Trying out Channels DVR (QAM)


#1

I am evaluating Channels DVR.

Before buying a new NAS, I installed Channels DVR on a Windows laptop to see how it worked with my three HDHomerun Prime cablecard tuners. I had previously checked that all my Comcast channels were clearQAM or QAM following instructions on Channels FAQ. Fortunately none of my channels were DRM (no HBO,Starz which I assume are DRM).

I am now in the process of recording from a large variety of Comcast HD channels which are all QAM. So far no problems and I've been able to playback on a number of different devices (iPhone, iPad, Windows laptop in web UI, Chromebook).

Assuming I don't run into any problems, channels DVR looks great and I plan to order a DS218+.

Does the subscription allow multiple installations of Channels DVR per household? In our household my wife and I have separate DVRs so our recordings are separated. I noticed channels does not support Netflix type profiles and I'm not looking forward to having our scheduled recordings and recordings lumped together.

I'm a little disappointed in the web UI. It's fine for watching, but using the guide is a plain compared to the apps. You can't see the time along the top, scrolling sideways doesn't seem to work for more than a day. I guess most users set up recordings in the apps. I haven't tried the fire TV app yet, which is how I plan to drive our TVs.

It seems like many channel users are OTA or cord cutters, so I thought folks evaluating channels DVR might be interested to know it works well with cable cards and QAM channels, even if DRM channels are not supported. I'm happy that Comcast is not DRMing all their channels. That would have been a deal breaker for me.

Online support seems great, but having just two devs is a bit scary from a user perspective. Keep up the great work!


An update on DRM support
#2

Sure, but you would need to install them on different devices.


#3

Yes, I would install channel DVR on two devices using one subscription.

In the apps, how does the app know which DVR to attach to?

Will remote access work for both DVRs?

On a windows PC, does it work well when users use the power mode where the PC wakes up to make a recording then goes back to sleep?


#4

Early on when I first switched to Channels DVR (years ago) my wife and I had been using separate DVR's but we were able to make the adjustment to 1. So out of curiosity, would the DS218+ VM Support allow you to create multiple Linux or Windows virtual machines and run multiple Channels DVR's that way?


#5

Click Connect to DVR > At Home and enter the IP of the device/VM.

No, you would have to pick one to enable remote access on.

Actually you could setup a secondary forwarded port for the second DVR and then use the port change trick to connect to it, but it's not as straightforward as the automatic remote connect for the primary DVR.

It does not currently work very well. We are working through some bugs that can cause the PC to go back to sleep before it's supposed to.

Most users also find it annoying if the PC is sleeping when they try to watch a recording. There is no WOL built in.

Yes this would work. Be aware that VMs are usually slower and cannot access hardware transcoding.


#6

If you are savvy with the command line, or Synology offers LXC containers, or possibly with modifying your Docker config, it is possible to allow a containerized instance to access your hardware for transcoding. Usually this includes allowing the container to have read/write access to /dev/dri, and bind-mounting said location within your container.

Of course, this is assuming you're using a Linux container on your Synology (which cuts the overhead dramatically by reusing your existing resources and kernel rather than reducing them for a VM) instead of a VM-based solution, like running a Windows VM on your NAS.


#7

Containers would work well and allow access to hardware transcoder, but the networking side of containers can be quite complex and I'm not sure if there's an easy way to assign unique IPs to containers in Synology Container Station.


#8

With Freenas it is pretty easy to have multiple instances, icoage jails can use vnet to assign different a different IP to each jail. It would be great if Channels allowed an easier way of port forwarding with multiple instances the way plex does though, where the setting UI has place to manually assign the external port and the connection on the remote end respects that.


#9

I installed a second instance of channels DVR on a second windows PC. Both instances share the same HDHR prime cablecard tuners.

Now I'm having guide problems on both instances.

Is it ok for instances to share the same tuners?

Now on my iPad, my guide only shows about half a day's of data.

Under settings I tried hard clicking on the tuner to refresh the tuner and guide data. This works on fire TV but evidently not supported on iOS app.

Oh, one other thing which may be related. I noticed my three tuners showed different number of channels, so in settings I had each tuner rescan, so now each tuner shows approximately the same number of channels. I'm wondering whether this might have confused the guide data?

Is there some way to reinitialize the guide data?


