[clug] DVB-T USB stick - looking for info

Mike Carden mike.carden at gmail.com
Mon Feb 11 22:17:24 GMT 2008

I took a punt at the computer fair on the weekend and bought an
inexpensive USB digital TV tuner stick. With an infrared remote, mini
antenna, and a Belling-Lee antenna adaptor, this experiment cost me
$45. The packaging was utterly silent on brand name, chipset etc. Made
in China and some Windows PC specs were all I could see.

So I got it home, plugged it in to an Ubuntu Feisty machine and took a
gander at lsusb. Turns out it's a RealTek RTL2831U. There's no current
support for it in video 4 linux, but some Googling revealed a recent
thread on lkml about RealTek releasing the driver source and I finally
obtained a copy of the code. From what I can tell, I'll need to
compile it into a kernel module and cross my fingers, but first I'd
really like to know if the little stick works at all. That way when
I'm fiddling with my new kernel and probably the Kaffeine media player
I'll know whether I'm chasing my tail or not.

I have brought it to the office and set it up with its provided
software (BlazeTV) on a fast, modern XP box. Plugged in an antenna,
scanned for channels and got nothing. Plugged in my adaptor and a
bigger antenna, still nothing. I'm at Mitchell with pretty much line
of sight to Black Mountain Tower and and internal DVB card on another
machine here can resolve a signal with a paperclip for an antenna. The
stick flashes its blue LED ten times when first connected to a USB
port and gets fairly warm during the channel scanning process.
Otherwise it's cool to touch.

So maybe some manual setup rather than scanning is the go. I have
managed to uncover the Tx frequencies of the five free to air channels
that ought to be available here, but I also have some settings
available for constellation, code rate, tx mode, guard interval and
offset frequency. Does anyone know where I might dig up these details
for the local digital transmissions? My web searching has not

Okay, that isn't strictly a Linux question, but if I get it going I
can post the steps needed to make it work under Linux and possibly
others might end up with a cheap DVT-B tuner. Or I'll discover that
it's a useless piece of junk and warn others not to waste cash like I
did. :-)


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