Antares 1.1

Henry Haselgrove, 15/5/2012
Antares is an open source alternative to the Topfield software "Altair". It is compatible with both 64-bit and 32-bit Windows.

There is a thread on the toppy.org.uk forums about Antares. Feel free to post your questions or bug reports there. I am "qubits".

The information on this page applies only to the older standard-definition models (e.g. the TF5800 and TF5810 in the UK, or TF5000PVRt in Australia). The newer high-definition Topfield models (such as the TF7000HDPVRt in Australia) use a very different way of connecting to the PC.

Antares Screenshots

The main window:
Screenshot of the main Antares window


Copy in progress:
Screenshot showing copy in progress

View program information:
Program information window

Features

Here are some advantages that Antares has over Altair:
Antares is compatible with Windows XP (32-bit or 64-bit), Windows Vista (32 or 64-bit), and Windows 7 (32 or 64-bit).

Download and installation

Installation procedure:

These steps can be done in almost any order. If you're unsure whether you already have the Microsoft libraries mentioned in steps 1 and 2, you could try omitting those steps, and see if Antares still runs. (I believe that Windows 7 comes with those libraries installed as standard, but XP doesn't; and I'm not sure about Vista).

  1. Download and install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 runtime library, if you don't already have it.
  2. Download and install the Microsoft .NET runtime version 3.5 SP1, if you don't already have it.
  3. Download the zipped Antares executable, and unzip to somewhere convenient. (This one file is suitable for all versions of Windows, 32-bit or 64-bit, from XP to 7).
  4. Install the drivers:

    For 32-bit Windows :- you may use either the standard Topfield drivers (available from the Topfield website) or the Winusb drivers. Instructions for downloading and installing Winusb drivers are on this page.

    For 64-bit Windows :- you must install the Winusb drivers. Follow the instructions on this page.

    Please be aware that if you are using a 32-bit version of Windows and you already have the standard Topfield drivers installed, installing Winusb will replace those drivers. This will prevent certain other programs such as Altair accessing you PVR, unless you update the tfdll.dll file for those programs.

Installation complete! Double click on antares.exe each time you want to run it. (For convenience, you might want to put a link to it on your desktop or in your start menu). 

Translations to other languages

According to statistics from the web server, the visitors to this website have their browser set to the following languages in these proportions:
38% Finnish;    38% English;    20% German;    3% other.
This seemed like a good enough reason to make the Antares user interface support multiple languages.

So, back in November 2011 I created a spreadsheet on Google Documents at this link. It lists most of the English text in Antares, with columns set aside for translations. I asked users of Antares to translate this text to Finnish and German. The translations now seem to be more or less complete! Great work. Thank you, anonymous translators :)

I have incorporated the translations into the latest version of Antares, version 1.0. In this version, Antares will automatically choose the language to display, but you can override that choice in the Settings window

I will leave the spreadsheet open for editing. So, please feel free to make corrections or improvements if necessary. Also, extra bits of translation will be necessary as I add more features to Antares.

There are two parts of the user interface that I did not include in the spreadsheet: the command-line interface, and the window for updating the firmware. These features of Antares will probably change a lot in the near future; so I'll delay making these parts of Antares support multiple languages until later.

P.S. :  If you wish to propose another language, either because you would like to do some of the translation yourself, or you are hoping someone else may be willing to do so, please type the name of the language at the end of Row 9 on the spreadsheet. Perhaps Dutch, Swedish, and Czech would be worthwhile? They are the next three most common browser languages of people who visit this page.

