Firewire Recording with your Cable Box and SageTV

Jul 01 2008

This guide is a repost of my original guide over at HTPCNews.com. Broken links have been updated, no other real changes have been made. This repost is brought on by a resurgence of firewire related questions in my PM box so I thought I should bring this back up and also remind people that it's 2 years old. Some improvements have been made to the process that could streamline it (ie..I think you can avoid girder). But now it's here for people that want to discuss it. The link to the drivers has been updated and now many more cable boxes aside from the Moto 6200 are supported. 


Mini-Guide (1): How to install drivers for your Firewire-enabled cable box.
This step is necessary for all other funtionality

1) Download the drivers below. Extract the drivers to somewhere you'll remember.
2) Turn off your cable box and the PC
3) Connect the firewire from the cable box to the PC
3) Turn on the cable box
4) Turn on the PC
5) When Windows XP boots it should auto-detect some new hardware. Click 'Cancel' for all of them.
6) Open Device Manager...it can be found in the Control Panel -> System -> Hardware Tab -> Device Manager
7) You should now have some 'Unknown' Devices.  Double-click AV\C Tuner. Choose the 'Driver' Tab. Then select 'Install/Update Driver'.
8) This will open the Update Hardware Manager, select "Install from a specific location" and follow the steps to point it to the folder you extracted your drivers to.
9) This should successfully install the drivers for your cable box.
10) Back in 'Device Manger' right click on the other 'Unknown' Devices that appeared and Disable them. There are currently no drivers to support the functionality from them. Hopefully in the future there will be.


Mini-Guide (2): How to watch TV through your HTPC over a Firewire connection
Firewire viewing and recording requires Windows XP

1) Download VLC below. Now install the latest build of VLC that you downloaded. It may require installation or you might just need to unzip it.
2) Open VLC.
3) Goto File -> Open Capture Device
4) Click the 'Refresh List' button next to the drop down box for Video Device Name.
5) Now select your cable box from the Video Device Name drop down box.
6) Click 'OK'...Don't try to configure anything...this tends to just blue screen the computer since the drivers don't support configuration.
7) Video should start playing momentarily. You should be able to change channels on your cable box and see what options you have available to you!!!
8) Enjoy TV! Good Luck!

Recording TV and Future Reading

Mini-Guide (3): How to record TV with your HTPC over a Firewire connection using CapDVHS.
Firewire viewing and recording requires Windows XP

1) Download CapDVHS below.
2) Select your cable box in the 'Capture Device:' drop down box.
3) Ensure that only three boxes are checked on the 'Setting' tab.
     - Convert 188 bytes
     - Check PTS
     - Delete to SyncByte
4) Check the 'File Name' check box and enter a file name with a '.ts' extension.
5) Set the length of the recording.
6) Press 'Rec.' to start recording.

With CapDVHS basic scheduling functionality is available but you will have to leave the application open and make sure you cable box is already set to the proper channel. The 'Data Info.' tab is a useful source of data about the recording you are making. File must be played back with a player that supports TS files.


Mini-Guide (4): Software and Hardware to Install Prior to Setting Up Firewire Recording in SageTV.
Just a rough outlines of things to setup before installing SageTV courtesy of SpaceGhost

1) Install the NVidia DVD Decoder . You'll need one of the filters. I do not know if the trial ending will impact the usage of the filter needed.
2) Install a USB-UIRT or another IR blaster supported by Girder. This is needed to control channel changes on the STB. People are still working on direct firewire channel control.
3) Install SGraphRecorder . SGraphRecorder is a Universal Network Encoder (UNE) written by Anders. This is the software that will tune in the FW port and send channel changes to Girder. If you are planning on using a remote PC (remote from the Sage server), this is the software you will need instead of Sage Recorder. Download the files from the link above and extract them to a folder you designate. You can use any folder. Take a look at Ander's website for more information on configuring the .ini file. I'll touch on what needs to be altered when we get to that step.
4) Install Graphedit. Graphedit is a direct show debugging program. You'll have to Google for it. There will be many variations but try to get one from the DirectX 9.0 SDK. You will notice that version will color code the filters. Per DFA, you need to be sure you have "proppage.dll" AND that it is registered (use "Regsvr32" to register it). This file normally resides in the "System32" folder. It frequently comes with the Graphedit download but still requires manual install with "Regsvr32". Without it, you will not be able to display all property pages for devices and filters within Graphedit. More than likely, you will find this program in the zip file. Make a directory somewhere and extract the zip file.
5) Install Girder . I know Girder has this impression of being difficult to use. But don't worry we have a pre-made file for you to import later and all you have to do is very minor configuration and have it learn you cable boxes number commands so it can change channels for you.

Well that's all the software that needs to be installed before proceeding.


Mini-Guide (5): Not Really A Mini-Guide at All but a where to go from here

SpaceGhosts Guide to setting up SageTV w/ Firewire
This guide is step by step SageTV setup with USB-UIRT to control channel changing.

MCE Setup and FW Channel Chaning Info For Sage
This link will help you with setting up FW in Windows MCE and there is also information about channel.exe and the AV/C Panel device driver that will allow you to setup channel changing over firewire in SageTV.

More Channel Changing Info for SageTV
This is a quick guide for just channel changing put together by Opus over at SageTV.



Resources:
These threads were the source of a lot of the information for this guide and my thanks go out to Ben and Timecop @ AVSforums and to Dane and Anders @ the Sage forums and all the others who worked this so diligently.
 
STB Firewire Support (IEEE 1394) @ Sage.com

How to Record Via IEEE 1394 (Firewire) in Windows XP @ avsforum.com


File Downloads:
You can get the latest nightly build of VLC here:
VLC - Nightly Builds

CapDVHS - English Version
Their website is in Japansese or Chinese so not much help if you're looking for more info. Unless of course you read Japanese or Chinese.


Drivers for your Cable Box:
AV\C Tuner Drivers

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