Copying from DVR to the iPod

Q: Is there a way to transfer video from a Dish Network DVR to a 30GB Video iPod?

– Alan

A: Unlike TivoToGo, there are not yet any canned software or hardware solutions that specifically do this for cable or satellite DVR devices/receivers.

However, depending on the model of receiver you are using it may be possible to record a video stream from the receiver’s FireWire port directly to your computer, assuming that you also have a FireWire port on your computer. Almost all HDTV cable receivers and many satellite receivers with FireWire ports provide an MPEG2-TS stream through the FireWire port that can be captured by your computer with the right software.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of simple packaged tools available for this, and the time and disk space required, this isn’t a canned “just works” solution for the faint of heart. If you’re comfortable working with your computer, however, and want to invest some time in getting it to work, it can certainly be accomplished, and isn’t an unreasonable solution.

Essentially, in this case, you would have to record and encode the content onto your computer first, either from a live stream or a pre-recorded show from your DVR, in much the same way as you would from a FireWire video camera. You could then take the resulting MPEG-2 stream and convert it into an iPod or Apple TV ready format, using any number of the video conversion tools presently available.

The stream that comes out of the FireWire port on a cable or satellite receiver is the same raw MPEG-2 Transport Stream (MPEG2-TS for short) that is being received by the cable/satellite receiver itself. Unfortunately, normal video capture protocols that are used for camcorders do not normally work with cable/satellite receivers and MPEG2-TS streams, so you would need to obtain a software package that can specifically record this stream.

If you’re a Mac user, Apple themselves provide some rudimentary tools that can be used to do this as part of the FireWire SDK available from the Apple Developer Connection site, although a free basic membership registration is required to download it. The AVCVideoCap and VirtualDVHS tools in this package should be all you need to get started.

Copying from DVR to the iPod 2

For Windows users, special FireWire drivers will also be required, making this something of a more cumbersome solution, and the choice of software will depend largely upon the cable or satellite receiver that you are using, since many of the applications out there use device-specific commands and protocols. If you’re adventurous and want to explore this area, however, a great place to start is with a search through the AV Science Forums.

One very important caveat to all of this, however: More and more cable and satellite companies are transmitting their signals in encrypted form, particularly for their premium and/or HDTV channels. If a channel is encrypted when it is being broadcast, the cable/satellite receiver will simply output the same encrypted stream via the FireWire port. The result of this is that while all of the above can be made to work somewhat smoothly for non-encrypted content, whether it is even practical or not will depend on the content you’re looking to record/convert.



6 thoughts on “Copying from DVR to the iPod”

  1. Is there any known way to see how much memory/ space checked songs will take up on the Ipod? (while in Itunes?)

    I have an 80+gb library and a 40GB Ipod – I can’t figure out a way to have it tell me how much of the checked songs will take up. Very frustrating!

    So I have to keep unchecking more and more songs hoping it will fall in the 40gb limit.

    Thanks for any help! If they don’t have this function, they should include it in the next update!!!!

  2. I have a G3 20 gb. I have filled it 1/4 full with songs ripped, unfortunately, to 128kbps AAC. I need better fidelity, as I’m moving to external quality amplification and speakers.

    Is Lossless all that good? The alternative, I guess, would be .wav, which would take up, I think, a whole lot more room and might not even play on my ipod.
    So if lossless is that much of an improvement over AAC, and is reasonably close to .wav or CD, I can live with 670 songs, as opposed to 2200.

    Assuming that lossless is the format I need (plese tell me if there is some better alternative, terms of fidelity v. reasonable capacity), how is such a mass conversion best accomplished? I’m afraid the answer is simply to delete everything and rerip it a song at a time to the richer format.

    Are there any software upgrades I need for the ipod itself to do this (or, for that matter, to enjoy all of the features of a unit like the Tivoli Iyiyi)?

    Please let me know, as I’m hot to move up a notch or two in fidelity, even if a serious limitation in the six=ze of my library comes with it.


  3. One 30G IPOD. Started with Itunes library and ended up with
    2 different Itune libraries and a
    mess. Cannot sync any new material with #2 and cannot access #1. Would prefer to
    restore only as last resort. Help!

  4. OK, I have a question that is the mirror image of multiple ipods on one PC. We USED to have multiple iPods on one PC but now there is only one. The problem I have is we used to just all have our own playlists. Now I don’t need my playlist but would prefer to sync from the “Music Library”. here’s the problem: when I uncheck my playlist iTunes will only update my other playlists (50& 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, etc) thus losing (not really but you get my drift) my music playlist. It would seem that if all of my music is in the main library it would sync into my iPod even though I have unchecked my playlist. I have found that if I place new music in the main library I also have to add it to the playlist in order for it to end up om my iPod. In short I wish to simplify. PLEASE HELP me achieve this goal.

  5. Hi, I put my ipod Nano to charge and it just wont charge anymore, it remains with the display all black and it just won’t charge. Does that means that is bad, do I have to throw it away or can i do something about it? Please help!

    Thank you, Khali


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