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By dashcloud at 2008-03-06 21:14
This guide is a very rough hack that has worked for me. I'm absolutely certain there's a better, easier way: I just couldn't find any, and have not gotten around to compiling new versions of programs that should be able to do it.

This guide covers recording from a VCR using composite cables to connect the VCR to the computer. I have a PVR-250 card in my media box, so the commands are most easily transferable to that, but there should be very little specific to that card.

Basically, it boils down to this:

 cat /dev/video0 > movie.mpg
(kill at end of tape manually, or some other way).

As always, the devil is in the details.

You'll need the v4l2-conf utility installed (on a mythbuntu or similar system, it's under v4l-conf).

Here's an online guide to all the options for v4l2-conf:

I've listed the short form (-x) and the long form (--long-form) of the commands below because sometimes I could get the short form to work, and sometimes only the long form command worked.

The most important commands here are:
-I get video input (which input is the video coming in on)
-i set video input 
--set-input=x (in case the -i option doesn't work- it happens sometimes)

-n display video inputs
--list-inputs long form

 v4l2-conf -n
should give you a list of all the inputs on your main capture card (most likely /dev/video0). At least on the PVR-250, you'll see 5 inputs, which is puzzling to say the least: you've only got 3 on the card: 1 coax, composite, and S-video.
The 5 on the PVR-250 break down like this:

0: Coax
1: S-video 1
2: Composite 1
3: S-video 2
4: Composite 2
5: Composite 3

Input #5 was the key to success for me: it let me see the video from the VCR. For TV, I stick with the first 3 inputs.

So to switch to Composite 3, type:
 v4l2-conf --set-input=5
After this, give it a test run by running /cat/dev/video0 >temp.mpg for about 10 seconds, and then press crtl-c.

Play it back with your favorite program, and hopefully you'll see video there. If so, congratulations! You're now able to record video from your VCR.

If not, there's a number of things that might not be right.

First, do a [code] v4l2-conf -S and make sure that the correct format for your region shows up: if it doesn't match what you would use, the video will either not record, or it will be a mess.

Should you need to change it, use
-s region
(ntsc, pal, or secam).

Another thing to try is changing the input until you find one that works. You'll need a cable plugged into one of the first 3 inputs in order to try the additional ones.

by rlhartmann on Sat, 2008-05-03 18:47
Have you checked out MythTV, this is a very nice interface, there are distributions
that are designed to run this, here are a few links:

The Knoppmyth installed fairly easily and has a wonderful interface.


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