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Windows PCI DVB-S Satellite cards

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by jelockwood, Jul 12, 2005.

  1. jelockwood

    jelockwood
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    It is straight forward enough to have have two analogue terrestrial tuners, or even two digital terrestrial tuners (DVB-T). This allows recording one channel while watching another, a facility these days regarded as absolutely essential.

    However it is far more complicated when one wants to use Digital Cable (DVB-C), or Digital Satellite (DVB-S) as these typically are encrypted requiring a subscription, viewing card and CAM. [Note: I am deliberately ignoring TopupTV on Freeview.]

    The main issue is that so far I have not found a DVB-S card which supports two (or more) LNB connections (thereby allowing it to simultaneously tune in to two channels). Nor have I seen a solution of say two cards being able to share a single CAM and viewing card.

    In my own particular case, I would like to do this to build a HTPC system for DVB-S (Sky TV in the UK). However only having one satellite tuner would be pointless as it would not be as good as Sky+.

    For those interested, supposedly the Dragon CAM now supports Videoguard (as used by Sky).

    Note: the same issue applies to DVB-C which would also need a CAM to decrypt subscription channels.

    So has anyone else seen any products that might address this? Also, ideally it would support MPEG2 (required for current systems) and also MPEG4 (as will be used by future systems (software decoding would probably be the easiest way to achieve this).

    It is surprising the PCI tuner card manufacturers do not seem to have realised this. :lease:

    I am aware I could use two analogue cards connected to two set-top boxes but a) this is analogue, b) it would require two viewing cards (which means an additional subscription).
     
  2. Chris Muriel

    Chris Muriel
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    Most PCI (or USB) tuner cards indeed use the PC to do the MPEG decoding ; as such they are just tuner cards , not MPEG anything decoders or accelerators.
    I have 2 tuner cards in 1 PC (Broadlogic BL2030 and Twinhan VP1020). I simply use the LNB loopthrough connection from 1 card to the other.
    This does stop you viewing or tuning 2 channels at once unless they are in the same frequency band ; lowband is 10.7-11.7 GHz, hiband=11.7-12.8 GHz or so (you can adjust the "crossover frequency" with some tuner software).
    A 22 KHz tone selects 1 of 2 local oscillators in your LNB to switch to the hiband local oscillator (usually 10.6 GHz).
    Then there is a similar issue regarding vertical/horizontal polarity :
    The 2 channels have to be both V or both H.
    Selection is controlled by the DC voltage sent up to the LNB (14/18 volts nominally).
    There are possible complicated ways around this using DC blockers and tone blockers, and/or DiSEqC switches or (much simpler) using dual or quad LNBs , requiring an extra coaxial cable out to the LNB of course.
    It is also possible to have a driver clash on the PC. I could not have both a BT829-based analogue TV card and a Twinhan digital satellite card in the same PC because both wanted to use the same BT829 driver and the driver doesn't support multiple use like that. The solution was to use a different analogue TV card.
    A twin or quad LNB with multiple coaxes is by far the simplest way to go.

    I hope this helps a little .

    Chris Muriel, Manchester
     
  3. jelockwood

    jelockwood
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    This is exactly might point. In order to do this trouble free one needs either two separate LNB feeds going to two separate cards, or two separate LNB feeds going to a card with two inputs. Also you forgot my point about CAMS.

    A Sky+ box comes with a dish with a quad LNB, each feeding a separate coax. The Sky+ box has two individual LNB inputs (thus allowing you to tune and record two channels without them interfering with each other).

    I am trying to replicate this with either a single card (with two or more LNB inputs) or two cards that can share a CAM.
     
  4. Chris Muriel

    Chris Muriel
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    Sorry - missed the CAM point.
    I have never come across (or contemplated) sharing a CAM nor a card with dual inputs.

