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Digital cable guide data from eBay CableCard

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by audiodane, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. JimG19

    JimG19 Member

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    Jun 30, 2005
    So how did this turn out. Did the ebay cable cards allow your clear channels to be properly mapped?
     
  2. audiodane

    audiodane New Member

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    Oct 28, 2009
    Hi Jim.. thanks for the poke..

    I received a motorola mcard about mid-feb.. I had been getting my hopes up.. I could hardly wait to try it out.. That night I went to the CC setup screen and installed the card.. Poked around the CC menu for a while, not really knowing what I was looking for, just looking around.. Tried to go to LiveTV, saw the message, "getting channel information..." so I waited.. and waited.. after a while I thought maybe I did something wrong, so I removed the card. Tivo wanted me to then go through guided setup again since I had removed the card. Okay, I thought. when I got to the CC portion of guided setup, I reinstalled the card.. Finished guided setup, went to live tv, same message, .. getting channel information.. so I just left it and went to do some other chores while I waited..

    Later that night, I came back and there was some sort of message indicating that it failed, but that I could hit the Tivo button to return to Tivo Central. So I did.. NPL, MRV, etc all worked fine.. Went back to Live TV.. "getting channel information.." ugg.. I became disheartened.. I took the card out. Tivo wanted me to go through guided setup again.. ugg.. okay, one more time.. Then went to bed.. (actually I think I dozed in and out during some of the "please wait" segments of the guided setup, ha ha) .. I was disappointed. :(

    Next day at work I figured I would try ONE more brand.. Moto didn't work, what about scientific atlanta? $5 and a week later and I had one in my hand.. But it was the night before a really important business trip that I had to prepare for, so I had to leave it for later..

    After returning home from the trip and decompressing, I was ready to try the SA Mcard.. I was just on regular live TV, and plugged it in.. After not too long, a white screen popped up with a black text region that read:

    Code:
    CableCARD FIRMWARE UPGRADE
    
    TunedFreq : 609000 KHz
    Collected Blocks : [8 / 508]
    Status : 2% completed...
    
    Hmm, I thought, this is new.. It flipped back and forth between that screen and, I can't remember.. NPL? Tivo Central? Live TV? but only for about a second, then it would go back to the status screen with an updated amount.. 4%, 6%, 8%, ... about 20-30 minutes later it finally hit 100%. I think then it gave some message about rebooting.. I was getting pretty excited.. The moto card didn't do this.. :)

    Then my hopes were dashed yet again, when the following message popped up:

    Code:
    In order to start service for
    this device, please contact
    customer service at
    Ph# 410-427-9600
    CableCARD(tm): x-xxx-xxx-xxx-xxx (not shown b/c I don't know its sensitivity)
    Host ID: x-xxx-xxx-xxx-xxx (not shown b/c I don't know its sensitivity)
    Host Type: One-Way
    
    I was disheartened.. :(

    I decided to go into the setup menu next.. The CC Menu is vastly different.. a lot more information than the moto card offered. Again, I didn't really know what I was looking for.. But then I decided to "Test Channels" from the Tivo CC menu. I can't remember if I saw the "gathering channel information" screen or not. I might have.. But at least after that, it actually went to live TV! I was hesitant and confused.. It said it didn't have service.. but it was tuning live tv. Granted it was just one of the standard analog channels that I'd been getting all along, but either way, it was progress from the moto card. I was happy that at least I wouldn't have to re-run guided setup.. :)

    I tried 901 (abc).. nothing. :(

    Figuring, "well, at least it seems no worse, I can just leave the card in for now.. might as well try some other channels," I tried 902 (cbs) .. blank for a second, then some buzzing for about a second, and then WHAM! Picture! :D

    Confused and excited, I tried the other broadcast channels (nbc, pbs, fox).. Long story short, I think 3/5 of them work, and 2/5 of them are still black with a "Searching for signal on CableTV" or whatever that message is..

    So, as it stands today, the card has not been paired, has not been activated, but I have gotten some kind of channel map. Interesting, I looked up the phone number that the message above gave me.. turns out to be Comcast in Baltimore, MD. Not only am I not in MD, I'm not even on Comast-- I'm on Knology! So, it seems Knology both upgraded the firmware of the card (whether it was "out of date" or "wrong provider" [comcast instead of knology], I have no clue), and allowed at least SOME sort of channel map update to pass through to the Tivo. It's partial/incomplete, but given that it's not activated nor paired, it's a start! :)

    It's been in there about 24 hours at the time of this post. I'll be checking over the coming weeks to see if the other couple broadcast channels come in or not. I will have to go back and remind myself (and write down) which of the channels I'm receiving, and which I'm not, so that I can track it better..

