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I apologize in advance if this is the wrong forum...

Started by Snard, Saturday Jan 05, 2013, 08:16:14 am

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Snard

Saturday Jan 05, 2013, 08:16:14 am Last Edit: Saturday Jan 05, 2013, 08:22:29 am by Snard
... and if it is, I will happily move to the right one. Anyway, we'll start with a brief intro.

I'm a long-time Time Warner Cable customer. Satellite isn't an option for us, and AT&T Uverse isn't offered in our neighborhood. I currently have the Whole House DVR option from TWC (Samsung DVR and Cisco remote box without storage), and while it works well enough, I've decided that in the near term, I want to "roll my own" DVR solution via hardware that I would purchase myself and use in conjunction with a CableCard rental. I've started researching the various options, and there seem to be quite a few choices: for tuners, there are the HDHomeRun Prime, Ceton InfiniTV 4 and Hauppauge WinTV DCR-2650. For software, there's Windows Media Center and a bunch of others (MythTV, XBMC, MediaPortal, etc.)

Now, the purpose of this thread isn't "tell me which option(s) I should go with", although ultimately, I have to decided this. What I want to find out is this: has anyone out there already done this, specifically with TWC in the greater Milwaukee area? Are there any special considerations with regard to getting the CableCard working properly? Do they require a service person visit, or can I do it myself? I should mention here that I'm fairly technical: I know how to set up and install hardware and software, I have mostly Windows computers at home, but I'm not adverse to installing Linux (or something else) if that's the best way to go.

So to reiterate, I am mainly looking for success (or failure) stories from other folks who have already done what I'm trying to do with Time Warner Cable, so I can make more informed decisions.

Thanks in advance!
- Mike Shawaluk

Samsung UN46D6000
Philips 40PFL4706/F7B

Now with Windows Media Center and HDHomeRun Prime!

waterhead

I don't know if it works with Time-Warner cable, but there is the external HDHomerun Prime:

http://www.silicondust.com/products/hdhomerun/prime/

I don't have pay TV, so I can't help you too much more.

Martyus

I have TWC and have the Ceton InfiniTV 4 running in a Windows 7 HTPC with a couple other Hauppauge tuners (NTSC/ATSC) for a total of 8 tuners (4 Digital Cable, 2 OTA, 2 NTSC cable).

I have had the InfiniTV 4 for over a year now and the biggest problem I have had so far is with the TWC tuning adapter.

About a year ago, I went several months where the tuning adapter would randomly just stop working - the "SDV error: 1" problem. TWC dispatched several techs, retuned the cable drops, and replaced the TA several times to no avail. Ceton support was great in helping to diagnose the problem using the logs created by the InfiniTV 4, which every time the TA stoppped working pointed to problems in the TWC equipment - specifically problems in the TA headend (not the TA itself). However, TWC refused to acknowledge this and always blamed the InfiniTV 4 for the problem (bad card, bad drivers, blah, blah), even though the logs clearly indicated that the TA was not communicating with the TA headend. After a couple months of back and forth with TWC techs, several TWC engineers (the guys with the bucket trucks) showed up around the neighborhood  - and wouldn't you know it, the next day the TA problems disappeared.

After that, TWC and the TA worked fine until a couple months ago when the TA started to go "brain dead" (occuring every few weeks). The current fix is to call TWC, immediately request a L3 tech, and have them reset the TA remotely.

So, for the most part, using an HTPC and the InfiniTV 4 with TWC has been a success. However, if you ever get the dreaded "SDV error: 1" problem with the TA, be prepared for a long and frustrating episode with TWC support.

waterhead

Sunday Jan 06, 2013, 10:46:53 am #3 Last Edit: Sunday Jan 06, 2013, 10:49:19 am by waterhead
What is this 'Tuning Adapter' that you refer to? Is it the CableCARD M-Card?

LoadStar

Quote from: waterhead;59083What is this 'Tuning Adapter' that you refer to? Is it the CableCARD M-Card?

No.

Time Warner Cable uses something called Switched Digital Video. Essentially, this 'turns off' channels that aren't being watched by anyone on your node to save bandwidth and allow them to offer more channels overall. When you tune into a switched digital channel, an addressable receiver contacts the head-end and requests the channel.

The problem is that third party devices, anything that isn't a cable company issued addressable cable box, aren't setup with two-way communications. To get around this problem, they've come up with a box called a "tuning adapter." More or less,  a tuning adapter is a really dumb cable box that is attached to your TiVo or other cable card equipped receiver via USB. When you tune into a channel, your receiver talks to the tuning adapter. The tuning adapter than does the two-way communication to "ask" for the channel.

You will need to request a tuning adapter in addition to the cable card, or you won't be able to tune into half the channels on Time Warner Cable.

waterhead

OK, thanks LoadStar.

I see the HDHomerun Prime also needs a TA. See the last page in this guide:

http://www.silicondust.com/hdhomerun/QS_HDHomeRun_PRIME.pdf

LoadStar

Quote from: waterhead;59085OK, thanks LoadStar.

I see the HDHomerun Prime also needs a TA. See the last page in this guide:

http://www.silicondust.com/hdhomerun/QS_HDHomeRun_PRIME.pdf

Yup. Anything not a cable box needs a TA.

