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Dreambox  How To



1 Introduction :

For many years, I've been installing & supplying  TV broadcasting via satellite. It started out with
analogue TV in D2MAC format. For a couple of years now, the satellite world has been changing
and switching over to digital broadcasts in the DVB-S format. The first satellite receiver (Set top
Boxes, AKA demod) generation had to be rented from satellite TV channel providers. Such
hardware "featured" low quality components, with very slow zapping speed, quite ugly OSDs, no
digital audio output, poor reception sensibility, low quality MPEG2 decoding and a locked  
firmware, that only your provider could update (whenever they felt like it). A few low priced digital
receivers also appeared, but they were often not (entirely) compatible with the special services
satellite TV providers offered (e.g. Electronic Program Guide AKA EPG, Pay Per View AKA PPV°
etc.).

The second generation of satellite receivers was equipment like the Xsat 310/410 and the Aston
Xena series, which opened the door to the Of-The-Shelves Set Top Boxes (STB), independent from
providers, compatible with official decryption cards. Such devices would allow you to reconfigure
the position of each channel, manage favorites from your PC and even flash firmware with a serial
cable.

Today, we can get the 3rd generation of settop boxes. The Dreambox is one of the popular 3rd
generation boxes. Based on a powerful IBM PowerPC (not PC!) with an MPEG1/2 hardware decoder,
this box is FULLY open, with an open source Linux operating system. The Dreambox not only
offers high quality video and audio, but also has a variety of connections to the outside world:
Ethernet, USB, PS2, Compact Flash and two Smartcard readers. The box can handle any dish
configuration, an unlimited number of channels or satellites, has a very fast channel scan, allows
for direct digital recording, etc. To receive encrypted channels, you need the proper decryption
card from the appropriate organization and a PCMCIA CAM which supports your card.
Alternatively, you can load a firmware that enables the built-in smart card readers to handle your
decryption card. As the Dreambox is more a computer than a consumer electronic device, it can
hang some time and it takes a bit of time to learn how to use its full potential.


1.1 Target audience of this tutorial

This is  to provide you with a guide to have your Dreambox fully running with a first
software image, and set up multiboot, allowing you to test different software
combinations. This includes a working network, and channel setup (both free to air
and encrypted ones).
We will add more info as soon as we have time

1 Introduction :
1.1 Target audience of this tutorial
1.2 Equipment Needed

2 : Installation
2.1 Dish Positioning
2.2 Satellite & Channel Configuration
2.3 Network Configuration

3 : Operational basics
3.1 Basic Communications
3.2 Editing channel lists and favorites
3.3 Flashing an image

4 : Multiboot from HDD or USB memory stick
4.1 HDD multiboot setup
4.2 USB memory stick multiboot setup
4.3 Managing Images
5 Image Example :

5.1 Basics
5.2 Emus
5.3 Config Customizations

6 Digital Video recording & Playing
6.1 Recording on Dreambox' HDD or PC's HDD
6.2 Playing back using  PC
6.3 Using & Playback on DVD Player
6.4 Other Formats
6.5 Broadcasting over the LAN
6.6 How to Play DivX and other formats on the Dreambox

7 Conclusion
7.1Few Tips & tricks
7.2 Finale



1.2 Equipment Needed

A Dreambox !



The first Dreambox DM7000 revision suffered from several hardware problems,
solved in the 2nd revision of the V1 (except for a limited power supply). The v2 is a
modified V1 revision2 (2 extra capacitors have been added to the power supply).
Both revisions have a blue LCD display. V3 has a new PCB that includes corrections
for the power supply, plus perhaps other minor, undocumented changes. V3 has an
Amber LCD and a serial number 3xxxxxxxx.
I personally bought a box from a German site (Dreambox MK4) but cannot find any
documentation about this version. It seems it just a revision 3 unit.  

- A Harddisk to integrate into the Dreambox : Not Mandatory. I personally have no
disk. Harddisks create more noise and use more power. You can begin without a
harddisk and buy one later anyway. Be aware though that you cannot use every type
of disc.

- A USB memory stick 128 Mb : Highly recommended if you have no harddisk, and
mandatory to use this guide. I use a Dane-Elec one, USB2.0, which causes no major
compatibility problems. Just be wary that several USB key have write protection
turned on by default, and need to be unlocked under Windows with a special
software provided by the manufacturer.

- A Null modem serial cable is highly recommended. It allows you to still access the
Dreambox if flashing fails or if you kill the network.
You can buy such a cable at a store, or you can build one on your own. Use a good
shielded cable that is not too long. The cable shouldn't be longer than 2 meters,
recommended is 1 meter.

