Comcast, cable box, and Tivo

UPDATE  1/18/10: Followed MLD’s advice from Jan 6 — and it worked — the Tivo serial cable works better than the IR blaster.  See my comment, below, dated today.

My long cable box to Tivo nightmare is over.  I’m posting these instructions for those who may go through the same horrid mess. I didn’t find these anywhere.

Comcast in Berkeley — from who I have gotten truly terrible customer service throughout this —  is switching to new, digital equipment; independent of but, to confuse things, simultaneous with, the larger digital changeover.  I have talked with roughly two dozen people at Comcast (I’m not exaggerating) and gotten every possible story about whether I can, and if so how, still use my Tivo Series 2 and my analog TV with their new box.  I have a perfectly good TV and a Tivo box with lifetime service; I had no intention of buying new ones, not just now.  I find it annoying enough that I have to pay for cable, but the TV I watch is almost exclusively on cable channels.

Ta-da — here’s how you do it.

1. Get a Tivo IR Blaster. In theory, this came with your Tivo.  It enables the Tivo remote control to control your cable box.  If I did have one, I have no idea where it is now.  I got one at – they sell other Tivo accessories.  I was told to be sure to get the kind where the sensors at the end turn at 90 degree angles, like this you see in this image from

The purple end plugs into the back of the Tivo, into “channel change – IR”.

Use a flashlight to see the IR receiver behind the dark glass in front of your cable box. The two “boot” ends go over and under the box so that they both shine on the IR receiver, though another images from Tivo suggests you can get away with just one sensor:

2. Run the cables from wall to cable box to Tivo to TV.

3. Go into Tivo settings and have it run setup again. You have to tell it that you’re using a cable box (which I wasn’t before), and it has to figure out which one, which is what the setup process allows you to tell it to do.  (There’s probably a more direct route than running setup all over again, but I didn’t think of that in time.)

4. Make sure the Tivo and the Cable Box both require the same TV channel (slider on the back of the Tivo picks 3 or 4) and set the TV to the correct channel.

5. Finally!  You can control Tivo and the cable box simultaneously, using the Tivo remote control, and the Tivo can record from cable. Until I did all this, I could (1) set tivo and tv on ch 3 and see whatever channel the cable box was set to, but (2) could not record.

It has taken me approximately a month, two dozen calls, one visit to Comcast, and one visit from a Comcast service person.  The latter finally was able to tell me what to do (thanks, Keisha!) but couldn’t get things set up because I didn’t have an IR blaster. And she didn’t tell me that I had to rerun Tivo setup once I got it — I was stumped at why I had all the pieces connected but they weren’t working together.

Update July 28: One more thing: it only records correctly if I leave the Tivo box ON.  That’s a waste of energy, but I had trouble recording — it thought it had the right channel, everything looked right, the show listed was the one I asked to be recorded — but the content was wrong; it wasn’t changing channels.  It seems that the only solution is to never turn the Tivo box off.


67 responses to “Comcast, cable box, and Tivo

  1. thank you. I just got a new digital cable box from comcast and have been going crazy all night trying to get Tivo to change the digital channels. I set it up as you said and it works great.


  2. Thanks for the info. I was going mad. Since you seem to have some knowledge, one question–on the channel list, did you select “cbl” or “box” for your channels? I’m having some issues with that.

    • Box. I don’t know much about this, except what I learned through long, sorry experience, digging around online and, most of all, from Comcast Berkeley’s service rep Keisha. Comcast should give her a raise. She was the ONLY person who actually understood how all this worked and gave me accurate advice.

  3. I have everything, IRs and all, set up, but I can’t get any Tivo menu (I miss it so!) or other page up on the screen to do any of the channel commands, etc. through the Comcast Motorola box.

    • I suspect you either (1) don’t have the cables set up right, or (2) don’t have the TV on the right channel. Try both 3 and 4 on the TV, and check the settings on the Tivo and Motorola boxes to make sure they require the same channel.

      Glad to see that people are finding this useful — as I said, it took me a MONTH to get this right, and I was ready to throw the Comcast box out the window more than once!

      • Tony what cables are going from the TiVo to the TV?
        Also what cables are going from the Motorola Comcast box to the TiVo?
        One more question I have is what model of TiVo and Comcast Motorola box?

  4. I should point out that the instruction book that came with my Tivo Series 1 that I have had since 2001 has the complete instructions. As a matter of fact, it has 8 specific setup examples that cover interfacing to digital cable boxes, satellite, DVD & VCR players, etc.

