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Comcast DTA Adaptor Boxes Not Working For Me

post #1 of 148
Thread Starter 
I've gone through two pairs of Comcast DTA digital adaptor boxes, that would provide SD-digital reception, to replace current analog reception. The activation signal over the cable from Comcast reaches them, as they change their onscreen messages, but no activation occurs. Is anyone else having this same problem? My cable successfully feeds an HD-DVR and an Internet cable modem and two TVs on analog signals, all at the same time. I tried hooking up one DTA box directly with the cable and nothing else connected, but it still wouldn't activate. I was told by Comcast that some of the DTA boxes may not work properly, so I exchanged the first pair for two more, with the same result. Is it possible that the RG-59 wire connection from the street may not provide enough signal strength for the DTAs, even though it runs a DVR and Internet modem just fine? A re-wiring from the street with the heavier RG-6 cable might help, but would this likely be necessary? I run RG-6 on all my connections that split from the main cable. I've gone through all this with several advisors and signal-repair techs at Comcast and haven't gotten a solution.
post #2 of 148
I'm confused about what kind of activation would be necessary, actually, given that they cannot be used to receive encrypted content anyway.
post #3 of 148
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

I'm confused about what kind of activation would be necessary, actually, given that they cannot be used to receive encrypted content anyway.

Each of the DTA adaptor boxes has a serial number, which has to be furnished to the agent at Comcast, who sends an activation signal. The activation code specifies that each box is assigned to a specific subscriber at a certain address. There seems to be no real point in doing this, as the boxes can't receive anything but standard, SD channels and a subscription has to be active already, for them to work. But, without being activated, nothing can be received. I was told by one Comcast signal-repair tech, that he'd received numerous calls that described the same experience I've had. It may be that these new DTAs have a threshold of signal strength that many subscribers don't have and their installations might have to be re-worked with new cabling from the street and new, separate outlets for each box that is used. If this is the case with my cable connection, it would indicate that the DTAs needed a stronger signal than a DTR/Internet modem combination requires, on a single cable outlet.
post #4 of 148
Quote:


I tried hooking up one DTA box directly with the cable and nothing else connected, but it still wouldn't activate.

When you did this did you remove the splitter and plug the cable directly into the box?
What type of boxes are these?

Most of the SD channels will be encrypted (some are in the clear).

Give the exact details about your set up (splits, length of cables etc).
post #5 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by RCbridge View Post

Most of the SD channels will be encrypted (some are in the clear).

According to what has been reported, no, they aren't.

All of Digital Starter (Standard) is being sent in the clear, on the same frequencies Analog Standard channels used to be on; and they are using the filtering system already in place.
post #6 of 148
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RCbridge View Post

When you did this did you remove the splitter and plug the cable directly into the box?
What type of boxes are these?

Most of the SD channels will be encrypted (some are in the clear).

Give the exact details about your set up (splits, length of cables etc).

These are the small digital transfer adaptor boxes (DTA) Comcast is making available to all its customers, for conversion of the standard tier of SD channels to an analog signal for use with analog-tuning TVs, VCRs, etc. When I tried activating just one box with a direct connection from the wall outlet, there were no splits and nothing else was connected. There is only about 15 feet of distance between the connecting box on the outside of my house and the cable head that was plugged into the DTA. Ordinarily, with two splitters, this cable will provide a good signal to a DVR, an Internet modem and two analog TVs, all at the same time, with no amplification. One of these TVs is 40 feet past the splitter, but still gets a good analog signal. All my inside connections are done with RG-6 cable, although the cable from the street and the one coming from the outside box are RG-59 cable, which were provided by Comcast and are at least 10 years old. The connections at the ends of these cables were re-worked when Comcast re-activated my cable service 4 years ago. Thanks for your interest.
post #7 of 148
This makes perfect sense to me.

First, my understanding was that the DTAs were to be "cheap 'n' cheerful" solutions to allow Comcast to go "all-digital." Evidently these boxes are just that and are lacking in QC, perhaps even capability.

Second, I believe Comcast has sufficient reason to want these boxes to not work. I can see a scenario where a person tries several boxes and gets nowhere, a tech comes out and informs them that a "better" box is required and that the outlet requires "digital upgrade" (with corresponding monthly digital outlet fee), etc.

