DIY HDTV DVR, OK!

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has launched a neat project. They’re putting up instructions and information on how to build your own DVR (aka, Tivo, ReplayTV, etc.) for HDTV programming. The Digital Liberation Front aims to get as many of these homebrew boxes in circulation as possible before the Hollywood-backed and FCC-ordered “broadcast flag” becomes manditory in HDTV receivers just over a year from now.

As things stand today, you can buy an HDTV capture card for a computer that does not recognize the broadcast flag, meaning you should be able to view, record, and save unlimited copies of any program that comes in through the card. These cards are perfectly legal today, and are not going to become illegal under the current law, but their production (at least for US sales) will end on July 1, 2005. After that, the networks and movie studios will be able to prevent you from making recordings or copies of recordings, depending on how the broadcast flag is set, and any new HDTV hardware will have to obey those rules.

This kind of project isn’t for a complete computer novice, but it’s not like building a flux capacitor, either. Anybody who’s comfortable installing software and a few PCI cards should be able to get a rudimentary HDTV PVR working on standard PC or Mac hardware.

As a confirmed DVR addict (ReplayTV in my case, a platform that makes extracting digital recordings for burning to DVD trivially easy), I’m planning to pick up a couple of pre-flag HDTV cards myself, even though I don’t own an HDTV monitor yet. Sooner or later, I’m going to want to burn an HDTV Auburn-Alabama game to high-capacity DVD, and I’m not going to depend on the goodwill of CBS or ESPN to graciously “allow” me to do so.

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14 Responses to “DIY HDTV DVR, OK!”

  1. Guinness Says:

    You will purchase those cards out of country after they become illegal in the US.

  2. Russ Goble Says:

    Uh…did fair use get officially kicked to the curb?

    And Guinness’ comment is kind of funny when you think about it. They are regulating jobs out of America and into overseas markets for a U.S. demand base that will clearly still demand them. Is importation of the cards illegal if you do not plan to resell them?

  3. Blind Mind's Eye Says:

    When enough is having your customers’ interests and rights completely subordinated to your profits

    Unlike a lot of Americans I could largely care less about a broadcast flag about TV. My only concern and opposition would be the usual offenders deciding to use legislative fiat to force it on the internet, which is going…

  4. Nick Says:

    You might also look at:
    http://www.byopvr.com/

    They have reviews and forums that go into the topic. The software talked about there will also be a photo album, jukebox, etc.

  5. Stephen Green Says:

    Building your own flux capacitor is for wussies. Right now, in my garage, I have a half-completed oscillation overthruster.

  6. denise Says:

    Stephen — How about a continuum transfunctioner?

  7. Russ Goble Says:

    I wonder if these cards will be out with PCI Express interfaces before they are outlawed. I’m 2 years off probably from going HD and I’m pretty sure my computer by then won’t be using regular PCI.

  8. Stephen Says:

    Dunno how you’ll complete it Stephen, what with the now critical shortage of subflexive fasartas. They’re on the EPA watch list, as you no doubt know.

  9. ed Says:

    Looks like I’ll have to score one of these little beauties to integrate into my transmogrifier, making my time travel that much more vivid.

    ed

  10. Jackal Says:

    Under the law, would it be illegal to assemble a system using a card purchased before that date? I’m thinking about buying a card and putting it away unless and until I do the HDTV thing. THEN, I would assemble a box.

    Now, I presume that I could do it Myself, but if I provided the card to someone else and he built a box and charged for the additional parts and labor, would that be OK?

  11. ErikZ Says:

    I would bet that some company will produce a card after that date that can have the flag function turned off or removed or something.

    Then it falls onto the user for modifying something they own.

  12. Thief's Den Says:

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  13. Thief's Den Says:

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  14. Thief's Den Says:

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    I save a lot of links in my blog surfing, thanks to FeedDemon’s NewsBin feature. Too many. But see, I usually have no time to blog. Thus, these entries are filed away in my newsbin, ported back and forth from home to office computers and back again, ju…

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