M.2/mini PCIe card adds DVB-S2X/S2 tuner to desktop PCs and (some) SBC’s

TBS has designed two small DVB-S2X/S2/S tuner cards with the TBS7230 M.2 module and TBS7901 mini PCIe module designed to easily add DTB support to a desktop PC or even a single board computer with the right interfaces.

Both models are based on a Lattice Semi LFE3-17EA-6FTN256C FPGA and Montage LZ M88RS6060 single-chip DVB-S2X/S2/S receiver with a tuner, a demodulator, and an LNB controller, but as I understand it, the mPCIe module relies on a USB PCIe (see comments section) interface, while the M.2 module features a PCIe interface and you can even install more than one in a PC through a PCIe card for NVMe drives.

TBS M.2 and mPCIe DVB-S2X/S2 cards

TBS7901 specifications:

  • Host interface – Mini PCIe edge connector
  • Tuner
    • DVB-S2X/S2/S
    • DVB-S2
      • QPSK – 1/2, 3/5, 2/3, 3/4, 4/5, 5/6, 8/9, 9/10
      • 8PSK – 3/5, 2/3, 3/4, 5/6, 8/9, 9/10
      • 16APSK – 2/3, 3/4, 4/5, 5/6, 8/9, 9/10
      • 32APSK – 3/4, 4/5, 5/6, 8/9, 9/10
    • DVB-S2X (QPSK only)
      • 1/4,1/3, 2/5 (S2-MODCODs)
      • 1/2, 3/5, 2/3, 3/4, 4/5, 5/6
      • 8/9, 9/10 (S2-MODCODs)

The M.2 module specifications are similar, but the company apparently also offers a variant with DVB-T2/C2/T/C (J.83A/B/C), ISDB-T/C, and/or ATSC1.0, and the DVB-S2X/S2 model I receive is not listed on that specific page.

In theory, having a tiny module to add DTV to a computer or SBC looks like a good idea, but there are some caveats, as each kit includes the module itself and an antenna connector, but also a TBS-7901PW power board and SATA power cable…

DVB-S2X/S2 M.2 module, antenna, SATA power cable

I was told DVB-S/S2/S2X satellite TV requires 13V and 18V, so that’s not optional, meaning a PC power supply or something small like a PicoPSU is required even when installed on a single board computer. I’ve installed the board in the Radxa ROCK 5B SBC’s M.2 PCIe socket as shown below, but I can’t use it for two reasons, the first one being I don’t have a spare PC power supply in my current location, and more importantly, the company only officially provides Windows drivers for now…

Radxa ROCK 5B M.2 DVB-S2X/S2 tuner
Radxa ROCK 5B with TBS7930 M.2 DVB-S2X/S2 tuner module

So I guess it might work in an x86 SBC running Windows like the LattePanda 3 Delta or the Youyeetoo X1 provided you use the eMMC flash for the OS. While writing this post, I noticed some Linux drivers on GitHub and a video showing the TBS7901 card working with DVBlast in a terminal window. The company appears to be interested in collaborating with SBC vendors for an Arm Linux port, but I’m not sure many will be interested considering the 13V/18V requirements that make it inconvenient for most boards.

So at this time, the TBS7230 M.2 module and TBS7901 mini PCIe module are mostly interesting for standard PC with a PSU and at least a spare M.2 or mPCIe socket. Typical applications include data reception, IPTV streaming, media monitoring, and digital content distribution.  The video below shows how the mini PCIe DVB-S2X/S2 module can be installed in a PC.

Both the M.2 and mini PCIe modules can be purchased on the TBS IPTV store for $119.

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Stefan Brüns
Stefan Brüns
10 months ago

Both form factors are apparently PCIe x1, as can be determined by the 3 differential pairs for RX/TX/REFCLK. The power supply board seems to be a dedicated switch mode boost converter for LNB power supply, there are several (e.g. from MPS, ST, …) which generate the needed selectable 13/18V from a 8..14V supply. Rated power is about 10W (500mA @ 18V + losses). If you don’t have 9V or 12V, you can use a cheap 1A@12V boost converter. Modern LNBs need 100…200mA, i.e. significantly less than the maximum of 500mA. The wiggly extra HF trace is interesting, might be for… Read more »

9 months ago

Well, I don’t know how this particular board is working, but in theory, you can do without 13V/18V, if you use quattro LNB, wire this thing to one output (H/V and L/H) and tune only to what is available there without any switching of H/V (which those voltages are exactly for).
In your case, just try to tune to whatever you see in either of those 4 subdivisions and you might get lucky.

9 months ago

Please do nether uses these bords without adding a 1A fast fuse on the 12V yellow wire because there are no security and they burn very fast with big flames ! I have had this issue last week and it’s by chance I have still a house today. So this manifacturer is very dangerous you are now warned.

Khadas VIM4 SBC