Tuesday, May 26, 2009


TV and Radio Cards

One of the great things about Linux and FOSS (Free Open Source Software) is that you can download the source code not only of programs but of modules. Modules under Linux are also known as LKMs or Loadable Kernel Modules. One very interesting example is the bttv module and you can download the source here. The bttv module is the module I used to get an old TV tuner card to work under Fedora.

The WinTV-GO-FM is a PCI card which can receive analog television and FM radio. With the pending switch-over to digital television these cards can be purchased on ebay for very little money. You might be thinking analog TV is on the way out but there are still channels like TV Ontario which are still analog only. Even with the change to digital it is still nice to have the ability to receive FM radio.

Linux applications which can be used with this card include gnomeradio for GNOME and kradio for KDE and the console radio program from the xawtv package. I prefer to use gnomeradio. The console radio program can only have 8 presets which is rather limiting.

The main thing is that you can learn a lot about your cards by looking at the source code of modules like bttv. I know my WinTV-GO-FM card is kind of limited, it can only do mono audio and can't do any mpeg2 compression in the hardware. It can act as a composite video input for a VCR which is nice to have. One could conceivably modify the bttv module to add features or even port it to another operating system. One might even learn enough from looking at the module to write their own module for hardware not yet supported!


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