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  #1  
Old 07-23-2017, 12:44 PM
smdl smdl is offline
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Question Moving to BC - What Cable Boxes For FireWire Tuning?

Hi, folks.

I am moving back to BC shortly (from Ontario), and need to understand how best to make the migration without losing any functionality.

I currently use SA4250HDs (Rogers) with FireWire tuning (timmoore and channel.exe), running through component to HD-PVRs.

In making this move, I'm thinking of migrating to SageChanger for FireWire, and need to determine the best boxes to use. Not sure which Shaw boxes will work, but I know the new BlueSky units definitely won't as they don't support component. Too bad as they are currently offering these rent-free.

Can anyone currently running Shaw boxes with FireWire tuning please let me know what works? I'll probably look to pick some boxes up on Kijiji or CL.

Thanks for any input!

Cheers,
Shaun

Last edited by smdl; 07-23-2017 at 01:14 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2017, 06:45 PM
will will is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smdl View Post
In making this move, I'm thinking of migrating to SageChanger for FireWire
I've never heard of this. I recently switched off of FW and went to IR channeling changing when I had to turn in my last SA4250 box. It works decently but not as great as FW.

You may have trouble getting advice on FW here because drivers are far and few between and I don't believe there are any 64bit Windows drivers or Linux drivers out there.

If you do find something please let me know, I'd love to switch back.
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  #3  
Old 07-23-2017, 06:53 PM
smdl smdl is offline
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Hi, Will.

Understood about the drivers. That's why I specifically went with 32-bit Win7 when building my new environment in 2013. Both Tim Moore and SageChanger are 32-bit, but I'm happy staying with that for now. The good thing about SageChanger is that is checks to make sure the boxes are on first when changing channels. So many times, we have missed recordings when Rogers sent updates to our SA4250HDs and they shut off.

Here's the link to SageChanger:

https://forums.sagetv.com/forums/sho...=shaw+firewire

What boxes are you using now that you no longer have the 4250s?

Will let you know how things go.

Cheers,
Shaun
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  #4  
Old 07-23-2017, 09:33 PM
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Tiki Tiki is offline
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I have seen a couple posts from people suggesting that they have FireWire working under 64bit Linux.

I think the issue that prevented 64bit Windows drivers is that Microsoft required WHQL certification for this type of low level driver on 64 bit versions of Windows and it used to be difficult and expensive to get this certification. I read somewhere recently that Microsoft had made it much easier and less expensive to get this certification recently. So you would think someone would tackle this, but maybe there aren't too many people using FireWire anymore.
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  #5  
Old 07-24-2017, 11:04 AM
will will is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smdl View Post
What boxes are you using now that you no longer have the 4250s?
I'm now using Technicolor 4742HDC2 cable boxes from Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable). They are pretty much just smaller SA/Cisco cable boxes. Sadly they have no drivers - one of the reasons why I stayed on Windows 2003 (32bit) for so many years is because of FW. I am in the process right now of upgrading my server to a much newer, and needed, OS.

Switching over to IR hasn't been horrible. I do find that the cable boxes sometimes get updates in the AM and are off. The cables boxes do not support a power on command, only a toggle command (at least as far as I know). So to fix this I set a favorite to record infomercials on two cable channels from 5am to 6am. The channel change request will power the boxes on if they are off but it won't be on the correct channel. For example, if the box is off and I send the channel 0162 it will power the box on and change to channel 62 or 2 depending on how long it takes for the box to "wake up." This infomercial hack seems to work great and I haven't had any false channel changes since implementing.

I'm also happy to not be a slave of a certain cable box and have to go in and argue for old equipment (seriously, the people at Spectrum thought I was crazy because all I wanted was the 7 year-old cable boxes).
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  #6  
Old 07-24-2017, 11:43 AM
smdl smdl is offline
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Hi, Will.

Win7 32-bit seems to be working fine for me, so I should be good for the forseeable future. Yes, having to find older equipment is a pain, but the provider is fine with my providing my own equipment as long as it was originally issued by them. The good thing about that is that said equipment tends to be very cheap to purchase second hand, which is exactly what I did with the SA4250HD boxes I use here. I also need to use older boxes that have a Component output to feed the HD-PVRs, something that their new boxes don't support.

I do have USB-UIRT if I need to switch back to IR channel changing, but FW is so clean and easy that I would like to keep it, if possible.