#10

The guide data comes from the DVR. Does it show on the DVR web UI? Click the pencil under the HDHR to fix any missing channel mappings


#11

In the DVR web UI, I clicked the HDHR to refresh the guide. The web UI indicated the guide data was being downloaded. In the web UI, I can display the guide data for the next three weeks now.

Scrolling seems broken in the web UI guide. I can only scroll about a day ahead. To see further, I have to click the date button and select the day. Is this expected behavior?

In the Fire TV guide, I can scroll up to three weeks out.


#12

On my iPad, the guide is only showing about one day out. Unlike the fire TV guide, when I scroll to the right, the guide data does not start to fill in.

Hmm, scrolling down, I see data for a few scattered channels, but most channels are missing.

My fire TV and iPad are pointing to same channels DVR server, fire TV guide ok, iPad guide is not displaying all channels when scroll right.

I sent you Diagnostic data for iPad guide.


#13

Yes.

Try restarting the app by clicking home twice and swiping up.

Also make sure it shows the correct IP of your DVR on the DVR tab under the progress bar for disk space.


#14

I tried restarting IOS app. No change. Checked IP was correct. Then on channels dvr server, I clicked refresh on HDHR tuners so reloaded guide data yet again. After reloading the guide data a second time, IOS guide is working.

I looked at the logs for my two channel dvr servers. First instance looks okay, but the second instance has a lot of error messages. Are any of these [ERR] or error messages bad? There are quite a few in my log file. I had to delete portions of the log as it was too large.

