[linux-dvb] Pinnacle USB TV tuner sticks

Markus Rechberger mrechberger at gmail.com
Mon Dec 22 18:50:49 CET 2008

On Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 4:52 PM, Devin Heitmueller
<devin.heitmueller at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 8:13 AM, Matt R <mattr121 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Dear Devin,
>> I recently purchased a Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick (801e) without realizing
>> that it's different from the 800e version of the model. I was able to play
>> OTA digital channels on a Jaunty snapshop (dec 12) of Ubuntu after copying
>> in the more recent firmware version(s) mentioned  at the wiki page for this
>> model.
>> I was wondering whether and which of these features of the 801e currently
>> work or might be supported in the near future:
>> 1. clear QAM digital cable
>> 2. analog
>> 3. FM radio
>> as I am considering returning the unit if support for clear QAM and FM by
>> open source projects such a linuxtv/mythtv is going to take some time. What
>> would be your recommendation on this, and what is your recommendation for
>> the best USB tuner stick out there in terms of both model features as well
>> as current/forthcoming linux support for those features?
>> Also, in this mailing list thread, were you referring to Pinnacle's new
>> "Ultimate" stick (whose number seems to be 880e and not 80e)? If so, I am a
>> bit confused about what Markus Rechberger said in response:
>> Not so fast, even though I wasn't involved at knocking this down.
>> We have a custom player now which is capable of directly interfacing the
>> I2C chips from those devices. Another feature is that it supports all the
>> features of those devices, there won't be any need of different applications
>> anymore. There's also the thought about publishing an SDK, most applications
>> have problems of detecting all corresponding devicenodes which are required
>> for those devices anyway. i2c-dev is an already available and accepted
>> kernel interface
>> to userland just as usbfs is.
>> best regards,
>> Markus Rechberger
>> Is a full-featured custom player (including device drivers) is available for
>> that model? If so, are you able to point me where to look for it?
>> Thanks and best regards
>> Matt
> Putting the ML on the CC so others can benefit from the information.
> First off - the mistake you made in buying the 801e thinking you were
> getting an 800e is a common one - I made that mistake myself and that
> is what prompted me to add Linux support for the 801e (for the record
> though, I later added the 800e support too).
> Just to make things confusing, Pinnacle makes four different products
> with nearly identical model numbers (800e, 801e, 880e, 80e).
> Let's start with the one you have: the 801e (Pro).  This device
> supports ATSC, ClearQAM, analog, and radio.  However, only the ATSC
> and ClearQAM are implemented in Linux.  Because of some limitations in
> the Linux dvb_usb stack, I couldn't make the analog support work
> without adding all the necessary infrastructure.  And the FM support
> falls under analog.  Also, the ClearQAM support should work in theory
> but I couldn't test it when I added support since I didn't have access
> to cable.  I really do need to follow up on that now and correct any
> problems I find.
> The 800e (Pro) is the older version of the product you have.  The ATSC
> and analog both are supported, however the hardware does not support
> ClearQAM or FM Radio.
> The 880e (Ultimate) hardware supports ATSC, ClearQAM, analog, but no
> FM radio.  The device is currently completely unsupported in Linux as
> I have just last week gotten the datasheets and started working on
> analog support (it uses chips that are not supported at all in Linux
> so it will take longer).
> The 80e (Mini) hardware only has ATSC and ClearQAM support (no analog
> or FM).  As indicated in the Wiki, this device will never be supported
> in an open source manner because Micronas refused to let me release
> the driver source (after I did all the work).
> Regarding your question on Markus's player, he is working on a piece
> of commercial software for playing video, and because it is closed
> source and he has relationships with Micronas he was able to include
> their driver source required for the 80e Mini.  That said, his player
> will not allow you to use applications such as MythTV or Kaffeine, as
> none of those projects are going to create a dependency on his
> closed-source player.  Also, his product is locked to Empia based
> devices, so it will not work with products such as the 801e.  You can
> go to his website at http://mcentral.de for more information.
> You're going to be hard pressed to find a USB product that does all
> four in Linux - ATSC, ClearQAM, analog, and FM.  Most of the older
> products that do ATSC have analog/FM working (but the hardware doesn't
> support QAM), but most of the products that do ClearQAM and ATSC do
> not have any analog or FM support implemented in the Linux driver.
> The Pinnacle Ultimate driver I am working on (when it is completed)
> will support ClearQAM, ATSC, and analog, but the hardware doesn't
> support FM).

You should also refer that eg. BSD does the whole tuner and demod
configuration stuff does in Userland (cx88 freebsd), I guess sooner or
later there will be a library interface (or the calls can just be
overriden with LD_PRELOAD without modifying existing applications).
There are a few possibilities which got mentioned earlier already.


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