Distributed Live TV and Command one Client to Record

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Talguy Offline
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Post: #1
So I currently have a Ceton InfiniTV4 installed in my HTPC which is connected to my living room TV. I have a second client which is a laptop (Macbook) connected to the network via Wi-Fi receiving the Live-TV stream from the Living Room HTPC. I use the ServerWMC software and associated plugin every day with XBMC. This is a great piece of software since it also allows me to do series recording. I've been thinking of upgrading from my InfiniTV4 PCIe to a InfiniTV6 ETH in prepartion to expand my media network in the home. I even thought of picking up the InfiitTV6 PCIe, but I decided against it to help mitigate load on the computer hosting the card. So I have a few question regarding network attached cable card tuners and a question/suggestion on the software side of things.

Can network attached tuner be shared with multiple WMC clients. Say I have two clients on the network and they both want to consume Live TV with different channels, will Tuner 1 in the box be dedicated to Client 1 during that session and Tuner 2 be dedicated to Client 2 in that session of is the box as a whole dedictaed to only one of the clients? For the people that have a network attached tuner are you cable to setup tuner pools? I would like to specify two tuners are only accessible by a specific IP address and then use the other pool of tuners as for live TV viewing by clients.

Now I mentioned earlier that I want to try and reduce TV server load. I expect to expand my clients to 3 by adding another two ethernet connected computer to the network (probably NUCs) and turning the Living Room HTPC into a file server with some kind of Headless/Hybrid-Headless XBMC setup. Since I'm considering picking up the network attached TV tuner I don't see a need to have one box process all the video feeds from the tuner and then distribute it back to the individual clients when they're attached to the same network especially since I'm going to install Windows on these new clients. Having the one computer process all the video streams is a good size load on that computer and even more so when its recording shows. I know I could do what I ask by installing ServerWMC on each box that has windows installed but it would save the recordings on the local drive. I'm pretty sure in WMC I can even map the recording folder to a network share but I can see data getting lost and having artifacts in the recording. What I would like to see is when I press the record button on the a client it tells my file server with ServerWMC installed to record the program. Since its my file server it'll run a program like MCE buddy overnight and convert and move the file to the corrent folder in my mdeia library for all the clients to use later. This allows me to have a centralized server for creating new content and server static content. It also reduces the lag in Live TV watching by eliminating the middle man that transcodes/remuxs the WTV stream into a TS stream to for our viewing pleasure in XBMC.

The other problem I see is how do non-windows based systems fit into the equation. I could assign one of the clients to act as a TV router and serve up the stream of leave it to the server which brings us back to current capability especially for those with non-windows clients.

So if the answer to the first question is yes than can I do the second question?

Just a lot I had today when trying to layout plans for the new network.

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scarecrow420 Offline
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Post: #2
No you cant share 1 network tuner between multiple WMC (or ServerWMC) instances, they will steal tuners from eachother

Your post is a little bit confusing, can you explain what you envisaged this ideal setup to consist of? I get that you have ServerWMC and WMC on a file server, and want that to do your recordings... but what do you want to do your live TV viewing?

I disagree with your proposal that centralising TV functions onto one server is not a good idea. I actually prefer to have a single server that is dealing with everything, and distributing the TV signal (and shared access to recordings) to any clients you have, be they windows, raspberry pi, etc. If it ever eventuated that a server PC was not able to keep up with recordings and multiple clients viewing independent channels, we could potentially implement changes in ServerWMC to use different storage volumes for different clients/recordings, or potentially make XBMC be able to use one ServerWMC backend for recordings, and another for LiveTV (however those 2 ServerWMC backend would need to have unique tuner devices used by them exclusively)
(This post was last modified: 2014-04-29 03:00 by scarecrow420.)
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proline Offline
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Post: #3
I think what he means is multiple clients, not servers.
If so then yes you can pool multiple network tuners. for a network tuner you want only accessible by ip access only, you would have to not include it in the list of available tuners in WMC, but that said they are only accessible by means of their built in DLNA server, or through an http command and or stream file. WMC would be out of the loop and so would the EPG and PVR functions from WMC. I use 2 dual tuners for WMC, and a third dual tuner set up in the way you describe for access by 2 original xbox's I still have on my network.
If you meant multiple servers, then yes Scarecrow is correct that they would steal tuners from each other.
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Talguy Offline
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Post: #4
Sorry for not coming back to this topic for a little while. Let me clairify what I was asking. Also note I've come to terms that this might not be a good solution for people running a mix and match of OS's for XBMC clients on the network and it would only be good for a network attached tuner like an HD Prime or the ceton one I referenced earlier. For me I plan on running a network of all Windows based XBMC clients and servers.

