HDHomeRun Review Roundup 

Filed under: Digital TV, hdhomerun on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 by steve | Comments Off

For the moment I’ve come to the end of my HDHomeRun review, and overall I’ve been very impressed with what I can do with this little unit. I really love the fact I can watch freeview|HD on a wireless laptop with no need for a locally attached tuner.

It is always a pleasure to deal with a company and a technology that is operating system agnostic. The level of support they provide both the Mac and Linux communities is excellent.

If you want to catch up on the previous instalments the links are below.

A big thank you to Blair from Digital Pride for the extended loan the review unit. Also for all readers of this site they have provided a special discount code. Simply visit the order page at


If you enter the coupon code mythtv.co.nz you will save $30 off the normal $349 price tag, and get free delivery.

HDHomeRun Review Part 3 

Filed under: Digital TV, FreeView, h264, hdhomerun on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 by steve | Comments Off

If you are coming to this review fresh I highly recommend you catch up on the previous instalments.

Here in part 3 we are trying to get the device to work with a recent build of MythTV. As Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) has recently been released we are going to use the Mythbuntu 9.04 build as our base.

Sadly the DVB-T HDHomeRun doesn’t work with the build of MythTV shipped with Mythbunto 9.04, so we are using a modified build produced by Jean-Yves Avenard. Jean-Yves produces regular updates to his builds, and I’m running


I’m starting with a clean environment so we need to add a new capture device. As I only have a single device on my network I can use the generic device ID.

I start mythtv-setup and choose the first option to setup a Capture Card.

Capture Card

Next we need to define a new video source

Video Source

Now attach the video source to the capture card


Then we can run the channel scan. Note that we have to select Finland for the country as selecting New Zealand always fails to perform a channel scan.

Channel Scan

The scan appears to work and we have full set of NZ DVB-T channels.


Sadly I now run into a number of issues that I have been unable to resolve.

From the MythTV Frontend I select LiveTV to check that channel tuning is working. This returns immediately with no video playback.

A look into the mythtv backend logs shows the following messages

2009-05-20 21:04:02.234 adding: mythtv as a client (events: 0)
2009-05-20 21:04:02.241 TVRec(4): Changing from None to WatchingLiveTV
2009-05-20 21:04:02.252 TVRec(4): HW Tuner: 4->4
2009-05-20 21:04:02.264 HDHRChan(ffffffff/0): device found at address
2009-05-20 21:04:02.279 HDHRChan(ffffffff/0), Error: dtv_multiplex data is required for tuning
2009-05-20 21:04:02.286 TVRec(4) Error: Failed to set channel to 4. Reverting to kState_None
2009-05-20 21:04:02.296 TVRec(4): Changing from WatchingLiveTV to None

It looks like we don’t have valid entries in the dtv_multiplex table which maps channels onto the DVB multiplexes. A check of the mysql database shows the following for the channel C4.

mysqldump --skip-opt -u $DBUserName -p$DBPassword
-h $DBHostName $DBName -t --compact  channel --where 'name="C4"'
INSERT INTO `channel` VALUES (3004,'4',NULL,3,'C4','C4','',NULL,'','',0,
32768,32768,32768,32768,'Default',0,1,'',1,39,1301,NULL,0,0,0,'0000-00-00 00:00:00','crid://c4tv.co.nz',-1);
mysqldump --skip-opt -u $DBUserName -p$DBPassword
-h $DBHostName $DBName -t --compact  dtv_multiplex --where 'mplexid="39"'
INSERT INTO `dtv_multiplex` VALUES (39,3,29,8746,0,'a',NULL,NULL,
NULL,NULL,'8','3/4','8','1/16',0,'qam_64','n','3/4','dvb',13,'2009-05-20 08:47:24');

It looks like the frequency and modulation entries aren’t set correctly. I fixed these up by manually updating entries in the database.

mysqldump --skip-opt -u $DBUserName -p$DBPassword
-h $DBHostName $DBName -t --compact  dtv_multiplex --where 'mplexid="39"'

INSERT INTO `dtv_multiplex` VALUES (39,3,29,8746,570000000,'a',NULL,NULL,
NULL,'auto','8','3/4','8','1/16',0,'qam_64','n','3/4','dvb',13,'2009-05-20 09:05:55');

Then I tried LiveTV again which produced better output in the mythtv backend logs, but sadly still fails to produce a TV picture, although it does report on signal strength.

