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6th August 2007, 18:21
Quick And Dirty Guide To Dreambox
As a newbie a few years ago, I had to go through the "experience" of chosing, buying and installing a Dreambox. The results are fantastic, but it takes some courage to embark in this adventure, so here is my quick guide for the faint hearted or the Linux-impaired. This was posted on other forums (now defunct) but I recently updated it.
First, you no longer need to play around with expensive CAM modules and smart cards and programmers. Finished.
Second, you can record TV material direct to disk. Either an internal disk or one on a PC connected to the Dreambox by LAN.
Third, it is fairly well built, has a good tuner, features all the things you find on a normal receiver plus a LAN connection, a USB port, a digital output, a modem port, a CF slot, a CAM slot, two smartcard slots.
Fourth, it is constantly evolving and benefits from the support of hundreds of bits of software and files from a large community of developers.
And many more important features described below.
Look on any forum and you will see most users have the 500 or the 7020.
I just asked a few dealers how many 500s and 7020s got returned for repairs. No hesitation, the 7020 wins.
You can buy a diskless 7020 to start with, once you are familiar with the box just pop in a hard disk and you can record digital quality right on the 7020.
The first thing you need to do is load the software intot your 7020. This means finding an image.
What is an image?
An image in Dreambox lingo is firmware. Firmware is the software that gets loaded in the receiver, including an operating system, and that makes it behave the way it does, receiving TV stations and responding to your remote control.
Is the original preloaded image not good enough?
Dreambox comes preloaded with a basic Linux-based image for doing just that. So why do I need a new image? With the preloaded image you will only be able to use the Dreambox for conventional stuff like receiving FTA channels, or subscription channels using a CAM and a card, like most receivers do.
There are "better" images available that will allow you to do more with less, more or less, or something like that.
While there are many good images around, most people find that the most useful one is Gemini; it also gets updated regularly. By adding the Gemini image you can do many new things, such as downloading directly from internet all kinds of useful files, including extra features, add-ons, EMUs (emulators that behave like the plugin CAM modules) and settings files, utilities, configurators, even something called keys (you will no longer need a key to get into your house or car). Once installed, all these great Gemini features are accessible from the remote control using the blue button.
What do you need to get started?
- a properly installed Dreambox 7020 connectred to a well aimed (motorized) dish.
- a PC
- a good broadband internet connection using a router,
- a local area network (LAN) with an Ethernet cable to connect your router to the Dreambox, and
- a USB Stick
You definitely need one, you could load images on the onboard flash memory, but you take a big chance doing that, and you will quickly run out of space; don't risk messing up the local flash memory, you don't want to send the box back to the shop. You also dont want to put images on a hard disk, hard disks eventually break down and you don't want to go through the reinstall all over again. A USB stick works, it is safe. An alternative might be a CF card, procedure is almost identical.
Pick a USB stick with at least 128M capacity, a 64M will not allow you to correctly install Gemini image. Pick a decent brand, something recognizable, not some cheap noname brand.
Never mind the serial cable, you will never need it, and if you use it you risk messing things up. Use the LAN, connect an Ethernet cable from the 7020 to your home network, directly to your broadband router, as you would do with any other computer. I do not suggest you try going wireless, it can be done but it will give you no end of grief (too long to explain, I gave up on wireless for the 7020).
The recent 7020 models have DHCP, contrary to everything that is said in the manuals. This is the easiest to set up, but your IP address may vary every time you boot, so each time you want to FTP to your 7020 you need to check the assigned address. It is best to skip DHCP and assign a fixed IP address manually. More below.
With an "open" Linux box like Dreambox the number of available or necessary software bits is incredible, and for that reason you may spend a lot of time trying stuff only to find out there is a simpler way. After hours of fiddling, and with the help of the guys on the forum, I now have a good setup, and here is my advice.
All you need is the following software, downloadable here:
- Gemini image, most recent version (3.60 at time of writing), make sure it is the version for Dreambox 7020
- DreamboxEdit settings editor, most recent version (2.02.00 at time of writing)
- FlashWizard Pro programmer for Dreambox, most recent version (6.3 at time of writing, does not need DreamFlash)
- Satellite channel settings file:
- an FTP client, this is a program that allows you to transfer files between your computer and your Dreambox. If you don't have one yet go download FileZilla.
Anything else, like EMUs, Cams, scripts can be downloaded through the Dreambox so don't bother downloading to your computer.
So, you have taken care of the shopping list above, and you have downloaded the software. Your dish is set up properly, and you are ready to go.
Insert your USB Stick, connect the Dreambox 7020 to the antenna coax, and connect it to the LAN through Ethernet cable, and of course to the mains 240V ac.
Turn the box on, wait for the boot, you will be prompted to enter some basic settings like time etc.. If necessary use the remote control go to MENU and pick Setup (4 over to the left), then System Settings to adjust time.
Set up the Dreambox for your particular antenna and LNBs: from MENU pick Setup > Service Searching > Satellite Configuration, and pick your situation, you can have one satellite (one LNB), two or four satellites using DISEqC switch for multi-LNB antennas, or "many satellites via DISEqC rotor".
For a motorized antenna, I do not recommend the cheap DISEqC rotors like Stab or Nokia H.H, if you want motorized go for the real thing using a polar mount, a motorized jack actuator and a DISEqC 1.2 positioner like the Aston DS-200, the entire setup will cost you ot much more than a crappy H-H rotor. You can control your positioner using these setup menus.
