Sky TV on my HTCP

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by redmax, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. redmax

    redmax
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    Hi

    Whats the best way to get Sky running through my HTCP so I can upscale to 720p but keeping the signal in the digital domain at all times.
    I am not so bothered about recording but will probably want to do so eventually.
    What i want to do is try and get the best picture from the dish to my pj via HTCP upscaling.

    I have Sky+ sitting next to my HTCP but it outputs via s-video through my Tag and onto my PJ not through the HTCP. The picture is ok-ish but s-video is not a great way to squeeze the every last detail.

    I understand you can come out via s-video to a video capture card but that means going digital>analogue>digital which cannot be good for the signal.

    I have one spare port on my LNB and wondered if there was a way I could utilise this to run a feed direct into my HTCP from my dish.
    I know decoding is an issue so excuse me if this is a stupid notion.

    On the other hand if it is possible, what do I need?


    THX :thumbsup:
     
  2. ChrisOH

    ChrisOH
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    You are looking for an SDI modified Sky box which can be bought from Plugged in TV who advertise and post here. This allows a digital signal to be sent to an HTPC. The modification is only possible on certain versions of Sky's kit so yours may not be any use.

    They also sell a card called the Sweetspot which is available as an RGB capture version. You use it to capture RGB from the Sky box which can then be deinterlaced using software and then sent to the display ie your digital >analogue > digital progression. This is much better than the output from the Sky box direct IMHO.

    Have a look at the pluggedintv site.

    Chris
     
  3. DaveP

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    You should have a look over in the classifieds. It could be just what you are looking for.
     
  4. redmax

    redmax
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    Chris. Thanks for the info. if I use a modified sky box it would mean presumably using my card from my Sky + box and swapping back when I need to record?

    The sweetspot appears to be the best compromise but we are back to digital>analogue>digital but its got to be better than what I have I hope?
    How much is a Sweetspot card? How do you get RGB from sky box into the card? Scart to 3 RCA lead?
    Ok I found the website..... looks good.

    DaveP

    I saw that ad and it looks like a good tool however, again you have to use the card from the sky box but does give me ( if I understand correctly) a pure digital signal all the way to the pj. Souns like a lot of card swapping whihc, I can live with but other members of the household may find a drag.



    Cheers

    Mark
     
  5. ChrisOH

    ChrisOH
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    I am planning to investigate SDI myself to see how much of an improvement is possible so please dont consider me an expert, I'm relaying what I understand to be the case.

    I'm not sure any of this involves card switiching once you are set up. The solution is to replace your existing Sky+ box with one that has been SDI modified. This signal can be fed directly to a PC with an appropriate SDI capture card.

    As I understand this you have the same functionality as you have currently ie record using Sky + (archive on the HTPC in extremis). The improvement is that you can use better deinterlacing and scaling via the PC.

    Sweetspot is a marked improvement for me. Sky + > Sweetspot> DScaler> 1280 x 268 to screen = night and day improvement YMMV

    Dave is your man.


    Chris
     
  6. redmax

    redmax
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    Hi Chris

    I must admit I didn't quite read the info on the pluggedinTV website but now understand what your saying.
    Basically you have to buy a modifed Sky+ box or trade yours in whcih gives you the SDI functionallity.

    I think with the advent of new HD boxes from SKy I may wait on that option to see how things settle down.

    I took the plunge yesterday and orderd a sweetspot card with a view to getting an XCard later for the DVD drive.

    Can you tell me, as an owner of the card, do i need to change my existing codec.
    I currently use Nvidia 6150 on board chip with latest drivers and Nvidia bronze codec. This allows me to change resolution, refresh rate etc. I don't actually use any of the colour, brightness, contrast etc controls because i prefer to set up my PJ with Avia and leave the settings alone. Then if I want to adjust for a particular DVD I use the controls in TheterTek.

    Will I have to change things if I use the sweetspot card for video processing?

    I reckon I am going to need load of advice because this unknown territory for me.
    So... any experience you - or any other Sweetspot owners out there, care to share will be gratefully received.

    BTW 1280 x 268? is that a typo?

    Thanks again :smashin:
     
  7. boez

    boez
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    You should really just consider the Sweetspot way of viewing sky as a standalone application.

    In other words, in order to see Sky via a Sweetspot card you need to run an application called DScaler. (Other applications may exist which could be used instead of DScaler but this is generally considered the best).

    DScaler (and therefore the sweetspot card) doesnt need any drivers and natively interacts with sweetspot to produce the picture. Therefore all your exisiting codecs do not change and you change the picture settings via the gfx card driver as you have always done.