Third, based on personal experience (we live in a 1970's vintage house in a neighborhood where the utilities are buried), most folks in older homes have a "home brew" cable distribution which may have problems that are not evident in analog reception. As an example, I recently purchased a couple low-cost clear QAM boxes and was surprised that at one outlet one box picked up about 40 channels, while at another outlet the box picked up a lot less, while both outlets had good analog pictures. Most people probably believe that digital signals will be automatically excellent if they come over cable; this is not the case.

If your HD-DVR is a Motorola, you can get into the diagnostic menu by turning off the machine via the front panel power button, then immediately pressing the "menu" or "select" button. One of the choices will tell you such things as digital signal strength, even down to correctable and uncorrectable signal errors. Note that the channel signal the box shows is the one you were on when the unit was turned off.

Good luck and best wishes, and please keep us informed as to your progress. If you can pick up (or borrow) a cheap clear QAM box it would be interesting to see what channels are being broadcast over clear QAM.
post #8 of 148
Quote:


Good luck and best wishes, and please keep us informed as to your progress. If you can pick up (or borrow) a cheap clear QAM box it would be interesting to see what channels are being broadcast over clear QAM.

Try this too: http://www.silicondust.com/hdhomerun/channels
post #9 of 148
Quote:


According to what has been reported, no, they aren't.

All of Digital Starter (Standard) is being sent in the clear, on the same frequencies Analog Standard channels used to be on; and they are using the filtering system already in place.

In my area I have Comcast and I have tried several QAM tuners and on a good day I will pick up about 35-40 channels.

In my area I connected a Spectrum analyzer to my cable and the digital (qam) channels begin around 500mhz and only go above (minus the return stuff below 42mhz).

I am not familiar with the boxes you reference, If possible could you put the digital box or the modem directly on the cable or just access the diag screens for either where they are and measure the power, if you have Motorola boxes give me the model and I can guide you to access the screens.

The modem is http://192.168.100.1 look at the signal tab and get the downstream power.
post #10 of 148
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 84lion View Post

This makes perfect sense to me.

First, my understanding was that the DTAs were to be "cheap 'n' cheerful" solutions to allow Comcast to go "all-digital." Evidently these boxes are just that and are lacking in QC, perhaps even capability.

Second, I believe Comcast has sufficient reason to want these boxes to not work. I can see a scenario where a person tries several boxes and gets nowhere, a tech comes out and informs them that a "better" box is required and that the outlet requires "digital upgrade" (with corresponding monthly digital outlet fee), etc.

Third, based on personal experience (we live in a 1970's vintage house in a neighborhood where the utilities are buried), most folks in older homes have a "home brew" cable distribution which may have problems that are not evident in analog reception. As an example, I recently purchased a couple low-cost clear QAM boxes and was surprised that at one outlet one box picked up about 40 channels, while at another outlet the box picked up a lot less, while both outlets had good analog pictures. Most people probably believe that digital signals will be automatically excellent if they come over cable; this is not the case.

If your HD-DVR is a Motorola, you can get into the diagnostic menu by turning off the machine via the front panel power button, then immediately pressing the "menu" or "select" button. One of the choices will tell you such things as digital signal strength, even down to correctable and uncorrectable signal errors. Note that the channel signal the box shows is the one you were on when the unit was turned off.

Good luck and best wishes, and please keep us informed as to your progress. If you can pick up (or borrow) a cheap clear QAM box it would be interesting to see what channels are being broadcast over clear QAM.

Every Comcast agent that tried to activate my boxes or who gave technical advice, suggested that I have a housecall to upgrade my connections. They said it wasn't possible for me to have 4 devices successfully connected to my current installation and Comcast wouldn't approve of such multiple splitting. Actually, it is possible, as I've been doing it for some time, with no problems. Since just one DTA, when it was the only device connected to this cable, wouldn't activate, it leads me to think that they may all have marginal capabilities to function with the typical signal-strength most subscribers would have.

Well, I'm not going to spend much more effort on this issue, as I don't really need the DTAs, anyway. They were just something extra that I thought would give me a bit better reception on some SD channels. Since most of my TV watching is in HD with my cable DVR or a Media Center computer, connected to my outside antenna, I'm set up nicely. I have two of the coupon-subsidized converters for OTA digital channels, that perform with excellent quality, off my antennas. The image quality one puts onto my HDTV, expanded by the TV to fill the whole wide screen, is very good, considering that it is an SD down-conversion, delivered over a composite connection. Too bad the Comcast DTAs didn't follow the same pathway into their existence.
post #11 of 148
I have Comcast analogue, and have heard nothing from Comcast, nor can find anything on their site, about how to get a DTA. Does that mean they're not available in my location (central NJ) ?
post #12 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by VCRUsr View Post

I have Comcast analogue, and have heard nothing from Comcast, nor can find anything on their site, about how to get a DTA. Does that mean they're not available in my location (central NJ) ?