2009-05-20 21:39:14.403 TVRec(4): Changing from None to WatchingLiveTV
2009-05-20 21:39:14.408 TVRec(4): HW Tuner: 4->4
2009-05-20 21:39:15.461 AutoExpire: CalcParams(): Max required Free Space: 3.0 GB w/freq: 15 min
2009-05-20 21:39:16.647 Finished recording Unknown: channel 3004
2009-05-20 21:39:17.779 Finished recording Unknown: channel 3004
2009-05-20 21:39:17.825 AutoExpire: CalcParams(): Max required Free Space: 3.0 GB w/freq: 15 min
2009-05-20 21:39:17.940 Using runtime prefix = /usr
2009-05-20 21:39:17.948 Empty LocalHostName.
2009-05-20 21:39:17.950 Using localhost value of mythtv
2009-05-20 21:39:17.961 New DB connection, total: 1
2009-05-20 21:39:17.970 Connected to database 'mythconverg' at host: localhost
2009-05-20 21:39:17.973 Closing DB connection named 'DBManager0'
2009-05-20 21:39:17.975 Connected to database 'mythconverg' at host: localhost
2009-05-20 21:39:17.977 New DB connection, total: 2
2009-05-20 21:39:17.989 Connected to database 'mythconverg' at host: localhost
2009-05-20 21:39:18.000 Current Schema Version: 1214
2009-05-20 21:39:18.033 Preview Error: Previewer file '/var/lib/mythtv/recordings/3004_20090520213914.mpg' is not valid.
2009-05-20 21:39:18.046 Preview Error: Run() file not local: '/var/lib/mythtv/recordings/3004_20090520213914.mpg'
2009-05-20 21:39:18.065 Preview Error: Preview process not ok.
            fileinfo(/var/lib/mythtv/recordings/3004_20090520213914.mpg.png) exists: 0 readable: 0 size: 0
2009-05-20 21:39:24.333 TVRec(4): Changing from WatchingLiveTV to None
2009-05-20 21:39:25.346 Finished recording Unknown: channel 3004

At this point I tried upgrading to a slightly more recent build from Jean-Yves (0.21.0+fixes-20573-openglvdpau-0ubuntu0), but had the same LiveTV issues.

By using tcpdump to monitor the network traffic, I managed to confirm that the HDHomeRun is being set to the correct channel, and a valid DVB stream is being sent to the MythTV box over the network.

I tested my Mythbuntu install with a USB DVB-T tuner with no issues, and also dumped a transport stream from the HDHomeRun using the command line tools that the MythTV frontend could playback.

I’ve opened a ticket in the MythTV trac environment #6527 to keep an eye on the issue. If this gets resolved before I need to return the review unit I’ll post an update here, and I’m very interested in hearing from anyone who has a combination similar to NZ working. I’ve seen reports of it working with MPEG-2 based streams in Australia, but I haven’t seen any get it working with the H.264 + HE-AACv2 combination we have here in NZ.

VDPAU and MythTV 0.21 Update 

Filed under: Digital TV, FreeView, h264, MythTV, NZ MythTV, vdpau on Sunday, May 3rd, 2009 by steve | Comments Off

There have been a number of fixes and releases since my initial batch of VDPAU testing, so it was time for an update.

