Originally Posted by ecuadorche
1. is ti possible to do this with a windows 7 pc at all? can provide more specs if needed
Yes. But the exact hows we are still trying to figure out. Not very many of us here have EPB, so we can only go on speculation and what the Customer Service people tell us. I did notice that Media Center has the guide data for EPB, so that is the first step.
2. if possible what tuner card would you suggest i use in the system to record the game
The easiest answer is an analog tuner will record the output from a set-top-box. Though for many reasons, this is not the ideal. For one, you will be capturing the output from the STB as NTSC (480i) through either Composite (yellow, red, white RCA jacks), or SVideo. It will work just fine, but there will be some quality degradation due to the digital->analog->digital translations. Just about any NTSC analog tuner card will work, and you can probably get them pretty cheap nowadays on Ebay. You'll need one tuner and one STB per channel that you want to record. Also, and HD channels will be downgraded to SD during this capture method.
STB's stink... most of us in the HTPC community hate them. Mostly because we are charged a fee for each STB we need, and the analog capture method isn't what most of us expect in the year 2010.
There is also the Hauppage HDPVR capture device. This external tuner will
capture HD. It uses the Component outputs (Red, Green, Blue RCA jacks) from a STB and and has an optical input for audio capturing. This device uses the HD analog (through component video) hole to capture HD, and it records it as h.264/Mpeg4 video (which media center supports). There are supposed to be some native beta drivers for it coming out soon. But your best bet is to use the DVBLink software to get it working until then. The bad thing about the HDPVR is it's a little costly (depending on your perspective) at about $170-200 per tuner. And it has some lockup issues which I believe the DVBLink software accounts for (automatic timer to reboot it every so often.) And you still have to depend on a STB.
Now, the speculation comes in where we aren't sure about other capture methods. For instance, we know that EPB doesn't offer cable cards, so you can't use a Cable Card tuner. But we believe that they may have their standard tier open to be able to record via a ClearQAM tuner. We don't know if that means any of the local HD channels are available via ClearQAM, though. If HD locals were important to you, you could always use an ATSC tuner and an antenna to pick them up and use a ClearQAM tuner to get everything else.
3. does epb provide hd for local channels i know that the top tier package is the only one that has the option for hd. I think i read that providers are required to offer hd for ota channels for free?
I can't answer this one yet, I'm still trying to convince the wife that we need to switch to EPB.
4. In chattanooga is it possible to record local ota HD channels and again if possible what addition to the htpc would you suggest, i would also like to be able to record one hd show and watch another if possible
Very much so. Of course a lot of it depends on your location and your line-of-sight view of Signal Mountain. That is where the majority of the locals have their broadcast towers. All you would need is an ATSC tuner (either two single tuners, a dual-tuner card, or a device like the Silicon Dust HDHomerun) and an antenna of some sort. Media Center supports up to 4 tuners of any type (NTSC, ATSC, Cable Card, ClearQAM, etc.)
I very much recommend the HDHomerun device, it's an external dual tuner that supports ATSC and ClearQAM... and it is a networked device, which allows it to be used by multiple computers at the same time. Though, I think there are other cheaper dual tuner options out there.
The antenna is where I think most people run into problems for OTA/ATSC broadcasts. It really depends on your location, but some people are able to get away with rabbit ears and a loop... while others (like myself) have to resort to exotic configurations to get a good signal. My in-laws have a 150 foot hill in front of them but they were able to put a generic radio-shack antenna in a attic window that faces the towers and are quite pleased. I wasn't so lucky with that same antenna on the top of my house on a 20 foot pole! I built a simple Gray-Hoverman antenna, and I'm getting nearly full signals with it sitting on the ground! I'm still playing with the location... I'll probably put it in my attic so that I can pick up channel 18 (GPB-PBS station).