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Old 01-02-2006, 12:53 AM
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Comcast DVR - How to transfer content to Computer?

I'm not sure if there is a factual answer to this, but I figured I'd submit the question in GQ and cross my fingers.

I've had a Comcast DVR box for about 2 months, and I have quite a bit of recorded material stored on the unit. When I initially ordered the service, I was told that transferring the information to my computer would be as easy as running a cable from my box to the computer. When I received the box and noticed the USB port on the fron of it, this seemed to make sense to me. I figured I'd just run the cable and move stuff as I needed to, maybe burning the programs on DVD using my computer.

Fast forward to last week. First of all, after going out and buying a 16-foot USB cord, I realized that it would not connect to both my computer AND my cable box, since both USB ports are female. So, after spending way too much time at circuit city, best buy and radio shack looking for gender adapters, I finally ordered one online for about 3 bucks (plus 5.99 s+h). I wait for about a week befor it arrives and I get it home ridiculously excited that I'm finally going to be able to do this. I get everything hooked up; The adapter worked, but my computer was not recognizing that a device was hooked up at that port. I went through all the troubleshooting pages and couldn't find anything.

Finally, I call Comcast and ask them for help. The woman on the phone told me "you can't do that". When I told her that the person I initially spoke to (2 months ago) told me that I could, and that was the reason I had ordered the damn thing in the first place, she basically said "I'm sorry, but that's not true".

W....T....F? So.....I'm hoping that she was wrong, or just didn't feel like working on a Saturday morning, or SOMETHING! I offer this up to the board, in the hopes that I didn't just spend about $30 on USB cords and other various paraphanalia for no reason. Does ANYONE know how to configure a Comcast DVR box so that I can transfer the material to my computer??

Anyone???
Old 01-02-2006, 01:37 AM
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avsforum.com
Old 01-02-2006, 01:37 AM
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Most set-top dvr boxes aren't really designed to make file transfer easy, whether it's cause not many people use it, or playing to the DRM wishes of media companies, etc.

It would help to know the make/model of the dvr you have. Just like their cable modems, Comcast doesn't make them, they buy them from Motorola or Scientific Atlanta or whatever.

Some guy with a Motorola-made box linked to this FAQ, which in turn links to some rather complicated instructions on how to back up using the firewire port.
Good luck!
Old 01-02-2006, 01:39 AM
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Actually, that FAQ links to avsforum... which just goes to show how well the big companies support that feature.
Old 01-02-2006, 01:41 AM
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Thaks Astro & Nanoda for the replies.

Nanoda, just going by what it says on the front of the box, it is a Motorola DCT6412 III Dual Tuner HDTV compatible box...none of which means anything to me.
Old 01-02-2006, 01:53 AM
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Man, I hope there's a way to do this. I gave up and bought a DVD recorder and just added to the tangle of wires. I'd assumed (silly me) that I'd be able to "dump" a movie from the DVR to the DVDR, but no: I have to record everything in real time. So I mostly set a movie to record when I go to bed, and one to record when I leave in the morning.

Unfortunately, the DVDs don't appear to be playable anywhere but on their mother machine. Which kinda sucks; it won't last forever, and then my 200-and-growing library will be pretty useless.
Old 01-02-2006, 09:39 AM
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In reading net threads to do what you want apparently requires using the firewire cable and installing "DVHS emulator" software on your PC to make the Motorola box think it is interfacing with a a DVHS box when attached to your PC's firewire port.. It also appears that even some video mavens are having difficulty accomplishing this as the Motorola box has been crippled specifically to prevent this from being done easily.
Old 01-02-2006, 10:07 AM
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At this point, the somewhat laborious process that Himself has worked out is to upload (via firewire) the data of the DVR onto a digital tape in our Digital Video Camera. He then downloads it off the tape (again via firewire) onto our computer, where he edits out the commercials (if any) via a video editing program.

I believe Himself *has* done it directly (via firewire) from the DVR to the computer (using the method mentioned by astro) but there's something kind of funky about the editing, IIRC, when he does it that way.

I don't know any more technical info; Himself is the video/technogeek in our house.
Old 01-02-2006, 12:09 PM
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I actually went thru this about a year ago with my motorola box and was able to get it to work using the firewire connection! Sad thing was, after getting it to work on the regular channels I then realized that they had a software switch set by the cable company that prevented you from downloading any premium channel (ie HBO, Showtime, Pay per view, ect . . .). I called the cable company and they informed me that the older boxes didn't have this switch, but that all of the newer ones did. I was so PO'd that I just ended up just yanking the connection. I've been wondering about recordable DVD players but given my last experiance haven't been overly worked up about it.
Old 01-02-2006, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Citygirl852
W....T....F? So.....I'm hoping that she was wrong, or just didn't feel like working on a Saturday morning, or SOMETHING! I offer this up to the board, in the hopes that I didn't just spend about $30 on USB cords and other various paraphanalia for no reason. Does ANYONE know how to configure a Comcast DVR box so that I can transfer the material to my computer?
not exactly the answer but you might be able to record to your PC with something like this and skip the DVR part.

http://ati.com/products/hdtvwonder/

There is a coax connector for cable on it as well.
Old 01-02-2006, 01:01 PM
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Citygirl - I am afraid that

1) Comcast lied to you 2) You have wasted money on the USB cables.