Version history

Version
Date Description of changes
1.1
15/5/2012
Added the ability to view MyStuff programme descriptions. Added two new functions to the command-line interface ("info" and "rm"). The firmware updater was tweaked. A couple of minor bugs were fixed.
1.0
2/1/2012
New languages for the user interface: German and Finnish. Antares now temporarily disables turbo mode if it detects there is a recording in progress. If you hover the mouse pointer over an item in the “Description” column, the full program information will be shown in a pop-up window. The “existing files” warning window now behaves a little differently depending on whether you are transferring very large files (such as REC files) or other smaller file types. Fixed a bug that was causing the program description to not display properly for some DVB-C toppy models. Other miscellaneous bug fixes.
0.9.2
6/11/2011
Antares now formats numbers and dates according to your Windows settings. The character "|" is no longer spuriously shown in filenames and program descriptions. Fixed a bug that would sometimes cause information to display in the wrong column or not at all. Fixed a problem that caused PVR -> PC transfers to not work for some TF520PVR owners. Fixed a problem that would sometimes cause the error "The folder (...) could not be created" to display during PC->PVR transfers.
0.9.1 14/8/2011 A context menu now appears when you right click a file or folder, or when you right click a column header. Some command line options have been added (including move & copy). Fixed these bugs: 1) in some circumstances, columns wouldn't sort properly; 2) when you created a new folder on the PC, the naming of it would be interrupted by the automatic refreshing; 3) newly transferred files on the PC wouldn't display their "Channel" or "Description" data properly; 3) turbo mode would sometimes turn itself off; 4)  a warning about existing files would sometimes not be shown for transfers to PVR; 5) viewing a directory that contains inaccessible (no read permission) files would cause a crash in some circumstances.
0.9 26/6/2011 Can now instruct Antares to automatically sleep, hibernate or shut down at the end of the transfer. Windows' automatic sleeping is temporarily disabled during transfers. The right hand side automatically refreshes when the contents changes. When you resize a column, Antares remembers. Other minor changes.
0.8.2
13/5/2011
Fixed a bug that in some circumstances caused Antares to not shut down properly. The turbo mode checkbox has been put back on the main window. Antares now remembers the window size and window location from last time you ran it.
0.8.1
5/5/2011
Fixed a bug introduced in 0.8 (if a connection error occurred, Antares would jam up instead of reconnecting). Files on the PC are created at their full size at the start of the transfer, to reduce fragmentation.
0.8
30/4/2011
Now compatible with both tfbulk and winusb drivers (on 32-bit windows). Transfer progress is shown in task bar icon (Win 7 only). Browsing large directories on the PC is faster.  The "Type" column is now more informative. Scroll position and selections are preserved when you hit refresh. Changed the way the time-remaining number is calculated.
0.7.3
20/3/2011
Added the option to Move instead of Copy. Added drop-down history lists to both sides, so you can quickly jump to another folder that you have recently viewed.
0.7.2
9/3/2011 Added two new columns to each side: "Channel" and "Description". (They are not visible by default. Click "Settings" to show them).
0.7.1 27/2/2011 Fixed a bug that prevented 0-byte files or empty folders being transferred to the PVR. Can now connect via a "virtual" USB connection (e.g., across a network USB server). You can now interact with the main Antares window while a transfer is in progress (to a limited degree). You can now run more than one copy of Antares simultaneously (if you have more than one toppy plugged in).
0.7
26/1/2011 Can change turbo mode in the middle of a file. The transfer no longer quits when connection errors occur. Warnings appear when not enough space. Minor GUI enhancements and bug fixes.
0.6.1 30/12/2010 Fixed bugs/crashes that were triggered by performing an operation (e.g. copy) on a file that had just been renamed.
0.6 4/11/2010 Folders (and their contents) now transfer correctly. Correct file icons are now shown. Some causes of crashes have been fixed.
0.5.1 30/8/2010 Improved transfer rate from PC to PVR.
0.5
14/8/2010 Resume mode implemented. Can view detailed program info stored in .rec files. Remaining GUI functions implemented (delete, new folder, rename on the PC side).
0.4
31/7/2010 Can now do "New Folder" on the PVR. Added "Cut"/"Paste" feature for the PVR (to easily move files on the PVR). Can now plug in/unplug the PVR while Antares is running.
0.3
24/6/2010 Can now rename/delete files on the PVR. Can now change turbo mode during copy, if you are copying several files (takes effect next file). The folders you were viewing are now remembered from last time.
0.2  31/5/2010 The turbo mode setting now works. Fixed some bugs relating to the displaying and setting of file modification times. The terminal window is now hidden in the release build.
0.1 30/5/2010 First version posted to the toppy.org.uk website. Can be used for basic browsing and copying in either direction, but no other functions implemented.

