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Comcast DTA, convert to any other input type

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Well, as most of you may know, Comcast has gone all digital, which is great, but they decided to encrypt it, which is not, so now I have to use their digital transport adapter to get the channels I'm actually paying for. The problem is, that it only passes SD, so I no longer get any of the HD channels that I have heard they are forbidden by law from blocking. I also am missing some channels, all of them in the X-1, x-2 format, etc.

This little box is a decrypter/tuner that outputs digitally on Ch3 or 4 via 75 ohm coax. My TV has multiple inputs, HDMI, component, s-video, etc.

So far the only option, other than telling Comcast to go pound sand, is to get a remote A-B switch and switch between the 2 cable inputs, but this would be awkward. It would be great if I could use the set to select the input. This would require me to convert the incoming signal to something else. Since the channels all look crappy anyway, thanks to the encryption I presume, any input type to the TV would be welcome.


Anyone have any suggestions or found a solution that doesn't entail giving comcast an additional fee?
post #2 of 43
Does the DTA have composite outputs?
post #3 of 43
Grab an old VCR.
Feed it the DTA's channel 3.
Use the VCR's Composite (and audio L/R) output to feed the TV.
post #4 of 43
I think your options to get HD back may be limited to getting a Cablecard device (TiVo) or renting a box.
post #5 of 43
Two options only for HD:
1) rent an HD capable cable box. DTA's are RF (coax) only. Using a VCR is useless.
2) A/B switch to accomodate one side for DTA (to get encrypted basic cable channels), one side for using the internal tuner in the TV for HD locals.
post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael503 View Post

The problem is, that it only passes SD, so I no longer get any of the HD channels that I have heard they are forbidden by law from blocking. I also am missing some channels, all of them in the X-1, x-2 format, etc.

Have you verified they were blocked? Try hooking up direct to the TV and scan for channels. The HD locals should still be there.

Quote:


So far the only option, other than telling Comcast to go pound sand, is to get a remote A-B switch and switch between the 2 cable inputs, but this would be awkward.

If they are still sending unencrypted HD locals, then the switch may be your only option.

Quote:


Since the channels all look crappy anyway, thanks to the encryption I presume,

It's not the encryption doing that (encryption just blocks the signal, it doesn't touch the signal itself). It's probably a combination of the SD from the DTA and the compression applied to all cable signals (gotta cram 900+ channels into one signal somehow.)
post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Two options only for HD:
1) rent an HD capable cable box. DTA's are RF (coax) only. Using a VCR is useless.

The idea of the VCR is to convert the DTA's RF signal to Composite video to feed a line input on the TV
Quote:


2) A/B switch to accomodate one side for DTA (to get encrypted basic cable channels), one side for using the internal tuner in the TV for HD locals.

By using a splitter before the box he can send the raw cable signal to the TV's internal QAM tuner for HD locals (and any unencrypted channels) and watch the box's signal on the TV's line input. (converted to Composite by the VCR) No A/B switch required, just a splitter.

For the OP: The DTA's will not always get all of the same channels that a STB will pick up. MY Comcast, until recently, did not do Versus, a local broadcast weather subchannel, or MNTV on the DTAs but did on the STB. They made some change (probably encryption method) and added them to the DTAs channel selection. (and announced that they were doing so)

The DTAs don't have an "off" option and can't do "passthrough" like a VCR or some of the CECBs, otherwise the OP could just turn off the DTA and the raw signal would pass through to the TV and he could use the TV's internal tuner for the HD locals again.
post #8 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod7501 View Post

The idea of the VCR is to convert the DTA's RF signal to Composite video to feed a line input on the TV

Yup... basically useless.

Quote:


By using a splitter before the box he can send the raw cable signal to the TV's internal QAM tuner for HD locals (and any unencrypted channels) and watch the box's signal on the TV's line input. (converted to Composite by the VCR) No A/B switch required, just a splitter.

Yes, that can work. Still, messy IMO.

Why not rent an HD capable STB for $10-12 per month and enjoy?
post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Why not rent an HD capable STB for $10-12 per month and enjoy?

I'm guessing (and possible putting words into the OP's mouth - sorry if so) that he has limited basic service since he never mentioned having a STB (which would have composite outputs) and only mentioned one DTA. If that is the case, then adding an HD box would require a major upgrade in service also.

Michael ?
post #10 of 43
Not necessarily. A DTA can provide all local and basic channels.

If he/she had "limited" basic, a DTA would not be necessary, assuming the TV had a clear QAM tuner.

So... if limited basic, remove DTA and use the TV's tuner.
If basic (or expanded basic), you need jump through hoops to save a $10 a month just to get HD locals (as explained above).

