Setup USB TV Tuner on Linux

I recently added a tuner to my home media center (HMC) and thought I'd share how I went about it. First, the tuner I choose was a Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick USB TV Tuner. I added it to a Neuros (ubuntu based) computer to add live 'Over the Air' (OTA) TV.

Generally speaking, any TV Tuner card listed on the LinuxTV wiki should work; however, I purchased a Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick USB TV Tuner from Amazon, therefor this article will be focused towards that device.

Setup

After plugging the PCTV HD Pro Stick USB tuner in and running dmesg I found that there was an error with its firmware (as listed on the LinuxTV.org wiki site). To address this issue I performed the following steps:

  1. Follow the instructions listed on linuxtv.org
    NOTICE: the third step (run the extract_xc3028.pl) is a bit confusing as I had no such script, I've since wrote a simplified list of steps (see below).

Simplified Steps to Update Firmware

  1. Create a new directory:
    mkdir~/tmp/xc3028
  2. Change into the new directory:
    cd ~/tmp/xc3028
  3. Download the driver:
    wget http://www.steventoth.net/linux/xc5000/HVR-12x0-14x0-17x0_1_25_25271_WHQL.zip
  4. Extract the hcw85bda.sys file from the driver file:
    unzip -j HVR-12x0-14x0-17x0_1_25_25271_WHQL.zip Driver85/hcw85bda.sys
  5. Download the extract script:
    wget http://linuxtv.org/hg/v4l-dvb/raw-file/3919b17dc88e/linux/Documentation/video4linux/extract_xc3028.pl
  6. Run the Extract Script:
    perl extract_xc3028.pl
  7. Copy the newly generated firmware to the /lib/firmware directory:
    sudo cp xc3028-v27.fw /lib/firmware

Note: after performing the above steps, I needed to unplug the tuner (usb) and reboot. After rebooting, view dmesg, then plug the tuner back in and do another dmesg and you should get results similar to those listed linuxtv.org. Your tuner should now be ready to use!

Using the TV Tuner

After setting up the TV Tuner you would probably like to use it. For a basic app that can take advantage of the TV Tuner card try out Me-TV (should be available through your distro's repos). Its a simple, no frills app that lets you watch OTA TV brought in by your TV Tuner card (USB).

Me-TV allows recording and a few other features, but as stated above, it is a basic app. I prefer MythTV as it has many more features and a nice interface. Me-TV basically works out of the box, simply install and start the app. As the app performs its initial start it should ask you to scan for channels, I simply selected the country scan for the US and it found around 30 channels, added them, and tuned to the first channel. I was watching OTA TV in less than 5 minutes!

Setting up MythTV is a bit more complicated, for a complete setup guide of MythTV including the use of the PCTV HD Pro Stick TV Tuner within MythTV see the Setting up MythTV with a TV Tuner article.