Recomendations for Video Capture Cards

Danny Pansters danny at
Fri Feb 18 00:10:03 GMT 2005

Since no one else seems to have replied...

On Wednesday 16 February 2005 22:36, Jasvinder S. Bahra wrote:
> Hi all,
> I've recently had a PC become available, and I would like to set it up as a
> kind of video recorder.
> I would like to purchase a card of some sort that would allow me to connect
> the PC to my TV, and record television programmes on the hard-drive. The
> reverse also - playing back the recording, and viewing it on the TV.
> Now, i've done a little research, and I understand that FreeBSD "provides
> support for PCI-based TV cards using a Brooktree Bt848/849/878/879 or a
> Conexant CN-878/Fusion 878a Video Capture Chip with the bktr(4) driver".
> Does anyone have any recomendations on a video capture card that would be
> suitable?

Anything Brooktree, which are most PCI cards, e.g. WinTV, Miro, Pinnacle, but 
also the more expensive ones like osprey. Do make sure to put the card in a 
PCI slot where it has sufficient ventilation. The tuner unit can get very 
warm. I have had a WinTV card that apparently had caught on fire a few years 
ago (I remember smelling something funny...).

IMHO the bad thing is that we basically only have one driver for TV cards, the 
good things are that it works very well (try video4linux, then bktr and see) 
and that the vast majority of TV cards have a bktr chip. I'm using an old 
Miro-Bt848 card now. It does freeze everything sometimes (if I could switch 
to a console it would show a panic), e.g. when changing input sources 
quickly, I think when it's reinitialized too fast, but I've seen the same 
happen on Linux and Windows. Bad firmware that never got updated would be my 
guess. Also, I always found that your tossed aside VCR cam plugged into the 
V-in of a framegrabber card makes a great webcam as well.

We have a few working TV apps, the best arguably being Fxtv which is 
especially written for the bktr driver. It works well but looks a bit 
outdated. As for more modern apps, KDETV is not ported yet (I've looked at 
it; a porter would basically have to either create an interface to our 
framegrabber/tuner/audio devices that mimics v4l or v4l2 or/and rewrite a lot 
of the other code to use FreeBSD's ioctls and other provisions instead -- 
both are doable but not trivial) and neither is Gnome's equivalent AFAIK. We 
don't have anything canned-in specifically for either Gnome or KDE at the 
time for TV viewing.

You can use (k)mplayer as a TV renderer though. If you use KDE: I've been 
experimenting a bit with using kmplayer's dcop functions to change the 
channel/frequency while running kmplayer with TV input and it seems to have 
some potential.

That's all I can tell about TV cards.



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