Installing a Tuning Adapter in Windows Media Center on a Friday night

Installing a Tuning Adapter in Windows Media Center on a Friday night

I am now in my second week with my new CableCARD ATI Digital Cable Tuner and I will explain how the unit is working with Windows Media Center 7. In addition, I will show you the new Cisco STA1520 Tuning Adapter that my cable company installed today.

Windows Media Center

Background – Revisited

Now that Windows 7 has the Digital Cable Advisor, anyone who passes the test can get a CableCARD and Digital Cable Tuner for their PC and start watching and recording HD cable TV. You need a cable provider that supports CableCARD but most of us have that anyway. This is not as complicated at all. It is actually easy and I promise looking back 4 months from now that you will see we were heading in the right direction!

Two weeks ago I walked through the installation process of an ATI Digital Cable Tuner (DCT) in Windows Media Center 7. My cable company (Charter) installed the CableCARD and I have been up and running ever since. Previous articles can be found at:

http://connecteddigitalworld.com/2009/11/09/installing-a-cablecard-digital-cable-tuner-with-the-new-digital-cable-advisor-on-a-friday-night/

http://connecteddigitalworld.com/2009/11/15/reviewing-cablecard-recorded-tv-in-windows-media-center-on-a-friday-night/

Equipment Needed

  • Windows Media Center 7 PC
  • Cisco STA1520 Tuning Adapter and active CableCARD
  • DCT on a qualified WMC7 system
  • Two Beers (Optional as always)
  • Windows Home Server with Power Pack 3 (Optional for the TC Archive function)

Lets set this cow on fire!

CableCARD Setup

This short video shows the entire process of how a CableCARD is set up in WMC. I edited out 20 seconds of the program download screen. Adding that edit back in the whole process is complete in less that three minutes!

 

 

Switched Digital Video – Revisited

Although I get all of the basic cable channels on the DCT, and all of the local HD channels, there are still some channels I am missing. On the ATI DCT I did not get upper tier channels like Discovery HD, TBSHD and Universal HD. Charter recently changed to switched digital video (SDV) and I need an additional component called a “tuning adapter” to get these switched channels.

Cisco STA1520 Tuning Adapter

My Charter tech arrived at 2:00 pm today with a brand new Cisco STA 1520 Tuning Adapter. It took all of about five minutes to install the Cisco and activate it. It connects to the coax, a power supply and a USB connection to the PC. Totally easy.

Cisco Tuning Adapter

Once he plugged it in I started the PC and the Cisco STA1520 was immediately recognized.

Device Manager

After an initial activation call to his supervisor the power light turned steady green I was ready to verify the Tuning Adapter status.

I entered the IP address of the DCT and I clicked on Tuning Resolver. I have no idea what all this crap means but it says “Tuner Resolver operational” so I am happy.

DCT Device Web Page

Live SDV TV

Well it seems to be working…

Mars Attacks on a Friday night

Conclusion

This wraps up the CableCARD series of articles. I hope I have generated some interest for CableCARD tuners and hope that Ceton, ATI and Hauppauge deliver new DCTs to us in the coming months!

The whole process has been a learning experience and I am very excited about the new options for CableCARD. I feel that the results have been better than I expected and the actual process of installation and set up is quite easy. Let me recap the basic installation steps of the last three articles:

  1. 1. Run and pass the Digital Cable Advisor in WMC 7
  2. 2. Buy a DCT that supports CableCARD
  3. 3. Have your cable company to install a CableCARD and Tuning Adapter
  4. 4. Let Media Center and Windows 7 recognize the equipment
  5. 5. Run the TV signal setup while the Cable tech is there
  6. 6. Watch and record HD TV!

See you next Friday night,

Timothy Daleo

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  • Cabldevil

    Timothy,

    Another great post. I hope soon it will work for DTV. I see no info on DTV at all. =(

    Keep up the good work and a nice job on homeservershow's podcast!!!

    PS if u have the time send me a email – i have some mControl issues I want to bounce off of you.

    Thanks

    Bill

  • Timothy Daleo

    Thank you for the support. Email sent.

    Tim

  • John C

    Hey Tim, wasnt there supposed to be a firmware update for the ATI and a W7 update required for tuning adapters to work? Have these been released?

  • Timothy Daleo

    I mentioned the AT Driver 1.19.12.0 in an earlier article. The firmware is up to date in Windows 7 after the install.

    The Tuning Adapter, when the device manager recognizes it, installs driver version 6.1.0.0.

    Tim

  • John C

    the latest firmware i see on ATIs site is the 1.17, can you point me to the article where you update the firmware to 1.19.12? Where did you get it?

