How To's & GuidesInstalling a CableCARD™ Digital Cable Tuner with the new...

Installing a CableCARD™ Digital Cable Tuner with the new Digital Cable Advisor on a Friday night


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This Friday Microsoft opened up a whole new world of media by enabling the Digital Cable Advisor in Windows Media Center. Running this tool will allow your system to be tested to accept and work with CableCard™ Digital Cable Tuners. No more hacks or copied PIDs. No more searching for OCUR compliant computers. Thank you Microsoft.

Digital Cable Advisor

Background – Extended Remix

My first article about HDTV recording talked about options for over-the-air (OTA) signal and how I can get great HDTV programs from a regular digital antenna. This article can be found at:

Since the 2009 television season started in September I have been obsessed with recording TV to my PC. This obsession started with the need to record three channels at once. My Moxi DVR records two shows at once but there are three shows on at the same time on Thursday night TV. I needed another recording device that could be played from the living room. Another DVR would be costly per month and be a pain to deal with. Could I get something going with Windows Media Center and Windows Home Server? We know that Windows Media Center (WMC) can be a DVR and that Windows Home Server will manage the programs.

The WMC DVR research process has transformed into finding the best signal options for HDTV. WMC can handle the HD signal but how do you get that HD signal to your PC? I live near the mountains and do not get some of the HD channels OTA so what do I do? What about the pure digital cable signal Charter already feeds to my home? I already pay for HD cable signal so why not use those signals for HD recording on the PC?

Up until Friday the technology was not there for existing PC users. Up until Friday you would either need to find a specially OEM built used “digital cable ready” PC or try a multitude of hacks and tweaks to get your system compatible with the CableCARD technology.

Let me explain.

Now I am not a cable expert by any means but let me give you an idea of how things currently work. I am just a “dude” speaking in layman terms so please cut me some slack on the terminology. If you want to see HD signal on your HDTV you need to either connect to a HD digital antenna or connect to a HD service provider. You can go to Best Buy and get a digital antenna and watch local HD stations OTA or you can call you cable company and get a HD set top box. If you do not have either of these chances are you watching standard definition on that 50” LCD of yours.

The rare exception to these two choices is called a CableCARD­. A CableCARD­ is small PCMCIA card that inserts into your CableCARD­ ready TV or your TIVO type device. The cable company can use this technology to decrypt the video instead of the set top box (STB) that most of have that already does the decrypting for us. The STB allows us to see the HD programs and the scrambled channels. Without either of these you are probably stuck with channels 02-99. The CableCARD­ basically just tells your TV or TIVO that you have a subscription to your cable company and which channels to allow.

More information about CableCARD­ can be found at:

CableCARD­? Where do I put it? How do I get encrypted HD cable signal to my PC? Ugh.

Well let me tell you my friends, this has not been an easy road. I almost feel like a pioneer in my cable service area because no one has done this. Really you say? Am I really the first in this service area to try this? This is Los Angeles. Well the suburbs anyway. The cable service tech, the installer and their supervisor say I am the first. How can this be?

Surely you can’t be serious. I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

Lets set this pig on fire.

Equipment Needed

  • Windows 7 PC with Windows Media Center
  • CableCard compatible Digital Cable Tuner
  • Cable provider with CableCard support (verify with your service provider first)
  • 3 Beers (optional as always)

Digital Cable Tuner Purchase

I have been looking around since September for a Digital Cable Tuner (DCT) that offered CableCARD­ support. ATI had one on their web site but I could not find it in retail. I looked around and Amazon had it listed but their customer service said they no longer carried it. Dell and HP both had it listed in certain PC manuals but did not sell one. Crap.

Apparently this ATI product has been out for years but not really supported. It seems like a few PC manufacturers started to mess around and ship units in PCs but then just let it go away. I cannot even find a NEW PC with this product. I am not going to EBay an old PC just to try to get this to work. WTF, this is such a great concept. I am disappointed.

What’s a boy to do?

I finally found a company that carried this DCT product. CannonPC carries both the internal and external unit I was looking for. Since my Dell Studio is the primary PC I thought of going with an internal card but the internal DCT card requires an internal USB connection and separate power source that my board does not have free. In addition, since I was not sure about which PC in my home this would end up working on the safer route was to order the external unit.

