Ever since the Raspberry Pi was released I thought it would make a great Media Center device, its cheap, flexible and tiny enough for it to be the ideal device to tinker with. Since the release of the MPEG-2 codec for the Pi I have been trying different configurations to see if I could make it a Media Center Extender. 

Obviously there is no Extender option from Microsoft but they are other 3rd party solutions. I have already tested watching live TV via a HDHomeRun and a Raspberry Pi which worked very well so the next test was to try using DVBLogic’s DVBLink addin for XBMC.

The DVBLink software network enables TV tuners with support for scheduling recordings, EPG support, streaming live and recorded TV and there are clients for Windows Media Center, Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Recently DVBLogic added XBMC support and this is what I used on the Raspberry Pi.

My Media Center machine is running Windows 8, DVBLink Connect server and is connected to a HDHomeRun TV tuner. On the Raspberry Pi I used the latest version of Raspbmc (an XBMC based distribution for the Raspberry Pi) , installed the DVBLink addin for XBMC and I installed the mpeg-2 decoder option on the Pi.

My Media Center machine DVBLink setup was already up and running so the first step was to install and configure DVBLink on XBMC. To do this I downloaded the DVBLink addin and copied it to a USB drive which I plugged into the Raspberry Pi and from the XBMC I went to Settings, Add ons and used the Install Addin from Zip file option, browsed to the USB drive, picked on the DVBLink addin and that installed the option.

Then from the Programs section of XBMC I selected the DVBLink addin and in the settings section entered the IP address of my Media Center PC, once that is done DVBLink is ready to go.

So what do you get with the addin install, well you get Live TV, a full EPG to browse, the option to record a TV show and stream recorded TV to the Pi. The EPG screen as a familiar blue look to it when you can view all the TV and radio channels and you can browse the programme guide. You can also schedule recordings and see what you have scheduled, it works very well with the only issue I had was with the time it took to load the EPG screen (it took about 20-30 seconds). Also anything you record can be streamed to other DVBLink clients including other Raspberry Pis and Media Center machines.

With Live TV you can do most of the things you do on a Media Center PC such as pause live TV and enable subtitles. The TV Recordings screen shows your recorded TV shows where you can play them back on the Raspberry Pi which worked great. There is also an EPG search feature where you can search for keywords in the schedule and schedule them to record.

So with DVBLink installed you can use the Raspberry Pi as a Media Center extender and it has to be one of the cheapest way of getting a distributed Media Center system running. I know its not exactly Windows Media Center but the combination of XBMC and the TV features of DVBLink make for a great solution, you could buy a few Raspberry Pis and stick them to the back of a TV and you have a great whole home Media Center setup. The main cost is the DVBLink software but you only need to buy that for the server and all the client are free.

Look out for a video of it in action soon.



Recorded TV 



The EPG layout



Viewing the days TV schedule



Viewing a TV show



Live TV on the Raspberry Pi



14 thoughts on “Using DVBLink to turn the Raspberry Pi into a Media Center Extender”
  1. I’m really excited about the potential of DVBLogic with XBMC. I’ve tried their add-in, and it’s not too bad, but I’d say it’s not quite there yet. The EPG is dreadful compared to media center. If that’s the best that they can do on XBMC, that’s a problem. However, I hope they stick at it and can do a nicer EPG, because then I think media center would have a true replacement.

  2. I am really looking forward to see a video with how live TV performs (both SD and HD TV please). DVBLogic says that the Raspberry Pi is too slow for live tv, but I guess they love to be proved otherwise.

  3. The one thing, that is preventing my from trying to put DVBLink on the Pi, is the low CPU Power and Memory. The switching between Channels takes about 3-5 Seconds on my Atom-based Media Center. So how fast can you switch between the TV channels on the Pi?

  4. Ian – are you recording within Media Center, or using the DVB Link Recorder instead? (In otherwords is XBMC on the Pi looking at .wtv files recorded in Media Center and parsing the metadata in them – or is it using .ts files or similar? I guess the latter – as I’m not sure you’d see scheduled recordings in the EPG otherwise?)

  5. When I click on Live TV or any other buttons i get the following Error Message “Error Connecting to the DVBLink server”
    could anybody help me to get it started?

  6. i am very interested in how you got this working. Can you do a tutorial ?Also the server software you bought , which one or a link ? Also you can view all your recordings on your main windows media center and stream it ? Is the pi connect with ethernet cable or wifi ?

  7. Hi,

    What about video quality, HD LiveTV is usually 1080i and XBMC is not able to output native 1080i to the TV, so only 1080p is used. If your LiveTV stream is 1080i you then see artifacts (horizontal lines) during fast movements. Unless you enable de-interlacing which I don’t know if its possible on the Pi or not?

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