6/19/2018

Expandable, Modular, Repairable - Component, HDMI video recorder

A mass produced brand name box is unlikely, S-Video was for SD and a product of its times. Component was early HD and replaced by HDMI. Capturing the SD or HD signal was entwined with a desire for timer or EPG driven schedulers, and multiple digitial Tuners or Cablecard slots.. dumbing that down to Component Input and timer or on-demand is one strategy but the cost and rarity of those connectors is being driven out by the HDMI single cable simplicity. Modern display devices more often have HDMI connectors so that has become the standard.

Up to HD 2K game capture latency has driven the demand for HDMI splitters, which sometimes didn't implement HDCP copy protection, so any HDMI card could be used to capture HD if caught off a splitter, but it wasn't by design and export controls actively work to find and drive those out of business as quickly as possible. Since HD 4K its my understanding that loop hole has been plugged.

Leaving Component input on legacy DVD recorders and some PC capture cards. The quality of legacy DVD recorders with Component input were poor and didn't really suit their purpose, SD video capture. It was overkill bandwdith wise and the cables costs more going from three cables for audio+composite to five cables for audio+component. Only Laser disc could really use the bandwidth and was a niche market.

And that comes to today and the home theatre pc market, also vanishing.. but more from archival apathy.. and an over abundance of trust in the cloud and belief that Copyright will be offset by Lifetime viewer rights.. tho.. if content owners could selectively erase human memories.. I think they would be overjoyed.

IMO.. magewell makes a very nice "tunerless" capture card that works with windows, linux and mac in PCIe and USB form.. it has a well defined built-in full frame TBC, DNR and Y/C comb filter with proc-amp.. full retail is around 300 usd.. ebay sometimes 100 usd. The drivers adopt the most popular api for each platform so it works with virtually any software. But being "tunerless" its not exactly on the typical home theater pc enthusiast radar.. its more "archivist" or content collector targeted.

What made the DVD recorder especially useful in my opinion was the remote, and simplicity of the task.. collect content, permit limited editing and burn to disc. Compressing and moving all those bits, even by ethernet was just too slow, and DVD-RAM never quite supplanted the write-once and done DVD-R backup.

Finding that simplicity on a pc is very difficult, unless you walk a fine line and don't try to complicate things.

The single simplest, familar interface on the pc for manipulating video content is Windows Media Center, deprecated in 2010 its increasingly hard to find.. so it is itself becoming "legacy". However, at least on Windows 7, until 2020 it is still under support and somewhat accessible.. Windows Media Center has a partner remote, and can record "live content" from a tunerless input card if it detects an RC6 WME ir blaster. these get cataloged into its library and can be added to a playlist and burned to DVD and in theory Blu-ray.

That's the theory anyway.. and I'm pursuing it as quickly as I can to confirm.

I really like DVD recorders.. some of the last ones are all linux based and have a lot of upgrade potential.. upgrading to HDMI or component input and blu-ray may be possible, someday, but their time post-burner phase has not yet come. They are too valuable as they are for the moment to the people spending a lot of money for them on the secondary market.

A lot of the lessons learned about VCRs with DNR, line TBC vs frame TBC and frame synchronizers, IRE, proc-amps and more are still applicable to an expandable, modular, repairable - Component or HDMI recorder.. doesn't help with the EPG or Tuner problems.. but for the archivist little is lost from a skills perspective.

ps. One thing to note about Component vs HDMI recording is that there is no known Copy Protection signal mitigation for false positives readily available. In the past Video Filters or something like a Grex could be used to silence the inaccurate signal degredation, whether on purpose or by accident or the result of noise.

" it is also beyond my knowledge to even know if the macrovision I, II signals that effect VBI effectively could be blocked because Components R,G,B is digitial and not analog.. however there are other levels of macrovision and CGMS flags as well now.. and Components digitizing chips recognize and honor these".

A popular method might be to use a Component to S-Video converter, that then runs through an S-Video Copy Protection mitigator, then back through an S-Video to Component converter.. but this reduces the value proposition of using Component by also causing picture quality degredation.

Also Component did not have a WSS or Wide Screen Signal "flag" procedural "standard" for advising the display device when a signal was being output in an anamorphic format (tall and skinny) that "should" be displayed on a widescreen display in an expanded pixel morphic aspect ratio. While one could be added "later" after capture, or with a specific "in-line" box for this purpose it was not "the norm" and complicated the use of Component out from sources or Set Top Boxes capable of outputing an anamorphic widescreen signal. In the beginning this wasn't much of an issue, but as DVD content became increasingly anamorphic and some cable channels would switch between 4:3 and 16:9 it has become an annoyance.

