PVR support for old style cable A/B feeds

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by David C Lin, Sep 28, 2003.

  1. David C Lin

    David C Lin Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm thinking of buying a PVR. But before I do that, I need to know if it'll work on my apartment. The cable in my apartment is the old style cable with cable A and cable B coaxial feeds. I have a cable box that switch between cable A and cable B before sending the signal to my TV. Does anyone know if PVR like Tivo or ReplayTV can accept 2 coax cable feeds for the old style cable? If not, is there anything I can do to get a PVR to work with my cable feeds without having to buy two PVRs?
     
  2. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

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    They don't really have a mechanism for controlling the A/B switch, and they only have one coax input/tuner. Best bet is if your cable company provides digital cable; often the digital cable box will accept both feeds and combine them into a single lineup. The PVR can then record off the cable box.
     
  3. David C Lin

    David C Lin Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately for me, my apartment still uses old analog cable. No digital cable service to my apartment complex or so I was told by my Charter Communication cable service guy who hooked up my place. I guess this means I won't be getting a PVR anytime soon.
     
  4. GordonL

    GordonL Supporting Actor

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    I assume your cable box sends the signal to your TV which you watch on channel 3 and you switch channels using the cable box remote. You don't need a PVR that can accept 2 coax feeds. The PVR is hooked up between the cable box and TV. What you need to worry about is whether or not your cable box has an RS-232 or IR port in the back to allow the PVR to control it.
     
  5. PienSavaca

    PienSavaca Stunt Coordinator

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    With two-cable systems, it unlikely that you could use the cables separately anyway. Usually, cable A is unscrambled channels 1-60, and cable B is channels 61-120, and all scrambled channels. In other words, you CAN'T remove the cable box wihout losing channels.

    Do you actually have a A/B switch to contend with? or does your cable box take care of the switching?

    A Replay or Tivo will control 99% of all cable boxes.
     
  6. David C Lin

    David C Lin Stunt Coordinator

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    First of all, thanks for reading my posts and answer my questions. I really appreciate your help.

    Now to answer your questions...
    To GordonL: yes, my cable box send signal to my TV, and I set my TV to channel 3. I have a cable box remote control I use to determine which channel from either cable A or cable B is sent to my TV. My cable box doesn't have any RS232 or IR port. It has 2 coax inputs (for cable A and B), 1 coax output (to TV), and 2 RCA inputs with label (audio video) which I don't know its purpose.

    To PienSavaca: My cable A goes from channel 2 to 69. Cable B goes from channel 2 to 64. Also, neither of my cable A or B signals are scrambled. I can connect either cable A or cable B directly into my TV, then use TV tuner to surf the channels. My cable box has a A/B switch. The cable box remote also has an A/B switch. So the cable box is taking care of the switching. Will Replay or Tivo work with this type of cable box?
     
  7. GordonL

    GordonL Supporting Actor

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    If both cables use the same channel range, I'm not sure if Tivo/ReplayTV can support it. Then again, perhaps you should call them and find out for sure. That's a weird setup. Here in Fairfax County, VA, we also had a dual cable setup but the A/B switching was handled internally by the cable box and is supported by Tivo/ReplayTV.
     
  8. PienSavaca

    PienSavaca Stunt Coordinator

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    David, your cable service is 'unique' to say the least. I'd like to hear what they tell senior citizens when they call and complain that their programs didn't tape. "Buy two vcrs?"?!?

    Check to see if they offer a different cable box. You'd need one that:

    a) 'Remaps' the some channels to higher numbers and does not require a keypress for A/B.

    b) Has 'rca outs' (video/left/right). The replay (and I assume Tivo) will treat it's coax-in and rca-in sources as two separate services. Line-up 'A' would be via direct coax; Line-up 'B' would be fed thru the cable box and to the PVR via RCA output on the cable box.

    Failing that, you may just want to consider service on one line only. If you want a PVR, don't let their crappy service limit you. You'd need two vcrs for coverage anyway--just use a PVR for one and a VCR for the other.

    There is usually a dividing line for separating programming. Usually the Broadcast networks and popular cable channels are on 'A' and the premium movie channels and less popular cable channels are on 'b'. I'd use the PVR on 'A' since the bulk of my recording would be done there, and because I usually watch HBO programming 'live' anyway.
     
  9. David C Lin

    David C Lin Stunt Coordinator

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  10. PienSavaca

    PienSavaca Stunt Coordinator

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  11. David C Lin

    David C Lin Stunt Coordinator

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    I just did the test you mentioned. The 2 RCA on my cable box are outputs. So I was able to connection 1 RCA out from cable box to my TV video, and another RCA out to my TV left audio in. Now when I use the remote to change the channel on my cable box, my TV channel 3 is getting the same signal as my TV video-in from RCA video-out of the cable box.

    I still don't understand how this will help me, though. I guess getting mono-audio is ok as long as I can tape the shows I want. So now I should to go to my local electronic store and check out some ReplayTV, eh?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  12. PienSavaca

    PienSavaca Stunt Coordinator

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  13. David C Lin

    David C Lin Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok. I think I understand now. I see how my TV or Replay can use its tuner to locate the channel it wants from cable A. But for the channel on cable B that I want to record on Replay, I will have to set the cable box to the proper channel so Replay will get the signal correctly from RCA, right?
     
  14. GordonL

    GordonL Supporting Actor

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    The Tivo/Replay built-in tuner will handle the unscrambled cable feed directly and be considered one input source. The cable box feed (via the RCA jacks) will be considered a second input source. That should work. Now you gotta worry about how to control the cable box. Since you have no RS-232 or IR port, you will have to use the IR emitter, which for some people, is not very reliable. It will require a lot of tweaking and adjusting to work right. Good luck.
     
  15. David C Lin

    David C Lin Stunt Coordinator

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    Could you describe a little about how to use the IR emitter? Is this a feature that's built-in to Tivo/Replay? Or do I need to buy a separate IR emitter and connect it to Tivo/Replay to allow it to control the IR emitter and, thus, my cable box?
     
  16. GordonL

    GordonL Supporting Actor

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    The Tivo/Replay comes with an IR emitter that plugs into the back of the PVR to use with cable & satellite boxes that don't have the RS-232 port or IR port. The emitter (~ 3 ft long cable) is then placed near the IR receiver of the cable/satellite box to control the channel changes. The problem is that room reflections and what-not make the channel changing kind of unreliable. What people do to fix this problem is build a little cover out of non-reflecting material and place it over the IR receiver with the IR emitter inside.
     
  17. PienSavaca

    PienSavaca Stunt Coordinator

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    The room reflections issue is something that I have only seen with integrated emitter on dish network recievers and some vcrs. I have a toshiba vcr with a small 'window' on the top surface. It expects a cable box to be ontop of it, and it will change channels on it. The aim has to be set up correctly, and cannot be nudged or have it's window covered.

    I've used the Replay IR emitter (aka 'cable mouse') with both Dish Network and Digital cable boxes with no problems. It's a small teardrop shaped device that sticks to the front of your cable box and responds to keypress signals the replay. (ie. 0-4-7-enter).

    Check it the instructions here:

    Page 17 of 86 on the PDF file

    ReplayTV 5000 User Guide (2.38MB Adobe PDF File)
     

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