    Note that when you first install the sweetspot card, XP will complain and ask you for a driver disk. You can ignore this and just tell XP not to ask you for a driver again (see the last page of a typical driver install wizard).

    The upside to this route is an excellent Sky picture on just about all channels (signal permitting). DScaler offers some filters but I dont use any.

    The downside is that this only works in DScaler :( You wont get a picture in MCE and DScaler doesnt record to disk very well. I put up with this cos there's nothing on Sky I ever want to record LOL!

    HTH
    Boez
     
  8. redmax

    redmax
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    Hello Boez
    as i said i reached that conclusion and am eagerly awaiting delivery of my new sweetspot card.
    I paid yesterday but haven't heard anything from them regarding despatch or delivery date. Bit dissapointing but hey..

    Thanks for the info regarding use and i will definately try Dscaler. i have seen it mentioned loads of times on here and evreyone seems to think it is the one to have.
    So basically its just plug and pray....I mean play:smashin:and away we go.
    i don't mind the tweaking side to get best image but can't be arsed when you have to reconfigure every other bit of software if you know what i mean.

    Although i have MCE i hardly ever use it. I get better results with TheterTek and using Nvidia post processing. I get zero stutter and awsome picture on Pal and NTSC dvds.
    I will (funds permitting) try the Xcard to link up with the Sweetspot to see if I get better DVD performance using that.

    Do you use an Xcard? If so tell me what you think. I wonder if i can still use TheterTek with the Xcard?

    Thanks
     
  9. Tim Cooper

    Tim Cooper
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    Hi Mark,
    Don't bother with the xcard this is a standalone mpeg decoder (dvd player) all decoding/deinterlacing is carried out in hardware (using the HCPC's dvd player). This card doesn't run with Theatetek.
    You won't better, IMHO, what you have already.
    With regards to Sky yes you could go down the SDI route but again the laws of dimishing returns apply here, i'd stick with the sweetspot card & RGB out via scart from the sky+ box, if you want to record buy a PVR.
    Tim.
     
  10. boez

    boez
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    I managed to last for months without buying an XCard and was happy with using a couple of the many software MPEG2 decoders (VLC or Media Player Classic are my usual players). Then the 'I wonder if I can get a better picture bug(!!)' hit and luckily I found an XCard on eBay for a really good price and thought it was worth a try! Apart from a lower CPU Useage the PQ was really no different to a software player and that was using the PDI digital input into the sweetspot and viewing via DScaler. With the power of recent PC's and improvements in the MPEG2 codecs I really wouldn't recommend an XCard unless I'm missing something.

    One thing to note though regarding the PDI port, unless you buy from PluggedIn.tv or happen to get a really old one second hand, the PDI port is crippled on the later XCards. A couple of frustrating hours soldering tiny surface mount components was needed to get it working again!

    Another consideration is that the XCard uses its own media player (and again doesnt integrate into MCE). Finally, to use it with the DScaler you need to run its own media player in the background AND DScaler. A bit messy really :(

    p.s. You will love the PQ from Sky and sweetspot, long live RGB!

    HTH
    Boez
     
  11. ChrisOH

    ChrisOH
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    Hi Mark,

    I agree with Tim on the X Card but only in principle rather than through experience. Perhaps someone else might speak for the defense but as I understand it the card has been superceeded by faster processing and better graphics cards. I say stick with TT and give ffdshow a try for the fun of it.

    The sweetspot ships with DScaler. Once set up my settings

    use Automatic Film / Video detection,
    High motion (Greedy) for deinterlacing,
    Judder terminator,
    Chroma and Sharpness filters
    use Powerstrip resolution (should have read 1280 x 768 sorry).

    I am trying to understand the statistics screen to see if I can get a better result with different settings but in general the picture is great.

    Chris
     
  12. redmax

    redmax
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    Thanks for the heads up on the X-card.
    I take your point Boez about thinks getting messy.
    Thats exactly what i want to avoid.
    I think the secret of a good HTCP is keeping it simple with as litttle software/hardware as possible avoiding conflicts.

    Thanks for sharing the settings ChrisOH.
    Guess they'll be my starting point then.
    I did read on the Dscaler forum about 100% CPu usage due to people using judder terminator and heavy deinterlacing.
    What CPU do you use and what usage does it run at?
    Any probs with CPU usage?

    I am looking forward to getting the sweetspot and just ordered a cable from Mark Grant to squeeze every last bit of detail out of it.

    Look out for Dscaler questions all next week:thumbsup:
     
  13. ChrisOH

    ChrisOH
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