XBMC + Xbox360 + Vista: Help me build a DVR.
January 5, 2009 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Help make my own DVR. I have basic cable, an Xbox with XBMC, and an Xbox 360 in the living room, and a Windows Vista desktop machine in the bedroom. I want to be able to record shows on a schedule and watch in the living room. What's the best way to do it?

More about my setup:

I have basic cable straight from the wall outlet and don't use any type of cable box. There is a cable outlet in the living room and in the bedroom.

The Xbox has the latest version of Xbox Media Center, while the 360 is stock. Both are on my wireless G network.

The Vista machine does not have any type of tuner card, although I am open to installing one if needed (if so, a recommendation would be great).

I want to be able schedule recordings either via the TV or computer (doesn't matter), and ultimately be able to watch any recording on demand via the living room TV.

I'm guessing I could achieve this with the 360 and Windows Media Center on the PC, but are there any other solutions available using the hardware I have at hand? Or is that the way to go? Any suggestions appreciated.
posted by iamisaid to Technology (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know of any options for using a USB tuner directly with an Xbox running XBMC, or a 360, for that matter. It might exist, but I haven't found any info on it.

What version of Vista? I believe that both Home Premium and Ultimate come with Vista Media Center. That plus a tuner card, or external (usb) tuner is all you'd need. You should be able to control and view it from from both the 360 and the XBMC.

If you don't have a version of Vista with Media Center then you could upgrade, or try one of the many alternatives. The commercial options, like SageTV, have the advantage of coming with subscriptions to Electronic Program Guide data so you don't have to worry about the fragility of a scraper. There are also a lot of free & open source options. Meedio/MeediOS, MediaPortal, GBPVR, and probably others. They usually get EPG data by scraping various sites, and as a result, it may break from time to time if the sites change.
posted by Good Brain at 5:34 PM on January 5, 2009

Absolutely. It's two issues: hooking the computer up to the xboxes and scheduling your downloads. The latter is considerably more complicated. For the connection, you can just set up Windows Media Player 11 (upgrade if you need to) to share a folder that contains all your stuff. You can also install TVersity, recent versions of Nero, and/or any of a few others.

As for the scheduling, I've never found a truly intuitive and consistent way that doesn't d/l multiple versions, so I do mine all by hand. The TVersity help forums can be helpful here.
posted by rhizome at 5:38 PM on January 5, 2009

Oh, I see about the recording now. Yes, you can get a basic tuner card that will come with VCR software. Something like a $70 PCI Card seems to be about the going rate for something with QAM/ATSC (HD stuff, Feb 17 or whenever). Same price as the converter boxes, go figure.
posted by rhizome at 5:46 PM on January 5, 2009

Try Beyond TV. I use it and love it.
posted by gjc at 6:43 PM on January 5, 2009

Are you open to downloading someone else's recording instead of capturing the video yourself?

If so, I highly recommend tvrss.net's RSS feeds. Each show gets a feed. Each time a new episode comes out the feed gets an update with a link to the torrent for the show. I'm on linux so I use pytvshows and rtorrent to get the files to download. I think the windows app uTorrent will download from rss too, but I can't confirm it myself.

Anyway, get your torrent app to save the files to a location shared over windows file sharing. Point the XBMC box at that location and enjoy. I can confirm that this part works great :)
posted by valadil at 7:34 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just set up a home theatre PC last month using Vista Premium and a bottom-of-the-line Hauppage tuner card. I was very impressed. It just works.

You are supposed to be able to access your media center PC from an XBox as a "Media Center Extender", but I've never tried it (my PC is in the living room).
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:02 PM on January 5, 2009

Could you get another older machine other than your Vista computer to use as a dedicated PVR? I use an older (like 3 year old) Athlon 2800 machine in conjunction with KnoppMyth. If you are using supported tuner hardware (I've used various Hauppauge PCI cards, they work very well and are inexpensive) setup is dead simple, literally a matter of getting the hardware in the machine, pulling down the .iso, burning it, then booting and answering a half dozen or so questions. Then on reboot, you go right in, set up your tuner card and your programming guide source (I use Schedules Direct for that), and you're off and running.

Regarding your Xboxes, there's a python script I use with my Xbox Original and XBMC to watch anything on the Myth box in XBMC which works quite well. So under this setup you could have the Myth box in your bedroom in a closet, and the Xbox does the actual playing of all the recorded shows. KnoppMyth also has an excellent web-based client for managing scheduling and so forth.
posted by barc0001 at 1:31 AM on January 6, 2009

« Older How to merge mp4 files without re-encoding?   |   Blog Archaeology! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.