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Automatically Download Movies with QNAP & Couch Potato

Automatically Download Movies with QNAP & Couch Potato
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Ever wanted to just sit back and wait for your favorite movie to be pulled from the web fully automated?

Couch Potato is such a nifty little program that helps you to do just that (for TV series see Sick Beard).

It doesn’t actually download anything but NZB files and tries, like Sick Beard does for TV Series, to locate movies you’re looking for. In the end an application like SABnzbd will then download it from a Usenet service like Giganews.

Couch Potato can actually run on your QNAP NAS – just like Sick Beard and SABnzbd, so that’s what we will look at in this article.

In the meanwhile the CouchPotato version 2 is available. v1 (0.4) is no longer supported but still works just fine.




Preparing you QNAP NAS

As mentioned above: this article discusses v1 – a no longer supported, but still working version. For more details: Read the forum post by sl1000.

WARNING 

This article was not written to promote piracy and illegal downloads!

It’s your responsibility to determine what is and what is not legal in your country!

Intel QNAP 

This guide is based on an x86 (Intel) based QNAP NAS.

Note sure what platform your QNAP NAS is?
Check the QNAP Comparison chart for more details on the model you have.

The needed packages are also available for the ARM platform, in this guide however I just focus on the x86 platform NAS models. Find more information in the original QNAP Forum Post.

If you plan on using SABnzbd and Couch Potato on MacOS XLinux, or Windows: the instructions are very similar, just a few minor changes like the use of QPKG’s.

Before we install Couch Potato …

First we need to install and enable a few QPKG’s on your QNAP.

CAUTION! 

I assume for the purpose of this article that you have followed these SickBeard instructions.

Couch Potato requires the basic same tools as used for the Automated TV Series download through Sick Beard and SABnzbd. It’s most likely that you’d like to use Sick Beard as well anyway (for automated TV Series downloads), so follow those instructions first.

 

After that you have:

  • Optware (required),
  • Phyton (required),
  • SABnzbd (required) and
  • Sick Beard (optional) installed.

 

Now it’s time to download Couch Potato (see link below) and install the QPKG.

We offer the file for your convenience, but as always: check if there is a more recent version available elsewhere.

DOWNLOAD - CouchPotato (Intel) 

Filename: CouchPotato_0.4_x86.zip
Version: 0.4
Size: 6.5 MiB
Date: July 4, 2012
 Download Now 

A detailed description on how to install and enable QPKGs can be found in this article. Don’t forget to unzip, enable and finally remember or bookmark the provided link Couch Potato link;

Typical format of the link to your Couch Potato is: http://<ip of your nas>:5050
(replace <ip of your nas> with the actual IP address of your NAS, for example: http://192.168.1.99:5050)

If you decided not to follow the Automated TV Series download instructions, then you might notice that the installation can take some time, and that some settings need to be entered manually – this is because OptWare will need it’s time to download the missing packages like Phyton, etc. and most settings are (by the looks of it) copied from the existing applications.

Configuring Couch Potato

Go to the Couch Potato page, the typical link is: http://<ip of your nas>:5050.

Couch Potato - Start Screen ...

Couch Potato – Start Screen …

Click the  cogwheel to enter the preferences screen.

Note: At the time of writing this article the function “Manage” had not been implemented yet. Later version of v2 appear to have this functionality.

Couch Potato - Going to the Preferences screen

Couch Potato – Going to the Preferences screen

In the next window  you will see a line of words – these are actually links to particular setting screens.

Couch Potato - Preferences

Couch Potato – Preferences

We will go through some of those screens …

General

Here we define the text phrases we’d like to

  • ignore – files with that have these pharses in them will be ignored (ie. KOREAN, GERMAN, FRENCH)
  • preferred – we’d like to see these phrases, but they are not required (ie. AC3, DTS),
  • required – filenames MUST have these (ie. ENSUBS).

 

These “phrases” can be found in filenames – after a few downloads you’ll figure out what you really do NOT want and what you think is nice to have.
Avoid phrases like 720P, 1080P etc pointing towards the resolution – there is another mechanism for that .