2019/02/22 18:21:38 [SYS] Starting Channels DVR v2018.11.20.2224 (windows-x86_64 pid:6872) in C:\ProgramData\ChannelsDVR\data
2019/02/22 18:21:42 [HDR] Found 3 devices
2019/02/22 18:21:42 [ERR] Failed to refresh auth: missing oauth client
2019/02/22 18:21:42 [SYS] Started HTTP Server
2019/02/22 18:21:42 [SYS] Bonjour service running for dvr-silverstone-dvr.local. [192.168.2.214]
2019/02/22 18:40:37 [ERR] Failed to read directory E:\Channels DVR: open E:\Channels DVR: The system cannot find the file specified.
2019/02/22 18:40:39 [ERR] Failed to read directory E:\Channels DVR: open E:\Channels DVR: The system cannot find the file specified.
2019/02/22 18:40:39 [ERR] Failed to read directory E:\Channels DVR: open E:\Channels DVR: The system cannot find the file specified.
2019/02/22 18:40:47 [DVR] Recording engine started in E:\Channels DVR
2019/02/22 18:40:47 [SYS] Created database snapshot: backup-20190222.184047
2019/02/22 18:41:32 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 142 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-02-22 6:30PM
2019/02/22 18:41:35 [DVR] indexed 1105 airings (142 channels) [0s fetch, 2s index]
2019/02/22 18:41:36 [DVR] indexed 61 movies (26 channels) [0s fetch, 0s index]
...
2019/02/22 18:45:44 [IDX] Pruned 0 expired groups from USA-CA04958-X in 0s.
2019/02/22 18:45:44 [IDX] Pruned 8 expired airings from USA-CA04958-X in 145.0083ms.
2019/02/22 19:01:16 [SYS] Starting Channels DVR v2018.11.20.2224 (windows-x86_64 pid:3288) in C:\ProgramData\ChannelsDVR\data
2019/02/22 19:01:20 [HDR] Found 3 devices
2019/02/22 19:01:20 [SYS] Started HTTP Server
2019/02/22 19:01:28 [DVR] Recording engine started in E:\Channels DVR
2019/02/22 19:01:28 [SYS] Bonjour service running for dvr-silverstone-dvr.local. [192.168.2.214]
2019/02/22 19:01:28 [SYS] Created database snapshot: backup-20190222.190128
2019/02/22 19:01:39 [IDX] Pruned 125 expired airings from USA-CA04958-X in 519.0297ms.
2019/02/22 19:07:57 [TNR] Opened connection to 131AD505 for ch5
2019/02/22 19:07:57 [HLS] Starting transcoder for channel 5 from 192.168.2.214 (encoder=libx264, resolution=, deinterlacer=blend, bitrate=10000)
2019/02/22 19:09:45 [HLS] Stopping transcoder session ch5-dANY-ip192.168.2.214 @ 1m45.617211s
2019/02/22 19:09:45 [TNR] Closed connection to 131AD505 for ch5
2019/02/23 09:14:01 [SYS] Error checking for update: Get https://channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com/latest.json: dial tcp: lookup channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com: no such host
2019/02/23 09:14:01 [ERR] Failed to refresh auth: Post https://community.getchannels.com/dvr/api: dial tcp: lookup community.getchannels.com: no such host
2019/02/23 09:17:00 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 394 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-02-23 9:00AM
2019/02/23 09:17:07 [DVR] indexed 3522 airings (394 channels) [1s fetch, 5s index]
2019/02/23 09:17:07 [DVR] indexed 247 movies (66 channels) [0s fetch, 0s index]
2019/02/23 09:17:08 [DVR] pruned 149 replaced airings in 0s.
...
2019/02/23 09:30:18 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 394 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-03-16 4:00AM
2019/02/23 09:30:19 [DVR] indexed 47 airings (13 channels) [0s fetch, 0s index]
2019/02/23 09:30:20 [IDX] Pruned 0 expired groups from USA-CA04958-X in 22.0002ms.
2019/02/23 09:31:01 [IDX] Pruned 2773 expired airings from USA-CA04958-X in 41.3351859s.
2019/02/23 12:56:10 [SYS] Error checking for update: Get https://channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com/latest.json: dial tcp: lookup channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com: no such host
2019/02/23 12:56:10 [ERR] Failed to refresh auth: Post https://community.getchannels.com/dvr/api: dial tcp: lookup community.getchannels.com: no such host
2019/02/23 18:58:30 [ERR] Failed to refresh auth: Post https://community.getchannels.com/dvr/api: dial tcp: lookup community.getchannels.com: no such host
2019/02/23 18:58:30 [SYS] Error checking for update: Get https://channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com/latest.json: dial tcp: lookup channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com: no such host
2019/02/23 22:50:31 [SYS] Error checking for update: Get https://channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com/latest.json: dial tcp: lookup channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com: no such host
2019/02/23 22:50:41 [SYS] Created database snapshot: backup-20190223.225031
2019/02/23 22:54:33 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 394 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-02-23 10:30PM
2019/02/23 22:54:43 [DVR] indexed 4085 airings (394 channels) [1s fetch, 8s index]
2019/02/23 22:54:45 [DVR] indexed 246 movies (73 channels) [0s fetch, 0s index]
2019/02/23 22:54:46 [DVR] pruned 146 replaced airings in 0s.
2019/02/23 22:54:46 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 394 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-02-24 4:30AM
2019/02/23 22:54:57 [DVR] indexed 4410 airings (394 channels) [1s fetch, 9s index]
2019/02/23 22:54:58 [DVR] indexed 166 movies (53 channels) [0s fetch, 0s index]
2019/02/23 22:54:58 [DVR] pruned 12 replaced airings in 0s.
...
2019/02/23 23:05:30 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 394 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-03-16 12:00PM
2019/02/23 23:05:32 [DVR] indexed 265 airings (36 channels) [1s fetch, 0s index]
2019/02/23 23:05:33 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 394 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-03-16 6:00PM
2019/02/23 23:05:34 [DVR] indexed 113 airings (32 channels) [0s fetch, 0s index]
2019/02/23 23:05:35 [IDX] Pruned 0 expired groups from USA-CA04958-X in 10ms.
2019/02/23 23:05:35 [IDX] Pruned 5 expired airings from USA-CA04958-X in 199.0103ms.
2019/02/24 00:53:54 [SYS] Error checking for update: Get https://channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com/latest.json: dial tcp: lookup channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com: no such host
2019/02/24 03:43:03 [ERR] Failed to refresh auth: Post https://community.getchannels.com/dvr/api: dial tcp: lookup community.getchannels.com: no such host
2019/02/24 03:43:03 [SYS] Error checking for update: Get https://channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com/latest.json: dial tcp: lookup channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com: no such host
2019/02/24 09:00:01 [SYS] Error checking for update: Get https://channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com/latest.json: dial tcp: lookup channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com: no such host


#15

Those errors indicate there is no internet access, or perhaps a firewall is preventing access. Could be a misconfigured dns as well.