Command-line options

Starting from version 0.9.1, you can now access some of Antares' features from the command line.
To see the full list of command-line options, please see this link.

Updating firmware

The standard tool for updating firmware on a Topfield SD PVR is "TFDN_USB". This is available for download from the Topfield Korea website.

Unfortunately TFDN_USB doesn't work with the Winusb driver. Antares has an experimental feature for updating firmware. Find the firmware file (*.tfd) in the right hand side of Antares, and double click it. Follow the prompts to install the firmware.

Alternatively, there are TAPs which can be used to install firmware. Search for "HDFW tap" in Google.

Todo list

The next version or two will hopefully gain these features:
These are just vague ideas that might eventually make it into a much later version:


Source code / acknowledgements

Parts of the source code of Antares are adapted from the command line utility Wuppy, by Simon Capewell, which in turn is based on the linux-based utility Puppy by Peter Urbanec. The routine for decoding .rec headers is adapted from the FirebirdLib. Some small sections of code are adapted from Steve Bennett's ftpd-topfield

I'm grateful for the contribution from users of Antares, who've made excellent suggestions and reported bugs. Particular thanks to the eight users who made donations!

The source code for Antares is available at https://github.com/q-bits/Antares.

Antares is written in C++/CLI. It can be compiled using the freely available Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition (or later version). To build the executable, open Antares.sln in Microsoft Visual C++ (following the prompts to convert to 2010 version if applicable), then press F7.


3/6/2010: Running the standard Topfield tools under 64-bit Windows (using Aldarin's version of tfdll.dll)


(This section last updated 1/4/2011)

I was informed by Aldarin that he has successfully created a version of tfdll.dll that works with the winusb USB driver (the driver that Antares uses).
This is great news, since it means that we can now use all the old Topfield  tools, including the official ones such as Altair, on 64-bit windows.

(If you just want to run Antares, you can ignore this section, and refer instead to Download and Installation above. Antares doesn't need Aldarin's tfdll.dll to run.)

Aldarin's new 64-bit compatible tfdll.dll can be downloaded using this link. This version of tfdll.dll also works with 32-bit windows, if you have the winusb driver installed.

For those who require some background: the official Topfield tools such as Altair, as well as a several excellent unofficial tools such as TopSet, communicate with the Topfield by using a dynamic link library called tfdll.dll. This file, which is distributed by Topfield, is usually located in the same directory as the .exe of each program that uses it. The official version of tfdll.dll is incompatible with 64-bit windows because it relies on a USB driver known as tfbulk.sys, which doesn't work on 64-bit windows.

Aldarin's version of tfdll.dll uses a different USB driver, known as winusb.sys, which does work with 64-bit windows.  winusb.sys is the same driver that Antares uses.
 
To set up Altair so that it runs on 64-bit Windows (or on 32-bit Windows with the winusb driver installed), simply follow these steps:
Installation complete. Double click Altair_1.250.exe whenever you wish to run Altair.

If you have other programs which use tfdll.dll then you'll need to follow a similar procedure to replace each tfdll.dll with Aldarin's version.

If you are happy using Antares for accessing your Topfield (see the rest of this webpage above), then you don't need to bother with tfdll.dll. Antares accesses the winusb.sys driver directly, without using a dynamic link library.

I have started a thread on the toppy.org.uk forums about Aldarin's tfdll.dll. You're welcome to ask questions or give feedback there.