DirecTV & htpc? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 06-06-2001, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Football season is coming and I need help!
At this time I have a 733mhz htpc with Elsa Gladiac gts2 vid, M-audio 24/96, and 20 gig HD...how do I hook my DirecTV reciever up to my htpc? Can I even do it?

Thanks Kenny
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post #2 of 18 Old 06-06-2001, 09:29 PM
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Get dScaler with a supported video capture card .


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post #3 of 18 Old 06-06-2001, 10:24 PM
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The Elsa will be fine. The M-Audio card is nice. The PIII 733mhz is enough processor. So you have the basics in place. As mentioned above, get a copy of dScaler and supported video capture card that contains a Brooktree/Conexant BT8x8 chip. Hook up your DirecTV receiver to the PC, ideally via the s-video connection on your DirecTV receiver, to the s-video input of your video capture card (if the one you buy has s-vid in -- check that! not all do).

But what do you plan to use as your display? If you are planning to use a front projector, then not a problem - you can hook up the projector via the VGA connection of the PC. However, you may also want to get a copy of Powerstrip to set the resolution and refresh rate to the ideal values for the geometry of your projector.

It does take a little work. But the results are fantastic. Enjoy. If you have any further questions, post here again.
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post #4 of 18 Old 06-07-2001, 11:00 AM
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Bernd: Yes - but you have a nice STB and a nice DILA projector. We don't know what our friend Kenny has available.

Kenny - what were you planning to use for display of all of this?
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post #5 of 18 Old 06-07-2001, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bernd:
My STB is a RCA DTC-100. When it recieves SDTV (480i), it upscales it to 540p which the DILA reads as 1080i (540p and 1080i have the same timings). When the STB recieves a native 1080i signal it just sends that directly to the projector.
That is what it does and I have a similar setup except with an HDTV. The thing is, the DTC-100 has pretty bad deinterlacing and scaling. I'd say it really isn't any better than s-video and the internal scaler in my TV. I liked running DSS stuff through my HTPC the most since it can do the cleanest 3:2 pulldown with the comparatively clean signal.

Of course, when it is HDTV, I would pass right through. That DOES beat dScaler, but I'm not really suprised http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

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post #6 of 18 Old 06-07-2001, 07:21 PM
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I'll second that. A few months ago I compared (non-HD) DirecTV on a DTC100 versus a regular DirecTV receiver's signal passed through a DVDO iScan Pro, and IMO the DVDO iScan Pro produced a vastly superior picture. At 480p, the DVDO iScan Pro and dScaler are extremely similar. Now that I've gotten rid of the gremlins in my HTPC, I slightly prefer dScaler at either 640x480p or 1800x1200i over a 480p DVDO iScan Pro. Therefore, IMO, the DTC100 is an inferior 480i DirecTV line doubler compared to dScaler (at least with a BT879 Cybermail card and Radeon LE), unless perhaps RCA has recently done a firmware update to improve the deinterlacing.


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post #7 of 18 Old 06-07-2001, 09:14 PM
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I think you are at risk of going from New York to LA by way of London.

Specifically, I am not sure that the HTPC is going to help you with DirecTV. I have basically the same stuff as you (HTPC, DirecTV), and I have found that it is much better to hook the DirecTV STB directly to the display device (mine is a Dukane 9015 DILA). My STB is a RCA DTC-100. When it recieves SDTV (480i), it upscales it to 540p which the DILA reads as 1080i (540p and 1080i have the same timings). When the STB recieves a native 1080i signal it just sends that directly to the projector.

Cheers,

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post #8 of 18 Old 06-07-2001, 10:24 PM - Thread Starter
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My video display is an NEC xg110lc, right now the only input I'm using is the RGBHV, scaling the image to 1280X720 @ 96hz refresh.
Now I'm completely confused...are you guys telling me if I buy a DTC-100 it'll take regular 480i programing and scale it to 540p???
However, the best picture would be from a capture card that uses the Brooktree/Conexant BT8x8 chip...it looks to me for NTSC there are really three ways to go, one of the Hauppauge cards, Pinnacle, or Zoltrix genie...do any of these use the Brooktree chip and have s-video input?
If so which card has the best performance?
Then one last thing, which card is the best bang-for-the-buck?