    Chris Muriel, (about to disappear to Ireland for 3 days -working)
     
  5. paul071

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    Hey,

    the CAM-sharing is an interesting problem I've been thinking about for a while too... It seems that the commonly available CI-modules do not foresee the possibility to connect more than one tuner card - I was looking at the Hauppauge's CI for Nexus-CA or Nova-S cards..

    I'm wondering how the stand-alone twin receivers (like Humax PVR 8000, for example) deal with this... I doubt that a CA-module is able to descramble more than one broadcast at a time. But you could descramble one broadcast on-the-fly (Live TV) and record the other one scrambled. I think this is the way Humax goes...

    If you want to replicate this (simpler) alternative in a HTPC, you need to send the scrambled data from your hard disk to the CA-module and receive descrambled video stream in your viewer, right..? Is something like this possible without writing one's own software :confused:
     
  6. jelockwood

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    Damn, I think your right now that I recall.

    I do believe the Sky+ box (twin tuner) works this way in that it descrambles on playback if it did not have the opportunity the first time. I think it will be too much to expect Microsoft to do this in MCE (remember at the moment they don't support satellite cards at all).

    This leaves the option of having two satellite tuner cards, two CAMs, and two viewing cards. Referring back to Sky again, this is their equivalent of their Sky Multiroom setup (the second subscription is cheaper than the first).

    People might ask why bother doing this in the HTPC. The answer being it lets you capture in pure digital, whereas using two S-Video capture cards (connected to two standard satellite set-top boxes) would be analogue which also looses any Dolby 5.1 information.

    Thank you for your answer, I now at least know what is going to be more possible.
     
  7. ukaudiophile

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    Hello,

    I have been watching this development with great interest. I currently use a Sweetspot MCE card in my Media Centre, but I would love to use this machine to record the digital feed from Sky. With this facility, I could keep the signal pure digital as my Radeon 9550 has a DVi output, a much cheaper alternative to the Sweetspot SDI equipped Sky+ box.

    The question is this, does anyone know if there is a DVB satellite card which is supported in MCE 2005 which can take a dragon CAM? Has anyone got a satellite card in their MCE machine?

    Best wishes,

    Dave
     
  8. paul071

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    Hmm.. what make is your sky box, I mean who manufactures them..? As far as I know Sky is a broadcasting group, they're not making the receivers themselves..I am not from U.K, so I don't have to know :) I was looking at the Humax twin-receiver more closely yesterday. They announce a software update which allows you to record de-scrambled broadcasts too.. This means that a CA decryption module must be able to work "in parallel", since the Humax receiver only has a standard CI interface in which you can insert a standard CA module.. B.t.w. I don't know if they're sold in U.K. at all, I was looking at the german site (www.humax.de)

    Well, forget Microsofts MCE edition, at least for the next 1-2 years. They will not support digital TV neither via satellite nor via cable in the "old" (means current) windows version until Microsoft has convinced the content providers that they got rid of all the DRM, PVP, HDCP stuff. This is (apparently) possible only on a completely re-designed platform like the new Longhorn. Also, right now, nobody can tell you what consequences this strict content protection will have to your existing hardware - in a worst case you can just all throw it away...

    Yeah, you're right this is a clear advantage. Plus a HTPC is a configurable all-in-one system which is a great advantage compared to currently available receivers - say they change the broadcast format you just put in a new tuner card/install new software instead of buying new box from scratch... However, one should consider the DRM/PVP/HDCP topics - as I mentioned above, nobody guarantees that current hardware will work with that...

    I have learned that the communication between a CA-module and a tuner card is done by software not by a (direct) physical connection. This means that your viewing software has to support this - I assume you want to use a universal Media Center software package (not Microsoft MCE) like Media Portal, for example (http://mediaportal.sourceforge.net/). Looking at their web page the CI-version of Hauppauge's cable card is officially supported, so I'm curious if anyboody has ever tried to run parallel pay-tv watching/recording... I wasn't able to find that out there is a huge amount of topics in their forum and a miserable search function.

    I think this simpler variant (watch unscrambled/record scrambled) should be possible with existing hardware if you have a proper software/drivers...

