Installing CableCARDs in TiVo HD DVRs

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This article provides instructions for installing CableCARDs in TiVo HD and TiVo HD XL DVRs.
If you have a TiVo Series3 HD DVR, please see Installing CableCARDs in a Series3 HD DVR.

To receive two digital cable channels at the same time, TiVo HD DVRs require the installation and activation of either one (1) Multi-stream CableCARD (M-card) or two (2) Single-stream CableCARDs (S-Card).

Most cable companies require CableCARDs to be installed by one of their field installers. If your cable provider allows you to pick up the CableCARDs and install them yourself, make sure you get a telephone number to call to get the cards activated.

WARNING: If you already have a CableCARD installed in your TV, contact your cable provider to see if you can transfer it to the DVR. Many cable providers associate CableCARDs with the device numbers of the slots in which they are installed when the CableCARDs are active; if you insert the card in the DVR, the card will not work, and may stop working when inserted back into the TV.

Before the Installer Arrives

If possible, do the following at least two days before your installation appointment, to ensure that the DVR can connect to the TiVo Service and download any software updates that are available:

  1. Set up the DVR, plug it in, turn on the TV, and use the TV remote to find the TiVo Welcome screen. Make sure you plug the RF cable coming from your wall to the Cable connector (not the Antenna connector) on the back of the DVR. See  How Do I Set Up My TiVo HD DVR?  for setup options and links to step-by-step instructions.
  2. Complete Guided Setup. Go to  Running Guided Setup (Series3 and TiVo HD DVRs)  for instructions.
  3. If you were able to complete Guided Setup before your installation appointment, the DVR is ready for CableCARD installation. Go to Step 4, below. If you are performing Guided Setup and installing CableCARDs at the same time, start at Step 1.

Installing the CableCARDs

  1. Write down the serial number of each CableCARD you are installing (or any other information that the cable provider may need), and then begin Guided Setup. Follow the on-screen instructions to agree to the Service Terms, confirm that you’ve activated your service, and enter your zip code. (See How Do I Begin Guided Setup?  for instructions.)
  2. From the TV Programming Source screen, highlight your program source (Cable Only or Cable & Antenna) and press SELECT.

  1. On the CableCARD Decoder screen answer Yes and press SELECT.

The CableCARD Decoders screen appears.

  1. Insert a CableCARD decoder into slot 1 (the right slot) on the front of the TiVo DVR. Make note of the serial number of the card placed in this slot. If you install an S-card, the CableCARD Decoder screen will show that an S-Card has been inserted into slot 1. If you install an M-Card, the screen will momentarily show that an S-Card has been inserted before it updates to show the M-Card.

    After a few minutes, the gray CableCARD MMI screen appears automatically.

    This screen provides data that may be needed to activate the CableCARD decoder. The content on this screen is determined by the cable provider; TiVo makes a screen available to display the information in compliance with CableCARD certification requirements.

NOTE: The CableCARD will take a minute or two to initialize. During this time, the CableCARD screens will display a message such as "Card not in normal operation".  This does not indicate damage to the CableCARD; as soon as initialization is complete, the message will be replaced with information generated by the CableCARD and the installer will be able to proceed with activation.

WARNING: If you see the message Updating Firmware when you insert a CableCARD, or if the configuration screen does not appear within 5 minutes, it means that your cable provider is updating the CableCARD’s internal software. DO NOT remove the CableCARD or unplug the DVR until the firmware update is complete! Doing so may permanently damage the CableCARD.

  1. Call your cable provider to activate or initialize the card.

NOTE: For Motorola CableCARDs, many cable providers send an activation signal that causes the DVR to issue error 161-4. This is normal and can be ignored. If you see 161-4 more than once, or if you see any other 161-x signal, it means that the card is damaged and needs to be replaced.

  1. Press CLEAR on the TiVo remote to continue installation. On the CableCARD Decoders screen, highlight Configure CableCARD1 and press SELECT. You are about to use the TiVo menus to test the channels on the CableCARD.

NOTE: Some installers may want to perform a channel scan; this is not necessary.

  1. Highlight Test Channels and press SELECT.

You may see the message “Please wait… Acquiring Channel Information", and then the channel test screen appears:

  1. Press the CHAN UP/DOWN button to make sure the CableCARD is receiving channels. Then, using the number buttons on the remote, enter the number of at least one encrypted channel (a premium channel, for example) to make sure the card is decrypting properly.

NOTE: If the card is not receiving channels, or is not decrypting properly, see Troubleshooting CableCARD Activation and Channel Issues.

  1. When you finish your tests, press CLEAR to return to the menu, and then highlight Go Back and press SELECT to return to the CableCARD Decoders screen.

  1. If you are installing a second S-Card, repeat Steps 4 through 9.

NOTE: If you installed an M-Card in slot 1, the DVR will ignore any CableCARD you attempt to install in slot 2.

  1. When you are finished, highlight Continue on the CableCARD Decoders screen and press SELECT.

  1. On the TiVo Service Connection screen, highlight the method you want to use to connect to the TiVo Service, and press SELECT.

If you need assistance with communicating with your cable provider, or to troubleshoot a CableCARD issue, contact the TiVo CableCARD hotline.


Need additional assistance? Chat with a TiVo representative.

To get help from other TiVo users, visit the TiVo Help Forums.


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