Thank you Gregg for carrying this product!

Mental note: Want to see what a serious Media Center PC is made of? Check out Gregg’s LX series. Six SATA connections, 12 USB connections, 2 PATA and 2 1394 ports. Crazee.

Friday Night DCT Installation

Installation is very easy. Turn off your PC. Connect the cables. Power up the DCT. Wait till you have a light and then power up your PC. I just followed the printed directions and I was ready!

The directions tell you to stop once you have powered up and wait for the cable tech. I have read that you can configure the DCT for regular signal before inserting a CableCARD­ but I would not take any chances. You have waited this long so what is a few more hours?

ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner

OCUR Check (No longer needed)

I have the DCT connected so now what? My PC is not a “Digital Cable Ready” PC so what do I do? I ran the OCUR check and it showed I was not compliant. I ran the BIOS hack and it failed. Every article I could find said that I was bound to have issues with a system not made for digital cable. There were two articles that I relied on heavily for this product and I want to thank both engadetHD and The Digital Lifestyle for their great articles.



Since the release of the Digital Cable Advisor (mentioned later in this article) the OCUR check and BIOS hack is no longer required. This section and links were included to thank the authors and to let you know how much time and frustration Microsoft has saved you with the new release.

Lets move on.

Saturday Morning Cable Appointment

It is now Saturday morning at 8:30 am and the Charter van pulls up out front. The Cable Tech comes into the house and says he has never seen a unit like this before. He said he has installed the CableCARD­ in TIVO units and TVs but never a PC. He calls his next level Charter people and they do not know about this type of DCT either. The woman on his speaker phone puts him on hold and gets her Supervisor but still no one has heard of this type of unit. He keeps saying the “customers unit” over the phone. They don’t support customers units. Stop talking about my unit dude. Seriously. This is an ATI unit by the way. It is not like I made it from scratch. Crap.

I ask him if he can at least insert the card and see how it goes. I open WMC and he agrees.

He puts the CableCARD­ in the DCT unit and WMC immediately recognizes it. Sweet.

Windows Media Center

Looking good. After a few seconds I get a different screen. My heart sinks. Crap².

Digital Tuner Setup

Now, being in sort of a messed up situation, I start looking for more screen options (as if that will fix it) and confirm that without the PC being recognized as a “digital cable ready” PC I am screwed. I am in a panic with the tech there searching for solutions I know are not there. WMC shows I inserted but not recognized. Prom all over again.

CableCARD status

Now I know that I can get the software working and the BIOS changed if I just have a few more days. I just know it, I think. I ask the cable tech if he can leave the CableCARD­ in the unit and I will fix the software. He says he can leave it in and come back next weekend to see if I can get the software to work. Sweet. Thank you Charter.

Digital Cable Advisor – Microsoft Saves My Day

So here I am on Saturday morning all bummed out. I just spent $35 for a cable appointment and $279.13 on this tuner and it is a brick. What’s a boy to do?

After I had realized that the OCUR thing was going to be an issue I got into a panic looking other ways to modify the software. Still in a panic I had posted to The Green Button earlier in the morning hoping someone could help me with the OCUR check issue. I ran the CMD as an Administrator but it would just not run. Create a new drive path? Did not work. This is getting too difficult. I decided to go watch my working DVR recorded program Stargate Universe and see people with real problems.

43 minutes later, after Lou Diamond Phillips creeped me out, I came back and checked my email. I had a message on the board from a member saying that just yesterday (Friday Nov 6th) a new software Extras release was put into WMC that could solve all my PC not ready for digital cable issues. Thank you Phoenix Dragon Master for the link!

The article states that a new release is in WMC now allows WMC to check your system and upgrade it to Digital Cable Ready status without any OCUR checks or BIOS hacks. I love you Microsoft.

Wait. Are you kidding me? After two months of stressing out and trying to figure out how I am going to pull this pseudo hack article off there is now a legitimate solution right in front of me? Really? This software was released the same day as I am writing the article which would be a short failed article because I cannot trick the PC into thinking it is Digital Cable Ready? Seriously?

Digital Cable Advisor? Please be there. Please be there. Please be there. Open Windows Media Center and go to the Extra Gallery. You might want to try it while you are reading this article. It is really cool.