    @analogueaddict:

    Sorry but, MCE on XP will never support digital pay-tv for reasons I have mentioned above...
     
  9. ukaudiophile

    ukaudiophile
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    Hello,

    Thanks for the feedback so far. I've been doing some research of my own and I've turned up a few interesting gems.

    As had previously been suggested, Media Centre does not support DVB-S cards. A couple of the people I've spoken to did give me some interesting insight, that there is no technical reason why MCE can't support DVB-S cards, but this has been crippled in the code in the O/S, effectively turning off this support ata low level. A future patch would probably resolve this, but you have to wonder why they did this in the first place, to ensure sales of MCE 2006 maybe?

    As you have probably realised, with this beign a software instead of hardware limitation it may be possible for suppliers to 'hack' a driver to make it work, and again a couple of suppliers have done this and made DVB-S cards work with MCE, but with serious instability, but there is clearly promise there.

    The good news is that both Showshifter and My Theatre both do work with DVB-S cards and one supplier has had Showshifter working with the Dragon CAM using a Sky Digital card, so it is now possible to directly record Sky Digital to HD in a PC instead of a Sky + box.

    I am now in contact with two suppliers and I will be playing over the next month or so with a DVB-S card and CAM to see just what I can get working. I know it would be a damn site easier just to bite the bullet and pay £99 for a Sky + box, but there are so many limitations, not to mention that £10 service fee I really object to paying, that I just can't stand the idea, I actually trust Bill Gates more than I do Murdoch.

    I'll keep you posted as I experiment.

    Regards,

    Dave
     
  10. ukaudiophile

    ukaudiophile
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    You make a good point here, given what I've discovered about DVB-S being turned off in MCE, it does look like this was done for a reason, but there is a problem with this idea, MS must surely realise they are not the only game in town. If they don't support the functionality that users want, many users will go elsewhere aka Showshifter, thereby taking MS out of a game they desperately want to get into. If someone tells me that to get a given service I have to throw away my entire system and buy a new one with draconian service restrictions, then I would go looking for other alternatives, officially sanctioned or otherwise.

    As for the HDCP issues, well let's put it like this, there are already boxes out there which can strip HDCP off a DVI channel, though currently expensive. Just wait for some Chinese factory to figure out how to make these and they will be falling out of web sites for under £100. As far as DRM is concerned, as much as I support legal download services in theory, there is no way any of them will get my money until DRM restrictions are truly fair to the user. Right now they're not, so I would rather just buy the CD used on E-Bay, which is generally half the price of buying the tracks off I-Tunes or Napster with zero restrictions. I really don't see these issues as being insurmountable, sooner or later a country with more liberal laws than ours will figure a way around these problems and get the solution out there, once a solution has hit the P2P networks, it's only a matter of time before everyone has it available.

    Best wishes,

    Dave
     
  11. Whitey1977

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    analogueaddict, which cards are looking trying out? I'm interested in this setup too.

    Media Portal supports the FireDTV S/CI with a CAM but there is no mention of the dragon CAM on the FireDTV website.

    Thanks

    Whitey
     
  12. ukaudiophile

    ukaudiophile
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    Hi Whitey,

    I've been looking at the Floppy DTV DVB-S card which can take a CAM. They have only been doing testing with the Dragon CAM over the last week or so, but initial results indicate that it seems to work fine.

    Initial tests with Media Portal suggest this should be a pretty easy system to set up. I'm doing some initial configuration tests with a Hauppaugh Freeview card just to get the hang of Media Portal, so by the time my satellite hardware arrives it should be really easy to integrate it.

    Regards,

    Dave
     
  13. Whitey1977

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    Thanks analogueaddict!

    The only thing that concerns me about going down this route is the fact that I have read that sky could change the encryption very easily, which would stop the dragon CAM working with NDS.

    Paying around £250 for equipment that will only work until sky decide otherwise is a bit risky.

