Tidbits on software development, technology, and other geeky stuff.

Automatic TV Show Downloads

Believe it or not my wife and I don’t have cable.  I know, it’s craziness, especially considering only 11% of households with televisions don’t have cable or satellite, but just think about how much $$ we save ($75.00/month * 12 months = $900/year).  Also, we save a lot of time by not being lured into watching a bunch of stupid stuff  across 100’s of channels.  We use an antenna to get high quality HDTV signals over-the-air.  It usually works great but sometimes the signal won’t come in for a show recording and the recording will be all messed up.  Also, there are some shows freely available that don’t get broadcast to us where we live.

That got be thinking about a way to automatically download our favorite shows so that we would always have backup copies and so we could get shows otherwise unavailable (like MythBusters!).  I figured out a completely hands-off solution which works amazingly well.  Credit obviously goes to the various programs and services mentioned below.

It’s awesome to randomly look in my tv folder add see recent episodes of our favorite shows ready to be watched.  Although not necessary, I took it one step further and have all of this running on a server with a Samba share setup.  We use Windows Media Center hooked up to our TV and when I add the Samba shared tv folder from the server it is easy to navigate through MCE and watch our downloaded shows.  Pretty cool!

Here are the steps:

  1. Register for an account at showRSS.  Make a donation while you’re there to support them!

  2. Add some shows to your list.

  3. Note “Your feed address” from the feeds page.  It looks something like this: **** http://showrss.karmorra.info/rss.php?user_id=00000&hd=null&proper=null

  4. Install your favorite BitTorrent client that supports “watch directories”.  I use Transmission on Linux but uTorrent on Windows will work fine.

  5. Install FlexGet

  6. Create FlexGet configuration file (config.yml).  Mine looks like this:

      rss: http://showrss.karmorra.info/rss.php?user_id=00000&hd=null&proper=null
      all_series: yes
      download: /transmission/watch/

    You’ll obviously want to use your own feed url from showRSS (showrss.karmorra).  I stripped out my specific user_id above.  Also, you need to change “/transmission/watch” to be the directory your BitTorrent client uses at its “watch folder”.

  7. Fire up your BitTorrent client.

  8. Run FlexGet from the command line so that it will download .torrent files from your showRSS feed and drop them in your BitTorrent client’s watch folder.

  9. Check your BitTorrent client to ensure it starts to download some shows.

  10. Since FlexGet is not a service/daemon, you’ll need to setup a mechanism to run FlexGet on a regular basis so it will grab new shows once they become available.  If on Windows you could use a Scheduled Task and if on Linux you could use cron.

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