A few issues with ArgusTV

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negge Offline
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Post: #1
Against by better judgement I decided to try to setup a PVR solution for a friend. Another friend had a spare WinTV HVR-930C HD stick (yes, that abomination that doesn't work in Linux) so Windows was the only way to go, and for this reason I chose to go with Argus. So far so good.

After a few hours of shaking my head in disbelief I finally gave up and left my friend with a barely working solution. I'm writing this here in hope that someone may have some helpful advice, but also to give some perspective on how many things simply seem to suck when it comes to Windows software.

1. You can't sign up to the Argus forums (the activation e-mail never arrives). If I could I probably wouldn't be writing this here.

2. It takes about 8 seconds to zap channels, even with Margro's latest beta build. I don't even want to know how long it would take with vanilla XBMC. The tuner's light is green when a channel is tuned, but when switching channels it stays yellow for about five seconds. Has anyone experienced this? I would never buy a Hauppage product myself but this is ridiculous. How are these people still in business?

3. Argus apparently doesn't understand that channels have numbers. This means when you scan for services and map them to channels they all end up in alphabetic order. Quoting http://www.argus-tv.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=4066:

Quote:Why don't you order channels in the Argus scheduler console, then if BBC1 is fist in list pressing 1 should change to that channel, pressing 3 to ITV etc.

How about no? Does anyone know of some way to get Argus to detect the channel numbers automatically or am I out of luck here?

4. I wasted about half an hour trying to get the CAM device to work until I noticed that Argus by default puts a limit of zero on the amount of channels that a CAM can decrypt. Who the hell came up with that default? How could anyone possibly have a device that can decrypt 0 channels at a time?

5. I don't know if this is down to the bright minds at Hauppage or if it's a fault in Argus, but there is one frequency that simply cannot be scanned. I added the correct frequency to the Cables.xml file but it always says "No signal" on it, like it's not there. Has anyone experienced this?

While searching for some answers I stumbled upon http://www.argus-tv.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=4795. The guy had to explain five times that the exact same setup worked with another operating system with another backend. "but it could be your codecs". The possibility that Windows as a platform is one of the worst imaginable for a PVR doesn't even seem to cross some peoples minds.

6. Speaking of scanning for services, Argus can't seem to auto-discover multiplexes at all. If the provided presets don't work for you (they usually never do since things change) you have to manually edit an XML file, which naturally contains cryptic substitutions for critical information (QAM256 is 5, QAM128 is 4 and so on).

Frankly I'm amazed by the level of suckage Windows users put up with. This truly is the last time I ever do anything PVR related on Windows. I already said the same thing when I tried NextPVR for the first and last time a few months ago, but this time I'm convinced it's true. It's 2014 and basic features like discovering services and channel numbers are non-existant (and colors in the EPG for that matter, though that may be up to the XBMC addon). I could write a page long rant about how ridiculously complicated and slow software descrambling is on Windows but that'll have to pass.

In defense of Argus users, at least NextPVR takes suckage to a whole other level. It simply doesn't work.

/rant
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CHBMB Offline
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Post: #2
It works fine for me. In fact it's the only PVR system that I've managed to get running and working without any issues and I've tried all the Windows solutions and VDR & TVHeadEnd on Linux.

Before I migrated to XBMC I was using FTR/Argus on Mediaportal for a few years too without an issue.
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negge Offline
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Post: #3
Yeah well, all solutions I've ever tried (except NextPVR) have worked, but almost all seem to have some ridiculous shortcomings that the existing user base simply turn a blind eye to (like channel numbers in Argus, or slow channel switching times with every backend except VDR and tvheadend).
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bossanova808 Offline
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Post: #4
There's always another view.

I tried TvHeadEnd for some time and yes it had faster channel changing, but it also had much glitchier playback (same tuners etc). In terms of set up, both are pretty easy - basically install, scan, go. But my scenario is FTA TV in Australia, so relatively simple. TvHeadEnd (possibly a dead end project now just BTW) - I just could not get it to send through a non glitchy signal to xbmc, so regular green artefacts.

But I don't think your Argus experience is typical, or that I'm turning a 'blind eye'. I have found Argus to be very stable, have by far the best scheduling, and to be no harder to install or tune. I did have to change one frequency in an xml file years ago if I recall correctly but that took a few minutes to work out.