Curious... what major upgrade in service?
post #11 of 43
I didn't think you could get an HD box with Basic service and needed expanded basic or digital starter.
post #12 of 43
I still have a LG 4200a and it still works for the locals that Comcast is required to carry in HD unencrypted. I use a commercial grade amplified Motorola drop amp/splitter and feed each tuner with one of the outputs from it.
I also have a Motorola DCH-3200 HD box with all the outputs they are trying to get rid of and use it all the time seeing how they talked me into HD and phone upgrade after I also had the crappy DTA box like you have. They are not charging me rent on that box and I saved about 50 a month over phone and non HDTV like I had before though who knows what incentives they'll offer in your area to get you to upgrade.
If you want to get just the Locals in HD you'll need a clear QAM HD tuner and a decent splitter and cables, then it SHOULD work.
They will not directly admit that this might work for you as they really want folks to upgrade and make them more money. A lot of folks Like me were very upset with the "upgrade" as it is just a thinly disguised money grab that they got away with by getting the FCC to allow them to give away the cheap non HD DTA boxes so basic cable subscribers could still freely watch all the channels.
post #13 of 43
Quote:


So... if limited basic, remove DTA and use the TV's tuner.
If basic (or expanded basic), you need jump through hoops to save a $10 a month just to get HD locals (as explained above).

Curious... what major upgrade in service?

Well to some of us (me) $10 a month is a major upgrade in service. Everything is going up except my income.

I went through the Comcast exercise last year. I used an old vcr to convert DTA my signal to line input. I wrote it up as a tutorial for a JP1 extender, but perhaps the illustrations may help the OP see what you guys are talking about.

http://www.getzweb.net/jp1/howto/vicky/fldensetup.htm

Comcast was handing out DTA's only for my service level. You had to pay more for the Motorola box with the various outputs.

One note, Comcast has several DTAs. One, the Thomson DTA that I got used an IR protocol that was impossible to learn with most universal remotes, so you end up juggling remotes when you need to control the inputs on the TV, the cable box, and the VCR.
post #14 of 43
To the OP if you are still following this.
if your DTA has composite outs just use a 2 way splitter and feed the TV with the composite from the DTA and a direct feed into the TV.
post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dartman View Post

I still have a LG 4200a and it still works for the locals that Comcast is required to carry in HD unencrypted. I use a commercial grade amplified Motorola drop amp/splitter and feed each tuner with one of the outputs from it.
I also have a Motorola DCH-3200 HD box with all the outputs they are trying to get rid of and use it all the time seeing how they talked me into HD and phone upgrade after I also had the crappy DTA box like you have. They are not charging me rent on that box and I saved about 50 a month over phone and non HDTV like I had before though who knows what incentives they'll offer in your area to get you to upgrade.
If you want to get just the Locals in HD you'll need a clear QAM HD tuner and a decent splitter and cables, then it SHOULD work.
They will not directly admit that this might work for you as they really want folks to upgrade and make them more money. A lot of folks Like me were very upset with the "upgrade" as it is just a thinly disguised money grab that they got away with by getting the FCC to allow them to give away the cheap non HD DTA boxes so basic cable subscribers could still freely watch all the channels.

Giving people free dta boxes, in order to continue viewing what they have currently ,without an increase on their bill, is a thinly disguised "money grab"?

People who upgrade to HD are not forced to do so. Buying an HDTV and wanting "upgraded" HD service , outside of the locals , for free, IMO, is unrealistic. Would it be nice, yeah, but it ain't gonna happen.

Every company is out to make money. They do not normally give away upgrades for "free" All those people getting an upgraded digital picture to their analog or HD TVs, for "free", with the required "free" dta, are getting a "free"upgrade, regardless of how you feel about it.

You want more you pay more. HD channels such as ESPN or CNN , are rarely if ever able to be picked up without a box. You want them in HD, you pay for them, you dont, here is your free non-hd DTA. Right or wrong it was how this country has been long before you and I were around to complain about it.

Maybe instead of blaming comcast for "forcing" you to pay to "upgrade" the picture on your $2000 tv, put yourself in the shoes of someone who can't afford a new tv or cable and just receives OTA with rabbit ears and can no longer get a picture because it is digital and their signal isn't strong enough. It wasn't comcast that changed or mandated this. It was the government.

Just because comcast decided to switch their operations over earlier than the expected mandate for everyone, doesn't mean they are deceptively trying to squeeze more money out of you, especially when they are essentially giving you two free boxes to receive the channels you had before.
post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by RCbridge View Post

if your DTA has composite outs just use a 2 way splitter and feed the TV with the composite from the DTA and a direct feed into the TV.

DTA's do not have anything but RF out.
post #17 of 43
Quote:
DTA's do not have anything but RF out.

Many of the DTA's in my lab do have composite outputs.
post #18 of 43
Send one to the OP.
If you work for Comcast and provide a make/model number, perhaps the OP can request one.

Typically all DTA's provided by Comcast are RF only.
post #19 of 43
Since the drill is that the DTA has to be authorized the OP will need to ask his Cable-co if they have any with the composite output.
If not he is back to square one.
post #20 of 43
Wouldn't a DTA with a composite output be a standard digital cable converter?

Anyway, you never answered the question. What is the make/model number(s) of the DTA(s) in your lab?
post #21 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod7501 View Post
I'm guessing (and possible putting words into the OP's mouth - sorry if so) that he has limited basic service since he never mentioned having a STB (which would have composite outputs) and only mentioned one DTA. If that is the case, then adding an HD box would require a major upgrade in service also.

