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Firewire active & recording from Comcast Moto 620x!  

post #1 of 1222
Thread Starter 
So I just had my Comcast service installed today here in Ann Arbor. No problems, the HD offering here is pretty nice, 13 channels in total right now. After setting the whole shebang up I was curious what kind of action I could get out of the firewire ports on the DCT-6200 Comcast gave me, figuring that it wouldn't work after reading posts here. We're an all-Mac household here, so the obvious first step was to try VirtualDVHS and see what happens. The Powerbook picked up on the 6200 and listed it as a properly connected device called "6200" in the System Profiler (hardware manager for the Win-heads.) Initially, I could click the record button but nothing much happened, it created an empty .m2t file but not much more. Then I realized I didn't actually have the 6200 tuned to an HD channel (duh) and as soon as I changed to InHD and hit record, *boom* it started writing something to disk at bitrates anywhere between 8 mbit and 15 mbit or so. 10 seconds yielded about 16 megs of material and anxious as I was, I went to VLC to play the .m2t file back. Lo and behold, it worked! :)
Playback was a little too much for my poor 867 mhz PB G4, but it seemed to be all there. Mind you, I haven't yet figured out a way to play the recorded material back through the 6200, but I'm gonna keep tinkering some more. Short story, it seems that at least over here Comcast is rolling out 6200's with at least partly enabled firewire ports. Good news, I'd say. :D
post #2 of 1222
Damnit now I'm gonna have to buy a firewire cord and hook mine up to my PC. I've been putting it off but hey I'll just get a cheap cable and try it I suppose.
post #3 of 1222
Great news, pepjin. Who'd have thought Comcast would be the first to allow HD archiving.
Joe
post #4 of 1222
On the pc side, there is video card hardware acceleration of MPEG2 playback, so the CPU requirements are not so steep. Is that available for the Macs too?

Joe
post #5 of 1222
Great news. I have Comcast available in my area. My in-laws have thier DTC-5100 box. I am going to see if I can get them the 6200 w/firewire.
post #6 of 1222
Pepijn
Can you tell us what firmware version your system is on?

you have to power on, power off, then select on the front of the box. This will let you know what version your running along with some other specs about the box.

Thanks
Dave
post #7 of 1222
Are you able to record all HD channels, or just some of them?
post #8 of 1222
Quote:
Originally posted by jsb_hburg
I tested an .M2T stream I recorded from the MIT ProHD MDR-200 to my iMac G4 800 MHz over FireWire using the VirtualDVHS program. I networked my iMac with my Dell P4 2.52 GHz to move the large file. I used VLC for playback on both systems. Both dropped frames. CPU speed is very important. The Dell dropped fewer frames, perhaps a 2.8 plus GHz system would play the file smoothly.
Can't you just play back the .M2T stream through the MDR-200 via Firewire? Doesn't VirtualDVHS have a "play" function?
post #9 of 1222
Thread Starter 
hugenbd: I should have posted the firmware version last night, my bad. It appears to be at FW version 07.07 as reported by both the diagnostic menu and the regular "About this box" through the user setup menu.

PVR: I was able to record all of the HD channels on offer here, including the InHD channels and other pay channels.

jamoka: There are several hardware mpeg2 solutions for the mac, Elgato just came out with a nifty little box as well: and I'd post the URL if the system would let me. Ah, the joys of noobness: double you x 3 elgato.com/products/eyehome.html

Pepijn.
post #10 of 1222
Thread Starter 
I was mistaken in thinking I can only record HD content. I just did a test record of a regular SD local channel and this too recorded fine and as a nice benefit my Mac was actually able to play it back with no dropped frames. :D

Pepijn.
post #11 of 1222
Am I to understand that this 6200 box outputs programs unencrypted? How come it's not using 5c?
post #12 of 1222
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by balazer
Am I to understand that this 6200 box outputs programs unencrypted? How come it's not using 5c?
I haven't come across any obvious limitations when it comes to recording. I get all the premium HD channels here and they all come in over firewire and as is apparent from other people, play back without a hitch. Obviously, this might change once we see some official firewire support. As a sidenote, when looking at the diagnostics menu it said the 1394 ports were not active. :confused:
Whatever that means, they obviously work very well. Now to find a way to play back through the cable box...
post #13 of 1222
Quote:
Originally posted by jamoka
Great news, pepjin. Who'd have thought Comcast would be the first to allow HD archiving.
Joe
They are not the first. Cablevision on Long Island has offered it for about 10 months now.
post #14 of 1222
Is there any reason to doubt the 5C is active?
post #15 of 1222
I'm pretty sure that software running on a PC (or Mac) with an ordinary FireWire port cannot do 5c.
post #16 of 1222
If the MAC D-VHS emulator were to speak 5C to the STB, then let you take the decrypted data and play it somewhere else, it would be a major breach...