The changes from the original test setup are as follows

  • ┬áNvidia 185.19 Video driver
  • mythtv 1:0.21.0+fixes-20453-openglvdpau-0ubuntu2

Jean-Yves has applied a number of fixed to his MythTV builds that have resolved many of the playback issues. A number of buffer sizes had to be increased to deal with the delay between the audio and video streams on freeview|HD. Playback on TV3 is now near perfect and there are considerably less issues when changing channels on Live TV.

The NVidia driver update has also dramatically reduced the amount of video tearing so most of the channels now look a lot better.

Outstanding Issues

Sadly there are a couple of outstanding issues that need resolving before I’d consider the MythTV 0.21 builds to be fully freview|HD ready

  • I’m still seeing some frontend segfaults when changing channels
  • Large playback delay when selecting an audio only radio station
  • Starting the MHEG-5 support causes the GUI to exit.

The MHEG-5 problem has been around since freeview introduced their PVR ready MHEG-5 update and just needs a bit of time to investigate further.

Overall a great improvement and beginning to feel we are almost there now.

HDHomeRun Review Part 2 

Filed under: Digital TV, FreeView, h264, hdhomerun on Sunday, March 29th, 2009 by steve | Comments Off

In the first part of this review we took a look at the DVB-T version of HDHomeRun under Mac OSX, and it is now time to try and get it working under Linux. Here I’ll take a look at usingi it on a Linux Desktop, and in Part 3 I’ll look at MythTV support.

HDHomeRun and Ubuntu 8.10

The Ubuntu Linux distribution has excellent documentation on getting the US ATSC version of HDHomeRun working, most of which applies with the DVB-T version. If you are running Ubuntu Intrepid (8.10) or Ubuntu Gutsy (8.04) you can install a command line tool direct from the Ubuntu package archive

sudo apt-get install hdhomerun-config

Now lets try and find the HDHomeRun on our network via the discovery command

hdhomerun_config discover
hdhomerun device 121052A4 found at

Nice and easy, and we can now start talking to the device. Let’s try a channel scan

