Support from the Hub: DTA and TiVo

April 11, 2010

Occasionally Tech of the Hub provides tech support to family & friends.  The latest question comes from my father-in-law (FIL).  How does FIL get his Series 1 TiVo to work with a Comcast Digital Transport Adapter (DTA)?  Comcast has required he now use a DTA to receive most cable channels with the exception of the first 15 to 30 stations (local broadcast and govt channels).  In the quest to have the most HD channels (really, who does have the most HD channels?), Comcast is replacing part of their analog bandwidth with digital stations.  Problem is that you need a digital tuner for it work (even newer TVs with digital tuners still need the DTA!).  Comcast’s FAQ on DTA is here.

I also recently received a couple of DTAs from Comcast and discovered one disappointing limitation is that it does not support HD channels.  I’ve decided not to use the DTA in the kitchen.

Back to FIL, while it’s pretty straigthtforward to install one of these boxes, it’s not so straightfoward when you have a device such as a TiVo or VCR involved.

In FIL’s current set up, he simply had the cable coax cable go directly into his TiVo and another coax cable going from his TiVo into his TV.  This allowed TiVo to tune the proper channel on its own.

With the DTA in the mix, TiVo can no longer directly change the channel.  Instead, it needs a way to tell the DTA what channel to tune.  It does this with a IR blaster cable (pictured left).  It is just like a remote control accept it’s your TiVo changing the channel!  One end goes into the TiVo’s IR port (in the back) and the other is taped on top of the DTA.  This diagram shows the physical wiring.  After the physical wiring is complete, you need to rerun TiVo’s guided set up and tell it you’re now using “cable with box”.  TiVo’s complete instructions are here.

FIL had some issues with the set up.  For one, he placed the IR blaster to close to the front of the DTA.  It needs to be a few inches away (pictured right).  In the interim, the cable company advised him to get a regular cable box telling him the DTA would not work.  By the way, there’s an extra $4 a month in the cable company’s pocket.  After talking to TOH: FIL will go back and attempt to get the DTA next weekend.  Will the DTA really work?  Will the cable company get an extra $4 a month. Stay tuned!

Tags: DTA, support, TiVo

2 Responses to Support from the Hub: DTA and TiVo

  1. The Hub on April 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Update: After comcast made the cut requiring the DTA for some extended cable channels, I noticed my regular local HD channels disappeared from the kitchen TV (Samsung T200HD). Simply having the TV "rescan" the active channels fixed the problem. P.S. No word from FIL yet.

  2. The Hub on April 25, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    FYI, FIL is all set. He went back to Comcast, got back the DTA and gave back the cable box. Following TOH's advice, he is now enjoying Law & Order on his TiVo again!

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