Pinnacle PCTV PCI on OS/2

Daniel Caetano wrote a little article about his recent "adventure" on making his new video capture board to work under OS/2. Came on Check it out !! This weekend I received my latest acquisition: a Pinnacle PCTV video capture board. It's not a professional video capture board, but it's excellent for home use.

I unpacked it and noticed that a serial-port based remote control was bundled with the board and also a manual. I was not surprised at all when the board manuals do not mention OS/2 anywhere.

So, the first step was install it under Windows XP and verify if everything was working ok with the board. I placed the board in an empty PCI slot, connected it internally with my Sound Blaster Live 5.1 using AUX_IN connector on the Sound Blaster and connected it to my VCR using the composite video connector (I do not have an antenna cable near my computer).

I ran the test program and it run ok until the capture test, when it simply said me the capture process failed and probably I had an IRQ conflict. I took a look on Windows XP system hardware window and noticed it was using IRQ 28 (ACPI), but no complains about IRQ conflicts. After many retries I decided to exchange the PCI slots between my Sound Blaster and Pinnacle board. After a reboot everything was working ok, including sound via Sound Blaster Line In. Capture also worked ok.

The next step was, of course, try to make it work on OS/2. I started OS/2 and downloaded three programs: BTTV (http://www.nord-com.net/s.milcke/bttv_en.htm , by Stefan Milcke), TV Show (http://os2.kiev.ua/en/tvshow.php , from Aleksandr Cherkaev) and EmperoarTV (http://www.s-t.de/emperoar , by S&T gmbh). All of them targets BT878 (Booktree 878 / Conexant 878) based video capture boards. I installed the three and had different results from each one.

1) BTTV
This was the first I tried (it is the only that really support my capture board on the readme) and it worked ok, after some time tweaking and discovering that my capture board was type 39 (same as Pinnacle PCTV Sutdio/Rave) and the TV Tuner was the generic MT2032.

Besides the fact the image was being displayed on the screen, it was in black and white, because BTTV do not support PAL-M encoding (which is used by video equipment's in Brazil) and I had to use NTSC coding... thus the image being displayed in black and white.

I was not able to test the TV Tuner image (as I said above, no TV connection here), but the audio was ok... at least I was able to hear the typical sound of a TV when no channel is selected (shhhhhhhhhh... =^).

Something I found strange was the fact I could not change the window size. Whenever I change the window size, the image becomes crippled and the only way to get it back was restarting the application. Also, I was not able to get any snapshots of the screen: they became just crippled.

I had already sent an e-mail to the author asking about PAL-M support... Not a real must for everyone (since most people live with PAL-I/G/N, SECAM or NTSC), but I nice add. (^=

2) TV Show
As a user of WarpVision, my expectations were high with this application. I was a little disappointed when reading the readmes to see that PAL-M support was present, but it was disabled in the current version. Anyway, BTTV also was not working with PAL-M, so I would see what TV Show could do.

After some editing in the configuration file, selecting one board that also uses BT878, and configuring the PAL-M video size (640x480) and, being stubborn, selecting "disabled" PAL-M, I started the application... and it was a real surprise! PAL-M was enabled and my image was in full color!

I was not able (again) of testing the TV Tuner but I believe TV Show not even support the TV Tuner of Pinnacle (there is nothing mentioned on the config or readme about "MT2032" as BTTV docs said my board uses).

I minor glitch (which I had already reported to the author) was the fact the image is somewhat distorted, like even lines not being correctly aligned with odd lines. But, besides this fact, it worked just perfectly. Even the still snapshot worked and I was really amazed by the fact the author plans to add stream recording in the future.

TV Show seems to have support for remote controls, but I was not able to discover if it can support mine. I asked the author and I am waiting for his answer. All other features (fullscreen, modifying the window size, etc) worked great.

3) EmperoarTV
EmperoarTV is targeted for Haupauge WinTV 250 and 350 models, and as far as I read, those boards use BT878 chipset. Of course I decided to try it, since the webpage says a lot of nice things about it (it can even generate MPG2 videos on-the-fly). I was not expecting to test the TV Tuner, since besides the fact Haupauge boards uses BT878, the TV Tuner is not based on MT2032.

I installed it (nice installer, btw... based on IBM's) and rebooted. Too bad. The driver it installs do not even was loaded, saying my video capture board is not a WinTV 250 or 350, and therefore it could not operate.

It was frustrating, then I simple deinstalled the application.

Conclusion
This video capture board is good, but none of the present OS/2 programs support it fully. TV Show is at this time the better choice, since it supports many color formats and it work better on overall (including support to WarpOverlay) and even seems to support remote control, but it lacks TV Tuner support which is a bad thing for those that buy this board to watch TV and record TV programs.

BTTV on the other hand is able to operate the TV Tuner, but support only one kind of PAL (I don't know what), one kind of NTSC (probably NTSC-M) and plain SECAM. It also do not feature full screen, do not allow window resize without messing the image and is more confuse to configure.

The drivers from all applications do not conflict on boot, but I was not able to run both programs (BTTV and TV Show) at the same time, which of course do not bother me, since this would be almost useless.

Pinnacle PCTV PCI is a good video capture board and I believe I can say it is somewhat supported on OS/2, since I am able to use it, at least to watch movies from VCR/DVD. But I really hope the support can be improved in the future.

Daniel Caetano


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