unRAID DVR Setup and Discussion


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I have decided to invest in an HDHomeRun. My wife is a voracious PVRer, and we currently own a TIVO like device called Moxi. But it is end-of-life and I need another option. Thought others might be considering also, and I'd set up this thread to discuss various aspects of how to accomplish. Considering Plex DVR.

 

First of all, I do expect WAF to be low unless Plex ups its game. She will hate not being able to record life tv. She will also hate the guide. I am hoping the Plex will enhance their offering to include a more PVR type viewing experience, where you can play and pause live TV, and the PVR features are integrated with live TV viewing. Maybe there are better options?

 

Anyway - to support the Plex PVR, I am considering a couple options:

 

1 - Writing PVR data directly to the protected array. Pretty much decided not to do this. It will mean slow writes of the large recorded files. And I am expecting a lot of turnover (most of the stuff I am not interested in keeping long term).

 

2 - Writing PVR data to a disk mounted outside the array. Liking this option. I can put a 4T or even 6T drive in there, share it over Samba, and have Plex write just to that. She can use it all.

 

3 - Implementing a new unRAID server just for Plex DVR, and run it as a Plex instance separate from the one i use for movies. I am a little concerned that all of the PVR write activity is going to affect my network performance. I think if I put the HDHomeRun and the second server on their own switch, that I can avoid the traffic hitting my network and keep it very isolated. I'd like to be able to set up the DVR to transcode to the recordings to x264 automaticfally, but PLEX said you need a "fast CPU". Not sure what that means. Is that 2000 Passmark, 5000 Passmark, or 10,000 Passmark? Might try using one of my old HTPC box which is a 2.8GHz Core2Duo. With three tuners I expect she'll be keeping them busy once the Moxi dies.

 

Feel free to pitch in if are considering moving to Plex or another DVR setup. This is intended to be an open discussion.

 

 

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I use the Docker Open Source version of SageTV.  You can watch live TV as well as record for later viewing (what I do with everything).  SageTV is an integrated solution for playback and can playback BluRays and DVDs from ripped folders (if using a full client or HD200/HD300 extenders).  There is also an android client that works on many playback devices like ShieldTV/MiBox for instance.  To playback BluRays or DVDs with the android client you need to rip to MKV or other single file format.  I use multiple recording drives assigned outside the array with Unassigned Devices but I know other SageTV users record to their cache drive or even directly to the array.  I don't do that because then the drives associated with recording plus the parity drives are always spun up.  I have a VM running the Windows version of SageTV that records all the local new shows to the cache drive before mover moves them to the array on a daily bases.  I keep 14 days worth of recordings so that I can go back that far to catch a story if needed.  SageTV keeps track of this and deletes any recordings older than 14 days for me.  Except for my BluRay and DVD rips every media file I have has been recorded by SageTV over the past 13 years (I'm a digital hoarder).

 

There are lots of options available for PVR software besides SageTV and PlexDVR so I'm sure others will chime in with their preferences but for me SageTV was best.  It was the only one I could find at the time that ran on Windows and allowed multiple tuner devices to be used simultaneously (something that is standard on all PVRs now).

Edited by BobPhoenix
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And here's another big vote for SageTV, except I have to confess I'm still running it on a Windows station, an older version too, so rather useless for advice here.  I've been depending on it since January 2005, somewhat of a digital hoarder myself.  I was excited by the open sourcing of SageTV, but haven't kept up with it in awhile.  Need to.

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1 hour ago, RobJ said:

And here's another big vote for SageTV, except I have to confess I'm still running it on a Windows station, an older version too, so rather useless for advice here.  I've been depending on it since January 2005, somewhat of a digital hoarder myself.  I was excited by the open sourcing of SageTV, but haven't kept up with it in awhile.  Need to.

The unRAID docker is probably the easiest SageTV setup there is.

 

I hope you heard about the EPG going away for non open source versions (pre version 9) this summer?  To get EPG after the original built in EPG goes away you need to setup an account on Schedules Direct if you don't want to resort to XMLTV input that is used in a lot of places outside of the US.  Also Schedules Direct has been adding schedules for UK and other places that can now be used with the open source version so even outside the US XMLTV is no longer needed to get EPG in many locations.  You just setup an account at Schedules Direct and up to 4 lineups and then choose the Schedules Direct option when you setup a Tuner in SageTV.  It will ask you for your Schedules Direct account name and your password.  Once entered the user name and password do not need to be entered again if they remain the same.  You can have up to 4 lineups on your account and with SageTV you can copy one of those lineups to each tuner individually to provide the ability to enable and disable channels on a per tuner basis.  Just like with the original EPG that has been with it since version 2.0 back when I first started with SageTV in late 2004 .

Edited by BobPhoenix
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I am interested in wg's question as well.

 

I used to run SageTV prior to Moxi, when cable channels were in the clear. I have an HDhomerun box with no slot for cablecard that I used to use.

 

Just after, SageTV was sold and it sort of shutdown. I did not realize that it was still available.