HDMI generally avoided most of the WSS problems by properly supporting it, and since the Copy Protection mitigation was a result of an oversight for lower resolution 2K signal splitter devices with low latency for game play and game recording.. temporarily at least.. HDMI has some advantages over Component recording.

6/07/2018

Waveform and Vectorscope, Bar signal on a Pedestal


I bought a Leader 5860c Waveform Monitor and 5850c Vectorscope from 1989 last weekend. Setting them up was a challenge.. this is that story.

The Waveform Monitor wasn't as much of a challenge.

Basically it has BNC composite inputs, and I had to get some adapters for my composite cables to convert them over and connect a VCR and a Time Base Corrector to its Input.

The Time Base Corrector could also serve up a 75% Color Bar signal.. which could produce the usual Stair Steps seen in so many old black and white photographs. That also let me find and recognize the dual side by side field 1 and field 2 "humps" and the full frontporch and backporch of each in the center. Along with the IRE (set-up) or Pedestal add signal that picks up the Black level in North American Video signals and "sets it" on a Pedestal just above the sync blanking level.

Even though I "sort of had guidance from a PDF manual" it was for the wrong vintage and kind of vague about terms and very short.

I learned I had to DC restore the signal to keep it from drifting up and down because the signal is by default coupled to the Input as an AC signal about a sync level used to represent the center point of the overall video signal.  The Monitor had a simple button for DC restore and focused the signal on its reference point.

I could then move the signal up and down and left and right with some alignment controls, and rotate the "horizontal level" of the scan using a small tool and a trimmer in the upper left hand of the monitors faceplate.

Scaling was automatic (or "Calibrated") or manual (or "Uncalibrated") when snapped into position the scale on the "graditule" represents the signal in terms of IRE units instead of voltages.

Good since most literature concerns itself with IRE units and not actual "voltage units".

I then put a SignVideo Proc-Amp into the signal path and played with its four controls

1. Black
2. Contrast
3. Saturation
4. Tint

The first two (Black and Contrast) allowed me to move the "floor" or blackest black level of the video signal relative to the "center point" sync refernce level. But that also had a slight effect on the top of the signal represented by the whitest "white" or brightest signal on the screen.

While the video signal on the monitor represents "Luma" or Brightness irrespective of Color.. each color bar has a declining "brightness" on purpose to create the stair steps. Left to right they fall off in perfect step with the bars on a normal video monitor.. but do not represent any color information.

This is exactly so that, the Black control only effects the overall video signal blackest black.

But after that adjusting the Contrast raises and lowers the top of the whitest or "brightest" color bar so that it could be set to IRE 100 .. or perhaps lower. IRE 75 is quoted as common, as are IRE 85 and 95 .. as a hedge against signal sources that may "overdrive" or "blow out" the perceived exposure.. loosing details in the "wash". This is called "clipping" and is to be avoided.

Clipping can also occur at the other end of the scale in the Blackest Black floor.. the goal is to keep tweaking to get most of the signal, most of the time to remain between these extremes.. which can depend upon the exact source used.. but the color bars serve as a first approximation and allow for some sand bagging of the range to protect against "clipping" at either extreme.

So the Waveform monitor is for calibrating or setting the "Black and the White" extremes of the signal using a proc-amp. And setting the Black also adjusts the height of the Pedestal for the Blackest black.. which in North America would be IRE 7.5 high (very important for the Vectorscope).

Next was the Vectorscope.

Its similarly easy to connect a video input signal, but it displays its results in a Polar or radial graph display. Magnitude is by Radius from the center, the other coordinate being an Angular value from a Color Burst reference signal.. not unlike the DC restore recovered "center sync" reference for the Waveform monitor..

And like that DC restoration.. the Vectorscope has to "recover" the Color Burst angle and decode the position of all colors from the signal arrayed in a circular fashion around the graditule or "scale" on the Vectorscope screen.

I made a mistake in seeking to set IRE to 0 for my video signal using a proc-amp to generate the Color bar signals. This caused the Vectorscope to "free wheel" or "spin" like a car drivers steering wheel.. or strobe like the struts on the wheels of a car. I couldn't get it to stop spinning, even using the phase angle adjustment control repreatedly.

