Slingbox Alternative/Replacement
Build your own! (DIY)

(updated 9/28/22)
 

 WARNING: ALL slingboxes will STOP working on 11/9/22 ! 

See this page for more info about the slingbox sunset: https://www.slingbox.com/discontinued


If you would like to help support my work on this project, Donations are always welcome :-)


Ever since Slingbox sent me an email notice saying that ALL slingboxes will stop working on 11/9/22, I decided to build my own slingbox alternative/replacement DIY solution. Below is how I did it and how you can too!

NOTE: My Slingbox replacement setup does require some technical knowledge, but it's far from rocket science, and once you set it up, it is very easy to use and I am confident you will be happy with the results.

My slingbox replacement/alternative setup consists of two main components:

  • Uray HDMI Streaming Encoder:

Recommended (see note 3): 2-Port wired (H.265 and H.264) https://amzn.to/3ksmTLM ($228 on amazon)
    (wifi version https://amzn.to/3qZJtyB ($248)

Recommended (see note 3): To save a little money you can get this 1-port wired (H.265 and H.264) https://amzn.to/3kwsSiz ($188)
    (wifi version https://amzn.to/3f6qMUg ($208)

or this 1-Port wired (H.264 only) https://amzn.to/38lXLAU ($158)
    (wifi version https://amzn.to/3t9XHiY ($188)

Notes:

  1. With 1-port versions, you will probably need to use an HDMI splitter like this https://amzn.to/3gDh2SU ($15) so that you can have both the encoder and your TV connected to your video source. However, you don't need a splitter if you use the above recommended 2-port version of the encoder because it connects "in-between" your tv and the video source.

  2. I have not personally tested the wifi versions of the encoders, so I do not know their performance.

  3. Update 8/11/22: A couple of users have informed me that the 2-port unit does not pass multi-channel audio (such as 5.1) to the local TV display connected to the "output" port of the encoder (the encoder only passes the left and right audio to the TV). So, if you want to preserve multi-channel audio from your video source to your TV display, you should use a splitter (such as this one https://amzn.to/3gDh2SU ($15). This way all the audio channels will be routed through the splitter to your TV display, and the encoder (which is connected to different output of the splitter) will still receive the audio and video as usual and encode it and output the stream(s). Also, if you already purchased the 2-port unit, there is no need to replace it with a one-port encoder - you can still use the 2-port with a splitter by connecting one of the outputs of the splitter to the "Input" of the 2-Port and just leave the "Output" port blank (nothing connected to it). Yes, adding a splitter introduces additional cables and another electronic device that may need to be rebooted on occasion (see below pro tip). However, if having 5.1 audio on your local TV is not important, then the 2-port encoder is recommended because it helps both increase reliability by being an all-in-one solution and reduces cabling.

Pro Tip: I personally have been running my Uray encoder for almost six months straight without having to reboot it once. But to play it safe, I have it connected to a smart switch so that if I am ever away and the encoder crashes for some reason, I can save the day and simply remotely power it off and back on to reboot it. I recommend Kasa smart devices because:

  • The Kasa app is free, easy to use and supports scheduling and timers for the devices

  • Kasa (tp-link) has the most assortment of smart devices I have seen; from small smart plugs, to smart outlet strips, cameras, full-color bulbs to all sorts of light switches including motion sensing and even a 3-Way Dimmer!

  • Kasa devices work with Alexa and Google Assistant

  • Kasa devices are inexpensive - $16 for a 2-pack of smart plugs! (see below)

  • NO MONTHLY CHARGE to control your switches and plugs!

