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PiGS has been approved by Schedules Direct!

Introducing PiGS - an enhanced replacement Guide Server for the Channel Master DVR+ that uses Guide data from Schedules Direct.

Today PiGS was approved for use with SD data. GraceNote granted the 'exception' we needed to use their guide data with the discontinued CM-7500 DVR+, so PiGS is legal!

I've been using PiGS to update my 3 DVR's for a couple weeks. It's been working fine. Pachinko bought a Raspberry Pi, and helped me clean up the setup instructions, and was able to make it work with his DVR also.

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good...

I developed PiGS in Python, because that what was on the Pi when I got it - I'd never written a line of Python before (lot of other code, just not Python). What I learned is the same Python code can run on different machines. A few weeks ago ej_eddie from this forum did a little test on his desktop machine with some code I gave him and the test looked promising. I'm hoping he will try and get it working for the first non-Pi installation and will make a set of instructions. I'm also looking at some DNS Server freeware for windows, and if those two things work, then no hardware would be needed at all - but you would have to keep the server running on your desktop machine.

The PiGS application was coded in Python 3.7 and javascript (for the configuration webpage). As of June 15, 2020, it consisted of 4142 lines of code and comments (I like to comment)

What I could use now is a few (4 or 5) somewhat tech savvy people (who use their DVR+) who are willing to get a SD account ($25/yr), understood at least some of what has been going on with PiGS - the DNS redirect stuff, etc, who will buy a Pi (even though it might end up working on windows) and who want to give it a try. I'm at version 0.97 until a few more people have some success, and then I will call it 1.0. Send an email to [email protected].
Don't be intimidated by the setup. It's step-by-step and not too difficult. It's long because every little step is documented.

Here is the Shared Google Sheet with the Pi Setup and lots of reference information.

PiGS features
Schedule data provided by Schedules Direct - you will get the most current schedule data.
SD has a support email if you have lineup / schedule concerns (and they respond!)
PiGS handles up to 4 lineups (multiple zip codes) so you should be able to get guide data on any channel you can tune
PiGS goes out to CM/Rovi to get the pretty channel Icons (but none of their other garbage data)PiGS caches (saves) the CM icons. You can edit and make your own channel icons!
PiGS puts the word (New) in front of the description of any programs that are considered 'new'
(this overcomes a bug in the DVR+ popup guide where 'New Episode' is not displayed on some channels)
PiGS can supply the Guide to older DVR+ firmware versions (1.34R tested, works).
Provides enhanced guide data with Episode, Season, and Cast info, e.g.:
(New)"Raging Bulls." S6, E8. Aired: 1998-12-15. Tension between Sipowicz and Fancy explodes after a white patrolman shoots a black undercover officer. Cast List: Dennis Franz, Rick Schroder, James McDaniel, Nicholas Turturro, Gordon Clapp, Kim Delaney, Andrea Thompson, Sharon Lawrence, Kevin Dillon, Lola Glaudini, Scott Allan Campbell, Christopher Stanley, Sterling Macer, Scott Klace, James McBride, Joe Sabatino, David-Jean Thomas, Leontine Guilliard, Kingston DuCoeur.(469)"
About the CM/Rovi Guide... Did you know:
With all this code, I have been scanning the CM server data daily.
CM guide data is only updated like 1 time per week!
You will notice that the end date of your guide does not advance each day, then all at once, there will be another week of data.
That means every day your DVR+ gets the same bad data for a whole week.
At the time I write this, the CM/Rovi data for 53593 ends on 6/24 and:
  • has 69 programs (1.1%) that do not have titles (unknown events), may of them ABC,NBC type shows
  • has 938 programs (15.3%) that do not have program descriptions!
That means, even if a TV Network (eg NBC) sends new data to Rovi, your DVR+ will probably never see it.
 

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Introducing PiGS - an enhanced replacement Guide Server for the Channel Master DVR+ that uses Guide data from Schedules Direct....
I can confirm that PiGS has been running on my Pi 4 for the past 11 days, automatically keeping the EPG on the DVR+ up to date with 14 days of data.

I’m using a Pi 4 computer with 4 GB RAM, and running the standard Raspbian OS, but a smaller, less expensive, Pi should work. I have a 7” monitor for the PI, but any monitor will do, even your PC’s main monitor (provided it has an HDMI connection). The mouse and keyboard can be USB or WiFi. I have the Pi connected to the Router with a 75’ long Ethernet cable, and the DVR+ connected to that Router using WiFi. WiFi instead of Ethernet on the Pi should work, but hasn’t been tried yet.