Digital Cable Advisor

Holy Ravioli. This must be a dream.

Digital Cable Advisor

Download anything you want.

Digital Cable Advisor

Trying not to get my hopes up.

Digital Cable Advisor

Of course I accept the EULA.

Digital Cable Advisor


Digital Cable Advisor

I agree. Lets start the darn thing.

Digital Cable Advisor

Now I am scared. What if it fails?

Digital Cable Advisor

It is doing the analysis. Take your time honey.

Digital Cable Advisor

The test is running. I am really nervous. This all seems too easy.

Digital Cable Advisor

Sweet. My system has passed. Click on Update System Settings. This takes a few minutes.

Digital Cable Advisor

No, congratulations to YOU Microsoft. You made a great interface and will make a lot of users extremely happy with Windows Media Center. I think I am Done.

Digital Cable Advisor


HOLD ON. BACKING UP to WHS. I do not want to lose this PC image!

Activating the CableCARD­™

Now that my system has passed the test I will set up the TV signal for the CableCARD­. I go to Settings and then to TV Signal. Please work. Please work. Please work.

Activate Digital Cable

Oh crap. Product key? My stomach is starting to hurt again. Next.

Activate Support for Digital Cable

Sweet. Microsoft and WMC has already entered the product key for me. I have deleted it from this screen shot but the KEY was already there!

Product Key

I am cool. Yes I want to Activate the CableCARD­ now.

Activate your CableCARD

Please Activate my CableCARD­. Please, oh please.

Almost done

I am done. Since my installer was already here I just need to ensure that Charter has the data they need. Make sure you print or save a copy of this screenshot for future use. My Charter cable tech was already here this morning and enabled my card so I should be good to go. He is doing a follow up appointment next Saturday to see the system and verify that everything is working.

Call Your Cable Company

Lets try an HD channel. The Breeders Cup is on this morning on Channel Four. The picture looks great and the guide matches my Charter channel line up! I am up and running and good to go.

HDTV from Cable


After all of the research and work with this project I feel real confident about the results. Microsoft has made it easy to add a CableCARD­ tuner to WMC and I hope that more people start to use this interface for their HD programming.

Three things to remember before attempting to try this:

  1. You must run the Digital Cable Advisor FIRST to verify your PC can accept the DCT
  2. You need a CableCARD­ tuner (DCT) which costs a lot right and is hard to find right now
  3. Your cable company must offer CableCARD­ service and support the installation

Mental note: I ran the Digital Cable Advisor on my garage HTPC just to see if it qualified and it worked. I have a ATI TV 650 USB on that Inspiron 537 machine and it did not change the line up or affect performance. I am still just “basic” on that machine but I know if the prices come down on DCTs that I will buy one and get another CableCARD­.

My PC is now a HD DVR so I will recover the cost of the DCT in about a year.

I will now be able to record HD shows directly from my cable provider and continue to have my WHS store and maintain the recorded programs. I can then view these HD shows on any WMC PC in the house. I love Windows Media Center. I love Microsoft. I love Windows 7. I love WHS. Seriously.

See you next Friday night,

Timothy Daleo

Timothy Daleo
Timothy Daleo
Timothy Daleo is a Project Resource Analyst and Oracle Applications Trainer in Pasadena, California. In addition to financial analysis, Tim has been developing training materials since 2003 and supporting direct projects through various auxiliary databases since 2005.


  1. Hi Tim,

    Great series of articles. I look forward to them each week. Maybe I'm missing something here, but why not just lease a card from Charter. Is it not an option or did you just prefer to own the equipment?

  2. The CableCARD is leased from Charter for $2 per month.

    It is the darn DCT that I had to buy that costs so much! A HD DVR is $20 a month so I will not break even on the DCT purchase for 13 months. I must say though that having it connected to my PC lets me put it on WHS and view the files on any PC in the house so it was worth the up front cost. Also I am thinking of buying a Zune so I can take HD TV shows on the road.

    • Don't bother with the Zune, stupidly Microsoft was too damn cheap to include the ability to decode Dolby Digital (AC-3) on it, and since DD/AC-3 is the part of the ATSC HD specification, you won't have any audio on the HD recordings you take with you unless you transcode the audio first… Microsoft really missed the boat on this one…

      • So the ability for WHS to sample down the TV program during the TV Archive process is there but Zune does not read the sound? Would a non-HD Zune get the sound on a 720 sample?

