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Questions regarding recording HD cable on PC...

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subverb

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2007
Location
NY
So my parents finally caved and are willing to help me out financially towards building a new PC and what I figured I would do is something geared more towards an HTPC kinda setup. I say HTPC kinda setup since it wouldn't be limited in focus to that but also to play some games and act as a functional PC for web surfing on the couch and streaming my brothers NFL sunday ticket and NBA league pass accounts to the 50" plasma instead of my 13.3" laptop screen (laptop doesn't have HDMI out :( ).

But to my question, I subscribe to Comcast digital cable and currently it goes cable jack in wall to hd dvr via coaxial cable and then hd dvr to tv via HDMI. Is it possible to run coaxial cable from the wall into the PC and still get the Comcast programming as I would was I watching it how it is currently setup? I've been rummaging through other threads and reading around Google though I'm confused when people seem to have all sorts of different answers and no real yes or no answers. Most talk about recording and watching TV using OTA signals, but then others mention you would need a cablecard tuner if you subscribe to even basic cable. For what I would want to do what exactly is needed? I've never actually done anything with recording live tv on a pc nor have any of my friends to ask them so reading all these different answers is a bit confusing since I have no idea what is actually needed.

2lwazhw.jpg

I included a picture of how its currently setup and how I would like to do it. To clarify so there is not much confusion whats trying to be accomplished, I purchased a TV for my bedroom and there is a wall cable jack behind the TV though I don't want to have to sign up and pay another $15.95 per month for a third box (1 in living room and 1 in roomies bedroom right now). I was hoping to move the living room box into my bedroom and put the new PC in the living room in its place. Just I don't know if I could still watch everything as I do now in the living room since there wouldn't be a Comcast box there anymore. I'm sorry if this is confusing and jumbled as I'm not really sure how to quite explain my concerns since I don't really know the limitations of watching/recording TV on a PC or if what I'm hoping is even possible. What exactly would be needed, either hardware and software wise, for this to work?

Currently the system (per my Newegg wish list) is looking like:
Antec Mini P180 Black Steel MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case - Retail
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ965FBGMBOX - Retail
ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBECO - Retail
Western Digital Caviar Green WD15EADS 1.5TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
POWERCOLOR PCS AX4670 1GBK3-PH Radeon HD 4670 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail

...plus DVD burner, PSU, and Windows 7 Ultimate that I already have. Parts are there to give an idea for compatibility and what kinda room/expansion I'd have to work with. This would after all be my only machine not a 13" laptop so I wouldn't mind one with a little kick to it.
 

glorp

Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2009
You need a CableCard tuner to get any channels that are not delivered by your cable company in what is called Clear QAM. If they aren't in Clear QAM then they are scambled by the cableco and the set top box (STB) is what decodes them. The CableCard does the same thing (although currently they can't support 2-way communication for things like OnDemand). The PCI tuners you see that fit in a slot in your computer will only get OTA signals via an ATSC tuner + the clearQAM channels on a QAM tuner. There is no computer device that accepts an HDMI from a STB and your STB won't output over HDMI to any device that is not compliant with it's DRM. Your TV is compliant and can't record which is why it works.

There's no way to tell you for sure what is and is not delivered to you now in clear QAM. It depends on your cableco and your locality but you can bet it won't be very much and it won't be anything other than locals (which you can also get OTA) and then those may not even be in HD and *possibly* what are often called the expanded basic channels from ~30 to 75. It certainly won't be any subscribed digital channels that are part of any digital package you might have

There are currently these solutions to capture cable:
-Cablecard(s). You need one per simultaneously "captured" channel so if you want to record+watch, you need 2 cablecards. In your case you would probably just need 1 cablecard and one STB. The cableco (Comcast) will charge you extra for that second STB or cablecard. These used to only be sold to (and work in) computers with a "special" bios certified by the cablecos, but I believe now you can buy them and use them w/o that requirement. It may take a bit of bios hacking to get it to work.

-The Hauppage HD-PVR which uses the component signals output from a STB to capture *any and all* the cable channels you receive. However the HD-DVR can't actually tune the channels itself. It needs a STB which it then controls via IR signals, and so it takes a bit of setup and it takes one STB + one HD-DVR per "captured" channel making it very expensive for multichannel use.

Soon there should be another option which, if it becomes real will probably be the holy grail of HTPCs:
http://www.cetoncorp.com/ProductsWMC.php

Aren't cablecos wonderful?
 
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LandShark

Super Shark Moderator
Joined
Aug 13, 2001
Location
Deep Blue Sea (Maryland)
as glorp said, you can use cablecard tuner (currently still no for sale as add-in parts tho), HDHomeRun (draw of luck to how many or which channel you will get depends on your local cable company's wish to open up the channel), or Hauppage HD PVR (which is what I've been using and it's currently the only add-in solution to record ALL the channels that you have subscripted!)
 

renegade44

Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2002
Location
Phoenix AZ
You haven't checked with Comcast to see if you can exchange your box for one with multiple options for Video and audio output? ie a box with component output and HDMI output?
 

mrjspeed

Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2009
...You need one per simultaneously "captured" channel so if you want to record+watch, you need 2 cablecards....

I could be wrong, but I don't think you need a separate tuner and Card for each simultaneous channel you want to watch/record:
http://www.cetoncorp.com/ProductsWMC.php

That claims up to 6 channels simultaneously, but I think the most of us wanting to make homebrew DVR's will only do 4 since I think Windows 7 supports up to 4. 4 is plenty imo though.

I'd wait for CES 2010 and see what is presented.
 

glorp

Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2009
I could be wrong, but I don't think you need a separate tuner and Card for each simultaneous channel you want to watch/record:
http://www.cetoncorp.com/ProductsWMC.php

That claims up to 6 channels simultaneously, but I think the most of us wanting to make homebrew DVR's will only do 4 since I think Windows 7 supports up to 4. 4 is plenty imo though.

I'd wait for CES 2010 and see what is presented.

The only available add-in PC device that accepts a cablecard AFAIK is the ATi Wonder DT and it tunes one channel per card. That's what I was referring to as available cablecard "solutions" that the OP can get now. Ceton claims they will have a PCI card with 2-, 4-, and 6-channel tuners running off one inserted cablecard. I understood that the 4-channel card should it receive Cable Labs approval will be available first with the 2- and/or 6-'s to be available later, also depending on approval plus the demand seen. Personally, I would bet people won't see Cetons widely available until the latter part of 2010 but one can always hope... I'm also interested in news from CES which I hope will confirm a release date for the Ceton. Reputed cost is ~$100/tuner making the 4-tuner model ~$400. Not cheap, but more cost effective than ATi Wonders.
 
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