hdhomerun_config 121052A4 scan 0
SCANNING: 474000000 (uk-bcast:21)
LOCK: none (ss=51 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 482000000 (uk-bcast:22)
LOCK: none (ss=37 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 490000000 (uk-bcast:23)
LOCK: none (ss=46 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 498000000 (uk-bcast:24)
LOCK: none (ss=45 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 506000000 (uk-bcast:25, nz-bcast:25)
LOCK: none (ss=23 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 514000000 (uk-bcast:26, nz-bcast:26)
LOCK: none (ss=44 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 522000000 (uk-bcast:27, nz-bcast:27)
LOCK: none (ss=72 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 530000000 (uk-bcast:28, nz-bcast:28)
LOCK: none (ss=45 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 538000000 (uk-bcast:29, nz-bcast:29)
LOCK: t8qam64 (ss=59 snq=58 seq=100)
PROGRAM: 1200: 0.0 TV ONE
PROGRAM: 1201: 0.0 TV2
PROGRAM: 1202: 0.0 TVNZ 6
PROGRAM: 1203: 0.0 TVNZ 7
SCANNING: 546000000 (uk-bcast:30, nz-bcast:30)
LOCK: none (ss=49 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 554000000 (uk-bcast:31, nz-bcast:31)
LOCK: none (ss=73 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 562000000 (uk-bcast:32, nz-bcast:32)
LOCK: none (ss=45 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 570000000 (uk-bcast:33, nz-bcast:33)
LOCK: t8qam64 (ss=81 snq=62 seq=100)
PROGRAM: 1300: 0.0 TV3
PROGRAM: 1301: 0.0 C4
PROGRAM: 11302: 0.0 TV3 PLUS1
SCANNING: 578000000 (uk-bcast:34, nz-bcast:34)
LOCK: none (ss=46 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 586000000 (uk-bcast:35, nz-bcast:35)
LOCK: none (ss=32 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 594000000 (uk-bcast:36, nz-bcast:36)
LOCK: none (ss=41 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 602000000 (uk-bcast:37, nz-bcast:37)
LOCK: none (ss=42 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 610000000 (uk-bcast:38, nz-bcast:38)
LOCK: none (ss=42 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 618000000 (uk-bcast:39, nz-bcast:39)
LOCK: none (ss=51 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 626000000 (uk-bcast:40, nz-bcast:40)
LOCK: none (ss=40 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 634000000 (uk-bcast:41, nz-bcast:41)
LOCK: none (ss=0 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 642000000 (uk-bcast:42, nz-bcast:42)
LOCK: none (ss=34 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 650000000 (uk-bcast:43, nz-bcast:43)
LOCK: none (ss=59 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 658000000 (uk-bcast:44, nz-bcast:44)
LOCK: none (ss=43 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 666000000 (uk-bcast:45, nz-bcast:45)
LOCK: t8qam64 (ss=83 snq=56 seq=100)
PROGRAM: 1400: 0.0 Maori Televisio
PROGRAM: 1401: 0.0 Parliament TV
PROGRAM: 1402: 0.0 Test Channel
PROGRAM: 1403: 0.0 ChineseTV
PROGRAM: 1404: 0.0 Reserved 5KSD
PROGRAM: 1405: 0.0 Reserved 6KSD
PROGRAM: 1406: 0.0 Freeview | HD
PROGRAM: 1408: 0.0 tvCentral
PROGRAM: 2000: 0.0 Radio NZ Nation
PROGRAM: 2001: 0.0 Radio NZ Concer
PROGRAM: 2002: 0.0 BaseFM
SCANNING: 674000000 (uk-bcast:46, nz-bcast:46)
LOCK: none (ss=23 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 682000000 (uk-bcast:47, nz-bcast:47)
LOCK: none (ss=17 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 690000000 (uk-bcast:48, nz-bcast:48)
LOCK: none (ss=44 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 698000000 (uk-bcast:49, nz-bcast:49)
LOCK: none (ss=23 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 706000000 (uk-bcast:50, nz-bcast:50)
LOCK: none (ss=35 snq=0 seq=0)
SCANNING: 714000000 (uk-bcast:51, nz-bcast:51)

Like under OS-X all 3 DVB-T multiplexes have been found.

Installing the Linux GUI

Silicon Dust have now released a beta gui for Linux with equivalent features to the OS-X GUI. At present you need to pull down the source and compile it yourself.

I download the libhdhomerun and hdhomerun_config_gui sources from

First compile libhdhomerun as we need the shared library for the gui

tar -zxf libhdhomerun_20090305a.tgz
cd libhdhomerun

Now unpack and compile the GUI application

cd ..
tar -zxf hdhomerun_config_gui_20090305a.tgz
cd hdhomerun_config_gui

Now at this stage I haven’t performed a “make install” as I want to try out the gui.

cd src/
./hdhomerun_config_gui: error while loading shared libraries: libhdhomerun.so:
cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

Opps. I need the shared library.

cp ../../libhdhomerun/libhdhomerun.so .

We now have the same features as the OS-X gui. Any HDHomeRun devices on your network are automatically discoverd.

Linux Gui

VLC Support

Once you have selected a channel clicking on “View” will open VLC to talk to the UDP stream. Sadly the current Ubuntu 8.10 release of VLC is 0.9.4 which has limited support for the interlaced H.264 variant used on some of New Zealand’s freeview channels. The main visible issues were artifacts with the 576i interlaced channels like TVNZ6/7 and C4.

The 720p HD channels played perfectly, although with a high CPU load as my VLC install did not suport hardware acceleration.

TV One 720p
TV One under VLC in Linux

TVNZ 7 576i

Freeview|HD Demo Channel 720p

Overall the device worked well with VLC and I do need to try a more recent build. Similar to under OS-X you don’t get any EPG information over the UDP stream which is a shame.

What about MythTV?

