NEW: Channels DVR backend for Nvidia SHIELD


#1

The Channels DVR engine can now run on the Nvidia SHIELD. The SHIELD offers a powerful CPU/GPU with hardware transcoding capabilities, making it a great alternative to PCs and NAS for the DVR backend.

Requirements:

  • 1st or 2nd generation Nvidia SHIELD
  • Android 7.0 (SHIELD EXPERIENCE 5.0+)
  • USB drive attached as removable storage (ExFAT, NTFS, HFS+ supported)

Our custom build of Channels DVR for the SHIELD can be installed via the Play store. This build contains full support for the hardware transcoder on the SHIELD, which means you can use the DVR’s web player from your other devices. Commercial detection is also supported, and takes about 10 minutes to run for an hour long recording.

NOTE: This app only contains the DVR backend, so to watch and schedule recordings an Apple TV or web browser is required.


NEW: Android TV app for Channels DVR (experimental)
#2

Oh snap!


#3

I only use the DVR for local watching to my two apple TV’s. How well does the Shield handle commercial detection?

If using the shield for another task, will I notice that while watching a recording on the apple TV’s?

Thank you!


#4

Commercial detection took 10 minutes for an hour long show. On my Mac Mini, commercial detection only takes 5 minutes for an hour show.

I have not done extensive testing, so I’m not sure how using other apps on the Shield would impact the DVR. Probably depends on what apps you’re using and how intensive they are on the CPU.


#5

Just got everything backed up to a USB drive, added to the Shield, figured out I needed to move my backup into folders the Shield created… Just in time for it to do my recordings tonight.


#6

Cool! For anyone else looking to move an existing DVR to the SHIELD, you can prepare your USB drive as follows:

  1. Format drive as NTFS, ExFAT or HFS+

  2. Create a “NVIDIA_SHIELD” directory on your drive

  3. Copy your existing DVR folder into the new “NVIDIA_SHIELD” directory

  4. Attach USB drive to the SHIELD

  5. Install Channels DVR from Play store

  6. Visit http://dvr-shield.local:8089/restore and navigate to the Database directory on your USB drive to restore your recordings, passes and settings


#7

This is a great development. The smaller Shield model ($199) plus a USB-3 hard drive (as low as $70 for 2TB or $110 for 4TB) is probably the most cost effective solution for many out there, and better yet it uses a tiny amount of power compared with a full PC/Mac and can be used in a load of other ways too.

As far as my own tests go, so far, so good. I have had zero issues with set up, recording or live transcoding (hardware). I’d also add that Plex integration was extremely easy (point it at the correct directory), and realtime hardware transcoding from that is also great, albeit without commercial detection.

Using a USB drive can be iffy at times on the Shield. If it doesn’t detect it initially, this might be the result of a known issue that impacted some first generation Shields during an upgrade last year. In that case it’s best to restore the Shield to factory settings. I would also recommend letting the Shield format your drive for you as external storage (not adoptive storage, which is encrypted), so that it can still be read by other machines. Finally, I’d also recommend against using a NAS for storage, as with other distributions. The Shield cannot write to a NAS without a lot of work under the hood.

I’d also add that many were disappointed by the Plex DVR implementation, especially on Plex, and so some have given up on it but still have their Shield. This could draw a few people in.


#8

Any reason you couldn’t use a SD card on the 1st gen shield as a storage location?


#9

Technically no. But the MPEGs produced are pretty massive. For my routine TV viewing with auto delete set at 3 episodes I have about 500 GB of disk space used. For reference, a one hour show is typically 5-8 GB. So I guess it does depend on how much TV your watch. SD cards are an order of magnitude or so more expensive than USB-3 hard drives, on a per-GB basis.


#10

I could not find where you can format your drives on the SHIELD. The only option is to “erase and format as device storage”, which encrypts the drive.


#11

Not to mention that a SD card has a lot slower read/write speed than the USB 3 drive.

I had some issues last night with the recordings, but I think it was the drive I put it on. I’ve switched to a little 500GB USB drive, recopied everything over (still had my Synology DVR running last night just in case) and now it’s running well playing my files.

There’s only one show recording tonight, so I can still run both just in case.


#12

What kind of issues did you run into?