        • Honestly, since the ZuneHD is the only Zune that is currently made and offered for sale by Microsoft that is the context of my reply (there may still be some "classic" Zunes still in sales channels though)… As to your comment "WHS to sample down", not having used this functionality, I can't speak to whether it transcodes the DD/AC3 audio to Stereo. if it does, then the Zune/ZuneHD should be able to play it (assuming the resolution/framerate, unless you've also transcoded that as well, doesn't overwhelm a "classic" Zune).

          Again, I assumed that you would be buying a ZuneHD and then attempting to copy over and play the .WTV files that your Windows Media Center recorded (since the ZuneHD supports .WTV). What I was saying is that you wil lnto have audio unless you do some form of transcoding first because the ZuneHD does not aupport DD/AC3 which is the audio specification for ATSC.

          • I just want to watch these recorded shows on an iPod or similar device using the integrated functionality. I should not have to hack my registry and use iPodifier to watch the shows that WHS already converts to a "Zune" format. UGH!

              • My final missed "boat" comment. I found and reported a bug in the TV Archive WMC extra that when you try and set the compression to Zune, and then tell WHS to save it to another folder on the WHS, the TV Archive transfer service will crash out. It is very difficult to reverse and fix and I just lucked into getting it back to working again. What a letdown. I really wanted to buy all Microsoft equipment.

                So…this being said I will not be trying (again) to run compression for TV media through the WMC TV Archive Service and will just find another way.


                • Is this TV Archive WMC extra part of WHS PP3 Beta or WMC under Win 7? If the former, than hopefully your bug findings can be validated and the needed modification(s) integrated into the final release of PP3, otherwise we can hope for an update to Windows 7 if it's the latter…

  3. Now if MS would spend a moment to actually find a way to impliment a working HD extender. Until then, I'll still be using SageTV with their HD extenders and Hauppauge HD-PVRs recording my premium material (either digital cable or satellite).

    • They have/did?!?! The XBOX 360 is capable of serving as an extender for a Windows Media Center PC. HP made an extender (they even put an extender into a TV they made), but both have been discontinued. Linksys made two extenders DMA2100/2200 (both of which have been discontinued, but you may still be able to find them). Samsung makes/made an Extender called the MediaLive for their recent TV models…

    • Your comparison isduly noted but Sage has a large up front equipment charge too and, from what I can read on their website, still requires a STB for premium channels. I would be interested in hearing more about your setup or even reading an article about it.


      • And there are no extra monthly fees for the Media Center extenders (up-front hardware costs, for sure, just like Sage). Just before Linksys discontinued their HD-capable extenders, they could be found CHEAPLY ($60->$75), looks like the laws of supply and demand have driven the price back up near MSRP for those that still have inventory.

        • I agree. I am bringing back my old HP Media Extender to test the quality and acess at the end of the month. Windows 7 has possibly brought new life into her.


  4. Great article Tim. I read your articles with interest every time you post one. I"m kind of new to WMC and WHS. I just got me an EX495 WHS. Anyway, I was wondering if it's possible to attach satellite service, such as Directv, to WMC so as to watch and record TV programs. This is what I'd like to do in the near future. Thanks.


    • You could connect your DTV STB to WMC with a PVR. They run up to $200. If you are happy with your satellite service this would be the route for you. I would check out The Green Button site for DTV information.


  5. Oh, and your Cable company has NO choice but to support the installation of CableCARDs into ANY CableLabs certified device. It is an FCC regulation. And if they don't, just file a complaint and you'll get a call from your provider in short order with a very helpful response.

  6. Nevermind. The comments didn't load the first time I visited the page. When it refreshed I saw the price in a post above. Sorry for the posts.

  7. Great writeup Tim! I was really wondering if the cable cards would ever work the way they said they would years and years ago. Your post has given me new hope!

  8. Great article Tim. I have a couple questions.

    1. How many channels/shows does the CableCard allow you to record at once?

    2. If you hook the DCT up to your WHS, can you watch programming from more than one WMC at a time?


    • 1.) The DCT determines the amount of simultaneous shows you can watch or record not the CableCARD. The ATI DCT I use is a single tuner DCT. I could purchase a second ATI tuner but I would need a second CableCARD for that tuner.

