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Old 09-26-2006, 12:37 PM   #1
Dajad
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How to you know if your cable has unencrypted QAM signals

How do you know if your Cable provider provides any unencrypted QAM signals. Since cablecard is not supported in Canada, if I purchase an S3, how would I know if any of my digital channels are unencrypted. My guess is its a 1000-1 shot but what the heck, its worth trying?

...Dale
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Old 09-26-2006, 12:48 PM   #2
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The biggest problem you're going to have is that without CableCARDs the digital channels wont have any guide data, even if they are unencrypted. Which means all you can do is setup repeat manual recordings which show up in Now Playing as simply "Manual: date/time". Not really the TiVo experience.

If you're willing to deal with that then your next hurdle is actually finding the unencrypted channels. TiVo has a digital cable scan feature which will detect all the active digital channels. However it doesn't differentiate between encrypted and unencrypted channels, so after it's done you'll have to scroll through them one by one to try to find the unencrypted ones. And when you do find them you then have to figure out what channel you've actually found, since it will not have any guide data.

Basically my advice to you is to buy the TiVo with the assumption that it will only be used for OTA and analog recordings. If you happen to get a couple of digital channels consider it a bonus.

Dan
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Old 09-26-2006, 01:09 PM   #3
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Another thing to consider is that the QAM channels jump around quite frequently. You could wake up one morning and find that your cable company has moved them all around, and you'd have to go through the entire scanning and weeding out process once again.

Honestly I don't think the S3 is the right choice for you at this point, unless OTA recording is really really important to you. I'd wait and see if TiVo adds QAM mapping, but even then almost all digital channels will still be encrypted. Doesn't seem like it would be worth the $800 for Canadians...
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Old 09-26-2006, 01:11 PM   #4
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If you still have the SciAtl 8300 mentioned in this post:
http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...&&#post4368357

You can see what channels are encrypted and which aren't in the diagnostic screens.
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Old 09-26-2006, 03:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan203
The biggest problem you're going to have is that without CableCARDs the digital channels wont have any guide data, even if they are unencrypted. Which means all you can do is setup repeat manual recordings which show up in Now Playing as simply "Manual: date/time". Not really the TiVo experience.

If you're willing to deal with that then your next hurdle is actually finding the unencrypted channels. TiVo has a digital cable scan feature which will detect all the active digital channels. However it doesn't differentiate between encrypted and unencrypted channels, so after it's done you'll have to scroll through them one by one to try to find the unencrypted ones. And when you do find them you then have to figure out what channel you've actually found, since it will not have any guide data.

Basically my advice to you is to buy the TiVo with the assumption that it will only be used for OTA and analog recordings. If you happen to get a couple of digital channels consider it a bonus.

Dan
Dan, can you do that digital scan if you have gone through guided setup without saying you have cablecards? Because I can't even get OTA HD guide data in Canada I will not have even set it up for OTA HD. The only thing that will give me the "Tivo experience" is through analogue cable.

And, yes, I'd rather do manual recordings over NO recordings. I'd rather do manual recordings on an S3 than using the SFA 8300HD - it's THAT bad!
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Old 09-26-2006, 03:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dt_dc
If you still have the SciAtl 8300 mentioned in this post:
http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...&&#post4368357

You can see what channels are encrypted and which aren't in the diagnostic screens.
Yes, regrettably I'll have to continue using this thing until I find a permanent S3 solution. Thanks for the idea ... I didn't know the diagnostic screen will tell me that. Now I just have to figure out how to get to the diagnostic screen again. I did it once. You wouldn't happen to know off hand would you?

...Dale
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Old 09-26-2006, 03:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by stoli412
Honestly I don't think the S3 is the right choice for you at this point, unless OTA recording is really really important to you. I'd wait and see if TiVo adds QAM mapping, but even then almost all digital channels will still be encrypted. Doesn't seem like it would be worth the $800 for Canadians...
I agree - but-for the fact that lifetime is no longer offered as an option, I'd pick up a dual tuner S2. I explained in this post why I'm still interested despite the unit being largely unfunctional for me in Canada at the start:

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...24#post4416924

...Dale
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Old 09-26-2006, 04:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Dajad
Now I just have to figure out how to get to the diagnostic screen again. I did it once. You wouldn't happen to know off hand would you?
If you're running SARA ...

