i bought a sirius satellite radio. local radio is pretty good, but the content on sirius is suprisingly good.
purchasing it for home, i wasn’t particularly excited about any of the off-the-shelf offerings for tuners. none of them fit with my pc-centric entertainment. i vaguely remembered something about a company called “timetrax” that was doing pvr/tivo-style software for sirius and xm. i looked them up and found that they produce both software and hardware. so… i bought a full “kit” from them including everything needed.
their hardware is a small black box about 2 inches by 2 inches and maybe 1.5 inches tall. it is a usb device, powered by a 12vdc 2 amp wall-wart transformer with an 1/8 inch mini-phono audio out. the usb, audio, and power are on one side of the box with the opposing side housing a 14-pin block molex looking connector. it’s designed to plug into a car tuner, in place of the “sirius connect” adapter.
typically, one purchases a car tuner for use with a given (in-dash) head unit. sirius manufactures one tuner and adapters for jvc, kenwood, and alpine. the tuner and adapter mate at the 14 pin connector with metal flanges and screws to secure the two pieces together. timetrax takes the place of the adapter and presents a usb interface (actually, rs232 over usb) to their software. this allows them to change channels and pull information off the tuner, just like an in-dash car stereo does (artist/track info is displayed on most head units). pretty clever.
their software called “timetrax recast” works for both the sirius and xm flavors of their hardware. it presents a fairly simplistic ui with everything you’d expect from a radio (signal strength, channel info including chan. name and genre, artist, track title, “presets”, etc.). the software begins buffering a song when the track info changes and “records” an mp3 or wav either when you hit “record” or based on your white/black lists (“record this song anytime it’s on” or “record everything except this song”). id3 tags are stamped into the mp3 and the tracks are organized based on user-defined preferences for directory names and structure.
the hardware’s fine, though the plastic case isn’t secured to the tuner, at all. the software is complete and utter crap. it’s needlessly show and cumbersome, it hangs, and the recording mechanism creates big hierarchies of empty directories.
it is remarkably cool to stream music off the satellite to work via shoutcast at higher quality that sirius’ online stuff.
more about my impressions of the sirius service, itself, later. i’ve also discovered an excellent alternative to timetrax; again, more later. now? i have to do laundry.