How To: TransTV On PC

There is a bunch of information on Whirlpool on how to do this (HOWTO: TransACT TV on your PC), I have summarised some of it, and added some extra information from my experiences.  This page has four sections:

  1. Getting TransTV onto your PC
  2. Playing saved video in Windows Media Player (untested by me, but documented by David)
  3. Playing video off your PC back to your i3 set-top box (again, untested by me, idea from copb8, but documented by Eq2)
  4. (incomplete) Running TransTV through a firewall.  There is mention of this here, but I haven't gotten around to trying it so that I can write clear instructions.

First, what does having TransTV on your PC do for you?  Well:

 

1.  Getting TransTV onto your PC

Ok, so you want TV on your PC.  Start off with the pre-requisites:

  1. Need to be on the real TransACT fibre connection, not on the TransACT ADSL.  If you are on ADSL, or not on TransACT at all, you are SOL at this point.
  2. Have to have a mood box.  One of those TransACT boxes with the damn annoying glowing blue front.  Why do you have to have a mood box.  Well, the mood box is different from other TransACT boxes - it has a separate cable modem and decoder.  The cable modem is the small white Marconi box near your wall socket.  The best bit here is that the Marconi dumps all the TV output onto an Ethernet cable, which then plugs into your mood box.  If you plug your PC directly into the Marconi, then your PC can also see the TV output on the Ethernet cable, as well as your internet connection.
  3. Have to have your PC close enough to your Marconi to directly plug it into the Marconi with an Ethernet cable.  To be clear, wireless won't do it (at least in my experience).  Must be Ethernet connected.
  4. Have the VLC media player (this is free, download link on my links page)

First, a little bit of basics here.  What are we actually going to do?

Well, the way TransACT works (at least at a conceptual level, I know the technical details aren't quite correct) is to basically run an Ethernet cable into your house.  So all your TV is essentially coming down this Ethernet cable, using a protocol known as UDP.  This is a protocol that allows a media server to stream media over IP.  In our case, we are using a subset of this protocol known as UDP/RTP multicast, which allows the same content to be delivered to multiple machines.  Basically a machine contacts the media server, and says "I wish to subscribe to xyz stream."  The server then somehow (not clear on the actual mechanics here) includes your IP address along with everyone elses on each packet it sends out, and your PC just picks them up as they come past.  When these packets are put back together, they are an mpeg stream - in theory at least any mpeg player should be able to play them. 

I am pretty sure that there is some more trickiness in here, but the basic concept holds - there are all these UDP packets streaming past on your Ethernet cable with TV in them.  The trick is to get them to actually enter your PC (I said I dumbed this down a bit), and find something that will play them.

With the mood box setup, the cable comes out of your wall, and is converted into a pure Ethernet service by a cable modem (your Marconi).  The cable modem them feeds your mood box - and the job of the mood box is basically to pick up the UDP packets and put them onto your TV.

Now the picture of the wiring:

The key here is that there are two places you can plug your PC in.  The first is into the mood box, which is the generally recommended option.  The reason is that all these UDP packets whizzing past take a bit of processing in your computer before being discarded - the mood box filters these out before it hands the connection to your computer.

If you want to watch TV, however, you don't want them filtered out.  So instead of plugging your computer into the mood box, you plug it into the Marconi modem.  We are now in a position where your PC can see all the UDP packets.

Now a comment on the wireless LAN.  I have one, and basically I cannot get the TV to run over it at all.  It seems that if you plug the wireless LAN directly into the Marconi, it should just push all the UDP packets over the wireless LAN for you.  However, there are a couple of problems with this.  Firstly, my wireless LAN wouldn't have enough bandwidth - the Ethernet is about 100 Mbps, the wireless LAN only really achieves about 25Mbps as far as I can tell.  The other problem is that my wireless LAN is also doing NAT addressing - basically it is allocating an IP address to my PC, and then translating traffic from the IP address of the wireless router to the IP address of my computer.  Not to mention the firewall and the router.  In short, one of these components is filtering out the UDP traffic.  Spent some time trying to work out what, but couldn't find it.  So no wireless.