    I've gone ahead and placed an order for a couple more SA cards for my other Tivo.. I don't plan on using them unless something on that Tivo changes. It still tunes all five broadcast channels without any CC whatsoever (2 yrs later).. Weird, but I'm not complaining! But since it's an s3oled, I'm getting two SA cards as backups just in case I ever need them..

    If I was really curious, I'd take out the SA card from the S3HD and see if it maintains the channel map over the coming months.. but unfortunately I'm not that dedicated right now.. sorry.. I have something (partially) working.. That's good enough for me (for now). If it goes months with no change, then I may revisit things..

    I will leave the speculation to those more knowledgable than me.. All I know is I got absolutely nowhere with one brand card, and at least a partial success from another card that has not been activated or paired, and came from another provider.. Weird..

    cheers,
    ..dane
     
  3. Arcady

    Arcady Stargate Fan

    3,960
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    Oct 14, 2004
    Philadelphia...
    Or you could just pay $2 (or $5 or whatever) and have it actually work right.
     
  4. audiodane

    audiodane New Member

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    Oct 28, 2009
    But, I can't "just pay $2 (or $5 or whatever)" ... that's the whole reason I'm here in this thread.. I'm on extended basic analog for cost-savings.. I have a digital tuner and because I am getting CATV service I am allowed to get the HD broadcast channels free (abc/cbs/etc). I have tried once before and have talked with them on more than one occasion about it. To get a CC for the $2-ish/mo rate I have to convert to digital cable (but not digital HD), and Knology will charge me both a $10 "outlet fee" and a $2 CC rental fee, both monthly. So three cable cards (one S3OLED needing two CC's and one S3HD needing one CC) would cost me 3 x ($10 + $2), or $36/mo. And that's on top of converting to their digital lineup which is another $5-15/mo (digital HD package costs even more).

    So, it's this approach, or some $35+/mo approach. $35/mo is a huge rate increase.

    This approach at least for two days has gotten me several of the broadcast channels. Therefore, my goal is largely achieved.

    While I wish there was an affordable Knology solution, I'm not here to bash on Knology. I'm here to share my experience in hopes to help someone else in a similar situation-- namely someone with basic analog cable who wants to also get the fcc-mandated free broadcast channels without the hassle of an OTA antenna..

    cheers,
    ..dane
     
  5. Arcady

    Arcady Stargate Fan

    3,960
    0
    Oct 14, 2004
    Philadelphia...
    Okay, understood.

    Be aware that they can change the channel map at any time without notice and break the stuff you do have currently working.

    What about upgrading for a month, install their CableCards, get everything mapped, then go back to basic service? Sometimes they won't ask for the CableCards back in that situation. Or they might drop the service level and keep charging for the cards. It's worth a shot at least.
     
  6. audiodane

    audiodane New Member

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    Oct 28, 2009
    That may work.. good idea.. Worth a shot, but still potentially a lot of hassle.. I'm getting pretty tired of hassles (not just with cable providers).. :(

    The first time around a year or two ago, I had only a S2DT and the S3OLED.. So they brought out two cards and did the upgrade. At the time, billing and the technician assured me that they could simply add the cost of the cards ($2-3/mo each) and not change my plan. So I went down that path. He had to come back out a second time because he didn't realize up front that I needed two cards even if they were Mcards.. Anyhoo, all was great, then a month later I get my bill and it had inflated some $70/mo, because they not only pushed me to the digital package, but the digital HD package (probably because I said 'free broadcast HD' in my request). Well that was outrageous, and took me several hours talking with their reps and then returning the cards back to them to get it all undone. And they would only partially refund the monthly charge since I had enjoyed the service during that time..

    This time around I spent the hour on the phone with the rep BEFORE the truck roll, and had to repeatedly re-word my questions and ensure they understood in multiple different ways exactly what I was trying to do.. After about an hour, they finally agreed, nope, I would have to convert to at least the digital SD base package, plus the outlet fee (per CARD, not per TV), plus the card itself. So I declined, and picked this thread back up on my own DIY attempts to get the channel map.

    Yes, the channel map may change, and apparently HAS changed, since the above scenario. Oddly enough however, my S3OLED has kept up with the changes, even though it has no CC's. I cannot understand nor explain it. My dad's has done the same thing (kept up with channel map changes), and he never even had a CC to begin with! He just said, "use digital lineup, get CC later" and it worked. That was then, on his S3HD. Trying to do that now on my S3HD (same model as his), doesn't work. It's really odd, I admit freely that I don't understand all the dynamics going on.