I had a weird issue where an hour long show that was working fine suddenly broke. When I checked the disk it was 0 bytes instead of several gigabytes.


#13

It was only recording some chunks. It started the recording fine, then after about 10 seconds it jumped to about 3 minutes later and played for a short time and jumped ahead again another little bit. I looked at another recording that was supposed to be an hour and it was saying 46 minutes.

What makes me think it was the hard drive was that there were some issues connecting to the drive on SMB. It would crash the Shield’s settings app and everything on the Shield was just hanging when I tried to connect to it. Basically crashed the Shield about 4 times until I changed the drive, and it’s been great so far.

I’m watching something now, and just set it to record two episodes of How I Met Your Mother, so I’ll see how it works now.


#14

I set three things to record in HD (one on the same channel as a currently running recording) after my first recording was done, and then started watching my recording of Fargo. Commercial detection failed on everything, but recording worked just fine and all the files played back perfectly fine.

2017/05/18 18:30:00 [DVR] Starting job 1495132200-ch824 How I Met Your Mother on ch=[824] 2017/05/18 18:30:00 [TNR] Sharing existing connection to 131F24D4 for ch824 (clients=2, len=0) 2017/05/18 18:30:00 [DVR] Starting job 1495132200-ch826 Family Guy on ch=[826] 2017/05/18 18:30:00 [DVR] Recording for job 1495132200-ch824 from 131F24D4 ch824 into "TV/How I Met Your Mother/2017-05-18-1830 How I Met Your Mother 2006-04-10 S01E18 Nothing Good Happens After 2AM.mpg" for 30m59.974259159s 2017/05/18 18:30:00 [TNR] Opened connection to 131F24D4 for ch826 2017/05/18 18:30:00 [DVR] Starting job 1495132200-ch828 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on ch=[828] 2017/05/18 18:30:00 [DVR] Waiting 9h3m59.507488847s until next job 1495164840-18 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 2017/05/18 18:30:00 [DVR] Recording for job 1495132200-ch826 from 131F24D4 ch826 into "TV/Family Guy/2017-05-18-1830 Family Guy 2010-02-14 S08E12 ExtraLarge Medium.mpg" for 30m59.97393869s 2017/05/18 18:30:01 [TNR] Opened connection to 131F24D4 for ch828 2017/05/18 18:30:01 [DVR] Recording for job 1495132200-ch828 from 131F24D4 ch828 into "TV/It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia/2017-05-18-1830 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia 2011-09-29 S07E03 Frank Reynolds Little Beauties.mpg" for 30m59.507395253s 2017/05/18 18:31:00 [DVR] Finished job 1495130400-ch824 How I Met Your Mother 2017/05/18 18:31:00 [DVR] Waiting 9h2m59.427873401s until next job 1495164840-18 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 2017/05/18 18:31:00 [DVR] Processing file-907: TV/How I Met Your Mother/2017-05-18-1810 How I Met Your Mother 2006-03-20 S01E17 Life Among the Gorillas.mpg 2017/05/18 18:31:05 [DVR] Running commercial detection on file 907 (TV/How I Met Your Mother/2017-05-18-1810 How I Met Your Mother 2006-03-20 S01E17 Life Among the Gorillas.mpg) 2017/05/18 18:32:27 [DVR] Commercial detection failed with exit status 7 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [TNR] Closed connection to 131F24D4 for ch824 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [DVR] Finished job 1495132200-ch824 How I Met Your Mother 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [DVR] Processing file-908: TV/How I Met Your Mother/2017-05-18-1830 How I Met Your Mother 2006-04-10 S01E18 Nothing Good Happens After 2AM.mpg 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [DVR] Deleting expired job 1495132200-ch826 Family Guy 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [DVR] Deleting expired job 1495132200-ch828 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [DVR] Waiting 8h32m59.821631848s until next job 1495164840-18 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [TNR] Closed connection to 131F24D4 for ch826 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [DVR] Finished job 1495132200-ch826 Family Guy 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [DVR] Waiting 8h32m59.481584713s until next job 1495164840-18 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [TNR] Closed connection to 131F24D4 for ch828 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [DVR] Finished job 1495132200-ch828 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia 2017/05/18 19:01:00 [DVR] Waiting 8h32m59.393138723s until next job 1495164840-18 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 2017/05/18 19:01:03 [DVR] Running commercial detection on file 908 (TV/How I Met Your Mother/2017-05-18-1830 How I Met Your Mother 2006-04-10 S01E18 Nothing Good Happens After 2AM.mpg) 2017/05/18 19:01:54 [DVR] Commercial detection failed with exit status 7 2017/05/18 19:01:54 [DVR] Processing file-910: TV/It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia/2017-05-18-1830 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia 2011-09-29 S07E03 Frank Reynolds Little Beauties.mpg 2017/05/18 19:01:56 [DVR] Running commercial detection on file 910 (TV/It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia/2017-05-18-1830 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia 2011-09-29 S07E03 Frank Reynolds Little Beauties.mpg) 2017/05/18 19:02:28 [DVR] Commercial detection failed with exit status 7 2017/05/18 19:02:28 [DVR] Processing file-909: TV/Family Guy/2017-05-18-1830 Family Guy 2010-02-14 S08E12 ExtraLarge Medium.mpg 2017/05/18 19:02:30 [DVR] Running commercial detection on file 909 (TV/Family Guy/2017-05-18-1830 Family Guy 2010-02-14 S08E12 ExtraLarge Medium.mpg) 2017/05/18 19:03:30 [DVR] Commercial detection failed with exit status 7