Thanks alot! Kenny
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post #9 of 18 Old 06-08-2001, 04:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by KennyG:

are you guys telling me if I buy a DTC-100 it'll take regular 480i programing and scale it to 540p???
Exactly so. If I had my DTC-100 in the same setup as my HTPC: I would watch HD with the VGA on. If I wanted to watch anything else, I would send the discrete IR code to disable the VGA output. It would switch to s-video and get pumped into my HTPC for some good scaling to 540p.



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post #10 of 18 Old 06-08-2001, 06:13 AM
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Kennyg,

Don't feel bad about being confused. The issue you face is how to handle different kinds of input which will come to you via DirecTV. Assuming an RCA DTC-100 STB (other have very similar fuctionality here are the options:

The highest quality is easiest. When you recieve high def content (1080i), push the HD button on the STB (or send it the right IR code), and run the signal out of the VGA port on the STB to your projector. You can get a VGA to RGBHV breakout cable, which directly connects VGA to RBGHV.

When you get to low quality content the choices become more numerous and confusing. When you watch any channel on DirecTV except for the demo loop or the HD movie channel, or when you watch OTA standard def (all of this is broadcast and delivered to you in 480i), you have to find a way to deinterlace the content and scale it up for your projector.

The two options for this are:

1) Run an S-Video cable from the STB to a capture card in the HTPC, and use dScaler to deinterlace and scale the 480i to whatever the resolution is on the graphics card which is driving your projector.

2) Let the STB do the deinterlacing and scaling. This means keeping the cables as they are for the HD content and letting the STB simply scale the content up to the HD settings on your projector

The advantage ofs #1 are; better picture quality if you invest the time getting the right capture card and configuring dScaler, and the flexibility to deinterlace and scale all sorts of source material (VHS, camcorder DTV, CATV, etc.).

The advantage of #2 is that you don't have to do anything, the STB just switches modes for you and that's it.

Cheers,

Bernd
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post #11 of 18 Old 06-08-2001, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by KennyG:
My video display is an NEC xg110lc, right now the only input I'm using is the RGBHV, scaling the image to 1280X720 @ 96hz refresh.
Now I'm completely confused...are you guys telling me if I buy a DTC-100 it'll take regular 480i programing and scale it to 540p???
However, the best picture would be from a capture card that uses the Brooktree/Conexant BT8x8 chip...it looks to me for NTSC there are really three ways to go, one of the Hauppauge cards, Pinnacle, or Zoltrix genie...do any of these use the Brooktree chip and have s-video input?
If so which card has the best performance?
Then one last thing, which card is the best bang-for-the-buck?

Thanks alot! Kenny
As Cal states, the DCT100 will scale 480i to 540p.

What I would do is see for yourself and connect the DCT100 directly to your projector to get a feel for NTSC programs both at 480i via the s-video output, and upconverted via the HD VGA output. You may find other issues besides picture quality may be a factor in your situation. (This may not apply to your situation, but in my case with a 4:3 HDTV I found the video capture card with dScaler permitted me to view NTSC programming full screen without letterboxing with a generally better picture than produced by the internal line doubler of my HDTV. Beyond picture quality you may also like the convenience of displaying TV in a window while surfing the Net, etc.)

If after viewing NTSC on the DTC100 if you're not satisfied, you can spring for the huge sum of $14.50 and purchase the
CyberVideo PCI video capture card

This card comes without a TV tuner, and a number of forum members feel that it outperforms the cards with tuners becauses it may be less prone to interference. So I would say if you are going to be using the external tuner in your DTC100 anyway, then this card might be "the best bang-for-the-buck".

However, be advised that these cards still exhibit some form of interference that shows up as video noise to varying degrees.

For more money a couple of forum members have reported "noise free" results with a Pinnacle card (although I have recall reading of a least one member who had an unfavorable experience with noise.)