    But since all I'm looking for are the basic broadcast digital HD re-encapsulated channels, I'm willing to spend a few bucks on a "DIY"-ish type solution. Time will certainly tell whether or not it seems to work long-term..

    ..dane
     
  7. mattack

    mattack Active Member

    20,750
    4
    Apr 9, 2001
    sunnyvale
    Umm, he has the cable card in there -- so it will deal with the remapping… Even if it's not authorized.

    My Tivo HD has a cable card that's not *paired* (I *think* it's one of the real cable company ones -- I *also* have some cards I got when I bought a used Tivo, and unfortunately have gotten them mixed up.. but I *think* the ones that were in the used Tivo were S cards.. ) Anyway, I still get the OTA channels & some more, just like the other guy. (Yeah, eventually I'll have them mapped, but I swap out the hard drive every once in a while with an older one that's semi-flaky to get stuff off.. so dealing with getting them to repair it is a pain.. so I just record OTA-rebroadcast only stuff on that one Tivo.)
     
  8. LI-SVT

    LI-SVT Member

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    Sep 28, 2006
    Doesn't the brand of CC have to match your head end? In my case the local cable co uses NDS CCs. Wouldn't that mean a Motorola card wouldn't work for me? I wonder if that is the case with the OP, the head end supports SA CCs and not Motorola.
     
  9. dianebrat

    dianebrat I refuse to accept your reality TCF Club

    10,131
    81
    Jul 6, 2002
    boston'ish
    You know I thought the same thing when the OP started saying they would try a different mfr, head end and card have to be matched is what I've always heard.
     
  10. audiodane

    audiodane New Member

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    Oct 28, 2009
    Well, I didn't know at the time starting down this road what the head end equipment was.. I've since gotten in touch with a technician for my cableco and he affirmed that they use SA PKM600 cards for single stream and PKM800 cards for multistream. So that certainly fits in-line with what y'all are saying. I only wasted about $5 on a moto card before I knew all that, so no worries there. The tech also indicated that TiVo units used to access those (free HD broadcast) channels without a card in them at all, and that he doesn't believe they do anymore after they consolidated their DNCS (whatever that is), because they no longer assign a virtual channel number to them any more, since they don't have a consistent line-up between their different regions..

    So with that information, it seems that all the pieces are starting to fit together nicely. There are still plenty of unknowns- like will this work for someone else on a different cable network? Is the fact of unprovisioned cards working specific to particular settings on the head-end equipment, or is it a more universal fact? Who knows.. But for now I'm getting the channel map for all but one of those free HD broadcast stations, which is a lot more than I used to have, so I am very pleased. We'll see how long it lasts.

    Interestingly, about two or three weeks after the SA card was successfully installed, my wife called to say that no matter what she did on that Tivo, trying to watch LiveTV was black (even standard analog channels). She could go watch NPL programs but no TV channels.. I can't recall now whether or not I tried to reboot it first (I think I did?), but I know that after removing and reinstalling the SA card, the channels came back. During the boot process it had to do something (re-aquire the channel map?), but then the channels came back just as before.. all our analog channels plus the free HD broadcast channels. It's been 2-3 weeks now since that happened, so I'm curious if it was a one-time thing or if it's going to happen again within the next two weeks..

    I also went ahead and bought two more SA cards in case my S3OLED Tivo ever stops receiving the free HD broadcast channels. It still has no card in it (and my dad's S3HD never HAS had a card in it), and still tunes the free HD broadcast channels just fine. For some reason, my S3HD wouldn't until I put in a card.. In the back of my head I wonder if the previous owner had a card installed, whereas my dad's has never had one installed period..

    anyway, enough update for today. sorry it got long.
    ..dane
     
  11. audiodane

    audiodane New Member

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    Oct 28, 2009
    Well, today marks 101 days since the above comment was made. 901 still doesn't tune, but all the other free OTA re-broadcast channels (nbc, cbs, abc, etc) still tune just fine and record just fine. So the 90 day concern that was raised earlier seems to not be the case. Getting the proper card on eBay for the proper head unit, at least in my case, seems to have worked like a charm.

    Now, to be clear, before someone misunderstands me-- I am NOT getting channels I didn't pay for! I am NOT getting free cable! What I'm getting are the free broadcast channels (abc, cbs, nbc, pbs) that I' already paying for (even with basic analog cable), in digital HD format. The channels that anyone can already be getting with an antenna. THOSE are the channels I'm getting..

    happy tuning!
    ..dane
     
  12. mattack

    mattack Active Member

    20,750
    4
    Apr 9, 2001
    sunnyvale
    Yeah, I didn't reread the whole thread, but the title is misleading. As I said above, I knew that you could get broadcast data for OTA-rebroadcast channels with an unpaired card.
     