    Also, your statement “…it only records correctly if I leave the Tivo box ON.” is puzzling. Your Tivo has always needed to be left on 24/7 in order to automatically record shows. This has been true since the day you got your Tivo.

    • I went through my manual with a fine tooth comb and midst all the set-ups possible, I didn’t find one that worked for the NEW digital boxes with analog TV — different technology from the old cable boxes. That’s what’s driving everyone in this area crazy. I had a cable box before and never needed the IR blaster.

      Also, in the past I could turn the Tivo off (or to stand-by, technically, I assume) — hit the power button, the light went from green to red — but it would still record when it needed to. No longer. Have to leave it with the power indicator glowing green.

    • Actually Tyrone as N. stated there is a standby feature on the TiVo that will allow the TiVo to seem like it is off but really its just a power saving feature obviously the reason N. would like to be able to use it still… Question for you N. what model cablebox did you receive? Just out of curiosity N. how did you setup season passes and scheduled recordings from the TiVo without some sort of channel changing device (I.E. serial or IR) not mention change the channels with the TiVo remote or did you use the cable remote to change channels and then press record on the TiVo which is otherwise known as a manual recording. As far as wanting to put the TiVo in standby if it is no longer recording automatically in standby or if it is recording a black screen or incorrect channels…this sounds to me as if the cable box has either a screen saver or an auto off feature with in the Cable box menus that you must disable in order for TiVo to record shows that were scheduled previously on the correct channel and with the correct video showing.

  5. I have an odd feeling that this might be happening because the cable box isn’t staying powered on.

    I have my cable box hooked to my Series 1 TiVo with an IR blaster, and it will change the channel and all that no problem, but when I try to record things with the TiVo off, I get just a blank screen.

    I figured out that it might be due to shutting the cable box off when I turn everything off at night, and am going to experiment with other settings.

    • I never turn the cable box off, but I have to leave the Tivo on, too.

      • Again as I said before depending on the Cable box model it may have a screen saver feature or auto off feature set as factory defaults if you would like to find out more pose your question to one of the Tech Reps at your DVR Manufacturers tech number they have lists of every type of cable box/DTA, OTA converter boxes,and satellite boxes with the exact information that would tell you if it is that type of feature preventing recordings in Standby mode on the TiVo…

    • Yes you have to leave your cable box on in order for tivo to record the correct channel.

  6. Hi Nancy,
    I noticed that you have Tivo Series 2. Are you able to use the dual tuners on Tivo? I am attempting the same set-up as you and Tivo said I would be able to watch one channel while recording on the second tuner. Or I could record two analog channels at the same time or one analog and one digital channel at the same time. Also, can you tell me the model number of your Motorola cable box?

    • Don’t have dual tuners. I can’t see how this could work with a cable box, since it’s the cable box that decides what channel is being received.

    • Annette the key to getting the limited DT functionality is to use a Cable splitter have the cable from the wall going into the RF IN on the splitter then have another coaxial cable going from one of the RF out on the splitter to the RFin on the cable box and yet another coaxial cable from the lastRF out on the splitter to the RF in on the S2DT so at this point you now have your cable source going to the Digital Cable box and the signal is being split so you now have analog signal to the S2DT which allows for ST functionality… to get second tuner enabled use RCA/AV aka Red, white, and yellow from Cable box output to S2DT input and depending on the video quality you want you can either use another Coaxial cable from the RF out on the S2DT to coax in on TV or use another set of RCA from S2DT output 1 to TV RCA input just remember that if you are going use the RCA’s from the DT to the TV you will need to change the input on the TV depending on the brand of TV common buttons on the TV remotes are input, source, TV/Video, or AV 1 or AV2 … please remember to read thoroughly which input you plug the RCA’s into on the TV if you know that when you go to change the input on the TV using the TV remote you will have won half the battle…

  7. Have exactly the same questions as Annettte. Haven’t got my Digital box from Comcast yet but it’s on the way.

  8. Thanks for the instructions, worked like a charm!

  9. I am going crazy with my series 2. I have Comcast and slowly but surely started to lose channels like Discovery, Animal Planet, etc. I called Comcast and they informed me that it was the Tivo. Now that cable is slowly switching all channels to digital, I had to go to my Tivo setup and change it to digital only and also change my tuner to a single tuner even though my series 2 is dual. You cannot record 2 digital channels at the same time with the series 2. By doing that, I did get the channels back that I lost. My problem now is that my Tivo is terrible at changing channels. Sometimes, it gets stuck on one channel and it is painful to try and get it to change. I am very disappointed since I recently purchased this box. I do have the ir adapters and have gone to the channel changing screen and tested it quite a few times. Does anyone have any suggestions on how else I can resolve this problem?