Don’t ask me ANY technical questions about any of it, because I’m a dummy when it comes to the Pi, and Linux, and Python, and IPs. I couldn’t have set up my system without timothee’s help, although his setup instructions have improved for people like me.

timothee has online instructions for setting up the Pi computer and the DVR+, including installing a DNS server, python3.7 and his PiGS software on the Pi computer (no software on the DVR+, just settings). You’ll need a Schedules Direct account (first 7 days are free, $6 for 2 months, or $25 for a year), an Internet connection of course, and an email address to make the SD account. If you decide to purchase an SD account, you’ll need either Pay Pal or Amazon Pay to make the payment (no credit or debit cards), but the free 7 day trial doesn’t require payment, and you don’t need the SD account until everything else is done. See https://www.schedulesdirect.org/membershiplevels.

If you have Linux and IP experience, it should be easy to set up, especially if you have experience with a Pi computer. timothee had/has an idea to automate most of the process (at least on the Pi side of things), so hopefully, even for dummies like me, things will be much simpler.

Hopefully PiGS is going to migrate to a PC and a Mac (should already work on a Linux machine), so an investment into a Pi computer will not be required. But like timothee says, that computer will have to be on all the time, and running PiGS via Python, for the guide to automatically update daily. But I don’t see why the update couldn’t be done manually whenever the computer is on and running PiGS.

Please give a big Thank You to timothee! I can clearly see a lot of work went into developing this GREAT project.

In addition, for those that remember wlarsong whole home setup, including his version of DVR+ Lister, that too may be in the future, but that’s by others (@wlarsong ;and @timothee ;)?
 

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I'm also looking at some DNS Server freeware for windows, and if those two things work, then no hardware would be needed at all - but you would have to keep the server running on your windows machine.
Would it be feasible for someone to host a server that is on all the time that would always be running and collect all the PSIP data for people who are using PiGS? Even if it was technically feasible, I know it could become unwieldy for a large number of Zip Codes, but that would be dependent on how many people are using it, and it would work for multiple people who share the same or similar (same broadcast market) Zip Codes.
 

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I just started using PiGS on a re-purposed Pi 3 model B with 1GB RAM and running a 2-plus-year-old Raspbian OS with Python3 version 3.5.3. Both the DVR+ and the Pi are on WiFi. The Pi has no keyboard or display - I use Remote Desktop Connection to talk to it (and sftp to copy the PiGS files to it). It all seems to be working perfectly and not stressing either the CPU or RAM with about 1500 listings per day for 13 days. All I can say to Timothee is WOW!

I can confirm that PiGS has been running on my Pi 4 for the past 11 days, automatically keeping the EPG on the DVR+ up to date with 14 days of data.

I’m using a Pi 4 computer with 4 GB RAM, and running the standard Raspbian OS, but a smaller, less expensive, Pi should work. ... WiFi instead of Ethernet on the Pi should work, but hasn’t been tried yet.

Please give a big Thank You to timothee! I can clearly see a lot of work went into developing this GREAT project.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you timothee!!!
 

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So for those of us that don't have the patience and expertise in setting up PIGS, is there another recommended DVR to replace the DVR+ ?
 

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Introducing PiGS - an enhanced replacement Guide Server for the Channel Master DVR+ that uses Guide data from Schedules Direct.

Today SD approved PiGS for use with SD. GraceNote granted the 'Exception' we needed to use their guide data with the discontinued CM-7500 DVR+, so PiGS is legal!
This is most excellent (In the Bill and Ted sense.)

I'm also looking at some DNS Server freeware for windows
BIND is the DNS server that runs the Internet. There is a Windows version available for Windows users. Mac users will have to install the Xcode command line tools to compile BIND, or a Homebrew or Fink package. Docs for setup are everywhere.

The PiGS application was coded in Python 3.7 and javascript (for the configuration webpage)
Python is available for Windows and Mac users.

Mac users will find that Python is already on their system. macOS 10.4.6 has Python version 2.7.16 installed. An installer for Python version 3.7.7 is available at the above link.

There are free httpd servers available for WIndows and Mac. Apache runs on Mac and Windows. Nginx on Windows has an installer. On Mac, one would have to use a Fink or Homebrew package to install Nginx.

The above would get most users up and running.

Again, this is great news! Excellent work!
 

