Build Your Own Over-the-Air DVR

November 02, 2015

Have you ever wondered how you could view and record over air TV to your Windows PC, without a monthly fee for an Over-The-Air DVR? It’s really easy to view over air TV and record it to your Windows PC using Windows Media Center or My Media Center software in combination with inexpensive, easy to install hardware.

Equipment You Will Need

The first thing you will need is something you probably already own if you are reading this guide: a desktop or laptop PC with a Windows operating system. For this guide I’ll be referring to Windows PCs with Windows 7 operating systems when referring to the Windows Media Center.

Please note that Windows 8 and 8.1 dropped the Windows Media Center, but you can get a cheap app called My Media Center for less than five dollars in the Windows Store (also note, they’ve completely dropped Windows Media Center from Windows 10). It has a beautiful user interface and works well with Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 PCs in addition to iOS and Android devices.

The second bit of essential OTA equipment you’ll need is a Mohu HDTV antenna. Make sure you get a Mohu antenna that has the best range for your location. You can use the Find the Right Antenna tool on the Mohu site to get the one that’s right for you.

The last piece of hardware used to capture the OTA signals in your area is a digital TV tuner. It will digitally translate OTA broadcast signals from your Mohu antenna to your PC. If your PC already has an internal TV tuner card, you won’t need to buy a USB one. Just connect the Mohu antenna directly to the internal TV tuner card.

For their ease of use and excellent performance I recommend the USB TV tuners by Hauppague. They’re simple to setup and you can move them from one PC to another if desired. If you don’t mind a little bit more involved setup and are looking to establish a network-wide OTA DVR setup using your Windows PCs, I suggest checking out the SiliconDust HDHomeRun.

In addition to working with Windows PCs, Xbox One owners can use the Xbox One Hauppague USB TV tuner. If you want to learn more, be sure to check out this blog post: How to cut the cord with Mohu and Xbox One.

3 Simple Steps To Installing Hardware

  1. Connect your Mohu HDTV antenna to your USB TV tuner.
  2. Connect your USB TV tuner to a USB port on your Windows PC.
  3. Place the attached Mohu antenna in the best place to obtain the maximum number of free OTA TV channels available at your location.

Once these three things are done, you can turn on your Windows PC. The TV tuner should be identified as new hardware and automatically installed. If it’s not, try installing the software that came with your USB tuner which should have drivers (if needed) and media software. You can also get these as downloads on manufacturer’s websites in the Support section.

Using Software To Record Over the Air TV

As stated before, if you have a Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 PC use the software that shipped with your USB TV tuner or download My Media Center in the Windows Store. If you still have Windows Media Center installed on your Windows 7, XP or Vista PC, open up the WMC software and go to Settings. Scan for OTA channels. The software will use your zip code to provide an onscreen channel guide and you can use that guide to record OTA broadcasts, saving them to your PC’s hard drive.

Installing a USB TV tuner with a Mohu antenna to your Windows PC is easy to do, and truly an economical way to get a OTA DVR to enjoy network shows in high definition whenever you want, without paying for cable or DVR service.

The post Build Your Own Over-the-Air DVR appeared first on Mohu.

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