Over-The-Air (OTA) TV is something that’s been around for a while. It used to be just regular TV broadcast over the air to your bunny ears on your TV. Nowadays it’s uncompressed 1080i/p and very good quality. If you live near, or in a major city you should be able to pick up a handful of OTA channels. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I’d like to outline how I’m sending OTA channels to my XBMC setup.
There are many ways to do what I am doing. I’m using Windows on my homeserver, which some people might not be. This isn’t meant to be the end-all guide for OTA to XBMC, this is just how I set mine up a year ago, and I haven’t had any issues since.
It all starts with the antenna. This is what picks up the OTA signal. Depending on how far or close you are to the broadcast towers, you will need a different antenna. They range from outdoor, to indoor, from the size of a paperclip, to huge ones you mount on a pole.
I bought the “Digiwave Ant2084 4Bay Multidirectional Hdtv Antenna” with the model number DW2084. It was around $20-30 and I bought it from an electronics liquidator. I don’t need anything expensive or fancy because I’m pretty close to the signal being broadcasted. I cringe when I see people buying $120 antennas. Installation was easy, it came with mounting brackets that I attached to my balcony (I live in an apartment).
I have the antenna plugged into coax which runs to my…
This has the coax from the antenna plugged into it, as well as an ethernet cable going to my switch. The main use of the HDHomeRun is to present the OTA stream to my PVR software running on my Windows homeserver. The model I have might be discontinued as it’s sort of old, and I bought it during a sale. Setup was easy, just plugged it all in and updated the software.
Running on my homeserver is…
I fiddled with running the PVR software on my Openelec HTPC but ultimately I got too frustrated with it and decided to try something else. That something else ended up being NextPVR on my homeserver. Setup was easy for the most part. I followed some documentation on their site and I looked around online to see if anyone had any tutorials. It’s used for all the heavy lifting behind the scenes. It does the scanning, station labelling and schedule grabbing, speaking of which…
This wonderful service allows me to have a cablebox like setup for live tv. Without it I wouldn’t be able to see what’s playing and when on the OTA channels. You plug your login credentials into NextPVR and it does it’s magic. I have my address details setup in my account, so it knows what OTA channels are around me. It’s a paid service but it’s affordable and it’s yearly.
Running on XBMC is the NextPVR plugin. You can only have one PVR/LiveTV plugin running at once from what I remember, so it’s easy to configure. You just plug in your homeserver (NextPVR server) details (IP/Port + login) and then it just works. Literally just works. I know, crazy stuff.
I’ve laid out my live TV setup on XBMC. When I write it out like this it looks easy, and to be fair if you want something to do on the weekend and don’t mind a little challenge I highly recommend it. You’ll enjoy it once it’s all setup and working. I don’t use mine to record shows or anything, I use it because sometimes, live TV is better. I like to watch the local news in the morning when I eat my breakfast, or watch the 6:00 news when I’m eating dinner.
If you have any questions please let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you.