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Using the FM Radio tuner on an Asus MyCinema P7131 Hybrid in Windows Vista Home Premium / Ultimate Media Centre

System Requirements:

  • Windows Vista Home Premium / Ultimate

The Problem:

The Asus MyCinema P7131 Hybrid tuner is a relatively inexpensive way of getting a good TV picture in your PC so as to allow you to make use of the full range of features available to you through Media Centre 6.0 / 6.1 under Windows Vista. The MyCinema P7131 Hybrid is also very useful as it comes with a LP mounting bracket for use in Low Profile, small form factor cases.

The card is equipped with a DVB-T tuner, FM Radio tuner, Analogue tuner, IR port and Composite/S-Video in connector, making it quite versatile out of the box when used in conjunction with the supplied Cyberlink MyCinema 5.0 software, however this is simply a duplication of functionality for MEdia Centre enabled systems and doesn't do it quite as eloquently as the Microsoft solution. The problem is however that out of the box the Vista Media Centre is only able to detect the DVB-T tuner in the card. If you attempt to access the Radio feature you will receive the message

No Services Found

Asus Hybrid in MCE 6 - No Radio

You will be offered no other choice of services or configuration for the FM radio and the TV tuner service will only detect the DVB-T tuner irrespective of driver version used.

More Information:

If you install MyCinema, you can get access to the FM Radio, DVB-T and Analogue tuners through the interface and configuration, so it isn't out of place to assume that the issue lies with the main driver. This isn't actually the case. If you have the latest BDA driver for the Philips SAA3131 tuner in the device (version 1.3.3.5 at the time of writing) then your drive does expose the FM tuner to the system. The problem is that it doesn't configure it to an extent that when Media Centre initialises a scan of the system bus for tuners, it is aware that there device is capable of supporting more than one interface (DVB-T, Analogue, Cable, S-Video/Composite and FM).

This issue is fairly trivial when you look into the problem in so far as Asus provide a "MCE Plug-in" on their CD which acts as an abstraction layer between the two, and will resultantly allow a rudimentary level of switching - more on that in a moment. The bigger problem is in that Media Centre itself is not able to handle more than one device type on a single bus. What does that mean?

Well, take my Hauppauge Nova-T-500. It provides two DVB-T tuner chips with each chip being identified on its own bus. This allows you to use both tuners simultaneously even though they are the same card. The Asus P3171 hybrid however uses software switching in the driver to specify which of the input sources to use against the cards one and only bus. This means that only one of the interfaces (DVB-T, Analogue, Cable, FM, S-Video/Composite) can be used at a time (fair enough) however Media Centre does not natively support the switching mechanism and therefore is only aware of the default interface type, you guessed it, the DVB-T tuner.

Personally, I am willing to for go the Analogue TV tuner as it will be switched off in a couple of years anyway, and I don't have a cable service here so the use of that Tuner doesn't interest me and I can live without the S-Video/Composite as my TV exposes three interfaces for those directly and I have other PC's with capture cards in them - but having installed three of these Low Profile MyCinema P7131 Hybrid cards, it was bugging me that I couldn't get the FM radio to work and complete the "fully featured" claim on my new Media Centre. Having already convinced the powers that be to free up space by getting rid of the separates hi-fi system, I was feeling duty bound to do this before someone asked for a radio station.

The Fix

This fix is not highly technical for the simple reason that having struggled to get it working, and in the possession of some better key-word concepts it turns out that there are others who have done this with other software switched 'hybrid' tuners and who were doing it as far back as XP MCE 2005.

So as it turns out that I am simply rediscovering here I shall not go into too much detail. If you already have Vista installed, you can start this process from step 5.

