Hauppauge Nova-T USB stick

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With a Hauppauge Nova-T USB stick you will be able to watch and record Freeview digital terrestrial broadcasts in the UK. Getting it all working on Mepis 8 was not that difficult, but there were a few things that need to be sorted out. The V4L-DVB wiki is the best source for understanding what you need to do, specially the "Having Trouble?" section


On top of a pretty standard Mepis 8 installation I installed the dvb-apps package using Synaptic. This includes a basic set of libraries, utilities and config files to setup and test DVB devices.

The first problem I hit was that when the USB stick was inserted it was recognized, but the system was not autocreating any devices in /dev/dvb, which is what I was expecting according to the V4L-DVB wiki. By checking /var/log/messages and /var/log/syslog (as root) to see what errors were reported when I plugged the stick in, I discovered that the system was trying to load a firmware driver but failing to find the file dvb-usb-dib0700-1.10.fw. The file was present, but apparently it needs to copied from /lib/firmware/dvb/ to /lib/firmware/. Once I'd done that there were no further errors in messages or syslog, and the DVB devices under /dev/dvb were correctly autocreated when the USB stick was plugged in.

According to the V4L-DVB wiki, the next step is to run the scan (or dvbscan) utility to find the channels and create a "channels.conf" file which is used by other applications. But these two scan programs both need something called an initial_scan_file, I think to specify in general what frequencies to search for channels. A large number of samples are provided in the dvb-apps package and installed to /usr/share/dvb/dvb-t/. However, the "digital switchover" in the UK means that a lot of these have changed, and my local transmitter group was not among the samples provided anyway. However, reading a bit further in the V4L-DVB wiki I found reference to a program called w_scan which can create an initial_scan_file that scan or dvbscan can use.

w_scan is not installable through Synaptic (at least I couldn't find it) so has to be downloaded from [wirbel.htpc-forum.de/w_scan/index2.html this archive]. It contains the source and a ready compiled binary file, so all you need to do after downloading and unpacking the archive is to copy the w_scan binary file to somewhere on your PATH (eg /usr/bin). w_scan has some simple documentation with it and there is more information on how to use it on the V4L-DVB wiki.

I ran the command w_scan -x -c GB > tuning.data to generate the initial tuning data file for (dvb)scan. This takes several minutes to search all possible frequencies, but provides plenty of feedback on what it is doing. At the end of the scanning process, w_scan generates a file that can be used by the scan program.

So, following the general guidance on V4L-DVB wiki I next ran the commands mkdir ~/.tzap and scan tuning.data > ~/.tzap/channels.conf to create a "channels.conf" file. This is a plain text file, and if you view it in a text editor you should recognise a channel name at the start of each line. (I'm not sure if the directory ~/.tzap is necessary, but that's what the V4L-DVB wiki says.)

This was looking good! So I fired up Xine and clicked the DVB button, but just got an error message. On investigating, it appears that Xine expects to find a channels.conf file in ~/.xine. So copy channels.conf from ~/.tzap to ~/.xine. Fire up Xine again, and click the DVB button. After the few seconds it took to buffer the stream from the device I was finally watching Freeview! You change channels using Xine's playlist window.

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