Yes, You Can Insert HD Programs into your Cable (and not be Bad Rob Lowe)

Rob Lowe Code

First, a disclaimer – I recently changed to Comcast Xfinity from DirecTV, and did not become bad Rob Lowe. In fact, I can record more shows at the same time, access many free on demand TV shows, and have blazing Internet speeds.

I’ve also noticed that cable companies have become easier to work with for commercial applications – primarily offering several ways to insert your in-house HD channels into the cable system.

Through the Cable Box

Though I’m not a fan of sites forced to use cable boxes throughout their facility, there are sites that have them. In the past year, cable companies have been more open allowing cable boxes to access a few in-house programs. Here’s how the process works:

A cable Guide listing, say 353, is mapped to a specific physical channel, and a specific program ID – as shown above. It doesn’t know your in-house channel exists, so you have to spoof the Guide into believing the program came from the mother ship. This is done in two ways:

  • Comcast, Time Warner and others map the Guide listing to specific channel and Program ID. Normally, your in-house modulators are set to Program ID 1 and 2. You can change a QMOD program to 353 or another number the Guide is looking for. Often, the channel number will be around 95-97. Those are in the FM band, and cable companies often avoid using them.
  • Others use an older method, mapping the Guide to the physical channel and the virtual channel number of each Program, such as 97.1 and 97.2.

Often the cable company will prefer to provide the components needed for this application. Ask the cable company for the following information:

  • Where will the RF input be for my channel (s)
  • What should RF level be set to?
  • What physical channels(s) should I use?
  • What program IDs or virtual channel numbers do we use?

QMOD Settings for Cable Insertion

Cable Settings

There are two possible settings, depending on the format wanted by the cable company. Following the example above, the QMOD is set to physical channel 44.

  • Program Number. Go to the Advanced menu (in version 1.1.12 firmware and above). Set the Program Number to 353. It’s easier to do this in the front-panel menu – you’d need 353 clicks to get here from the Web page.
  • Virtual Channel ID. Go to the Program A and Program B settings to change the Major and Minor numbers to match the cable provider’s spec.

Bulk Clear-QAM Channels from the Cable Company

If you need a fair amount of channels, or want to stop renting cable boxes, the cable company can deliver a package of unencrypted programs you can tune with ordinary HD TVs and tuners. No cable boxes required. Using an interface called the ATX UCrypt, the cable company can deliver from 6 to 60 programs – tune in without cable boxes.

As the system uses only up to 20 physical channels, it’s easy to add in your in-house channels.

Mix a few Cable/Satellite Programs with Your In-House Channels

Many commercial, civic, and K-12 educational sites only want a few subscription channels, primarily for news, weather, and information – along with their in-house channels.  Getting a few receivers and modulators to tune and distribute the channels you want is far less expensive than paying for the full load of programs and boxes. As you own the modulators, you can negotiate for the best price between cable and satellite providers.  Typical gear for this solution includes:

  • QMOD-YPB2 Modulator – 2 cable or satellite receivers
  • QMOD-SDI 2 Modulator- 2 SDI sources
  • QMOD-HDMI 2 Modulator– Digital signage and media players
  • QMOD-SDI HDMI Modulator – One SDI and One HDMI input