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Watching EyeTV Recordings on the Roku Box

I’ve been spending every spare moment lately working on Pod TV. I was bound to burn out on it at some point and it happened Saturday morning. I got home from running my weekend errands, brewed up a pot of organic Sumatran coffee, and sat down at my desk fully intending to work on Pod TV. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just didn’t want to look at it. I needed a break. The fact that my desk looks out into the courtyard and it was a gorgeous spring day didn’t help matters either. I took my coffee, grabbed Kindle off of the night table, dug a cigar out of the humidor, and headed for the patio.

A few hours later, I had burned through the cigar as well as the latest editions of Time, Newsweek, and the Phoenix New Times. I sat there for a while sipping my third cup of coffee and watching the neighbor walk her senile old dog and the local kids skateboarding along the green belt and letting my mind wander. Now that I had become intimately familiar with the ins and outs of programming the Roku box, what could I make it do other than play podcasts? There are already projects out there aiming to make it play movies from a media server on your local network, but they require a lot of manual setup and maintenance. I’m all about set-it-and-forget-it.

What do I watch most often? Stuff I’ve recorded on the DVR. And when I say DVR I mean EyeTV running on my Mac mini. Could it be possible to build a channel for the Roku so that I could watch those recordings via the box with its simplified interface? At the moment it’s a silly thing to want to do since the Mac mini and the Roku are connected to the same TV. But the Mac now has four hard drives hanging off it, which makes for a lot of flashing LEDs and a less than attractive aesthetic. Imagine if I could have the DVR in a completely different room than the TV. Moreover, what if someday I wanted to get a TV for the bedroom and rather than drop the cash on another Mac mini for it, just get a second Roku box and save several hundred bucks? Watching EyeTV recordings on the box would make such a proposition much more attractive.

EyeTV has a built in media server that lets you watch recordings and even live TV via Safari on your iPhone or iPod touch. After poking around at that server a bit I decided that it would be too much work to try and reverse engineer that mechanism. It does a pretty good job at obfuscating access to the actual media files. However, I could still make use of the mechanism. In order for its iPhone viewing features to work, EyeTV must create an mp4 version of any recording it wants to make available to an iPhone. All I had to do was hack a quick and dirty PHP script that hunted down all those mp4’s and relayed their locations to the box. An hour later I was watching Friday’s Charlie Rose on the Roku box. And it requires no manual maintenance. New recordings appear to the box automatically.

What’s even more tantalizing is that if I wanted to take the time to pick apart EyeTV’s built in server, it’s very possible that I could be watching live TV on the Roku box streaming from EyeTV on the Mac mini.


20 Responses to “Watching EyeTV Recordings on the Roku Box”

  1. Rob says:

    Any using this on a Roku 3? Having some issues with the quality. Eye tv is running on a brand new mac mini…..even if I hit * and choose the higest bit rate 2mbps the quality of the video is still pretty poor

  2. Jason LaCost says:

    Your Nowhere DVR is AWESOME. I love that I can send live TV to anywhere in the house via Roku without actually running cable (or buying digital converter boxes for my older TVs). The only issue I noticed is that time shifting on live TV is very inconsistent. If I pause for awhile, and then resume, it often jumps to current time. Also, if I t ry to back up more than a few seconds, it also tends to jump back to present time.

    I’ve tried messing with different EyeTV settings as well as setting the EyeTV buffer to RAM instead of the hard drive, but I haven’t been able to improve things. Any thoughts/ideas?

    • nowhereman says:

      That’s probably a question for the EyeTV guys. I don’t know how much live content they cache at a time.

      • Jason LaCost says:

        Thanks for the reply…

        I can set the EyeTV buffer to be as large as I want it to be (if I am buffering to the hard drive), and the time shifting works great on the mac (or on the EyeTV app for iPhone). For some reason, it only seems problematic on the Roku, so I doubt I will get much help from EyeTV. From looking at the contents of the Live TV Buffer.eyetv package, it seems that the video is stored in individual mpeg files of about a minute and a half in length each. It would seem that EyeTV is able to seamlessly transition between these files in order to allow for pause/rewind/fast forward, It looks like on the Nowhere DVR app, it’s loosing track of the “buffer file stack — for lack of a better term” and jumping back to whatever the most current file is.