    Keep us updated on your progress.

    Whitey

    PS there are two forum members on the MP site that currently have this setup but are not sharing the knowledge at the moment - they want a month for testing.
     
  14. jelockwood

    jelockwood
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    A lot of the current DVB-S cards (with CAM support) use a daughter board CAM reader which occupies a second PCI slot. Therefore two cards would mean using FOUR slots!

    I found the following only need one slot for both the DVB-S and CAM functions.

    Technisat SkyStar 1 CI http://www.technisat.com/en/produkte/produkteview.php?kid=1,29&pid=1491
    DigitalRise dtv-s1032a http://www.digitalrise.biz/products/dtv-s1032a (this one actually mentions specifically that it is compatible with the Dragon CAM, note: this card looks to be the same as the Twinhan/VisionPlus).
    KWorld DVB-S 150 http://www.kworld.com.tw/2005Computex/002.htm
    KWorld DVB-S CI http://www.kworldcomputer.com/product/DVBS-CI/DVBS-CI.html (probably the same as previous)
    Twinhan (also known as VisionPlus) DTV Sat-CI (VP-1032A) http://www.twinhan.com/product_satellite_4.asp
    KNC One TV Station DVB-S http://www.knc1.com/gb/produkte/digital_dvb_s.htm (note: as there is no picture of the card I cannot be certain it only takes one slot, it does definitely support a CAM)

    The Technotrend, Hauppauge (rebadged Technotrend), Anubis Typhoon, and TerraTec require two slots (1 plus 1 more for CAM)

    Note: as far as I could see, Lifeview (makers of the FlyDVB-S do not support CAMs)

    It therefore looks that a DigitalRise aka. Twinhan aka. VisionPlus is the best choice.

    None of these officially work with MCE 2005. I have read that the Hauppauage Nexus-S driver has been hacked to work but that it still did not support using a CAM. As was indicated some of these cards do work with other software like Media Portal (e.g. the Twinhan I believe).

    Personally, what I have decided to do is now wait for the Longhorn version of MCE (MCE 2007?) and hope that it officially adds support for DVB-S cards. Degrading a digital feed from Sky to analogue just to get it to work with MCE makes it not worth the effort or cost.
     
  15. jelockwood

    jelockwood
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    None of these discussions or proposals involve defrauding Sky as they all require using a genuine Sky viewing card. From that perspective there is no reason for Sky to get upset.

    The CAM is built-in to the existing Sky boxes (I believe it uses the VideoGuard system). Therefore changing it might (theoretically) require each customer having an on-site engineer visit (i.e. it would not happen). I suppose there is a small possibility Sky could do some sort of over the air patch.

    However the whole point of the Dragon CAM is it is software upgradeable. Therefore they also could upgrade theirs to match. History has repeatedly shown protection schemes will always be broken.

    To paul071,

    I don't (yet) have a Sky+ box. However the original mk1 was made by Pace (and I believe designed to specifications defined by BSkyB). The mk2 was also originally made by Pace but now also by Amstrad. The Sky+160 is made by Thompson of France.
     
  16. Whitey1977

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    I'm not talking about defrauding sky either, but having digital access to a sky stream could worry sky regarding piracy etc.

    I have read that sky could make the dragon CAM useless with a simple over-the-air update. Whether this is true or not I don't know. Like you said the dragon CAM could be updated but how long would it take? 1 hour? 1 day? a week? who knows. It would make using this system very user unfriendly.

    Whitey
     
  17. ukaudiophile

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    Hello,

    jelockwood:
    Neither of the current DVB-S cards I'm looking at use more than a single PCI slot, so even in a tight case (one of my machines uses a Shuttle case) it will still fit and not overheat.