Hopefully, I will be able to confirm which Shaw boxes will work with FW, and will be able to keep everything as is.

Cheers,
Shaun
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  #7  
Old 07-24-2017, 03:14 PM
wayner wayner is offline
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Firewire does work in 64 bit Linux, at least in does in unRAID Linux using the DVB LibreElec build.
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  #8  
Old 07-24-2017, 05:47 PM
c5davey c5davey is offline
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The Bluesky/Gateway boxes do not have firewire ports.

All the Motorola type boxes such as the DCT6200 and DCX3200 have active firewire ports and work great with channel.exe and SageChanger.

Several retailers sell the factory reconditioned DCX3200s for $48 which is usually cheaper than you can find on CL.

Firewire does work when using unRaid but does not appear to support Motorola/Arris boxes at the moment. Unlike channel.exe and SageChanger, there are no options to set how the channels are sent to the box.

Last edited by c5davey; 07-24-2017 at 08:32 PM.
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  #9  
Old 07-25-2017, 06:51 AM
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dstanley dstanley is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by will View Post
I do find that the cable boxes sometimes get updates in the AM and are off. The cables boxes do not support a power on command, only a toggle command (at least as far as I know).
Might be too late for you now Will but I believe in the settings of the STB you can change the 'Power On' to something like 'Power and Numerals'. This lets any number sent to 'wake up' the box - not just the power toggle command.

I haven't changed mine in quite some time so it may not be relevant anymore - I know sometimes this option 'disappears' with firmware updates in each individual model of STB.
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  #10  
Old 07-25-2017, 09:04 AM
will will is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dstanley View Post
Might be too late for you now Will but I believe in the settings of the STB you can change the 'Power On' to something like 'Power and Numerals'. This lets any number sent to 'wake up' the box - not just the power toggle command.
I already have that set and that is why recording the infomercials at 5am work if the cable box is off.

However, I've found that there is still a lag with the box being off and channel changing, even if I'm sending a 0 before my three digit channel (which I do) - only one or two of the digits will make it through if starting from a box in standby mode. I could probably delay the speed that the IR signals are sent but that would then cause a delay in starting the recordings for when the box isn't in standby mode, which is 99% of the time.

Also, Spectrum recently started adding in this side banner every time the cable box reboots to tell you about all the "amazing" things your box can do. There is no way to disable this banner and it stays on screen for a few minutes unless you dismiss it with the remote. By recording the infomercials at 5am I guarantee they get the side banner and not an actual recording I care about .
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  #11  
Old 07-25-2017, 09:06 AM
will will is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smdl View Post
Yes, having to find older equipment is a pain, but the provider is fine with my providing my own equipment as long as it was originally issued by them.
I wonder if Spectrum allows this; my gut tells me no but I'll have to look into it.
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OS: Windows 7
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Case: Antec 1200 with 4 iStarUSA trayless hot-swap cages (20 drives max)
Drives: 8 Toshiba/Hitachi 2TB drives in a RAID 6 & 7 Toshiba 3TB drives in a RAID 6
Capture Cards: HDHomeRun Connect Quatro 4, Hauppauge 60 HD-PVR
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  #12  
Old 08-06-2017, 10:25 PM
baudfather baudfather is offline
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I'm on Shaw and have been using timmoore FW channel changing and capture with 99% success rate for over 10 years. There's a handful of channels that don't work for capture (could use Hauppage unit) but I don't record that much TV anyway. Any of the DCT-xxxx or DCX-xxxx boxes with firewire should work with minor tweaks to one of the ini files (happy to share mine with a bunch of different box models already included). As mentioned, sometimes retailers like Best Buy or Visions are a good source for refurb units, though I've bought 3 from Craigslist and never had a problem (Shaw used to be picky to make sure the previous account wasn't in arrears, but I think with these older boxes they just don't care anymore, though YMMV with anything from CL obviously). Find the models without the internal HD - those babies heat up and use way more power. I'm on Win7 32 fwiw.
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  #13  
Old 08-07-2017, 05:28 PM
smdl smdl is offline
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Apologies for the delay, and sincere thanks to all who responded with great information. I'll probably look at the refurb'd DCX units as there seems to be a good supply of those.

baudfather, if you wouldn't mind sharing you .ini file, that would be very much appreciated. Will send you a PM with my email. Thanks again.