Once I did try to switch IRE 7.5 (on) the bowtie pattern snapped on and stayed locked.

Also using a proc-amp as a color bar generator is not ideal.. in tiny fine print, it says you should also connect a video signal to the Input to the proc-amp composite input.. so that a "stable" color burst signal will be included with the color bars generated. This turned out to be true.

While acting as a bar generator the proc-amp cannot be used as a proc-amp, it locks all of its outputs to references.. presumably to act as a "standard" rather than a general purpose (much more expensive tool).

Radius of each bowtie, "spot" represents the relative "color saturation" for that color, as color video  has a familar pallete with the bar pattern, each bar creates one spot in the general vacinity of the graditule regions labled for their color. Angular offset from the color burst frequency determines their "color".

So a second proc-amp can manipulate radius by increasing or reducing "Saturation" and this effects the entire constellation and over all "size" of the Bowtie.

While the same second proc-amp can manipulate "angle" by increaing or reducing "Tint" and this "Turns" whe whole orientation of the Bowtie. The optimum goal being to adjust or tweak out common imperfections that lead to a "cast" or "overall" color problem that effects all colors equally.

Individual colors which require specific tweaks to Saturation or Tint requires the use of a "color generator" or "color corrector" but is independent of the video signal itself.. that would be a manipulation to grant false "color" enhancement and isn't strictly a result of the signal path or current video signal regenerator. That would be more akin to using a "paint brush" to touch up a moving picture as opposed to "fixing" a video signal to be within specifications for broadcast. And is usually something more common in film and telecine to add special effects, or add to a scene to enhance a particular emotion or psychological setting than a strictly physical situation.

So I did notice that the arrangement of the proc-amp controls from Left to Right were not arbitrary, as each from

1. Black
2. Contrast
3. Saturation
4. Tint

tends to progress from that a person would notice the "most" if left uncorrected to the one they would notice the "least".

So in this case Black offsets are noticed first, then Contrast problems, followed by Saturation problems and then Tint problems.

----+-- Black (bottom)
Y - | - ----- waveform monitor
----+-- Contrast (top)
      |
----+-- Saturation (radius)
C - | - ----- vectorscope
----+-- Tint (angle)


5/28/2018

Digitizing Analog VHS tapes - to AVI or to DVD


Among "digitizers".. people who want to transfer or convert their VHS tapes to PC files or DVD media there are two camps.

First are the professionals who know every detail about quality and quantity and do it as a business.

Second are the casual users of VHS tapes, who have not used them in years or infrequently and now find they want to perform this quickly and as a means to finally get rid of the tapes.

Among the first category are websites and forums that are mostly going quiet these days, occasionally helping one another to care for the equipment they are using to make these conversions, and answering few questions from "newbies" to the profession or hobbyist who happen to just be starting.

First its important to understand the last VCR was made in 2016 and the tapes are also no longer being made. Every year the tapes get older and degrade and these forgotten memories move closer to oblivion.

Of the remaining VCRs most are not well maintained or cared for and decay from misuse.. or become damaged from being plugged into fluxuating power lines and lightening strikes. If they don't end up being recycled or tossed in the dump.. they are given away.. and a very few end up on eBay or Amazon or Craigslist as "used".

Among the second category users generally start out with a combo VHS to DVD or some USB dongle to perform the "captures" and are sorely disappointed with their results.. they turn to the web and find the "prosumer or professional forums" and discover a new world of choice and information that tends to overwhelm.

There is also almost a "stages of grief" that sets in from the gradual understanding that what they were attempting has many levels of quality and generally the professionals tell them they've been doing everything the wrong way.. so they get their standards wound up and upgraded to "pure" and "archival quality".. seeking legenday and near mythical "unobtainium" in the role of VCRs with digitial noise filters and line and frame "Time Base Correctors"..

Eventually if they don't quit.. or run out of money and hope.. they discover the easier "MPEG2" path.. a lower bit rate and quality that for some is "good enough" and subscribes to a lower spec than "absolute perfection".

In or around 2003 to 2008 there was a fleeting moment in time when $500 to $1500 DVD recorders were "Staged" to replace the VCR as a means of copying broadcast television to DVD discs.

These could also be used to "capture" the VHS tapes being played back to DVD discs.

