Hacking Tivo series 2 into Network Video Encoder

Discussion in 'TiVo Underground' started by telmnstr, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. telmnstr

    telmnstr New Member

    Jun 22, 2003


    This is a bit different.


    There are some devices on the market that are network attached video encoders. Vbrick is a major one. Their unit is an embedded computer strapped to a video encoder card. They take composite/svideo and make it available on a computer network.

    I have a few events that I help out with (for free) with friends. We do something similar. In the past we've used SFF PCs running Linux with a WinTV PVR-350 card which does hardware MPEG2 encoding. It produces a 7mbps MPEG2 TS. We used VLC to make it available on the network, but in some cases the unix Netcat utility is all you need


    I was thinking of a way to build something that anyone can use, similar to the vbrick appliances but at a much lower cost.

    The slingbox turns down the quality. And I don't really want web interfaces or any of that. I just want access to the video from the encoder in a somewhat normal format.

    I started thinking about Tivo units. They contain hardware video encoder chips, network connectivity, and linux.


    I can't find a ton of deep down info on the Tivos. My roomate had the one I've seen, and I bought my parents one, but I've never owned one.

    What format is the video after it comes off of the encoder chipset?

    Is it easy to customize Linux on the units? I'm thinking Series 2 that have USB2.x.

    In my application I would have a daemon listening on TCP for commands (start encoding, stop encoding, settings, where to send it to via udp, etc.)

    I need no output, no on screen anything, no screen. I need none of the tivo commercial functionality at all. Basically, give it an IP address and use it as a video encoder to send video to another endpoint (Xbox with XBMC, etc.)

    If I had to transcode the video that would be problematic.

    It would be sort of nice to be able to dump the video to disk as a backup. If nothing else dumping it to disk and tailing it and sending that via netcat might work fine.

    Does this sound like something feasible with the Tivo units? Any similar projects for the Tivo that do this?
  2. wmcbrine

    wmcbrine Well-Known Mumbler

    Aug 2, 2003
    Hacked TiVos allow you to stream the live TV buffer, IIRC. It'll be in TiVo's slightly nonstandard variant of an MPEG2 program stream. There are patched players to handle this, like MPlayer. Might work with XMBC?
  3. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

    Feb 18, 2004
    Ontario Canada.
    TiVo's hardware is secret and proprietary. Series 2s are largely built on Broadcom chips, which are very secretive with their datasheets and source code.

    The Linux OS, except the TiVo app, is easy to play with. It is hard/impossible to play with the TiVo app, which is closed source.
  4. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    If you need the results anywhere near real-time, TiVo is not the answer for what you have in mind.
  5. wmcbrine

    wmcbrine Well-Known Mumbler

    Aug 2, 2003


    classicsat: Hard, but not impossible.

    unitron: The delay is only a few seconds.

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