PCTV 74e and More Em28xx Quality Work

I spent the last few days working on some basic quality problems with the KWorld 2800d (an em2860/saa7113 design). It would seem that I uncovered a bug that was introduced almost four years ago which would have resulted in reduced quality for all saa7113 based products. I’m also working on a couple of formatting bugs on the em28xx.

I took a bit of time this evening and started looking at the code that Abilis provided for the as102. The chip in question is used in the PCTV 74e (otherwise known as the picoStick). PCTV Systems pushed for the code’s release under the GPL, and they deserve the credit for yet again helping out the Linux community (something I hope readers will remember when considering their next tuner purchase).

The firmware is also being released under terms that allow it to be freely redistributed with the Linux distributions, which means once we get this upstream then users will have a completely plug-and-play experience.

The code is going to need some cleanup before it will be accepted upstream, as well as testing. I’ll also be putting out a “call for testers” so users can provide feedback before it goes upstream. So if you own one of these devices and are looking for Linux support, stay tuned!

15 thoughts on “PCTV 74e and More Em28xx Quality Work

  1. I just purchased a Picostick, and would love to help test the device under linux. I’m currently using Linux Mint and the PCTV nanostick, that I would like to replace with my new picostick.

    • Hi Bernard,

      At this point I’ve got a v4l-dvb tree setup containing the driver and I’ve done enough to make sure the board is detected and the firmware loads properly. I just need to get my hands on the DVB generator again so I can do some basic validation, since I have a rule about not releasing code that I haven’t tested.



  2. I already purchased a PCTV pico hoping for support to come. Kudos to PCTV for pushing to go for the GPL and Devin for working on the topic! Of course, stick and eeePC box are impatiently waiting for source code…

    • Hello Harald,

      Yeah, the PCTV guys really do deserve a lot of thanks. While they don’t actually write the Linux driver support themselves, they have helped out a number of times by introducing us to chipset vendors and applying pressure on them to make available datasheets and reference driver code so that GPL’d drivers can be written.

      This sort of assistance coming from a company that sells millions of dollars worth of product goes a long way in improving Linux support.


  3. Is there any particular PCTV hybrid device you recommend for those in the USA? It looks like the 801e is quite similar to my HVR-950Q? Wondering if it would also have the kernel oops problem when switching from analog to digital (and vice-versa) as that issue is the last thing preventing me from using my HVR-950Q with MythTV.

    • Hi Zaphod,

      The 801e is a totally different hardware design from the 950q (which I also did the driver work for) and does not have any analog support in the Linux driver. Hence, you wouldn’t be able to test whether it has the problem switching back and forth.

      I’m pretty confident that the issue is specific to the au8522, because it’s one of the few cases out there where a single chip provides both the digital demodulator and the analog video decoder.


    • Hello Bob,

      I am familiar with that site, although I have never taken the time to find a “compliant” video card and try it. I would also worry about using a device like that as the basis of any actual testing, since real testing requires trying all the different modulation schemes and a variety of frequencies.

      I should have the generator back this week, so I look forward to getting a tree released for the 74e that people can actually try.



        • Hi Bob,

          I use a DekTec modulator for all my testing. The problem has just been that I’ve had it on loan to another developer for the last couple of weeks, but I am getting it back on Thursday night. So, I should be able to get the board tested this weekend. Thanks for offering though.


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