Open Source Windows MCE BDA QAM Support Project - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 51 Old 04-01-2007, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
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(I originally posted this in the Vista Cablecard thread)

I'd like to setup a fund to pay for the development of open source (BSD license) BDA driver for QAM HDTV receivers. There are a lot of QAM capable HDTV PCI/USB devices out there that need nothing but some additional software in order to view non-encrypted digital cable.

I waited for Vista to come out and bought it only to be told later that I can't actually use the included Media Center to view my paid-for and legal Cable broadcasts. I'm being told I have to buy another system, pay hundreds of dollars for a "mythical" OCUR box from only one vendor (ATI) and sign away my fair use rights just so that I can watch the TV I've already paid for???? It can't be really about "theft-of-service" since my non-cable card equipped Motorola STB/DVR does not encrypt the clear HD streams on the hard drive and QAM clear HDTV reception does not steal pay-per-view or VOD content.

I'd like to get in contact with Windows developers who can assist me in implementing the following Windows software:


#1: Generic QAM BDA drivers that work with the common HDTV tuners out there
#2: Generic ATSC BDA driver that converts QAM HDTV to ATSC format HDTV

I also need hardware engineers that help implement hardware/firmware so that existing CABLECARD modules can be repurposed for use in decrypting paid-for encrypted QAM HDTV. One possibility is ordering standard cablecard reader modules from China and assembling in into a USB host case here in the states. No violation of DMCA only hobby building of a device that does not meet the cablelabs compliance.

The goal is to have open source drivers, source code and hardware mods that allow the majority of MCE users to watch the Cable TV they have already fully paid for.
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post #2 of 51 Old 04-01-2007, 01:04 PM
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You should probably save yourself the trouble and just buy the HDHomeRun unit, to use the unencrypted QAM channels in MCE... As for the

Quote:


existing CABLECARD modules can be repurposed for use in decrypting paid-for encrypted QAM HDTV

I seriously doubt that you could actually get that to do what you really want without having to deal with CableLab...
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post #3 of 51 Old 04-01-2007, 04:24 PM
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^^ What he said. And although the BDA drivers for the HDHomeRun are not opensource, the base library is. You could easily write your own BDA drivers from it (only for that device) if you know C++.
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post #4 of 51 Old 04-01-2007, 04:42 PM
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I'm 9 cards into AverMedia A180s and OTA is fine, but I would like to have a QAM option available without switching to Linux...

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post #5 of 51 Old 04-02-2007, 06:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by vladd View Post

^^ What he said. And although the BDA drivers for the HDHomeRun are not opensource, the base library is. You could easily write your own BDA drivers from it (only for that device) if you know C++.

Vladd, do you know where the source for that base driver can be found? Also do you know if Vista MCE requires a special PID in order to enable QAM support?
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post #6 of 51 Old 04-02-2007, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

^^ What he said. And although the BDA drivers for the HDHomeRun are not opensource, the base library is. You could easily write your own BDA drivers from it (only for that device) if you know C++.

The problem is not the BDA interface, it's getting the SDKs for each card to access the QAM tuning (which is proprietary for each board).

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post #7 of 51 Old 04-02-2007, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by JJ View Post

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I'm 9 cards into AverMedia A180s and OTA is fine, but I would like to have a QAM option available without switching to Linux...

Have you tried the AverMedia Center software (Beta) or 6.0.7 of AverTVHD? Both support QAM with the A180. Not MCE, but it solves the QAM problem.

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post #8 of 51 Old 04-03-2007, 12:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Buck View Post

Vladd, do you know where the source for that base driver can be found? Also do you know if Vista MCE requires a special PID in order to enable QAM support?

http://www.silicondust.com/wiki/downloads It's under "Source: libhdhomerun_XXXXXXXX.tgz" (XXXXXXXX will be the date of the latest code.)

Vista MCE does not require a special PID.
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post #9 of 51 Old 04-03-2007, 12:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

The problem is not the BDA interface, it's getting the SDKs for each card to access the QAM tuning (which is proprietary for each board).

Which is why I agreed with Fonceur that he should just get the HDHomeRun. My comment about the BDA drivers was basically an afterthought meaning that he could write an opensource BDA driver for it if he wanted, based on the opensource library. And I did say it would only work for the HDHomeRun

I don't think that any other device SDK will allow you to opensource the drivers you write for it due to Lisencing Agreements and/or NDAs that will most likely have to be in place.
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post #10 of 51 Old 04-03-2007, 04:23 AM
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Tried both
and neither AverTVHD or AverMCS is quite as 'wife friendly' as MCE.