The current 'state of the art' for copying from DVR to PC is:

1. Only via Firewire cable.
2. Only when not copy protected by Comcast/HBO etc.
3. Only with complicated custom software - the software built into the Comcast box has no support for copying programs - or even an easy way letting you know if a program is copy protected.

Some (like the Media companies) would consider this software 'hacking tools' and treat the recording to a PC as theft. They are terrified that their movies & programs will end up like CD tracks 'ripped' to MP3 files and traded around the internet....

In this new digital HiDef world, we may never have it as easy as the 'good old days' of slipping a tape into your VCR and recording a show.
Old 01-02-2006, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasg
Citygirl - I am afraid that

1) Comcast lied to you 2) You have wasted money on the USB cables.

The current 'state of the art' for copying from DVR to PC is:

1. Only via Firewire cable.
2. Only when not copy protected by Comcast/HBO etc.
3. Only with complicated custom software - the software built into the Comcast box has no support for copying programs - or even an easy way letting you know if a program is copy protected.
Shouldn't it be pretty much childs play using the item I linked? Once the signal is coming out of the unit to the TV its a standard easily read signal that can be intercepted and recorded by a TV tuner card and software.
Old 01-02-2006, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drachillix
Shouldn't it be pretty much childs play using the item I linked? Once the signal is coming out of the unit to the TV its a standard easily read signal that can be intercepted and recorded by a TV tuner card and software.
The problem is that your ATI HD board will not give you access to premium channels, only the basic tier level (typically channels 1-99) and that's not what most people want to record. You need a cable box or card to get to the signals you want and that's where the hangup is.
Old 01-02-2006, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Si Amigo
The problem is that your ATI HD board will not give you access to premium channels, only the basic tier level (typically channels 1-99) and that's not what most people want to record. You need a cable box or card to get to the signals you want and that's where the hangup is.
But I'm not trying to record from premium channels. I'm not even trying to record from live tv. I'm trying to transfer material that I've already recorded from the DVR hard drive. Does that make a difference?
Old 01-02-2006, 05:13 PM
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You should be able to run the video and audio outs (what goes to the TV) from your DVR and capture to your computer using a tuner or capture card plus your sound card. No different from capturing from a VCR.

It's a little clunky (and time consuming!), but it works. There is a lot of info online about capturing video from your VCR or cable box.

I just realized that 'capture' is sort of a strange term here, but that's what they say. It just means recording to the computer.
Old 01-02-2006, 05:21 PM
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Guess I should elaborate on the process:


1. Connect composite video or s-video output from DVR to video-in on tuner card.
2. Connect RCA (red & white) audio from DVR to 1/8'' line-in jack on sound card.
3. Use software such as VirtualDub to set up a video capture.
4. Press Play on DVR.
5. Kill time while your program plays.
6. Tell your recording program to stop capturing. Edit out commercials, credits as desired.
Old 01-02-2006, 11:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drachillix
Shouldn't it be pretty much childs play using the item I linked? Once the signal is coming out of the unit to the TV its a standard easily read signal that can be intercepted and recorded by a TV tuner card and software.
Yes, it should be 'childs play' to re-record material from the DVR to a PC - but perhaps I took the original question about 'transferring' too literally - I thought what Citygirl wanted to do was simply copy the files from DVR to PC.

Copying the files is what is hard - re-recording is (relatively) easy - but may be subject to artifacts from extra compression steps - kinda like re-ripping an MP3 file to MP3 again.
Old 01-02-2006, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasg
Citygirl - I am afraid that

1) Comcast lied to you.
What? Comcast lied to someone about the service they offered? I don't believe it!

In all seriousness, I would take anything Comcast tells you in the future with a grain of salt. No one at that company knows what they're talking about.
Old 01-03-2006, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Citygirl852
But I'm not trying to record from premium channels. I'm not even trying to record from live tv. I'm trying to transfer material that I've already recorded from the DVR hard drive. Does that make a difference?
Yes, I see now. The ATI card should work for what you are trying to do, but would be quite time consuming. I actually lost an entire season of my favorite HBO program (Carnivale) when my DVR box broke down and had to be replaced.

The method with the firewire was touted as being akin to using the DVR as an external harddrive. Fast and seamless. It was more like I was a CSI investagator trying to crack someones harddrive. Not user friendly at all.
Old 01-03-2006, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Si Amigo
The problem is that your ATI HD board will not give you access to premium channels, only the basic tier level (typically channels 1-99) and that's not what most people want to record. You need a cable box or card to get to the signals you want and that's where the hangup is.

Coax out on cable box to coax in on tv tuner card, cable box probably isn't going to know the difference between that card and a TV tuner on a normal TV.
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