R line out audio and the audio from the PVR-350 card. I got an RCA-to-headphone jack plug, and plugged the RCA part into the PVR-350’s pair of audio plugs. The headphone part went into the Line-In port on the front of the Shuttle. I ran alsamixer in a terminal window, and enabled (by hitting the ‘M’ key) the LineIn input, and turned it up all the way. This is all it took.
  • Let MythTV change channels on the NTL Digital Cable box all by itself. I got a Red-Eye Serial channel changer and it worked like a charm. Only a few basic steps to make it fully automated.
  • Have a usable system right at startup, just by having /etc/rc.d/rc.local invoke “/etc/init.d/mythbackend restart” after it’s done the load of the ivtv driver. This helps work around the system being unable to show TV because the backend doesn’t know if the driver’s usable yet.
  • Made the green Power button on the Hauppauge remote let us stop and restart the MythTV front-end GUI. This helps a lot when things are stuck.

There’s plenty yet to do, including actually working on the timing problem playing mpegs (audio is ahead of the video). But for day-to-day use, it’s much more helpful and accomplishes the goal of letting us set up to record random shows to watch when it’s convenient for us. (Thus the pile of Oprah and CSI. 🙂 ) I want to make transcoding work so it’s able to take the large recordings in the default MPEG2 format and shrink them down to MPEG4 format so they don’t eat up quite so much disk space. And, finally, listen to the ivtv-devel mailing list where they’re talking about this sort of problem:

Apr 30 10:46:02 shuttlecraft kernel: ivtv: 1000 ms time out waiting for firmware
Apr 30 10:46:02 shuttlecraft kernel: ivtv: Failed api call 0x00000015 with result 0xfffffff0
Apr 30 10:46:02 shuttlecraft kernel: ivtv: DEC: couldnt read clock

These are the messages that appear after the MythTV display has frozen, most often while doing a bunch of fast-forwarding through a recording. I tried the update driver of April 30th, but it did eventually bump into the problem again, though admittedly it seemed to take longer before it happened. They’re doing a cool job of hacking away the problem.

Oh, our NTL box (Pace 4001NC) was rebooting itself at random times, often ending up in some sort of a locked state. NTL came to replace it, and we got this other, silver-colored box (Pace Di300-N). It has only a single SCART output on the back, where the other one had both TV and VCR output ports. I set up a SCART splitter to take the single output from the silver NTL box and let it feed both the TV and the MythTV box. Recorded shows, most of the time, look just fine. But if you’re watching TV thru the MythTV box, it now has this odd brightness problem. It seems to almost pulse from dark to light, and there’s also a stretch of shadow from the top to the bottom, a couple of inches wide, that travels across the screen from the left to the right. I’d only seen it while watching TV thru the box, but in the last couple of days I’ve noticed it appear in a couple of the recordings—but definitely not all of them. It doesn’t happen when you watch the NTL digital box going right into the TV; that, in fact, is a much sharper and clearer picture in comparison to the previous 4100NC box.

We’re going to see if we get the same behavior feeding it into the VCR, and if it occurs there too, we’ll try to get NTL to give us yet another box (this is #5 in about 3 years). If the VCR doesn’t have the same problem, then it’s a question of the S-Video coming into the PVR-350 card, and then the S-Video (or RCA video) from the PVR-350 card back out to the TV. Lots of experimentation to do, but at the moment we’re just not using our box for watching TV much. Just recording things. (Thus we lose out on the great benefit of pausing live TV, dammit…)

Finally, I went into Setup -> Video -> Player Settings, and tried changing the current value of

mplayer -fs -zoom -quiet -vo x11 -ao oss -nocache %s

to instead be “Internal” to see if it’ll do MPEGs better. I played a couple of different AVIs to start, but mythfrontend wasn’t rendering them fast enough. Oh well. I put it back to using mplayer, and will spend more time on this some other day.

It looks like the biggest hurdle to take on at the moment is playing mpegs.