Unfortunately with success also comes the realization that the DVD could not hold as much per disc.. so people sought to edit out "commercials" or beginning and end credits for seasons of shows. Doing this by DVD recorder alone with no intermediary was "impossibly difficult".. enter the combo.. Hard Disk (HDD) and (DVD) recorder.. which could "Capture" even the longest tapes to its internal hard drive and let the user selectively edit and rearrange material and burn "title lists" to a single disc or break up the list and burn groupings of "title lists" to sequences of DVDs one after the other.

Great in theory and practice with a little experience.

But then all of the major makers of DVD recorders and HDD/DVD recorders disappeared one day.. and the remaining recorders aged and the DVD burners begain to wear out.

So people then looked towards settling for capturing DVD quality to PC files.. but the capture equipment usually (with a few exceptions) would not allow copying the large MPEG2 files used to create DVD discs to a PC.

Which then brings us to the Home Theater PC.. a complicated mix of presentation and workstation editing capability. Generally these are not designed with editing and archiving in mind and support is near non-existent. The standards unlike DVD or MPEG2 for DVD, rove all over the file type landscape and confuse to no end.. mastering or "authoring" a DVD from files captured to a HTPC is a soul crushing exercise.

A single maker of an HDD/DVD recorder lasted until 2017 "magnavox" and then mysteriously did not deliver a set of three new recorders in the last half of that year.. stranding many archivist with no way to finish their conversions.. or soldier on.

5/27/2018

fit-PC2i Atom 510 - Centos 6.9 i386

The fit-PC2i was a low power dedicated server module from Israel with many customizable options, mostly intended for do it yourself custom firewalls running a version of 32 bit linux or Windows 7

It comes from around the years 2008-2010

Many linux distros no longer support something so low power, or exotic.

However Centos 6.9 i386 will install on this device.

The IODD portable combo USB - CD/DVD rom drive emulator and simultaneous USB hard drive is a great way to boot quickly and switch between many ISO images. A special directory on the IODD is labeled ( _iso ) and in this directory .ISO images are placed.. a combo jogwheel and selection button on the side of the drive case allows scrolling between images inside this directory and "mounting them".. the selection is saved to a Fujitsu based microcontroller in the drive case and immediately this is presented as a USB attached CD/DVD rom drive with the selected image mounted as if it were an Optical disc.. no burning, no "actual" optical media needed.

Upon reboot the last selected disc image is automatically presented as a bootable device option. the drive case also simultaneously appears as a seperate USB hard drive, which is very convenient for offloading or onboarding files to and from an operating system that can mount the virtual attached optical drive and virtually attached usb hard drive.

The fit-PC2i has a half height microSD slot for flash media or four USB ports, two Type A and two microUSB ports.. and a drive slot for a SATA drive.

Unfortunately the support site recommended Ubuntu Desktop 8.04 as a boot option.. but this had a "Bug" in that if a SATA drive were installed, it would not be seen by the boot installer kernel.. frustrating to say the least.. the Centos 6.9 kernel correctly "sees" the SATA drive, and using advanced options during partitioning.. even allows checking off drives to use, or unchecking off drives to not use when installing the linux operating system on the device hard drive.

This is a metal case, passively cooled device.. so it generally gets "hot" and a USB powered external fan like the "AC Infinity" line up with inline speed control and rubber shock absorbers makes a very low cost and effective cooling solution.. and is very quiet.

The dual LAN ports make this Ice Cream sandwich sized server a fairly flexible platform.

Toshiba xs54, xs55 - Net Dub (copy) to PC

A random websearch turned up a 2008 blog article in Japanese regarding the xs37 (a model sold only in Japan) with a "Navi from Net" feature called Net Dub.

Net Dubbing is a term for Network Copying or "Duplicating.. hence Doubling.. or Dubbing" a rcording to another xs37 or other recorder.

As a hand held remote "workstation" for mastering and creating DVD recordings..  shuttling recordings before editing from one workstation to the other was taken into account as a desirable feature. The recordings are "not" transcoded but are at the same resolution as they were in when originally recorded.

PCs don't normally participate in Net Dubbing.. however they can with a simple protocol daemon that listens for a Netbios broadcast requesting XS recorders identify themselves with their Anonymous FTP server paths.

A simple systray windows application was created and released as Freeware. I modified the text labels for English and the result was a Virtual RD-XS recorder service for the PC.

Starting this allows you to set a download path for recordings "pushed" to the PC from the Net Dub interface on the XS recorder. The title or name for a recording on the XS recorder is used as its destination filename on the PC. An extra txt file is created with any metadata associated with the recording.

