Multiple Hauppauge Colossus cards -- pre- and post-recording behavior? (1 Viewer)

Karyudo

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January 26, 2008
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Can anybody tell me if MediaPortal correctly manages one (or two) Colossus card(s) to produce nicely-padded recordings of back-to-back shows on the same channel?

Some background:

I currently use NextPVR to run a TV server for XBMC. I've got two Shaw HD Motorola boxes running into two Colossuses (component HD, with 5.1 AC3 over S/PDIF, and channel-changing via FireWire). I've also got an ATSC OTA card. After countless hours of messing around, and lots of assistance from the fine folks on the NextPVR forums, everything works pretty nicely -- but not perfectly.

With the single OTA card, if I schedule two back-to-back programs on a single channel (e.g. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, on CTV) with some pre- and post-recording, I get two perfect recordings. Both the first show and second show have pre- and post-rolls. This is something that Windows Media Center could NOT do, so I'm pretty happy with this improved behaviour from NextPVR.

With a single Colossus card, if I schedule two back-to-back programs on a single channel (e.g. Disaster DIY and Income Property, on HGTV) with some pre- and post-recording, I get two imperfect recordings (just like I would with Windows Media Center). The first show has a pre-roll, and the second show has a post-roll, but there's a hard cut between the two that fouls up one of the two recordings, depending on where the real break between shows is.

Worse, this behaviour with the Colossus DOES NOT CHANGE even if I have two independent cards with independent HD sources! When padded recordings are scheduled back-to-back from a single channel, even with two Colossus cards, NextPVR completely ignores the idle Colossus that could record one of the shows, and fouls up the post-roll on the first show and pre-roll on the second show exactly as in the single-Colossus case!

The NextPVR developer, sub, has acknowledged this behavior of his software, but has not yet made any moves to change it. (In New Zealand, where he's from, apparently almost everything comes via DVB, so the nicely-optimized OTA-style scheduling works perfectly.)

What I want, of course, is the same sort of behavior for the Colossus as the OTA card: nicely padded back-to-back shows from one channel, from one Colossus. The next best thing would be nicely padded shows by way of distribution across two Colossuses.

In reading a good portion of the 98-page Support thread, I see that there are some people running more than one Colossus. I sure hope one or more of you has some insight into this...?
 

mm1352000

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    Hello Karyudo

    Can anybody tell me if MediaPortal correctly manages one (or two) Colossus card(s) to produce nicely-padded recordings of back-to-back shows on the same channel?
    Should do. If it doesn't it would be considered a bug.

    With the single OTA card, if I schedule two back-to-back programs on a single channel (e.g. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, on CTV) with some pre- and post-recording, I get two perfect recordings. Both the first show and second show have pre- and post-rolls. This is something that Windows Media Center could NOT do, so I'm pretty happy with this improved behaviour from NextPVR.
    MediaPortal should also do what N-PVR does.

    With a single Colossus card, if I schedule two back-to-back programs on a single channel (e.g. Disaster DIY and Income Property, on HGTV) with some pre- and post-recording, I get two imperfect recordings (just like I would with Windows Media Center). The first show has a pre-roll, and the second show has a post-roll, but there's a hard cut between the two that fouls up one of the two recordings, depending on where the real break between shows is.
    With MediaPortal I'd tentatively say that both recordings should get pre and post. I think it depends a bit on how the blaster and STB work. If the blaster re-blasts to the STB when the second recording starts then it might inject a short glitch in the first recording. I'd like to say it would "just work" but I can't be 100% sure.

    Worse, this behaviour with the Colossus DOES NOT CHANGE even if I have two independent cards with independent HD sources! When padded recordings are scheduled back-to-back from a single channel, even with two Colossus cards, NextPVR completely ignores the idle Colossus that could record one of the shows, and fouls up the post-roll on the first show and pre-roll on the second show exactly as in the single-Colossus case!
    Hmmm, that is a little odd. I guess it is an N-PVR quirk or design limitation.

    The NextPVR developer, sub, has acknowledged this behavior of his software, but has not yet made any moves to change it. (In New Zealand, where he's from, apparently almost everything comes via DVB, so the nicely-optimized OTA-style scheduling works perfectly.)
    I note I'm also from New Zealand. ;)
    I don't know sub personally and I don't think I've ever communicated directly with him, but from reading his comments in various places he seems like a nice enough guy. If he says he'll fix something then I'd take his word for it. I'd be surprised if he doesn't intend to fix the problem eventually, but if you need a solution "yesterday" I guess you want to look at other options.