#16

Hmmm, there is one difference between my two instances of channels dvr.

The first is a laptop which I turned off sleep. It's log has no errors. Originally I had laptop sleeping when not in use. I found it woke up and recorded shows with no problems, but was annoying asleep when I tried to access it from other devices.

The second is a PC which sleeps unless woken up. My wife uses this PC and she is used to waking up PC and TV to watch her shows. This PC is the one getting errors. From log, it appears channels dvr woke up around midnight and then 4am to load guide data. Failed to access AWS server. Now it just woke up around 10am and is successfully loading guide data as shown below.

This PC has hard wired connection to router.

Is it possible that PC woke up and channels dvr tried to access internet before PC had re-established internet connection?

Any recommendation (besides keeping PC awake)? I hate to leave PC on 24/7 as it uses a lot of energy compared to laptop.

2019/02/24 00:53:54 [SYS] Error checking for update: Get https://channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com/latest.json: dial tcp: lookup channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com: no such host
2019/02/24 03:43:03 [ERR] Failed to refresh auth: Post https://community.getchannels.com/dvr/api: dial tcp: lookup community.getchannels.com: no such host
2019/02/24 03:43:03 [SYS] Error checking for update: Get https://channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com/latest.json: dial tcp: lookup channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com: no such host
2019/02/24 09:00:01 [SYS] Error checking for update: Get https://channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com/latest.json: dial tcp: lookup channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com: no such host
2019/02/24 09:47:01 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 394 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-02-24 9:30AM
2019/02/24 09:47:11 [DVR] indexed 3664 airings (394 channels) [2s fetch, 7s index]
2019/02/24 09:47:11 [DVR] indexed 262 movies (74 channels) [0s fetch, 0s index]
2019/02/24 09:47:12 [DVR] pruned 198 replaced airings in 0s.
2019/02/24 09:47:13 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 394 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-02-24 3:30PM
2019/02/24 09:47:22 [DVR] indexed 3494 airings (394 channels) [1s fetch, 7s index]
2019/02/24 09:47:23 [DVR] indexed 315 movies (81 channels) [0s fetch, 0s index]
2019/02/24 09:47:25 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 394 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-02-24 9:30PM
2019/02/24 09:47:33 [DVR] indexed 3987 airings (394 channels) [1s fetch, 6s index]
2019/02/24 09:47:34 [DVR] indexed 225 movies (62 channels) [0s fetch, 0s index]


#17

Would it be possible to insert a brief pause when Channels DVR wakes up to update data?

I just heard my windows PC wake up and when I checked the log I saw this:
2019/02/25 19:52:31 [SYS] Error checking for update: Get https://channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com/latest.json: dial tcp: lookup channels-dvr.s3.amazonaws.com: no such host
2019/02/25 19:52:31 [ERR] Failed to refresh auth: Post https://community.getchannels.com/dvr/api: dial tcp: lookup community.getchannels.com: no such host

So on the settings page, I clicked on the refresh HDHR and the log shows:
2019/02/25 19:53:27 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 410 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-02-25 7:30PM
2019/02/25 19:53:36 [DVR] indexed 4213 airings (410 channels) [1s fetch, 7s index]
2019/02/25 19:53:37 [DVR] indexed 179 movies (49 channels) [0s fetch, 0s index]
2019/02/25 19:53:37 [DVR] pruned 187 replaced airings in 0s.
2019/02/25 19:53:38 [DVR] Fetching guide data for 410 stations in USA-CA04958-X @ 2019-02-26 1:30AM
2019/02/25 19:53:46 [DVR] indexed 4501 airings (410 channels) [1s fetch, 6s index]
2019/02/25 19:53:46 [DVR] indexed 124 movies (37 channels) [0s fetch, 0s index]
2019/02/25 19:53:46 [DVR] pruned 4 replaced airings in 0s.

Sure seems like when Channels DVR wakes up, the errors occur before the PC re-establishes it's internet connection. This could cause problems for other users who let their PCs sleep when not recording or watching.

Add a few seconds of delay wouldn't hurt when it comes to updating the guide data.


#18

Yea that's a good idea. There is a special api to detect wake from sleep which we need to integrate so we can tell when to add a delay.


#19

Thanks!

Much appreciated!