The later generationms of dreambox can be loaded very simply via Http this i will
cover later or simply E Mail
tripledragon@hotmail.co.uk

A PC with a 100 mbit/s Ethernet card. You can connect your PC directly to the
Dreambox using a crossover Ethernet cable, or connect both PC and Dreambox
to a hub/switch using regular Ethernet cables.

2 : Installation

2.1 Dish Positioning

This step is only necessary if your satellite dish has not been set up yet. It is a quite
involved procedure, so you might want to get somebody who has already installed a
satellite system before to help you, or buy an installation and mounting package
from the place you got your setup from. If you think you're up to doing it by yourself,
here's how.

2.2 Satellite & Channel Configuration

I assume that your dish is now installed and working. At the first boot of your
Dreambox, you have to choose your language, Time Zone and then your dish
configuration: Basic (one LNB/One dish), Medium (several LNB/Dishes with DiseqC
switching), or complex (a motorized unit). Then you need to add at least one satellite.

Now it's time to scan at least one satellite for channels. The Dreambox has an
impressively fast scan, based on a XML file containing all transponders available on
the chose satellite. Keep in mind that it is normal if some transponders do not have
any digital channels, as several are still used for analog broadcast, or temporary
feeds. Press the blue button to access next page :


Press the blue button, then select automatic scan, then the progress screen will be
shown:
















2.3 Network Configuration



















Now, it's time to configure the network. Press the small dream Button on the remote,
then select Setup - Expert Setup - Communication Setup.

It is suggested  to use 192.168.0.24 for the Dreambox as more and more OS images
have this value built-in. Set the Gateway to the IP address of your local Internet
gateway (usually 192.168.0.1 if you have a router or do Internet connection sharing
from your primary PC). Set the Netmask to 255.255.255.0. Note that if you use a
residential gateway (DLS or cable router), then your IP addresses will be in the
192.168.1.x range and you have to assign the appropriate IP to your Dreambox. The
netmask stays the same, but the gateway will usually be 192.168.1.1.


The Name server to be used is the one you use for your PC, once connected to
Internet.


If you are currently not connected to the Internet, establish a connection now and
then go to the Start Menu, select run, then type “command” for windows 98
computers and “cmd” for windows 2000 & XP. Then type "ipconfig /all" to get a
listing of the configuration of all your network interfaces. Note the two DNS Servers
as marked in the screenshot



















Also, confirm that the IP address for your Ethernet card is in the same subnet
(192.168.0.x) as the Dreambox and that any other computers in your network can
access the Internet. This requires either a hardware router (that's most definitely
the best solution and also gives you some additional security), or an active Internet
connection sharing (search Yahoo for more information on Internet Connection
Sharing). Having done that, your Dreambox can now access the Internet to
download updates. To check if everything is working properly, try pinging the
Dreambox

















If pinging 192.168.0.1 (in this case your PC) does not work, your PC is not configured
properly. If you have a software firewall running, try disabling it for a test, and make
recheck your network settings. If pinging 192.168.1.24 (your Dreambox) does not
work even though your Dreambox is turned on and you've properly configured it,
check the cabling.


3 : Operational basics

3.1 Basic Communications

Once the network is all set up, we will initiate a and an ftp session. Telnet is the old
fashioned way to access a remote computer. It only supports commandline
applications. To establish a Telnet connection, go to the start menu, select run
and type "telnet 192.168.0.24". When asked for a login, it's root and the password is
Dreambox.

To establish an FTP connection to your box, use your favorite FTP client or the
commandline FTP Windows provides (it's the same procedure as with telnet, but
instead of "telnet 192.168.0.24" you type "ftp 192.168.0.24". Both login and
password are the same as for telnet).

3.2 Editing channel lists and favorites

It is now time to import the list of satellites and channels we have previously
created. The best way to do this is using DreamboxEdit. Install this software and
launch it. Then click on the FTP icon, and enter a directory to save your
channels and favorites. Then click on Receive Files from Dreambox, and after a few
seconds, all your channels are listed in DreamboxEdit. In the rightmost part of the
window, you can create and sort your TV and radio favorites, and add channels by
dragging and dropping selections from the leftmost part to the center partfrom.
Sorting is available as well, by any criteria you like.


























To send your changes back to the Dreambox, click on the FTP icon, then click on
send to Dreambox. After the upload is complete, click on reload settings on
Dreambox, and all the changes will be visible on your Dreambox.

To access your Favorites, just press the up or down arrow on the remote, then the
blue button, then navigate and then OK. To move between channels of the selected
User-bouquets, just press left or right. Here's an example of a list of favorites:






















3.3 Flashing an image

It's time now to start working with "images". I refer to a piece of software that
contains the operating system and applications to watch TV, record, etc. On other
equipment (Divx standalone player, other set-top-boxes, DVD burner etc. ) we speak
about firmware, but in the Dreambox world, the term image is commonly used. A
Dreambox image contains the Linux operating system for the hardware, and
applications to watch and record TV.

