Just before the holidays, we got ourselves a Dreambox DM8000, an HD-capable set-top box and personal video recorder. The hardware features look good: twin DVB-S2 tuner build in, 2 free slots for additional tuners, e.g. for DVB-T or -C reception. It has 4 CI (Common Interface) slots for Conditional Access Modules (CAM’s), and 2 smartcard readers. Under the hood is a 400MHz MIPS processor, running a special linux, named “Enigma2” from a flash-chip. An optional harddisk and (slimline) DVD-reader are also available, but you have to build them in yourself. Doing so was really easy, as all screws and connectors are provided.

Dreambox DM8000 inside Dreambox DM8000 inside, filled

The installed software is descent, tunes fast and didn’t crash (yet). It supports decoding multiple channels from a single multiplex (known as multirec in the MythTV-world). The manual (local copy) could be more thorough, though. The recording-scheduling simply sucks, especially if you’re used to MythTV’s scheduling.

To watch TV Vlaanderen, you need a smartcard and the corresponding CAM. The physical CAM, however doesn’t seem capable (dutch link) of decoding multiple streams in parallel. So we switched to an alternative firmware…

I chose to use the openPLI image. I’m currently using the daily snapshot 2009-12-07 (local copy). Flashing the device was easy. The manufacturer even provides a procedure and tool (local copy of version 1.3.3.4) to do it.

After flashing with the new firmware, I installed the CCcam plugin, which is a software implementation of the CAM (commonly referred to as softCAM). I’m not sure what the legal status of this setup is, but since it still requires an official (and payed-for) smartcard, I guess it’s ok.

Additional notes

When using the networkbrowser (also a plugin), I couldn’t get my NFS-mount to work properly. It seems that the dreambox-configuration defaults to NFS over TCP, which somehow doesn’t play well with my server. Explicitly configuring the mount to use UDP solved the problem.

Update

You can also boot the Dreambox into recovery-mode by holding the “down” button on the front panel while booting. The display will indicate “***STOP***” when you can let go. Just direct your browser to the DHCP-IP that is displayed on the screen. The bottom line contains the link to the upload page. However, I had to resort to Internet Explorer under Windows to actually flash the thing (tried Firefox and Chrome under OS X).

3 Comments

  1. BenjaminWilliamTell says:

    Hello ,My friend,I’m a sat fans in China.But for some reason I can’t find where to buy this super DM8000 reciever.Can you help me or give me some info about how and where to buy it.

  2. Niobos says:

    We bought our DM8000 in a local shop in Belgium, which isn’t really practical if you live in China… I don’t have experience buying them over the internet, so I can’t help you there…

  3. dreambox says:

    I would go for the cheaper option & get the DB800HD. I brought mine foe £320 + added a 320 GB SATA hard drive. Its Great for CS & the pictures great.

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