Friday, 4 December 2009

Sky and WMC Integration.

This has been the holy grail combination which i've messed around on off with for years now origionally utilising a Happauge PVR250 which did hardware mpeg2 encoding which seemed amazing at the time.  It did however have it's drawbacks with hit and miss channel changes and the unfortunate side affect of making the picture somewhat soft although you quickly got used to that.  When HD came about i gave up and switched to Sky with a SKY+ HD box and have been using that for 2 years trouble free.

I have however been bitten by the bug again with the purchase of a dreambox DM600 PVR, the box on it's own isn't anything special but when combined with DVBLink from DVBLogic it provides a legal and relatively trouble free and reliable setup for having sky directly into WMC.  I originally tried DVBLink for dreambox when it was first released and found it rather tricky to setup and a little bit of a pain to be honest.  With the purchase of my new Revo 3610 i thought i'd give it another go and it seems the product has come on a lot from it's initial release!

This time round the process was much less painless, so long as you adhere to a few basic rules when configuring everything and have the right software to hand it's a very painless process.

Firstly before you begin some programs which i would consider essential are

DVBLink for dreambox of course ;)
Guidetool for configuring the guide sources/Channel list
Logmein Remote access tool, essential for configuring when you can't be in front of the machine.
NewCS and Cccam config creator Very handy tool for configuring the reader on your Dreambox
Drembox Edit Very handy tool for configuring your dreambox channel list.

The first step is to configure your dreambox.  I've been using the PLi images and have found the very reliable and pretty easy to use.  I'll not go into the specifics as there is a load of information already on google regarding imaging a Dreambox.

Once configured you need to perform a scan for your channels which will then be stored on your dreambox.  At this stage i'd try changing to a unencrypted channel to check it displays ok, if it does you at least know your box has a correct basic configuration on it.

Next i would use dreambox edit and tidy up the channels you don't require, you can do this at a later stage with Guide tool but i think it's easier to do before you sync with DVBLink.  I prefer to remove the localised versions of channels which i don't use such as the extra BBC and ITV channels as well as any forign channels which are of no use to me so are just clutering the interface.  Once your happy i would use Dreambox Edit to create a backup of the channel (bouquet) list as it can be a lengthy process to configure and a right pain if you re-image your box or experience issues and lose all your hard work.

Once you are happy with this download and install the NewCS and Cccam config creator and run through the settings in this ( Self explanatory ) and upload the finish configs to your dreambox using the tools upload feature.  Then plug in your sky card into the dreambox card slot and reboot the dreambox.  Once it comes backup verify it's working ok by selecting an encrypted channel.  Well done you've now configured your dreambox which is the trickest part in my optionion !

The last step in the puzzle is to install DVBLink dreambox onto your WMC PC which will be used for your viewing.  Before you begin the install disable UAC, it's a shame you have to do this but without doing it i could not get DVBLink to work and it's a well documented feature so for now unfortunatly you just have to live with it.

Once installed it's a case of firing up the configurator tool and then doing a sync, i'll not go into great detail in this blog entry for the DVBLink config as it's all well documentated in the documentation which is made available once the program is installed.

Once the configuration is done you are required to step through the WMC config, remember to select only the number of tuners you have and configured in DVBLink as WMC automatically selects all 4 DVBLink virtual tuners.  Once your region is selected and the wizard is finished WMC shall download the guide data.

If you have the same experience as me you shall go into the guide and find that some channels have full guide data and some channels have no data at all.  This is where guide tool comes in, you must install it on the WMC and have WMC running either windowed or in the background.  With this tool you can see your configured channels on the left pane and then select the correct channel on the right and click sync which shall force the channel to have the guide data from the channel you selected applied to it.  It seems like a trivial change but it makes a hell of a difference to the viewing experience!

Well hopefully this brief overview shall give people a pointer in the right direction. If anyone would find it usefull i will expand on specific elements if people are having issues with parts.  For me this has been a real revelation and gives a very nice viewing experience with all the trappings that come with WMC like PVR/Pause/Movie features all from one interface.

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