More later,
B


Details:

Fixed Size:
I went into “Utilities/Setup” -> Setup -> Appearance and started fiddling with the settings. I put in 720 for the width and 576 for the height, then gradually reduced each one til it looked a bit better. Each time I’d adjust a number, do Next til I could do Finish, and see how it looked. Iook the numbers down to 640 x 510 but it also shows that MythTV is displaying something out of skew…I could experment going to 530, 550, 560, then back down to 551, 552, til 555 looked like it was right on the line of the tv screen.

Lots of waiting while it pre-scales theme images repeatedly. It was also much faster to adjust with the keyboard’s Left & Right arrow keys and use the OK button on the remote to click the Next buttons. Trying to use the left & right arrow buttons on the Hauppauge remote was too slow. Once the size seemed like it’s likely to be right, I had to adjust the X offset and then Y offset to make it all sit in the right place. I found it helpful to drop the width & height down to something small like 620×500, and then tweak the offsets until it sat properly in the smaller view. Then I pushed them back up to 640×550 and it looked right.

The final numbers for me were

width(px) 640
height(px) 550
X offset = 50
Y offset = 11

The end story being that it’s tedious (and should be possible to automate this) but possible.

Channel Changing:
The Red-Eye Serial consists of a 9-pin female serial plug on one end, and the small bit of electronics on the other. The serial end gets plugged into the sole serial port on the back of the Shuttle, and the other should be taped onto the front of NTL box on the right side of the LED display. I created a script called /usr/local/bin/red_eye.script containing just

#!/bin/sh
# Put it into the background, which makes the on-screen effect look much faster.
/usr/local/bin/red_eye /dev/ttyS0 $* 2 &
# The exit 0 is important, otherwise mythtv thinks it failed and
# tries to switch back to the previous channel.
exit 0

The arguments are the serial port, the channel number (what our red_eye.script script receives as its only argument), and finally the number 2, indicating how many milliseconds it should hold off before trying to do anything else. (Or, more to the point, how long to wait before potentially allowing anyone else to send a command to the box.) Also, the “exit 0” is important, otherwise mythtv thinks it failed and tries to switch back to the previous channel. It occurs to me another part of this fix is adding “exit (0);” at the end of main() in red_eye.c; right now it’s exiting with the return status of a call to printf, which explains the non-zero status out of the red_eye program. The file /usr/local/bin/red_eye came from a set of downloads for the Red-Eye Serial. I recompiled it from the source provided just for my own state of mind (had to change “exit();” to “exit(1);“); I should’ve added the “exit (0);” bit too.

It was also important to edit /etc/group and add mythtv to uucp group so the program can send the channel number to the serial port. Putting them in the group avoids messing with the default permissions on /dev/ttyS0. (This is with Fedora Core 3, it may have different ownership on other Linux distributions.)

Finally, I ran mythtvsetup, chose Input Connections, and selected S-Video0 (NTL Digital Dublin). In its setup page, I changed “External channel change command” to be “/usr/local/bin/red_eye.script“. I went to Finish (doing Ctl-Return on my keyboard), then the Escape key twice. I had to restart mythtvbackend for the change to take effect.

Power-Button:
Following Jarod Wilson’s Tips ‘n Tricks, the green Power button on the Hauppauge remote can now stop and start the MythTV front-end. This is really handy on the odd occasion when it freezes up for one reason or another. I just had to add the lines

begin
prog = irexec
button = OFF
repeat = 4
config = /usr/local/bin/mythpowerbutton.sh
end

to my ~/.lircrc file, and create the script /usr/local/bin/mythpowerbutton.sh containing

#!/bin/bash
PROG=mythfrontend
STATUS=`ps -e | grep $PROG | grep -v grep | wc -l | awk '{print $1}'`

if [ $STATUS -eq 0 ]
then
( $PROG & )
else
killall $PROG
fi
exit 0

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April 10, 2005

First milestone with Our TiV—er, MythTV Box

Filed under: — brendan @ 11:29 GMT

About a week ago we were able to display live TV thru the box, but the remote didn’t work and we couldn’t move through channels. It’s much happier now. Problems that still need to be fixed:

  • Sound for non-AVI video files is out of sync
  • The X display is bigger than the TV screen
  • I have to switch the audio output between the Shuttle’s L/R audio out for video files and the audio out of the PVR-350 for live and recorded TV.
  • I need a way to make MythTV be able to change channels on the NTL Pace 4001NC box, which reportedly uses RC-5 protocol for the remote. Given that, we can also record everything coming from NTL Digital Cable. There is one cool serial hack that on its main page seems to clearly indicate it will work with my box, which after some clarification is confirmed to work with it. So we’re ordering one now and will share the results once we’ve got it.
  • Sometimes after a reboot the live TV doesn’t work for more than a few seconds, and more notably the name of the tuner and the current time don’t appear at the top of the screen. After only a minute or two, it goes back to the menu. If I restart mythbackend, it’s then all happy and can keep going.
  • The PVR-350 can accept the FM antenna; can MythTV record radio shows too into mp3 format? A google for “MythRadio” has a few hits for recent conversation. But anything I’d try for this has to wait til everything else works. 🙂

What we’ve got now is pretty usable for day-to-day stuff, with the one physical hurdle of having to use an audio switch box to change which of the two audio sources actually gets emitted. There must be a system/MythTV fix, or we could just get some sort of an RCA jack Y-joiner/junction thing to accept output from either one…Hmm….

Some details on how we got it working:

  1. The remote problem was because /etc/lircd.conf defines particular names for each button like


    CH+ 0X00000000000017E0
    CH- 0X00000000000017E1
    VOL+ 0X00000000000017D0

    The entries in ~/.mythtv/lircrc need to match those names in some fashion. I just had to change

    begin
    prog = mythtv
    button = chanup
    repeat = 5
    config = Up
    end

    to instead have

    begin
    prog = mythtv
    button = CH+
    repeat = 5
    config = Up
    end

    This helped improve watching live TV or shows recorded by the box. But we were stuck when watching a video file like an MPG (which has its own problems anyway) or AVI file; you couldn’t get it to return to the menu after starting to watch it.

  2. I came across Adam Rubin’s description of how he made the remote more usable with MythTV. So I just needed to give ~/.mythtv/lircrc a few entries like

    begin
    remote = hauppauge_pvr
    button = Pause
    prog = mplayer
    repeat = 3
    config = Pause
    end

    to help improve things.
  3. The file ~/.mythtv/NTL Basic Cable.xmltv contains the final list of channels I’m using. It omits the pay channels.
  4. I had to make /etc/rc.d/rc.local do modprobe ivtv so the driver, and its ivtv_fb framebuffer driver, are all loaded up before anything else. I also added the lines

    /usr/X11R6/bin/xset -dpms
    /usr/X11R6/bin/xset s off

    to make it stop having a blank screen until I hit a key on the (tucked away) keyboard.
  5. My final /etc/X11/xorg.conf file makes everything show up on the TV from the PVR-350’s S-Video feed, but the X display is still just slightly larger than the TV screen. When I’m going through the MythTV setup menus it’s impossible to see the selection boxes along the left side.
  6. Playing AVI files using the default mplayer now works by giving it the options
    -ao oss -vo x11 -nocache
    However, playing MPG files doesn’t work quite as well. I found others talking about this and how audio seems to come out directly via the sound port, but the video is going through the MPG decoder first. I did find some bits in the MythTV Digital Sound HOWTO and put them into my ~/.asoundrc. But I’ve not spent enough time looking at it to remember how to make MythTV use that, as opposed to the default /dev/dsp device.

So far so good; much more productive than the efforts with KnoppMyth, seemingly just because the version of the mythtv stuff is much more up-to-date.

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