    • Comcast blames everything on Tivo — and gave me a variety of different, all wrong, “solutions.” it would be good public relations for them to figure this out and post solutions. But no — they just wash their hands of this.

      My Tivo is also now bad at changing channels — changing by moving up and down, rather than going to a channel by #, works best. But it’s annoying!

    • DualSetTopBoxDude

      I suspect your problem with changing channels is what I ran into, where we thought we should be specifying “comast” as brand of our set-top-box–turns out it’s a Motorola. Try looking at the bottom and back of the set-top box for manufacturer information. And the tivo tech-support number was helpful to us also.

  10. Got all my equipment from Comcast and connected everything together..
    Everything worked out, the only problem that I had was that the remote for the cable box did not work and had to be replaced.
    I have the Series 2 Double tuner and am using the TiVo Serial cable connecting the Tivo and the Cable box (9 pin connecter on the box) to change the cable box channels. (Very reliable; has not failed yet changing to the desired the channel)
    One very important thing is that not all of my channels are digital–Channels 2 to 22 have not been changed and are still analog. This will be the deal breaker if all your channels have been changed to digital.
    I can now do just about all the same things as before:
    1.0 Record 2 Analog channels at the same time and watch any channel (analog or digital) using the cable box.
    2.0 Record 1 analog and 1 digital channel at the same time and watch any analog channel via TiVo. (Hmm–As I write this I’m thinking maybe I can’t watch anything else at the same time since I’m using both TiVo tuners and the the cable box—Hmmm, need to verify)
    3.0 Watch any recorded program while recording any other program, analog or digital.
    Of course, you have to bounce between remotes (cable and TiVo) to perform these functions.
    The hook-up is essentially the same as the Tivo startup diagram with a box. One adder–I connected a cable from the Cable Box RF Out to the TV RF In. Most of all the other cables are the AV type (Red, Yellow and White end connections). In the couse of viewing etc. you have to use either Remote to choose which input you want to watch–Vidieo 1, 2 etc. In the RF link between the Cable box and the TV I also have a VCR and a DVD Player but that’s for another day.
    I’m lucky in that just about all the programs that I typically record on an ongoing basis fall within the analog range and as such will not result in any major disruption in my enjoyment of using TiVo.

  11. Thank you for the information, this picture was helpful!

  12. I have a series 2 tivo with a dual tuner and a comcast motorola cable box. I have set it up as instructed above, ran the set up, the tivo was able to change the digital channels on the cable box during the set up testing process but after it finished, the digital channels were not comming in thru the tivo but my HBO and analog channels 1-22 were. Am i missing something?

  13. This is what we figured out. I had comcast come to figure out my cable problem. It is definitely not a cable problem, it is the tivo series 2.
    Now that cable has changed most channels to digital you can no longer use the dual tuner. You have to go into setup on the tivo and change it to a single tuner for digital only not analog. You will get all your channels back.
    The big problem is the changing of the channels. Half the time the channels don’t change. Half my programs were not recording.
    My TV was old so our solution was to buy a new tv and purchased a tivo hd unit. It works amazing.
    Not the best solution but we were planning on changing our tv anyway. Now I have a series 2 that is only 2 years old and I can’t even give it away because of the problems it has with cable.
    I know this didn’t help you resolve the problem but I hope it has at least helped you understand why it was happening.
    Oh, forgot that I also talked to a Best Buy rep when we purchased our new tv about the series 2 problem. He was well aware of the problem and also said it was a tivo compatibilty problem with the digital change.
    Good Luck.