1) Turn box on
2) Press and PAUSE on the remote for a while (about 10 seconds) untill the MAIL light starts to blink
3) Press the PAGE UP button

The first indication is on the tuner page. You can channel change while in diagnostic mode and you'll see the info changing. I forget the exact page, but for unencrypted channels you'll usually see something like CH: 702=Clear To Air ... for encrypted 703=Subscription.

However, sometimes unencrypted channels are marked 'Subscription' too. To really see what's encrypted or not ... you'll need to find the page with the Powerkey / EMM / ECM information. For encrypted channels, you get ECMs ... for unencrypted channels ... you don't.

If you're running Passport ... I haven't a clue.

Note: I don't have my SciAtl DVRs anymore so ... I'm dealing with a fuzzy memory here.
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Old 09-26-2006, 04:15 PM   #9
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Ahh ... here's good screen shots of the 8300 diagnostic screens ...

http://www.dslreports.com/faq/sciatl?text=1

Go to page 6. Unencrypted channels will have 0x00 for Prog Stat and Prog Entitle.
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Old 09-26-2006, 05:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dajad
can you do that digital scan if you have gone through guided setup without saying you have cablecards?
You can only do a cable channel scan if you've told it you don't have cable card. Once the cable cards are in you don't get the option anymore. You also have to have told it you have cable to be able to scan of course.
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Old 09-26-2006, 06:02 PM   #11
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You can only do a cable channel scan if you've told it you don't have cable card. Once the cable cards are in you don't get the option anymore. You also have to have told it you have cable to be able to scan of course.
Hmm. So this seems to imply that Tivo did have some consideration for unencrypted QAM support without CableCards, just never got to the point of allowing manual mappings.
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Old 09-27-2006, 12:58 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by dt_dc
Ahh ... here's good screen shots of the 8300 diagnostic screens ...

http://www.dslreports.com/faq/sciatl?text=1

Go to page 6. Unencrypted channels will have 0x00 for Prog Stat and Prog Entitle.
Thanks dt_dc. For my Sara box I had to press and hold "Select" for a few seconds and then when a light flashed I pressed the "Info" button. I scanned through all the channesl on page 6.

There's good news and bad news. The bad news is that none of the 25ish HD channels are in the clear. The good news is that some 30+ digital channels, including most (if not all) of the local broadcast channels are available in the clear - meaning, if TiVo can actually record in-the-clear QAM that I should be able to record standard-defintion digital versions of all major prime-time shows through the Tivo.

For come reason CNN is in the clear as well - but none of the other news networks like Fox, MSNBC or CNBC are.

OK, so, while not great, this is certainly better than I was hoping for.


...Dale
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Old 09-27-2006, 05:21 PM   #13
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As discussed above, I went through the diagnostic screens on the SFA 8300 PVR for the several hundred channels I subscribe to through Rogers this afternoon. The digital versions of the following 28 standard definition channels are indicated to be unencrypted and SHOULD be manually recordable (ie: with no guide data - using manual time and channel recording settings) in digital on an S3 through Rogers digital cable if dt_dc is right about the 0x00 entries in the "Prog Stat" and "Prog Entitle" fields:

14 - OMNI 2
33 - CNN
63 - STAR
65 - TREE
93 - OMNI 2
105 - ATV (A CTV network channel)
108 - CKCO (Kitchener's (my hometown's) CTV Network Affiliate)
109 - CKY (another CTV station)
110 - CFCN (another CTV station)
111 - CIVT (another CTV station)
113 - ASN (no idea what this is)
114 - GLB-M (a Global Network Maritime Affiliate)
117 - GLB-W (a Global network Western Affiliate)
118 - GLB-C (Central Global network affilate)
119 - GL-BC (probably a BC Global network affilate
123 - CH-Vic (A CH Network affiliate - not sure where)
124 - CBNT - CBC
125 - CBHT - CBC
129 - CHEX - CBC
130 - CBWT - CBC
131 - CBRT - CBC
132 - CBUT - CBC
135 - CITYV - City
139 - CITYW - City
140 - CITYC - City
141 - CJON - no idea!
221 - TREE

Note 1: that I can also get a bunch of preview channels, sales and sundry useless shopping/information channels that I didn't mention to list.