If Expd. Basic is still available in Analog in your area, then there is no need for a DTA; they will only provide them when they are needed.
post #13 of 148
Let me throw in my 2 cents. I've had a similar experience.

I got the 2 free DTA's (for fun ) that I'm allotted and hooked 'em up to two analog TV's... got them activated*... they were working just fine for about 2 hrs. THEN, the DTAs "forgot" they were activated and went back into their coma. I tried calling the activation line... again... they said they sent the activation signal to both boxes and got them back successfully.... yet the DTAs are still coma-"toast"... (no changes to house cable wiring)

What I thought was interesting is that BOTH the DTAs were working fine and then died at exactly the same time and BOTH would not re-activate...

*BTW the activation was NOT Automated...I had to talk to a human -- they allegedly give an automated phone activation -- but, it doesn't work (in my experience) -- same goes for the Activation web site -- it just don't work, I tried to login and it immediately says, "you have to call the number"...

When the 2nd activation didn't work they wanted to dispatch a Tech to look at it (and probably charge $30), but I declined. I'm still getting the good old analog (for now) so why bother with the hassle until it's actually necessary.

My opinion of Comca$t is plummeting, fast...
post #14 of 148
Their policy is not to charge fees to fix problems with their boxes/CableCards or outside wiring. Fees are charged for inside wiring problems (unless one has a maintenance plan), and correcting user errors.
post #15 of 148
I picked up two DTAs at the cable store yesterday. Neither of them are working. They get analog 2-29, 79, 99, and a handful of digital channels such as LMN, Bloomberg, and G4. 30-76 are dark, with the service interrupted message displayed. I tried having them activated last night, and spent a lengthy online session this morning trying to get the main one working at least. No luck - I've been directed to the DTA hotline.

Is this common with the DTAs? Are the DTAs that are sent out via mail pre-activated and customized for the user's house, or are they picked out at random and issued to the customer like at the cable store? I can't see how the digital conversion can take place smoothly with these POS's being given out to everyone.
post #16 of 148
I guess they didn't send you the instructions? If not, I guess you are asking if trying to get them activated by phone was useless. I have read the DTA instructions online, and they indeed need to be activated. So, it wasn't useless, it is just that some are defective, and can't be or stay activated.
post #17 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by QZ1 View Post

I guess they didn't send you the instructions? If not, I guess you are asking if trying to get them activated by phone was useless. I have read the DTA instructions online, and they indeed need to be activated. So, it wasn't useless, it is just that some are defective, and can't be or stay activated.

The instructions are issued with the DTAs and are also available online.

What's missing is that you need to tune to a working channel and keep it there when they send the activation signal. The CSR's script leads you to tune to a non-working channel when they ask if there are any error messages on the screen before sending the activation signal. Yes, there are error messages on the non-working channels, but not on the working channels. In my case, the non-working channels were mapped to frequencies that did not match the headend, so the box missed the activation signals. When tuned to a working channel, such as analog CH 4, the activation worked almost immediately.

Thanks to a PM tip that suggested the above and got the boxes working.
post #18 of 148
So, much for beta-testing.
post #19 of 148
Comcast recently sent notice to NW Atlanta, GA suburbs of "network enhancement". Thought I was being proactive based on wording of their notice and got 2 free. I'm fairly technically adept but while activating I've has similar bad experience to previous poster's (and still trying to get it resolved). Two Comcast CSR's have told me that even with digital tuner HDTV's we will not receive the digital signals for channels 30-78. One tech support guy said there would be a service call charge due to "self-install error" or some such nonsense.
Please help me understand why DTA's are needed if I have Digital Tuner HDTV's? I normally don't mention brand names (it's obnoxious) but I also don't know if there is common-knowledge issue among technical folks with any certain brand so....I currently have a small Haier LCD in kitchen (obviously not a place for high-quality electronics, ergo...), a very good mid-size AKAI LCD w/ built-in DVD in Master Bedroom. Without DTA on the AKAI, I clearly receive all channels 1-78 including several subchannels in Digitial HD where 11-1 is NBC affiliate, 46-1 is CBS, 98-3 is ABC, 98-404 is Fox, etc.
House was built in 1994 & we're original owners. Total cable length from street hub to back of house is about 70 ft. and entire line was replaced about 2-3 years ago due to weak signal. From outside connection box, main house "line" is split for 2 runs into the house when it was built. One run goes about 20 ft. to Den on a Sony rear-projection with Comcast Digital Converter Box (no problems) and continues straight upstairs 10 ft. to a BR (very fuzzy on a Sony CRT TV). Other run goes about 30 ft. to Kitchen (DTA works except for power on/off) and continues upstairs 20-25 ft. to MBR (DTA displays 17, 36, 41-47, 57-59, 75, 78 clearly; about 5-10 other channels in "digital mosaic haze", and nothing below 36). I appreciate in advance your collective help, thank you.
post #20 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by viking6 View Post