Couch Potato - Preferences - General Search Criteria

Couch Potato – Preferences – General Search Criteria

What is meant with that is that when Couch Potato is searching for downloads, it will either ignore files with certain words (GERMAN, DUBBED, NLSUBS, etc), look for preferred words (DVD, BLURAY, R5, etc), or even only pickup files that have the required words (AC3, NLSUBS, etc).

Enter the words of your choice, or for now: leave them empty (you can later fine tune this).
In case you entered something; click the “Save” button.

Downloaders

Here we define the settings of the application installed on our machine that we use for downloading content of NZB’s or Torrents found by Couch Potato (we only focus on NZB’s here – not a big Torrent fan myself, but there are Torrent clients for the QNAP).

In our case we will use SABnzbd.

Couch Potato - SABnzbd as the default downloader

Couch Potato – SABnzbd as the default downloader

If you followed the Automated TV Series download instructions, then the fields under NZBs are already pre-populated with the correct settings for SABnzbd (except for the “Category” field) – otherwise you will have to enter everything manually.

In this article I’m using Giganews as a Usenet provider, other providers work in a similar fashion.

GigaNews - Free Trial!

GigaNews – Free Trial!

The field “Retention” should be set to the retention supported by your Usenet provider. For example; Giganews has a 1271 day retention, so I would enter in that case the number 1200.

If you did not follow these instructions then you will need to get an API key in SABnzbd (in SABnzbd under “Config” → “General” → “API Key“) and enter this key and the other settings matching your setup.

Use of Categories

As you can see; I actually entered a text in the “Category” field (“movies“).

This is used by both SABnzbd and Couch Potato to determine where downloads should go. Meaning; Couch Potato will pass this category to SABnzbd which will assign it this category. Depending on the SABnzbd settings, it will then assign the proper priority and download the file to specific folder, which in turn is being monitored by Couch Potato. The main reason to do this is to avoid that Couch Potato tampers with downloads provided by other applications, like for example Sick Beard.

Note: Unlike Sick BeardCouch Potato does not use a script to process a file after download has been completed! It will simply keep scanning the download folder until a file pops-up.

You will have to define these categories in SABnzbd though, so go to SABnzbd and create your categories. The process is pretty straight forward.

SABnzbd

In the SABnzbd screen:

  1. Click “Config“.
  2. Click the tab “Categories“.
  3. Enter a category name under “Category“.
  4. Enter a name for the sub folder where this category should be saved in the “completed” folder (for example: “movies” – of course without the quotes).
  5. Enter a “Group / Indexer tags” (for example “Movies” – again: without the quotes).
  6. Click “Add“.

 

SABnzbd - Define Categories to organize your downloads

SABnzbd – Define Categories to organize your downloads

Now that we started using categories in SABnzbd, you might want to assign one for Sick Beard as well (optional). First create a category for Sick Beard like you did for Couch Potato. In the screenshot above you can see (last row) what I did for Sick Beard.

Couch Potato

We of course will have to inform Couch Potato about this, so in the Couch Potato screen:

  1. Click “Config“.
  2. Select “Search Settings“.
  3. Under “NZB Search” – “NZB Method“: select “SABnzbd“.
  4. Enter the category in the field “SABnzbd Category“.
  5. Click “Save Changes“.

Providers

Here we define the NZB providers – the web services that can provide us with NZBs;

Couch Potato - NZB Providers

Couch Potato – NZB Providers

Again … If you followed the Automated TV Series download instructions, then the relevant fields are already pre-populated with the correct settings.

If you did not follow these instructions then you will need do the settings manually for the providers you prefer to use.

Note that #alt.binaries.hdtv.x264@EFnet (for HD movies only) and MysterBin are free, so it doesn’t hurt checking these two as well.

Quality

In this screen you can set your preferences, and order of preferred formats (If you’d like you can leave this for what it is right now and fine tune it later).

These preferences are very personal – you’ll have to figure out what works best for you, since we all have different opinions and desires on this topic.

