FAQ1 (forum) Topfield TF5000PVRt
FAQ2 (owner website)
All Questions Answered (forum, thanks Peter/download for compiling)
Another Help File option for new (and old!) users
Topfield TF5000PVRt Comparison to other PVRs
Smegs HD(high definition) PVR comparisons
Answers to FAQs on STBs,PVRs,DVDRs etc
Aussie DVB HD/SD Captures
Burning SD recordings to DVD, the easy way
Watching a recording on your PC, the simpl(ish) way
Topfield TF5000PVR software modifications, particularly TAPs.
TF5000PRVt internal Pictures & HDD information
JP1 OneForAll Remote file for the Topfield
TF5000PVR "remote" access:
Other Topfield Stuff such as downloads that seemed to have disappeared from the Topfield Korea server.
BUGS, specifically the TF5000PVRt for Australia
These instructions are related to how to convert recordings from a Topfield TF5000PVRt, however they apply to most DVB recordings from most softwares. I have recently cut a number of episodes of SD recordings to DVD, and must admit, I think I have the technique down perfectly now.
So copy the .REC recording to your PC using ALTAIR, a Topfield Application, then demux the .rec file with projectX (german homepage, no need to visit to get program!!!), which is great for problematic recordings (PVAStrumento 188.8.131.52 is the other good choice, but I get the most success with ProjectX). The latest version of "ProjectX" is now v0.82.01.02 you will also need to install JRE for it to work. If you want to compile it yourself, the instructions are all on the forum linked off the ProjectX website I referred to earlier, if you can read German. Here is a English guide for projectX here (although probably has *too* much info for what we typically use it for), and regularly updated downloads which include the already compiled .JAR file here at OOZOON or here at doom9. <--please read this line, I can't count on two hands the number of people who have sent me messages saying "I can't compile projectX, I am going to use pvastrumento/videoredo/insert other package name here" and such messages. The download is right at the oozoon or doom9 links guys/gals, you simply double click the .jar file to run it.
So ProjectX will demux the .rec file into elementary streams M2V (mpeg2 video) and MP2 (mpeg2 audio) and AC3 if it exists (with ProjectX). I run mostly default settings apart from "fill gaps with prev. frame".
Then the best muxing and cutting program I have used so far is TMPGenc DVD Author, add your demuxed video stream from projectx/PVAStrumento and choose the AC3 or MP2 audio (can't seem to have both for some reason) and add it (if you need to author subtitles into a DVD, perhaps give DVDAuthorGUI a look at, this package has been recommended by a few people as it easily takes the projectX subtitles and will author a dvd for you). You can edit the adverts out fairly quickly with the nice timeline navigation (set start frame, set end frame, cut) and do this for each advert, make sure that when you have finished cutting it, that the start frame and end frame are where you expect (beginning and end of what you want on the DVD of course!). This also adds chapter points at the cut sections, which is usually typically where you want the chapters anyway! You can only cut on "I frames", but the great thing is that you can scroll thru the "P frames" too, so you can see whether you should choose the next or previous "I frame" (based on the fade-out/fade-in to the TV commercial). You can scroll thru and see your cutting results instantly frame by frame or in "play" time.
You can very easily build up a simple menu system that selects tracks or chapters, and choose the thumbnail for the buttons if you want (using frames from the recording is the default). So you can put a number of recordings onto the DVD, as multiple "tracks". Create your buttons and button text per track (they can be active buttons that show part of the track you have opened), and create the background (a tip: if you want a cool moving background with sound, you must use a muxed MPG file for TMPGenc to put audio AND video into the background, so you may have to use another tool to take a snippet of your recording and turn to a MPG with audio if you want to use that as the background. ProjectX will certainly make a muxed up MPG if you wish, but will do the whole file, which takes time). The program then builds the directory structure, works out the animated buttons and backgrounds (takes a while!) and builds up the muxed files as VOBs within a DVD structure (plus IFO BUP etc stuff), and then opens a burning tool that happily burns the directory structure to the DVD, and very well too. Before you agree to the burn, you may need to add P&S to the IFOs.