    Whitey:
    As far as Sky are concerned, I think they have far bigger fish to fry than a few guys using PC's with legitimate Sky cards to record their programs. From what I've been hearing, there are moves being made to make pirate Sky Digital cards, along the lines of those now available for some of the Continental channels packages, now if these got out and worked, then there would have to be a S/W update to knock them out, but in this case we are using legally supplied cards with a paid for subscription, and Sky wouldn't want to waste it's time developing countermeasures they know will be defeated in a fairly short space of time.

    For me the potential problems that Longhorn could introduce in terms of hardware compatibility and restrictions on the use of media under that O/S is a serious concern. Micro$oft has to be aware that there are alternatives to MCE, so if it swings the pendulum too much in favour of the studios and broadcasters, either people will abandon MCE in droves and use a more open solution, or hacks will be developed to overcome or cripple the DRM measures, and whilst us in the West have laws to prevent us circumnavigating copy protection schemes, no such restrictions are in place in the Far East, so cracks could appear very rapidly Worldwide, completely undermining the whole idea of a secure system.

    Best wishes,

    Dave
     
  18. LeslieD

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    The reason we haven't mentioned it on the FireDTV website is we are currently in test mode, So far we haven't had any major issues using the Dragon CAM with the FireDTV S unit and sky, we have also test on Dubai TV using a Matrix CAM with out any problems at all.

    We just need to document the procedures and it will be posted on the site :thumbsup: .
     
  19. LeslieD

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    Alas the FireDTV DBT-S can not share a CAM across multiple tuners, The reason been the CAM has to be installed in the tuner where the PMT is uploaded to allow it to be decoded at hardware level.

    We will be releasing a addin for MCE to decode Terrestrial TV using FireDTV (still in alpha testing). This will not be avaliable for satellite and cable.

    I am fairly new to this and am still trying to to wrap my head around it so you will have to be patient.
     
  20. paul071

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    Hm. The reason for all this is to have twin-tuner functionality for pay-tv broadcasts: I want to be able to watch one station while other (out of the same or even an other pay-tv bouquet) is recorded. This is clearly not possible with tuner cards with built-in CI-interface - at least not without buying two pin-cards..which I don't want to do, of course!

    But how things are going with stand-alone CI interfaces - like the one of Hauppage? The communication between the tuner and the CA-module seem to be running thru the PCI bus - correct me if I'm wrong...So it should be possible to send the data stream from one tuner card to the CA-module which descrambles it and sends the data to the viewer, while the data stream from the other card is stored on the harddisk without beeing de-scrambled. If you want to watch the recorded broadcast, need to send the scrambled data from the disk to CA-module...and so on... Is that correct?

    By the way, how do you browse through this forum? The button which takes you to earlier pages seems to be missing, or am I missing something...? :confused:
     
  21. LeslieD

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    Hi Paul071

    The CI modules that are seperated from the actual decoder will require software decoding. I am not sure how this would work but I will put it on my must investigate list :cool:.

    ps the less than sign will take you to previous posts.

    Regards
    Leslie Drewery
     
  22. C-M

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    am i missing something here: I was under the impression (in fact i was told on these very boards) that no cam hardware or software worked with the Sks current videogaurd encryption.

    Has this now been cracked or something?
     
  23. Whitey1977

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    The dragon CAM with predator 3.11 software will emulate NDS but it isn't "cracked", you still need a valid subscription card paired to a digibox

    Whitey
     
  24. paul071

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    Ahaa. I see that I do not know enough about how DVB streams are passed from one component to other. Without giving me a lesson on DVB (if you'd like to you're welcome :rolleyes: ) I'd like to know one thing:

    My view of the DVB data pipeline is this:
    1. The signal arrives on the input of your tuner. It is de-modulated depending on a used standard (like QAM or whatever...) and converted to a DVB stream containing all channels in digital format
    2. A de-multiplexer picks a mpeg stream representing the required channel
    3. The mpeg stream is passed to the mpeg decoder
    4. On output you have a bitwise video stream which is passed to a viewing software

    Now at which point (1.-4.) the descrambling is done? I'd assume somewhere between 2nd and 3rd step (or is it a part of step 3?)..
     

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