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Official TV HAT brings DVB-T2 streaming to the Raspberry Pi

Oct 18, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 1572 views

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched a Raspberry Pi TV HAT with a Sony CXD2880 TV tuner for receiving DVB-T2 transmissions in Europe. The $21.50 board debuts a half-size HAT format.

The computer that was born to empower technology education in the UK can now be rejiggered into an old-fashioned idiot box. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has produced an official HAT add-on board for the Raspberry Pi with a Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) tuner that receives terrestrial TV signals. The $21.50 Raspberry Pi TV HAT lets you stream DTV-T2 and DTV-T video in the UK and Europe.



Raspberry Pi TV HAT with Raspberry Pi
(click image to enlarge)

Any Pi with a 40-pin GPIO connector can use the TV HAT to act as a server that streams DVB-T2 terrestrial video signals over WiFi or Ethernet to devices such as smartphones or desktop computers. If you have a Raspberry Pi 2, 3, or 3+, however, and add an antenna, there’s enough decoding power –- software-accelerated H265 at 1080p30 — to let you watch TV directly on an attached display.


Raspberry Pi TV HAT alone (left) and with RPi Zero
(click images to enlarge)

The Raspberry Pi TV HAT debuts an official new HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) form factor called the half-size HAT (or μHAT) that matches the dimensions of the Raspberry Pi Zero boards. This 65 x 30mm format is essentially the same as pHATs (partial HATs) such as the Anavi Infrared pHAT. The small footprint is designed to fit snugly with Zero boards for space constrained applications or with normal sized Pi’s when you need access to features such as the MIPI interfaces.

As with the HAT spec, the μHAT has strict mounting hole requirements, as shown in the mechanical drawing spec below. For example, there are only three bolt holes instead of four so the half-size HAT won’t obscure the display connector when used with a Zero board.



Half-size HAT (μHAT) mechanical drawing
(click image to enlarge)

The HAT ships with a Sony CXD2880 TV tuner, 40-way header, mechanical spacers, and an aerial adaptor. The TV HAT can decode one mux at a time, and each mux can contain several channels. The board is compliant with European EMC regulations.

The RPi Foundation has posted instructions for downloading and setting up the open source TVHeadend app under Raspbian. Other software can also be used such as Kodi, LibreELEC, and OMXplayer.



Raspberry Pi TV HAT parts (left) and map of terrestrial TV standards, with DVB-T and DVB-T2 regions in blue
(click images to enlarge)

To receive signals, you need to acquire a license, which in some countries requires paying a fee. The RPi Foundation is working on extending support to DVB-T and DVB-T2 customers beyond Europe. As shown in the map above, service is available to much the world outside the Americas (aside from Colombia, Panama, and Surinam). It’s also unavailable in China, Japan, the Philippines, and a few other countries.

The Raspberry Pi TV HAT supports the following frequencies:

  • DVB-T2 (1.7MHz, 5MHz, 6MHz, 7MHz, 8MHz channel bandwidth)
  • DVB-T (5MHz, 6MHz, 7MHz, 8MHz channel bandwidth)
  • Reception frequency: VHF III, UHF IV, UHF V

As one commenter on the blog page noted, many European broadcasters outside the UK encrypt DVB-T2 video so without a set-top box with a decryption chip, you’re limited to a handful of public service broadcasters, often with educational programming. So while Brits can sit back and enjoy Benny Hill reruns, for others the new HAT may not be such an idiot box after all.

 
Further information

The Raspberry Pi TV HAT is available in Europe for $21.50. More information may be found on the Raspberry Pi Foundation blog announcement and the product page.

 

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