  14. Wrong—-You certainly can use the
    Series 2 Dual Tuner TiVo. I am, doing everything that I did before the comversion to Digital except for being able to record two digital channels at the same time, I can record two analog channels and watch a digital channel at the same time, Or, record one digital and one analog channel and watch either another analog or a previously recorded program. As noted in a previous post, the hook up is the same as in the TiVo setup diagram with an additional cable from the box to the TV RF in. If you follow the instructions found in the TiVo site, run through the channel setup (checking the appropriate box defining which channels are analog and which are digital) it should work out. Then to get very reliable (hasn’t failed to perform yet) channel changing, use the TiVo supplied cable to connect the TiVo to the cable box (9 Pin connector). After that it’s a matter of how you operate the system. You can move between remotes etc. 90% of the time I use the TiVo remote (Vidieo 1) to watch all (every) channels. If I want to use some On Demand functions, then I change the input to TV. For VCR or DVD Player –Input is Vidieo 2.
    It’s not that mysterious if you read and follow instructions.

  15. To Christy
    My guess is that you are getting mixed up between the TiVo and Comcast remotes. Try pushing the Comcast remote “TV” button and then using the TiVo remote Push the “Input” button until you get the Input setting that allows you to use the TiVo remote to change channel. I might not have it completely correct but fool around woth it until it works out. It sounds like you;re almost there. Refer to my latest post

  16. MLD- Thanks for the info. I am going to try it on my son’s tv. If I do this setup, will I lose any digital channels? Before I had to change my tivo to a single tuner to get back the digital channels I lost.

  17. To Valerie
    If Comcast has kept Channels 1-22 analog and from 23 on up digital then you are not going to lose anything. If you get the hookup and channel setup correct then it will end up almost the same as before the digital signals came along. As noted in other posts, the only inconvienence is the you are limited to recording one digital channel at a time.
    Again, refer to the TiVo Series 2 Dual Tuner setup diagram. If you don’t have it in your files then go to the TiVo site and find it there. The only additional thing that I did was to add a cable from the cable box RF Out to the TV RF In. If there is VCR or DVD Player in the mix (which I have but didn’t mention originally to keep it simple) then you go from the Cable Box “RF Out” > VCR “RF In” then VCR “RF Out” > DVD Player “RF In”. DVD Player “RF Out” to the TV “RF IN”. Sounds worse then it really is!!
    This setup allows you to Watch/Record any number of combinations of analog and digital channels
    Keep the Comcast Remote on TV and use the TiVo remote Input to be able to watch channels using the TiVo remote. I went into this in another post so I hope that you can refer to it.
    If you do the setup properly and use the TiVo Serial (9 Pin) cable for channel changing it works out pretty near the same as before digital. Don’t let anyone tell you diffierent.
    One other note–the setup takes quite a while as you have to go through page after page to let the system know that you are using a Dual Tuner TiVo with a digital signal and on and on. Finally it goes through the channel download process, After that you have to go through the channel selection-that is, check off which channels you are receiving as analog and which as digital. Do it right and all will be well.

  18. To All:
    Oops-made a mistake in the description of the hookup—Output of the DVD player goes to (my) Vidieo 2. If anyone is interested, I will gladly send a sketch of my hookup; then the rest of having a successful working system is togo through the TiVo setup correctly.
    Send me an email with your correct return address–send to:

  19. MLD,
    Your set up is exactly how it used to be for me.
    But now comcast has changed all channels to digital. Our analog channels are now available only through the Comcast DTA tiny box.
    So dual tuner functionality is screwed.

  20. DualSetTopBoxDude

    I have a Sony-branded Tivo Series-1, and I’m ordering a _second_ Comcast digital set-top-box that will be dedicated to my Tivo.

    Extra set-top-boxes are free right now from COMCAST until Jan. 12th, I believe. (wife says)

    That way, we can watch live-TV, with the OnDemand, etc. without pulling the rug out from under TIVO recording stuff. My wife and I finally got the channel-changing working with it IR blaster thingies–TIP on that–you have to configure your Tivo for that, and we first tried specifying “comcast” as our brand of set-top-box, but none of the available codes there worked to change channels. Later we noticed that the box itself says “Motorola”, and HEY-PRESTO, one of those codes DID work to change channels. Next we’ll just put black tape over Tivo’s set-top-box + IR-blaster combo, so it doesn’t pick up stray signals from our hand-held COMCAST remote, and we should be back in business watching live TV while Tivo downloads stuff for us to watch later on. If it all works, I’ll post here again. GREAT THREAD–thanks to all.