    Smart Plugs (2-pack): https://amzn.to/3JNCCRS ($16)
    Kasa Amazon Store: https://amzn.to/3QpxKFe
     

  • Broadlink IR Remote Controller/Blaster:

https://amzn.to/3oAJwhj ($24 on amazon)

Note: If your video source's remote control uses RF instead of IR signals, then order RM4 Pro instead: https://amzn.to/3qXmhCq ($45)

Below are other IR blasters that may meet your needs better than the Broadlink:

SwitchBot Hub Mini Smart Remote: https://amzn.to/3BHc6Yr ($39 on amazon)

MoesGo IR/RF Universal Remote Controller: https://amzn.to/3BKrSBC ($39 on amazon)
 

OVERVIEW VIDEO: This video shows a different and more complex system (my slingbox alternative setup is much simpler than the one shown in the video), but this video will give you a good overall understanding on how the system works (NOTE: you can ignore most of this video that talks about setting up the encoder on the PC because the URay encoder will do all of that!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WD4-5r9Glk

With my slingbox alternative setup, you don't need to use a separate Capture Device, Dedicated Computer and a bunch of Software as mentioned in the video because the Uray encoder does the work of ALL of them!

What's cool about the Uray encoder is that:

  • It acts like a dedicated "streaming server" that converts the incoming HDMI signal into one or more streaming formats and sends the streaming video data out to your local or remote video player app (VLC or my app below) - and doing all this while running super cool (hardly generates any heat) and without requiring a bulky PC or a bunch of separate components to do it!

  • It supports H.265 encoding, which can provide the same video quality of H.264, but using HALF the bitrate/bandwidth.

  • It provides FOUR simultaneous video stream outputs. This will allow you to setup separate streams with each having a different bitrate/resolution so you can view the stream using various connection speeds. (each different output will have a URL suffix such as "/0" for the "Main stream" output, and "/1" for the first "substream1", etc.)

  • There are no monthly fees to use it - you own it!

  • It does not use or depend on any third-party service/company in order to work - so it won't suddenly stop working (like slingboxes will soon do).
     

Basically there are three parts to replace the features of a Slingbox:

  • Part 1: Setup the encoder to stream your video source

The 2-port versions of the HDMI encoder connects "in series" (no splitter needed) between your video source (Tivo/Sat/Cable box) and your HDMI TV. It converts the HDMI signal into a streaming format and sends it out from your home network to the internet.

The "wired" versions of the encoder connects to your house's network using a wired Ethernet connection. The encoder has a default IP address of 192.168.1.168 (port 80). The wifi versions work the same way, just using wifi instead of using a cable. To access the encoders' settings (it's "web portal"), simply open a browser while connected to your local network and navigate to the above default address. I believe the default username is "admin" with no password. I highly recommend setting up a new username and password to the encoder's web portal.

A lot of the encoder settings you can leave as is. However, I would make one change to the audio setting - change it from the default sample rate of 41000 to 48000. It will just give you clearer high-end "sibilance" (the "S" sound in words like "Special") with hardly any increase in stream bitrate.

Your home's internet connection is assigned a particular IP address on the internet. To find out your home's IP address, just go to https://www.whatismyip.com using any browser while connected to your home network. This IP address typically stays the same for broadband users, but can change, especially when you reboot your modem. Write down your home's IP address. For the example below, we will use "34.178.28.12". (see one of the pro-tips below on how to use a Dynamic DNS service so you can use a fixed domain name instead of an IP address)

5/19/22 UPDATE - Instead of using the RTSP or HLS format (and mentioned below), I am now recommending to use the TS format because it offers super low latency which will benefit greatly when remote controlling your video source (such as when using the Broadlink app or the remote Tivo app if you have a Tivo) by being able to see the response to your button presses within a second or two! (the TS url format is: http://yourstreamip:port/0.ts for the main stream)

In order for someone (i.e. you) on the internet to connect into the streaming output of the encoder, you need to setup a "port forwarding" rule in your home's router that will route the incoming stream request (from your streaming app running on your phone) to the encoder's IP address (and Port 80 for HLS/FLV/TS, or port 554 for RTSP) on your home network. So, for example, you could setup a port forwarding rule that would route any connection requests on port 10000 to internal network address of 192.168.1.168 (port 80/554). (this step is shown in the example video mentioned earlier in this page). For more help with port forwarding see these videos How to setup Port Forwarding. Note: for port forwarding to work, the encoder needs to have a fixed IP address (that the forwarded port rule will point to), so do NOT enable dhcp mode inside the encoder's network settings.