Note 2: I could NOT get any HDTV Channels in the clear.

FYI - on Rogers, when using a digital set-top, channels 1 through 70 are the digital equivalents of the exact same numbered channels when a set-top is not used.

Again, this is on top of the 70ish analogue channels.

...Dale
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Old 09-27-2006, 05:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by stoli412
Another thing to consider is that the QAM channels jump around quite frequently.
Mine haven't changed in over a year. I'm not too worried about that.
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Old 09-27-2006, 05:44 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dajad
if dt_dc is right
Always a bad assumption.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dajad
113 - ASN (no idea what this is)
Alright! The AS Network. Sign me up.

One thing to note ...

I do remember that when I first started looking at the diagnostic screens ... the HD locals appeared to be encrypted. However, later I got a QAM-capable PC tuner and was able to tune them in. What the heck? Well, they were unencrypted but it turns out, after talking to a network engineer, (note: this is all me paraphrasing him and it was something I never really dug into too much) Cox was doing some 'funky' things ... most likely to handle those channels on SD boxes. SD boxes will tune unencrypted HD channels (you won't see a picture but it'll tune it and you may get audio). Cox was (apparently) playing with ways to make this a little more 'graceful'.

I eventually figured out how to spot these "appear to be encrypted but aren't" channels ... but ... like I said above the SciAtl DVRs are becoming a (quickly) fading memory.
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Old 09-27-2006, 05:50 PM   #16
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Could it be that the "Prog Stat" field shows 0x16 and the and "Prog Entitle" field says 0x00?

CBSHD had 0x00 for the second field but 0x16 on the other. So only one of the two had 0x00. All the other HD channels though did not have 0x00 in either field.

...Dale
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Old 10-22-2006, 09:45 AM   #17
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Can someone help me?

I also have a SARA box I'm trying this on. I can get to the diag screens but I seem to have a LOT of pages and none are labled "page 6".

I didn't see Prog Stat anywhere. Nor did I see a list of channels. Should I see some screen listing ALL available channels somewhere?

Help!
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Old 10-22-2006, 10:52 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Dan203
TiVo has a digital cable scan feature which will detect all the active digital channels. However it doesn't differentiate between encrypted and unencrypted channels, so after it's done you'll have to scroll through them one by one to try to find the unencrypted ones.
Exactly. Since I don't yet have CC's installed, I tried a cable scan.
It found somewhere around 580 channels. I had some spare time and channeled up thru them all. I found about 7 or 8 digital channels out of the 580. I wrote down their numbers, then removed them all and added back in the digital channels. Really not a very productive exercise, since I had all those channels in HD ota. Also, when Comcast finally gets around to installing the cable cards, I won't need them anyway.
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Old 10-23-2006, 10:45 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by cwoody222
Can someone help me?

I also have a SARA box I'm trying this on. I can get to the diag screens but I seem to have a LOT of pages and none are labled "page 6".

I didn't see Prog Stat anywhere. Nor did I see a list of channels. Should I see some screen listing ALL available channels somewhere?
No, all available channels won't be listed on any one screen.

Look for the screen labled PowerKEY INFORMATION.

The following link shows screenshots:
http://www.dslreports.com/faq/sciatl?text=1

It's listed as "Page 6" in the link above. However, SARA sometimes changes their screens ... adds new ones ... whatever ... just look for the screen labled PowerKEY INFORMATION.

When you are in the diagnostic screens, you can still use channel up / channel down to change channels. The screens can be used to determine the status of the (currently tuned) chanel.
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Old 10-23-2006, 10:51 AM   #20
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Thanks, I'll give that a try!
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