You can download the latest official image from the Dreambox manufacturer
website. The most recent version as this guide is written, is v1.07.4, and should your
Dreambox have a lower version, you should definitely upgrade as the multiboot
plugin 1.3b requires this version. To flash the image, you can use the dreamUp
software (available from the manufacturer) using a serial cable(safe but slow), via
LAN (not recommended) or using the root.cramfs method. The last method, the
author's preferred one, involves uploading the image to the /tmp directory on your
Dreambox via FTP, then rename it to root.cramfs, then go to the setup menu of your
Dreambox, select Software Update, then manual update.











Make sure you use the proper image, or you risk turning your Dreambox into
electronic junk that has to be sent back to the manufacturer. To
erase all personal settings of the previous image in the flash memory (don't do this
when multi-booting from an USB stick), press the up and
down buttons on the Dreambox when the boot logo is on screen. A "Flash erase"
message will appear on the LCD, then the Dreambox will
reboot. If your Dreambox should freeze during the process, press the 3 buttons on it
to reset the device, or just remove the power cable.

Now you're basically ready for recording. If you're interested in setting up a
multiboot environment (to be able to switch from multiple
firmware images), and see an example of a custom image installation, just follow the
links in the text.

6 Digital Video recording & playing back

6.1 Recording on Dreambox' HDD or PC's HDD

All you have to do to start recording is press the two buttons shown below:.














In case you have the on screen display enabled, you'll see a flashing red case once
the device is recording.
When the device is recording, you can use the timeshift feature: Press the yellow
button to pause playback (recording will continue), then press the green button to
resume when you're back from making more popcorn (or whatever). However, the
timeshift feature is not working perfectly yet. The author found the timeshift feature
to be working properly on the Gutan fat image.

To play back recorded streams, go the file mode, select your file and press OK to
play it.

6.2 Playing back on PC

Installing the Elecard decoder should enable you to view the .TS files in your favorite
media player.
Alternatively, you can use VideoLAN. VideoLAN is really easy to use, stable and has
no problems reading
TS files.

6.3 Playing back on DVD Player

As digital TV uses the same compression format as DVD, what is more logical than to
put your TV recording
on a DVD? The process involves cutting out the commercials, and author a DVD.
Doom9 has written a nice
guide on the subject.

6.4 Other Formats

You can obviously convert your recordings into any other formats. If you want to
create an SVCD I suggest
Doom9's DVB to SVCD guide, for DivX/XviD conversions I suggest Doom9's DVB to
DivX/XviD guide.

6.5 Broadcasting over the LAN

It is possible to broadcast video over the LAN using DreamTV. It is also possible to
use VideoLAN or
Wingrabber for this purpose. A guide on this subject is forthcoming.

6.6 Playing DivX and other formats on the Dreambox

The Dreambox hardware is not capable of handling more complex streams than
MPEG-2. However, it is possible to have your PC do an on-the-fly DivX to MPEG-2
conversion and stream this to the Dreambox. This requires a powerful PC, and the
quality will be sub-par as DivX to MPEG-2 conversion always results in a visible loss
of quality.


7 Conclusion

7.1 Tips & tricks

To reboot the Dreambox, press the 3 buttons on the front of your Dreambox.

The Dreambox can play MP3 and Ogg Vorbis audio files, and create a slideshow from
images located on the  Dreambox harddisk, USB memory stick or Compact Flash
cards. These plugins are available on many images through Internet download,
directly from the Dreambox menu. If you put a Compact Flash card into the
Dreambox, it will automatically be mounted as /hdd on  the boot time, so be careful
when activating a swapfile.

Pressing the blue button while watching TV will give you some information about the
encryption used, and give you the option to choose the appropriate emu. Certain
images will store the selected emu for each channel.

If you point your webbrowser to the IP address of your Dreambox (192.168.0.24 in
our case), you can change channels remotely and access EPG.

7.2 Final words

Well, I spent quite a bit of time writing this all down and I hope you'll find this guide
useful and easy to follow. I think we would all like to thank people who create
Dreambox images like Gutan, RUdream, MisterX, SandBox, Hybrid, Hydra, NedKelly,
SF team, DBF, Ahaustria, Neutrino, PeterPan and others.

Thank you for making the Dreambox such a superb toy.


My favourite is the PLi Image special thx to the developers

If you have not visited it yet go to
www.pli-images.org



.
Written by Dave Griffiths& Others Oct 2004 rewritten and updated May 2008

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 tripledragon@hotmail.co.uk  
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