    Great site Tim, i'm in the same boat, W7 media center, 2 DCTs, HD Homerun, 3 xbox extenders, and a HP 495 WHS. Really useful info on here!

    • Timothy Daleo

      Check in your optional Windows updates. After I installed the ATI DCT and checked for updates it showed up.

      Tim

  • KevinK

    Thanks for the write up, perfect timing. I will be having 4 cable cards installed tomorrow.

    • Timothy Daleo

      Have all of the information ready so you are good to go. Remember that the system will need a restart even though it does not say it does.

      Happy T-Day

  • John C

    I'm assuming one tuning resolver will support multiple cable cards on a W7 computer? I have two ATI DCTs and am picking up a tuning resolver later today.

  • Timothy Daleo

    No, you will need two. From what I understand even though the TA supports two tuners the ATI DCT will only support ONE tuning adapter.

    If you only get one please let us know if your experience is different.

    Tim

    For more follow up information please see:

    http://hd.engadget.com/2009/09/24/a-first-hand-lo

  • John C

    Ok thanks for the heads up. Ill get two and test with one first, then add the second if i have issues. Ill report back here.

    Can you remind me how to get the ATI DCT IP address to check status? Sry for the n00b questions, its been almost a year since i played around with this.

  • Timothy Daleo

    I am not at home so I cannot check but I seem to recall going through the device manager. If all else fails you can check with your router IP table.

    Tim

  • John C

    Ok, this didnt go well. Cannot get any combination of the DCTs or Tuning adapters to be seen by W7. I am going to do a clean W7 install since i never had done one to begin with. Any suggestions on 32 or 64 bit?

  • Timothy Daleo

    My system is 32 bit. When you connected the DCT did Windows recognize it at all? Did you check the Device Manager to see if it had an error?

    My OS was done from a clean install but I would be weary of doing that unless you have the time and patience.

    I did the DCT first, then added the CableCARD, then installed the update from Windows for the DCT, then installed the TA.

  • John C

    After the reinstall of windows 7, i was able to have both DCTs visible and both status screens showing that the TA was operational. I ran through the tv signal setup and it saw both the HDHomerun and the 2 DCTs. However, on SDV channels i am getting a "subscription requred" error for those channels. Also, with 2 tuners in use, when i try to tune to a clearQam channel (through a 3rd extender) via the hdhomerun it says all tuners are in use, which shouldnt be the case. I am wondering if the home premium limitation of 4 tuners is coming into play here, seeing the resolvers as tuners?

  • Timothy Daleo

    You have your cable signal split into three, correct? One for each DCT and one for the Homerun? Do you have the RF going from the wall to the TA to the DCT? I have not tried it that way. I always split it before as a precaution.

    Tim

  • John C

    MY HD homerun has a coax conection for each tuner so i have it split twice there and then twice more for the DCTs. I went into each TA first(via cable IN), then out to the corresponding DCT(cable out). I'm fairly certain they dont need to be daisy chained in such a way but you never know.

    I was getting some odd cablecard diagnostics so i called my cable company and had them re-bind the cards with the DCTs. I now have them all recognized and both TAs operational in each. I was able to do a simple test of an SDV channel and it did tune but during some routine flipping around i would sometimes get just a black screen, or a frozen picture. This was with a mix of regular cable, premium channels, and SDV.

    I did a full reboot tonight and power cycled the DCTs to see if that helped but i cant do any real testing since the whole family is asleep and a few of the extenders are in some of the bedrooms. I would like to have 2 different SDV channels and a clearqam channel tuned simutlaneously tomorrow to know at least everything is operational, even if its not reliable.

    In the ATI diags tonight i am also seeing some SNR/Signal level measurements that are out of spec. I think i am going to also look at my cable splitting straegy tomorrow and see if i can get a bunch of unused connections out of my splitters and improve signal quality a bit, see if that has something to do with it.

    Incidentally i started a reinstall before i saw your suggestion so i am using 64bit. If i cant get this buttoned down tomorrow ill probably try again with 32bit.

  • Timothy Daleo

    I would not think that 64 would be any better. I would look at the TAs and the splits.

    I have read that the in-out may not be the best route for the DCT. I split my RF and then ran a cable to the DCT and the TA.

    Tim

  • John C

    I'm getting into the 8/9-split territory once i add the 2 DCTs, 2 TAs, 2 for HDHR, Cable modem, TiVo. I'm thinking i would have 3 off the main line in my primary 'wire closet' and then 6 in the media center closet (other side of the basement). Any recommendations on a distribution amplifier? Think one is in order?

  • Timothy Daleo

    You are getting into some serious splits. I do not like amplifiers. I think you may have to go this one alone my brother.

