Free, Legal, Online TV on Your TV Set

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

You need:

  • Computer:

- Must have a video card with TV output capability (I had it installed by a technician).

- 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

Step 1:

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

Surf the web looking for online streams of TV channels you like. A few tips:

  • 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:

- Channel Name

- 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

Now make a program that:

  • 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).

Of course you can do this in many programming languages; I used VB 6 since it is very simple and can be programmed quickly making it look good. In VB 6, you'll need a WindowsMediaPlayer ocx to handle the stream.

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 = ">"
End If

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:



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    22 Discussions

    This seams pointless. You will not get any channels that you would have to pay for if you have cable of satellite. All you would get is ABC, CBS, Fox, etc. So, why not just get a DTV tuner and antenna?

    i could probably code some sort of html version of this... use a frameset and an embed tag and you can set it to not show player.

    4 replies

    yes... i looked into it. if you use html just make a frameset and have a navigation bar with links to the video streams or directly to a video file on the side or top (depending on your preference. wide screen users should use the side if viewing non wide screen streams) in ubuntu. it always streches the videos to full browser window without distorting it (scales it is more accurate)

    In fact I also did that at the begining, but I couldn't make the window move between the tv set and pc screen at my will, so that's why I used VB. Could you? How?

    just move it there first and press f11 and it makes it so he page is full screen. then just use the nav bar you made. the video will still be in the bottom frame... here... ill post a screen shot of what it looks like when done. in the frameset the green nav bar is 10% and the bottom part with the movie is 90% also its playing from a file here... (this is in ubuntu)


    i have some different html javascript files iv'e made for this kind of application, we need some sort of collective effort to compile a index of available streams, then everyone can use these index'es in there own interfaces, i  know there are many sites with links to te pages of streams, but i just use the raw feeds urls (bottleneck) with the source url as a seperate yet related varible, im in early stages of developing a script to write gathered links to a .js javascript file and use that file in a media interface, only downfalls is i dont have time to gather many links by my self, and its written for Internet Explorer,  I envision it to be similar to the kind of .EXE players you find frequently on the web but always inevitable have trojans and links source blocked ect.. but made purely of html javascript css, and 1 or many indexes of the media urls, the source provider urls optionally,
    If anyone would like to get involved with helping me develop this as a open source HTML based streaming media interface please contact me,

    Does your PC have an RCA/composite out on its graphics card? All i have is s-video, and cant find an adapter ANYWHERE!

    2 replies

    you can make a s video to rca adapter really really easy look for the instructable its almost as easy as twisting speaker wire!

     I've produced a web page that has links to my favorite shows latest episode. Nothing easier than that. And I have my Mac laptop connected via s-video (It's built in) and by clicking detect displays and setting the auto resolution it connects and fits perfectly on the screen.

    I have the TV OUT wire and a monitor cable but i havn't found both together... if somebody could show me the wiring in between i could make one myself... please if you know PM me A.S.A.P.

    I think that so called "real" programmers hate VB out of insecurity, perhaps fearing that most people can write useful programs in VB without getting a degree in computer science. There have been times between jobs that I have earned a living programming in VB, and I use VB to play while in a real job (such as now). Of course VB is not the most efficient or elegant language out there, but ... what's wrong with a computer language that allows you to earn a living and play?

    or Joost.. or a stand alone program like TVUPlayer or SopCast. i live in Canada where Hulu usually isn't avaliable but i know a way around that as well!

    Please upload the VB file, I'm not experienced enough myself to be able to write a program like that on my own. However, if I look over your program, I'm sure that I( will be able to figure it out. Thank you.

    any chance of uploading the VB file so I can explore it in more depth? it would be very helpful, thanks.

    you can program this in VB, yet you can't install your own video card? really?