Whatever the reason, I can't imagine this scenario is going to last too long.
post #17 of 1222
(You might have been better off keeping the news to yourself!)
post #18 of 1222
I believe that 5c ("high value digital content" has to be turned on by the content provider so if it's not enabled, the programs are sent out in the clear.
post #19 of 1222
That's gonna be bad.... It cannot last for long at all.
post #20 of 1222
Now we just have to see if Firewire on the 6200 will work with a Firewire equipped TV. I might have to go down and get one and se if my Mits RPTV will talk to this thing...
post #21 of 1222
Quote:
Originally posted by rogo
.... It cannot last for long at all.
Nothing does, in the big picture.
post #22 of 1222
Quote:
Originally posted by pepijn
Now to find a way to play back through the cable box...
Well?
post #23 of 1222
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Ken H
Well?
Well, I figured out what's needed to actually record a stream coming out of the 6200 using Apple's FW SDK tools. AVCBrowser is needed first to read the input and output plugs available from the 6200. It reports that the 6200 has 1 output plug and 30 input plugs. To get the video to record, one needs to connect the one output plug on one of the 64 available channels, with the Connect button. Then in VDVHS select the same channel and hit record. This allows one to record whatever channel the 6200 is tuned to.

Now, coming back to playing back through the 6200, it seems that this is not possible with the current firmware. AVCBrowser has a number of diagnostic tools to probe an AVC device and when trying the available probes the 6200 reported back with "Implemented/Stable" regarding video out and with "Unimplemented" regarding video in. This would correlate with the errors I got in AVCBrowser when trying to connect an input plug. Playing a recorded m2t file back has no effect and further proves video in is not enabled.:(

On the 5c debate and whether or not Apple is bypassing any copy protection schemes, the diagnostic menu on the 6200 clearly shows that 5c is not enabled in this firmware version: D11 -> Interface Status -> 5c: 0 (zero). So for now we'll assume Comcast chose to bypass the copy protection. I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories so I seriously doubt discussing this stuff here will somehow negatively impact the finalized firewire functionality on these boxes; 5c is an accepted standard, it's in the box and likely to be enabled in the future. If Comcast's only hope of not having people find out they can record video without limits right now is that we won't just plug a firewire cable into the box and see what happens, well then that's just wishful thinking. It'll be fun for as long as it lasts, not like anyone has any control over what firmware will be loaded onto the box next week or the week thereafter anyway.

I just wish I had a proper mpeg2 hardware decoder here. :D

Cheers,

Pepijn.
post #24 of 1222
Quote:
Originally posted by shannonv
I believe that 5c ("high value digital content" has to be turned on by the content provider so if it's not enabled, the programs are sent out in the clear.
Somewhat correct. 5C requires a DTCP Descriptor to be present inside the Program Map Table (PMT). This descriptor would have to be added during Muxing of the streams. Since QAM256 uses a 38Mbit/sec transport stream that is muxed at the cable company (Usually they mux together two 19Mbit/sec or lower HDTV channels), it is the cable company's responsibility to preserve that Descriptor if it was originally present in the source transport streams. Assuming that they preserve the PMTs of the two channels then they are off the hook and the responisibility for the DTCP descriptor lies with the content provider.

Leszek
post #25 of 1222
The PMTs aren't likely to be preserved, but rather generated in the remuxing process, since the PIDs would need to be changed anyway (to avoid a PID conflict). Yes?
post #26 of 1222
Very likely yes, in this case the cable company better preserve the DCTP descriptor if it was there originally... ;)
post #27 of 1222
" I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories so I seriously doubt discussing this stuff here will somehow negatively impact the finalized firewire functionality on these boxes; 5c is an accepted standard, it's in the box and likely to be enabled in the future."

It's just stunning that this has happened at all. There are going to be crabby Hollywood types when this gets out. 5C may be annoying, but arguably allows essentially any reasonable legal recording to be made (except for PPV, where the case against recordings is fairly compelling due to DVD cannibalization). If the lack of 5C being on in this box makes Hollywood more into Hollyweird over recording in general, then many lose out.
post #28 of 1222
Moderators Note:
Let's try to keep this topic focused.

Feel free to start another topic to discuss Hollywood/5C/copy protection issues.
post #29 of 1222
kippjones:

I see you live in the Chicago area. I live south of the city and have Comcast. Please post here what you find out about the availability of the 6200 in the Chicago area. I just got a JVC 30K and am anxious to try recording in high definition. I can pay $5.00 per month (for the 6200 rental) for a long time versus paying $600 for a Samsung SIRT165.

Thanks.
post #30 of 1222
I'm out in Carol Stream ... I have the Mot 6200, but with firmware 5.21

I was able to detect the firewire ports as active, but there was no data present.
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