Spent a couple of flu days testing those and LinuxMCE. While they may be basically usable they are not finished and polished enough to roll out at my house just yet. MCE2005 shortly after the initial release pains was finished an polished enough to cure my beautiful brides TiVo addiction. Whatever is next needs to be at least that user friendly to influence a change...

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post #11 of 51 Old 04-04-2007, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fonceur View Post

You should probably save yourself the trouble and just buy the HDHomeRun unit, to use the unencrypted QAM channels in MCE... As for the



I seriously doubt that you could actually get that to do what you really want without having to deal with CableLab...

After some digging around it appears that this is what we need to build our own OCUR device:

1. PCMCIA reader module
2. SONY CableCARDTM INTERFACE CONTROLLER CXD1969 (http://products.sel.sony.com/semi/PDF/CXD1969brief.pdf)
3. POD software stack ( http://www.bitrouter.com/products/podstack.htm)
4. QAM capable HDTV tuner
5. USB Host box for PCMCIA reader + CXD1969
6. QAM BDA drivers
7. Windows Vista Premium/Ultimate

If you are familiar with the SONY CXD1969 and how this interfaces with a PCMCIA reader module I'd like to speak with you.

Remember the goal is to build a non-cablelabs certified OCUR that does not have the restrictions of the Cablelabs/Microsoft/ATI solution. The goal does not include bypassing cablecard conditional access or otherwise "steal" cable content.
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post #12 of 51 Old 04-04-2007, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Buck View Post

Remember the goal is to build a non-cablelabs certified OCUR that does not have the restrictions of the Cablelabs/Microsoft/ATI solution. The goal does not include bypassing cablecard conditional access or otherwise "steal" cable content.

Even if you get such a device built, there is no garantee that your cable company will enable your cablecard on that device. Remember that a cablecard is "married" to the device on which it is enabled, so enabling one on a TV and trying to move it to a new device will not work either.
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post #13 of 51 Old 04-04-2007, 01:30 PM
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these guys figured out how to get qam from the a180 and a few other cards:

http://www.evo4tv.com/main/default.aspx

If you can get the source code for it, you should be able to write a windows driver to do the same thing. The only thing that is left is to trick the driver into thinking the qam stream is a atsc stream (ala hdhr) and there you go - qam via pci tuner in mce.

edit:

or you could sell your pci cards, buy hdhr(s) and be done with it.
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post #14 of 51 Old 04-04-2007, 02:11 PM
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looks like they made their own hdhomerun, there is no doubt in my mind that the real hdhomerun is nothing more then a little linux box.

i would like to see a free version of that software

edit: i guess i dont read to good, it is free
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post #15 of 51 Old 04-04-2007, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek K. View Post

these guys figured out how to get qam from the a180 and a few other cards:

http://www.evo4tv.com/main/default.aspx

If you can get the source code for it, you should be able to write a windows driver to do the same thing. The only thing that is left is to trick the driver into thinking the qam stream is a atsc stream (ala hdhr) and there you go - qam via pci tuner in mce.

edit:

or you could sell your pci cards, buy hdhr(s) and be done with it.

HDHOMERUN is only a temporary reprieve. If it were only software I would buy and use it. However once clear QAM goes away or your cable co decides to use switched video then all you would have left is an orphaned device.
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post #16 of 51 Old 04-04-2007, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek K. View Post

these guys figured out how to get qam from the a180 and a few other cards:

http://www.evo4tv.com/main/default.aspx

If you can get the source code for it, you should be able to write a windows driver to do the same thing. The only thing that is left is to trick the driver into thinking the qam stream is a atsc stream (ala hdhr) and there you go - qam via pci tuner in mce.

edit:

or you could sell your pci cards, buy hdhr(s) and be done with it.

I think the Evo4TV setup requires your pci cards in a separate computer because it uses a custom linux setup. The video is then streamed over network to your htpc. The fact that they use this round about way just to get QAM on a windows computer makes me think it's not possible in windows. Might be worth contacting the Evo4tv people, Joe, to find out what they think.

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post #17 of 51 Old 04-04-2007, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Buck View Post

HDHOMERUN is only a temporary reprieve. If it were only software I would buy and use it. However once clear QAM goes away or your cable co decides to use switched video then all you would have left is an orphaned device.

You can still use the HDHomeRun as an OTA tuner, so it would not be an "orphaned device". Also, once clear QAM goes away, so does all the time you've invested in trying to write BDA drivers for any QAM tuner. Most people would argue that the cost of the HDHomeRun is very small by comparison (I certainly would). I still don't think you could get your home built OCUR authorized by your cable company, but if you could, it would be the best thing since the HDHomeRun .
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post #18 of 51 Old 04-07-2007, 10:42 PM
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I use the HDHomeRun for unencrypted QAM channels, but there are plenty of channels that are encrypted by TimeWarner in my area...

