DIY Slingbox

[David] took some interesting steps to put together his own Slingbox-ish setup. He used a Mac mini running Quicktime Broadcaster to capture the stream from a Firewire video camera which his cable/satellite receiver is plugged into. You’ll have to use an OS X machine, but that’s not too difficult these days. Broadcaster is about the simplest way to capture from Firewire and stream. We’re using it in our own office to multicast the signal from a Canadian satellite box.

19 thoughts on “DIY Slingbox

  1. I would think something like MPEG4IP, Helix server, or Darwin Streaming Server would be a little more robust than this. This isn’t really even a hack as much as it is a software how-to.

    I agree with liam that this probably isn’t a true multicasting scenario. That has to be enabled at the router. Also seeing that video and audio are on entirely different IP addresses (why?!?!) means this isn’t typical mulitcasting. You should be broadcasting as a SPTS with audio and video muxed together as separate PIDs.

  2. Forget Helix… just plain free Windows Media Encoder grabbing output from any video source and a USB or Serial IR device (or remote like my Logitech Harmony 880, which is programmable from the web).

    orrrrr, just drop a hundred or so on a slingbox and be done with it. Thats way cheaper than buying a dedicated video camera you then cant take with you on the very trip you’re away on, unable to stand to watch Mythbusters at EST airing not PST airing or whatever.

  3. Neat! a way to make a $599.00 slingbox!

    I’ll buy a real one for $98.00 instead.

    What’s next a hack to make a Geo metro from $190,000 of BMW and Mercedes parts?

  4. Did any of you whiners actually read the article? Hes not buying $160,000 of bmw parts to make a metro, he has them lying around and is doing something useful with them.

    It was a dusty old camera he no longer uses. The mac mini is under his TV already, I assume as a media system or whatnot. He stuck them together, used free software that is available, and got himself streaming video.

    All he needs now is to implement a remote control. That shouldn’t be too difficult a usb to serial dongle (if they work on OSX), or a PIC w/usb support. I would recommend that over the original idea of the tvLINK thing he linked to, because then he will still be able to operate it over the internet.

  5. The whole point of the slingbox in my opinion is so you dont have to have a hot power sucking PC or Mac switched on all the time ready to capture and retransmit video!
    The slingbox claims a whole lot less energy than a full on PC and it sits totally silently under my TV! Remember to be worthwhile, it needs to be running 24/7/365, you dont want to have to remember to plug the thing in, boot it up, and start the capture software, and you really dont want to leave it running forever wearing an expensive computer down doing nowt and making a loud noise over time as the fans pick up house dust.
    Before I bought a slingbox I used to do the video capture / encoding thing on computer, but it was very immature at the time (about 3 or 4 years back) especially when trying it with a cheap arsed Hauppauge analogue capture card – there was no facility for retransmitting video, but I sorted something out and got remote viewing going, but then there was no facility to change TV channels remotely, or control other devices such as your DVR / DVD player.
    Slingbox is just perfick for that sort of thing – I have mine routed thru my DVR, so I can watch a DVD, watch hard disk recorded content, watch on my Windows Mobile phone via HSDPA, and timeshift live TV with it!
    The mobile version is very cool, its not ideal, the handset gets quite warm as its constantly receiving data and processing it, I find it most useful for just starting up my DVR, setting a channel for recording something I forgot to set up at home, making sure my sky box hasn’t crashed, then watching it later on on TV.
    Very powerful kit all in all, but it does have its limitations – at a certain firmware revision they chose to encrypt the video, and you can only watch it with their proprietary software.

  6. @ atrain: It’s a bulky, ineffcient solution using essentially off-the-shelf parts to accomplish something that is better acheived by something that can be bought for less than two hours’ pay.

    It may work, but I’d say he’d be better off selling that equipment lying around for a few bucks on eBay and then just buying the slingbox… maybe even get a used one on eBay so it feels more dangerous or whatever.

  7. The point of hacking, or, is not to just throw things together to prevent having to buy commercial products; it is about doing it well. If you can put together your own solution that works better (or at least as well) as a commercial solution and do it cheaper, than that is a hack.

    On the other hand, if your solution it more complicated and less functional than cheaply available commercial alternatives, you are either unintentionally wasting your time and resources or are simply elitist to the point of delusion. There is nothing wrong with using a commercial product, especially when it works quite well.

  8. @tom:
    I agree with you wholeheartedly, and the latter part of your post was where my original comment came from-

    “On the other hand, if your solution it more complicated and less functional than cheaply available commercial alternatives, you are either unintentionally wasting your time and resources or are simply elitist to the point of delusion.”

    – I am all for true hacks, particularly when they provide an elegant, noncommercial, and efficient solution. I admire and endeavor to retain that spirit. However, one could describe a Rube Goldberg illustration as a technical hack, but no sane person would really involve things like bowling balls and elephants while automating the process of pouring a bowl of cereal.

  9. Ok, this is great, but I’d like to see someone do the opposite — make a set top box that connects to a video source over the network or internet and plays it on the TV _without a PC_.

    Ideally, I’d like to be able to send remote commands over the net to the transmitting box (channel change, play/stop, etc.).

    Has anyone heard of this?

  10. Nice concept but it seems to me like mythtv would do this better. Install one or more video capture devices (tv, sat, etc) and have a full remote control tv ‘casting’ setup. log in to it from any computer on the network and watch live or recorded video and with a little ingenuity you can use LIRC to change channels from any remote workstation. Imagine the remote control wars you could have if someone else in the household wants desparately to watch something different ! but still, mythtv is freely available and it’s in pretty good shape so far. If you need to, it would be trivial to use this mythtv linux server to echo the remote controls to your external sat receiver as well as a sat card in the box. A bit of scripting and a minor amount of programming (it don’t look like something too complex) and it would be way versatile. all the hardware to do this is available and Linux has more than enough “free” software to make this work quite well.

  11. MythTV works great for sending/receiving over the LAN, but I haven’t seen anyone get it to use other than raw video streams over the network. Will the MythTV server transcode the data stream to something less data intensive before it sends it over the network?

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