Dealing with 4:3 pillarboxed material: So, if the TV program you are archiving to DVD is 4:3 (pillarboxed in a 16:9 frame, the way it is generally done in Australia), it is time to add the Pan & Scan information so your standalone DVD player can make the 4:3 image fullscreen for 4:3 TVs. The simplest program for this is IfoEdit. Open the IFO file created by TMPGenc DVD Author... there more than one IFO files created, at least one for the menu and one for the video. The menu one is called "VIDEO_TS.IFO" and the typical video ones are called "VTS_01_0.IFO". There will be one VTS_0X_Y.IFO per title you have added to the disk. Open the video IFO in IfoEdit, choose the video stream in the list, double click on it, and select "4:3 Pan and Scan" and save the IFO. See a screen capture of the setting to choose here (notice I chose the movie MPEG-2, not the background/menu info). Then you can use the burning utility that comes with TMPGenc DVD Author or any of your favourite utils (I actually leave TMPGenc DVD Author with its pop-up window asking to burn the structure up, run IfoEdit, then go back to DVD Author and allow it to burn).
Dealing with a stubborn DVD player that plays these creations with lots of green blocks: CompositeKiller by Richard Schmidt is the solution (only in German, I think you drag & drop the VOB file onto the exe, or try the command prompt to run it), webpage link in German.
Dealing with a stubborn DVD player that still won't pan & scan 4:3P&S IFO-edited DVDs: Three solutions, if it is a Pioneer DVD player, this might be one. Second solution is when you demux the REC file with projectX, make sure projectX is setup with "Set resolution in SDE" NOT selected (ie unticked). If you already have an MPEG or VOB, you can ReStream the mpeg towards the bottom is "Sequence Display Extension" in the dropdown select "Remove" (thanks Eon for a couple of these tips).
IfoEdit can also be used to very simply mux video, audio (AC3 and MPEG) and subtitles (.SUP) into a simple DVD structure by choosing the option "DVD Author, Author New DVD". This is a very simple way of making it all bundled together for playing back Toppy recordings with a program like WinDVD (or you can burn it to DVD if you wish, although there will be no menu page or chapters or advert cuts).
With the latest ProjectX you can choose to "to TS" say, the VOB file and add Topfield TF5000 headers, and you can copy the creation to your Topfield and watch it on the Toppy. So using this method you can watch MPEGs and DVDs on the Topfield (as ProjectX will "convert" the MPEG to a REC file).
The dba forums (Digital Broadcasting Australia) has a good guide for converting transport stream recordings to DVD, here Digital TV to DVD conversion guide , which includes using free tools like Cutterman, Mpeg2schnitt, Ifo-edit.
Another package that gets a lot of mention lately is Videoredo as it will read Topfield recordings now and is quite a handy package to use, and the older Wombles MPEG Video Wizard, both will edit Topfield recordings without demuxing, and support cutting on any frame, it will output without re-encoding if you wish to keep maximum quality, and provides a suitable output for DVD authoring with your favourite authoring package (Nero etc is often used, as it comes bundled with DVD burners for some people).
You can also perform screen captures using either a capture TAP, or copying some/all of the recording to your PC and capturing frames that way. I have a page dedicated to the PC method here.
Follow the steps above on demuxing the .rec file into elementary streams with projectX.
I found a neat little muxer tool that will bundle audio and video back together again into a playable MPEG, so the file can easily be played with many media players on the PC (so avoiding the "building a DVD structure" step like above). ImagoMPG-Muxer is a nice GUI based programme that lets you select the video stream, and if the audio stream/streams (AC3 and MPEG) have the same name as the video, it will automatically select (otherwise you can manually add the audio streams). It then builds an "MPG" file with all the streams muxed back together again (it can build VOBs too). Certainly MPLEX1 seems to be the command line muxer of choice, but I like the ease of use of ImagoMPG-Muxer. Media Player Classic can select the relevant audio streams in the MPG relatively easily, also various DVD playback tools. If you only have one stream in the mux, then normal Windows Media Player will work fine too (if you have AC3 you may need to download an AC3 codec).