  1. Install your Asus Hybrid tuner
  2. Install Vista Ultimate / Home Premium
  3. Install Vista SP1 if needed
  4. Install Media Centre 6.1 (aka the Windows Media Center TV Pack 2008) if you have it
  5. Install the latest Tuner Drivers for the P7131 Hybrid.
    You can simply use the add-remove hardware wizard to do this, unless you want to use the Asus Splendid technology filtering in which case use the setup.exe for the driver program.
  6. On your Asus CD (Not the MyCinema one, the green one) open the root folder in Windows Explorer and go into the MCE Plug-in folder. Here you will find two executable files. One setup.exe (the 32-bit version) and another with the 64-bit version. Run the version that you require to match your operating system architecture and install it.
    Yes, you have to install it. I know Vista has its own MPEG decoders, but you have to install it. It is this MPEG encoder that provides the filter which allows you to select which of the hardware sources you will be using - Digital, Analogue/FM or Cable.

    Note: If you try and install this from the CD's autorun, you will get stuck on a permanent error about Asus DVD 6 being installed. You can ignore this message as I have not seen any adverse effects of not having Asus DVD installed, however you must run the setup.exe from Windows Explorer.
  7. Restart
  8. Start Media Centre and go through setup as you would wish to normally
  9. When prompted to setup the TV Signal, chose to setup the tuner manually
  10. Select the default instance of the DVB-T tuner and go through setup
  11. Once complete, check to ensure that you have a working DVB-T configuration
  12. Exit Media Centre
  13. Open Regedit
  14. Navigate to :
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center
  15. Export the entire key Media Center and everything below it to a reg file. Call it:
    Digital.reg
  16. Open Media Centre
  17. Go to the tasks area and select setting, then TV and finally to Set Up TV Signal
  18. Repeat the tuner process but this time select the Analogue tuner and go through setup normally against that
  19. Once complete, check that the FM Radio and Analogue TV do work (do not worry if you do not have a picture)
  20. Exit Media Centre
  21. Open Regedit
  22. Navigate to :
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center
  23. Export the entire key Media Center and everything below it to a reg file. Call it:
    Analogue.reg
  24. Create a copy of Digital.reg and name it Hybrid.reg
  25. Open Hybrid.reg and Analogue.reg side by side. What you will do in the fairly complicated instructions that follow is copy the configured tuner settings for the analogue tuner and merge them into the same settings file with the digital tuner configuration data. This is fairly complicated, so be sure to take it slowly.
  26. Search the Hybrid.reg for:
    UserSettings\TuneRequest\Tuning Space\Default Locator
  27. Scroll back to the left and look at the first GUID in this key's path e.g.
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Service\Video\Tuners\{71985F48-1CA1-11D3-9CC8-00C04F7971E0}
    Note that this is tuner specific, if you are using a different model tuner this may be different
  28. If you look down to the NEXT key path, the first path GUID will be different e.g.
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Service\Video\Tuners\{A799A800-A46D-11D0-A18C-00A02401DCD4}
  29. Search Analogue.reg for this 'new' GUID (the second one - A799A800... in my example)
  30. Copy all lines of data associated with the second GUID Path i.e. if the key path still contains A799A800... copy it and its data
  31. Pate the data OVER the same data in Hybrid.reg so that you have full data sets for BOTH GUID's present in the same reg file.
  32. Save Hybrid.reg and close it and Analogue.reg
  33. Import Hybrid.reg into the Windows Registry
  34. Open Media Centre
  35. Go through the tuner setup process for the DVB-T tuner again
  36. Close Media Centre
  37. In regedit navigate to (create the key if necessary):
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\Radio
  38. If it doesn't already exist inside this key create a new REG_SZ (String) called:
    _radioHardwareExists
    that is "underscore"radioHardwareExists
  39. Set the value of _radioHardwareExists to:
    True
  40. Open Media Centre. You will now have access to the Radio Tuner and be able to watch DVB-T (though not at the same time of course)

If anything goes terribly wrong during this process and/or you want to start again. in Regedit delete the entire key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center

Then simply import the Digital.reg file that you backed up at the beginning of the process. If you backup the .reg settings files, should you ever come to format your system again you will be able to simply re-import them into Media Centre (you may need to adjust the GUID values).

 

Article Published: Sunday 12 October, 2008
Article Revision Date: Sunday, 12 October, 2008

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