24-port GPIO on a PCI card

btgpio

So you’ve got a project running on an x86 board and you’d like some GPIO pins. Whether you want to read a few buttons, light up a few LEDs, put an accelerometer in your computer or whatever, you’ve got a problem. Luckily there’s an easy way to get 24 GPIO pins on an x86 board using a PCI card for just a few bucks.

The key component of the build is a PCI TV Tuner card made by Hauppague under the WinTV brand. If you’ve got one of these cards with either a Brooktree bt848, bt849, bt878 or bt879 video capture chip, having 24 GPIO pins is just a spool of magnet wire, a soldering iron, and a steady hand away.

It’s a great build if you’d like some GPIO action without going through the usual parallel port mess, and especially useful since these WinTV capture cards can be had from the usual Internet suppliers for just a few bucks. You’ll need a driver, of course, but the relevant Linux kernel driver – bt8xxgpio – should be included any reasonably modern distro.

Special thanks to [Dex Hamilton] for notifying us of this build.

Digital tuner reverse engineering

hvr-1600-i2c-sniffing

Hackaday alum [Ian Lesnet] tipped us off about some reverse engineering of the HVR-1600, an analog and digital television encoder/tuner. The project was spawned when [Devin] noticed his Hauppauge HVR-1600 didn’t tune channels in Linux quite as well as it did in Windows. He had a hunch this was due to improper initialization settings for either the tuner chip or the demodulator.

To fix this he used two test points on the board to tap into the I2C bus. Using a logic analyzer he captured the command traffic from the bus while running Linux, then while running Windows. By filtering the results with a bit of Perl, and comparing them by using diff, he tracks down and finds the variation in the commands being sent by the two drivers. After a bit of poking around in the Linux source and making the necessary changes, he improved the tuning ability of the Linux package.

[Devin's] work looks simple enough, and it is. The difficult part of this process is being smart enough to know what you’re looking for, and what you’ve got once you’ve found it.

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