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How to setup and use DVB-S (satellite tv) cards

WARNING : This was only tested with the Pinnacle PCTV Sat, and may not work or won't help you with different cards.

Load required Modules

You have to lookup the chipset of your specific card; Tools like lshwd may help you.

Pinnacle PCTV Sat

This card uses bt878 and cx24110 as chipset. Load them (under root) with:

  modprobe dvb-bt8xx
  modprobe cx24110

If you want Arch to boot them on startup, add both modules to MODULES in /etc/rc.conf

Setup Permissions

To use your DVB-S card as user add him to the video-group:

  gpasswd -a [username] video

Scanning channels

NOTE: You can skip this part if you use Kaffeine.

Most applications like szap or xine are needing a channel list created by "scan", which is part of dvb-utils. You'll find the dvb-utils package under the name linuxtv-dvb-apps in the Community-Repo.

Using scan

scan needs an channel to initialize scanning.
In /usr/share/dvb-utils/scan/dvb-s/ are some files which contain these channels; you will need that one that fits the satellite you are watching from.

The following command will scan all channels and save them to channels.conf:

  scan -x0 -t1 -s1 /usr/share/dvb-utils/scan/dvb-s/[your satellite] | tee channels.conf

NOTE: The channel file don't have to be called "channels.conf" but it's more convenient as you will see later.
NOTE: Depending on your satellite dish setup you may have to try other arguments.

Switching channels

By using zap, which comes with dvb-utils, you can switch channels, so you don't have to rely on the abilities of your player.

szap needs the channel file we created earlier; it will try ~/.szap/channels.conf by default. You can move the channels.conf there or you can use the "-c" command-line option.

Switching channels works like this:

  szap -r [channel]

NOTE: szap needs to keep running.

You can list all available channels with:

  szap -q

Now you can watch the stream for example with xine:

  xine -g stdin://mpeg2 < /dev/dvb/adapter0/dvr0



Kaffeine is a really nice player; it supports EPG, time-shifting, and recording. Additionally Kaffeine has built-in channel-searching. Install it with:

  pacman -Sy kaffeine