Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Bad Contacts In The PC Slots - A Solution

I did not encounter any problem when I first installed an analaog TV card into an empty PCI slot in my PC. With the necessary software installed, Windows XP can detect the card and I can watch and capture TV programs on my computer.

The Problem Starts Slowly

However, after about 6 weeks or so, I began to encounter a strange problem - the TV card will become undetectable while in the middle of watching or capturing. Shutting down and rebooting Windows XP did not help. The only thing that works is to reseat the card and it will be detectable again by Windows XP. But the same problem will occur again after about 4 weeks and periodically, like clockwork every 4 weeks or so. Moving the TV card to another PCI slot did not help either - I have tried. Nor did cleaning the PCI slot and TV card's metallic pins (the part that goes into the PCI slot) with contact cleaner and cotton buds.

A Solution

Searching in Google led me to 2 articles about contact enhancers:

18 paragraphs down from the top in Harold Kinley's article describes my problem exactly.

I got myself a 200ml can of Electrolube EML Contact Cleaner Lubricant and sprayed it into the PCI slot and onto the metallic pins (the part that goes into the PCI slot) of the TV card. I then reseated my card into the PCI slot. It has been 7 months now and the problem never occured again.

Update: 30th March 2015: Works like a charm in the PC's memory and in my Nintendo DS Lite expansion slots too.

DeoxITGOLD GN5 Mini-Spray, nonflammable 5% solution 14 g - GN5MS-15 Note: Another notable contact enhancer product that I know of is DeoxIT GOLD. They have quite a good number of user reviews on Amazon with people using it not on just PCs but on digital cameras, cellphones and stereo amplifiers too.

My Only Complain

The only complain that I have about Electrolube is that it is really hard to get their products in Ipoh, Malaysia - the place where I live. I have tried asking some local computer stores and they do not even know what "contact cleaner lubricant" is. In the end, I ordered it online from RS Components Sdn Bhd and they promptly couriered it to me once they received my payment. I did not try looking for Stabilant since Google could not find anybody in Malaysia selling it.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Channel Scanning and Auto Tuning In VirtualDub

With TivMe, the software that came along with the TV card PVR-TV 7134SE from KWorld, channel scanning and tuning is easy. Upon installation of TivMe, a wizard will popup and guides me through the whole process in 4 steps. And if I ever need to do another scan later, I just go to the software setting page and click on the "Scan Setting" button.

Wrong Country Code

When I first started using VirtualDub, I assume that things would be as easy as above. But this is not to be. When I went to the capture window (File -> Capture AVI), and activated the "Properties" dialog box (Video -> Tuner) and click on the "AutoTune" button, all that could be detected was just one local TV station, when there was suppose to be 6.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

My PC - My Personal Video Recorder

I have been using my PC as a video recorder ever since my VCR has been producing jumpy recordings. That was about a year and a half ago. At that time I was thinking of getting a new VCR but nobody sell them anymore in Malaysia. Instead retailers were recommending digital video recorders that costs at least RM1000 each. I find that to be very expensive.

Since I already have a media player hooked up to my TV, and it supports AVI files with XVID and MP3 encoding, I decided to get myself a TV capture card to record analog TV programs on my PC itself. On my PC, what I have is an Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.7 GHz CPU with 1 GByte RAM installed in an ASUS P5G41C-M LX motherboard. As everything was experimental, I chose the cheapest TV capture card that I could find - the KWorld PCI Analog TV Card Lite (PVR-TV7134SE). The price RM99.

I did not use the TivMe software that came with the KWorld capture card as the documentation was poor and not much options were given to set the video and audio encoding parameters. With a background in computing, I would like to have as much control as possible in what I am doing. So instead I decided to use the freeware VirtualDub (v1.9.11) by Avery Lee.

All my captures are in high resolution 720x576 - encoded directly into XVID for video and MP3 for audio while capturing. However, not everything was plain sailing. TV capturing was an entirely new thing to me and I had to rely on Unofficial VirtualDub Support Forums, Doom9 Forums, Lukes Video Guide, VideoHelp Forums and countless Google searches. There were hardware problems, software limitations, and not forgetting inappropriately set XVID parameter.

But all in all, I am very pleased with how things have turned out. I now have very good quality video captures, with no advertisements (as I manually delete them after the captures), no jumpy playbacks and no more mouldy tapes. I don't have to worry about hardware replacement parts as PC components are fairly standard - unlike say a VCR video head or some obscure roller.