      2.) The ATI DCT is connected to one PC with WMC7. Once you record a show you can then use a WHS running PP3 to "archive" the show to your WHS and then watch that show from any WMC connected to that WHS. The TV Archive feature is via the WHS WMC Connector in PP3.

      Ceton will supposedly release a DCT that can use one CableCARD that can show 2-4-6 channels at one time from ONE CableCARD starting in Q1 of 2010. I do not know anything else about it other than what the website says but everyone is a buzz about it. You can find more information about that tuner at:


      • "I could purchase a second ATI tuner but I would need a second CableCARD for that tuner."

        Don't know Charter's Rate Card for your neighborhood, but it's probably cheaper than an HD box rental… Admittedly you won't have access to PPV/VOD that the box does because CableCARD is uni-directional…

        "and then watch that show from any WMC connected to that WHS"

        I'm going to assume that this only applies if the show isn't copy-protected (see this photo:… ) as I would expect that copy protection would restrict the viewing rights to only the PC that recorded it?

        • Charter CableCARD is $2 per month. The $270 cost for the DCT is what drives most people away. The easy solution would be to get another Moxi box it would cost me $20 a month and only be viewable on one monitor anyway.

          I still have my Moxi DVR ($20) on the living room plasma and this WMC DCT is only a secondary unit so I can record a third channel and archive the shows on the WHS.

          I would probably never go without an actual DVR as a primary device since the functionality of the DVR goes well beyond WMC current capabilities.


        • …and to answer your question about the Copy protected file: If it is Copy protected then you can only view it on the WMC PC you recorded it on. WHS TV Archive will still transfer and keep it on the server, and you can see it on the menu from other WMCs, but when you try and play it the WMC will tell you it is not viewable on any other PC.

          I do not know how the Copy Protection is set by Charter. FlashForward tonight was NOT protected but V the other night WAS protected.

          The Cable tech is coming back on Saturday so I will ask him how it is determined.


          • Yeah, the cost of entry for the CableCARD tuners is bit steep (I've presently got two externals that are NIB and three internals only three of which I'm using…Probably should eBay some of them)… The Ceton M-Card compatible units are going to be nice, 2/4/6 tuners on one card and only one CableCARD needed (though the 6 tuner will apparently only be available to OEMs). Gonna have to get me one of the 4 tuners and swap it for the three ATI internals I'm presently using…

            That's what I figured about the copy protection. I would suspect that Charter defers to their guide provider who in turn defers to the content providers. What's interesting is your observation about "V"… My understanding is that anything that airs on a Cable channel that is a re-transmission of what can be received OTA, is PROHIBITED from being copy protected…

            • So get this…I wake up this morning and I check on my Star Trek TNG reocding from last night and it is NOT protected. The last four recordings of the same series and channel ARE protected but not this one. So I run out to the garage HTPC and it played. WTH? It was not a good episode (Frame of Mind: Number One thinks he is crazy) so maybe that it is the protection criteria. Who wants to copy protect crappy episodes.

              …but seriously it was not protected. I will ask the cable tech tomorrow. Doubt he will know either but it is worth a phaser shot.


              • Hi Tim, great info you have provided here. Did you get an answer on the copy protection issue? The problem is it can be shared to other WMC pcs or extenders is that correct? If it turns out to be this way how well isn't using a homeserver to share tv shows going to be a major problem? I currently have a nice home theater pc with win 7, waiting on the ceton cableCARD & would like to add extenders (xbox) but if sharing is a problem. I'm going to have to rethink my strategy.

            • Should have said I've got SIX internal tuners (for a total of 8 when you add the two externals), only three of which I'm using… Time to get rid of some me thinks…

              I'd be shocked if the tech new about the Copy Protection flag (keep in mind that they primary deal with the Motorola/SA DVRs that usually have no means to download/extract at all so who cares about copy protection…?).

              I wish I could find something on the FCC's website about it being illegal for Cable companies to Copy Protect their retransmissions of broadcast channels. You'd just point them to it and say "make it so"…


  9. I called my cable company today to get information about a cablecard for my computer. They said that they don't supply cablecards for computers. Is that possible? I thought by law they had to. They told me if I found one on line they would charge $25 dollars to activate it. I asked for specs, but they didn't have any.