The lack of genre colours is the only outstanding issue for me really...and a pretty minor one at that.

More specifically

1. No issue here
2. Initial startup is about 8 seconds, further zaps about 4
3. Channel numbers are archaic, if you ask me. But I just ordered them in a logical order, took maybe 2 mins.
4. Don't use dodgy CAMs here, so N/A to me
5 & 6. I think I did something like the last post in that thread too, once long ago. It's had no issues every since that's for sure.

Basically, for me it was stable playback trumps anything else. And it really wasn't that hard. The server now feeds to 3 machines with no issues at all. yeah it would be good if it was quicker but really I only ever watch FTA when I am targetting something specific anyway, so no drama there. Indeed, I rarely watch live - I record then watch half an hour late to skip ads etc. Can't abide real live telly!

My XBMC stuff:
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negge Offline
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Post: #5
bossanova808 Wrote:I tried TvHeadEnd for some time and yes it had faster channel changing, but it also had much glitchier playback (same tuners etc). In terms of set up, both are pretty easy - basically install, scan, go. But my scenario is FTA TV in Australia, so relatively simple. TvHeadEnd (possibly a dead end project now just BTW) - I just could not get it to send through a non glitchy signal to xbmc, so regular green artefacts.

That's unfortunate, I've never had any major signal strength/tuning issues with tvheadend (all I've ever had to do was change the cables). The project is not dead either, despite the doomsday posts on the internet.

bossanova808 Wrote:have by far the best scheduling

I give you that one.

bossanova808 Wrote:1. No issue here
2. Initial startup is about 8 seconds, further zaps about 4
3. Channel numbers are archaic, if you ask me. But I just ordered them in a logical order, took maybe 2 mins.
4. Don't use dodgy CAMs here, so N/A to me
5 & 6. I think I did something like the last post in that thread too, once long ago. It's had no issues every since that's for sure.

1. I did get the confirmation mail to one of my e-mails a few days later, the one to my gmail never made it though. So yes, there is an issue here.

2. While 4 is pretty bad at least it's better than what I was experiencing. I guess it's the Hauppage stick that sucks (who would have thought, a Windows only piece of hardware turned out to be shit?)

3. They're not archaic since every TV network in the world uses them, and every single TV set sold since the introduction of digital television has ordered the channels according to those numbers. I agree it wouldn't be a big deal if you use FTA and have 10 channels, any more than that and it becomes a gigantic pain in the ass to reorder them. This is not a missing feature, it's a bug.

4. The fact remains that Argus puts a brain-dead CAM limit default value at 0.

5 & 6. Could just as well be the Hauppage POS tuner, I will never buy or recommend any of their products again. They've made it onto the infamous list occupied by companies such as AMD (graphics) and Technotrend.
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Scottland Offline
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Post: #6
1. I too had issues getting the activation email - it arrived eventually though. I'm wondering if they're manually sifted or something which might explain the delay.
2. Initial startup is ~5 seconds max, channel switching is very quick almost on par with a Sky box in my view - this is using the 12.3 Margo build.
3. My channel numbers work fine? Although I have ordered them to my own liking, by default it will scan them to be alphabetical - but I didn't think the channel numbers were 'hard coded'? So how else would it order them by default?
4. You set the CAM limit when you setup the tuner, I'm not sure what the problem is here? It's quite obviously there as a setting when you add a tuner - I think you're being a little harsh here.
5. I think Argus may be a little picky than others, when I had issues with my dish alignment other PVR software would scan the channel ok but couldn't playback - whereas Argus wouldn't scan it at all. It could just be a bug with the Hauppage/Argus drivers. I use a TBS card for what it's worth.
6. Haven't encountered this so couldn't comment.


For windows, I think Argus is about the best right now. I don't think Windows is inherently poorer than Linux for PVR solutions, but Argus is built in .NET so would only get ported over by Mono under Linux which has it's own issues.

Argus certainly has it's flaws, but the same can be said for other PVR backends at the moment. A decent mobile app for Argus wouldn't go a miss, the ones on the Play store are pretty old and need updating. The web interface is ok, but not ideal.

