[mythtv-users] HDTV Question from somebody considering MythTV

Rod Smith mythtv at rodsbooks.com
Mon Nov 26 18:37:44 UTC 2007

On Monday 26 November 2007 11:00:17 Kirk Bauer wrote:
> I currently have an HD DirecTivo (and a regular-definition DirecTivo).
>  DirecTV is moving to MPEG4 and at some point will eliminate the old
> MPEG2 HD channels.  This will leave me two choices for recording HD:
> 1) "Upgrade" to DirecTV's non-Tivo PVR
> 2) Purchase an HD Series 3 Tivo with CableCARDs from Cox
> So, what is the best option for getting HD content into MythTV?  I'm
> not looking for the easiest option but instead the best.  From what I
> can tell I can record OTA HD from my antenna no problem.  But what if
> I want to record other HD channels like HBO, Showtime, FX, Discovery,
> etc?

That's the problem. Most cable operators encrypt most of their digital 
content, and AFAIK there's no way to get encrypted digital cable content into 
MythTV except by decrypting it with a set-top box and then recording it with 
a standard definition tuner card. My understanding is that even Firewire 
connections won't help you with this task. A few lucky souls have cable 
companies that provide most or all channels unencrypted, but this is pretty 
rare. The most common setup (and what Cox in RI does) is to provide locals 
unencrypted but everything else encrypted.

> To me the only possible option is to get one or more HD set-top boxes
> from DirecTV, control them with IR, and somehow capture the HD output.
>  I know this may not be cheap, but is it possible?

With stock DirecTV hardware, the situation is the same as (or even worse than) 
with cable. There is a wrinkle, though -- a couple of companies sell 
modifications to DirecTV receivers that enable you to use them as 
Firewire-based tuners:


Note that I've not dealt with either company and I've not researched these 
options very deeply, so I don't know the details of the capabilities. I 
gather that the second one, at least, isn't directly compatible with MythTV, 
but can apparently be made to work by using an intermediary Windows box. I 
don't know if the first one is MythTV-compatible at all.

> 1) Capturing the HDMI output -- obviously HDMI is made to avoid this
> but it seems there has to be some sort of hack for this?
> 2) Capturing the component video output -- but what resolution will a
> Satellite box output to Component outputs?  Not full HD I believe?

AFAIK, no product exists to do either of these things. I've seen hints that 
such products might become available in the next few months (in 2008 or 
2009), but I have no specifics and I can make no promises. I certainly 
wouldn't make any plans on the assumption that such items will become 

> 3) Using a HD Tivo to capture from CableCard and extracting that video
> into MythTV for distribution to other rooms, etc.

In theory this can be done; however, it will require hacking the TiVo and 
finding a way to integrate the TiVo with the MythTV system. I don't know of 
any ready-made software or instructions to do this, so if you attempt it 
you'll be heading into uncharted territory.

Overall, the situation for HD MythTV is that getting OTA content is easy 
(either directly OTA if your signal is strong enough or via most cable 
operators), but getting non-OTA HD content is much dicier. By all means, 
research it -- ask your cable operator how much they encrypt and check out 
the modified DirecTV tuners. I wouldn't get my hopes up, though.

Rod Smith

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