DIY Friday: Build Your Own DVR


I love my TiVo. My roomates love my TiVo. Pretty much everyone that has met it loves my TiVo. But TiVo isn’t cheap (especially if you want to record HD content) and I’m sure the $12/month I pay to keep up access to the TiVo service is going to get old when I start living on my own. So what’s a good RRS reader who loves TiVo — but just can’t fit the bill for it — to do?

Well, Duh. Make our own, of course.

Forutunately for us, plenty of people have beat us to the punch and begun building their own DVR (digital video recorder), whether its to save money or build the ultimate, tricked out HD-ready, multi-tuner beast they always wantend… that also just happens to fit into an antique television console (as seen above).

The best place to start your efforts to build your own DVR is Build Your Own PVR (the P stands for personal, but basically means the same thing) which has tons of how-tos, construction guides, and forums for sharing tips and tricks about building your own TiVo-like device. If you want to build something this weekend and have an old (but not too old) computer lying around, check-out this how-to to figure out how to build your own homebrew PVR for less than $200 and a couple of hours. The site also has a pretty cool wiki (although it could stand a little fleshing out).

Be prepared, however, to get a DVR you can really write home about (i.e. brag about to your neighbors), you’re going to need to spend some real money on a nice hardware decoder (Hauppauge WinTV PVR 250/350 seems to be the favorite) and some time tinkering with whatever software you chose run your box of digital delight (MythTV, is, of course, the free standard bearer, but other options — Sage TV, Snapstream BeyondTV — do exist).

But if you’re willing to put in the time (and a little dough), I’m sure anything you build will have even the most hardcore TiVo enthusiats asking for a spec sheet.