    What I want, of course, is the same sort of behavior for the Colossus as the OTA card: nicely padded back-to-back shows from one channel, from one Colossus. The next best thing would be nicely padded shows by way of distribution across two Colossuses.
    Yep, understood. :)

    In reading a good portion of the 98-page Support thread, I see that there are some people running more than one Colossus. I sure hope one or more of you has some insight into this...?
    I don't own a Colossus or an HD-PVR, but I know the relevant code as well as anybody working on TV Server. I'm 90% confident that MP should do what you want. You've got nothing to lose (except time of course) trying MP, so I'd encourage you to give MP a trial. :)

    mm
     

    Karyudo

    Portal Member
    January 26, 2008
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    Thanks for the quick reply!

    I didn't mean to imply that sub was anything less than a nice guy, or that NextPVR wasn't less than stellar. But sub said that the way it's written, it would take quite a cumbersome rewrite of a bunch of stuff in order to get things working the way I outlined, which wasn't his first (or second, or third...) priority. The latest version of NextPVR just came out, and I'm tempted to try it, but the changelog didn't mention anything about re-writing the "how to assign recording to two Colossus cards" portion, so I figure maybe I'll give something else a shot first.

    I used MediaPortal way back (at least 7 or 8 years ago, I think, based on where I was living when I used it?) so I knew where to turn next...

    I was about 80% sure I'd try MP again even with no response, so your reply has elevated that to near 100%. Still wouldn't mind hearing actual hands-on experiences from Colossus users, in addition to theoretical info from a dev.

    One tangentially-related question: Can MP handle channel-changing on my Motorola STBs via the Tim Moore FireWire driver (Win7 32-bit)?
     

    mm1352000

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    One tangentially-related question: Can MP handle channel-changing on my Motorola STBs via the Tim Moore FireWire driver (Win7 32-bit)?
    I'm not sure. MP doesn't natively support external external tuners. There are various blaster plugins available depending on your needs and hardware. Of these, the IRSS TVE3 Blaster plugin is (at least as I understand it) the most widely used. My impression is that it is mostly designed for IR blasting rather than Firewire but I could be wrong.

    How does N-PVR interact with this Firewire driver?
     

    Karyudo

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    January 26, 2008
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    The FireWire driver is installed, and then there's a Sage (?) plugin that allows arguments to be passed to it that actually takes care of the channel-changing. N-PVR lets you choose the channel-changing module (I seem to recall that even the "internal" changer is addressed this way?) for each channel. So once you've written the text file (batch file? .ini? can't remember) for channel-changing, all you've got to do is tell N-PVR to use that as the channel changer, rather than the internal one. Pretty simple and elegant, I thought.

    Then again, setting the input for video (HDMI/component) and audio (stereo/optical) seemed annoyingly clunky, so I guess you take the bad with the good.
     

    Karyudo

    Portal Member
    January 26, 2008
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    I installed MP 1.50 today and did some testing. Windows 7 32-bit, 2x Hauppauge Colossus, 1x ATSC tuner, 2x Motorola 6200 STBs. Some results:

    1. I couldn't figure out how to install only the TVServer portion and still be able to load plugins (e.g. for EPG via SchedulesDirect), so I had to go back and reinstall with a full "single seat" installation.
    2. MP found the ATSC card and Colossus crossbars right away. So I got video from all sources pretty much immediately. That was a pleasant surprise.
    3. I can't figure out how to set audio input properly. Yet.
    4. I can't figure out how to get SageChanger.exe (upgrade to the timmoore STB FireWire "channel.exe") to do the channel changing. Yet.
    5. Ran a test, setting recordings for two back-to-back shows with pre- and post-roll from a single channel, available on both Colossus cards: success! Both shows seem to have come from the same STB, and both are correctly padded.

    I'm going to have at least one more hurdle, I think, and that is to find out whether MP re-sends the channel change between two back-to-back shows on the same channel. I sure hope not. Because if it does, then the OSD of the STB will appear and be recorded!
     

    mm1352000

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    Hello again

    1. I couldn't figure out how to install only the TVServer portion and still be able to load plugins (e.g. for EPG via SchedulesDirect), so I had to go back and reinstall with a full "single seat" installation.
    Yeah, TV Server and MP1 were designed to be installed together in most cases. For future reference you can change the extension of MPEI files to ZIP and extract the DLLs you need that way.

    2. MP found the ATSC card and Colossus crossbars right away. So I got video from all sources pretty much immediately. That was a pleasant surprise.
    That's the easy bit. ;)

    3. I can't figure out how to set audio input properly. Yet.
    You mentioned SchedulesDirect. On the advanced tab of the SchedulesDirect plugin there should be settings for the video and audio source. Refer to the mapping here for Colossus and HD-PVR:
    https://forum.team-mediaportal.com/mediaportal-1-talk-45/hauppauge-hd-pvr-colossus-support-94850/

    You can also do it by editing each channel manually:
    http://wiki.team-mediaportal.com/1_...or_Edit_a_Channel#Editing_an_existing_channel

    ...or by exporting the channel list and using a text editor to edit the XML file as appropriate, then reimporting.
    ...or by modifying the contents of the database directly with an SQL client.

