Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Raspberry Pi TV Server

I spent about 12 hours trying to get a tv server for Raspberry Pi working... I haven't managed to get it working yet, but I figured I'd document it anyway.

Here's what I'm aiming for.

In my house, our outdoor aerial came down a few years ago and was never replaced. We have around 4 TVs in the house and each of them have these ugly indoor aerials that on occasion seem to need adjusting (I think it's related to humidity). Out of those 4 TVs, 2 have pi's connected, 1 is used as a second monitor for a computer, and the 3rd one is someone else's. So a TV server makes sense.

Basically, you use a tv tuner on a computer to transmit TV via wifi. That's it. I'm not really that interested in PVR functionality. In this age of streaming (which isn't nearly as good as it should be. I'm of the opinion that this is a prime area where patents completely screw with progress), it shouldn't be necessary to record anything off the TV. Timeshift might be interesting... but first and foremost, I'd like to be able to use the Pi for EVERYTHING on the TVs (in which case, I'm buying DVD drives).

First things first. The server software. Under Linux, the options are:
  • VDR
  • MythTV
  • DVBLink
  • Tvheadend
VDR
Don't do it to yourself... VDR requires a plugin - VNSI server - which is a moving target. They're up to version 6. I could only find a server for 5 which rejects clients using version 6. The compile instructions had no instructions for compile and instead had a somewhat ambiguous note about link a folder.

MythTV
This was FAR more complicated than I was anticipating. It's definitely not a user centric program. It's beest avoided.

DVB LINK
I kind of wanted to scream when I tried this. Out of the box, it's a free download! Yay! Except that it then tells you that you have to install a "product" to able to use TV with it. It's a bit like buying a bottle of coke, only to find you have to buy the coke separately. The "product" is a time limited trial and then you have to pay for it.

Tvheadend
This was my chosen solution (even though I haven't a clue what's going wrong at the moment).

So the only new piece of information I can offer... I saw lots and lots of tutorials that talked about multiplexers and how the presets are probably wrong and sources to go to for that information.

Forget it. ALL of that information just isn't quite as good as having a look at what's working for you! So when it comes to adding multiplexers, don't "Add DVB Network by Location". You don't know if it's even got the right information. Instead, do a scan. The command in Linux is w_scan.

w_scan > channels.conf

Problem solved. Once you have a list of multiplexers, you can add them manually.

The Issue
Okay, so EVERYTHING would work. Even EPG which was a bit of a surprise as lots of online sources talk about scrappers and the like. In NZ it'd probably be better to use a scrapper as our EPG only tends to cover the current show and 1 or 2 after it. So recording is difficult.

The only thing not working... the actual streaming of TV content. That's it. The core functionality. I can't get it working with the VLC plugin, on the xbmc machines (pi). Nothing...

[Update]
I managed to get it working properly. It seems it was an issue with the hardware...

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