Moonlight MPEG Player is able to directly play your .REC files, saving doing the demuxing and remuxing process. This player adds codecs to your computer that will then also allow Windows Media Player, Zoom Player etc to also play the .rec files without manipulation. However, this puts up a "nag" on the image after a month if you haven't paid for it, and seems to take control of your PC codecs to some extent (making it a little difficult to juggle the various codecs, which can result in some downloaded MPEGs "losing" their sound, no video in others, etc etc. But generally, this player and its codecs seems to improve the playability of most unplayable files, so I guess it does have its advantages.)
VLC player is the best solution right now to simply play the Toppy REC files directly, closely followed by Mplayer which is also a reasonable player. Both dont require any codecs (self contained) and will play most .REC files directly without demuxing the stream. The interface for VLC is great (mplayer is a tad primitive), but at least it is a no fuss way of playing recordings.
The Topfield has a "TAP" application environment that allows you to improve or add certain functionalities to the Topfield. You can merely upload the TAPs that various developers (including me!) have built for you, or go the extra step and develop them yourself, from a reasonable C API library, API documentation and compiler provided free of charge by Topfield (thanks developers at Topfield too, this added development functionality really helps to give better & customisable Toppy functionality). You upload these TAPs with ALTAIR and a USB connection from your PC to the Topfield. The PC software required (such as Altair and the PC drivers) are best downloaded as an install package from the Topfield Korea website.
Are my TAPs worth anything to you? I spend many hours on
them to try and perfect them. If you wish to contribute (and give me
more incentive to improve these taps even more), I am willing to accept
donations ($10 typical):
TAP used to configure and exit any supported TAP. I have modified nearly all TAPs below to be compatible. This makes a simple way to configure multiple TAPs from one easy menu. Use the UHF key to bring up the window. Picture here. Thanks Judy for the TAP (it only took me a year to work out how the TAP worked!) All the taps released after the 22/01/05 below are TSRCommander compatible.
extend all your timers by a number of minutes when you create the timer
(handy if you program from the EPG), now also sorts timers, repairs
"future timers" caused by bad AUTO timestamps and displays the
timer name when scrolling
through the timer list. 7.7 Adds timer postpone feature 7.8 Adds
tuner number toggle. 8.1 fixes one time timers too! Now supports
German and Finnish language.
7day guide in your Toppy! Add
EPG entries to the Topfield, various Australian EPG downloaders supported.
With German language support. Download JavaXMLTVetc
to get the generic harvester application
(modded in November 2005 to support new source site encryption).
Another harvester/uploader app with timer setting and all sorts of
features is the highly recommended: John/Trappers
Topfield EPG Daemon (TED) you won't
need to download the TAP or JavaXMLTV if you use TED/TEDS. TED/TEDS
also supports ICE data if you subscribe to ICE-TV.
Suitable for March 05 and newer firmwares only. I have modded the Signal Strength TAP to include many more features. "Infodisplay" version 7 will poll signal strength and qual in the background regularly, allowing you to see if a glitch/whatever is possibly due to a quality or signal strength issue (shows min, max and current readings for the channel you are watching), and display EPG, PID, EIT/etc service ID etc information (and scroll forward and backward through the EPG EIT information). Picture Here. 7.5 for earlier f/w versions
I have made a good letterbox mod to both eliminate the aspect option that isn't required for your TV type when toggling with the zero key, and has the option to get rid of those white VBI signalling lines above and below the image when viewing 16:9 in 4:3Letterbox mode (such as what Ten Sydney seems to broadcast). "autoletterbox" automatically works by pressing the "0" key. Instructions for use are in the zip file. So for 4:3 TVs, it will cycle thru Letterbox and Centre Cut, for 16:9 TVs it will cycle between 16:9 and Centre Cut, using the "0" key on the remote. This version makes indicator graphic look like original graphic, and adds German Language support.