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So for those of us that don't have the patience and expertise in setting up PIGS, is there another recommended DVR to replace the DVR+ ?
My DVR+ failed, so I didn't have a choice but to look into alternatives. The only thing close to the DVR+ in terms of a single box for a TV is to use one of the Tivo OTA units like the Roamio or Bolt OTA. They may have a newer one. You pay for the guide, either for "lifetime" access or a monthly payment. They may have other options as I didn't want to go that route when I had to replace my DVR+.

I tried the HD HomeRun and bought the DVR service for it that comes with a guide. It's an economical $35 a year. But I didn't like the "slice guide" they use and much prefer a grid-style guide like the DVR+ uses.

I ended up using a Fire TV Recast DVR and Fire TV sticks on my TVs. I like it. My complaints are mainly about the Fire TV sticks rather than the Recast unit. Annoyances I have had with the actual Recast unit are the occasional need to reboot it to prevent audio sync issues (every few weeks). Closed captions are also very slow to show up on screen; on some programs there's a five second delay (which doesn't sound that long but often the scene has changed). And, the Recast insists on telling me my recordings of some stations may have had reception problems (yeah, I know, I'm 63 miles from the broadcast towers). But otherwise I like the Recast.

But I liked the DVR+ more. If you don't have to give it up, don't.
 

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$42 Raspberry Pi for PiGS, Pi 3 B+

After yesterday's successes with the Pi 3's, this is what I would recommend for low cost entry for a dedicated PiGS server.

The Raspberry Pi 3 B+
And on the Raspberry Pi website

It uses a MicroUSB power connector, which you probably have lying around (the Pi4 uses the new USB-C power connector)
It has a full-size HDMI port, so you dont need a special micro hdmi cable
You probably have a 32G microSD card lying around your house somewhere (expanded memory in an old phone?)
Has 1G of RAM, which others have shown is enough for PiGS to run
Has Wired Ethernet if you want that - l leave it plugged in near your home router
Has 2.4 and 5G WiFi which has been demonstrated to work
You dont need a case or anything else, but they are available for $10

For setup, you will temporarily need, a USB kbd and mouse, and a monitor with an hdmi input (your tv)

The board lists for $35. The best shipped price I can find is Amazon at about $42 shipped.
https://www.amazon.com/ELEMENT-Element14-Raspberry-Pi-Motherboard/dp/B07P4LSDYV
 

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Power for Pi 3 or 4 - A word to the wise

To power the newer Pi models, you'll need a 5V power source capable of 2.5A output (many USB power supplies fall far short of this)... with a respectable power-only (no data) cable (terminated in micro-usb for the 3 and usb-c for the 4) - many data type USB cables simply have thin power wires in the cable that will deliver too low a voltage to the Pi.


Otherwise, the red LED on the Pi is going to be blinking indicating insufficient voltage, and it may not work reliably.
 

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After yesterday's successes with the Pi 3's, this is what I would recommend for low cost entry for a dedicated PiGS server.

The Raspberry Pi 3 B+


And on the Raspberry Pi website

It uses a MicroUSB power connector, which you probably have lying around (the Pi4 uses the new USB-C power connector)
It has a full-size HDMI port, so you dont need a special micro hdmi cable
You probably have a 32G microSD card lying around your house somewhere (expanded memory in an old phone?)
Has 1G of RAM, which others have shown is enough for PiGS to run
Has Wired Ethernet if you want that - l leave it plugged in near your home router
Has 2.4 and 5G WiFi which has been demonstrated to work
You dont need a case or anything else, but they are available for $10

For setup, you will temporarily need, a USB kbd and mouse, and a monitor with an hdmi input (your tv)

The board lists for $35. The best shipped price I can find is Amazon at about $42 shipped.
https://www.amazon.com/ELEMENT-Element14-Raspberry-Pi-Motherboard/dp/B07P4LSDYV

Is there something you have put together that would walk someone through all of the steps that are needed to set this up as an alternate guide source? Including the hardware and software? I might be interested if the internet guide goes away.



For now it seems from all of the scattered posts on this forum that there is a lot of work and considerations to get this working. Like paying for a service and buying more equipment that needs to be up and running. If that is the reality when the guide goes away then I would give it a go. However right now I would need a tutorial to set this up and I consider myself relatively computer literate.
 

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Is there something you have put together that would walk someone through all of the steps that are needed to set this up as an alternate guide source? Including the hardware and software? I might be interested if the internet guide goes away.