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post #19 of 51 Old 04-08-2007, 01:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Buck View Post

After some digging around it appears that this is what we need to build our own OCUR device:

1. PCMCIA reader module
2. SONY CableCARDTM INTERFACE CONTROLLER CXD1969 (http://products.sel.sony.com/semi/PDF/CXD1969brief.pdf)
3. POD software stack ( http://www.bitrouter.com/products/podstack.htm)
4. QAM capable HDTV tuner
5. USB Host box for PCMCIA reader + CXD1969
6. QAM BDA drivers
7. Windows Vista Premium/Ultimate

If you are familiar with the SONY CXD1969 and how this interfaces with a PCMCIA reader module I'd like to speak with you.

Remember the goal is to build a non-cablelabs certified OCUR that does not have the restrictions of the Cablelabs/Microsoft/ATI solution. The goal does not include bypassing cablecard conditional access or otherwise "steal" cable content.

Are you actually serious or just trying to mess around with people by letting them think you believe that's all you need and that a cable company would actually marry a non cablelabs certified homebrew box?

(serious question, just wondering if you're just having a laugh)

If you are serious, just get an HDHomeRun if all you need is unencrypted qam or buy a CableLabs certified box. That's the beauty of the CableCard Standard, just having your own hacked up reader won't do you any good unless you find a cable company that wants to allow it to authenticate on their network; and once you get into bypassing that realm, you're entering illegal territory. If you want to record premium channels without buying a new box, maybe try a firewire based solution with a compatible STB?

Give it time and I'm sure there will eventually be a solution that acts as a gateway between the cable card and your computer (I'm thinking something along the lines of a hacked Series 3 Tivo or similar device, as part of the standard is the requirement for the untouched recordings to stay where they are on the machine they were recorded on) that is certified and all, much like STBs do now if you use Firewire recording on them (sans the Cablecards), though I'm sure it'll be a device like the HDHomeRun and not a user-installable OCUR with the second PID needed to activate CableCard Support on Vista from MS, that is, unless they decide to go mass market with it, but it doesn't make sense for them financially to do so. Though, one of the conditions is that the recordings are locked to the device they're recorded on, so there's another roadblock with CableCard.

Douglas Thigpen
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post #20 of 51 Old 04-08-2007, 07:20 PM
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The Kworld ATSC 115 card's QAM tuner works just fine in Vista (at 1/2 the price of HDHomerun) - the only issue is that you have to use the Total Media app included with the card. If Total Media can do it, it can't be that hard for MS to do it in MCE. I assume the new version of MCE coming at the end of the year (with SP1 for Vista) will include clear QAM support.

Trying to get a solution for encrypted QAM on a regular PC - good luck.
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post #21 of 51 Old 04-09-2007, 12:47 AM
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The Kworld ATSC 115 card's QAM tuner works just fine in Vista (at 1/2 the price of HDHomerun) - the only issue is that you have to use the Total Media app included with the card. If Total Media can do it, it can't be that hard for MS to do it in MCE. I assume the new version of MCE coming at the end of the year (with SP1 for Vista) will include clear QAM support.

There are several cards that receive clear QAM in Vista and MCE, but using software other than Media Center. Vista already natively supports clear QAM, but only with a DCT. MS has shown no interest in supporting QAM with tuners other than DCTs. They say it is due to issues like cable companies moving channels will cause recordings to fail or record the wron program. I understand their position because this could be a nightmare support scenario where the typical consumer is concerned. (AVS forum members are not the typical consumers.) Hopefully, they will start supporting QAM "unofficially" with perhaps a powertoy or similar method. The push from this thread at TGB may put this into motion. We can always hope.

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Trying to get a solution for encrypted QAM on a regular PC - good luck.

I expect to win the lottery before this happens, and I don't buy lottery tickets.
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post #22 of 51 Old 04-09-2007, 08:34 AM
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Interesting and somewhat related read over at Doom9
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post #23 of 51 Old 04-09-2007, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dthigpen View Post

Are you actually serious or just trying to mess around with people by letting them think you believe that's all you need and that a cable company would actually marry a non cablelabs certified homebrew box?

(serious question, just wondering if you're just having a laugh)

Yes I'm serious. I'd be surprised to find out that cablecard security restrictions are better designed and implemented than what which was used for HD-DVD & Blueray.

Again, there are complete cablecard reader modules available for purchase from the far-east that are cablelabs certified. I do not believe it is "impossible" for HTPC enthusiasts with the right technical knowledge to use such generic hardware to find a work around for MCE and QAM.