I have modded "Freespacebar" TAP which displays HDD free space as a bar graph (in the filelist view), this version calculates the approx time left on the HDD by calculating the bitrate of the current recording stream (and if there is no stream recording or timeshifting, will assume the data rate of 7Mb/s = 7 Megabit/s). A picture of this one operating is here. Now with German Language support This version fixes overlapping text problem with keyboard.
To stop any remote control keys apart from the TV/SAT key (which switches the Topfield into External AV mode) from operating the Topfield, useful when running multiple boxes to stop the remotes all operating the wrong box. Now with an ON by default and OFF by default TAP included in the zip for two TF5000 owners.
Will blank the screen after 30secs of radio/mp3 use (will put text randomly on the screen every 8secs to let you know your TV is still on). Was a request from someone that listens to the radio thru their TV speakers, thus wanting to avoid burning the "Mystic Dream" CD image into their set. New version works with MP3 mode too, and lets you set the text you want to display.
Used to backup all your timer and favourite and system settings, for when you need to do a factory default reset (such as after a firmware upgrade... it is sometimes advisable to do a reset after an upgrade). This will restore all your timers and favourites, saving a LOT of time to put them all back in.
This is a
"PIPswitch" TAP which will put the PIP (small picture in picture display
of the other tuner) in selected locations on the screen, including having
two 50% screen size images on the screen. This integrates with
"autoletterbox" so autoletterbox won't draw black lines over your PIP
You are best to look in my TAP folder for later (and older) versions than what are here (sometimes I am a bit slow to update the webpage), and am always writing something that may end up in the TAP folder, all zip files have a readme to help install and operate the TAP. I have also included a couple of TAPs from other developers that don't have web pages setup yet, such as dirlister (to rename series of files in folders), imageviewer113 (for displaying images), testpatterns TAP (for aligning the display), TimerKey (to bring up the timer menu... although ProgressBarKeys does this now), recfixerV2 to fix those 0minute corrupted files etc.
TAP pictures of some of the aspects of their operation are all kept here
All my TAPS are GPL, meaning you can't turn my efforts into commercial software, all our efforts together developing TAPs are for our own benefit and should remain free, please read the GPL license for more information.
Other good PVR TAP etc developers/sites:
http://www.topfield.cc/ TAP overview site, now with English! (Thanks Strizzi!).
http://www.tapworld.net TAPWORLD.. another tap overview site.
http://members.westnet.com.au/web/acullen/topfield.htm for Andy's ProgressBarKeys (great navigation enhancement), this is the Swiss Army Knives of TAPs these days, with auto time setting, MP3 jukebox, bookmark handling, file trimming etc.
http://members.optusnet.com.au/~toppytools/ for Up2Date to deal with getting last minute tv guide change information into the Toppy TGD files (epg uploader) and other tweaks and taps.
http://improbox.gerti.de/ for Gerti's Improbox, another evolving swiss army knife for improving the infobox interface adding recording features etc.
http://www.8ung.at/aldarin/ Aldrin's Topfield file renamer, which renames all files on the Topfield that have illegal windows characters (to stop Altair transfer problems), as well as other HDD tools including an ftp server, projectX plugin etc.
http://users.bigpond.net.au/deangelj/ToppyStuff.htm for John DeAngelis' Gcode/Showview Timer TAP, Topfield FAQ, and a useful library he is building.
http://www.noates.com/ for MacTF, Nathan's great efforts in reverse engineering Altair to work natively for the Macintosh OSX
http://home.swiftdsl.com.au/~peteru/toppy/index.html for an Alternative TAP environment from PeterU, the programming guru...
http://www.users.bigpond.com/bylund/toppy/index.htm for some demo TAPs, a TAP to test for overscan etc.
http://www.boeckle-net.de/topfield_taps.htm for a number of good TAPs, including a good screen capture TAP, a Movie progressbar, etc.
http://www.mynetcologne.de/~nc-lueckth2/ for a few good TAPs
TopfHDReadWrite, a package that will read the Topfield Hard Disk in your PC (either connected to the IDE bus, or via a USB/Firewire caddy). Much faster transfers than Altair, the ability to recover a deleted file, to turn the timeshift buffer into a file, to recover a bad FAT table, to seek out MPEG "signatures" to recover old stuff off the disk etc.
