[mythtv-users] QAM vs. Firewire

Jerry Rubinow jerrymr at gmail.com
Thu Mar 15 15:16:59 UTC 2007

On 3/15/07, jmk <jmk at foofus.net> wrote:
> Hi,
> I recently made the switch from DirecTV to cable with the hopes of
> viewing/recording HD content. I have found that I can successfully
> access the analog channels (<100), several digital and a few HD stations
> from the provided STB via firewire. The problem with this is that there
> are several digital stations which are not available via firewire that
> I'd like to watch. Currently, I'm recording all content from the STB
> using a s-video input on an ivtv capture card to get those channels. Of
> course, this means no HD, which was the entire reason for switching to
> cable.
> I'm looking for advice as to what the best solution to this problem
> might be. Here are the options that I can think of:
> *Additional STB. I guess I can always rent a second STB and use it
> exclusively for HD content.
> *Hybrid firewire/analog capture. Having two connections to the STB
> (s-video and firewire) and having Myth being able to intelligently
> choose which to use seems to me to be the ideal solution. I found some
> discussion of this here:

I did this for a while, but I was never really that happy with the
reliability of the firewire recording.  This may have been due to the
crappiness of the coax in my 30+ year-old house, I don't know, but every so
often things wouldn't record right.  For the most part it worked though, and
due to the particular shows we watch, there was rarely a conflict due to
trying to tune to something on s-video at the same time as the firewire.  Of
course, I have a pvr-500 as well.  So in my setup, I used the pvr-500 for
all the analog channels only, the s-video for all the digital channels only,
and the firewire just for the HD channels which were in the clear (in my
area, just the broadcast channels).  However, then Verizon started offering
FIOS TV in my area...

> Is it typically possible to pull the same HD channels that are available
> via firewire using QAM? Is so, I may just buy a HDHomeRun device. I'm
> not sure if this varies from provider to provider. FWIW, I'm using
> Charter in WI.

This is what I use now instead of firewire.  The pvr-500 and s-video is
still set up the same as it was.  But I get all my HD and broadcast SD over
QAM.  I've found this to be rock solid, plus I don't get tuning conflicts
with the set top box.  It's more of a hassle to set up initially, but once
it's done, who cares?  On both the cable that I used to have (Comcast in the
Philly area) and the FIOS, only the local broadcast channels (SD and HD) and
analog channels were unencumbered by any protection over QAM and firewire.
But like you say, I've heard of people who get everything unencrypted in
other areas (but I think this is more the exception).

Note: on the FIOS, there were 2 or 3 channels channels that would not
transmit over firewire but came in fine over QAM.  They had the "copy-once"
protection enforced by the set top box for some reason.

I've been very happy with QAM, and I plan to get an HDHomeRun to supplement
my AverMedia A180 so I can record 3 HD shows at once, instead of just the
one.  The one blip I had a week or two ago was when they changed the
frequency assignment for the PBS station and I had to go back and rescan.

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