Nick MacKechnie
#8 wire kinda guy.....

Dreambox – Freeview Set-top Box

Sunday, 8 June 2008 00:45 by Nick MacKechnie

When Freeview launched in New Zealand (Free to air TV via Satellite), the price of set-top decoders were very expensive, they are however starting to drop in price. So I had a look around for an alternative which ended up costing NZ $100-$150.

The Dreambox is a Linux-powered DVB satellite, terrestrial and cable digital television decoder (set-top box), produced by German multimedia vendor Dream Multimedia. Its firmware is officially user-upgradable, since it is a Linux-based computer, as opposed to third-party "patching" of alternate receivers. I currently use the PLI Image on my boxes -

There are a bunch of different models available, coming in various configurations with hard drives included, dual tuners etc – Check this link here for the models available -

I picked my first one up from Ebay in Australia, however there are a bunch of people starting to import them. Where things start to get interesting is when you also have a sky subscription, or multiple LNBs. The Dreambox can merge the EPGs into one and give you a single EPG/device for all. Here’s a snippet of the specifications of the entry level box – the DM500S (S = Satellite, C = Cable) The manual can be found here (5.38mb)

DM500-S Specifications:

The Dreambox 500S is the smallest Linux satellite TV receiver, with 1 x Smartcard-Reader.

1. 250 MHz IBM PowerPC Processor (350 Mips)

2. 2 LED status

3. Linux Operating System

4. Full automatic service scan

5. Supports directly bouquet-lists (indirect unlimited)

6. Supports multiple LNB-Switching control (supports DiSEqC)

7. 1 x Smartcard-Reader

8. Unlimited channel lists for TV/Radio

9. SPDI/F nterface for digital bit stream out (AC-3 / DTS)

10. MPEG2 Hardware decoding

11. Channel-change time < 1 second

12. Fully adaptable OSD in many languages (skin-support)

13. 100Mbit full duplex Ethernet Interface

14. Supports EPG (electronic program guide)

15. 1 x Scart-interfaces (fully controlled by software)

Video decoder:
Video Compression MPEG-2 and MPEG-1 compatible
Video Standard PAL and NTSC
Video Formats 4:3 / 16:9
Footage 16:9, automatic assimilation for 16:9 TV-Device (over Scart)
Letterbox precolating for 4:3 TV-Device Audio decoder:
AudioCompression MPEG-1 & MPEG-2 Layer I and II
Audio Mode Dual (main/sub), Stereo
Frequency: 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 16 kHz, 22.05 kHz, 24 kHz

Video parameter:
Input Level FBAS 1 Vss +/- 0.3 dB on 75 Ohm
Teletext filter in conformity with ETS 300 472 Standard
Output: FBAS,RGB,S-VHS over OSD selectable

Frequency Range 950 .. 2150 MHz
Signal Level - 65 dBm .. - 25 dBm
Signal-to-Noise Level 12 dB max.
DBS-Tuner Input Connector F-Type female
Input Impedance 75 Ohm
AFC +/- 3 MHz
Demodulation Shaped QPSK
Input Symbol rate 2 .. 45 Mbaud/s, SCPC / MCPC
FEC Viterbi and Reed-Solomon
Viterbirate 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, automatic assimilation
Roll-off Factor 35 %
Demultiplexing according ISO 13818-1

100 MBit compatible, bi-directional interface
Function Update of Firmware and Preprogramming

LNB Power and polarisation:
LNB Current 500mA max. ; short-circuit-proof
LNB Voltage vertical < 14V without load, > 11,5V at 400mA
LNB Voltage horizontal < 20V without load, > 17,3V at 400mA
LNB shut-off at Standby-Mode

Count of active satellite position:
DiSEqC - Rotor Control

Output digital:
Output Level 0,5 Vss on 75 Ohm
Sampled Data Filtering 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz
S/PDIF-Output optical (AC3)

Output analog:
Output Level L/R 0,5 Vss on 600 Ohm
THD > 60 dB (1 kHz)
Crosstalk < -65 dB

Serial Interface RS 232:
RS232 bidirectional
Bit rate 115,2 kBit/s max.
Plug Connector SUB-D-9
Function Update of Firmware and Preprogramming

Power consumption:
< 10W / 12V

Input voltage:
DC12V,alternating current +/- 15%

Extern power supply:
110-240V AC / 50-60Hz / 0.6A
12V = / 1A

Ambient Temperature +15°C...+35°C
Humidity < 80%

In order to get a Dreambox configured correctly to talk to the LNB/Satellite in NZ, BarTender on Geekzone has posted some useful information/guides.

This box can also act as Personal Video Recorder (PVR) like MySky. For those devices that don’t have a physical hard drive in them, like the DM500, you can mount a share over the network and record directly in MPEG2 format or it can stream the recording using Ngrab.

Other useful Resources


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