    How do I go about getting a CableCard and how will I know if it will work with my cable company?

    • I would try and either elevate the card issue or just tell them to come out and install a card without being specific on the unit.

      A lot of people talk about "by law" access but unless you have some way of enforcing it, it does not mean anything.

      I would try and get it elevated through your Cable Company. Do not give up on it!


  10. Tim, is Digital advisor only a Vista/ Windows 7 MCE feature? In other words, can I access Digital Advisor via XP MCE to find out if my PC can support DCT "before" buying a Windows 7 upgrade?

    Thanks in Advance.

  11. Thank you for this very helpful article. At the top you had an objective of recording 3 shows at once. Is there a way to keep my dual tuner Hauppauge 2250 in action together with an ATI DICT to handle the HD shows (and other channels above 99) to get three at once?

  12. My "three" included the Moxi box in the living room. I also have a TV Wonder Dual 650 USB in the garage that can also record.

    "Media Center supports a maximum of four analog TV tuners and four digital TV tuners per computer. (If your setup includes digital cable tuners, the maximum is four digital cable tuners.)" from the Micorsoft site listed below.

    More information can be found at:


  13. Well, I ordered the card and cables but there are zero instructions on installation. The power cable is obvious. The USB cable is one I've not installed before; it looks like it could be plugged in either way…so how to orient. And where does the other end plug in? There is not so much as a picture in the ATI manual to show which way to plug in the USB cable if the end is one that goes into the pins behind the conventional USB. And one had better know where the USB header is on the MB and which way to plug into it or a neophyte (like me in this case) is going to burn something out.

  14. Yes, it is the internal card. And so far no luck in finding instructions anywhere, including the AMD site, on how to connect the cables that CannonPC noted are required.

  15. Larry,

    One power connection and one USB connection. The pwoer should go to a molex type connector from your power supply. The USB connection (one blocked pin in the connector) should go to your mobo. The USB pins should be marked on your mobo with USB1 or USB 2 etc near the bottom center below the expansion slots.


    • Larry, did you get this to work? I just ordered the cables, and just like you I didn't find any instructions. Any other tips?

  16. Hi Tim,

    Are you receiving the full line of HD channels on charter, like Paladia for example,or just HD basic? I'm just wondering how comprehensive the HD capabilities are on Charter with the CableCard.

    • I get all of the channels that I subscribe to with Charter. I get the Expanded Package, HD View and I even get the music channels. Most of the pay HD channels are Copy Protected but it does not affect the performance. Those CP shows work on an Extender great. All other shows are shared via WHS with my other PCs and even downsize to my Zune!

      Make sure you get a Multi-stream CableCARD (they are green) and if the person on the phone for the appointment does not understand "CableCARD tuner" then tell them it is for a Tivo type device.

      Once the Ceton and HDHomeRun tuners are released then you can just move your CableCARD to the new device. No truck roll.


      • Tim, I read this page and I have the exact same scenario and have the same ATI Tuner on its way to me now. I'd also love to get my hands on a Ceton 4 tuner card as well, but I'll live with what I've ordered. I can always switch them out as you mentioned. Question though, would that mean I'd have to have my cable guy come BACK out and reprovision the CableCARD? Is the host ID part of the OS or the DCT hardware itself?

        • You should just be able to remove the CableCARD from the ATI and insert it into the Ceton or HDHomeRun tuners.

          To be honest I might have a truck roll for a second card anyway. I love the ATI and will probably move it (and another Tuning Adapter) out to my garage PC.

          Since I already have the $250 invested it would make sense to leave it up and running at another PC.

          Thank you for visiting our site!

      • Hi Tim,

        Great article. I have debated for months getting the ATI cablecard reader for my HTPC. I talked to a Charter tech, though, and he said it's not worth it because the card will stop working about every month or so. That would involve having charter come out to fix the problem all the time. Have you experienced this? Has it been working consistently since you first installed it?

        • That has not been my experience. I did have to request the multi-stream CableCARD once Charter switched to SDV.

          I would recommend my setup to anyone on Charter. I have my phone and 25 Mbps with Charter ($170) with no issues.