For even more money forum member Ken Hotte aka KBK will sell you a modified Zoltrix for $125 that he reports provides excellent results. Refer to his June 5th, 6:22 PM posting in this thread Ghosting on Radeon Cards??? .

I'm not positive, but I'm fairly sure that all of the cards that you mentioned have s-video inputs. I know for certain that the CyberMail card does.

At the risk of stating the obvious, depending on how many VGA inputs you have on your projector, if you choose to use the DCT100 and an HTPC you may also have to purchase a suitable VGA switcher in order to conveniently connect both sources to the projector.

Larry
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post #12 of 18 Old 06-08-2001, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks alot guys, now I've just got to figure out how I want to go about this...the simplicity of the DTC-100 seems very inviting...however I didn't go through all the hassles of htpc and a projector for mediocre video...so it looks like it's video capture, and D-scaler for me, I just hate the idea of another uphill htpc battle. I'm now kinda spoiled, I've had this one operating at 0 hiccups for several months now.
I've going hunting for a capture card right now, but all the while I'm going to keep KBK's modified card in the back of my head, I'm beginning to become a regular customer of his!
Using 540p, scan lines will show, I like the idea of taking an NTSC signal and upconverting it to 720p via my Elsa...plus with this setup I can use the RCA 5.1 reciever I already have!
Thanks again, and if you think of anything else...I'm all ears...Kenny
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post #13 of 18 Old 06-08-2001, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Well after spending a couple hours looking at capture cards I sent KBK an e-mail about his mod'ed cards...I've always enjoyed the "hot rodded" approach to things.
So if it's compatable with d scaler then I'm off and running...actually if I know these things, I'm probably going to be ripping my hair out for a week or two...this could get ugly http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif
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post #14 of 18 Old 06-09-2001, 04:56 AM
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Kenny,

I am a happy user of one of KBK's modded Zoltrix cards. Just plug it in, and then do the following dScaler settings:

1) Select the card type
2) Select Phillips NTSC
3) Select S-Video is the input
4) Select sound as Off (the sound still goes from the DTC to your surround processor)

Now it will work. Then the serious tweaking begins. You will notice from the dScaler menu's a plethora of settings. I like the new greedy two fram deinterlacing method when watching sports (which is about all I use DirecTV for). You can also play with screen aspect ratio's to your hearts content.

Cheers,

Bernd
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post #15 of 18 Old 06-09-2001, 08:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Bernd, OH YES!!! that's the kind of conversation I like!
Sounds to simple to be true, I hope mine goes that easy.
So far KBK hasn't e-mailed me back, but I know his "time" schedule is a little unconventional, so I get this thing rolling soon!
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post #16 of 18 Old 06-09-2001, 06:01 PM
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Kenny,

My wife and I watched the Braves Yankees game on Fox via DirecTV this afternoon. In preparation for the game I made a test Pronto screen that switched between the two settings; 1) HD button on, VGA out to Computer 2 in on the DILA (DTC-100 scales 480i to 1080i), and 2) HD button off, S-Video to Zoltrix card, dScaler to view, deinterlace and scale the 480i to 768p.

The good news is that the Braves beat the hated Yankees 10 to 6.

As for the picture quality hear are my observations:

1) The native DTC-100 configuration seems to produce more vibrant colors. I have not played with any color correction in dScaler, so I have no idea if this can be impacted in dScaler.

2) dScaler definitely produces a more stable, more sharp image with much greater defintion in objects in the background. With dScaler, you can just about make out faces in the crowd in background, with the native DTC-100 they are really just a blur. Of course when things get broadcast in HDTV, you can pick out pimples on peoples noses.

3) If you choose to view the 4:3 image scaled out (wider) to fill a 16:9 screen, dScaler does a much better job of this than the scaler in the DTC. With the DTC, stretching the image produces such a fuzzy picture that neither my wife nor I can stand it.

Now, I have not played with dScaler extensively. Perhaps someone else here who regularly uses it with DirecTV can share some settings that make the result even better.

