Hey cableguy, can you help with this cablecard issue?


New member
Username: Ddonohue

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jan-09
Cableguy, thanks for all your useful information on this site, it was invaluable as I worked through a recent problem. I can really use some help and I'll try to be as brief as possible in explaining the problem.

I've had TiVos for years, and an HD for just over a year. It was working perfectly with a single Motorola M-Card from day one. I got all channels, premiums, both tuners worked, I was in hog heaven. However, we did NOT subscribe to any HD channels.

After finally getting an HD set this christmas, I called the cable provider to add the HD channels but they wouldn't come up. HD channels showed signal strength 0. My two-week experience from this point mirrors the tons of posts all over the net about cablecard woes and low-IQ cable company techs, including one who suggested powering the TV off and back on and one who made me do a channel search on the TV with the cable plugged directly into the TV's rf interface and the TiVo/HDMI disconnected. Duh.

Anyway, we were getting no video and no signal but only on HD channels. TiVo kept saying it was a provider problem, provider kept saying it was a TiVo problem and suggested swapping the card. I drove to their office to pick up and try another Moto M-card, but this one was worse. No video at all unless we popped the card out. Just like the other M-card, the MMI screen for Conditional Access was showing "Val:?" instead of "Val:V" in the validation field. All my research says this means the card is not activated or paired correctly, but the CP did all the hard hits and re-inits they could with no luck. Tried a third card, same thing. Now I was begging for my original card back, at least I'd have all but the HDs back.

Couple quick observations - the cards all seemed okay otherwise, they showed okay status, the EMM message counts increased, and with the 2nd and 3rd cards the first thing they did when installed was a lengthy firmware update to bring them up to FW version 02.65. So communication seemed okay end-to-end.

Next came a four-hour tech home visit complete with a cranky service supervisor that threatened to throw in the towel because they "don't support TiVos" (although I insisted that they WERE required to support the cablecard, not the TiVo, and threatened to go to the FCC). Finally, in desperation I made the suggestion I had kept in my back pocket until we had no other recourse, and that was to try 2 S-Cards.

The tech didn't carry them so I had to drive to the office to get them, popped them in, called for activation and voila! Basic channels, digitals AND HD! Yippee!

But I had celebrated too soon. After the phonecall, I slowly came to the realization that only one tuner was working. The MMI screens for the non-working card showed information similar to that of the M-Card, like "Authorization: Unknown." More hits, no luck.

All during this ordeal I had been speaking with TiVo's cablecard hotline and they never ceased to blame the provider, and I was inclined to agree. However, late last night as the CP and I tried to get the bad S-Card working, we got the idea to try swapping the S-Cards to the opposite slots and reactivating. Guess what? The "bad card" worked in the other slot!

So here's the situation - slot 1 hasn't worked with any type of card since I pulled the original M out. You can only put an M in slot 1, so I can't test any other configuration. With S cards, either card works in slot 2 (and btw, both S's were different firmware versions, so that's not an issue). At first I thought I could limp along for a bit with a single tuner, but I can't because TiVo thinks both are working. If I schedule a recording, there's nothing to say TiVo won't try to record on CC 1 and get blank video. And I can't pull the card from slot 1 and just use 2 because that's not a valid configuration.

At this point TiVo suddenly started saying "hmmm, maybe it's our fault," and initially I agreed. Seemed like a bad slot 1. But the more I thought about it (and mulled over the replacement cost and the hassle of backing up and restoring a gazillion shows and settings) the more I wonder if it's not still something else. How realistic would it be for slot 1 to do everything correctly (detect the card, display status, communicate to TiVo and the CP) except pass the authorization message through?

Amy ideas? Do the slots have unique Host IDs or do slots 1 and 2 share the same ID? Could it be that the host info for slot 1 is screwed up on their end? Can anybody else offer some insight here? And just to rule stuff out right up front, signal strength is in the high 90's, no splitters, no amplifiers. Please help!
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