Yes I'm in the UK. I did read that thread but it sounded very complex. I had hoped for a simple solution, but it sounds like there are lag issues with infrared. So .... now I am considering several options.
Satellite box in cupboard out of sight
1. As described above. Teach linuxmce the sky commands using the usbuirt and use the orbiters to control sky via usbuirt transmitter.
(Still not sure how to send every button selection using this technique and this is the 'flaky' option I guess)
2. Dusky Sky Controller option (not available yet but seems to be the most reliable solution) uses orbiters as controls I guess.
3. Use a normal sky extender plugged into the rf connector and run the cable into my living room. Use sky ir remote to control it.
Satellite box in living room
4. Run composite and audio (about 7 metres) into cupboard to core but primarily use sky ir remote in living room.
5. Use usb capture card on my living room md and plug sky into this. Again use sky remote.
6. A combination of the above which allows both use of sky ir remote and orbiters.
Options 1 and 2 (and 6) seem to be the 'proper' solutions but options 3, 4, 5 and 6 would keep my wife happy as she is used to the sky plus remote!
Thanks for your advice!
Just to update you all;
We are working on a multi way approach to make adding Sky or Virgin (or indeed any other external video source available). In no particular order they are;
1. Capture/Stream - this involves using an analog capture card to capture the composite/s-video/component video signal from the source and digitise it. This is then passed to the vdr plugin called ipTV and this plugin allows any MD to pickup the stream and display it. If the source is a Sky box (Sky Digibox, Sky+ or SkyHD) then we use a Dusky interface to control it as it is reliable and very fast. If the source is a Virgin digibox or something else like a FreeSat digibox then we use IR blasting to control it. The Digiboxes are then added to the vdr EPG channel list and can be selected just like any other channel... and recorded just like any other channel too. You get know EPG data for these 'channels' though in vdr but you can use instant record, Live pause or schedule a recording manually for some time in the future.
Downsides of this approach is mainly in the picture quality and lag when capturing the analog video. Composite capture is acceptable to some people... but many find it unacceptable. S-video is somewhat better...but still not excellent. Component capture has good quality but currently the only device that provides this is the Hauppauge HDPVR and the Linux drivers for this are still very much unstable... so for now this really is not usable in a production system. Lag in capture is a problem mainly when you want to control some aspect of the Digiboxes UI... that will suffer a 2-3 sec delay and this puts many people off in a big way.
2. Control/Video Distribution - this uses the same control options as above but in this case we distribute the video output of the Digibox out to the TV/Displays attached to the MD's directly. So depending on what outputs your Digibox has - RF, Composite, Component, S-Video or HDMI and how many MD's you want to be able to distribute the video signal too you have a number of choices;
- Single TV/Screen: ie hybrid Core just take the cable strait out of the Digibox into the TV and have the MD use RS232 or IR blasting to switch to the other input or if RF another RF Channel. Now your LinuxMCE remote becomes the remote control for the Digibox.
- Multiple TV/Screens: For RF you would use an RF distribution amplifier (ie 1-4 RF inputs to one or many RF outputs) and send the video from the digibox to each screen on a different RF channel for each digibox. Again RS232 or IR control of the TV allows you to select one of your digiboxes and then have the TV controlled by LinuxMCE so that its input is automatically switched/tuned to the RF channel for that digibox. Now your LinuxMCE remote becomes the remote control for the Digibox.
- Multiple TV/Screens; Using HDMI or any other video output allows you to use say a 1-4, 1-8 or 1-16 distribution Amp to get the number of outputs you need. Then you would have either long video cables out to each TV/MD or you can use HDMI to CAT5 converters or Component to CAT5 converters to send the video signal over dedicated CAT5 cables to where you need it (at the TV/MD end you would have a CAT5 to HDMI/Component coverter) and then into the input on the TV. Again you would then use IR/RS232 to switch inputs on the TV. Another variation on this is where all the MD's are racked centrally with the Core and you use a 3-1 switcher with RS232 control and send that output out over CAT5 to the remote screen (use another CAT5 to get remote USB devices out there too ie IR receiver/Keyboard etc.
The advantage of Option 2 is that you get full picture quality at the TV... no loss at all (its as good as having the Sky/Virgin or other digibox) directly connected to the screen in question. With the Dusky combined with this you get instantaneous response to the remote when controlling the remote Sky box for example and perfect picture quality. You also get full control of the Sky boxes without limitation and the ability to watch anything you record (if the boxes are Sky+ or SkyHD that is!) anywhere you have an MD/screen. The main disadvantages are that it involves more complex cabling and it does not bring the video from the digiboxes into the system at all.
We have the basic components of this deployed with customers now and it is proving very successful. What we are currently doing is bringing all of this together with configuration options etc so that you can choose any of these approaches as you configure your Core. Once we have that work complete we will release this back to the community. I cant give any timescale for this... but it will be as soon as possible.
All the best