Thursday, 21 June 2012

BBC/Sky start test Olympics SD feeds on satellite

The BBC and Sky are testing some Olympics video feeds on satellite at the moment - the full frequency lists are on the KingOfSat site. I tuned in my expensive setup to the feeds and they're a mix of various BBC clips (some are sports, some aren't) and also a test card and 5.1 audio check. Strangely, they put an opaque white foreground with a test feed caption in front of the video streams, so it's surreal to see a very pale Bjork wailing her stuff in an endless loop :-)

Sadly, it looks like every single test feed is in SD only so far, so we're still waiting for the far more important HD equivalents (which I want to record to see how many MBs per hour disk space they'll take up).

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Satellite and aerial install completed

I now have two 60cm satellite dishes  - standard Sky-style quad LNB black mesh pointing at Astra 28.2E - and two terrestrial aerials (each pointing to two different TV regions) attached to the two chimney stacks on my roof. I took a day off work to supervise the install and was happy with the job, which took under 5 hours on Monday 11th June (no heavy wind or rain luckily!).

The installation cost was £525 and the (10!) cables are now plugged into the 2 PCs (5 into the first PC, 5 into the second PC). I spent quite a lot of time allocating channels on the 6 tuners (4 sat, 2 aerial) on one of the PCs, so that I could watch the England match in HD of course. Discovered that ITV4 HD and Channel 5 HD are disgracefully encrypted on satellite, which is galling when the SD versions of those channels are unencrypted on both the terrestrial and satellite platforms! Luckily, neither channel are broadcasting Olympics stuff (though the odd C5 news bulletin might feature something).

The final three (out of eight!) 3TB Seagate hard drives arrived for the expensive PC setup, so all the expensive setup hardware is now done and dusted. Just a sofa and a couple of leather computer chairs to get...

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

BBC adds third Freeview HD Olympics channel

If you retune your Freeview HD setup, you'll find that channel 304 is now showing a caption indicating that it will be used to air Olympic events in HD, meaning that there will be three Olympics HD channels on Freeview (BBC One HD, BBC HD and channel 304). Of course, it doesn't match the 24 HD Olympics channels on Freesat/Sky/Virgin, but it's certainly a welcome addition for those without satellite or cable.

In my "expensive" setup, I did a recent Freeview HD test using a twin tuner PCI express card, recording 3 HD channels and 8 SD channels (more than enough to cover all of the terrestrial BBC Olympics coverage) and it didn't break a sweat using tvheadend. It ended up using 14% of one of the 4 cores of the i7 2600 CPU in the PC. In general, CPU isn't an issue when recording multiple channels - it's disk I/O. It's why the expensive setup will record to very fast SSD and then copy each completed recording to HDD serially (but with very fast hard drives).

Note that I've nearly finished getting quotes for my new 2-dish + 2-aerial setup, which is planned for installation on 11th June, at which point, major recording (mainly from Freesat) will take place and I will report back here on its progress. The aim is to record at least 30 simultaneous channels (almost all HD) and maybe more.