#15

Can you check http://dvr-shield.local:8089/dvr/files/909/comskip.log for any errors.

What filesystem format is the drive? Must be NTFS… and the NTFS detection isn’t kicking in on android.


#16

Ugh I was on autopilot and deleted them after I watched them… recording something else now, and then I’ll check it’s comskip log when it fails.

I’m using an exFat drive. Helps to make sure I can move it from my Shield to my Mac to my Synology… I’m fickle, so it helps with that.


#17

Looks like a path error at the bottom:

https://stephens.cc/logs/comskip.log


#18

I don’t currently have a shield, but would be willing to look into purchasing one to simply and shrink my current set up.

Is there anyway someone could test how well the shield would work as a plex server and a DVR set up? Can it do both at the same time? My plex server is set up to run H.265 encoded movies and shows.

Thanks, no rush if anyone is testing.


#19

@A.Leon : For me Plex works fine pretty well. One remaining weakness is the flakiness of accessing files directly over SMB, but it has improved considerably. I don’t recommend Plex’s internal DVR support, as the interface just doesn’t compare to Channels DVR, although it is a cheaper option. In fairness, some other users are less happy, e.g.:

I counted myself among them until recently, but some Shield updates have improved things no end. A critical component was poor removable drive support, but this has been largely fixed. Support of NAS drives is still extremely flaky, and mostly read-only. It’s good enough for adding other collections to your Plex database for streaming, though.

AFAIK, Plex on the Shield support h.265 playback, but I don’t know if there is any encoding support, although the graphics card could certainly handle assisting with that; Even if it were there, real-time might be a challenge, as h.265 encoding is notoriously resource intensive. h.264 encoding/transcoding/playback support is excellent, and it Direct Streams to Apple TV if you pre-transcode.

So far, and clearly it’s been less than 2 days, Channels DVR hasn’t be problematic at all for me, although as you’ll see from above there might be some early (easy to fix, I suspect) commercial detection issues. It’s very easy to just point Plex at the Channels DVR folders, and so far I haven’t seen any failures to identify the right show/episode (again, limited experience).

I should probably add that there are always risks with cutting edge products, and the Shield is certainly unusual.

But I’m personally a pretty big fan, love the size, silence, low power draw, and sleekness. As added bonuses, their Shield-specific GeForce Now service (as opposed to the more open version which charges per GB) is extremely good value for occasional or binge gamers, and the inclusion of video services that the Apple TV does not provide (e.g. Amazon Prime and Vudu) makes it a nice supplement for TV viewing.


#20

I don’t have h265 stuff except on my UHD discs and as far as I know I can’t get that off the disc yet. Plex works great on h264 stuff though, and I tested it with DVR files (unnecessary though since Channels DVR does it too) and my Blu-ray tips and it plays them with hardware transcoding too if the device needs it (my iPad did). I haven’t tested any of my VC1 Blu-rays yet though, so I’ll probably do that this weekend with Jurassic Park or something old like that.