  • John C

    Well can confirm that the ATI DCT to TA ratio must be 1:1. That said im seeing some instability with some channels, getting some TA error messages on channels arent even SDV.

    Right now my DCT levels are looking good, i think the HDHR ones may be a little low so i may need to consider a good sitribution amp to help things out. Once im certain all my levels are in order ill continue to test but so far it hasnt been the appliance-level reliability ive been used to with just the DCTs and the HDHR. More to come…

  • Timothy Daleo

    From my TA

    Status: Locked

    Level: -12 dBmV

    Seconds: 288156

    Corr Bytes: 1598

    Uncor Blks: 1342

    Errs Avg/Inst: 0 / 0

    Total Bytes: 932896534

    S/N: 33 dB

    CURRENT QAM

    Freq: 685.750 MHz

    Tuning Mode: QAM-256

    Status: Unlocked

    Level: -19 dBmV

  • John C

    Many thanks Tim! I will compare later tonight.

  • John C

    Tim, did you pull this data directly from your TA or from the TA page on your DCT? When i poll either TA via the DCT page i get these results:

    Freq: n/a

    DAVIC: Data Lock Lost

    Status: n/a

    Level: n/a

    Seconds: n/a

    Corr Bytes: n/a

    Uncor Blks: n/a

    Errs Avg/Inst: n/a

    Total Bytes: n/a

    S/N: n/a

    CURRENT QAM

    Freq: 597.000 MHz

    Tuning Mode: QAM-256

    Status: Locked

    Level: -7 dBmV

    Missing a lot of information that youre able to gather from your TA, but i HAVE been able to tune SDV channels tonight. I havent done rigorous testing with multiple extenders trying to give all the tuners a workout but i know that the specs above do not change whether or not either of my TAs are in use.

  • Timothy Daleo

    I pulled it from within WMC. I get the same results by entering the IP of the TA.

    Lets move this to the Forum on the nexct reply. Tim

    DIAGNOSTICS NAVIGATION MAP

    Status Summary

    POST and Boot Results

    Versions and MACs

    Network and Tuning Status

    RF Statistics

    PowerKEY Information

    QPSK SIL Information

    Bootloader Information

    SAM Information

    SARA Information

    Component Information

    SAM EDCT Information

    SWITCHED DIGITAL VIDEO

    SDV MINI CAROUSEL

    SDV SESSION INFO

    NextPage

  • Served

    Hi Tim… I have a question about PP3 and Recorded TV from a Win7 PC: within the WMC "tv archive" settings, there's a checkbox to "Move recordings to my Home Server". I have a "Recorded TV" share on my WHS. I record a program, yet the file remains on my PC's hard drive. Have any idea how this is supposed to work? I would assume "Move recordings…" means after the recording completes, the file would be moved from the PC to the Recorded TV share. No?

    I also noticed that under the "recorder" settings (under "TV" settings), only local, not network drives are available for recorder storage. Makes sense (kinda) but being able to record directly to a WHS share would eliminate the need to Move.

    Thoughts? Tips? Thanks!

    — Served

  • Timothy Daleo

    I wrote an article on it at:

    http://usingwindowshomeserver.com/2009/11/22/now-

    It will move the recorded shows to the server.

    Tim

  • Pingback: Now We Know – TV Signal and Your PC | Using Windows Home Server()

  • Jim

    I have been battling the ATI TV Wonder Cable Card Tuner and STA 1520 Tining Adapter for a week along with my local Service Provider (Cox). I can’t figure out how to connect the 1520 to the ATI Wonder while allowing the ATI Wonder to be connected to the laptop USB port. The ATI Wonder only had one USB port ad I am sure you kmow. Can you describe exactly the connection scheme?

    Thank you,

    Jim

  • Ryan koftan

    Hi Tim,
    What I would like to do is replace my Charter DVR with my own DVR. We currently have HD channels that we want to record (not necessarily premimum channels like HBO) but other channels like Fox, ABC, etc. My objective is to build a DVR with the ability to record more than one channel at a time, in addition to being able to record HD. I’ve read your three articles about WMS and have played with WMS on a laptop with a USB single channel controller device. Now I really want to get serious and build a DVR.

    All that Charter can offer me is the PC Cable Card but they tell me that it will not work in my area because I am in an area that is Switched Digital Video.

    Since Charter is no help, I am guessing I need other hardware?

    Other than the custom component PC with plenty of disk and a HD video output, and a multi channel HD cable tuner, what exactly do I need? I am confused about the STA 1520 and don’t think that Charter will help with much of anything (SUPRISE!).

    Thanks for your help.

    Ryan