So currently I have a PCIe based tv tuner from Ceton. All live tv that my clients can play is funneled through the Computer with the tv tuner card. I was thinking of upgrading to a network attached TV tuner like the HD prime and saw an opportunity to changing things up with my network layout. I'm not sure how much load the Streaming and recording TV creates on the computer running ServerWMC creates but I think it is quite a bit and I would like to avoid it as the computer ages.

So my idea is that I would have one computer dedicated to only recording shows. This computer will be the TV Recording server. Each clients will have one tuner of the avaliable six dedicated to them by setting up a possible pooling or IP list in the network attached tuner (not sure this is possible). This leaves 2-3 tuners dedicated to the recording server. When a user of one of the clients presses the record button the client sends a signal to the recording server to start recording the show.

I look at this solution as solving two possible problems if the server is lagging then Live TV playback on the clients will be choppy. This solution leaves the live tv streaming to the network attached tuner and client interface and remove the server out of the middle of that interface. It also protects against device failures. With the current implementation if the TV tuner fails you no longer have live tv in XBMC and if the computer with the ServerWMC software installed on it fails you no longer have live tv. My idea removes one point of failure from the architecture. So if the TV tuner fails you don't have live tv but if the recording server fails you still have live tv but you don't have recording capability.

Some draw backs I see. It really only works for Windows based clients running some form of the ServerWMC software. It might double the amount of bandwidth used on the network if a recording and viewing session is taking place as there will be a minimum of two computers consumming the same stream. Also this requires more hardware to be installed on your network increasing cost. It also requires you to purchase Windows licenses.

I hope this helps clarify some of the stuff i posted about in the first post. This was purely meant to start a discussion of different ways to look at how we can distribute Live TV on the network with the XBMC WMC capability.

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scarecrow420 Offline
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Post: #5
Well in theory we could support something like that by changing the pvr.wmc addon to support 2 ServerWMC links, one for liveTV and the other for Recordings. We would send certain commands at the first one, and other commands at the second.

To have the setup you mention though, you would need to have ServerWMC and WMC installed/configured on every client and it's also assuming as you say that these network tuners are capable of only offering a subset of their tuners to any particular device (perhaps you can do this just in the WMC configuration where you place a checkbox next to the tuners you want it to use, you could possibly have client 1 use tuner 1, client 2 use tuner 2, client use tuner 3 etc). I see having multiple WMC and ServerWMC to install, configure, kee running etc as a pretty major disadvantage, not to mention if you are on windows 8+ having WMC actually costs money as well. If a network tuner device is capable of handling the load of 8 simultaneous tuner streams and transcoding to x264 etc, then there is no reason to think that you cant build a server PC that is equally able to handle such load. As previously mentioned, storage IOPs is probably the limiting factor in my mind and we could enhance serverWMC to use multiple TempSWMC directories on separate disks if this became a problem.

If you want redundancy and resiliency then running a VM as the ServerWMC host, (so the VM can be snapshotted or backed up, and brought up quickly on other hardware if any failures occured) plus storing recordings on a NAS or other redundant disk setup, would be what I would reccomend. Similarly instead of having 1 big tuner device with 8 tuners, have at least 2 separate devices so that a faliure in one doesnt take down your capability (only reduces the number of simultaneous channels able to be accessed)

Anyhow, as mentioned in my first sentence, if we added support to talk to more than 1 ServerWMC backend and to define what actions go to which one, you could actually do what you are saying. I fear this makes our system far less intuitive and easy to setup for new users (and 99% of users who wouldnt use this) so that is another thing to consider as well.
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