Cheers,
Shaun
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  #14  
Old 09-08-2017, 12:23 PM
smdl smdl is offline
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Hi. folks.

Well, we're finally settled in BC, and I am pleased to say that I was able to successfully make the migration to Shaw, Motorola and SageChanger (from Rogers, SA and Channelw).

I picked up three refurbished DCX3200s from Visions Electronics (a Shaw-approved retailer) for $48 each, and connected them to my system with a minimum of hassle. I did need to pick up a 3-port FireWire card, as the SA boxes had two FW ports each, allowing daisy-chaining, whereas the DCX3200s only have a single port. No big deal.

Once connected, drivers for generic AV/C Tuner and IEEE 1394 devices loaded automatically, but the Motorola AV/C Panel Devices did not. To get these working, I used the ExDeus drivers, and forced the use of the DCH3200 Panel driver. I seem to remember someone else having to do this, as well.

With communication up, I played with SageChanger strings until I got everything working. In the end, I had to add the -f 7 option to force channel changing fully. -f 6 almost worked, but I found that changes to lower channel numbers would not always complete fully, and would end up displaying the guide instead of the actual channel. -f 7 sorted that out completely.

Overall, I'm very happy with how this worked out. I love the -p option of SageChanger to ensure that the STBs are on before changing channel!! I can't tell you how many times we recorded black screens in the past!

The only things I'm not really thrilled about relates to the Motorola STBs:

- Single FireWire port requiring home-run back to the server rather than daisy-chaining as allowed on the SA 4350HDs I used previously.
- When tuning to a channel that is not included in my cable package, the STB will not tune to the specified channel and indicate that the channel is not available (...if you would like to subscribe to this channel, call Shaw...). Instead, it just flashes the channel number on the screen in red briefly (green is used for successful changes), and stays on the previous channel. This could be really confusing when trying to determine why you didn't get the desired recording. When investigating, I'll just have to remember to look at the very beginning of the recording and see what happened with the channel change was requested via FW. If red, I'll know that the channel selected is not available in my subscription.
- On my SA STBs, the default display was the time, with channel changes popping up momentarily as they were requested. After the change was complete, they display would return to time. On the Motorola boxes, you can only have one or the other, so I have chosen time display.

Anyway, just wanted to close the loop on this. Hopefully, my comments will be helpful to others in similar circumstances.

Cheers,
Shaun
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  #15  
Old 09-08-2017, 12:49 PM
wayner wayner is offline
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Glad to hear it is working Shaun.

What are you using as the OS on your server - Windows or Linux? Since you mention SageChanger I am guessing it is Windows. The problem with that is that it ties you to a 32 bit version of Windows which isn't ideal in 2017.
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  #16  
Old 09-08-2017, 01:07 PM
smdl smdl is offline
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Hi, Wayner. Correct, I am on Win7 32-bit. Not ideal, but works for now. At some point in the future, I will look at alternatives.

Cheers,
Shaun
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  #17  
Old 09-08-2017, 01:22 PM
wayner wayner is offline
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IMHO the way to go is using unRAID Linux as the base OS for SageTV and as a file server. With Linux you can use firewire with 64 bit for changing channels and the Linux version of SageTV has been upgraded to use the 64 bit version of Java. That means that you can have more than 1GB of JVM heap size which allows a SageTV server to easily handle 10 simultaneous miniclients (like Extenders, Placeshifters, Android clients). Under Windows my system chokes at about 3-4 simultaneous connections.

Plus unRAID is great as a NAS solution plus it can act as a server for all sorts of other stuff, like Plex, Unifi, etc.
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  #18  
Old 09-08-2017, 02:00 PM
smdl smdl is offline
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Likely makes sense, although Linux and I do not have a harmonious past. Will look into it more closely, thanks.

Shaun
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  #19  
Old 09-08-2017, 02:15 PM
wayner wayner is offline
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Me either but you can do almost everything through the web UI for unRAID. The other thing that pushed me in that direction is that it seems that most of the developers, like Stuckless, Fuzzy, Narflex are using unRAID so it is the most supported platform.
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  #20  
Old 09-08-2017, 02:18 PM
smdl smdl is offline
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Thanks again for the info. When I get to that point, I'll definitely be looking to leverage the experience of others! Sounds like a good solution.

Cheers,
Shaun
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