  13. audiodane

    audiodane New Member

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    Oct 28, 2009
    Well, yes, thanks, but when I started this thread, that answer was certainly not very well understood, and also fairly hotly debated.. Hindsight is what it is. Not only is the card not paired, it's also not even activated. For that matter, it's not even from the same cable company. So I think this thread has done some good to clear some things up, at the least..

    And yes, the title is probably not very clear. I would be happy to request a thread re-name, but honestly I don't know what would be the best new title? It fit when the thread was stated, but has morphed into what it is now..

    cheers,
    ..dane
     
  14. shwru980r

    shwru980r Active Member

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    Jun 22, 2008
    Why not pay a professional installer to install an antenna in your attic or on the roof, since you don't want the hassle of installing it? It would still be even cheaper in the long run. You've spent a great deal of time installing cable cards and rerunning guided setup to get this to work. The time you spent with these cablecards could have been spent setting up an antenna and then you could cancel cable.
     
  15. audiodane

    audiodane New Member

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    Oct 28, 2009
    Two part answer- I have, and I can't. I have, in that I had tried several antennas, including several tried and true DIY approaches as can be researched at AVSforum (one of the most knowledgeable places for antenna design). Things improved a good bit, but not enough to fully transition season passes to OTA-only recording. We live in a valley in between two close hills... tvfool.com confirms we're in a tough spot.. I can't, in that even if that had worked, we have a large number of family programming recorded that is not carried on broadcast channels. So even if the antenna work succeeded, we'd still have our cable bill for the other shows we watch. So, why bother with iffy OTA? If we're keeping cable anyway, why not get cablecards working and get those same HD channels.. So in the end that's what brought me down this road..

    cheers,
    ..dane
     
  16. real_goose

    real_goose New Member

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    Oct 24, 2009
    Tampa FL
    Thanks dane. This thread was very useful to me. I ordered an M card and now I have guide data for all the clear QAM stations on my local FiOS system. I mainly use the HD for OTA, but there are several QAM channels I was also watching. The addition of guide data makes me very happy.
     
  17. audiodane

    audiodane New Member

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    Oct 28, 2009
    great! I am so glad that others are finding this thread useful!

    ..dane
     
  18. JimG19

    JimG19 Member

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    Jun 30, 2005
    Audiodane or anyone,

    I am currently attempting to do this as well. When you inserted the unpaired card, did you then run guided set-up with the card in or had you already run guided setup (saying you would get the card later) and merely insert the unpaired card?

    If it is the latter, did you get the "acquiring channel information" screen, and if so, for how long? Also, did you have to reboot afterward to get the channels to come up? Anything you can recall, I would appreciate.

    Jim
     
  19. audiodane

    audiodane New Member

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    Oct 28, 2009
    Sorry Jim for not responding sooner. I don't come around here too often right now. So many things going on, it's hard to juggle them all.

    I think my TivoHD did NOT make me re-run guided setup, since I had already set it up using the digital lineup. The "acquiring channel information" twirly wheel did come up, and after about 10 minutes of it I rebooted the Tivo, as I recall. Long story short, I think I finally decided to just leave it alone, and eventually it popped up a screen that it was downloading a firmware update (which took a while.. 30 minutes?). After that, things worked automagically.

    Now, with all that said..

    WOW (was Knology) just decided to really mess with things.. Both our Tivo's are acting up in different ways. But even some channels are out with the CATV straight into the back of the TV. I called WOW today and they acknowledged that they're undergoing some system changes right now. They've offered to roll a truck, but I'm currently messing with the two spare CC's that I have along with some Tivo settings first to see what I can do about it on my own first. I don't think shows that the unpaired CC idea is flawed, but I do think it shows that it may entirely depend on how they have the system configured. It may have been more lenient before and it may be more strict now.

    WOW said that our market will be going all-digital in a few months and they are beginning to prep for that. They said when that happens two DTA's will be free per household. I can only hope that means my personal CC's in my Tivo's will be free too and they won't try to sneak in some "digital outlet fee" again like they've done in the past. I'll just have to wait a few months for all that to settle out though and see what happens.

    good luck!
    ..dane
     
  20. Teeps

    Teeps Active Member

    1,665
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    Aug 16, 2001
    Torrance,Cal...
    I have 2 TiVos that use cable cards, 3 cards in total.
    TimeWarner charges for all 3 cable cards, though card #1 is discounted.
    They also charge for a second outlet.
    They also incorporate SDV which requires a tuning adapter for each TiVo; but it is supplied for "no extra" (yea right!) charge.

    Do you have FIOS in your area? That could be a better alternative.
     

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