Friday, 16 March 2012

Moving set top boxes..

My current Media PC records from 2 Freesat tuners, 2 Freeview tuners, and an HD Satellite Set Top box via a Hauppauge Colossus. This setup has served me well for quite a few years now, and there was no real reason to change it, until Cable broadband arrived in my area.

Why should Cable broadband mean changing the media pc? Well, the DSL line can only get 4mbps, which isn't a great speed, but Cable can offer me 50mbps. Once you pay the nice Cable people for a fast line like that, it doesn't become that much more to add Cable TV to the bill. And I kinda figured I'd add the Cable set top as a 6th tuner to the media pc...

Of course, time has this habit of rolling onward, and nearly 2 months after the Cable was installed, there we were, with the same old setup, and a Cable box on a 2nd HDMI input.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought that the reason I wasn't adding the box into the Media PC's line up, was because I really wasn't looking forward to the time it would take to resolve all the channels into the guide and appropriately merge the sources together. Plus, I'd kind of gotten used to having a 2nd box that could be used when the Media PC was 'busy' ;p

So I decided to swap the boxes over.. and have the Media PC use the Cable box, rather than the Satellite box.. that way (since the Satellite box had a movies subscription) .. I could work on another project I have in mind with the one no longer in use.

The Media PC uses a batch script to change the channel on the set top box.. today this is sending remote control signals, but the new box supports changing via ethernet.. much nicer, and in theory, will remove those oh so annoying channel mischanges.. A quick hunt around found a nice program that could do the channel changes, but there was a slight issue that the Media PC believed it was still talking to the Satellite box, and the channel numbers don't line up..

As I really wanted to avoid redoing the channel line-up on the Media PC, I opted for another solution.. creating a map of the channel numbers between the two boxes, then updating the script to do the mapping when a channel change was requested. This almost worked, except the script took too long to resolve the channel mapping..

I did what any good geek would do, and downloaded Visual C++ express, and converted the script into a small exe, and then for good measure added the ability for the exe to send the channel change too..

If you happen to be in the incredibly small number of people trying to do the same thing (move from a setup where a batch file changed a channel, to having it remap and send the channel via tcp/ip) I'm happy to share the code =)

Result: Media PC has been recording from the Cable box now for weeks, without a missed channel change! it's totally oblivious to the change of set top box.

Now to get back to that other project with the satellite box..

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