I received a Freecom DVB-T stick last week (early wedding present). I've not actually played with DVB-T before, so I wasn't sure how much of a hassle it would be.

My first act was to plug it into my laptop, with the aim of finding out the USB ID and thus which driver I'd need to compile up (I have a tendancy to build my own kernels with only drivers I think I'm likely to need). I did so and was greeted with:

dvb-usb: found a 'WideView WT-220U PenType Receiver (Typhoon/Freecom)' in cold state, will try to load a firmware
dvb-usb: did not find the firmware file. (dvb-usb-wt220u-02.fw) Please see linux/Documentation/dvb/ for more details on firmware-problems. (-2)
usbcore: registered new driver dvb_usb_dtt200u

Interesting, think I. I'm more organised than I thought and have already compiled up all the various v4l bits I thought I might end up using. So I go looking for the firmware file, find a copy, dump it in /usr/lib/hotplug/firmware/. Replug the device. And get:

dvb-usb: found a 'WideView WT-220U PenType Receiver (Typhoon/Freecom)' in cold state, will try to load a firmware
dvb-usb: downloading firmware from file 'dvb-usb-wt220u-02.fw'
usb 1-4: USB disconnect, address 15
dvb-usb: generic DVB-USB module successfully deinitialized and disconnected.
usb 1-4: new high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 16
usb 1-4: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice
dvb-usb: found a 'WideView WT-220U PenType Receiver (Typhoon/Freecom)' in warm state.
dvb-usb: will use the device's hardware PID filter (table count: 15).
DVB: registering new adapter (WideView WT-220U PenType Receiver (Typhoon/Freecom)).
DVB: registering frontend 0 (WideView USB DVB-T)...

Rockin'. Now I need to tune it. I find Adam's DVB page which has the initial tuning file for the Tacolneston transmitter in Norfolk. I type scan uk-Tacolneston. It fails to find anything. I wonder if I'm using the wrong transmitter. I decide the supplied antenna is probably to blame and go to see about sorting out the one in the attic. I try again. I get a channels.conf containing 91 channels. Wooo. Copy this into ~/.mplayer/ and fire up mplayer dvb://. And have Freeview on my laptop. Nice.

Unfortunately this requires me to have the loft aerial plugged into my laptop, which isn't very portable. Paddy tell me this will get better when the analogue transmitters get turned off and the digital power ramped up, so I look forward to that. Until then it should still prove useful to have a portable DVB-T stick - I intend to see if I can pick up BBC HD next time I'm staying in London, and check if Freeview coverage has made it to my parents' yet.

Writing this all down makes it seem quite convoluted, but actually the process was a lot smoother than I expected; plug in stick, copy firmware, replug stick, scan for channels, watch tv. The issue that took most time to sort was the aerial. It's really quite cool to think about how easily you can get yourself an MPEG2 stream of TV to play with.