Working with recorded PVR content
Most people well know how to operate a VCR to record or archive their favourite TV programs. However VCRs do have their drawbacks also. If the recording is scheduled, then there is likely to be ads or other content present before and after the intended programme as well as ads in-between, such as a recording made from a commercial TV channel. On top of that, VHS has reached its age now and has only half the quality of broadcast content.
One way to get around the extra content issue is to get another VCR, join the two and record from one to the other apart from the unwanted content. However this method has several other drawbacks, including loss of quality from re-taping as well as a lot of time spent re-recording the content unless one intends watching it while recording.
Set-top digital PVRâ€™s are now here to overcome the VHS issue, but these are rather expensive and versions with a built in DVD recorder are required to make a physical archive to avoid the issue should the PVR break down or be replaced at a later stage.
This is where satellite TV on a PC becomes useful. It is just a matter of getting a DVB PCI card (with CAM support for subscription content), replacing the satellite LNB with a dual-out and bringing a second line to the PC. If the PC and set-top satellite receiver will be used with only one system in use at a time, then an A-B switch will allow the existing signal cable from the dish to be split between the PC and receiver.
Note that as the Videoguard encryption requires a proprietary set-top box (no videoguard CAM available), broadcasters that use this system cannot be picked up on a PC, for example Sky Digital in the UK.
The following information has been based on using the ProgDVB software for making recordings, however most the steps will also work with recorded content make by other DVB software. Once ProgDVB fixes its issues with HDTV recording, these steps will apply to making HDTV recordings also. For slower PC’s (under 1.2GHz), I would recommend disabling the preview screen during schedules to free up the CPU for the recording. To do this, click the ‘File’ Menu, choose ‘TimeShift buffer status’ and tick the field ‘Disable mpeg2 decoder for low CPU use’. Remember to uncheck this field later to be able to watch satellite TV again!
ProgDVB Warning: ProgDVB test versions 4.38.6 to 4.40.2 seem to have a recording issue where the video does not appear to be properly synchronised with the audio. When a recording from either version is played back in PowerDVD or Windows Media player (using the Elecard codec), the video gets very jumpy.
ProgDVB 4.26.4 and earlier versions as well as the recent version 4.42.4 does not have this issue.
Preparing storage for recorded content
I would recommend getting a large second hard drive for making recordings. ProgDVB will work using the boot-up hard drive for recordings, but any serious fragmentation or HDD access will cause dropped frames or worse still cause the sound going out of sync with the video. No re-encoding takes place while recording since the stream received is piped into a file. As a result, the recording size per hour will vary depending on the bit-rate of the channel and no quality is lost due to a 2nd lossy encoding process.
Entertainment channels such as music and news channels with a resolution of 528x576 take around 1.25GB per hour. Higher quality channels such as commercial TV with a resolution of 720x576 will take around 2GB per hour. Once ProgDVBâ€™s recording issue for HDTV content is fixed, please allow about 8GB per hour. Radio stations use the same spaces as with 128kbps to 192kbps music.
ProgDVB does not like dealing with huge files over 4GB, so when making extended recordings such as over night recordings, it is necessary to select an option split files after between 2GB and 4GB. In ProgDVB, select the â€˜Serviceâ€™ menu -> â€˜Record Optionsâ€™, then select the option â€˜Split file by sizeâ€™ and enter a desired split size such as â€˜2048â€™ in its field.
Setting up ProgDVB to make scheduled recordings
There are three different ways of recording content in ProgDVB. These are immediate record, scheduled record and selected programme record (like a Sky+ box).
Note that when making scheduled recordings, no two schedules can overlap!
To make an immediate recording, simply select the channel to record from the left column and press the record icon. Press the record icon again to stop the recording when desired.
User set time based scheduled recording(s)
To set-up a simple scheduled recording, tune to the channel to record from. Click the â€˜Serviceâ€™ menu, select â€˜Schedulerâ€™ and click â€˜Addâ€™ on the scheduler box. Select a date to record (if not today), enter a time in 24h format (e.g. 20:00 for 8pm), select â€˜Start Recordâ€™ from the drop-down field and click â€˜OKâ€™. Click the â€˜Addâ€™ button again, select the date to stop recording (if not today), enter a stop time in 24h format, select â€˜Stop Recordâ€™ from the drop-down field and click â€˜OKâ€™.
To make two or more recordings from independent channels, follow the above steps to schedule the first recording, then do another â€˜Addâ€™ on the scheduler box, enter the date and time one minute before the second (or later) recording and choose â€˜Change Channelâ€™ from the drop-down field and enter the name of the channel in the channel name field. Then follow the steps above for making a simple schedule for the second recording.
Recording a program using EPG (Electronic Programming Guide)
Choose the channel from the left column to schedule a recording for. Click the â€˜iâ€™ EPG icon to bring up the TV Guide for that channel. If no information is shown, then this channel does not use EPG. In this case, follow the steps above for â€œUser set time based scheduled recording(s)â€. Select the programme to record, click â€˜For Recordâ€™ and click â€˜OKâ€™ to confirm. To record other programmes (even from other channels), repeat these steps for each recording.
To cancel a schedule, click the â€˜Serviceâ€™ menu, select â€˜Schedulerâ€™ and remove the three entries (change channel, start record and stop record) for the schedule to cancel.