    • I appologize that I posted those instructions without looking at the posting date oh well perhaps they will help someone else with the same issue. Just so everyone knows I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about IR placement the post above byDualSetTopBoxDude I maybe misunderstanding what you wrote but it read to me like you have the IR blasters hanging over the TiVo’s IR sensor if this works for you great but it could potentially do the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish with your viewing capabilities. Merely an explanation of what might happen with the IR blasters setup this way is that because the TiVo is getting the programming (ie channels) from your Motorola Box which means if you change the channel on the Motorola box the TiVo will no longer be recording what you scheduled it to record. However, if I am misreading your post you probably have one set top box hooked up with the TiVo and another hooked directly to the TV. I’m not by any means going to tell you how to set your entertainment area up but as a tech rep for TiVo I am going to strongly suggest that for more reliable channel changing you plug the purple end of the IR cable into the IR port of the TiVo and have the emitter ends transmitting the IR signal over the remote sensor on the Cable Box, but as I said already if the setup is not as I am imagining it or if this setup works well for you then by all means leave it the way it is TiVo is well known for allowing customers to take initiative and be creative as well as taking customers suggestions to heart when developing future products so if anyone here has an idea or would like to see a certain functionality added by all means go to the website and search for the word suggestions. There is a form you can fill out that is sent directly to TiVo Corporate. Just one of the many ways TiVo wants to include consumers in every aspect of TiVo development.

      • DualSetTopBoxDude

        Hey, thanks for all your recent postings. Very helpful, and I apreciate. Just to put your mind at ease, I have the IR-Blasters connected to radiate on the COMCAST set-top-box. I called it the “Tive” set-top-box, because as I think of that one as being dedicated to Tivo’s use. It would, as you point out, be less than ideal to connect the IR-Blaster output comming OUT of Tivo to the IR-Input of the Tivo itself. I didn’t do that.

  21. DualSetTopBoxDude
    Why use the IR Blaster? Why not the 9 pin cable supplied by TiVo. Gives fool proof channel changing.

    • MLD not every Cable Box has the serial port, as well as even though the serial port is available on the Cable box doesn’t necessarily mean its usable in fact Comcast in particular in some parts of the country has disabled the serial port on their set top boxes completely rendering your beloved serial control cable useless…

  22. DualSetTopBoxDude

    Hi MLD,

    The Sony-branded Tivo 1 is a little different. I don’t think I have that 9-pin connection available. I do have a mono mini-phone-jack, labelled “Serial”, just above where the IR-blaster plugs in, but set-top-box has no such connection. It did connect to my very old Sony VCR, but seems to be of no use now. Anyway, the IR things are working quite reliably, so not to worry.

  23. DualSetTopBoxDude
    Yes, the TiVo has the mini plug on one end and the 9 Pin connector on the other end. The Comcast box has the mating 9 Pin connector. If your box doesn’t have the connector I don’t think that it’s a big issue to get it changed for one that has it.
    If you’re happy with what you got that’s good. Just keep in mind that a troublefree fix is available if you need it.

  24. I just got a comcast HD receiver connected to my Tivo Serie 2. as two different input signal sources to the TV. This is how I did it:

    +——> TV
    | ^
    —> comcast HD rcv –+ |
    | |
    +—–> Tivo

    Now, I select the input source on my TV to get HD program or Tivo progamming (none HD). The thing I didn’t know was how to switch my Tivo configuration from SAT to cable and this article helped. The only way to reconfigure the Tivo Serie 2 box from SAT to cable is to go into a reset mode and go thru the “guided” setup which will take 30 to 45 minutes. Thanks!

  25. …………………………….+—-> TV
    –> comcast HD rcv –+………..|
    …………………………….+—-> Tivo

    just ignore the ‘.’ to see the diagram.

  26. David
    Glad you understand your diagram because it’s confusng at this end. Going through the complete TiVo setup is the key to getting the dual tuner to work like a dual tuner. As noted, you basically have to let the TiVo know how to treat each channel by checking off the appropriate box next to the channel–cable, analog etc. during the setup.

  27. David, I agree with MLD,
    What is the key to your diagram with
    + – ^ and >?

  28. DualSetTopBoxDude

    I just want to vent my anger with Comcast over sending me only one extra free set-top box. Their postcard said that anyone could request as many as two of these. My wife called and requested only one, and hung up before I could stop her. I immediately called back, and spent 30 minutes on the phone with a person who was playing dumb and refusing to understand that I wanted to CHANGE the order. She finally just resorted to out-and-out lying, saying that I was going to get two boxes. One just arrived, and now the get-it-for-free period has elapsed.

    So now I’ve got this stupid little 2.5″ x 3.5″ black plastic box with lots of breathing holes
    all over it. It’s made by “Thomson”.

