This is the main page for giVo, my home-grown Personal Video Recorder (PVR) solution.
This all started when I converted my whole CD collection to MP3 and wanted to have an easy-to-use way of accessing my music. I came up with a hardware/software solution I called MusicBox. MusicBox was a client/server based MP3 player, which means that you can control it from any PC. The client supports a seral LCD display, so the menu can show up on the LCD without needing a monitor or TV hooked up.
Once MusicBox was complete enough to be of practical use, I moved on to a PVR to replace my ailing VCR. I didn’t want to pay any monthly fees (and be spied on) by companies like Tivo, so I decided that a PC solution was what I needed. A PC turns out to be much more expandable than a store-bought PVR. Adding more disk space or changing the video card to keep up with latest technologies is easy.
First I needed to find a capture card, the hardware that tunes the TV channels and allows you to record them. I settled on an Asus TV FM card, which had an unbeatable price (at the time), and started searching for software.
There are few options for pay and free software to use. One possibility is Windows Media Center, but there are several problems with it. For one, it is a completely seperate operating system and I wanted to make my software runnable on plain-vanilla Windows. For another, I don’t really trust Microsoft to allow me to listen to non-Windows Media stuff easily in an operating system made specifically for viewing media. Since I am using FLAC for my music and want to be able to chose from the many different codecs for my video, Media Center is not an option.
There are lots of other PVR software packages like MythTV, freevo, myHtpc, ChrisTV, CyberLink VCR and others. However, I’ve tried them all and none of them fit exactly what I want from this project. Some only run on Linux. Some have poor quality recording or took up too much CPU time, slowing my machine to a crawl.
So, finally, I decided to write my own PVR. Take a look at the sections below to see how I did it. Feel free to send me comments, I am always working on this software trying to make it better.
Hardware – This section shows the hardware I used for my giVo
Software – This section contains the software I used and wrote for my giVo