w scan

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"w_scan" is a small command line utility used to perform frequency scans for DVB and ATSC transmissions. It is capable of directly creating channels.conf files as well as initial tuning data for scan which is contained in the LinuxTV dvb-apps.

Obtaining w_scan

You can get w_scan here.


Detailed information can be found in the w_scan man page (i.e. from a console, run man w_scan). Additionally, running w_scan with the -h parameter will produce an output that provides a summary of it's main command line options.

w_scan [options...] >> channels.conf

In General, when using w_scan you should at least specify three parameters: frontend type, country/satellite and output format. The following table summarizes the basic command line essentials for using w_scan.

Basic w_scan options
Parameter Argument Description & Options
Frontend Type -fType

a = ATSC (North America, cable and terrestrial
c = DVB-C (Europe, cable)
s = DVB-S/S2 (Satellite)
t = DVB-T (Europe, terrestrial = default)


  • ATSC support requires a w_scan version >= 20080815
  • Satellite support requires a w_scan version >= 20090504)
ATSC Type -AType

(ignored for DVB-C and DVB-T)
1 = VSB ("Over-the-Air)"
2 = QAM annex B ("cable TV")
3 = both of them

Country ID -cID

(mandatory for ATSC, DVB-C, DVB-T)
uppercase two character identifier as defined in ISO 3166-1,
see -c? for list of countries.

Satellite ID -sID

(mandatory for DVB-S/S2)
uppercase character constant with E (east) or W (west)as separator,
see -s? for list of satellites.

Output Format -Format

X = czap/tzap/xine channels.conf
x = "initial tuning data" for Scan
k = channels.dvb for Kaffeine
If the output format is not specified, w_scan defaults to create VDR-1.6 channels.conf.

Help Level -Level

h = basic help
H = extended help for expert functionality

Some working examples, cobbled together from the basics given in the above table, are provided below. Note: Experts or experienced users may use some of the other w_scan options available, but this is not recommended. (For example, w_scan searches /dev/dvb/adapterX/frontendY for DVB/ATSC cards matching to option "-f", therefore specifying the adapter "-a XX" is not recommended.)


NOTE: ATSC support needs w_scan >= 20080815
NOTE: DVB-S/S2 support needs w_scan >= 20090504

Scanning ATSC VSB (United States, Over-the-Air)

$ w_scan -fa -A1 -c US -X

Scanning ATSC QAM annex B (United States, digital cable TV)

$ w_scan -fa -A2 -c US -X

Scanning DVB-T (Germany, Over-the-Air, VDR output)

$ w_scan -ft -c DE

Scanning DVB-C (Germany, digital cable TV, kaffeine channels.dvb)

$ w_scan -fc -c DE -k

Scanning DVB-S/S2 (Astra 19.2east, vdr-1.7.x)

$ w_scan -fs -s S19E2 -o 7

Scanning DVB-S (Thor 0.8west, vdr-1.3.x .. vdr-1.6.x)

$ w_scan -fs -s S0W8

Generating dvbscan tuning data

Exactly as above, just specify output format dvbscan with "-x":

$ w_scan -f <FRONTEND_TYPE> {-c <COUNTRY>,-s <SATELLITE>} -x >cc-Ttttt

If you choose to create an initial scan file (and you know the name of your local transmitter or cable provider), you can send the resulting file to the dvb mailing list after checking that it hasn't already been posted or added to the scan directory in the dvb-apps repository.

Also See

External Links