Introduction: Free, Legal, Online TV on Your TV Set
Fact 1: Many TV channels provide free online streaming.
Fact 2: Broadband connections are widely available.
Fact 3: Video cards with TV output are common and relatively cheap.
Addition: Access an online TV stream (or put a DVD on your PC), drag the window with video to your TV screen, maximize window, and there you are... you'll have access to TV channels from all over the world in the comfort of a big TV set.
Drawback 1: Moving the window to the TV set is tedious, and maximizing it on the TV set can be a problem if you don't see your TV set while you are sitting at your computer.
Drawback 2: It would be nice to have all TV channels organized so as not to enter to your web browser every time you want to change channel!!
The solution comes from fact 4: A simple program can be made in VB that will handle the list of TV channels, and automatically move the screen back and forth to the TV set.
Here I show you how I set up the hardware and software required to have a complete grid of TV channels from the internet organized on the screen of your TV set!
Step 1: Hardware
- Wire required to connect the TV output of your video card to the video input of your TV set.
- Broadband connection (at least 1 Mb/s).
- TV set
Connect the computer and your TV set as required. Enable the output to a second screen (usually done from the desktop menu, but depends on the video card). Check it works.
You may also want to connect the sound output of your computer to some nice speakers.
Step 2: Compile a Set of TV Channels You Like
- Look for a web page with TV streaming, right click on the playing stream, chose "Properties" and copy the ".asx" url. This url with ".asx" ending will point the windows media object embedded in the software to the TV stream.
- Check which channels (ie streams) work properly. Some times you get a "Buffering..." message so often that watching the channel becomes tedious.
- Don't expect to find streams from big private channels like HBO or Warner or Sony giving out their TV transmissions for free... anyway, lots of TV channels are available.
- Make a txt file with the list of streams you found. This will be read by the program in order to load all the streams, so you better make an ordered file. For example, I made a txt file with three fields for each stream:
- Name of a bmp file with the logo of the channel
- URL pointing to the corresponding stream
I also prepared a bmp file with the logo of each channel, so that the program displays that instead of a name... much better, right? You can see examples of the txt file and some logos bellow.
Step 3: Software
- OnLoad() takes the txt file as input and prepares a grid of channels.
- Opens and displays a stream when you click on a channel from the grid.
- Contains a button that toggles the window between the computer and TV screen, so that you don't have to do it manually.
- Any other ideas you get (for example, I added a button to open video files).
How to toggle the window between computer screen and TV set
In my case, when you click on an object called "Picture3" (button for moving window, see picture bellow) it runs this piece of code:
If Picture3.Tag = ">" Then
Me.WindowState = 0
Me.Left = Screen.Width
Me.WindowState = 2
Picture3.Tag = "<"
Me.WindowState = 0
Me.Left = 0
Me.WindowState = 2
Picture3.Tag = ">"
Step 4: Test Until It Works... Then Compile and Have Fun !
Write to me if you have any question about the code, or hardware... or if you want help with looking for streams, or whatever.
EDIT You can find how to get the program and VB code here:http://lasoft.atspace.com/forfree.html#supertv