OK, so plug your PC directly into the Ethernet port on the Marconi.  One of two things can happen:

So now we have UDP packets available to your PC (at least in theory).  You need software that can read them and play them.  VLC media player is the go - it is open source freeware, you can download it using the links on my links page

Having installed VLC media player, you need to set it up to play the stream.  Open up VLC, select the file menu, select "open network stream."  Click on the network tab, select the UDP/RTP Multicast option.  In the address enter 239.193.0.<channel number>, where channel number is one of the TransACT channels.  2 is SBS, and generally has the best picture.  Enter 8208 in the port number.  Click OK, and all going well you have TransACT on your PC.

If you want to record the stream, you go through pretty much the same procedure, but you click on the "stream output" box and click settings.  In the settings, click file, and enter a file name.  Also select "dump raw input." 

 

2. Getting Video into Windows Media Player Compatible Format

As people have noted in the Whirlpool forum, it is possible to select some transcoding options here to translate the stream into something that Windows Media player can play, but I say why bother.  Just keep using VLC - it will happily play it when you come to watch it again, and it is freeware, so you can burn the installation files to the CD with the video file when you want to share with someone else.  I quote from that forum here (thanks David)

for those who are interested, i have finally worked out what it was that made the video from the VLC stream play in Windows Media Player (a while ago i stumbled across the solution but didn't know what i had done, and had to re-do it now...)

as has been previously mentioned, you can capture the stream using VLC and mpeg ps encapsulation. and to play it on WMP you need ac3filters and ffdshow.

but to get the video on WMP you need to enable ffdshow for mpeg2 streams, otherwise wmp will not find a suitable codec and play only the audio.
to do this, open ffdshow configuration, click on 'codecs", and for format MPEG2, select either 'libavcodec' or 'libmpeg2'. both seem to work, and i can't tell a difference between the two.

(and it appears transact now has an abundance of I3 stb's, because all i had to do was ask for one)

 

3.  Streaming Video from your PC back to your STB

Once you have all this great video on your PC it might be nice to be able to play it back on your TV.  If you are like me your TV and your PC are in different rooms, and really you don't want to go sit in the study to watch videos.  Eq2 documents the steps he needed to go through to achieve this (original idea from copb8).

Okay, here is my guide based on my weekend experiences-feel free to make additions.

#Set up computer to I3 Connection
There are 2 main ways you can connect your computer to the box.

A) through the NET or PC ethernet connections at the back of the I3 settop box
or
B) Through the marconi modem through the ethernet ports. (Whatever computer is connected to transact internet is probably connected this way anyway). You also need to disconnect your internet connection before you begin streaming.

Connect your computer whichever way is most convenient.

#Set up VLC
1) Go to File>open file (ctrl-F)
2) In the file tab, click browse and select the file you want to stream and open it.
3)Check the "Stream Output" box and go to settings
4)Check the UDP box and enter Address: 239.193.0.x Port: 8208 where x=the channel you want to display your movie on.
5) Enable both Audio codec and Video codec trascoding options.
6) Set the Video Codec to mp1v and the audio codec to mp2a, the stream output MRL should look something like: ":sout=#transcode{vcodec=mp1v,vb=1­ 024,scale=1,acodec=mp2a,ab=192,cha­ nnels=2}:duplicate{dst=std{access=­ udp,mux=ts,url=239.193.0.45:8208}}­ "
7) Click ok, and ok again.
8) Play the movie, and turn your I3 box on and set it to the channel x if it isn't already on. If the channel becomes all frozen with messed up audio and visuals it means you've done the right thing.

#Disconnect transact
Now so you don't get a clash of streams and a very confused I3 box disconnect transact according to how you connected your computer.
A) Disconnect the ethernet connection running between the I3 and the Marconi modem.
B)Disconnect the orange (transact in) cable running into your Marconi modems DSL port.

If the channel is still frozen, load it again with your remote and the stream should be running perfectly.

Notes:
*In my experience works best with AVIs and mpegs, i have audio problems with MOVs
*You can disconnect transact earlier on, but you must boot up your box before you disconnect
*You cant use the internet whilst your streaming as far as i know

Now all we need to figure out is how to make the I3 recognise a dead channel so we don't get streaming conflicts when transact is on and how we can make use of the video control buttons on our remotes.

 

Contact me if you have questions of feedback (contact link at top of page).