The encoder outputs four different streams and each stream has a stream type "url suffix". For example, the RSTP type url suffix for the main stream output is "/0". This way, when your video streaming app wants to connect to your video stream, it would use the internet address of rtsp://34.178.28.12:10000/0 (notice the "rtsp://" stream type prefix and then the ending url suffix of "/0" (with a semicolon separating your home's IP address and the port forwarding number 10000).

The encoder also supports the HLS protocol, which works great with VLC and with my app - see page bottom. However the HLS format does buffer the video for 8+ seconds, which is great to prevent buffer pauses with slower internet connections, but causes a huge delay when remote controlling your video source using the Broadlink app, my app or the Tivo app. The HLS protocol uses the URL format: http://34.178.28.12:10000/0.m3u8 (notice the normal "http://" url prefix and the HLS "/0.m3u8" suffix)

Pro Tip: To add security to your stream, you can add a password to the end of the stream URL (url suffix). So, for example, instead of using the RTSP default url suffix value of "/0", you could change it to something like "/0-mypassword123". This way a hacker will have no idea what the full url is even if they figure out the port number! (Note: Remember to reboot the encoder after making any changes to a stream URL)

Pro Tip: If you connect the Uray encoder to a smart power switch, then if you are ever away from your home and if the encoder starts to not operate correctly, you can remotely reboot it. (Note: I have been running my uray encoder for over 6 months without ever needing to reboot it)

Pro Tip: a UK user was experiencing an interlace issue with the URAY encoder and their cablebox, and they said setting their box to "1080p" and setting the "Deinterlaced" setting in the "Advanced" tab of the URay portal to "Bottom Only" worked for them.

Pro Tip: Most ISP's will block any incoming port 80 connections so that you can't setup your own "website server" on their network. So if you try to setup a port forwarding rule and use port 80 as the "input port", it will probably not work. That is why I suggest setting up the incoming port as 10000 and forward it to port 80 on the encoder (for all protocols except RTSP) because your ISP can not block you from using port 80 on your local network.

 

  • Part 2: How to view your video stream

You can use the popular VLC app as shown in the above youtube video (or with my app that offers some cool unique features that vlc doesn't have - see page bottom). Many platforms (Windows/iOS/Android/Amazon Fire Stick, etc) have a version of the VLC player app in it's respective app store. Just select "Open Network Stream" from within the VLC app and type in the special video streaming URL for your home's encoder to view your stream. Have fun!
 

  • Part 3: How to remotely control your Tivo/Cable/Sat box to change channels, Play/Pause/Rew/FF, etc

This is easily accomplished with a remote IR controller/blaster such as the BroadLink RM4 (https://amzn.to/3oAJwhj) or one of the other IR blasters mentioned at the top of this article.

You would first install the Broadlink app on your phone and configure it to your home video source's box make and model so it will know the correct IR codes to send to your box. You would then place the circular broadlink device in front of your Tivo/Cable/Sat box and then tap on the desired buttons in the Broadlink app, and it will tell the broadlink device to transmit the desired IR codes to your video source box to perform the various requested functions remotely.

Pro Tip: To obtain super-fast response to your IR remote commands (maybe even faster then Slingbox itself!), use the "TS" encoding format instead of HLS. Please note, because there is very little buffering used with the TS format, you will need a reliable internet connection to prevent skips.

TIVO Tip: If your source is a Tivo, you may be in luck! I just found a great FREE app that allows you to FULLY control your Tivo without the need of an IR Blaster because the app sends commands directly to your Tivo over the internet. All you need to do is setup an additional port-forwarding rule that routes into port 1413 of your Tivo's IP address, then enter your home's URL, and the Tivo's "Media Key" code (found in the settings of your tivo) into the app. Here is the android app in the Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.arantius.tivocommander
*** Please remember to leave a 5-star review for the developer of this app who obviously spent many, many hours writing it, and then offer it for free with no ads!

iOS version: I don't have an iPhone, but a user did confirm that this iOS app offers the same ability to remote control your Tivo when used with a DDNS service: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/peanut-remote-for-tivo-dvr/id416909676.

