Dec 15 2008

You know how it gets over the Christmas period; busy visiting relatives and friends, drinking and partying. The last thing you remember to do is to watch that crucial episode on iPlayer within the minute window of seven days the BBC has kindly granted you.
Now is the time to set up get_iplayer to act as a PVR (you know Sky+, TiVo, series-link, etc, etc)! get_iplayer can be easily configured to automatically download your favourite BBC TV programmes just like any other PVR except that there are no limits on how many programmes you can ‘record’ simultaneously (OK, except your broadband speed maybe). You even get seven days grace when you’ve forgotten to setup the PVR.

Here is a quick guide to setting it up.

I’m assuming you have downloaded and installed get_iplayer as described here

Setting up a PVR Search

Use get_iplayer to search for the programme you wish to have downloaded. You can search based on the programme name (and can also limit to specific channels and categories etc). In my example I want to get the upcoming TV episodes of ‘Doctor Who‘ so I just type this:

get_iplayer ‘Doctor Who’ –type=tv

This results in:

Matches:
184:    Doctor Who Confidential: Series 4 – A Noble Return, ‘BBC Three’, Factual,Arts,Culture & the Media,TV, default
185:    Doctor Who Confidential: Series 4 – The Italian Job, ‘BBC Three’, Factual,Arts,Culture & the Media,TV, default
186:    Doctor Who Confidential – At Christmas, ‘BBC Three’, Factual,Arts,Culture & the Media,TV, default
187:    Doctor Who: Series 4 – Partners in Crime, ‘BBC One’, Drama,SciFi & Fantasy,TV, default
188:    Doctor Who: Series 4 – The Fires of Pompeii, ‘BBC One’, Drama,SciFi & Fantasy,TV, default
189:    Doctor Who – Voyage of the Damned, ‘BBC One’, Drama,SciFi & Fantasy,TV, default

OK, so I don’t want those extra programmes on BBC Three, so I limit my search to ‘BBC One’ only:

get_iplayer ‘Doctor Who’ –type=tv –channel=’BBC One’

Now I just get these matches:

Matches:
187:    Doctor Who: Series 4 – Partners in Crime, ‘BBC One’, Drama,SciFi & Fantasy,TV, default
188:    Doctor Who: Series 4 – The Fires of Pompeii, ‘BBC One’, Drama,SciFi & Fantasy,TV, default
189:    Doctor Who – Voyage of the Damned, ‘BBC One’, Drama,SciFi & Fantasy,TV, default

Now I have the search I want, I can save this to the PVR search list by simply appending the –pvradd option:

get_iplayer ‘Doctor Who’ –type=tv –channel=’BBC One’ –pvradd=’Dr Who’

If you want to list all the searches that you have saved just run:

get_iplayer –pvrlist

If you want to do some more advanced searches you might want to read this guide for examples.

Getting the PVR to run Automatically

There is one more thing you need to do to get the downloads to happen automatically. You only need to set this up once. You must ensure that this command runs on your PC on a regular basis:

/path/to/get_iplayer –pvr

In Unix/Linux systems this can simply be achieved by adding the following lines to your crontab (run ‘crontab -e’). Also, if you have local email delivery capability then you will also receive an email when a programme is downloaded (set MAILTO below accordingly):

MAILTO=”myemail@mydomain.com”
0 * * * * /path/to/get_iplayer –pvr  2>/dev/null

This will ensure that the PVR checks for new matching programmes every hour, on the hour.

It might also be prudent to add these options as defaults on your system so that you don’t get the Sign Language version by mistake and also so that you know where the downloaded files will be saved:

get_iplayer –output=’/home/jbloggs/videos/’ –version-list=default –add-prefs

And finally, remember that this will only work when your computer is booted up and connected to the Internet 🙂

15 Comments

  • On January 6th, 2009, dearleuk said:

    Thanks very much for this

    • On October 6th, 2009, Dougie Nisbet said:

      Great tutorial. Think you have a typo with:
      get_iplayer–pvrlist
      should be space before double hyphen

      • On October 6th, 2009, linuxcentre said:

        Oops! Thanks.

      • On October 17th, 2009, Martin said:

        you might get an error on the last line, just replace –save with –prefs-add

        –save is deprecated

        • On October 18th, 2009, linuxcentre said:

          Thanks. I’ve updated that command now!

        • On November 12th, 2009, Matt said:

          Just wondering where the pvr data gets stored, I typed a path in wrong and thought there must be an easy way to correct it without deleting and readding

          • On November 12th, 2009, Matt said:

            Oops, just figured it out ~/.get_iplayer

            • On December 16th, 2009, Lakesideloafer said:

              Is there any way to use notify-send to bring up a message that new programmes have been downloaded rather than receiving an email?

              • On January 10th, 2010, BikerDon said:

                I am a Windows user (sorry =o), how do I do the bit that says:

                Getting the PVR to run Automatically

                You must ensure that this command runs on your PC on a regular basis:
                /path/to/get_iplayer –pvr

                • On January 10th, 2010, linuxcentre said:

                  See the documentation section about ‘Scheduling the PVR’ at: //linuxcentre.net/getiplayer/documentation#PVR Usage

                  • On January 10th, 2010, BikerDon said:

                    Worked a treat, many thanks

                • On January 10th, 2010, BikerDon said:

                  had one issue with setting the PVR though…

                  I wanted to record all ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ so I entered…

                  C:\Program Files\get_iplayer>get_iplayer ‘knowing me, knowing you’ –type radio

                  but got…

                  Matches:
                  10696: Double Income, No Kids Yet: Series 3 – Episode 6, BBC 7, Comedy,Radio,Si
                  tcoms
                  11337: Knowing Me, Knowing You – Episode 6, BBC 7, Comedy,Radio,Spoof

                  no idea why the first one was selected (was it the ‘,’ ?, that’s all that’s common) so I entered…

                  C:\Program Files\get_iplayer>get_iplayer knowing –type radio

                  that worked OK…

                  Matches:
                  11337: Knowing Me, Knowing You – Episode 6, BBC 7, Comedy,Radio,Spoof

                  so, as instructed above, I added –pvradd…

                  C:\Program Files\get_iplayer>get_iplayer knowing –type radio –pvradd=’Knowing
                  Me, Knowing You’ **

                  and got…

                  INFO: Saving PVR search ‘Knowing’:
                  type radio
                  search0 knowing
                  search1 Me,
                  search2 Knowing
                  search3 You’
                  search4 (Recordings’)

                  looks to me like they were used the wrong way round…
                  ‘Knowing’ was used as the search title
                  ‘Knowing Me, Knowing you’ was used as the search parameters

                  ** the instructions up top suggest the parameter(s) are used as a title as in…

                  get_iplayer ‘Doctor Who’ –type=tv –channel=’BBC One’ –pvradd=’Dr Who’

                  • On January 10th, 2010, BikerDon said:

                    Aha – just found the post about using double-quotes in Windows – that may have been the issue.

                    • On January 10th, 2010, BikerDon said:

                      Yupp – that was it, tried again with double quotes and all was well…

                      C:\Program Files\get_iplayer>get_iplayer “knowing” –type radio –pvradd=”Knowing Me, Knowing You”

                      INFO: Saving PVR search ‘Knowing_Me_Knowing_You’:
                      type radio
                      search0 knowing
                      search1 (Recordings’)

                      • On January 19th, 2010, Mark Waters said:

                        Thanks for get_iplayer and writing up this guide.

                        Good Stuff!

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