Also, incase you come across it - there's a problem streaming live TV from Argus to Mac at the moment, in that it doesn't work at all.
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negge Offline
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Post: #7
Scottland Wrote:My channel numbers work fine? Although I have ordered them to my own liking, by default it will scan them to be alphabetical - but I didn't think the channel numbers were 'hard coded'? So how else would it order them by default?

Channel numbers are an integral part of digital TV. This is why in the UK BBC1 one is the first channel, in Sweden it's SVT1, in Finland it's Yle TV1 and so on. This is a feature that has been on every TV since the inception of digital TV and it's unfathomable that "just order them yourself" is the accepted solution.

Scottland Wrote:You set the CAM limit when you setup the tuner, I'm not sure what the problem is here? It's quite obviously there as a setting when you add a tuner - I think you're being a little harsh here.

I know it's easy to change but it's also easy to forget. The fact that you can change it doesn't make the default value any saner.

Scottland Wrote:I don't think Windows is inherently poorer than Linux for PVR solutions, but Argus is built in .NET so would only get ported over by Mono under Linux which has it's own issues.

Indeed there's nothing inherently wrong with Windows itself, it's just all the software available for it seem inferior in some way. Porting any Windows PVR software to Linux is basically a no go since the low-level stuff is completely different.
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Scottland Offline
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Post: #8
(2014-03-28 14:15)negge Wrote:  
Scottland Wrote:My channel numbers work fine? Although I have ordered them to my own liking, by default it will scan them to be alphabetical - but I didn't think the channel numbers were 'hard coded'? So how else would it order them by default?
Channel numbers are an integral part of digital TV. This is why in the UK BBC1 one is the first channel, in Sweden it's SVT1, in Finland it's Yle TV1 and so on. This is a feature that has been on every TV since the inception of digital TV and it's unfathomable that "just order them yourself" is the accepted solution.

I agree to a point, but what I'm getting at is how does Argus know BBC1 is the first channel unless there is information embedded in the feed? I don't know if there is or not, but if there is no channel number etc embedded argus would need to know the channel ordering for all channels etc which is impractical.

How does this work on other PVR solutions such as MediaPortal or TVHeadend?
(This post was last modified: 2014-04-06 13:23 by Scottland.)
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negge Offline
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Post: #9
The number is embedded in the feed, that's how other backends work it out.
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shinomen Offline
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Post: #10
I'm no expert by any means but I just setup Argus Tv for the first time this past week.

My experience has been that Argus does not capture the channel numbers, at least in the USA anyway. I had to go into the Argus TV scheduler and manually type in my channel numbers under the LCN column. The strange part is that I couldn't do sub-channels like 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 etc. I think this has to do with how the SQL database field for LCN is formatted for numbers only with no period or other special characters. So I ended up doing sub channels in this way:

Real Channel = Channel I put in
43.2 = 4302
43.3 = 4303
2.1 = 201
2.2 = 202

I also learned that (I assumed anyway) EPG data is not encoded in the over the air HD TV signals and so I did not get any EPG data automatically. I ended up using WebGrab+ Plus to get EPG data which was another monumental feat to get going because it seems that no EPG provider out there wants to give away EPG data for free. I ended up using tvguide.com to get my EPG data.

The other thing I had to do manually was to get the channel logos and put them in the Argus Tv folder to populate channel logos in the EPG. I ended up doing a google search for channel logos and finding the ones that worked best for my client which is XBMC gotham beta 3 running on Raspberry Pi.

Just for reference, here is my setup:

Argus Tv backend running under Windows 7 Professional under a Microsoft Hyper V machine
HD Home Run Plus that converts OTA HD to a network stream
WebGrab+ Plus getting EPG data from tvguide.com
xbmc gotham beta 3 running under openelec on raspberry pi overclocked to 1000Mhz
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sgibbers17 Offline
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Post: #11
The only issue that I have with argus is that there is no series recording option within XBMC.
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negge Offline
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Post: #12
@shinomen: even if Argus supported subchannels (it's an America only thing, that's why no one supports it) XBMC would have mangled them in some way since it too stores the channel numbers as integers in the database. The "no EPG data in the feed" is generally an American thing too, sadly.
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shinomen Offline
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Post: #13
Yeah it seems that the American OTA HD system is lacking in so many ways compared to what I keep reading other countries have.
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