Set up IP address for Dreambox: Use the MENU button, go to Setup > Expert Setup > Communication Setup and make sure you have LAN and DHCP selected. Reboot by going to MENU > Shutdown > Restart and wait for reboot, then go back to Communication Setup and check out the IP address, it will be something like 192.168.0.8, write it down. Be aware that this can change each time you reboot or resart your router, to avoid this it is best to disable DHCP and assign a fixed IP address.
To assing a fixed IP address go to the menu, disable DHCP and enter an IP address that is outside of your router's DHCP range; for example, if your router assignes addresses 192.168.1.1 to 192.168.1.99, then assign something like 192.168.1.222 (replace the last number with 222 or a number between 200 and 254). If you don't know how to read your router's DHCP range, then check out the address previously assigned by DHCP which you wrote down earlier (in the example above, 192.168.0. and replace the last number with 222.
Check connection to LAN: go to your PC and from your browser (cool people never use Internet Explorer and only use Firefox) enter a URL using "http://" followed by the address you wrote down in the previous step (for example, http://192.168.1.222), enter the default user name "root" and password "dreambox" if you have everything set up correctly you will get a Dreambox screen showing the channel settings, you can use this to control the Dreambox, much like the remote control.
Load satellite settings: start DreamboxEdit, open the settings file you downloaded earlier, you will see all the channels listed on the big window on the left, and all the bouquets listed on the right hand window. The middle window shows the contents of each bouquet as you click on it on the right window. You can modify the contents, deleting channels or adding them (right click). What I do is create a few of my own custom bouquets of favourites, more or less one per satellite, and move them to the top of the list for easy access, then I drag my favourite channels from the various bouquets into my own favourites. Anyhow you can edit later, to start with just use the file as is, you can go back later and change it and reload.
In DreamboxEdit, press Options, under the first Profiles tab enter the IP address of your Dreambox, then go to Advanced tab and tick "Display Reboot Dreambox option on FTP screen". Click the Save button and now press the FTP button. Press the "Send files to Dreambox" button, this puts the various files onto temporary storage in the Dreambox, then press "Reload settings on Dreambox" to get the settings activated, this takes a while so be patient, once it confirms that it is done, press "Reboot Dreambox".
Check reception: once rebooted, you should be able to use your remote control to change channels (use the UP and DOWN arrows to get the channels list page, use the blue button to pick the bouquet, then pick channel). Check reception is OK on FTA channels. You are now using the original image (firmware) of the Dreambox.
Prepare to load a new image into the Dreambox's USB Stick: Start FlashWizard Pro and go to the lower Configuration and Utilities button, under IP enter the IP address of your Dreambox again and under "Device to use (Multiboot)" tick USB. Might as well check for updates with the button on the lower right.
Format and mount your USB stick: under Utilities, do a Format USB, and then Mount USB. If something goes wrong, your USB stick may not be compatible.
Install the Gemini image: Now go to "Install or remove a firmware in MULTIBOOT" using the middle button on the left. Tick "Smart settings copy from active image" so the previously loaded settings will work when you boot on Gemini, and tick "Set new image as default choice on FlashWizard Pro boot menu" so by default the Dreambox will boot Gemini. Press the folder button on the right and look for your Gemini file. When you pick the Gemini file and confirm, the image will be sent to the USB key in your Dreambox, and your Dreambox will reboot.
At reboot, wait for it as it is quite slow, you will get a prompt to boot either the original DB 7020 Flashimage 2.60 or the Gemini image, with the menu by default on the latter, so press OK. If you do nothing, after a certain delay the machine will boot what you set as the default image (Gemini). At first things will look just like before, except that the blue button now brings up some new important features in something called the Blue Panel.
Congratulations, you now have a very powerful satellite receiver capable of some magic things.
Enabling the magic
First, load an EMU so you can avoid using CAM modules and cards. The best one is in my opinion is called "MGcamd", go to the Blue Panel (use blue button) pick Addons, go to "download and install" and pick "cam", choose the latest Camd (at time of writing, 1.24) and confirm.
Second, load the camd keys, these are used to replace your house keys and your car keys, as mentioned before. Keyless locks I think they call them. The open doors. All keys are on this site, look for the latest key files, usually they comes in two formats:
- the *.tar.zip file is intended to be unzipped on your PC, do so, you will see a "var" directory containing "keys" and "scce" directories, use your FTP client to transfer the contents of the these two directories into the corresponding "/usr/keys" and "/usr/scce" directories of your dreambox; remember, the default username is "root" and the password "dreambox".
- the *.tar.bz2 file can be FTP's directly to the "/tmp" directory in your dreambox, then launched from the blue button (addons,manual install).
For MGcamd you only need the "SoftCam.key" file.
Third, start the cam, from the Blue Panel use the green button.
Especially if you have more than one cam, you can set up the auto-cam feature, this is useful if you have many bouquets requiring different cams. Personally I use only one, but some bouquets are picky. You can set the name of the cam that will be loaded for each bouquet. From the Blue Panel press the red button, set the default cam (example, MGcamd), this will be used unless otherwise specified by the procedures below.
If you need to assign special cams (emulators or even physical plugin CAMs) to a bouquet or even to a specific channel, go to that bouquet or channel and from the Blue Panel press the red button, pick the new cam in "Set new Cam", and assign it by pressing green button "add(pr)" to assign cam to that bouquet (Provider) or yellow button "add(ch)" to assign cam to that channel.
7th August 2007, 10:09
I wish this was available when i was raking my head while configuring my db.
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