Need help with a weird cablecard issue...

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by ddonohue, Jan 24, 2009.

  1. ddonohue

    ddonohue Member

    Dec 7, 2003
    Eastern PA


    Okay, I can really use some help and I'll try to be as brief as possible in explaining the problem.

    I've had TiVos for years, and an HD for just over a year. It was working perfectly with a single Motorola M-Card from day one. I got all channels, premiums, both tuners worked, I was in hog heaven. However, we did NOT subscribe to any HD channels.

    After finally getting an HD set this christmas, I called the cable provider to add the HD channels but they wouldn't come up. HD channels showed signal strength 0. My two-week experience from this point mirrors the tons of posts all over the net about cablecard woes and low-IQ cable company techs, including one who suggested powering the TV off and back on and one who made me do a channel search on the TV with the cable plugged directly into the TV's rf interface and the TiVo/HDMI disconnected. Duh.

    Anyway, we were getting no video and no signal but only on HD channels. TiVo kept saying it was a provider problem, provider kept saying it was a TiVo problem and suggested swapping the card. I drove to their office to pick up and try another Moto M-card, but this one was worse. No video at all unless we popped the card out. Just like the other M-card, the MMI screen for Conditional Access was showing "Val:?" instead of "Val:V" in the validation field. All my research says this means the card is not activated or paired correctly, but the CP did all the hard hits and re-inits they could with no luck. Tried a third card, same thing. Now I was begging for my original card back, at least I'd have all but the HDs back.

    Couple quick observations - the cards all seemed okay otherwise, they showed okay status, the EMM message counts increased, and with the 2nd and 3rd cards the first thing they did when installed was a lengthy firmware update to bring them up to FW version 02.65. So communication seemed okay end-to-end.

    Next came a four-hour tech home visit complete with a cranky service supervisor that threatened to throw in the towel because they "don't support TiVos" (although I insisted that they WERE required to support the cablecard, not the TiVo, and threatened to go to the FCC). Finally, in desperation I made the suggestion I had kept in my back pocket until we had no other recourse, and that was to try 2 S-Cards.

    The tech didn't carry them so I had to drive to the office to get them, popped them in, called for activation and voila! Basic channels, digitals AND HD! Yippee!

    But I had celebrated too soon. After the phonecall, I slowly came to the realization that only one tuner was working. The MMI screens for the non-working card showed information similar to that of the M-Card, like "Authorization: Unknown." More hits, no luck.

    All during this ordeal I had been speaking with TiVo's cablecard hotline and they never ceased to blame the provider, and I was inclined to agree. However, late last night as the CP and I tried to get the bad S-Card working, we got the idea to try swapping the S-Cards to the opposite slots and reactivating. Guess what? The "bad card" worked in the other slot!

    So here's the situation - slot 1 hasn't worked with any type of card since I pulled the original M out. You can only put an M in slot 1, so I can't test any other configuration. With S cards, either card works in slot 2 (and btw, both S's were different firmware versions, so that's not an issue). At first I thought I could limp along for a bit with a single tuner, but I can't because TiVo thinks both are working. If I schedule a recording, there's nothing to say TiVo won't try to record on CC 1 and get blank video. And I can't pull the card from slot 1 and just use 2 because that's not a valid configuration.

    At this point TiVo suddenly started saying "hmmm, maybe it's our fault," and initially I agreed. Seemed like a bad slot 1. But the more I thought about it (and mulled over the replacement cost and the hassle of backing up and restoring a gazillion shows and settings) the more I wonder if it's not still something else. How realistic would it be for slot 1 to do everything correctly (detect the card, display status, communicate to TiVo and the CP) except pass the authorization message through?

    Amy ideas? Do the slots have unique Host IDs or do slots 1 and 2 share the same ID? Could it be that the host info for slot 1 is screwed up on their end? Can anybody else offer some insight here? And just to rule stuff out right up front, signal strength is in the high 90's, no splitters, no amplifiers. Please help!
  2. tburrel

    tburrel New Member

    Jun 9, 2007
    I have a more limited version of this on my S3: only a couple HD channels won't come in on slot 1, but they are fine on slot 2. Cable tech put in a new card- same problem. Swapped cards between the slots: no joy. Slot 1 still has the problem, but slot 2 is fine.

    Cable tech threw a tester on the line and pronounced "your signal is fine"

    Called Tivo- they insisted it was the provider.. But they couldn't tell me why they think that- it just is.

    I'm willing to buy the config problem, but at least tell me where to look!

    In the end, I found some comments here about card validation, and sure enough the slot 1 card has a ? in that field. Over the phone they tried re-sending a signal, but no luck. They are now telling me that "slot 2 is intercepting the signal" and a tech needs to come out and re-program the cards.

    *sigh* I'll find out Wednesday if that helps.

    (oh year- I've had HD on this thing since June of '07 with no problems- this is all new).
  3. ddonohue

    ddonohue Member

    Dec 7, 2003
    Eastern PA
    Wow, deja vu. Heard lots of those same explanations for my problem too.

    I'm still limping along right now, it'll be another week or so until work settles down enough that I can invest time in dealing with the cable company (groan).

    The hassle right now is that TiVo THINKS it has two tuners, so it allows simultaneous recordings to be scheduled. But one of those recordings (CC #1)will just be a blank screen. And I can't pull the bad card because you have to have a card in slot 1 before you can put one in slot 2.

    Worst of all, I have to manually change to the proper channel and leave it there prior to any scheduled recording. If I rely on TiVo to turn the channel, most of the time it chooses the bad tuner to try to record. Luckily, if one tuner (in my case the good one) is already tuned to the proper channel, TiVo will use that tuner to record. So this is how I have to force it to CC #2.

    Please post if you find a resolution!
  4. Roderigo

    Roderigo New Member

    Mar 11, 2002
    Brookdale, CA
    Pretty sure things work (with a single tuner) if you just put the card into slot 2. You may get some complaints, which you can ignore. You may also need to reboot the box after you install the card to get things set up properly, but not 100% sure of that.

    The biggest reason the tivo says to use slot 1 first is such that a single MCard install will get the card into the correct slot. There's no technical reason why you can't use only slot 2.
  5. jfh3

    jfh3 Active Member

    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area


    Yes, each slot has a different host ID.

    Using one S-card should be OK - if I remember correctly from when I had one SCard in an S3, the Tivo will complain, but everything will record fine EXCEPT if you are trying to record an encrypted channel on the alternate tuner.

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