The default settings are pretty good. A few changes I’d suggest (again: this is very personal, everybody will have a different opinion on this):

Default Qualities: Only check 1080P, 720P, BR-Rip, DVD-Rip, Screener, and R5.

For Quality Sizes modify the ones you checked (in this example):

1080P: 800 – 3000 MB
720P: 650 – 2500 MB
BR-Rip: 650 – 2500 MB
DVD-Rip: 650 – 2400 MB
Screener: 600 – 1000 MB
R5: 600 – 1000 MB

Quality – the use of Profiles

What I found to be an important feature is the use of profiles.

Profiles offer you the option to group “Default Qualities“,… the picture below show a few of the qualities I added for the profile “MyChoice“.

Couch Potato - Search Profiles ...!

Couch Potato – Search Profiles …!

Click “Create a new quality profile“, under “Search for” you can select a quality and add more qualities. Give your profile a name that makes sense to you. Optionally set the “Wait” time – the time it waits for triggering a download – just in case a better quality becomes available in the mean time.

You can change the priority order by either selecting the right order right away from the drop-down lists, or by dragging (grab the “3 horizontal lines” icon next the the red  symbol) lines in the order you prefer.

When done compiling such a profile, click “Save” and look to the right where we did see “Default Quality” – your new profile will now be an option in the drop-down list and can be as the “default” search option. Select yours and click “Save“.

Next time when you want to add a movie, this profile will be default selected and the search will actually look for a movie that meets one of the quality criteria in your profile.

So considering the profile displayed below, Couch Potato will trigger a download (when you selected this profile of course) when it finds a 1080P720PBR-Rip, or DVD-Rip (in that order of importance). All others will be skipped.

Renaming

You can skip this initially just to make sure things are working.

If you’re comfortable and ready to making these changes;

  1. Check “Enable“.
  2. Enter the “Download folder“. The default path on a QNAP would be “/share/MD0_DATA/Download/sabnzbd/complete/” followed by the category folder name.
  3. Enter the “Movie destination” – the cannot be the same folder as your download folder! On my QNAP the shares of my QNAP are located in “/share/MD0_DATA/Multimedia/Movies/“.
  4. Modify “Folder naming” if you’d like (for example “<thename> (<year>)“).
  5. Modify “File naming” if you’d like (for example “<thename> (<year>)<cd>.<ext>” – the <cd> will only be used if there are multiple movie parts).
  6. Modify “Name separator” if needed (I selected “space“)
  7. And optionally check “Cleanup” (which cleans up the download/category folder when done).
  8. Don’t forget to click the “Save” button.

 

Couch Potato - Auto move and rename movies

Couch Potato – Auto move and rename movies

Extras

In this section we can set fun stuff …

  • Automatically add movies meeting certain ratings. When you check Blu-Ray.com RSS and/or Kinepolis.com RSS then movies matching your criteria will be automatically added to your wanted list (so be critical!)
  • The option “Metadata” makes it that metadata of a movie (info, posters, etc) are being saved as well in the movie folder after download.  I recommend checking this, specially when you enabled the rename and move options – XBMC will love you for that.
  • Support for IDBM Watch-lists. IMDB allows you to maintain a so called “Watch List” – you can yours (and others). A good blog post about IMDB watch-lists can be found here.

Notification, UsersScript, iPhone

A few areas to play with once we have everything up and running.

Note: In v0.4 of Couch Potato, the Growl notification does not seem to work properly with Growl v1.3.2 for MacOS X Lion.

Movies You Want

So now that everything is setup, time to define one or more movies we’d want.

This basically is a list of movies “you want” – they do not need to be available yet, but at least you have them in a checklist. For example when you did see a trailer of a great movie, you can already add it to the list even though it might not be available for months …

Click “Wanted“, and enter the name of the movie you’d like to get, optionally set the desired format (it will normally be your default setting – i.e. 720P or your profile) followed by clicking the “Add” button.

