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Another way to scan DVB channels: w_scan

This is part of my series of articles on converting digital broadcast TV to IPTV: click here for the other articles in the series.

In previous articles, I’ve given examples of scanning for DVB channels using the scan utility in Linux. However, when I tried doing a channel scan yesterday, it refused to work:

angry-admin@dvb:~$ sudo scan ~/uk-CrystalPalace -u
scanning /home/local-admin/uk-CrystalPalace
using '/dev/dvb/adapter0/frontend0' and '/dev/dvb/adapter0/demux0'
initial transponder 490000000 0 3 9 1 0 0 0
initial transponder 514000000 0 2 9 3 0 0 0
initial transponder 545833330 0 2 9 3 0 0 0
initial transponder 506000000 0 3 9 1 0 0 0
initial transponder 482000000 0 3 9 1 0 0 0
initial transponder 530000000 0 3 9 1 0 0 0
WARNING: >>> tuning failed!!!

I got a lot more tuning failed!!! messages after that, and no scan results. I’m not sure exactly what is causing this yet, but somebody else in the UK noticed this too, and suspects it began right after a very recent transmitter retune. Luckily, he also had a solution: use a different scanning tool.
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Converting your multicast IPTV Freeview to HTTP unicast using udpxy

So, by now you’ve read my previous guides about streaming Freeview/DVB-T channels to your network using VLC and dvblast:

  1. The Angry Technician’s Guide to streaming Freeview via VLC, you Idiots
  2. How to stream EVERY channel from Freeview onto your network
  3. How to stream Freeview HD (DVB-T2) over multicast using dvblast, you Idiots

If you haven’t, you are slacking a bit, as they’ve been up for a while and are the top 3 posts ever on here by pageviews. According to the stats, #2 has been viewed more than 33,000 times, which is frankly a ridiculous number.

Anyway, after all that reading, you might be thinking yo yourself “well, multicast streaming is all nice and fancy, but what I want is some good old-fashioned unicast”. It’s a question that has come up a few times, especially as dvblast will only output multicast streams, so if you want multiple channels per tuner, you are stuck with multicast. There are a few reasons this might not suit your needs, however:

  • Not all of your network supports multicast (especially true if you have cheap and nasty edge switches).
  • You want to view the streams on clients that don’t have multicast software available (e.g. smartphones).
  • You want to access the streams from a different network (e.g. streaming from one location to another over the Internet or a WAN/VPN).

Well, you are in luck. There is another bit of totally free open-source software that will make that conversion for you.
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How to stream Freeview HD (DVB-T2) over multicast using dvblast, you Idiots

This is a follow-up to my earlier post, How to stream EVERY channel from Freeview onto your network. If you’re new to this, you’ll want to go and read that one first, or a lot of this article won’t make sense.

Almost a year ago now, the first DVB-T2 USB tuner shipped in the form of the pctv 290e nanoStick T2, and work began on getting it working under Linux. Thanks to the sterling efforts of the developer community, working drivers for this tuner (which is based on the Sony chip) are now shipping as standard with Linux distros that use a kernel version of 3.0 or greater. This includes the recently released Ubuntu 11.10, and since this was my distro of choice for my previous DVB streaming project, I upgraded my streaming server and finally went ahead with buying a nanoStick tuner.

The hardware

At the time of writing, the 290e nanoStick T2 was coming in at just under £80 on Amazon. It comes with a bunch of Windows software I haven’t bothered to look at yet, and few different accessories (including a next to useless sucker-cup portable aerial), but these are the bits from the package you need.

The tuner itself is the size of a fat flash drive, and is about the same weight. That said, you’ll probably still want to use the the included USB flylead to help prevent strain on the USB connector, and you’ll also need the aerial adaptor.

The nanostick only has a small aerial connector, which is what the included aerial uses, but to hook it up to a standard UHF aerial, you use this adaptor.

As expected, Ubuntu detected the tuner immediately and I could tune to a standard definition DVB-T signal straight away using VLC. But we’re not interested in that! We want DVB-T2, for some proper HD goodness. So, lets get started.

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How to stream EVERY channel from Freeview onto your network

So, you’ve read my guide to streaming Freeview via VLC, and you’re thinking, ‘that was too easy’. What’s next? Well, we’ve streamed one channel, and you could potentially leave that running for your users… but what if someone wants to watch a different channel?

How about streaming ALL the channels?

I’m so glad you asked.

In my last school we had an Exterity IPTV system that I had been quietly jealous of ever since I left it behind. A commenter on my last article had the same system, but was less enamoured of it on account of the fact that his was buggered. Certainly a distressing situation to be in given how expensive Exterity is: buying the full 6-tuner system from RM will set you back over £8,000. They may not be the cheapest supplier, but you get the idea.

The thing is, these systems are a few years old, and the world has moved on. Today, free open-source software exists that will let you and I build something to do roughly the same thing for less than £500.

Yes, £500. You’re welcome.

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The Angry Technician’s Guide to streaming Freeview via VLC, you Idiots

On Wednesday, the England vs. Slovenia World Cup match brought many a broadband connection across the UK to its knees as iPlayer, the BBC’s streaming video service, hit a peak of 800,000 concurrent streams (mostly skiving gits who should have been working).

Even before the match, IT professionals in schools were marginally backing a meltdown in a poll on EduGeek, realising that demand coupled with shared local authority bandwidth would likely scupper chances of getting a decent stream in schools. That prediction was largely borne out on the day, though experiences varied, with some schools getting a decent feed, while others got only a few minutes into the game before it stuttered to a halt.

We had no problems watching the game at all; we had more than 25 computers across the school watching a high-quality feed, despite having nothing more than an ADSL connection for the entire site.


I cheated.

I realised the night before the match that I already had everything I needed to serve up a live site-wide feed without using an Internet streaming service at all. Instead, I used a TV tuner to stream the DVB-T Freeview feed straight off the air and onto our network. Here’s how you could do the same.
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