How to Build a Set-Top Box. Simply put, a set-top box is a sort of interface, such as a VCR, that sits between a television set and an input source like the cable line. As the price of electronics has gone down and the interest in information technology has gone up, some people have begun making their own specialized set-top boxes that can record digital programming or browse the Internet through the television.
Choose a microprocessor that is fast enough for your planned uses. An AMD Duron 500 with 256 megabytes of RAM is fine to record one or two shows, but for recording multiple shows simultaneously you need at least a 1.8 GHz CPU and a minimum of 512 megabytes of RAM.
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Find a TV tuner that works out of the box. For instance, one like the Hauppauge WinTV model 401 with dbx would be ideal.
Select a sound card. There are many good sound cards out there, so be sure and find one that can be hooked up to a digital receiver for the best sound.
Install a hard drive that is at least 80 gigabytes, as video can take up a lot of space.
Download or purchase software on the Internet. There are some high quality Personal Video Recorder (PVR) and TV tuner installation software applications available for free at various Linux websites (see Resources below).
Assemble the hardware components and attach the television set and the cable. Install the software.