8.5 Setting Up TV Cards

Original contribution by Josef El-Rayes. Enhanced and adapted by Marc Fonvieille.

8.5.1 Introduction

TV cards allow you to watch broadcast or cable TV on your computer. Most of them accept composite video via an RCA or S-video input and some of these cards come with a FM radio tuner.

FreeBSD provides support for PCI-based TV cards using a Brooktree Bt848/849/878/879 or a Conexant CN-878/Fusion 878a Video Capture Chip with the bktr(4) driver. You must also ensure the board comes with a supported tuner, consult the bktr(4) manual page for a list of supported tuners.

8.5.2 Adding the Driver

To use your card, you will need to load the bktr(4) driver, this can be done by adding the following line to the /boot/loader.conf file like this:


Alternatively, you may statically compile the support for the TV card in your kernel, in that case add the following lines to your kernel configuration:

device	 bktr
device	iicbus
device	iicbb
device	smbus

These additional device drivers are necessary because of the card components being interconnected via an I2C bus. Then build and install a new kernel.

Once the support was added to your system, you have to reboot your machine. During the boot process, your TV card should show up, like this:

bktr0: <BrookTree 848A> mem 0xd7000000-0xd7000fff irq 10 at device 10.0 on pci0
iicbb0: <I2C bit-banging driver> on bti2c0
iicbus0: <Philips I2C bus> on iicbb0 master-only
iicbus1: <Philips I2C bus> on iicbb0 master-only
smbus0: <System Management Bus> on bti2c0
bktr0: Pinnacle/Miro TV, Philips SECAM tuner.

Of course these messages can differ according to your hardware. However you should check if the tuner is correctly detected; it is still possible to override some of the detected parameters with sysctl(8) MIBs and kernel configuration file options. For example, if you want to force the tuner to a Philips SECAM tuner, you should add the following line to your kernel configuration file:


or you can directly use sysctl(8):

# sysctl hw.bt848.tuner=6

See the bktr(4) manual page and the /usr/src/sys/conf/NOTES file for more details on the available options.

8.5.3 Useful Applications

To use your TV card you need to install one of the following applications:

More applications are available in the FreeBSD Ports Collection.

8.5.4 Troubleshooting

If you encounter any problem with your TV card, you should check at first if the video capture chip and the tuner are really supported by the bktr(4) driver and if you used the right configuration options. For more support and various questions about your TV card you may want to contact and use the archives of the freebsd-multimedia mailing list.