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Using a PC as a scaler.

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by neonmod, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. neonmod

    neonmod
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    Hi,

    My contribution!

    Banish your Low Definition picture blues using your PC!

    Got solorisation, blurred and blocky pictures from Sky or another video source like your DVD player then read below!

    If you are suffering from poor quality sources eg. Sky and DVD and have a mid to high level PC and a DVI or VGA connection on your plasma and PC, then you can build your own scaler that will beat any £500+ Line doubler/Scaler, converters etc...

    You will need to buy a Capture card (leadtek TV2000 Deluxe, around £40) and feed this a composite or S-Video feed from your source, sky etc..

    Connect your PC's DVI or VGA monitor output connection to your Plasma's DVI or VGA input.

    Download a free scaler program called D-Scaler, and this will use your capture card to scale up the sky etc.. signal to a superb HD picture!

    If there is enough interest and questions in this DIY scaler idea, then i will post any help with specs, setup and settings that you require, so i will monitor this thread for your responses!

    I have posted settings and actual screen shots of the reults that reside in the now massive LG-RZ42PX11 thread, but due to its size i will help with any info that you need also some great ways of using a Ati radeon 9600 and above to produce dual monitor HD outputs to your plasma for surfing and HQ DVD and scaled outputs!

    Hope this helps a lot of Ppl out that are on a tight budget after spending a lot on a new Plasma like me annd for not much upgrade to your PC the results are amazing!!

    Cheers! :smashin:
     
  2. bigval

    bigval
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    Anychance you can email me the pictures or tell me what page they are on in the big thread please?
     
  3. nobbydog

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    Yep, interested. I really can't get to grips with the whole scaler HD/SD lines/frequencies thing, so would be interested to know if there is a straight forward route to the holy grail, as it were!

    As it happens I'm currently looking for a new home pc and keep thinking about making sure it is up to spec with these capture cards/video cards etc to try and go down the pc route. I suppose the simple question would be (for me at least) is what would be the pc spec needed to get my Sky picture displayed on my SD PW6 with better results than I have at present running through an JS RGB/VGA box into the VGA port? Could this pc scaler idea make an improvement?
    :smashin:
     
  4. neonmod

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    Hi,

    My PC spec is a P4 3.4, 1gb ram, Ati radeon 9800XT, so any PC around this level will be great!

    You will need to get a TV2000 PCI capture card and fit it into your PC, download D-Scaler and install!

    Connect sky etc.. to Preferably S-Video but you can use composite output available on the standard Sky boxes, Sky+ has the S-Video and also a 5.1 optical output for use with your amp!

    Bigval, link to the picture is http://www.avforums.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1308058&postcount=603

    When you have your setup complete let me know here and i will post some setup settings to get you started!

    Cheers! :smashin:
     
  5. Smudge Mouse

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    Sounds like a great idea, I'm sure to give it a go once my supplier finally get round to getting me the stand for my 505 XDE (I've come to realise its far more painful to have a boxed plasma tv sitting in your front room, than it is waiting for one to arrive :eek: ).

    One question, how does this work with widescreen and standard 4:3 broadcasts on sky, my guess is that the widescreen signal will be lost and this will need manually altering as your surf channels.

    A quick look at the web-site for dscaler, nice to see it's opensource. Hmmmmm, the possiblilities of writing an intelligent filter that can recognise the red dot and replace it with a sampling of the surrounding area :smashin:
     
  6. lisag

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    Hi, I am really interested in doing this, do you know if there is a capture card to do the job that is also compatible as a tv card with media center 2005? Is DScaler compatible with MCE 2005?

    thanks
    lisa
     
  7. neonmod

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    Hi lisa,

    The TV2000 card i suggest (has a built in TV tuner) and D-scaler are compatible with MCE 2005, this the the OS i am using on my PC at the moment!

    You will use D-scaler when in normal windows desktop mode.

    Let me know if you need any more help!


    nsl,

    D-scaler has settings that will produce the correct image to fit your display.

    When you have D-scaler set up, it will automatically scale the image and you will have a 16:9 display whether the imput is 16:9 or 4:3 as it works with the windows set, resolution (which will be a 16:9 ratio)!

    Cheers! :smashin:
     
  8. kron

    kron
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    wow ! i know those pics on that thread are only low res but they look very good. i will be following this thread very closely ! . I have a simularly specced watercooled pc close to where my plasma will eventually reside.

