Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I came across a cool utility for Home Theater PCs doing TV recording. I have played with several free and open source PVR applications, and while there are various sources to obtain reliable program guide listings, most charge a nominal fee for the service. MC2XML allows you to leverage the guide data servers that Microsoft uses for their Media Center software. It outputs the data in standard XMLTV format, so it can be used by any application that supports XMLTV.

"mc2xml is a small and fast standalone command line program for Windows/Linux/OSX that downloadsmedia center, titantv, or schedules direct tv listings and outputs an XMLTV formatted (xmltv.dtd) .xml file."

Monday, March 29, 2010

1 year and still going strong

It has been more than a year since I last posted. The antenna has been working great! I purchased a tripod and mounted it on the highest peak of our roof. Inside the house, the signal is split three ways to two PC based tuners and the tuner in my TV. The antenna is aimed directly at Buffalo and I use SnapStream BeyondTV to record a regular schedule of TV programming, averaging 6+ hours per day. The system has beem rock solid, and is just as reliable as StarChoice was - seldom missing a recording.

For safety's sake, I installed an 8 foot grounding rod which I tied to the common ground via the water piping. Just before entering the house, I installed a lightning arrestor, which I attached to the grounding rod.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cancelled the Satellite Subscription :)

I am happy to say that I cancelled my StarChoice satellite subscription yesterday. This week of testing has gone very well. On Sunday I noticed that with clear skies and good weather, that my reception was suffering. I ended up building a new temporary mount and put it higher on the peak of the roof. Reception this week has been great despite the variety of weather. I think I know now where I need to mount it permanently and am working on the how. Also this week, I managed to scoop a refurb Hauppauge HVR-1600 for $25 to use as a second tuner, so SnapStream is now able to record 2 ATSC broadcasts at the same time.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Testing 1...2...3...

I finished assembling the GH10 today. I am still considering how to best mount it permanently, but for now I have it hanging from the eavestrough at the front of our house. To minimize sway, I hung a hanging basket with a couple bricks in it from the bottom. Reception is great with all major Buffalo networks coming in at 100%.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Work in progress...

I purchased some 1/2" CPVC tubing to build the frame today. CPVC is much more rigid (and expensive) than standard PVC/PEX. Even at 1/2", the frame is very sturdy - I placed a board on top of the raised section and stood on it. Drilling the holes for the colinear rods was probably the biggest challenge. I think I did a fairly decent job of keeping them on a flat plane, but it was tough - even with the drill guide (below), particularly the 4 holes that had to go through the PVC Ts. A drill press probably would have made the job easier. Applying PVC cement to the joints and connecting all of them at perfect right angles took some care as well. This project is definitely a more complicated build than the standard SBGH described on the digitalhome.ca forums, which uses steel fencing as the reflector.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

PVC frame for GH10

I have been tinkering with ideas for how to best design the frame that will hold the elements and colinear reflector rods. This is what I'm thinking so far. I'm thinking of 3/4" CPVC for rigidity. The reflector rods will be drilled through the taller frame. I might consider 1/2" PVC for the upper frame that holds the elements.

Btw, I went back to Metal Supermarkets yesterday and picked up a short piece of 1/4" aluminum to complete the reflector rods.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

90 Degrees of Separation

I found a short piece of 3/4" PVC in the basement, so I decided to test the "Versatile Drill Guide" (below). This simple tool made it quite easy to drill perfect 90 degree holes through the center of the tubing. I anticipate this will really come in handy when mounting the 20 colinear reflector rods. As you can see in the video below, the result is a tight fit, where some force is required to position the rods, which will make the milimeter tolerances of the rod separations easier to attain.