[u]Please help me understand why DTA's are needed if I have Digital Tuner HDTV's?

Well, you would need a Comcast box if they encrypt channels, but for what they send in the clear (which you've found to be digital HD channels like ABC-HD) the digital tuner will work just fine.

But it depends on what they send in the clear. Looks like the Akai's QAM (digital cable) tuner picks up what is in the clear. The networks should stay that way, but others might get encrypted at the whim of Comcast.
post #21 of 148
They aren't allowed to encrypt anything that you would need a DTA to receive (yet).
post #22 of 148
OK, thank you.
There was a news story here last night about DTA's but segment did not address the quality (or lack thereof), just the limit on quantity of 2 DTA's for free. Comcast did their best "spin" on it as usual.
Thanks again for your perspectives.
post #23 of 148
my southeast tennessee comcast service went down to 13 channels the other day. it was my understanding for a very long time that basic cable comcast customers would not have to have a box. now they say you have to have this quasi digital box called a DTA to get the rest of those basic cable channels back.

now i also saw a commercial from them stating existing high speed net customers will eventually receive 50mbps internet.

not real sure what the comcastic truth for all of this is.
post #24 of 148
Yup, believe it.
post #25 of 148
There is recent technology that Comcast is begining to deploy in some markets refered to as DOCSIS 3.0 or channel bonding.

Yes it works!!
post #26 of 148
they are going to offer 50mbps due to infrastructure improvements prompted by competition but don't be confused by typical comcast sales and marketing stating or advertising that you will receive their complete increased bandwidth for free. one comcast rep told me "probably" and another said "no" so i take that as probably not.

anyway, i have two dta boxes on the way.
post #27 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by viking6 View Post

Comcast recently sent notice to NW Atlanta, GA suburbs of "network enhancement". Thought I was being proactive based on wording of their notice and got 2 free. ... Two Comcast CSR's have told me that even with digital tuner HDTV's we will not receive the digital signals for channels 30-78.

Interesting. I took the non-proactive approach and did nothing before the so-called "network enhancement" transition date. I have two analog TVs connected directly to the cable wall jack (no box). It's been several weeks since the alleged transition date, and they still work fine for channels 30-78.

I asked a couple Comcast reps here (who were promoting Comcast at public events) if their digital transition (i.e. Comcast, not OTA) had really happened as scheduled, and they said it had.

I'm mystified, but I'm not complaining. That digital transition would significantly limit the functionality of a lot of my equipment with analog tuners (TVs, Slingboxes, Tivo, Media Center PC), most no more than 2-4 years old.
post #28 of 148
You shouldn't have bought new analog only equipment knowing that the digital transition was only 2-4 years away. Stores shouldn't have been selling analog only equipment so close to the end of analog.
post #29 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by 84lion View Post
Good luck and best wishes, and please keep us informed as to your progress. If you can pick up (or borrow) a cheap clear QAM box it would be interesting to see what channels are being broadcast over clear QAM.
If you have a QAM tuner, the following channels are carried on Comcast in West Cobb area after the switchover:

 

QAM Channel Guice.doc 77.5k . file
post #30 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post
Well, you would need a Comcast box if they encrypt channels, but for what they send in the clear (which you've found to be digital HD channels like ABC-HD) the digital tuner will work just fine.

But it depends on what they send in the clear. Looks like the Akai's QAM (digital cable) tuner picks up what is in the clear. The networks should stay that way, but others might get encrypted at the whim of Comcast.
LG TV's with QAM Tuner will receive all local HD and the Digital Channels

 

QAM Channel Guide.doc 77.5k . file
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