    Q1: Anyone know if Tivo will have it in one of its menus for set-top-box brands?

    Q2: Anyone know if this is anything other than a generic digital-to-analog signal converter? If it is generic, then I can do price-comparison shopping between Comcast and RadioShack.

    I’ll let you knof if I have any luck badgering Comcast into sending me another one.

    Meanwhile, I’ve found the end of the wire from my rooftop antenna, which won’t reach to my house any more ever since the Comcast guy shortened it “because you won’t need that any more and you don’t want it lying on the ground where it could get into the lawnmower” (asshole). So now I need an extension to that, and then a digital-analog converter box made to work with an antenna (from RadioShack probably), and then I’ll be able to get what’s broadcast, even if I stop paying the stupid cable bill. Verizon Fios is looking better and better, btw…

    Q3: Anyone here done any comparisons between Verizon Fios and Comcast?

    • Hello, I am a Tech rep for the reputable company that manufactured the original DVR and as far as your questions are concerned:
      Q1: Anyone know if Tivo will have it in one of its menus for set-top-box brands?
      A. Thomson is a manufacturer listed on all of these DVRs when you are in the setup and it asks you if you about your setup you will choose the option that says Cable with a Box it will then ask you if the Cable Box is Digital the answer to that yes
      The Technical label for the Thomson DCT1101 is a DTA which stands Digital Transport Adapter which does exactly as the name implies transports the digital signal to the DVR where the DVR is then able to convert the signal from digital to analog
      Unfortunately it depends on which DVR you own and since you have not mentioned the Model I cannot help you with the setup further. However if you send me an email with the Model # of the DVR or service number I will be more than happy to provide you with full setup information…

  29. DualSetTopBoxDude

    To MLD:

    My first generation TIVO does NOT have any 9-pin connector output or cable. My Comcast cable box does NOT have any 9-pin input. No sockets of any kind, other than the RF input. It just allows for IR and RF. If yours does have a 9-pin socket then I’m happy for you, but mine really does not. I’m using the IR blaster because I really have to.

  30. DualSetTopBoxDude
    Maybe I didn’t explain myself well enough–My TiVo has a Serial Output port in addition to the IR port (not a 9 Pin connector–The cable has a small male end similar to the IR on one end and a 9 Pin female connector on the other end). If your TiVo doesn’t have a Serial Port then all of this is mute. If your set does have a Serial Port and you don’t have a cable I believe you can get one from TiVo. If your Cable Box doesn’t have a male 9 Pin connectorI also believe you can exchange the box at a Comcast facility for one that does. BTW, without looking I might have the male/female ends mixed up but I’m sure you get the point.
    Where I am, you only get one free Cable Box and two free DAT boxes (small black ones). What’s interesting is that there are about 5-6 channels that I can get when using the Cable Box but can’t get using the DAT. Sounds dumb but it’s normal according to Tech Support.

  31. I got a new BluRay and it only had an HDMI out, that was not cool. So I did a little searching and found this converter. HDMI to component convert. I got it at this website , the best part is that it worked!!!
    check it out. I aslo bought some new cables and a convert for my mac book pro, it takes the mini displayport and USB and converts it to run over HDMI through my other converter to my TV.
    Now I can watch my Netflix from my Mac!

  32. MLD’s Jan. 6 comment about the serial cable helped a lot. I had forgotten about this possibility until MLD’s comment. Got the serial cable from Tivo and it works MUCH better than the IR blaster. Actually does change the channel reliably, including for recording — I was only getting about half my recordings to actually be on the right channel, and still don’t know why some worked and some didn’t. Serial cable for channel changer instead of IR blaster solved the problem. Nine-pine on the TIVO end, simple male connector at cable box end. Go to and scroll down to “serial cable.” $7. Note: you have to go into Tivo settings and change the channel changer from IR to serial.

    • Yes Serial Cables are more reliable, however be aware that Cable Companies everywhere are disabling this feature on their set top boxes. Just a friendly alert. Keep the IR cables just in case you never know when you may need them.

  33. I have Series 2 Tivo with digital TV new and Comcast service. Using Comcast DVR in main room; but Tivo in spare room. Comcast said I needed ADT box. Wrong. Now they tell me I need their set top box at a minimum to be able to receive same channels in the spare room. I was under the impression that whatever package price I paid, if I had outlets installed by them, I would receive those same channels in whatever room I was watching!