 

Even so - I'd prefer to jump into a wagon where there is active development, but if this is the best solution out there, would certainly consider it.

 

It's been a while, is SageTV accessible as as DLNA server?

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The only thing that can record from a protected channel is Windows Media Center because it has the licenses and the closed recording and playback path.  The recordings can be DRM'd the way the providers want so that playback is only possible on that box and no where else.  But many cable company's only protect the premium channels like HBO, Showtime... etc.  So there are lots of people using SageTV to record from the unprotected channels which might be everything else.  There are also cable companies that protect every channel they supply.  The only way to tell is to check with other users in your area on the same supplier.  You can check some other forums for posts and SiliconDust (HDHR) is also a source of what is available as users have given them channels listings.  SageTV as well as Myth, NextPVR can all use the HDHR primes I believe but once again the only software that I know of that will record protected content is Windows Media Center.

 

What I do is use a Hauppauge Colossus card (windows only) or HD-PVR (linux or Windows) with SageTV to record premium channels like HBO from STBs.  Only way I know to do it without using Windows Media Center.  I don't care for the DRM that would be present that would limit me to that box for playback so I use the analog loop hole that recording in 1080i from a HDPVR allows.

 

Edit just realized you might be able to use the HDHR DVR software to record the DRM'd channels too so that might be an option for you if you don't want to use something like a HDPVR.  But I'm sure there are some gotcha's with the HDHR DVR as well I just don't know what they are because I don't use it.

Edited by BobPhoenix
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6 hours ago, BobPhoenix said:

What I do is use a Hauppauge Colossus card (windows only) or HD-PVR (linux or Windows) with SageTV to record premium channels like HBO from STBs.  Only way I know to do it without using Windows Media Center.  I don't care for the DRM that would be present that would limit me to that box for playback so I use the analog loop hole that recording in 1080i from a HDPVR allows.

@BobPhoenix

Thanks for this. I had read some posts with similar info, but they were all rather old.

 

I'm curious how you handle channel changing on the STB? Currently I'm using EyeTV software on one of my Macs connected to a STB via HauppagePVR and iRed software to operate a IR transmitter, but this isn't very dependable. I'm constantly DVRing the wrong channel. Main reason I'm looking for another solution.

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On 3/12/2017 at 7:02 AM, wgstarks said:

 

@BobPhoenix

Thanks for this. I had read some posts with similar info, but they were all rather old.

 

I'm curious how you handle channel changing on the STB? Currently I'm using EyeTV software on one of my Macs connected to a STB via HauppagePVR and iRed software to operate a IR transmitter, but this isn't very dependable. I'm constantly DVRing the wrong channel. Main reason I'm looking for another solution.

I use HTTP tuning to my DirecTV boxes.  SageTV will also use serial (RS232) to change DirecTV boxes.  If you have cable and it has HTTP you can use it with SageTV.  And last is a USB-UIRT and IR.  When I had cable I used a USB-UIRT to tune and taped transmitters over the IR sensor on the cable box with electrical tape.  Had very few miss tunes that way but with HTTP tuning I can only think of one time I got the wrong channel and that was probably my fault anyway.

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I got my HDhomerun up and running. Verizon FIOS activation dept was friendly and diligent, but still took 30+ minutes to get it activated. The fact that my computer didn't have the right video drivers for the base HDHomeRun app, caused the last 5 minute delay For others, you should see "Card Authorization" and "Card Validation" both showing "success" on the HDHomeRun setup app. It took a long while to get the validation step. Having the HdHomeRrun able to perform a channel scan is not sufficient! 

 

BTW, you might notice attractive pricing on CableCards on eBay, but word is they will not work on most (all?) cable company systems. It is not a technical issue, but companies want those $5/month payments and allow only cards in their inventory to be used. I did not get any specific info about FIOS, but given the issues I had activating even the FIOS cable card, and knowing he went and looked at my account to confirm the order, I believe it would have been problematic. 

 

I am getting all channels except FOX-affiliated (FOX itself works, but Fox News, FFX, and various others are all DRM), and HBO (which I don't subscribe to but have a temporary freebie subscription). I don't get these through my existing setup, so not a problem. (I do not understand why FOX uses DRM, and hopeful this is not the beginning of a trend for other networks). So bottom line, I'm happy with the cable channel diversity.

 

I then configured Plex the DVR service. Pretty Very easy! Took a while to download the TV listings. Have set up and recorded a number of shows. I have ordered a new drive to be the DVR disk, but for now am just recording to a drive in my array. No performance issues yet. Playback is smooth,

 

Plex has no "channel view", but instead gives its typical square graphics for each TV TV shows that are available. At first I was disappointed, but in use I actually like it. I am recording some old TV shows from my youth with no idea what network they came from as a test.

 

Since Moxi is still functional, I'm in no particular rush to get the pausing and recording of live live tv working. Hoping Plex will come to the rescue. If not, I may be looking at SageTv and other options when Moxi starts to fade.