    I'm thinking of getting the nec vm5 which has dvi and supports 1080i ,so would this screen work well with dvi or vga (prefer vga cause i use dvi for my lcd monitor) without need for the dongle ?

    :smashin:
     
  9. Stonedragon

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    This is interesting. Can you set up resolutions to match the native display of your plasma.
     
  10. lisag

    lisag
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    Hi, thanks for the response.

    I have 101 questions - if you can help with any of them, that would be fantastic :)

    I have MCE2005 on a shuttle PC, 128mb Nvidia FX5200 in AGP slot, and a TV card (Thomson LR6650 DVB-T) in the PCI slot - no free slots.

    The media center is connected to my plasma (Panasonic TH37PW7) via VGA, I also have a Pace twin connected via scart, and a DVD player looped through the Pace also via scart.

    Can I use Dscaler to improve the quality of tv playback from my existing tv card? How? Do I do this outside of MCE2005? Can it also improve playback of DVD's from the DVD rom drive? If so, will this have to be different software outside of MCE 2005?

    It has taken me a long time to get MCE2005 running stable, I am mainly using it for Divx/Xvid playback and am really pleased with the video quality and interface and remote, so really don't want to mess this up :rolleyes:

    I am a little disappointed with picture quality of freeview tv, both therough the media center and pace twin and am waiting for a couple of pay days before buying a JS Tech RGB to VGA converter, as total cost will be £200 with second VGA terminal board.

    Will DScaler be better or at least as good as the JS Tech converter?
    Do I need to change my existing tv card for one with an s-video in to capture from the pace twin, or can I improve the pq with current tv card?

    Phew.............. :suicide:
     
  11. MAW

    MAW
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    Good luck with this game, you'll need time on your hands to succeed. We use a PC for projector demos, it's the bane of my life. Tweakers only need apply.
     
  12. neonmod

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    Lisa,


    Don't know if D-scaler is compatible with your tv card, all i can suggest is have a lokk at the compatible cards list on D-scalers web site or you could install it an see if it detects your card!

    What are the inputs on your tv card and model of your pace?

    It runs from windows mce desktop not outside.

    D-scaler will be an improvement on any source that is fed to the tv card, but you will get better results using svideo over composite!
    I use dscaler mainly for sky tv, i have a dvd player with an inbuilt DCDI scaler.

    Sky has a lot of channels that are of low bitrates hence poor PQ, and the result from d-scaler is excellent!

    D-scaler will beat any converter or hard scaler!


    Stonedragon,

    Yes, you would normally play around with the windows resolutions until you found one that suits you best and the rest will work within that res!

    You may find that you will have to change the DPI size setting so that you can read the desktop writing to compensate for the higher resolutions.

    My example is i have my Windows res set to 1280 x 1024
    Dpi 150%
    the native plasma res is 852 x 480

    These are the settings i have found produce the best results for my screen!

    So you will have to try a few out first!

    kron,

    I am not familiar with your screen but as a rule of thumb the best connection is Dvi then vga - component - RGB - S-video - composite!

    Bye for now!

    Cheers! :smashin:
     
  13. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    You might also want to go to the HTPC forum on this site where the mega HTPC guys lurk.......One of the developers of DSCALER is an old forum member, JohnAd....also look for posts by Jeff Yerkess, Branx, Phil from UVEM, Jenz, the Plugged in TV boys........etc etc...

    Gordon
     
  14. neonmod

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    Hey Maw its not that hard, really! had mine running great within about 20mins, i used to work a lot at CH4 TV deep within the systems there so i am a bit of a tweeker myself!

    Tvcards.com is a good resource as well as the HTPC forum, you can get a lot of info on setups and settings, but it would be easier for everyone if we posted settings here rather than reading a ton of posts!

    Cheers! :smashin:
     
  15. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    I suspect that MAW's defination of great and yours may not be the same.....;)

    Gordon
     
  16. MAW

    MAW
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    Neon, it's not hard, no. I just have a day job that goes on into the evening tweaking hours. I would also dispute:-
    1. The suitability of your settings, and the effects on aspect ratio
    2. The finished results compared to a Lumagen scaler. Pound for pound, absolutely, after all the Lumagen is £2k+, but it can reproduce the picture of a well set up PC. But you would never send a 16:9 852/480 plasma s-XGA from one.
     
  17. neonmod

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    Dispute what you like, let the Ppl decide when they are set up as i am!