    • I can understand your frustration, Joyce. However, Comcast is the big mover and shaker of this All Digital Switch and are now requiring most of their customer base to either have the DTA box or a set top box in order to view their all digital lineup even if you are on basic or extended basic cable depending on the area you live I have seen Comcast have only 1-13 viewable without a box and in others 1-22 and still in others 1-30 or 1-99. A good rule to live by in this age of Digital Transitions plan on eventually only having 1-13 viewable without a cable box of some kind…To make matters worse if your S2 is a DT with Comcast going All digital your DT will act as a DT except when trying to record 2 of the channels above the ranges listed above, you will still be able to record 2 channels within those ranges and one of each but not 2 above, the S2DT was built with analog tuning in mind, hence the up and coming release of the ComcastTivo no word on just when that will be though.

  34. To Joyce
    If Comcast did not convert all channels to digital (in my area channels 2-22 remain analog) then without a DAT box or Cable box you will only be able to recieve the analog channnels. You need the boxes to receive all the digital channels. There are about 4 digital channels that I receive on the TV set using the Cable box but cannot get on the sets using the DAT (small black) boxes. According to Tech support this is normal–don’t understand why and haven’t pursued it any further. These comments reflect my understanding of how this all works–could be wrong; if so please correct.

    • To: MLD
      Just a quick question did you select that the DTA was a digital box? If you did then check the channel list…main menu->messages and settings-> settings-> channels-> channel list for all channels that you receive the ones that are now digital will have two listings, one box will say cbl the other will say box for the channels that are missing on the DTAs select the one that says box and you should gain that channel however you may want to make a daily call to get the PGD for those newly found channels, if the channels are just not listed in the lineup try a channel scan this can sometimes gain those channels… Another thing to be on the look out for is the green light on the DTA if it is flashing then the DTA is not completely activated yet sometimes it will go solid with in moments of plugging it in other times they send the wrong activation stream to the DTA

  35. I just wanted to say THANKS A MILLION for the input from Nancy, MLD and DualSetTopBoxDude. Thanks to all of you I was able to avoid any major headaches.

    We have a Series 2 TiVo DVR, and we could get one Comcast digital set-top box (Motorola) and two DAT’s for free, so this is how I set it up:

    1. One DAT for the upstairs TV.

    2. Split the cable in the living room with one going though a DAT into the TV directly: this gives you the option of watching another channel while your Series 2 TiVo is recording a different channel. You just have to change the “input” on your TV. (I refuse to upgrade to the dual TiVo tuner since I purchased lifetime service for this box)

    3. The other cable connects to the set-top box with output to TiVo, then output to the VCR (yes, we still have VHS tapes we watch!) and finally output to the TV.

    4. I used the serial cable, which I did have to purchase from TiVo (single pin on TiVo end, 9 pin on Comcast digital set-top box). The DAT’s did not have 9-pin serial ports – that’s why we are using the big set-top box for TiVo (it’s really a “TiVo-top box” now).

    5. For the normal TV/Cable signal, I attached the DAT to the back of the set using the velcro provided, and strung the IR extension to the top of the set. Then I taped over the infrared sensor on the front of the set-top box so that the DAT’s remote wouldn’t accidentally change channels on the set-top box communicating with TiVo.

    All your advice really helped and I hope many other frustrated TiVo customers in the Comcast viewing areas are able to benefit from this string on Nancy’s blog!

    • TechNurse when did you purchase PLS for your S2ST? what month, day, and year? If it was before the year 2000 TiVo will make a one time exception to Transfer PLS for you. Also if you activated this TiVo recently like within the last thirty days you have the opportunity to take advantage of the extended warranties TiVo now offers at very reasonable prices a 2 yr warranty which would cover your PLT fee if heaven forbid you S2ST should ever break and other Exchange fees if out of warranty which by the way is only 90 days no cost to you, all that for 29.99 add a year to that for 10.00 more, so that’s a 3 year warranty for 39.99 just some food for thought if you are still within your 30 day mbg period

    • To jaisa112
      Been away and just saw your Feb 18 comments.
      If I read you right, I think that you made the assumption that my DTA’s are connected to TV sets that also have a TiVo in the mix. Not so–The DTA’s are directly hooked up to the TVs and nothing else. Does this change your answer?
      If so, per Comcast Tech Support, the DTA does not get all the channels that are available when using the cable box (missing about 5 or 6). Don’t know why, might call Comcast again and pursue the subject a bit further.

