Custom Video Streaming Box

There are a lot of options out today for streaming video to your Internet-connected devices. Whether it’s Hulu, Netflix, Slingbox, or the late Aereo, there is no shortage of ways to get your TV fix. However, [Jaruzel] wasn’t happy with any of these services and wanted a more custom solution, so he built his own TV-streaming box out of hardware he had lying around.

[Jaruzel] gets TV from a service called SkyTV, but wanted to be able to stream it to his tablet, laptop, and XBMC. While rummaging through his parts bin, he came up with a WinTV tuner card for capturing TV and a Mini-ITX board to process everything and stream it out over his network.

Once the computer was put in a custom enclosure, [Jaruzel] got to work installing Puppy Linux. He wrote a boot script that configures the WinTV card and then starts VLC to handle the streaming service which allows him to view the TV stream over HTTP on the network. This is a great hack that would presumably work for any TV stream you can find, even if it’s just an over-the-air source.

25 thoughts on “Custom Video Streaming Box

  1. Guy built a computer from parts lying around, tacked on Linux, XMBC. and a shell script to make them work together…

    I’m sorry, maybe I’m just overdue for new glasses, but I’m not seeing the hack here.

    On the other hand, I’m happy to see Puppy Linux get mentioned. I’m a full time Puppian myself… it’s great stuff :D

  2. I’m with ya here, starhawk. I’ve been doing just this for years and years. I happen to use windows, android, iOS, and a few laptops / set top boxes to get the job done. I’ve got a main server that stores everything, 10tb manually organized every so often. A tv tuner, and a comcast connection. Whole setup went to crap a few months back though due to comcast now requiring a set top box for each connection. Had a dual tv tuner in there that now no longer works (gee, thanks comcast). I have a VPN set up for streaming on the road as well. I just grab my android tv minix box and go. Anywhere I have wifi, I have all my tv / movies / tunes. Also works through my iPhone. I’ve streamed full 1080p over 4g before, but it did take a few (read lot) buffer pauses.

    In conclusion, this is not hackaday material. It’s more of a filler post for some n00b.

  3. It’s a bummer that the best parts of the hack are left out, I am sure it was no walk in the park getting those ancient looking parts playing nicely with each other. Also I commend him for using what he had freely available as opposed to buying a pre-built solution, very hacker esque.

  4. Heck 80% of the content here is not considered a ‘hack’ by at least somebody. just because they’ve already done a similar thing or even just had the idea of doing it..
    I read HaD to get inspiration for my own projects.. This is a perfect example! I just happen to have the same part lying around in the bin and I want a setup like that. Thank you [Jaruzel] and HaD for bringing this to my attention.. And seriously – just move on if you don’t think it ‘worthy’ of a feature..

  5. Guys,
    I see no big issue here.

    Hacking is hacking.

    Some hacking is impressive, some is pretty basic, ok, but the spirit is exactly the same, and every little attempt at bending electronic/mechanic stuff to our will has to be appreciated, no matter what.

    I am a noob myself and even I went “meh” with this one, but I still appreciate the accomplishment rush he surely felt when the project was done.

    It didn’t deserve an article? Should we set a “geekiness” thereshold? are we walking down the “elitarian path” here? No way guys, no way.

    Just enjoy doing what you do, and let us noobs enjoy our little victories, will you?

    Furthermore, why don’t we give him hints and suggestions on how to make his new toy even better?

    Spread teh luv!
    S.

  6. [Jaruzel] here. I explictly said in my email submission that I wasn’t an uber-hacker, and if they felt that my little project wasn’t HaD worthy, then I’d be perfectly fine with that.

    I have a LONG trail of failed of hardware hacks behind me, I can solder, I know basic electronics, but that’s about it. I read HaD daily and get blown away by some of the amazing stuff you guys do – One of these days I’ll up my game, and be truely HaD worthy ;)

    In answer to Ricksl (and others). Getting the OS and driver combo was a bit tricky, as the board is epia M12000 with rubbishy CPU on it – 90% of modern distros wont even boot on it. I settled on Puppy as I quite like how it’s built – it doesn’t try to be a with-the-kitchen-sink distro – It’ll give you X, and beyond that your are on your own. So it’s easier than most to just strip back. Also, I’m not a Linux guru, else I would have rolled my own micro-distro which is the obvious way to do it. The WinTV card has basic drivers and utils out on the interwebs but were tricky to dig up as a puppy install, and the VLC config was a doddle as you’d expect. I had to ‘hack’ a lot of puppys startup scripts, so that it’d still boot back into VLC after sudden power loss (normally after a dirty shutdown it just drops to a shell prompt).

    The point for me was, it cost me almost nothing to get SkyTV anywhere on my network – which I count as a win. :D

    1. TBH, Puppy is a bit ‘hackish’ to begin with. Speaking as a Puppian (as mentioned above, I use it as my daily driver OS)… Puppy has not changed much in its core (the stuff that’s uniquely Puppy), since version 2.14 or so. Those startup scripts are only different in that support for newer tech has been tacked on. Same with the shutdown scripts. There ARE a few new features here and there, and starting with the 5xx series, Puppy became a derivative distro (well, a mostly-compatible-with-others distro, really) — but the central-to-everything base is almost all shell script and it’s basically 2.14 with support for newer hardware/software. Mind you, we’ll be rolling out the 6xx Puppies soon…

      Wart on a wart on a… well, at this point you almost can’t find the toad underneath anymore! But hey, it works. If it ain’t broke… ;)

  7. VLC is a particularly heavy way to stream from a TV tuner. But it is easy and I’m not sure how well tvheadend works with these analogue cards.

    Also SVideo is a bit of a weird choise to me. It never really took off in the UK. But any analogue solution is going to look awful.

    Since you’re breaking the TOS anyway, you could always just use your SKY card in a DVB-S tuner with CI. The software to run that kind of setup does edge on the dodgy side, but the digital quality would be much better and you could probably pickup a low profile DVB-S tuner with CI for close to £18 if you kept an eye on eBay – since everyone is after PCIE and DVB-S2 these days.

    1. I find VLC a bit too beta for something that has been around for so long and went through so many versions.
      And the weird thing is that in older versions some things worked better than in current versions.

      But hey it has unique capabilities on windows and you gotta use what you got. and I’m glad there still is something that does what VLC does.

  8. For those looking for an inexpensive out-of-the box solution for SD quality streaming, I use a $40 H.264 smartphone compatible security DVR without a hard drive. It streams two of my satellite receivers with audio on channels one and two, and then a front and back porch camera on the other two channels. Works great, does four simultaneous channels, requires no maintenance, has hardware compression, and draws almost no power. Also, the last two spare SD Slingboxes that I had I sold on eBay for about $20 each so there is also that option if your need remote control…

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