 

By the way, my recordings are playable outside of Plex, so they don't appear to be earmarked to only play on a certain player. The files are stored as ".ts" files, which is MPEG format. Would like to find a way to remux to H.264. I thought I read there was an option, if you have a strong CPU (which I have). But have not found the option.

 

Anyone else playing with Plex DVR?

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8 hours ago, jevans04 said:

There are a couple channels you can add to Plex that will allow you to watch Live TV from your HDHomerun.

Here's one:

https://forums.plex.tv/discussion/229258/rel-hdgrandslam-plex-channel-interface-for-hdhomerun-tuners-dvrs/p1

 

 

 

 

Hmmm ... I got it installed but couldn't get it to work (it recognized the tuner, let me pick a channel, it knew what was on, but when I tried to play it I got an error that it wasn't able to play.

 

Then I tried some other channels and couldn't get them to work either!

 

I am able to play my local media just fine.

 

Need to figure out what is wrong with Plex channels.

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@BobPhoenix, can you point me to some data on SageTV? I used to use it but I am losing brain cells and don't remember a lot about the setup.

 

Is it expected that you directly connect TV to the SageTV server? Does it support DLNA or some other "client" concept for playback? Trying to figure out how this might be shared throughout the house.

 

Jev - wil try again when I have time. There was a new Plex version that got installed last night.

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8 hours ago, bjp999 said:

@BobPhoenix, can you point me to some data on SageTV? I used to use it but I am losing brain cells and don't remember a lot about the setup.

 

Is it expected that you directly connect TV to the SageTV server? Does it support DLNA or some other "client" concept for playback? Trying to figure out how this might be shared throughout the house.

 

Jev - wil try again when I have time. There was a new Plex version that got installed last night.

SageTV is a client/server setup.

 

Have retyped this several time now because it is hard to explain.

 

The server is used to record TV from tuners installed on the server or running as network encoders (tuners attached to other boxes and provides the recorded output to the server via the network).  The server (on Windows only) has a client component that can be used to playback recordings.  OpenDTC is a network encoder that works with cable cards and allows you to record from encrypted channels. But only those encrypted channels that are marked as "Copy Freely" (If I remember the term correctly) so most likely not premium channels like HBO, CineMax, etc... those would likely be DRM'd to put this another way.  It also has other capabilities like recording from BM1000/.../BM3500 devices which can record from HDMI if I remember correctly.

 

There is a Full Client that only does playback and only runs on Windows.  A full client is one that does everything associate with playback locally on the computer running the client and this is why it is only available on Windows.

 

There are Placeshifter/Extender clients in lots of different flavors. They are thin clients because all processing including composing the GUI is done on the server and sent to the placeshifter client to display but no real processing is done by the client.  I suppose you could think of this like VNC for a desktop display but I'm not too sure that is the correct analogy.  An extender is a piece of hardware that works similar to the Computer placeshifter client but it has a SOC processor in that works very well for playback.  Another Placeshifter like client is the Android client that allows me to playback recordings on my Android phone for instance.  It works on many different Android devices.  This type of client is where most development is going as the extenders (HD100/HD200/HD300) were proprietary to SageTV and are not being manufactured any more.  The android client give everybody access to an extender like experience since it will work with Android TV devices like the Shield-TV for instance.  Note I do not have one so cannot completely confirm this.  Placeshifter is how you can playback your recording from your home while you are on vacation and away from home.  Placeshifter will transcode video so that it can be broadcast across the internet.  It is not as good at it as Plex and other streamers are quality wise but it is an option if you are away from home.  If using it locally you can turn off the trans-coding as long as the device/computer can playback the file in its recorded quality.

 

Hope I haven't forgotten anything so other Sage'ers post additional info/corrections if needed.

 

Hope this is understandable. 

 

Some (hopefully) helpful links:

FAQ for v7 but has info that still applies to v9: https://forums.sagetv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1601

FAQ for v9: https://forums.sagetv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=62330

SageTV v7 Manual - most still applies to v9 I believe: http://download.sage.tv/SageTV_Manual.pdf

OpenDTC: https://forums.sagetv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=62774

Open source client subforum: https://forums.sagetv.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=56

Latest Android Mini Client: https://forums.sagetv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=63813

The software for the Mini Client is available on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.jdna.sage.phoenix

 

Edited by BobPhoenix
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  • 2 years later...

I've been using the MythTV docker (sparklyballs) for years.  It still works but I'm about to do a bunch of work on my server so I'm looking at options.  I'll be replacing a parity drive, switching from headless kodi /mariadb to emby server.  Still using a kodi front end. Upgrading unraid from 6.4.1 (currently 311 days uptime!) and installing nextcloud.

 

Should I stick with the MythTV (if it ain't broke don't fix it)?  

or try to figure out how to create a Linux VM to install MythTV on?

or switch to TVHeadend (since it seems to be supported)?

or is there another PVR that's more appropriate for recording TV from HDHomeRun iptv - we don't watch live very often, just record daily shows (Ellen, PBS, Sitcoms, SNL)

Edited by Everend
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