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Ditch CATV for DTV with Network DVR

Discussion in 'General Multimedia & VoIP Discussion' started by tipstir, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. tipstir

    tipstir Very Senior Member

    Aug 16, 2008
    South Florida
    In 2012 I did just that I've ditch all my CATV services also digital VOIP. But this is about using the home network to control 4x HD DTV Turners. This process does work very well to excellent.

    Managing everything to work well might be overwhelming at first.


    HD Requirements

    DTV ANT 40 to 60 miles range
    Mask for ANT
    Bracket for either Masonry or Gutter Mount
    CableTek Outdoor Box (this is the same one use by most CATV)
    8-way Drop Amp
    RG6 Dual or Quad Coax Bulk Roll Cable
    RG6 Dual or Quad Connectors
    Coax Masonry Mounts (Metal Screw Clip or Heavy Nail types)
    Heavy Gauge Grounding Cable

    HD DVR Requirements

    100mbps or 1000mbps Drops
    Coax Cable Drops
    HDHomeRun Dual or Quad Tuner (I am using 2x Dual so I have 4 tuners)
    Dual Core Laptops with 4MB to 8MB and HDMI output
    WD Passport USB 3 with 500GB to 1TB for Recording Storage
    Windows 7 64-bit Running MCE (Media Center Edition)
    Wireless Keyboard
    Wireless Mouse
    Can use MCE Wireless Remote Control optional
    Surge Protections on Battery Backup APC or Cyberpower

    HDHomeRun comes with all the cables you need I still make my own RG6 coax RG6 connector ends. Process is very simple if you have the right tools to make up the coax fittings. You want to use compression fittings works the best and those that support weather proofing helps a lot. Otherwise you would need to use silicone water resistant tape and you don't want to go that method as you might have to change out some cables later than soon.

    On the Network side each HDHomeRun has mac addresses for each turner the home router should see each turner and assigned IP address for each one. Now base to make this a Static IP addresses instead of DHCP. So you want to either do DHCP Reserved or change the IP client address. Basically you don't want the IP addresses to change then if that happens the tuners and MCE will have issues.

    So we must avoid those issues at all cost.

    Again to setup the HDHomeRun on a dual core Windows 7 64-bit laptop is fairly easy and also you don't want to use the laptop internal HDD to record on. Best to use the external source like WD Passport USB 2.0 or 3.0, in 500GB or 1TB or higher. Because once you start recording in HD the these GB storage will fill up quick.

    Setting up HD HomeRun

    Run the mini-CD included basically that goes out to their web site and download the latest software and firmware update if needed.

    Next you would make sure that each turner is connected to AC, Coax Drops and Network Drops. Only one coax cable is use per HDHomeRun Dual because the device has a built-in 2-way splitter inside.

    Now you just run the software on laptop for installation. Next reboot the laptop. After rebooting the laptop you can now setup the HDHomeRun Tuners the software should seen in this example 4 digital tuners.

    Then you do a tuner station scan let that rip.. For me it has found 67 digital channels. I know it's not like CATV 200 or higher channels but you would be surprise to learn that you do get some channels that are on cable beside the local station.

    Once all of this is completed you move on to MCE.

    Setting up MCE (Media Center Edition)

    MCE has to be setup to use the WD Passport as the main Recording Storage.
    Setup the tuners and make sure it see all 4 of them. Sometimes it doesn't and that means that MCE is corrupted. Mostly means that Windows is too. This happens. A fresh copy of Windows 7 fixes these issues which is a much faster process.

    Now I did try this with Windows 8 HDHomeRun for 8 was still in beta so there was glitches (issues) I've moved back to Windows 7 as the primary OS here because everything I own works with Windows 7.

    So now if MCE sees all your tuners you can move on and setup the rest of MCE to access your archive media from your network nodes (devices)

    Right now as I type this to you all I use two laptops as my primary and secondary DVR. I could setup desktops but to reduce power consumption I use laptop method.

    Now to get the most out of your ditching CATV and loosing all those channels you could sign on to Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos an etc. That will take up the missing slack of channels. Optional Hulu Plus and Vudu Services. I just use the Netflix that works on MCE also. Amazn Prime Instant Videos some are free and be used on PC to HDTV or with Network Media Players like SONY SMP-N100 or SMP-N200.

    I pretty much record daily and have everything setup to do so. Lots of movies, old time programs like Voyage to the bottom of the sea, star trek, six million dollar man, bionic woman, Hawaii five o an etc. Plus CBS HD, NBC HD, FOX HD, CW HD, ABC HD, PBC HD an etc.. Everything is 1080i except for ABC HD is 720p.

    Picture Quality is very sharp and vivid on HD and the audio is recorded in Dolby Digital Plus in my case 7.1 is use here. My two SONY BRAVIA pick up the signals as 1080i way better pictures than what I use to get with Comcast HD. Also the cost is free going this way. I am doing it. Electric bill is so much lower now too.

    I'll post pictures of my setup outdoor and indoor very soon. :D
  2. stevech

    stevech Part of the Furniture

    Mar 13, 2010
    San Diego
    I used Sage TV for many years. Even HD.

    I contemplate going MS Media Center, but I must have cablecard to get the "good stuff" that's encrypted. MS/MC does support that for certain boxes, and channel tuning gets wonky with MS/MC vs. box vendors (often some IR hack).

    The above plus worry that MS is overtly abandoning MS/MC gives me pause.
  3. tipstir

    tipstir Very Senior Member

    Aug 16, 2008
    South Florida

    Back in the day it was Intervideo WinDVR and WinDVD Recorder and CyberLink PowerVCR before ever going into any of the forum xPVR software available for Windows. SageTV was the very last one used. But since they're pretty much sold out to GoogleTV the others don't really work so well. MCE now uses *.WTV instead the older extension.

    For what it is worth everything works nice with MCE the way I've described on the first post.
  4. texas

    texas New Around Here

    Jun 7, 2013
    This is the route I wanted to go as well. Using OTA TV along with streaming for Hulu and Netflix. How is it working for you so far?
  5. tipstir

    tipstir Very Senior Member

    Aug 16, 2008
    South Florida
    No issues.. Two laptops on 24/7 but they're powered down when not in use to save energy. Record when schedule is active. Planning to add two MCE extenders they have them for $179 though on Amazon.

    Update 6.11.13, removed the pre-amp back in 5.13 don't need it anymore..

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