In part3 I’ll take a look at how well the unit works with MythTV 0.21 under Ubuntu.

HDHomeRun Review Part 1 

Filed under: Digital TV, FreeView, h264, hdhomerun on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 by steve | Comments Off

The HDHomeRun has been a popular device in the US for a number of years, and the DVB-T compatible version has just been released here in New Zealand. Local distributor DigitalPRIDE were kind enough to lend me a unit both for review, and to see how well it works with MythTV here in NZ.

This review is likely to comprise several parts as I’ll be using it with a Mac under OSX as well as using VLC and MythTV under Linux. If you’d like an overview of the US version, Engadget did a review a couple of years ago.

What’s in the box?

When the unit first arrived I was very impressed with the overall package. Unlike most other TV tuners this device does not connect directly to your PC via USB or PCI/PCIe, and instead can stream to multiple computers over your network.


The HDHomeRun unit is a very tidy little box. At the rear you have two aerial connections, an ethernet port and a power connector. In the box you get two aerial fly-leads, a network patch cable, software CD and a nice compact wall wart.

At the time of this write up the NZ retail price is $349 direct from DigitalPRIDE, which compares well with the UK and AU pricing.

To initially get the unit up and running I simply plugged a UHF aerial connection, power and connect to my home LAN.

Mac OS-X Support

My laptop these days is a 2.4 GHz 3rd Generation Santa Rosa Macbook which dual boots OS-X and Ubuntu 8.10. I thought it would be interesting to see how well it integrated with the Mac first.

Now in theory with the following software it should “just work” -

  1. Download the beta OS X configuration tool from
  2. Get the latest version of VLC from

This is where I hit my first issue. The OS-X tools also require GTK to be installed for the GUI. This part of the installer failed and the hdhomerun_config_gui application failed to run. I managed to resolve this by removing the installed application and forcing GTK to re-install from the HDHomeRun installer.

Once over this hurdle things worked well. The installer automatically upgraded the firmware of my unit to the latest release. I then told the hdhomerun_config_gui to perform a channel scan and it picked up all three DVB-T multiplexes. I could then select a channel and press view to watch it.

This is where I hit my second issue. I’d moved my install of VLC from the OS-X applications folder to a subfolder. This meant that the gui failed to locate it and display the video. There are two solutions to this -

  1. Move VLC back to the applications directory, or
  2. Start VLC and specify the network stream manually
    UDP/RDP – host, port 5000

I was using a wired ethernet connection on the Macbook and the video quality with VLC 0.9.8 was excellent on the 720p and 576i channels. I had some issues trying to watch TV3, which transmits in 1080i, as sadly my Macbook isn’t fast enough to display the video with the current builds of VLC. The freeview|HD service here in New Zealand uses H.264 as the video codec, and requires much higher CPU resources than MPEG-2 which is currently using in Australia and the US.

I then tried the same playback over an 802.11g wireless connection. For the most part the 576i channels worked with little or no issues, but I’d have occasional break up on the 720p channels, especially if someone else was making heavy use of the wireless network.

The popular OS-X application EyeTV also has support for HDHomeRun, but I was unable to test this as my trial licence has now expired.

Mac OS-X Conclusion

The HDHomeRun works incredibly well but there are a couple of niggles.

  1. The gui installer should deal with failures in required components. It took me quite a while to troubleshoot the failed install.
  2. Gui should allow for saving of channels. At the moment you can only view the channels on the currently tuned multiplex.
  3. Improve VLC integration. It would be great if VLC could natively support the HDHomeRun and change channels directly
  4. No EPG information is provided over the UDP stream. Whilst freeview|HD only provides limited now/next information over DVB EIT, it would be great if VLC could display the name of the current show.
  5. Twin aerial connections means you need to use an external splitter on your TV aerial.
  6. No bundled OS-X software. It would be great if they could include a “lite” version of EyeTV.

In Part 2 I’ll start looking at support under Linux.