The PVR-150 Tuner

I recently bought a Hauppauge PVR-150 card off Ebay. This nice little thing packs an analog TV tuner (the thing in your TV that is practically already obsolete) and an MPEG encoder all in one inexpensive package…
The deal is that I wanted the ability to capture analog sources on my VDR box. I already had a rather nice ATI Theater 550 card, but that only works in Windows. And with Ebay being what it is, the opportunity was too hard to give up.

Like anything Linux though, this didn’t just work when I plugged it in. There’s the usual thing with the firmware. So after some research, I came across some instructions, instructing me to copy the firmware over from the driver CD that came with the card:

  • cp HcwMakoC.ROM /lib/firmware/v4l-cx25840.fw
  • cp HcwFalcn.rom /lib/firmware/v4l-cx2341x-enc.fw

After that, the driver seemed to load fine, but the channel scan (w_pvrscan) kept failing. It turned out that the kernel version on my Debian Etch box was too   old. Luckily, Debian had just released a first: Etch-and-a-half, the first time a kernel upgrade was done within a stable release. It’s a good thing. The one criticism that Debian surely merits is its relative slowness in picking up newer software versions. This is done for greater stability (and personally I’m thankful – Debian has been my one choice for server installations). With user PCs though, and any other place where you need access to newish hardware, it can be a pain.

In short, an upgrade of the kernel (which is not automatic, you have to manually pick it up), and the cards started working fine. Now the box has four tuners, all working.

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