Xfinity Tip: Your cable company might offer an app to control your cable box. A Xfinity user reported that you can use their app to control their box.


You will then end up with a slingbox alternative/replacement system that:

  • The encoder will be waiting 24/7 for your streaming app to connect into it, then it will start streaming out whatever HDMI video signal you are inputting into the encoder, such as your Tivo/Cable/Sat box.

  • You would then run a VLC player app (or my app - see page bottom) on your phone or on a TV device like a Firestick to view your stream on your phone or TV.

  • You would then remote control your video source using the Broadlink app (or the Tivo app mentioned in the above tip). Keep in mind when using the IR Blaster, depending on the stream type you use, there can be a delay of around 10 seconds or more between the time when you press a button in the broadlink app to when you will "see" the response of the button action in the video stream - this is mostly due to stream buffering (NOTE: This delay can be reduced to 1-2 seconds if you use the TS streaming format recommended earlier).

There are some potential gotchas with this setup:

  • When watching the stream on your phone or tablet, the viewing app (VLC or my app below) will be running on the same device as the Broadlink IR app, you will need to switch back and forth between the two apps to manage your video source and then view the stream. However, with my app (see below), I plan to make this switching very fast and easy.

  • The big reason why I wrote this article is because the cloud servers (that our slingbox needs in order to work) are being shut down soon. Likewise, the broadlink device (and just about any other internet connected device) also need a cloud server to work. So, the remote-control part of this slingbox replacement setup could stop working if Broadlink ever goes out of business. Luckily, there are other companies that offer IR remote control products, so you can easily switch to another one if that happens.

  • If your home's IP address ever changes, you will have to update the player's stream URL accordingly.

Pro Tip: You can use a Dynamic DNS service like https://www.noip.com so that your stream will have a friendly url like "mystream.no-ip.org" (instead of an IP address) which will stay the same even if your home's IP address changes. Most routers have built-in support for dynamic DNS services.
 

ONE-ON-ONE Support Now Available!

If you are running into problems getting your slingbox replacement setup working, I now offer a one-on-one phone and remote control support service to help you get you up and running!

If you live in the US or Canada, contact me at slingdiy-com@max-soft.com for more details.

 


 

CUSTOM VIDEO STREAMING APP

I plan to offer an app that will allow you to easily view* your video stream on your phone or TV (Android, Firestick and if it is popular, iPhone/iOS too). It will be much easier to use than VLC and it will have some very cool features that even VLC doesn't have because my app will be fully optimized for this exact slingbox alternative streaming setup/system:

  • Allowing you to easily switch back and forth between the broadlink app (or Tivo app) and my streaming player app

  • Immediately starts playing your stream when app starts (no need to perform multiple steps like with VLC)

  • Plus many more cool features!

Just send an email to  slingdiy-com@max-soft.com  if you would like to be notified when it is released.
 
 Please let me know: 

 1) How did you find this article 
 2) What type of device you have (such as an Android, iPhone, Firestick so I can get an idea for potential users per device type)


*Please understand that my app will allow you to ONLY VIEW your video stream (and with some UNIQUE cool features) - but it will NOT have built-in support to remotely control your video source because it would take hundreds and hundreds of additional hours of development to add that ability to the app due to all the different types of video equipment out there and all the different possible buttons for each of them. However, my app will allow you to quickly switch back and forth between your remote control app and the video stream in my app to help provide a more seamless experience.

legal stuff: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, so I may make a small commission if you use the above amazon links.
I hope this is OK, and that you will enjoy using this article to help you build your own slingbox alternative/replacement! :)
Slingbox is a trademark of its respective owner