    I recommend the 1st option if using SD. Note you need to delete and reimport the channels with the correct settings.
    The 3rd are 4th options are the best for the technically confident. The 2nd option is time consuming and therefore should be considered as a last resort.

    Sing out if you want specific help with one of these options. :)

    4. I can't figure out how to get SageChanger.exe (upgrade to the timmoore STB FireWire "channel.exe") to do the channel changing. Yet.
    Personally I think this is where you're most likely to come unstuck. The one reference I remember seeing to "Tim Moore" is here:
    https://forum.team-mediaportal.com/threads/using-tim-moore-firestb-setup.119002/

    I have no idea how that ended as the OP never responded.
    However, a quick search reveals this:
    https://forum.team-mediaportal.com/...gram-for-firewire-stb-channel-changing.54685/

    I'm no expert with blasting so you're going to need help from other people here... or to fend for yourself a bit.

    5. Ran a test, setting recordings for two back-to-back shows with pre- and post-roll from a single channel, available on both Colossus cards: success! Both shows seem to have come from the same STB, and both are correctly padded.
    Great! I thought that would work. :)

    I'm going to have at least one more hurdle, I think, and that is to find out whether MP re-sends the channel change between two back-to-back shows on the same channel. I sure hope not. Because if it does, then the OSD of the STB will appear and be recorded!
    If it does I would consider the blaster plugin to be responsible. The advantage of open source is that you can modify it. Such a change should be relatively straightforward even for a novice coder. :)

    mm
     

    Karyudo

    Portal Member
    January 26, 2008
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    That guide isn't bad, but it uses timmoore's original software, instead of the improved SageChanger.exe. So the switches / parameters are different.

    I've tried setting up IRSS to use SageChanger, but have had less than satisfactory results. For example, MP/IRSS seems to want to send each digit of a channel change as a separate command, rather than taking the channel as a single argument and blasting it all at once with one command. So do I put the -p switch for SageChanger.exe (which ensures the STB is powered on before changing the channel) in the parameter section for every single digit? No, that doesn't work properly. Should I put it in the Pre-Change section? Nope, that doesn't seem to work correctly, either. Somehow, this combination causes my STB to freak out and not change the channel correctly about 50% of the time. It might work better with timmoore's original channel.exe, but then I'd lose the "make sure the STB power is on" parameter of SageChanger.

    It's sort of annoying that something that NextPVR allows me to do easily and reliably -- i.e., change channels on my STBs via FireWire with SageChanger -- MediaPortal (via IRSS) doesn't do well at all.

    Who's the right person to talk to about helping to develop support for SageChanger under IRSS, say? Or is there any such person?
     

    mm1352000

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    I've tried setting up IRSS to use SageChanger, but have had less than satisfactory results. For example, MP/IRSS seems to want to send each digit of a channel change as a separate command, rather than taking the channel as a single argument and blasting it all at once with one command.
    IRSS and its TVE 3 blaster plugin would be responsible for that. From what little I know, IRSS is designed for conventional blasters. For that reason I guess that in most cases it makes sense to send each digit separately. I have no idea if it is possible to configure IRSS to send all digits together...

    So do I put the -p switch for SageChanger.exe (which ensures the STB is powered on before changing the channel) in the parameter section for every single digit? No, that doesn't work properly. Should I put it in the Pre-Change section? Nope, that doesn't seem to work correctly, either. Somehow, this combination causes my STB to freak out and not change the channel correctly about 50% of the time. It might work better with timmoore's original channel.exe, but then I'd lose the "make sure the STB power is on" parameter of SageChanger.
    I understand your confusion/frustration and I'm sorry that I don't have any answers for you. You're squarely in IRSS territory there. TV Server and IRSS are separate applications and for all intents and purposes developed by different people. TV Server is what I work on. I've never used a blaster let alone IRSS so I'm well and truly out of my area of expertise...

    It's sort of annoying that something that NextPVR allows me to do easily and reliably -- i.e., change channels on my STBs via FireWire with SageChanger -- MediaPortal (via IRSS) doesn't do well at all.
    I hear your frustration and I sympathise. I'd freely acknowledge that N-PVR probably has an edge over MP here. MP was not designed to support blasting at all. Therefore it is not unusual or unexpected to find that it is more difficult (or maybe not possible) to make MP do something that N-PVR can do.

    Who's the right person to talk to about helping to develop support for SageChanger under IRSS, say? Or is there any such person?
    Quite honestly: I don't know. My feeling from a quick glance at the forum section is that IRSS is not being actively developed or supported. Note: I see you've started a thread there; that is probably the right approach.

    Is SageChanger open source? (...and if so, where is the source code?)
    Does SageChanger just call channel.exe, or does it send commands directly to the STB?
     

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