Cheers,

Bernd
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post #17 of 18 Old 06-09-2001, 08:39 PM
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I think the massive changes to the card have something to do with the visual quality of the HTPC as a comparative device. I would like to do more.. and will soon. As for the Zoltrix cards, they are $135 each, delivery paid. I use the same card. I have never had any video noise of any kind...except the same amount of noise I get on skipping through channels amd having at least 2 computers on the same Cable TV line, one Server (cable modem) and the HTPC in use. The lower channels are useless. I have NEVER had ANY noise of any kind on any video/composite/s-video source, ever. (please do not read this as me promising/guaranteeing that you will not suffer at all with my card)

Now.. I have only the input device's inherent noise floor... and whatever is left over from the connecting video cable's quality as a factor in such.

Sorry about the lack of reply.. as I said in the e-mail, I have worked hard at removing the western fascination with linear time-sense from my daily diet.. is one of the greatest impediments to ingenuity and creativity that the west has ever produced, so.. it has to go. So, I dump it.Lateral shifting=triangulation=depth of vision=understanding. So I shift....whotta ride.. whotta rush.

Any way.. tangents are the reason and the fun part. Back to the subject at hand.(I think, therefore I coulda hada V8?) The video card. I made one that meets my minimum standards, for video input. (pardon me, my dog wants the icecube from my drink.. 'are you using that?' she queries..) I make it available to you folks on the forum. So far, no-one has complained, so...according to standard North American consumer behavior.. I am forced to conclude that those who have received it, like it. Zero failure and complaint rate.(so far.. knock on skull) Some well known persons on the forum have it... and they are NOT in any any way UN-familiar with the best that video has to offer. They seem to like it, as the best they can obtain for getting NTSC into a HTPC system. Still the best, after a year.

I stated this one before . You will NEVER.. EVER see a company that produces this kind of stuff go after quality at a reasonable price. It is not realistically obtainable. They would instantly remove themselves from the mainstream pricing arena, and kill themselves as a viable company in the regular market. Select items have select prices. At this time, due to the limited market, and market size, my modified input card is still all that is available. Alan would love to sell it, but the FCC approval of it is something that I am not prepared to go after. What I concluded was that the moment I did such... Zoltrix would discontinue the card, and I would be stuck with no product, and huge demand. I decided to forgo the situation that had no safe alternative and outcome. A year later (almost) the card is still available, and the market is still there. This is NOT a commercial forum, and I am glad it is not. For instance.. markR's recent comments on the TAW are starying to get a bit HARD.. ( I have decided to go back and edit this post and aplologize to mark to a certian degree. I could simply remove the comment, but it was made, and so, it stands.)

I agree with the forum rules. Every now and then, they get a bit violated, but that's OK. Democracy has it's faults, but it's better than the alternatives.

So, in that spirit, I am responding to the questions in this thread..but trying to keep it simple, and un-obtrusive.. which is what I ask of all others. Another example of this sort of behavior that is beyond reproach -for instance- is Don Stewart, of Stewart Filmscreen. Man, there's a class act. Such a 'model of behavior' from a 'commercial entity'... well, Don should be commended for his activities and stance.

Anyway.. I have about 5 more cards to go, and then the price will have to go up to $140. My supply of the cheap extra part on the board is nearly gone. The extra part I have added on recently, that I feel is DEFINITELY worth adding on for the increase in quality.. I will have to buy more of them ,and they cost ME $15 each. I am only going to be increasing the price of the card by a total of $10, so, it ain't that bad. ( it is interesting to note that a large number of the Capture card buyers are in the PC and computer industry...) WM (CRT calibrationist of the highest order--he knows effluent from shoe polish), and Jim Taylor (recently head of JVC tech sales--projection..DILA) where satisfied buyers of the card as well. There.. some actual name dropping.

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[This message has been edited by KBK (edited 06-10-2001).]

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post #18 of 18 Old 06-10-2001, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Ken, no need to appologize about the lack of reply, I now understand your thoughts on time, that is the way you choose to be...this is a hobby, and as such you should be able to respond in your own time...not mine, not anyone elses.
Anyway, whenever you've got one ready to go, I need it!

Kenny
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