http://www.toppy.org.uk/index.php, a new site for anything Topfield, although focussing on the UK TF5800PVR, this unit is fairly much the same as the 5000. Heaps of posts on their forums already, only 3 days after the unit shipped there!
http://www.marcwinter.net/topfield/TAPs.htm looks to me to be one of the original TAP writers (along with Judy's efforts)
Another good little page for potential Aussie Topfield purchasers is Koop's pages here, that shows some menu dumps and other titbits of info.
Topfield seems to have dropped this link on their site, so hopefully (until the lawyers come knocking on my door ;-), here is the USB specs and library they published a while ago.
The Topfield Korean website also seems to have dropped any of the Aussie TF5000PVRt links related to downloads, here is the latest formal f/w that they offer that fixes the VBI junk shown here. April20FW, <-- old, there is now Dec06 firmware that gets rid of the tuner1/tuner2 philosophy, nicer onscreen graphics as well as allows program guide information to be uploaded (thru the TAP environment), etc. It is available on the Topfield Korea website.
Finally Topfield are advertising here in Australia, this was on a mainstream city channel (during "Jeremiah", which shows in the early hours of 12.30am. Lucky I caught it, with Andy's +3min TAP, there happened to be about 4mins of adverts and thus I got to see a little bit of the advert). Here it is, aha caught the 2nd advert, so included it too: Topfield TV commercial1 Topfield TV commercial2
I decided (to settle an argument about the CI slots) to lift the lid to take a few pictures of inside the Topfield, Jai, if you are reading here, this is all I did, really!! Internal Pictures of the TF5000PVRt here
edit: Ok, so I added a 250G HDD, I couldn't
resist. Although with a couple more heads than the whisper quiet
80G drive, it is certainly noticeably
noisier. Edit2: well I found a nice way of reducing the noise
*substantially* (well, for my Maxtor Maxline Plus II 250G drive). It
is tweaking the AAM (auto acoustic management) parameters for the drive while
mounted in your PC. For Maxtor drives you need the tool referenced as
either amset or
setacm. Maxtor claims forward
compatibility for this tool, and it had no problems setting my 250G
drive. To achieve the setting, you must boot from DOS.
You can build a DOS boot floppy which includes a better HDD utility than the
Maxtor one: hitachi FTOOL
Add the Maxtor tool to this floppy (remove the PDF file to make room), and boot off the floppy once you mount the HDD into your PC (on the IDE bus only). You can run tests on the noise with the FTOOL if you wish. Using FTOOL should be easy from here, as is using amset. Set the drive to quiet, and be amazed at the difference, this is definitely what is required for a normally quiet PVR!
Once you get the 80G drive out your Topfield to slot in that nice big drive, you will likely enjoy the use of TopfHDReadWrite, a package that will read the Topfield Hard Disk in your PC (either connected to the IDE bus, or via a USB/Firewire caddy). This has much faster transfers than Altair, the ability to recover a deleted file, to turn the timeshift buffer into a file etc.
Thanks to PeterU's "Puppy" and
RWhitby's Unslung firmware for the NSLU2,
accessing the Topfield on a regular basis from longer than about 5 to 10metres
(USB max distance.. 10metres is pushing it without active repeaters) is easy
with Linux based Puppy and a Linksys NSLU2. I have a 20metre
Ethernet lead feeding the "SLUG" (nickname for a hacked NSLU2) from my PC and a
short USB lead connecting it to the Toppy. The basis of puppy is to have a
Linux commandline based transfer tool to transfer files to & from the
Topfield via it's USB interface. Here is the NSLU2 homepage for it
With a huge development community for the SLUG, this little box
has unlimited capabilities! It is very simple to mount your PC
drives with SMB, to mount the SLUG drive with the Linksys functionality of the
SLUG etc, so the options for file transfers are many. When I get the
time (my 250G drive is filling up fast, I don't ever think I will get the time!)
to document the steps I performed to setup TED uploads to the SLUG which cron
loads to the Toppy, I will document the procedure here.