KryptoNyte

I have a setup similar to Martyus, regarding the Ceton + WMC7.  It's not my primary recording system due to the inherent problems with WMC7 and TWC, but for the 3 or 4 recordings that it does per week, I only have failed recordings every few weeks, so it's been about 95% reliable I suppose.

Some cable companies initially tell you that only they can install it, but the FCC requires them to provide a self-install kit for cable cards (including the tuning adapter).  That said, I ended up with 3 or 4 cable trucks parked outside and 5 or 6 guys in and out trying to figure out how to set it up for a couple of hours.  They all left with it not working.

I ended up calling support, and after finally getting to a tech that knew what a cablecard was, they got the cablecard properly activated and the system started working on "most" channels, but a few channels were still failing.  Finally one knowledgable tech visited who called one person, that person solved the problem immediately.

Since then just occasional recording failures.

beerbrat

Monday Jan 07, 2013, 11:26:31 pm #8 Last Edit: Monday Jan 07, 2013, 11:31:43 pm by beerbrat
My experience with TWC and my HDHR Prime has been nearly flawless.  The only negative is you can't pop into the area TW stores and pick up a cable card and tuning adapter.  You have to order online and wait - in my case I waited over 2 weeks to get them.  I got the card activated on Dec 26th - I've recorded 50-75 shows/movies in the interim just to torture test the setup and I haven't had a recording failure yet.

I wasn't quite as lucky with the original Prime - I bought it refurbished off Woot in early November.  When I got it, I tested it recording off clear QAM as I hadn't received the cable card yet.  One of the 3 tuners would not record - I sent it back to Silicon Dust for replacement and to my surprise they seemed to replace it with a new unit (the box wasn't marked refurb as the original was).  I'd definately buy another Prime if I needed more tuners - I'm done with Woot though.

Snard

beerbrat - thanks very much for the positive review! I would be interested in knowing a bit more about your setup. I.e. what software are you using with your HDHRPrime? How many TV's are you running? We have 2 TVs in our setup (family room and bedroom), and my minimum requirements are:

1. Be able to watch live TV programs in both locations
2. Be able to watch recorded programs in at least the main (family room) location: the bedroom location would be a plus
3. Be able to schedule programming via a program guide (TWC or 3rd party)

and most important:

4. it has to be "wife friendly" (I know that sounds sexist, but my wife is the least sophisticated computer user in our household. If there is a steep learning curve, this probably isn't going to work for us)

Thanks again,
- Mike Shawaluk

Samsung UN46D6000
Philips 40PFL4706/F7B

Now with Windows Media Center and HDHomeRun Prime!

beerbrat

Snard - I can't help you much with general usabilty for driving the main TV in the house.  The HTPC is still in 'experiment' phase and I don't have it hooked up to my TV (plus I don't have a WMC remote yet).  I watch all recorded content sitting at the computer in a second bedroom - all recording done with Windows Media Center on windows 7.  I experimented with windows 8 but I had some issues getting it to wake from sleep 100% reliably so I went back to windows 7.  My main (and only tv) is hooked up to a Samsung smt-h3050 from TW - I haven't decided if I'm going to give the box back yet.  I still occasionally use the free on-demand stuff.

kevbeck122

I went boxless with TWC for a few months using a PC with the HDHR Prime and Windows Media Center.  Worked fine most of the time.  Some of the time I would get a garbled mess on some of the SDV channels, not sure if it was signal issues or maybe a bad splitter.  I was using an XBOX360 as a Media Center Extender on the main TV, which worked great (just don't use the extender over wireless - it will work, but interface gets slow and picture can suffer at times).  I have an all in one computer in the kitchen that I added the tuner drivers to and had no issues streaming wirelessly to it.

If you want it to be "wife friendly" I would recommend using XBOX 360s as extenders on your TVs, with the Media Center remote.  Basically you push the media center button and the 360 boots right into Media Center where you can get the guide, live TV, etc. right there.  If you want an app that you can schedule recordings from, Ceton makes a pretty good one that works on iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad and Android... though it's $5 I believe.

I actually am selling my Prime, so if you're interested, let me know. (I switched back to DIRECTV - nothing to do with the Prime, just not a fan of TWC's pricing and lack of some channels that DIRECTV has).

KryptoNyte

Wednesday Jan 09, 2013, 07:01:07 pm #12 Last Edit: Wednesday Jan 09, 2013, 07:04:11 pm by KryptoNyte
The Xbox 360 is pretty much your only reasonable choice for an extender.  You can drop one beside each television in the house (just grab the 4GB "slim" models).  My system only drives (1) xbox, but I have to believe you could get 3 or 4 (hard wire ethernet) of them up and running from the same HTPC.  With the Ceton, you have 4 tuners, so keep in mind that whatever your doing, recording, watching live TV on any TV in the house (with the xbox360 extenders), you can be doing it on up to 4 different channels simultaneously (unless you add a second Ceton card and cable card, which would put you at 8 tuners).

If you get more than 3 xbox's running, I would say that would be time to get your gigabit wired network up and running (if you are still stuck at 100mbit ethernet).  I'd recommend having all your equipment plugged into a quality unmanaged switch.

If your HTPC is fast enough, both in processor speed, but more-so with hard disk speed, you could probably have three TV's watching live television via xbox, one channel recording a favorite TV program, and two other televisions watching media in your library simultaneously, without too much trouble.  

I have tested with up to 9 tuners recording simultaneously to my HTPC's 3TB Seagate 7200rpm drive with no issue.