Doing the Dish

In response to my recent article, My multimedia Mac mini, reader Paul Barsa writes in with a Mac 911-ish query:

I already have a Dish tuner/DVR and am wondering about using a Mac mini to record shows onto DVD and export for the iPod. The Dish receiver works fine for me and I don't need to record very much to DVD/iPod of what I record. So the EyeTV/IR relay solution is a bit much for me. I would be more interested in a setup that allows me to export select shows, edit commercials, and record/export. Any suggestions on software/hardware solutions. Would I need a converter or something of the like? And software, other than Toast for editing/importing?

The answer to all your questions could easily be the basis for another long article. Given that this is a blog, I'll keep it short and offer the basics.

If you had a standard TiVo I'd suggest you wait for the TiVoToGo service TiVo's said will ship in the middle of 2006 (by way of subtle reminder, TiVo, that would be the end of this month). I've seen TiVoToGo's implementation on a Windows PC, and frankly, I'm not impressed. It takes way too long to transfer and burn programs and the results aren't good. The Mac implementation I've seen looks far more promising.

But a Dish DVR is a different beast and you won't be seeing TiVoToGo on it in this lifetime.

Just as there are for TiVo, there are hacks for getting into the Dish PVR and copying files from it, but they're convoluted and require a working knowledge of Linux/Unix or an understanding of how to use OS X's Terminal. Put Google to good use and you'll find some of these hacks.

If you have a camcorder that offers a video pass-through option, I'd try that. Plug the video and audio outputs of the DVR into the inputs of the camcorder, string a FireWire cable between the camcorder and the Mac, flip the camcorder into pass-through mode, start capturing in iMovie, and begin playback on your DVR. When you finish recording you can edit the results in iMovie and export it for burning to DVD or your iPod.

Lacking that camcorder, then yes, you'd need some kind of converter. Or you could get an EyeTV-compatible box, record everything in there from the outputs of your Dish DVR, and do your editing and export from the EyeTV 2 software.

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