  36. One more general comment to all of you who are in the unfortunate place of having to use the DTA with no hope of channel changing with anything but IR Control, if you have tried the Manufacturers of Comcast and Motorola with no luck you most likely have a DTA with a little known manufacturer called PACE. I run into this all the time as a Tech rep…

  37. Well, I’ve been reading this blog and the TiVo website and reading my stupid instructions from Comcast and researching all sorts of other info on the web for the last 4 hours and I FINALLY got everything working! And let me tell you it was NOT easy!
    This is my set up in case anyone else needs some help: Coax from wall to splitter–> one coax from splitter to TiVo IN, one coax from splitter to Basic Cable Box IN. Then it gets tricky: One coax from Basic Cable Box OUT to TiVo box OUT (I know this does not make sense but it works), then RCA from Cable Box OUT to RCA TiVo IN. Next another set of RCA cables OUT from TiVO, IN to TV, and then S Video cable out from TiVo, IN to TV (I got no sound until I did this). Lastly, a 3rd set of RCA cables out from DVD player, IN to TV. My biggest issue is that my DVD player is very new and doesn’t have any Coax or S Video receptors, only RCA and HDMI plugs, and I don’t have HD TV so I can’t use the HDMI anyway!
    Needless to say, my DUAL TUNER works again! I can now record two shows and change the channel to watch a 3rd if I want. I wish ya’ll the best of luck if you have to deal with this too!

    P.S. I also connected the IR connectors that came with my TiVo to use my TiVo remote, the Comcast one doesn’t seem to be working at all!

  38. To Claire
    “One coax from Basic Cable Box OUT to TiVo box OUT”
    You’re right, this doesn’t make any sense at all. Cant see how that would work at all. Typo??
    With repect ot the Comcast Remote not working–Some possibilities:
    1. You have a remote that will not work with your cable box-happened to me and got a replacement for it.
    2. Not trained-you need to go through the set up of keying in the remote numbers for the TV set you’re using.
    3. Click the “Cable” Button on the remote vs the “TV” button
    If no happiness, give Tech support a call, they actually may be able to help.

  39. Thanks to everyone – I have spent the better part of 3 days trying to get these pieces playing nice. The tip about redoing the setup was the key for me.

    I also “rebooted” everything, which I should have done a little earlier – when the setup wasn’t showing me an image even though I had it all hooked up correctly, the reboot of the cable box and the tivo box made the rest easy.

    I can change channels normally, all of my channels are now back, I can even hit the “OnDemand” button on the cable remote and go there. Just clicking something on the tivo remote brings me back.

    After following lots of dead end suggestions elsewhere on the web, I’m so glad to have everything working again thanks to all of you.


  40. These are some excellent suggestions on interfacing a Comcast STB to a Tivo or any DVR, and I sincerely thank all who posted such info. Comcast’s “digital migration” is giving headaches to everyone who simply want to make unattended timer recordings without breaking the bank. Although I totally understand the technical merits of dumping analog, it certainly creates problems for those who for decades were able to easily timer record old movies, sports, or kids programs with multiple recording devices. I use a Tivo Series 2 on one TV, and the rather cultist Magnavox H2160-series DVDR (dvd recorder and hard drive combo with built-in NTSC, ATSC, and QAM tuner) on another TV. The latter doesn’t require a subscription fee, and does everything my Tivo does, except for the on screen menu. Again, thanks for the suggestions, and all will be helpful during the next few months.

  41. This isn’t directly on point but a useful new(ish) Tivo development — you no longer need a phone connection. If you have wifi, you can substitute a href=”″ wireless network adapter.

  42. You have probably gotten Keisha fired by saying she helped you. From my experience I am sure that Comcast it us against policy to help customers. Also, this is an opportunity for Tivo to wipe out some of those lifetime deals they made with Tivo 1s! They are helping Comcast with their DVRs. Does that sound cynical?

  43. Have you been able to use the TiVo remote to turn your cable box on or off? I have no problems with the channel changing, but would like to use the TiVo remote to do more than change channels. The TiVo “Glo” can learn commands but I’m not sure about the others.

    • No, I don’t use the Tivo remote to turn box on and off. You have to leave the box on for Tivo to record when you’re not watching.

  44. That’s how to. Thaks for the share. If only there are people like you our task inhand would be easy.

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