    I have created an excellent image on a budget that i am now passing on and helping others get too!

    I take it you have not used a PC as a scaler so you can't comment on the results and hundreds of HTPC users would agree with me using a PC for best results (a PC is the best video processor around today)!

    If you are also commenting on my view of what high quality is, working with broadcast equipment at a TV station, i think i know what quality is!

    Any more daft comments will be egnored!

    After all i'm here to help Ppl not debate who knows what!!

    I thank you. :hiya:
     
  18. Schenk

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    Great thread Neonmod.
    I've got the LG with the same set up as you for Sky+, PC is Athlon 1800XP (to be upgraded soon) and has an Nvidia 6800 Ultra.
    Would be interested to know what your settings are within DScaler bearing in mind I am a total novice at this?

    Thanks in advance ;)
     
  19. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    NEon: You are correct to believe what you want but I would not be so arrogant as to say that a PC is the best scaler around when you may not have seen a large number of quality scalers. The PC versus scaler debate has been done to death around here.

    Even those who have made themselves some of the best HTPC's will admit that even if you use the same hardware and software in two PC's they will likely as not perform differently. I have visited several folk who have had HTPC's they have built following following instructions from the on-line fraternity and have discovered they were not as great as they had hoped.

    While there is no doubt that Dscaler is a great free de-interlacing solution and that many DVD players (Theatertek, WinDVD, PowerDVD) etc are good solutions there is more to a good picture than that. How does Dscaler cope with HD material? How is your PC going to be working with SKY HD when it's broadcast? Does it use the correct colourspace conversion for YPrPb HD or does it use the same as it would for SD? How is the gamma on the output? is it possible to make adjustments for gamma on a per input basis to compensate for issues withn the sources. What about the colour decoder for those Svideo and Composite video signals? How accurate is that and do you have Pr and Pb delays to compensate for poor sources? What is the scaling algorithm like in your graphics card for not adding ringing or excessive edge enhancement, while extracting max detail? How is your PC at mosquito and Mpeg noise removal without taking away detail from an image? Can you customise each input so that the maximum amount of useful picture information is in the frame buffer and that the output is optimised for minimum overscan (per input and also per resolution/refresh and aspect ratio). Is this all automated once set up once? Can you set your PC to output PC or Video level Digital data on DVI? How does your PC deal with bad edits and weirdo frame cadences on progressive source vdeo material? Does your PC have multi point RGB gamma and overall Luma adjustment per input?

    I am not saying that all stand alone scalers can do all of this I am just pointing out that there are many areas that are important in a good video processor. The thing HTPC's have going for them is that if you are clever you can build one affordably and get decent results if you know what you are doing and have patience, yes patience..... If you want you can even buy them off the shelf and get good results too. However there are other options that can, in certain areas, offer superior quality and they should not be dismissed just as the home brew HTPC shouldn't.

    I'll leave this debate now and lete you and the rest of the HTPC guys get on with swapping ideas. All the best

    Gordon

    Gordon
     
  20. kron

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    Gordon....very informative ,that will take some digesting.
    I already have the pc so if i can try NEon'S idea out for £40 + Cable i won't have lost much and besides i like to tweak :D
     
  21. neonmod

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    Hi,

    Thanks Gordon for your interest, i will try to answer as much as i can!

    I see what you are saying with regards to PC scaler Vs hard scaler, i am just going off what a lot of HTPC users have been saying for years, but if you think about the price difference then HTPC will be a very attractive Option.

    You can adjust any part of video source right through to resize, using D-Scaler and supports all the overlay settings, works in conjuction with windows settings and a lot more, its great!

    On my HTPC the component output is via an Ati dvi to component Dongle that produces a HD component feed to the plasma so adjustments can also be made here via the Ati display properties, because the main output is from your main graphics card and not the tv card you have the full adjustment functionality available to windows OS.

    I am using the component adapter so i can utilise a dual monitor config, component for video and rgb for internet etc.. but the PQ from either source is as good as each other!

    The tv card is purley to capture the video onto your PC for processing, having a good TV card helps as you want the video to be a clean as possible before processing.

    In a nut shell you can tweak it to produce the picture you need that contains all the information of the original Picture and has no or very little over or underscan and is of HD quality.

    You can also setup your PC dvd player to use D-scalers codecs for the superior quality, alot of Ppl are using Zoom player as it is very customisable and the results are astonishing!

    It is vertually automatic so you get great results straight away with minimal settings, but you can tweak it further to get that superior picture.