4/28/2018

Toshiba HDD/DVD Recorders

After some research and purchases on eBay, I now have one of all the major RD-XS hard disk equipped DVD recorders.

The flirtation with replacing VHS tape based recoders with DVD optical disc based recorders had problems. The optical media usually consisted of a choice between cheap write once media or more expensive read/write media. As with tape based recordings commericals and other material was recorded at the same time, however where tapes could be recorded in 2 to 8 hours per cassette, the degree of quality that suffered when recording non-standard low bit rates on optical disc was much worse. So it became even [more] desirable to perform some type of editing before burning the recording to disc.

Enter the hard disk drive familar from personal computers. Some DVD recorders included an 80 GB to 500 GB hard disk drive, which was nominally used as the default for capturing the off air broadcast. Various electronic program guides or timer based recordings could be used to automatically select programs or series of programs from a season of one or more shows and store them on the hard drive. From the hard drive one could then watch the programs and recycle the  hard disk space without burning to optical disc or [edit] out commericals and beginning and ending titles to save space and use the saved space for more episodes or to keep the bit rate higher for a better quality recording to disc.

This was the TiVO concept evolved from a DVD recorder into something like a Personal Video recorder without a normal monthly or yearly subscription to the program guide made popular by the TiVO business model.

At the turn of the Video era when NTSC analog signals were stopped and replaced by ATSC over the air, the requirement for a new ATSC tuner drove the price of the combined HDD/DVD recorder so high that many companies exited the market.

Until that time however there were a few companies that offered increasingly better and better off air recordings to hard disk drive that also digitized or encoded the analog content into MPEG file format.

Among these were the Toshiba branded "RD" for "RD Life" series of "XS" HDD/DVD recorders.

warning: These recorders are very dependent on their Remote Controls for buttons, the front of the consoles do Not have a complete set of control buttons. These recorders are not usable without their original OEM remotes, programmable and universal remotes are inadequate as replacements due to the complex documentation that refers to the OEM remotes.. it is not possible for a user to perform the complex mental translations necessary to use a universal or programmable remote with the OEM documentation in any reasonable fashion. Do not try it. Further each model has a Unique OEM remote model.. they are not usually compatible between generations or step-up models. If matching a second hand OEM remote to a model without its original OEM remote be very careful to note the OEM remote model.. they absolutely must match.

Simply.. do not buy a Toshiba RD-XS without its "original" OEM remote.. and make sure it is included as part of the terms of sale.. or return it.. its not worth the trouble.

It is [Very] common to find the remote [Not] included as a term of sale, or substituted with a generic.. or the terms will say "as..is" and "no returns accepted".. the remotes sell for quite a bit more seperately from the recorders by themselves and are often prized [above] the actual recorders themselves because the recorders are useless without them.

Basically Toshiba made many many different models for the Japan and outside the US and North American markets, only a few were brought to the Canadian and US markets and not necessarily the same models.

They arrived in three waves:

XS-32, XS-52
XS-34, XS-54
XS-35, XS-55

The second digit representing the "generation" of the recorder.

The first digit repesenting the "feature" level of the recorder.. also called a "Step-Up" level.

Within each generation the same DVD burner was used, all used an ATAPI packet based command language to burn discs.

The 50's included "progressive upscaling HDMI output" for playback only.

The XS-32 and XS-52 were known to have a problem with their handling of the IRE set-up or "Black-Level" definition in the US markets resulting in DVD discs burning on those recorders looking correct when played back only on those recorders but appearing washed out or black level elevated to "grey level" and "white-level" blown-out resulting in a loss of contrast or dynamic range.

While this could be corrected in software, the loss of dynamic range could not without preconditioning on the input signal to the recorder.. a device to effect this change was never manufacturered.. and a software fix accepting the inevitable loss of dynamic range in exchange for a normal playback of discs on all recorders was never made available. Only DVD burner drive firmware updates were ever made available to consumers via their website or later only by firmware discs only available from the manufacturer through the mail.. after the firmware was removed from the website.

Several "revisions" of the motherboard and motherboard firmware for the XS-32 and XS-52 were observed in the "wild" by consumers, but no means of deploying "updated" motherboard firmware was ever found.. the newer firmware judging by the firmware versions between motherboard "revisions" was "as-is" from the factory and considered immutable.

These were considered quite advanced "workstations" approaching the flexibility one could have mastering or authoring disc creation on a personal computer with specialized software and world wide had a great reputation.

