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TV recording using mencoder

Sometimes there is a show on TV I want to record for watching it later. I have a TV card in the ding to do this. It's an old MiroPCTV card sold by Pinnacle. Here is what /proc/pci has to say:

Bus  0, device   8, function  0:
  Multimedia video controller: Brooktree Corporation Bt848 Video Capture (rev 18).
    IRQ 5.
    Master Capable.  Latency=32.  Min Gnt=16.Max Lat=40.
    Prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0xef000000 [0xef000fff].

Kernel Support

Here are the modules I did select in the kernel configuration to get the TV card running.

Character devices  --->
  I2C support  --->
    <M> I2C support
    <M> I2C bit-banging interfaces
Multimedia devices  --->
  <M> Video For Linux
  Video For Linux  --->
    [*]   V4L information in proc filesystem
    <M>   BT848 Video For Linux
Sound  --->
  <M> Sound card support
  <M>   BT878 audio dma
  <M>   TV card (bt848) mixer support

Recording Script

I use MPlayers mencoder to record directly to DIVX with the following script:


#Duration in seconds
#Channel like S35 or E12
#name of program (filename)

#Where to put the stuff

#Bitrate for video encoding



CMD="$ME tv://
  -tv driver=v4l:width=384:height=288:norm=pal:amode=0:adevice=/dev/dsp:channel=$CH:buffersize=64
  -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vbitrate=$VBR:vhq
  -oac mp3lame -lameopts cbr:br=$ABR
  -endpos $TIME -sws 1 -o $OUT"

echo "recsrc PhoneIn" | /usr/local/bin/smixer -s -
echo "vol PhoneIn 60" | /usr/local/bin/smixer -s -
echo "vol PhoneIn 0" | /usr/local/bin/smixer -s -

The script uses smixer to set the soundcard's recording source and volume. It accepts three paramters: the duration of the show to record in seconds, the channel name, and the name of the file to save (without path and extension).

For more info on the mencoder options used see

Programmed Recording

To program this VCR I use at (#> apt-get install at) and the following little bash script which uses dialog (#> apt-get install dialog) to ask all needed information interactively:



OPTS='--stdout --no-shadow --clear --backtitle "TV-Recorder"'

NAME=`dialog $OPTS --title "Title" --inputbox "Please name the program to record (avoid special chars)" 0 0 "tvprogram"`
if test $? -ne 0 ; then exit; fi

PROG=`dialog $OPTS --title "Station" --menu "Choose a station" 0 0 5 \
                                            "E10"  "ARD" \
                                            "E8"   "ZDF" \
                                            "SE4"  "Arte" \
                                            "SE19" "Phoenix" \
                                            "E7"   "ORB" \
                                            "E6"   "SFB1" \
                                            "SE15" "BR" \
                                            "S22"  "WDR" \
                                            "SE17" "NDR" \
                                            "SE18" "MDR" \
                                            "SE9"  "3SAT" \
                                            "S35"  "XXP" \
                                            "SE20" "Pro7" \
                                            "E9"   "Sat1" \
                                            "E11"  "RTL" \
                                            "SE13" "RTL2" \
                                            "SE21" "Super RTL" \
                                            "SE6"  "Kabel1" \
                                            "SE11" "VOX"`
if test $? -ne 0 ; then exit; fi

DATE=`dialog $OPTS --title "Startdate" --calendar "Select the day when the recording starts" 0 0`
if test $? -ne 0 ; then exit; fi
DATE=`echo $DATE | sed -e 's/\//./g'`

START=`dialog $OPTS --title "Starttime" --timebox "Please set the starttime of the program" 0 0`
if test $? -ne 0 ; then exit; fi
START="`echo $START | cut -d : -f 1`:`echo $START | cut -d : -f 2`";

TIME=`dialog $OPTS --title "Duration" --timebox "Please set the duration of the program" 0 0 0 0 0`
if test $? -ne 0 ; then exit; fi

#Calculate seconds from TIME:
THRS=`echo $TIME | cut -d : -f 1`
THRS=`expr $THRS \* 3600`
TMIN=`echo $TIME | cut -d : -f 2`
TMIN=`expr $TMIN \* 60`
TSEC=`echo $TIME | cut -d : -f 3`
TIME=`expr $THRS + $TMIN`
TIME=`expr $TIME + $TSEC`

dialog $OPTS --title "Confirmation" --yesno \
"I will record the TV-Show '$NAME' on channel $PROG. \
 It starts at $DATE $START and runs $TIME seconds. Is that okay?" 0 0
if test $? -ne 0 ; then exit; fi


Note: at has a known bug which prevents it from working when /var is a mounted NFS partition. However for me it works as root not as normal user regardless of the set SUID bit.

ding/tvrecording.txt · Last modified: 2008/06/04 19:39 by ach