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Old 13th October, 2004, 01:45 AM
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Question RGB video out

Hey guys, thanks for the warm welcome.

I'm a regular over at spode's abode, but no-one over there knew the answer to this question, so I'm gonna see if you guys have any info for meh. I'm looking to build a HTPC on a baglady budget for an article I'm gonna write, with second hand parts or bits lying around etc, as a how-to for peeps with a spare P3 500 or faster PC that's currently doing nothing, or who can lay their hands on one dead cheap, like.

My problem is this:

My choice of gfx card was going to be a radeon 7000 with tv out. I'm still going to use it (and probably a GeForce2) because a lot of people will have similar cards, but I've seen Matrox mga G450's on ebay for about a tenner, and these babies can do RGB out to PAL or NTSC TV sets with their second VGA connector, meaning VASTLY superior picture on my widescreen TV.

Do you guys:

A) Know of any other video cards that can do RGB out at TV sync (15625Hz, I *think*) as standard (i.e. without modding?)

B) Anyone from London got a G200, G400 or G450 I could buy? I don't trust ebay as far as I can throw a planet...

C)Anyone tried modding a VGA card to output RGB at TV standard sync? I know it can be done, X under Linux let's you do it with pretty much any VGA card going - Read this for a little info on how...
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Old 13th October, 2004, 02:20 AM
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A) Actually, I wasn't aware that there were ANY commonly available video cards that could to RGB out at standard TV rates. North American standard is 15.625 KHz. I can't remember if PAL and SECAM are different from that or not. I think it is only the vertical that changes, resulting in more lines per frame.

B) I'm not from London, but I've had pretty good luck getting stuff on EBay. It's definitely not something that you want to jump into unprepared, though.

C) Most VGA cards are so programmable any more that if you could get proper documentation on the hardware, you could probably simply set the registers with the proper divisors without any mods at all to the hardware. Not having tried that, however, I'd hate to be held to it.
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Old 13th October, 2004, 10:03 AM
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It used to be possible to force graphics cards to produce custom timings. I know that the nVidia drivers allow for custom timings, but with a friendlier interface than the xfree86config file, but I don't know about the ATi cards.

You may be able to do something with the monitor.inf file, see hut.fi for more information on that.

PowerStrip should also allow you to set custom timings with a friendier interface.

All this will require you to generate the correct sync pulses, and wire the VGA output to a SCART socket.
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Old 13th October, 2004, 03:48 PM
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Forgot to mention that I'm planning on doing this with linux, and either freevo or mythtv...

So any modding I do to the vid card timings would be with xfree86...

The problem with that is that I can't really advocate that in a howto, because people could end up blowing up their tv sets, hence wanting a matrox card.

Never mind, I'll brave the sharkpool that is ebay.
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Old 13th October, 2004, 04:08 PM
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Just use the modeline then - it's not really a big deal. If you're going to use analog, then no big deal, as long as you choose a decent capture card. Just remember that analog TV channels only transmit composite video.

If you're using DVB-T, then there are other issues too. MythTV doesn't support DVB-T wonderfully well - for example there's no automatic recognition of PIDs, and MythTV doesn't handle channels that only transmit part of the day very well.
Couple that with the fact that some of the channels transmit in slightly different resolutions (I think I've seen both 720 and 740 horizontal), and it can get messy. It'd also be nice if MythTV could transmit the widescreen signal, but it doesn't appear to be able to yet.
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Old 13th October, 2004, 04:21 PM
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I wasn't aware of that - I wonder if freevo suffers from similar problems?

From what I understand, freevo is just a front end that can control your cap card, act as a PVR/timeshift device and a frontend to mplayer for playing avi's, mpegs and dvd's etc, so getting it to use widescreen should be no harder than specifying the correct res in X. I was under the impression mythtv was the same, but having never used either, I can't say one way or the other.

Since I'm going to be using an analogue card, at least to begin with, the res issues with DVB aren't going to hit me just yet. That said, I was planning to upgrade the system to both DVB-T and DVB-S later on, providing I can lay my hands on the hardware for resonable costs (baglady budget).

The main reason for wanting proper RGB out isn't so much because I'm worried about TV signal quality, but because it's going to be playing DVD's too. I'm used to crystal clear pictures from my xbox media centre, and if I can continue that tradition with a cheapass matrox card, then why not?
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Old 13th October, 2004, 04:54 PM
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You cannot do DVB-S in the UK if you wish to receive Sky. Sky use a propriatory encryption scheme that is not supported by anything but a sky box. Even the free to air channels are encoded with a delay between audio and video to ensure that standard decoders give poor quality results.

I believe that Freevo suffers from the same problems as MythTV when it comes to DVB.

MythTV has the advantage of being able to act as a distributed system. If you can get Linux on your XBox, you can use the mythfrontend on the XBox, and put the mythbackend on a seperate linux capture system. Myth is quite happy streaming content across a network, and is capable of feeding multiple frontends (with obvious restrictions for liveTV - you need a seperate capture card for each seperate channel that is watched!)
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Old 14th October, 2004, 12:30 AM
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Yeah, but mythtv on the xbox doesn't actually offer anything I can't get with my current install of xbox media center. The main reasons for doing this are that the xbox is too loud - ok when playing games, but distracting when trying to watch TV or a DVD, and also that I want to do a writeup of my experiances with mythtv/freevo.

Oh, and the only reason for even looking at a DVB-S card is for the writeup. I'm not a fan of sky - but that's for another discussion...
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