For now it seems from all of the scattered posts on this forum that there is a lot of work and considerations to get this working. Like paying for a service and buying more equipment that needs to be up and running. If that is the reality when the guide goes away then I would give it a go. However right now I would need a tutorial to set this up and I consider myself relatively computer literate.
Currently it requires a Raspberry Pi computer, but timothee and ej_eddie are looking into an alternative using your computer instead of a Pi. So keep watching! Either way, a paid Schedules Direct account will be needed, although the first 7 days are free if you just want to try PiGS.

As timothee posted when he released PiGS, there is a spreadsheet with all sorts of information, including step by step instructions (click HERE) for setting up PiGS on a Raspberry Pi computer. There are TABS at the bottom of the spreadsheet. Click on PiSetup.

timothee, is now a good time for you to start a new thread just for PiGS?
 

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Pachinko,


Thanks for the info. I downloaded and tool a quick look at the information. OMG is all I can say. It looks daunting at first blush. I can see a lot of time, and expertise was put into not only implementing but documenting the process.


Not sure this is a solution for most DVR+ owners because of the complexity. I would like to see how others attempt this journey comment on it before I would try it.


Maybe we need a PiGS for dummies tutorial?
 

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Pachinko,

Thanks for the info. I downloaded and tool a quick look at the information. OMG is all I can say. It looks daunting at first blush. I can see a lot of time, and expertise was put into not only implementing but documenting the process.

Not sure this is a solution for most DVR+ owners because of the complexity. I would like to see how others attempt this journey comment on it before I would try it.

Maybe we need a PiGS for dummies tutorial?
Yeah, I understand! A "PiGS for Dummies" booklet would even be good for me. But I did it, and I knew (an still know) little about Python, Linux, Routers, and the Pi. Of course, I had help from timothee, but the guide has changed based upon my dumb issues, so maybe it will be a little easier for other Dummies.

For those with a background in the Pi, IPs, and Linux, this should be an easy process. I think timothee is also looking at automating as much as possible, but I suspect he needs a break by now.

I can clearly see that timothee put in lots of time, and expertise, on PiGS. It's ingenious! Just look at his Wireshark research. I think, especially if a PC and Mac can substitute for the Pi, this is the answer for all. At the moment you do have to invest in a Pi. But unless someone finds a free guide service somewhere, there's no getting around the SD subscription fee (which is not so bad).

And this may lead to other things. Just think if wlarsong's whole home method can be implemented. It requires a Pi too, but maybe there's a way around that!
 

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To power the newer Pi models, you'll need a 5V power source capable of 2.5A output (many USB power supplies fall far short of this)... with a respectable power-only (no data) cable (terminated in micro-usb for the 3 and usb-c for the 4) - many data type USB cables simply have thin power wires in the cable that will deliver too low a voltage to the Pi. Otherwise, the red LED on the Pi is going to be blinking indicating insufficient voltage, and it may not work reliably.
I've heard of that flashing light thing. I looked at this table https://socialcompare.com/en/comparison/raspberrypi-models-comparison
and it said that the B+ was 1.13A, lower than the Model B, and I figured many phone chargers do 2A, so it would work.

The Raspberry Pi website of course says use their 2.5A charger, but it seemed like overkill for the actual use current. No?

To be safe, one could always just go for the OEM charger - I was just trying to offer and lowest entry cost possible.
 

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I've heard of that flashing light thing. I looked at this table https://socialcompare.com/en/comparison/raspberrypi-models-comparison
and it said that the B+ was 1.13A, lower than the Model B, and I figured many phone chargers do 2A, so it would work.

The Raspberry Pi website of course says use their 2.5A charger, but it seemed like overkill for the actual use current. No?

To be safe, one could always be safe and go for the OEM charger - I was just trying to offer and lowest entry cost possible.
I ordered one. Even though I hope we can run PiGS on Windows, I figured it's probably best to put PiGS on a dedicated CPU and not overtake the plumbing on my Windows box any more than I have already.

I already have the SD subscription, and I'm pretty sure I can find a micro USB charger that will do 1.13A around here.

The only thing I'm scratching my head over is the 32GB SD card. That's a lot of storage - what's it for?
 

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I ordered one. Even though I hope we can run PiGS on Windows, I figured it's probably best to put PiGS on a dedicated CPU and not overtake the plumbing on my Windows box any more than I have already.

I already have the SD subscription, and I'm pretty sure I can find a micro USB charger that will do 1.13A around here.

The only thing I'm scratching my head over is the 32GB SD card. That's a lot of storage - what's it for?
Awesome. It's basically an SSD hard drive. storage for the OS, program files, swap files, etc.
 
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