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stream video source to wifi pda?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

I'm new to the HA stuff, I apologize if this has been covered in depth.

I'm thinking about using mainlobby or girder to control my multi-room A/V system (and possibly my HVAC and lights, etc.) I am planning to use some ebay'ed color wifi PDA's as remotes.

I will have an 8x8 matrix video switcher in the media closet, with 8 sources sending outputs to 6 rooms.

It would be awesome if I could use one of the extra outputs as an input to my control PC (some kind of video capture card) and then stream it to the PDA.

That would allow me to say, "what's currently playing on the DVD player", and have it show up on the remote without changing the main screen in whatever room I'm in...

Is this possible?

The missing link, btw, is how to take the input from the PCI capture card and stream in real time to the PDA. I looked around, and seems like most PDA video players are strictly file based, whether the file is local or "streaming" from a remote server.

Perhaps there's some specifica HW and SW that will enable this?

Thanks in advance for any input,
post #2 of 10
You can only use the-out-of-the-box PDA screens applications with MainLobby. Regardless, why would you want to physically see the actual video of what's playing? With CQC you have bidirectional TCP drivers for Theatertek and SageTV and can custom create your own PDA UI, so you could just display what the actual show name or movie name is that's being played.

here's my PDA screenshots, you'll notice the DVD one has the movie name. I don't have a screen for TV or rather by zone, but it would only take me 20 mins to create one for PDA rendering.

Would doing something like that accomplish your objective?
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
That's what I feared. As to why I want to do it, just because it's cool :-)

I'm not planning to use the PC as a DVD player or as a tivo -- HD is too important, so I will have a bunch of HD sources (HD tivos, HD-DVD, blue ray, DVD changer), and my matrix switch will be sending 1080i component through the house instead of composite video. So the main use of the PC will just be to serve mp3's, maybe serve videos from the web or disk, and for home automation.

Is there any way to figure out what an external DVD player or tivo is playing?

I looked at CQC, and it seemed a bit expensive compared to girder or mainlobby, trying to do this on the cheap -- cqc is like $500, right?

Thanks for the quick reply, I enjoyed reading through your HA thread, btw.

post #4 of 10
Originally Posted by ckloss View Post

Is there any way to figure out what an external DVD player or tivo is playing

Only if there's an RS232 interface and published protocol.

I looked at CQC, and it seemed a bit expensive compared to girder or mainlobby, trying to do this on the cheap -- cqc is like $500, right?

Actually, CQC is $500-$900, based on what you want. Girder is def cheaper. You get what you pay for, such as the ability to custom create a UI for your PDA. Not even possible with ML. In addition, as detailed on this page towards the bottom, MainLobby's a la carte pricing is pretty deceptive. You will quickly blow past the CQC price as soon as you add modules or graphics. Perhaps not at first, but def after a few "enhancements". For me it would have been $1500.
post #5 of 10
What you are wanting to do is possible under MainLobby with the latest server version using the web interface to talk to the pda. If you are not needing full quality video you can use the security camera plugin and one of the Axis Video Servers. The Axis will stream the video at about 15fps not full speed but it should be enough for what you are wanting. For faster video you are going to need to go to a true media server. Something like unreal server or Adobe's Flash Media Server. The Adobe server is in beta now and looks pretty promising. There is a user on their forum that has setup the unreal server and seems to like it.

As for pricing IVB's system is pushing the limits for most DIYers so it really depends on how far you are taking it. I know a few AMX systems that aren't as tricked out as his so YMMV.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Cool, thanks for the info IVB and LathanN.

I doubt my system will be as impressive as IVB's, probably a few screens with video source selection for different rooms, an interface to a thermostat, and a few programmable blinds, lights, and screen. Not planning video cameras, doorbell, or security system integration.

I'll take a closer look at cqc and mainlobby before jumping on one or the other.

Anyone know if there is an API interface to either of them so that I can roll my own PDA application and gui? (Probably not, since that wouldn't be a smart business decision to open their software to everyone :-)


post #7 of 10
You give me too much credit - took me all of 30 minutes to create each of my screens.

For your question, I have absolutely no idea, but I do know that the CQC PDA DotNetViewer communicates via XML, and that's well documented, so anything is possible. I don't see why you'd do that - with CQC, you just use the regular interface editor to create a template with whatever you want, and pull it up on the PDA viewer. That's why it took me so little time. Plus it's extremely secure and extremely optimized, simply cannot compare it to a webserver in good faith.

You'd have to consider that with ML though, given that it's limited to either the pre-canned PDA apps (no control over anything other than what they give you) or internet explorer (horrid UI capabilities), so you'd need to roll your own if you want something sexy not ugly there. Of course, even writing bidirectional HTML would take much longer than 30 minutes.

FYI - CQC is 30% off from 4/1->4/14; it's $625 for the full license, including unlimited servers/clients/PDA /drivers/etc. Given that another guy on this forum just wants to do a small install and priced out a single server ML config with only CD/DVD/Weather at $500, the choice seems pretty darn simple to me.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Yup, I looked into the ML pricing, and I think it would end up a bit higher than I thought, even for a simple system.

I suppose it depends on whether I need to buy both DVDlobby AND the PDA-DVDlobby if I only want to use PDA's. If I only need to buy both versions for each plugin, then it gets pretty expensive (like $100 per plugin). I'm assuming at this point I will only have PDA's as clients, although it would be nice to access all the controls on the main server computer too. For only the PDA clients, it's pretty cheap, at roughly $35 each. More research needed here. I also need to look at hardware costs above and beyond a free PC that I already have sitting around.

The problem is that this is really just a "nice to have". I will be able to control all the audio/video from any room just using a $150 programmable remote, and $200 of IR repeaters/routers. Unfortunately, my remodel is going to be expensive enough without working in a few $thousand of software and hardware for something that's a "nice-to-have" :-( But, it I can keep the total cost down around $500 for the software and hardware extras, it's palatable...

And, if I can write my own plugins, then there's no cost, and it might be fun :-) I haven't done any non-unix programming in like 10 years, so I'm very rusty in terms of using all the windows APIs, so this would be an interesting (or perhaps the word is 'frustrating') project to see what's changed between NT programming from 10 years ago and Windows XP (and PDA) programming...

post #9 of 10
A few thoughts:

1) Keep in mind that with ML, you cannot do anything with a PDA except the precanned apps and the webserver. Think hard about what you'd want to control from a webpage, think about how you'd code it, and i think you'll quickly realize that it's not going to cut it for regular usage. It's too ugly, and too slow if you want to put graphics on.

2) This may be nice to have now, but with CQC you're getting a full package, and at $625 (normally $895) to boot. You can easily do much much more with it, at which point you can turn over points of control entirely to it and it's now a must-have.

3) If you really don't mind writing your own plugins and want to save $$, what's wrong with Girder/NetRemote? It's got a fantastic price point, and could be just the ticket for you. 2 weeks ago I would have mentioned xLobby since it's freeware and you'd be donating to the community, but that's no longer true. If you're going to go commercial, may as well pick somethiing like Girder which already has proven RS232 capabilities and a structure to use.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Actually, I had forgotten about girder (I'm new to HA), seems like most of the posts I've been reading recently were CQC and ML centric :-) And I was fooled a bit by ML's initial price point of $100-$200 (I didn't realize that plugins would end up costing more than the base SW!)

Girder might indeed be an excellent starting point, and I could always upgrade to ML or CQC later. I need to do a bit of reading on the girder site...

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