Monday, July 09, 2007

No Audigy Prodigy

Spent all day Saturday trying to get the Audigy 2 ZS Platinum front panel inputs & outputs working in my AMD64 box. Reloading drivers, updating software, on & on & on.

No luck.

Finally, gave up. I ultimately figured it was pointless and would only work properly in another system (like the old K7 box were I had initially installed it and where it worked perfectly).

The front panel has a connector that looks like a floppy drive power connection. I didn't think anything of it. I didn't have it connected when it was in the K7 box. (Google is your friend.) Somewhere I read that if I hooked up power to that connector, it might solve the problem.

It did.

Unreal. All that grief for nothing, but it sure was nice to have it working again! Back to recording again! Yeah!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

OTA HDTV with the KWorld ATSC 110

The KWorld ATSC 110 PCI card receives both Analog NTSC as well as Digital ATSC over the air signals. This post deals only with the OTA HDTV portion.

The software that they bundled with the card was useless to me, I thought I was getting a full meal deal that I could use right away with the card to begin viewing OTA HDTV, instead I got a non-functioning software key that would not unlock the trial version of the bundled application. Nonetheless, as you will see, the card itself works very well and was a really good bargain from newegg at the time I purchased it. I don't see it listed on their site at the time of this writing; it may be discontinued. They do have a listing for a ATSC 120 model. A step up? Don't know...

Anyway, I needed an alternative application to use with the card and fortunately I did.

I found a freeware app called WatchHDTV and initially had it working somewhat under Windows 2000, but the app is really designed for Windows XP so I was lucky--it worked under Win2K but not very well. It performs quite well under WinXP. The weird thing about running it under Win2K was that I had to load the bundled trialware viewer and then WatchHDTV. I guess WatchHDTV used some of the drivers from the other application, but that is moot at this point.

Let me list the requirements that got my card working for me:
Quick set-up steps:
  1. Install the ATSC 110 card & connect to the UHF antenna (brilliant right?)
  2. Boot Windows XP, download the necessary software (again, earth-shattering insight).
  3. Install the ATS 110 drivers and reboot as required.
  4. Install the K-Lite Codec Pack
    1. In the Select Components dialog box, scroll down and DO select MPEG-1/MPEG-2/DVD under the DirectShow video filters option. There are two options under this category: libmpeg2 & libavcodec. If one doesn't work out, uninstall/reinstall and try the other.
  5. Before you click Finish, select Configure ffdshow video decoder (you can do this later if you wish, but let's just get it over with). Click Finish
  6. In the ffdshow config window select Deinterlacing --> Click Apply --> Click OK
  7. Unzip WatchHDTV1.950 & WatchHDTV TS1.120 to locations of your choice.
  8. Navigate to WatchHDTV TS1.120 and run regwatchhdtv. Close that window.
  9. Navigate to WatchHDTV1.950 and run WatchHDTVInfo
  10. Select your BDA Tuner (probably only one in the list, it will be labeled something like 713x BDA ATSC Tuner)
  11. Select your BDA Capture (again, only one in the list, something like 713x BDA Digital Capture)
  12. Select your MPEG-2 Video Decoders (in my case ffdshow Video Decoder)
  13. Select your AC-3 Audio Decoders (again ffdshow Audio Decoder)
  14. As for DVR-MS Filters, I don't really know which works best or does what. I selected StreamBufferSource
  15. WatchHDTV Transport Stream Filters: if it says Stream Filters aren't installed, run regwatchhdtv again. Close/Reopen the WatchHDTVInfo and you will find the missing options (repeat your selections above). I chose WatchHDTVTSSource (again, though I don't know which of the two is better or why... experiment I suppose. You can always go back to WatchHDTVInfo to rearrange your settings.
  16. Finished? Click the Create decoders.txt button & then OK
Basically, WatchHDTV is set up now to run. Now all you need to do is get a list of your channel information (you can use something like TitanTV, enter your zip code and get the channel information you need). Open up WatchHDTV --> Click Setup --> Select Channel Setup

It may look a little confusing but it's not too bad. Here are the corresponding entries from a TitanTV listing (click image(s) for larger view if needed):

The controls in this dialog are self-explanatory. Once you are done, click OK and you are on your way to Over The Air (OTA) HDTV viewing!

There are also other applications/features available in WatchHDTV. A quick glance in the folder indicate scheduled recording & playback, etc. but I haven't gotten around to using those so far. WatchHDTV may not be the ultimate PVR but for what I want I think it will work out just fine. For a fully functional PVR, the bundled Beyond TV application may be worth spending the bucks for the non-trial version. I didn't bother (yet?). There's also MythTV or KnoppMyth for the more adventurous and/or Linux users. Your mileage may vary. I attempted a KnoppMyth installation once. You can see how well it worked out by the lack of posting here upon the subject--that's not to say you won't have better success then I did of course. Go for it.

Well there you have it. The ATSC 110 is a really cool card handling both analog & digital signals. It works under WindowsXP as well as Linux. It's not too difficult to get it up and running (for free) once you have all the pieces to the puzzle, and best of all, it really works! :-)