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How to Connect a Digital Set Top Box to a TV Tuner Card

Updated on July 13, 2017
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Alfred is a long-time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

A PCI TV tuner card in combination with a digital set-top box allows you to transmit live TV broadcast signals on a personal computer.

Unlike the USB TV digital set Box which connects to the computer via USB ports, a PCI TV tuner card plugs onto a motherboard PCI slot. PCI is short for peripheral component interconnect. A PCI device is hardware that adds functionality to a desktop computer when plugged onto a PCI slot.

When TV tuner card is installed, connectivity with the decoder, sound card and\or TV antenna to the TV card is done at the rear of the computer.

Sample TV tuner cards
Sample TV tuner cards

Despite their dwindling sales, desktop computers are still available and remain a common form-factor worldwide. In developing countries, in particular, use of desktops will probably remain popular for a long time, and so will the habits that go along with using them. Out of many, the use of computers as television sets is still popular.

A computer can be turned into a TV set via USB TV set Box or the PCI TV tuner card.

The TV set-top box can be used externally both with the desktop or laptop computer - via USB, while the PCI TV tuner card has to be plugged onto a PCI slot inside the system unit.

Sample broadcast via a PCI TV tuner card
Sample broadcast via a PCI TV tuner card

Common PCI TC capture cards support both analog and digital signal transmissions. Much as analog TV is meant to be a thing of the past, quite a number of countries continue to transmit analog signals.

Many providers, however, continue to transition from analog to digital transmission and users are gradually tagging along.

Requirements for PCI TV Tuner Card Connectivity

In order to install and transmit digital signals via the desktop computer, you should have the following accessories at hand, in addition to TV aerial.

  • PCI TV tuner card with RCA video input jack.
  • An RCA (yellow) video cable.
  • Application CD for the TV card.
  • An RCA - mini-plug audio cable.
  • A set-top box decoder of your choice.

A Chinese set top box decoder
A Chinese set top box decoder
An RCA - mini plug audio cable.
An RCA - mini plug audio cable.
An RCA video cable
An RCA video cable

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TV Card and Decoder Installation

TV Tuner Card Installation

  • Plug the TV card in available PCI slot. (see image below)

  • In the image above, the TV capture card is plugged into the upper PCI slot on the motherboard. Once installed, cable connectivity with the card can be achieved from the rear of the system unit.

Decoder Installation

  • Plug one end of the yellow RCA video cable onto the yellow jack on the TV capture card and the other end onto the yellow jack at the back of the decoder.

(see above image for connectivity to the TV card and the image below for connectivity to the pvr decoder)

The RCA cables for video (yellow) and audio (red and white), connecting at the back of the decoder. The black plug on the left is the antenna cable.
The RCA cables for video (yellow) and audio (red and white), connecting at the back of the decoder. The black plug on the left is the antenna cable.
  • Connect the audio cable to the decoder and to the computer sound card. The RCA end of the cable (red and white) should connect to corresponding color jacks at the back of the decoder. (see image above)
  • Connect the mini plug end of the audio cable (one pin cable) onto the Line-In jack of the sound card. (see image on the right)
  • Finally, connect the antenna cable in the antenna jack at the back of the set-top box. (see image above)

 The above image shows the yellow RCA video cable connecting to the TV tuner card from the rear.
The above image shows the yellow RCA video cable connecting to the TV tuner card from the rear.

Software Installation and Sound Card Configuration

After successful installation of hardware accessories, it is now time to install the software that accompanied the TV tuner card. There are basically two software types to install: Driver and Application software.

Insert the CD that came with your TV card, and depending on the auto-run features in the computer, installation should be straight forward. (see example below)

Start by installing the Driver software, followed by Application software.

NOTE: The example below shows simple installation procedure of an off-the-shelf Light-wave TV capture card.


You can also use third party driver and application software if you misplaced the software that came with your hardware.

1 Driver-pack solution software should install relevant drivers for any TV tuner card in the market.

2 PowerCinema from CyberLink is a powerful application to stream live TV signals on your PC.

Sound Card Configuration For The TV Card

Your new TV setup should begin operating right away upon software installation. But a few hiccups may arise and you may find yourself digging a little into Windows in order to get the TV working.

For some users that run Windows 7, sound may not come out straight away. Follow the steps below to enable sound.

  • Click Start button > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound.
  • Under Sound, select Manage Audio Devices.
  • You will see a window like the one below.

  • Make sure the Recording tab is selected.
  • Click on Line-In and then choose Properties.
  • On the next screen, click on Listen tab.
  • You will see another screen like the one below.

  • Check the Listen to this device, and then click Apply and Ok.
  • You should now get sound from the TV capture card through speakers connected to the sound card.

TV Streaming on Your Computer

When both hardware and software setup and configuration is done, you can now watch TV streaming live on your monitor.

All you have to do is look out for the TV card application on the Desktop or under Program Files.

Double click or select the application and the TV application should open up.

You should see something similar to the image below.

Your TV is now up and running.

  • Use the maximize button to enlarge the TV screen.

A USB TV set top Box spotting RCA cable jacks for video (yellow) and audio (Red and white)
A USB TV set top Box spotting RCA cable jacks for video (yellow) and audio (Red and white)

TV Cards With FM Option

FM slot on the TV card
FM slot on the TV card


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    • vidgotv profile image

      Vidgo 12 months ago from Menomonee Falls, WI

      Thanks for sharing!

    • amuno profile image

      Alfred Amuno 14 months ago from Kampala

      Desculpe Afonso. Você pode querer se certificar de que a placa de TV que você comprou tem uma opção de rádio instalado. Caso contrário, ele pode não funcionar. Algumas placas de TV não têm esta opção. O slot de rádio na parte de trás da placa de TV é rotulado FM para versões de idioma Inglês. Veja imagem relacionada acima.

    • profile image

      Afonso 14 months ago

      Eu instalei mais não tenho acesso a rádio por favor que sabe algo sobre isso informa-me já esta mi deixar louco

    • amuno profile image

      Alfred Amuno 16 months ago from Kampala

      Thanks Sandeep

    • profile image

      sandeep singh 16 months ago

      thanks bro ... nicely explained ...

    • profile image

      Maureen 3 years ago

      Thank you. Very very helpful.

    • amuno profile image

      Alfred Amuno 4 years ago from Kampala

      Thanks Sharing Knowledge. Lots of people still access Television signals this way. Hope it is of use to them.

    • sharingknowledge profile image

      SHAR NOR 4 years ago from Miami, FL

      This is one of the quickest ways i have seen so far. Easy connection yet very simple. Thank you for sharing.