HDTV "VCR" Recording on your PC's Hard Disk

Last updated August 8, 2002

I've owned a HiPix DTV-200 card since March 2002 and been very, very happy with it.  

No, it is NOT as easy to use as a VCR.  If you have trouble using and programming a VCR, forget the HiPix!  But if you have modestly good computer knowledge, you'll probably love the HiPix as much as I do, especially if you love HDTV and want to time-shift or save your favorite programs.

For more information about what the HiPix card is and does, see the Telemann site.


Ongoing HiPix Software Development

The software on the CD-Rom that comes with the HiPix card is pretty good and does the job.  However, there's a group of software developers that love their HiPix cards so much that they have gotten access to the source code for the HiPix card and started adding their own features to it!!!

This effort is still continuing at this time (August 2002).  Some wonderful features have already been added,  many bug fixes made, and more coming!  You can follow these developments on the AVS Forum's HTPC area.  Do a search for "HiPix" in the discussion titles.


The HiPix Remote Control:  my enhancements  

Aug. 8, 2002 update - special Pronto support added.    I have created a new Pronto scheme that is similar but goes far beyond the the controls added to the little HiPix remote.  Read on.

When I first got my HiPix card, I was surprised that it came with a little infrared remote control and a sensor that plugs into a serial port of your computer.  

After using it awhile though, I was very disappointed that you can only control TV viewing with it --no "VCR" record/playback functionality at all.  The seven buttons on the remote are:

  1. TV (toggles between your computer display card and the HiPix TV output)
  2. Mute
  3. Channel Up
  4. Channel Down
  5. Volume Up
  6. Volume Down
  7. i  (information display screen - channel, etc.)

Ok for watching TV, but no help at all when recording or playing back a show.  The HiPix software under development (mentioned above) includes a simple Girder file which will give you VCR-like playback control, but that's all.

I really wanted more control over the HiPix from my lazy-boy chair.  After quite a bit of reading and research, I came up with two methods which I am happy to share with other HiPix owners here.  Both methods require a serial port on your computer, at least until someone writes a USB input driver for Girder.

Method (A) uses just the original little HiPix remote and sensor.

Method (B) is for those lucky enough to own a Pronto (black & white version), or know someone who does willing to let you copy my new IR codes from it to your own learning remote control.


Method (A)  -  For the small HiPix remote control:

I have devised a method that gives you much more control by simply pressing the seven buttons of the little HiPix remote 1, 2 or 3 times in row, similar to double-clicking a mouse.  The only drawback is there has to be a slight 1 second delay between the time you press a button and the time it actually happens --in order to determine whether you meant to press the button 1, 2 or 3 times.  For example, if you press channel-up (a single push), there's a slight delay before the channel changes. 

One other minor drawback is that you may need to refer to a drawing (included) until you get used to which button does what for how many pushes!  I tried to keep it fairly simple and easy to remember.  If you really want you can study Girder and change it to suit yourself.

So, if you can live with the slight button delay, use the button-push drawing, and willing to download and install a FREE Windows infrared enhancement program called "Girder", then you can use the Girder instruction file I've written to give you the following extra functionality:

  1. All the functions listed above, plus:
  2. Start the HiPix application if it's not running, and close it down too
  3. Start/Stop/Pause recording what you're watching
  4. Play back what you just recorded, or any earlier recordings
  5. Skip forward/backwards 15 secs, 30 secs, 10 minutes, etc.
  6. Erase whatever recording you're currently playing once you finish watching it (or keep it if you like)
  7. Change screen aspect ratio and resolution
  8. Shut down your computer

If you don't own a Pronto or other learning remote control, you can skip over the next section.

Method (B)  -  For the Phillips Pronto learning remote control:

Even more functions are possible using the Pronto (or any learning remote control, if you know someone who owns a Pronto who is willing to let you transmit my engineered HiPix IR codes from it to your learning remote control).  

If you have one of the Philllips Pronto remote controls (models with a black & white screen; I've only tested with my own, a TS1000/01), then you don't need to use the little remote that came with the HiPix, just the infrared receiver part that plugs into a computer serial port.  If you threw it away, well, an IrMan or other infrared sensor should work also I think.

To accomplish this task, I reverse-engineered the infrared codes used by the HiPix remote control receiver and created a new set of 128 separate button keycodes.

After downloading these codes onto your Pronto with ProntoEdit, you can have a separate button for every HiPix function.  It's much simpler than the Method A above. There's no need to use the multi-keypress scheme above, no keypress delay involved, and of course no layout drawing needed for reference.

In either method though, the program Girder is used to receive the infrared codes and control the HiPix software on your computer.

For this scheme, Method B, you'll need the following:  

  1. The HiPix remote control sensor that came with your HiPix card (it plugs into a serial port on your computer).
  2. The computer cable that came with your Pronto (it also plugs into a serial port on your computer).
  3. ProntoEdit installed, used to download my ".ccf" file with the 128 new codes to your Pronto.  It is free, and available from Phillips at http://www.pronto.philips.com  (you'll have to register at their web site to get it).
  4. Girder installed (details at the link below)
  5. My Hipix Girder file (to map my new Pronto codes into HiPix actions, details at the link below)


Whichever method you use:

Instructions on how to set up the Girder files with the HiPix are here.


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