While external proc-amps could be used in the US to attempt to correct the input capture problem with Black Levels.. quite a bit of tweaking was necessary since it also involved stretching the video signal over the dynamic range while avoiding clipping of blacks and whites and compensating the loss of chroma gain and skewing in the tint.. at best it was a complicated bargain.

The XS-34 and XS-54 would see firmware updates "specifically" to compensate for the Black Level problems in the previous generation in the US and Canada and while having a lackluster physical case appearance are considered the most desirable by collectors. They had very durable Panasonic style DVD burners with long life when serviced to remove dirt and grime on a regular basis and were on the whole quite economical. In some ways they were considered the apex of the product line. However the UK version XS-34SB and the European XS-34SG (were Not) capable of NTSC capture.

This was quite different from Panasonic and Pioneer recorders which could decode and capture NTSC signals in their UK/European world models. The XS-34 UK and European models often appear somewhat similar to the XS-34 US model but are (Not) desirable in the US or Canadian markets even if the tuner is of no issue.

In particular the UK model does not appear to have SCART connectors on the back and can be mistaken for a US model.. since the XS-34 (US model) can be quiet rare and hard to find it is a common mistake to acquire an XS-34SB or even an XS-34SG model (that does have SCART connectors on the back) thinking it "might" record NTSC signals.. it will not.. and further it cannot output an NTSC playback signal either.

The XS-35 and XS-55 were the last of the Toshiba HDD/DVD recorders imported into the United States and the XS-55 was not imported into the Canadian market. While better in appearance they were still somewhat lackluster. They did contain many features that would never appear in any other HDD/DVD recorder. The XS-55 would continue to support "Net Dubbing" even between it and the previous version in which networked on a LAN they could copy recordings between the machines without first burning to disc.

2/08/2018

Retro-fitting DVRs with a usb port

DVRs began as a way of digitizing analog video signals from aerial broadcasts, they evolved to digitize VHS signals from tapes and personal camcorders to optical disc media. Because commerical movies were released on the same optical and aerial mediums, right owners weighed in and impressed upon the designs, varying methods of protecting copyright.

Consumer video products have long since moved on from Standard Definition (SD) video products, but the older analog signals captured on personal tape based recorder products remains. Regardless of the rights management issues which have withered away and made digitiziation more difficult.. the lack of a method to even extract the MPEG2 stream from a video to optical DVD burn has consigned many DVRs to landfills or abandonment.

Many brands of video recorder have at one time or another used commodity optical disc "DVD-R" burners, which almost universally rely upon the ATA Programming Interface (ATAPI) to conduct a recording session over an IDE (PATA) or SATA bus. These are not new designs, and are well documented. The signaling cables are standardized.. and although there was flirtation with removing the microcontroller unit managing the IDE bus from the drive motherboard and placing it closer to the DVR main motherboard.. integrating it or placing it on a daughter card.. in later years.. often the signal paths remained accessible down closer to the mainboard.

That means with exceptions.. many designs had a common internal IDE signal bus, with a max speed of 25 MHz for UltraDMA100 and often ran much slower.

In fact the CD and DVD xSpeed standards would often run only at the speed of that negotiated for a particular DVD-R burner drive and for the most part remains x8 or lower for stability and due to the speeds available to cost constrained microprocessor equipment up to about 2006.. although the equipment might run into the $100s or $1000s of dollars.. the tech was simply much slower than today.

Enter the 8051 and CY8C5 generation of dedicated real-time microprocessors driven by the phone industry and other evolutionary pressures. They are much cheaper and faster than earlier 2006 cost constrained microprocessors in the DVRs. Its possible a modern mcu could be used to emulate a device on the existing IDE bus by "learning" the signal conversation and then extract the MPEG2 stream destined for the optical media as a stream of ATA packet commands transfering data, then directing that over a USB 2.0 bus to an external computer, iSCSI device, USB drive or a USB DVD-R burner of a modern design from a third party.

The small size and near complete SoC implementation on prototype boards from Cypress Semiconductor for $10 in single quantities makes it almost an excercise in software only.. with a few custom cabling requirements.. and choices over wireless or sometype of re-housed external port exposure through a faceplate.

Re-implmenting a near 30 year old IDE bus in a real time mcu using C code is no small task, but it doesn't seem insurmountable given that the bus has been thoroughly documented.. and the ATA PI interface is on the whole based on SCSI and a relatively small command set of about 40 words.

The benefits would be the continued usefulness of these aging devices for their original purpose and some possible retention of our media history.