Friday, May 18, 2007

A Pinnacle PCTV Update

As you know from my last post, I have been working on getting a Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro USB stick working. Preferably with my Windows laptop, though it would not be bad to get it working with my Linux desktop as well.

Since I last posted, there has been some progress and success made. The first thing I was able to definitely nail down was that I did not have a "hot" cable outlet in the office. So, I had to purchase a splitter and a short piece of cable to split the line I had coming in to service the cable modem. It is now serving TV as well. That immediately solved the problem with the Linux desktop as I was able to get a good, clean signal and KDETV became operational. The only challenge that remains is getting the sound working. I think the problem is Linux does not know how to take the sound from the USB device and make it available to the system. However, I have not figured out how to get around that.

Back to the Windows laptop. After some searching, I found a piece of software - Chris-TV PVR - that looked promising as a replacement for the Pinnacle software. I downloaded the demo of the standard version and installed that and I was able to get a picture, but I had no sound. After some fruitless research, I then tried downloading the "Additional Files for MSP Support" that Chris-TV has available on the web site (look at the bottom of the downloads page). This is basically a bt driver file. Upon installing that, I still had no sound. However, I accidentally fired up the Pinnacle TVCenter Pro software and wonder of wonders - it recognized the USB device and was ready to scan for channels. After going through that process twice (the software seemed to get confused about what was going on) and a reboot, both the Chris-TV application and the Pinnacle TVCenter Pro software are working and have sound. Woohoo!!!!

Meanwhile, I had also contacted Pinnacle's support (prior to all of the above). They seemed pretty stumped and had me install some software to collect system information and send it to them. After a couple days of looking over that data, their response was:
you don't have all the Microsoft hotfixes installed. We strongly recommend you to download them. Then, unplug all USB devices but the PCTV HD PRO STICK and attempt to use it again.

A couple notes on that. As for the hotfixes, as I recall from the list, the overwhelming majority of the ones not installed were issued by MS on 5/5/2007 - the same time I was trying to get this working. I really don't know why that would matter unless Pinnacle was able to anticipate what hotfixes MS was going to issue in the future. Likewise, I find it kind of stunning that they would think an acceptable solution would be to unplug all other USB devices (in my case, the only one is a wireless mouse).

Pinnacle TVCenter snapshotI suppose I'll need to write back to Pinnacle to let them know that even though I got the stick working, it was no due to any of their suggestions. As I close this latest chapter of computer frustration, let me leave you with a snapshot generated from the Pinnacle software showing TV on my PC.
Hope this helps anyone out there who may be having similar problems!

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