Michael ?
Yup, I do not wish to pay these peeps more money... don't even get me started
If it wasn't for the internet service they provide, they'd be history


The thought of paying them more money for something I was already getting, and paying for, is galling.
post #22 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RCbridge View Post
To the OP if you are still following this.
if your DTA has composite outs just use a 2 way splitter and feed the TV with the composite from the DTA and a direct feed into the TV.
DTA has only 75 ohm coax out
post #23 of 43
What does the TV pick up when you hook into the cable itself (no DTA) and run a scan?

You should at least get the locals.
post #24 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post
What does the TV pick up when you hook into the cable itself (no DTA) and run a scan?

You should at least get the locals.
The DTA outputs on CH 3 or 4 and passes nothing else. All other channels are blocked
post #25 of 43
Tulpa was asking you to remove the DTA. Plug coax cable directly from the wall to the TV, set to "cable" (not air or antenna) and perform a channel search/scan.
post #26 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post
Tulpa was asking you to remove the DTA. Plug coax cable directly from the wall to the TV, set to "cable" (not air or antenna) and perform a channel search/scan.
Sorry, thtas what I have now. I have discontinued using the DTA, at the cost of about 30 missing channels. The DTA is a keyed descrambler/tuner that outputs all of the incoming challels to channel 3 or 4.
You have to call and register it before it will work, so its keyed to your address like a modem. If you run a scan, it just skips those channels

So my choices, without some third device/adapter are

DTA disconnected = some HD + some auxilliary channels, PBS for example, and get to use my set to skip some channels while flipping, but I'm missing about 30 channels that I have to pay to get (comedy central, Nick, HGTV, etc)
they started scrambling them, so you have to use a DTA. I got them before they scrambled them.

DTA connected = all channels I pay for, but in SD only, no local HD, missing aux channels, and when flipping, I have to flip through all of them.


Hence my dilemma.
post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael503

Sorry, thtas what I have now. I have discontinued using the DTA, at the cost of about 30 missing channels. The DTA is a keyed descrambler/tuner that outputs all of the incoming challels to channel 3 or 4.
You have to call and register it before it will work, so its keyed to your address like a modem. If you run a scan, it just skips those channels

So my choices, without some third device/adapter are

DTA disconnected = some HD + some auxilliary channels, PBS for example, and get to use my set to skip some channels while flipping, but I'm missing about 30 channels that I have to pay to get (comedy central, Nick, HGTV, etc)
they started scrambling them, so you have to use a DTA. I got them before they scrambled them.

DTA connected = all channels I pay for, but in SD only, no local HD, missing aux channels, and when flipping, I have to flip through all of them.

Hence my dilemma.
Spend 30 bux ,or less if you look around the Internet, and buy a remote controlled a/b switch as previously suggested. Problem solved. You have everything you had before with the small inconvenience of another remote and having to use it to switch between hd and SD.

At this point you are trying to draw blood from a stone in making it work the way you want it to without renting an hd box or adding another device in the loop. It just cannot be done with the dta you have or any that is available to my knowledge.
post #28 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weags View Post
Spend 30 bux ,or less if you look around the Internet, and buy a remote controlled a/b switch as previously suggested. Problem solved. You have everything you had before with the small inconvenience of another remote and having to use it to switch between hd and SD.

At this point you are trying to draw blood from a stone in making it work the way you want it to without renting an hd box or adding another device in the loop. It just cannot be done with the dta you have or any that is available to my knowledge.
Yeah, thats what I was afraid of, but I thought I'd ask anyway
post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael503 View Post

DTA disconnected = some HD + some auxilliary channels, PBS for example, and get to use my set to skip some channels while flipping, but I'm missing about 30 channels that I have to pay to get (comedy central, Nick, HGTV, etc)
they started scrambling them, so you have to use a DTA. I got them before they scrambled them.
Yeah, that's pretty much everyone's situation now with an all digital cable company. DTAs are really for older TVs that had analog only tuners. For HDTVs, they really want you to rent an HD cable box. Weags's suggestion is about the only way to not rent a box.

Cable encryption requires their equipment to decrypt (what you would call descramble) and view. Even things like TiVo require a cable company provided cableCARD to decrypt. There are no third party decryption devices and no useable hacks (those wouldn't be allowed for discussion anyway if they existed, which they don't.) Yes, it sucks, but there's no way to go back to the old way.
post #30 of 43
Reading this thread over lunch yesterday, I was thinking about using a 2-way splitter to feed the TV and DTA simultaneously, then use a HLSJ-type of low-VHF/Hi+UHF multiplexer, to put the channel 3 or 4 output back in with the other channels as it feeds the TV's RF input. Might work in some instances, but the HLSJ cuts out channels 2-6, 14-21, and those 95-99 mid-band channels, so you'd lose any clear-QAM channels in that range.

Best bet would be if someone locally would buy some good Channel 3-4 Traps from somebody like Microwave Filter Company, and package them up with a couple of splitters and the cables, and sell them in their store.

Then, you could just tune to channel 3 (or 4) for the analog, NTSC output of the DTA, and any Clear-QAM's would be in digital on your set. Probably cost $25-50, though. The HLSJ is about 3 bucks.
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