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Old 06-14-2009, 05:57 PM
Rabbotsfoot Rabbotsfoot is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Posts: 6
BTV and Comcast's Transition to Digital Cable

I have built my own computers since before the IBM PC existed and built my first media server back when BTV was rev 3.4. I have always been impressed with BTV as a software product and over the years have grown accustomed to never watching commercial advertisements.

The times, however, are changing. My existing 76 channels analog SD service from Comcast will no longer be offered after July of 09. Only the lower 34 channels will be available analog. Everything else is going QAM digital. I don't yet know but suspect that only the lower 34 channels will be in Clear-QAM and the rest will be encrypted. This means that I will need to do something to maintain the status quo for my BTV based media server.

One of my tuners is an ATI HD Wonder which is Theater 650 based and should (theoretically) be able to tune Clear-QAM/ATSC and NTSC. The ATSC doesn't due me much good due to my location and the geography. I'm in a valley just out of reach of the San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento stations leaving me with only one receivable OTA HD station, which happens to be in a language I don't speak. Amplified antennas may be answer on more even ground but they can't make the hills go away.

Firewire from the STB seems an obvious way to go but there are a lot of obstacles: Its not clear if the STB will present decrypted signals for the upper staions; Snapstream does not support it as a source; the valiant and clever kludges to support this using the BTV API, scripts and external applications seem to have only gotten to the level of being just that and don't yet integrate fully and seamlessly with BTV. This holds some hope for the future but its not yet here today. It also seems like an obvious feature to add natively to BTV in a future release but one can't count on such things.

I thought about capturing the raw analog Component HD stream from the STB. After all if S-Video is good for SD then Component must do the trick for HD. However, some quick back of the envelope math shows that sampling and encoding the full raw YPrPb stream is at least an order of magnitude more work than simply shuffling around the already digitized steam. It takes a pro grade video editing card costing $>500 to do it cleanly at resolution and BTV doesn't support those (why would it?).

That leaves me with the tried and true mess-o-stb's using S-Video capture and serial or USB-IRT tuning approach. No HD in this picture, except what I can get Clear-QAM on the lower channels. That's a bummer but its no worse than what I have now.

For the longer term, I fear that if BTV can't find a way to avail itself of and handle the types of HD sources consumers have available to them then it will just fade away into the SD past of yester year like my B&W TV did. I really liked that TV! but I liked having color more.

Can anyone think of alternate approach I haven't considered for either HD or SD?
Can anyone share their experience using S-Video capture with multiple STBs?

ATI Theater 650; ATI Theater 550; HDHomerun; E8500 @ 3.6GHz; 4TB Raid 5; 3GB @ 1GHz; ABit IP35 Pro; XP SP3; BTV 4.9.2 (6323)

Last edited by Rabbotsfoot; 06-14-2009 at 06:06 PM.
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