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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI Apps
There are a couple of hints here on how to record FireWire video from cable boxes such as the Motorola DCT-6000 family (I've got a DCT-6200 myself). But they involve using AVCVideoCap.app from the FireWire SDK, or weird hacks based on it. I've stripped out the important stuff from AVCVideoCap.app, and written a CLI utility that can be run without the need for a UI. I call it clover, after our dog. (This source is distributed per the terms of the Apple license in the original SDK.)

It's currently beta but works for me; anyone who wishes to help me test it is encouraged to give it a shot. To use it, you simply hook up your Mac to your video tuner with a FireWire cable, then run clover with the following options:
  • -c channel_number
  • -d duration_in_minutes
  • -o output_filename
  • -v -- verbose mode, if you wish to see what it's doing
For example, clover -v -c 67 -d 30 -o my_recording.ts would change the tuner box to channel 67, and record for 30 minutes, dumping the transport stream to a file named my_recording.ts in the current directory. The resultant file can be played with VLC or Plex.app directly without the need for transcoding. My intent is to eventually build a very simple DVR that I can use on my Mac Mini without needing to buy a TiVo.

It should be noted that some channels, such as HBO or HD on Demand from your cable company, will be encrypted. While you will be able to dump these files to disk, you will not be able to view them. However, for broadcast channels that are unencrypted, this works great; it can even record HD content with AC3 audio without breaking a sweat.

[robg adds: I can't test this app, but it sounds pretty useful if you've got a FireWire cable box.]
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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI | 12 comments | Create New Account
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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI
Authored by: vkeesari on Sep 04, '08 08:42:42AM

I use AVCVideoCap to capture content from a DVR with FireWire. In that case, is there an option to record the 'current' channel?

When playing back from a DVR, I believe it is also possible to save encrypted video that can't be recorded 'live' through FireWire.



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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI
Authored by: comboprime on Sep 04, '08 09:33:33AM

I used to have no problem offloading recorded [unencrypted] shows from my Motorola DVR via AVCVideoCap, but lately I get audio with no video, or files that can't be opened in VLC or MPEG Streamclip, or other weirdness.

Recording live [unencrypted] broadcasts seems fine.

Has anyone else had this issue, and--even better--know of a fix? Or can clover record whatever the DVR is playing instead of specifying a channel? Or is there a "channel" setting that means "whatever is playing"?

Thanks! If anyone can find the solution, it'll be a MacOSXHints reader.



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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI
Authored by: synthesizerpatel on Sep 04, '08 12:07:38PM

I've been noticing some issues with the raw transport stream dump that get resolved if you transcode the file into an encapsulated format such as mp4/avi. I'm still learning about .TS files but I can confirm 'Things can be wonky', but all the data is there, it's simply being able to play it back right.

I think some of the problems are simply the disk throughput required as CPU doesn't seem to be too bad.



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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI
Authored by: comboprime on Sep 04, '08 09:05:02PM

Thanks for the quick responses! I won't be able to test clover for a couple of weeks, but I'll let you know if it works when I do.



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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI
Authored by: JimMueller on Sep 05, '08 07:27:10PM

Might it have anything to do with sporadically applied protection flags? Comcast was really bad about this - one week Dirty Jobs was set to Copy Freely, then next week Copy Once, then several weeks later back to Copy Freely.



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re: files that can't be opened in VLC
Authored by: airdrummer on Feb 14, '09 10:01:21AM

i've had that problem w/ .ts files for some time: no play in vlc, play fine thru firewire (i use apple's f/w sdk's VirtualDVHS.app, OTA)

are there any tools to analyse .ts files? some1 mentioned randomly-applied broadcast.flags...



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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI
Authored by: synthesizerpatel on Sep 04, '08 12:02:36PM

To answer the question about recording without changing channels -- yes. Just don't give it a '-c' flag+option and it'll record whatever channel the cable box is already on.



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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI
Authored by: rlinsurf on Sep 04, '08 12:19:04PM

Can this be used to dump perviously recorded material from the DVR? Also, does this include HD material?

Thanks.

---
Jeffrey



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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI
Authored by: JimMueller on Sep 05, '08 07:18:51PM

You can grab previously recorded items by simply playing the recorded show as you run this recording utility.
I don't think there's any way using a Mac (yet) to browse the DVR as if it were a normal hard drive.



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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI
Authored by: pjd813 on Sep 04, '08 04:58:15PM

ok ..... I'm a dope...... How do I run the code after I download it?

sorry,
Pete D.



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Record video from FireWire tuner devices via the CLI
Authored by: mike666 on Sep 06, '08 03:57:40PM

Has anyone else with Time Warner Cable in San Diego tried this? Clover and AVCVideoCap both seem to be able to talk with my box and I don't get files full of zeros but I can't get any of my tests to play in VLC or be recognized by any transcoding apps. My suspicion is they're encrypting ALL their channels :( Can anyone confirm this?



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i've been looking for a cli tool, thanx:-)
Authored by: airdrummer on Feb 14, '09 10:09:28AM

i'll see if i can use it to control my samsung f/w tuner...i've been using VirtualDVHS.app since i got my sammy >3yrs ago, recording OTA, but never saw any upstream control api...



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