        I haven’t seen any posts about this problem though, which makes me second guess myself.

  3. Flower says:

    Can you configure the USB port to read divx, xvid and avi archives on the Roku?

    • nowhereman says:


      • Gerald Klaas says:

        Have you considered adapting this to work with Vulkano? I bought a Vulkano Platinum for $99 and am now using a modified version of the example videoplayer scriipt that comes with the Roku SDK to watch my recorded shows on remote Roku’s. Currently I have to manually modify the XML leaf files and post them to a web server. I’m thinking I should be able to store the Vulkano IP as a local setting and parse the XML list that Vulkano generates to make it dynamic and generic, but am just getting started with BrightScript. It looks like you have that worked out already for Eye TV, have you ever looked at the Vulkano?

        • nowhereman says:

          EyeTV actually speaks JSON rather than XML. You are right though, no two APIs are the same and one of the first things to learn when developing for Roku is how to adapt your channels to different XML schemas and other mechanisms for getting data.

          I chose EyeTV because that’s what I use at home. I don’t really have much interest in building channels for other DVR packages. If anyone wanted to take on such a challenge, I’m always happy to answer any technical questions they might have.

  4. JimP says:

    Tried your Nowhere DVR channel last night for Roku, and it couldn’t “discover” my EyeTV box running on the local network. Any hints? Or, now can I enter the IP for the EyeTV machine manually.

    Absolutely fantastic channel if I can get it working!

  5. […] Once upon a time, I ruminated about watching EyeTV recordings via my Roku. In the end, for a number of reasons, I rolled my own solution using AppleScript, my Turbo.264, and Apache. This solution works extremely well for my specific situation, but it only works for my situation and there is at least some interest in a more generic solution. With that in mind, I spent a little time this week reexamining the possibilities. […]

  6. Cory says:

    We just got our Roku. This is exactly what I’ve been searching for.

    Do you have plans to draw up instructions or create a channel?

    • nowhereman says:

      I never followed through on reverse-engineering the EyeTV built in server. What I have done instead is set up an AppleScript based solution that encodes all my new EyeTV recordings using a Turbo.264 hardware encoder. Those encodings are then served with Apache to a custom built channel on my Roku.

  7. Nowhere Man says:

    There have been PayPal donation buttons on both my Roku-oriented pages for a while now…

    Netflix Instant Watch

    Pod TV and other Roku stuff

  8. Keweenaw says:

    You should start up a pay pal donation acct. Everyone wants your efforts let them show their appreciation w. a small taste.

  9. Nowhere Man says:

    I dont have an XR, so I can’t do anything with a USB port. But then again, why would I want to? A big part of the reason for having this box has become to eliminate clutter around my TV. Thanks to the Roku, I have been able to move my DVR and its 4 associated hard drives to another room. Why would I want USB storage hanging off my Roku box when I can accomplish the same thing without the unsightliness of a hard drive next to my TV?

    That said, there are other USB devices that might be interesting on the box. A webcam comes to mind. Or a TV tuner.

  10. liverwort says:

    Keep trying, you might just make Roku’s day! lots of Roku users would like to get more from their little box…
    I got one of the ROKU XR boxes with the USB plug that don’t do anything YET!
    What can you do with it?

  11. says:

    you’re an inspiration. Thanks

  12. Nowhere Man says:

    This is, at the moment, very much a hack. For anyone else to use it, they would have to know a bit of PHP and how to set up a web server on their Mac.

  13. Chris M says:

    That… is… awesome.

    Are you considering sharing this channel with others? Or is it a bit too much of a hack?

    I have EyeTV lite, so it can’t do all that fancy stuff, but it might be worth considering the upgrade…