    D-Scaler also has many in built filters to play with that are being added all the time due to it being an open source program and these filters are producing excellent results.

    If you can get a HTPC and run D-scaler you will see what i mean and it will answer a lot of your questions.

    Believe me i have seen for myself what the HTPC can do for SD pictures and i think it is definately worth while passing the info on!


    Schenk,

    You should be okay with your curent setup, get your capture card and d-scaler!

    When Ppl are setup and ready, i will start posting settings to get you started!

    Cheers! :smashin:
     
  22. MAW

    MAW
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    Thank you for your kind words. I do HTPC's for a living, I do not make daft comments, and you are not helping people by giving erroneous info. You are rapidly heading down the same road as the illustious Mr Triggs. We've all put our foot in our mouths on here from time to time, you just have to grow up and live with it, nobody can see you blush, in the end nobody cares, you just have to only do it once. The aspect ratio thing is not resolvable for games, photo software, widows desktop, text applications etc. The only reason to send non native resolution to a ED display like the LG is to allow the windows desktop to fit comfortably, as 480 dots is not enough for many apps to run properly at all, you might even have trouble with the display properties box. I do not care if you worked in broadcast TV as a techie or a toilet cleaner, you may well have been good at whatever job it was, it does not affect the issue here.
     
  23. Likvid

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    Seems like we need Dr.Phil here again.....
     
  24. neonmod

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    Don't know who's building your HTPC's but i have had no issues whatsoever using different resolutions for gaming or whatever on my plasma as tha PC communicates with the monitor anyway and gives you the compatible resolutions to choose from, you only get problems when the resolution you choose is out of the scope of the monitor!

    I will stand on what i am saying and again the Ppl will decide if my info is erroneous or not, when they are up and running via my suggestions!

    All monitors are sent Non native resolutions anyway including Plasmas which are basically Large PC monitors.

    I am also a PC tech as part of my job for over 15 years, microsoft certified, so i know exacly what a PC is capable of!

    If you have a better way than me (you obviously think so)go and start your own thread!

    Typical Retailer (i know it all) found in such stores as Comet, i presume thats where your from!

    Go and abuse someone else, its what you like to do around here!
     
  25. MAW

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    I'll leave others to comment on this statement. No, I don't work for comet, I'm a custom installer. All I'm trying to put over is the fact that stretching a 4:3 aspect ratio from a PC will give you fat people in your photos, and unless your DVD software is of the variety you pay for, as opposed to free on a DVD or with windows, it cannot cope with this either. I'm also trying not to stoop to simple invective, but explain why I am standing on my point. If you can explain to me how you can make a s-xga picture 16:9 without stretching everything, I am happy to listen.
     
  26. hornydragon

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    :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:
    Yeah and I work for Currys (no seriously i am paid in spicy indian food)
    NEonmod have you ever seen a scaler in action on the same monitor (plasma) as HTPC??? Have you experience of any other plasma display than an LG?

    If not i think it is fair to say the opions of someone with that experience is note worthy a PC can be a good way to improve things on a PDP (not the only one) and can give good resultswhether they are better, more VFM that is up to the person with eyes on the screen usability also factors heavily, as does connectivity

    Tell me can you Feed Sky+, DVD, PS2 and Xbox via your PC have instant source switching for audio and video set up precise out characteristics for all 4. Have no start-up/boot delay? control it all from one Remote handset and integrate lighting/climate/envronmental and security systems control???
    (this will require a RS232 controller and programmeable RC)
     
  27. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Hey, I'll kick in. Neomod....I am well aware of how HTPC's work and what Dscaler is capable of. John Ad and Jeff Yerkess very kindly helped me with my own dip in the ocean of HTPC a while ago. Indeed both did first class presentations of what can be achieved and what is important in HTPC when I organised Event2 a year past November (was it that long ago guys?) My post was actually trying to enlighten you to certain aspects of video display chain that you may not be aware of. I will now sit back and watch the bun fight........TTFN

    Gordon
     
  28. neonmod

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    I am aware of what you are saying and no dispute was with you.

    Sit back and be my guest but their will be no so called bun fights here!

    Cheers!
     
  29. buzzby

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    good thread looks like i can make a scaler out of some old comp bits..

    I think the hair pulling and spliting is about to start
     
  30. nobbydog

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    Whoo hoo!!! I love it when the sharp comments start to fly......carry on boys!
     

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