For newbie's to Linux, you don't have to have a Linux home PC, this little SLUG runs the Linux operating system and with a few simple commands (hopeful soon to have a browser GUI to make it even easier) you can transfer files to the Topfield. ftpd-topfield makes things even easier now, based on the work of Peter with puppy. This enables you to run an FTP gui such as smartftp to simply access the files and folders in the Toppy, couldn't be easier. We have found you don't even need an external HDD or flash for the SLUG when running ftpd-topfield, simply "ipkg-cl update" and "ipkg-cl install ftpd-topfield" and it will be up and running in no time. (ipkg-cl is undocumented to avoid people bricking their not unslung SLUGs, but we have found if you keep the install simple to just ftpd-topfield and puppy, there is no concerns about filling the NSLU2 flash RAM fully up... which is the biggest cause of bricking...).
I have built up a OneForAll remote file for JP1 connector remote controls, this is suitable for RemoteMaster V0.96a, another Java application. Here it is. You can use this file to build up your own OFA/JP1 remote, also it is handy to feed to a cheap JP1 remote, and then use this to teach a better remote like an Home Theatre Master MX500 (given that the Toppy has a discrete OFF command, this JP1 setup can be used to feed full command set including the discrete off to a JP1 remote). I used the very simple to build cable here with good success on WinXP, and a "OneForAll4 URC-7540" remote found in a bargain bin which required a small serial eeprom to be soldered in and a JP1 header, but certainly some JP1 compatible remotes won't need this.
Unfortunately the Toppy isn't 100% perfect
(although compared to other terrestrial
STBs out there is so full of features that I suppose only perfectionists
will complain). The biggest bugs we have at the moment are that the
Timer API (for programmers) seems to skip &/or fail timers sometimes...
issue was found to be when timers are added/deleted quicker than one every
The second problem that has impacted many Australian Topfield owners at some time is the "audio drops out during playback, and the filesize is excessive for the time recorded" (maybe not a problem with May/June/Jul05 and greater generation of firmware). When demuxing the recording, it appears that for some reason (glitch? Channel Nine playing silly games??) the Toppy decides to record the full multiplex (SD AND HD channel) rather than the SD channel and audio streams. As HD is almost twice the bandwidth of SD here in Australia, it means the filesize can be up to 3 times bigger than normal. The filesize is the symptom, the problem indicator as is that the audio drops out as the Toppy gets confused about which of the 3 or 4 audio streams (MPEG SD, MPEG HD, AC3 SD, AC3 HD) to decode and thus you end up with no audio. The current solution is to do a Topfield file copy (or to copy to your PC and demux etc as detailed in previous steps). The filecopy is basically achieved by playing the offending recording, and hitting the "rec" key. This will copy the correct stream (in real-time, which is a pain for a 3 hour recording...), and the end result is a good file. You can speed up the copy process by hitting the FF key, although the timestamps etc get a bit stuffed up when doing a FF copy. Please read the "all questions answered" thread on the Topfield forums for known issues and their work arounds.
I have to thank Andreas Bock for offering to host my Topfield information, previously I was running a simple web server off my home PC (which gets the mandatory reboots etc) hanging off Telstra broadband with 128kbit/s maximum upstream bandwidth (thus downloads for you are only about 12kbyte/s if only one of you at a time are viewing), also I used a non-web server port to avoid all those port80 attacks slowing me down, which doesn't work for some people behind proxies etc. So this abock.de web server, despite being on the other side of the world for us Aussies, really helps out the Topfield community as a whole (I hope!) Thanks again Andreas!
If you have any problems downloading from my site (which will mean problems reading this page!) at http://tonyspage.abock.de/ you can possibly get to the mirror http://tonyspage.dynodns.net:5003/ or to contact me, try my personal page at http://members.optusnet.com.au/tonymy01/ or perhaps http://users.bigpond.net.au/tony_h .