  17. Hi,

    I tried to install the cable card on my external ATI Digital TV tuner but all it showed was card Scientific Atlanta, card inserted but Card ID is unavailable. I have already run the cable advisor tool. the cable guy said he the card is activated in my name. any suggestions? I recently upgraded to the latest firmware from ATI's website. LEt's hope that works. I also have a question regarding DRM media. Can it be shared over windows 7 PCS with WMP? Also IF I record the shows on WHS can I See them on other PCs?

    • Take the card out and restart the system. Once the system is running again start the Advisor again. Close WMC after it completes. After that, insert the card and then start WMC again. If the CableCARD is recognized it will ask you to set up the CableCARD in the main window at that time.

      I have to reset mine once a month for no apparent reason.

  18. Hi Tim –

    I came across your articles a couple of weeks ago and was thrilled to see that there finally seems to be a solution to get my htpc to handle all the functions that it was designed for! After some hunting around on the web, I was able to buy an ATI external tuner like the one on this article. I finally received it today. Right away I called Comcast and they are sending a guy out this Sunday to come over and install the cablecard and a tuning adapter. The thing is though, after unpacking the ATI device, all that I have is the device, a usb cable, power cable and coax. There are no directions or even a stand, for that matter. Do you have an example of how the ATI device and tuning adapter are hooked up to the PC? Thanks for your help – Tony.

    • Start at

      Make sure you have run the Digital Cable Advisor already in WMC!

      I do not use the stand and just lay it on top of the tuning adapter. Just tell the tech this setup is just like a Tivo! Make sure you verify it works and ask the Tech if they require tuning adapters. You do not want another truck roll.

    • Cable from wall to splitter. Split one to ATI, split two to Tuning adapter. Do not pu them in series! Each one has a USB so connect them to the PC. Once they are connected and the ATI has two green lights, tuning adapter one solid light then start WMC. It will tell you a CableCARD is ready. If not reboot the ATI again.

      • Hi Tim – well the cable guy came on Sunday and installed the cablecard. He said that I didn't need the tuner adapter. After several attemps, I was getting some HD channels, but not all of them. Another guy came this afternoon and checked the signal – still the same. He also swore up and down that it wouldn't need the tuner adapter. After a couple of trys, he called the cable company and had them reset my signal – BINGO! Now I have all my channels! Thanks for all your help and for writting a great article. Finally, after several months, my dream of a htpc has finally come true! Thanks again!

        • I am very surprised that you do not need a Tuning Adapter but hey, that is cool. As you start recording check the Copy Protection on the different channels so you know which ones are which. Use an Xbox 360 as an Extender to watch the cable channels on another TV.

          Check out my video on XBox and CableCARD tuners.

          Glad everything is cool. CableCARD rocks!

  19. The entire Cablecard situation for HTPCs sucks bigtime. You either deal with hard to find and often flaky 3rd hand ATI tuners that have little/no support OR you get on a waiting list for a $400 Ceton tuner that costs almost as much as an entire DIY htcp. The cable companies have really screwed us and they NEVER should have been allowed to encrypt all of their channels until a fully implemented and stable cablecard system was in place. There should be at least half a dozen vendors for consumers to choose from. There should be $100 dual stream cablecards out there and cable companies shouldn't show up with blank stares when you go to install them. Great article btw. It's a good example of the issues you can run into and how difficult it can be for anyone who wants to get into using their computer as a HTPC. Thanks.

  20. What about the monitor and HDCP requirements? I have a Dell xps 420 w/Vista and ATI w/cablecard and all works well if I have an HDCP monitor. When I hook up my LCD TV instead (using hdmi, same as monitor), I get a message of being restricted and it will not record. I didn't see any references to issues with the monitor used. HDCP still a requirement?

    • HDCP is still required for playback. Is the LCD TV HDCP compliant? If so, I would then check the video card.

      If the card is ok (I assume you used the same HDMI port and cable) then I would try it on another monitor or TV just to be sure.

  21. thanks for the great write up!! it has been very helpful for this htpc geek since i got so fed up w/the cablecard issue w/the analog to digital switch i gave up on htpc/dvr setups until Win7 MCE.

    Comcast is coming out today w/my multistream card and got a Ceton Quad Tuner ordered and hopefully will get before 2012 😉

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