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Channel Master DVR+ - Alternate EPG (1 Viewer)

Mark Booth

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A centerpiece of my "cut the cord" project is a Channel Master CM-7500 DVR+ over-the-air recorder. When I purchased the DVR+, Channel Master was offering a "lifetime" electronic program guide (EPG) for no additional charge. Little did I know that "lifetime" meant something completely different to the corporate numbskulls at Channel Master. Starting in 2019 the CM EPG started becoming highly unreliable. CM blamed it on factors beyond their control. While their excuses may be based in fact, another fact is that CM could spend the money to create a reliable ALTERNATIVE to fix the issue. There IS a way, what is lacking is any WILL on CM's part. I will NEVER purchase another Channel Master product, ever.

Channel Master's recommended "fix" was to change the zip code in your DVR+ to "00000". That change forces the DVR+ to use the over-the-air EPG instead of the one that was available through CM's servers. But the OTA EPG really sucks became some channels transmit only about 12 hours worth of advance EPG. That's almost worthless. But at least what you got in the OTA EPG was about 99% reliable. As it was, CM's broken "lifetime" EPG was HIGHLY unreliable.

Then, in June 2020, a very nice gentlemen named Tim came to the rescue. He came up with the idea of running an alternate EPG on a little Raspberry Pi computer that grabbed the needed data from Schedules Direct. He calls his clever project "PiGS", which stands for Pi Guide Server. But you can also run PiGS on a Windows, Mac or Linux PC. So, the Raspberry Pi isn't needed if you have a computer that is always on and always connected to your network. Preferably, a computer that isn't your main device. The PiGS software process is constantly running in the background in a Terminal window. Interrupting it (such as rebooting the computer) could make your EPG unreliable.

Schedules Direct isn't free, but the cost is a very low $25 per YEAR. A Raspberry Pi is about $35.

I read about Tim's project back in June 2020 and was intrigued, but felt the project might be too much for me. I've been keeping track of the progress of the project and now there is even an auto-install version for Windows computers. Tim demonstrated getting PiGS up and running on a Windows PC in about 15 minutes. Sweet. Except, we are a Mac household.

So, no PiGS for me. That was, until yesterday. For whatever reason, yesterday I found myself feeling determined to try to get PiGS running on one of my Macs. And, to my delight, it wasn't terribly difficult to accomplish. I simply followed the steps for installing PiGS on a Raspberry Pi, making the necessary changes (directories, etc.) and network settings to my Mac mini instead of the actual Pi computer. With a little help from a friend (over a phone call), it only took about 40 minutes start to finish. Sweet!

The PiGS/Schedules Direct EPG is way WAY better than either the OTA EPG or the original CM EPG. I get two full weeks of EPG on all channels. When I request INFO for a particular program the EPG not only tells me if a broadcast is new or not, for series type shows the EPG tells me the season, episode and original air date. It's absolutely fabulous!

So, if you have a Channel Master DVR+ that you're frustrated with, you should DEFINITELY consider getting a PiGS running on your network! Here's Tim's site with links to everything you need:


Mark
 

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