My goal is to raise $20 - $50K to fund developers to complete this project. At $10 a pop that requires only 2,000 to 5,000 HTPC users. Such a working system will be worth much more than $10 to each of us given that ATI's OCCUR sells for ~$300 for a DRM infested OEM-only peripheral.
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post #24 of 51 Old 04-09-2007, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

MS has shown no interest in supporting QAM with tuners other than DCTs. They say it is due to issues like cable companies moving channels will cause recordings to fail or record the wrong program. I understand their position because this could be a nightmare support scenario where the typical consumer is concerned. (AVS forum members are not the typical consumers.) Hopefully, they will start supporting QAM "unofficially" with perhaps a powertoy or similar method.

There are probably very few folks using a tuner card in MCE because most people have something other than an OTA setup. The moving of QAM chs will probably slow considerably once the digital transition is set - not only that most clear QAM chs are the locals which probably don't move that much. In less than 2 years all the current NTSC tuner cards will be paperweights for OTA and fairly soon after that for cable - MS must have some solution for the vast majority of folks who at that point will have no choice but get a QAM tuner.

I have a feeling the MCE update coming at the end of the year (with SP1 for Vista) may have QAM support in it.
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post #25 of 51 Old 04-10-2007, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek K. View Post

these guys figured out how to get qam from the a180 and a few other cards:

http://www.evo4tv.com/main/default.aspx

If you can get the source code for it, you should be able to write a windows driver to do the same thing. The only thing that is left is to trick the driver into thinking the qam stream is a atsc stream (ala hdhr) and there you go - qam via pci tuner in mce.

I have to chime in here, and yes, I will add to the pot because I want to see my QAM HD channels in MCE and was thinking about a post about the same thing.

I am the starter of the QAM in MCE post on the greenbutton, a Microsoft rep looks over this fourm, and has replied to this issue, and it looks like there is interest in it from them (read though the whole thing).

http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/thread/178007.aspx

As for evo4tv, I have played with it, it's easy to setup, and does work (I tested it with a demo of SageTV). I was able to get it setup in about 25min with a old computer, Network Card, and my A180 card. Mapping the channels is another story though with the current app.

On there home page they quote that they are not working on it any more "We have decided to donate this project to the HTPC community. It is now a free download."

I have been e-mailing with the program creator and he is going to make the source code available very soon. I am not a programmer but, I will post here when I have some news (I just sent him an e-mail seeing where it stands). Just got a reply back, sometime next week

I am just a person who has his Media Center PC running almost perfect, and can watch QAM HD channels though a 3rd party program. The HDhomerun looks cool but, $190 for a device that will be outdated in 6 months is not what I am looking for.

Any other ideas ? I will keep this forum up to date...

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post #26 of 51 Old 04-10-2007, 04:47 PM
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I think you are being overly optimistic if you think ms will enable clear qam support in mce. They didn't do it in mce 2k5 rollup 2 and they didn't do it in vista. They even demoed it working in mce 2k5. Pinning your hopes on some middle manager's comments is a long shot.

I don't think it will happen, but I would love to be proven wrong even though I couldn't use it (all my digital channels are encrypted).
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post #27 of 51 Old 04-10-2007, 05:06 PM
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When did Microsoft demo QAM working in MCE 2005?

Chris
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post #28 of 51 Old 04-10-2007, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek K. View Post

I think you are being overly optimistic if you think ms will enable clear qam support in mce. They didn't do it in mce 2k5 rollup 2 and they didn't do it in vista. They even demoed it working in mce 2k5. Pinning your hopes on some middle manager's comments is a long shot.

I don't think it will happen, but I would love to be proven wrong even though I couldn't use it (all my digital channels are encrypted).

Maybe, Maybe not. It does look like some interest from the M$ rep, so who knows. I'd like to see it and if it does come from M$, it would only be for vista, as I am still running MCE 2005 (for a few reasons like DRM issues)

I posted 2 options, the evo2tv thing would work, the software has to just be redone (source code coming very soon) for MCE from the code from SageTV, someone with good programming knowlege should be able to handle this.

Not just looking for m$ to do it, just like the starter of this post, someone to do it and make it work, with out having to spend almost $200 on a product when we already have the hardware that should do it.

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post #29 of 51 Old 04-10-2007, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisL01 View Post

When did Microsoft demo QAM working in MCE 2005?

Chris

I'd like to know this too...maybe we can hound the rep for the beta of the software

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post #30 of 51 Old 04-10-2007, 05:12 PM
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I wouldn't count on it, I never remember it happening. The only QAM that has been demoed in Media Center was in Vista using an OCUR.

Chris
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