DVB-T reception on the cheap

In an effort to reduce noise and electricity consumption in my living room I’m removing the current MythTV frontend and replacing it with an Aspire Revo.

The box under the telly at the moment is a dual-core Pentium 4 somethingorother running at about 2Gz in a nice looking “media” case.   It’s great and everything, and it decodes HD perfectly well but it has fans on the processor, fans on the video card and fans in the PSU which all add up to a noisy box.

So it’s going to get re-purposed as a general computer and the Revo will go in it’s place.   Actually it will get bolted on to the back of the telly to keep it out of the reach of children who like to press buttons.  I’ll report back on the building of a frontend on a Revo once I wrestle the package from the hands of the worlds most apathetic delivery company “Home Delivery Network”.  (I think they use the word “delivery” quite incorrectly)

Anyway, as part of this upgrade I need to add a DVB-T tuner to the Revo but with no PCI slots the only option is to use a USB tuner.   My father-in-law put me on to Kenable who have a lot of bits and bobs at good prices, specifically the PEAK DVB-T USB tuner for 15quid:

USB Peak DIGITAL DVB-T Freeview TV Card XP MCE Vista Dongle
http://www.kenable.co.uk/product_info.php/cPath/171/products_id/1435

I wasn’t able to find much about about it before I bought it, but I thought I’d take a punt and get one anyway and worry about getting it working under Linux later.

It arrived the other day and I popped the lid off to find an AF9015 demodulator and a QT1010 tuner inside.   I checked on the Linux TV wiki and things looked pretty good on the whole.  When I plugged it in to an Ubuntu 9.04 box nothing happened which was a shame but a bit more digging made me think that I should download the latest Linux TV drivers and have another go.

I followed the instructions from here:

http://www.linuxtv.org/wiki/index.php/How_to_Obtain,_Build_and_Install_V4L-DVB_Device_Drivers

and downloaded, compiled and installed the new drivers.  You’ll also need some different firmware to that which is supplied with Ubuntu, download 4.95.0 from here:

http://www.otit.fi/~crope/v4l-dvb/af9015/af9015_firmware_cutter/firmware_files/4.95.0/

and place the .fw file in /lib/firmware (not as most people say /lib/firmware/<kernel version>).  You’ll need to overwrite the other version, or rename it or whatever.

Reboot and you’re golden. The stick is detected and the firmware loads and I have been watching live TV on my Aspire One netbook courtesy of Mplayer.

You probably need to bear in mind that if you apply any future kernel/driver updates from Ubuntu then your drivers might get over written.  There’s a change that the new version of the Ubuntu drivers will include the required AF9015 driver, but it might not.  Also, you probably don’t need to compile all the drivers, just the ones for the AF9015 and QT1010 modules.  I’ll look in to this, and if you promise to be good I’ll provide a nice little package with everything in.

 

UPDATE:  So here we are two and a bit years later.  I’ve just found this same tuner in the bottom of a box and plugged it in to my 11.04 Ubuntu machine.  When I plugged it in Ubuntu automatically suggested I download the firmware.  Awesome.  It now “just works”.  Well pleased.

Acer Aspire One & Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04

I’m really happy with my new Aspire One.  I was a bit late coming to the whole netbook party.    In the last few months I’ve been looking at the various options and the Aspire One was still the best deal in my opinion.

I’ve upgraded the RAM by adding another 1GB (you can’t add any more than this, it doesn’t pass POST if you do) and given it a custom paint job (pictures coming soon).

While I was playing around with various OS options I was caught by a bug which corrupts the SD card (left hand side) if you’ve opted to put /home on there and suspended.   See this page for more info:

https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/pm-utils/+bug/342096

The fix is to recompile the kernel and change a few options from the Ubuntu defaults.  While I was waiting for the source to download I had a quick poke around on Google and found that Robert had already built a custom kernel for the Aspire complete with all the Aspire One specific changes needed to make the WiFi LEDs work, and fan control and what have you.   I posted a comment on Robert’s site asking if he had also included the fix from the Ubuntu bug as detailed above, he hadn’t but about 30 mins later a new release was ready to roll.   It fixes the corrupt SD problem and saved me a lot of menuconfig work.  Thanks Robert!

You can get more details from here:

http://blog3.robertalks.com/index.php/2009/06/17/revision-3-for-kernel-2630-final-released/