Couch Potato - Enter Wanted Movie

Couch Potato – Enter Wanted Movie

Couch Potato will now change a tiny bit in the top right area of the screen. If you typed the name right, a drop-down will appear allowing you to select a title. This drop-down shows movies Couch Potato found in databases like IMDB and TheMovieDB;

Couch Potato - Found a movie we wanted?

Couch Potato – Found a movie we wanted?

Select a movie from the drop-down and click the “Add” button, after a few seconds your selection appears in the list:

Couch Potato - Movie we wanted is now queued

Couch Potato – Movie we wanted is now queued

Under the header “Show Details” you will find 4 icons, which, from left to right, do the following;

  1. Show IMDB information of this movie
  2. Show TheMovieDB information of this movie
  3. Force Refresh / Force Search
  4. Delete this from the list

I think it’s pretty obvious what they mean and how the can be used.

Clicking the header “Show Details” changes the view of your “queue“, displaying images of the movies you selected. Pretty neat!

Couch Potato - Detail View

Couch Potato – Detail View

After adding a movie or multiple movies you can either wait for the next check cycle, or click the “Force check” link (way at the bottom of the page) to force a check right now.

Wanted, Snatched, Downloaded

You will see the desired movie(s) either under the headings “Wanted” (haven’t found it yet), “Snatched” (found it – passed it on the SABnzbd) or “Downloaded” (it’s here!) on the “Wanted” page.

Couch Potato - Wanted, Snatched, and Downloaded

Couch Potato – Wanted, Snatched, and Downloaded

Once a movie has been found on one of the NZB services, Couch Potato will “snatch” it and place a download request in SABnzbd.
Couch Potato will frequently monitor the download folder to see if the specified file actual did get downloaded.

Once downloaded, if setCouch Potato will move the file to the designated folder and, if set, rename the movie to a proper name.

Next to “Snatched” files (files that have been found but not yet downloaded) you will find two icons; one to mark a file as downloaded (in case Couch Potato didn’t pick it up automatically) and one to refresh (re-download the file) the status.

Next to the “Downloaded” files you will see a “Delete” icon to remove individual downloads, a “Refresh” button (to force a re-download of a file), and a “Clear” button (to purge the downloads).

It’s that easy …

Auto Updates

It is said (source) that the Auto Updates work just fine and only major changes (particulars for QNAP) will trigger the creation of a new QPKG by sl1000 (all the credit for the QPKG goes to him! Excellent job!).

I have to admit that I’m always very nervous about these kind of updates, specialy since the applicatin was not specifically written for a QNAP.

Make sure that Couch Potato restarts, and verify your configuration settings – just to make sure nothing was waxed in the process.

Note that Updates might result in an upgrade to v2.

Something went wrong …?

It could happen that a selected movie is no longer available, which would be visible in SABnzbd:

We can give it another shot. Go to the Couch Potato “Wanted” screen and scroll down to the “Snatched” section. Click the “Recycle” icon.

A question will appear – select “Find another version to download” and the movie will be re-added to the “Wanted” list.

Couch Potato - Retry with a different download

Couch Potato – Retry with a different download

Related Websites

This guide is focussed on running Couch Potato on a QNAP NAS, but obviously Couch Potato can be run on multiple other platforms like Microsoft Windows, MacOS X, and Linux.

Other websites might provide you with specific information if you’re using one of these platforms (the basics will be the same):

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Comments


There are 4 comments. You can read them below.
You can post your own comments by using the form below, or reply to existing comments by using the "Reply" button.

  • May 16, 2015 - 11:22 AM - Tim Comment Link

    Hi everyone, 
    I have installed Couchpotato on the QNAP put it doesn’t find any movies. 
    Does someone has an idea what might be the problem?

    Reply

    Tim

    • May 16, 2015 - 11:44 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      Hi Tim!

      The biggest problem with Couch Potato is having the right sources (aka “Providers”) …
      Once you’ve found a good and reliable provider, things should work fine.
      NZBPlanet seems a good one – but I’m sure there are more.

      Hope this helps 

      Reply

      hans



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