I just wrapped up my first Raspberry Pi project. I'm using one to run my own TV station within the house.

A +Plex media server on my network serves out video to an +XBMC distribution running on the +Raspberry Pi where the video is then sent to a modulator and then combined with all the over-the-air channels that we happen to get. The result is that we can tune into a specific channel (set at the modulator) on any TV in the house and watch an endless loop of, in our case, Simpsons and Futurama episodes. You get the sense of it being a normal TV channel, except that it's only stuff you like and there are no commercials.

I've been running a desktop to do this for the past 8 years, but finally had the epiphany a week ago to use the Raspberry Pi gathering dust on my shelf to cut the power, heat and noise down to almost nothing.

Neat.
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12 comments
Sam G
 
Nice neat job with the wiring. How much storage do you have? I don't see an external disk... does an SD card hold enough to keep the looping video from getting old?
 
+Sam G Thanks! The card is 16GB, but that's only for the OS. All of the media is steamed from another computer on my network running a Plex media server.

My wife and I have found that we can handle reruns of certain shows better than others and the loop is currently almost a week long. We mostly turn it on for background noise while we are doing something else, which is why we canceled cable all those years ago and instead bought DVD sets of our favorites to load onto the server.
 
I might have to rethink my mythtv-server solution. This sounds great ! Can you repost a parts list ? (modulator,Raspberry PI setup)
Sam G
 
Ah, ok a NAS :) Why didn't I think of that.
 
+Jörg Henkel

I bought the RF-Modulator on Amazon about 7 or 8 years ago, and it has since been discontinued. If you search for RF-Modulators, just look for one that lets you select a wider range of channels than the usual 3 and 4.

I'm using the original Raspberry Pi (I think) so I'm sure the new one must be even better. ;)  I just followed the "Quick Start Guide" and installed RaspBMC when asked to choose my OS distribution. http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads

I had only one issue at first. The Pi really wanted to use the HDMI connector instead of the composite video out. But that was solved by commenting out a few lines in the config as shown here: http://www.raspberrypi.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=57806&sid=b072a40ba198b35badd92ec4cf8b0eb5&start=25

The other parts are standard splitter/combiners for coaxial cable.
 
Love the idea. It got me to thinking about setting up a similar system of my own. I have a few questions though.

1) You say you are combining your own channel with the OTA channels you get. Are you using an one-direction signal splitter to split your "service" to a modem and the combiner? This is so you don't back feed into your cable provider's network/antenna (so Cox and/or the FCC doesn't kick down your doors) and to also prevent adding noise to the signal going to your modem.

2) Are your "OTA" channels just the ones your cable provider sends out unencrypted or do you have an antenna? If you are using the channels from your cable provider, do you have any issues with the combining of the signals (no need for filters?)? Do you just pick an unused channel for the RF-Modulator (similar to using a FM-transmitter in a car)?

Note: The reason I am asking these first two question is because it is typically advised to not share OTA and cable over the same coaxial cable. Source: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1438808/connecting-tv-antenna-coaxial-cable-to-existing-cable-box-outisde-my-home and http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r25497365-Can-any-coax-two-way-splitter-also-be-used-to-combine-two-so

3) Using the composite cable coming from the Pi limits your resolution. It looks like using a "HDMI to QAM HD Encoder" such as a DVEO Apollo or products from Thor Broadcast would allow you to use the Pi's HDMI output and give you the ability to have HD channels. Have you thought of doing this in the future?
 
+Matthew Alley Going to do my best here, but I will immediately claim some ignorance:

1) Yes, I split the incoming service immediately to the cable modem in a hope to not interfere with the precious internet before my Frankenstein work begins. The second splitter came with the RF-Modulator and is labelled as a "splitter/combiner" unlike the cheapo incoming splitter. I've spoken with someone else on another share who worked for the cable company and he said that there is no way I could be generating enough power from my modulator to leave the house, but who knows... shrug But I haven't had any complaints in the last 8 years and I've lived in four different houses so far...

2) You caught me on that. I used the term OTA because, for a time, I did combine with an antenna, but right now, it is combining with analog and digital channels that happen to come along with my internet subscription. Occasionally, the provider changes the channel lineup and I have to move my station to another analog channel. Otherwise, I get a ghosting effect or added "snow" with the new channel. This has only happened 2 times in 8 years. (my current channel is 111, which I love:) I haven't had the need to use filters yet. I started doing this before looking up everything first on the internet was cool, so I had no qualms about trying it out, however those links give us all something to consider...

3) I'm still very old school in the TV resolution department. I don't have a BlueRay player, for example. I also barely watch TV anymore and when I do, it's these cartoons, where the resolution is less of an issue, IMHO. In 10 years, I might catch up, but for now, I'm cool with composite.

Thanks for the questions!
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