CableCard Diagnostics Comes to Windows Media Center at EHX

Media Center Integrator Alliance has developed a utility that runs on Media Center to help installers diagnose and fix issues with digital cable tuners. The utility launches at EHX, March 11-14.

Last year, Lifeware and Niveus showed Windows Media Center prototypes that support six Digital Cable Tuners (DCT). If one is tricky ... imagine six.
Julie Jacobson · March 6, 2009

Integrators at the Electronic House Expo (March 11-14, Orlando, Fla.) will get the first glimpse of a new utility that helps provision CableCard tuners for Windows Media Center.

Prepared for the Media Center Integrator Alliance, the new software tool helps tackle the age-old pain point of Windows Media Center: that darn CableCard thing.

Experts say that provisioning CableCard for Media Center – and keeping it working – is getting much better these days but idiosyncrasies still show up (not the least because the cable guys “don’t do computers.”)

Now the MCIA comes to the rescue with the new Digital Cable Tuner Diagnostics tool.

The tool, available to all MCIA members, will be demonstrated during the two-day Media Center University at EHX, March 11 and 12. In addition, the MCIA is offering demonstrations to all EHX attendees during an open house on Friday, March 13. 


Learn more about Media Center at Media Center University, exclusively at the Electronic House Expo, March 11-14, 2009 in Orlando, Fla. Check out the complete MCU agenda here.

What does the Tool Do and Why is it Needed?

The DCTG (because we need another acronym) scans tuners and channels, reporting the diagnostics in an “easy-to-use interface for troubleshooting issues,” according to MCIA.

MCIA has not provided much detail about the tool, but Media Center guru Derek Flickinger had this to say on

It [the diagnostic tool] includes information like the modulation type, format, frequency, carrier, PCR Lock, encoding level, and authorization. It also provides detailed information about the tuner itself in addition to all of the parameters of the CableCARDs.


If you’re like a lot of integrators, this is foreign territory. So here’s the best news: you can export all of the diagnostic info as an XML file and send it to someone who knows!

One of the issues with CableCard on Windows Media Center is that sometimes the channels on the Media Center don’t line up with the MSO’s (cable operators) offerings when the unit is provisioned.

“What if not all the channels are going through? Are they supposed to be?” Flickinger explains.

Running on the Media Center in question, the new utility lets you see exactly what the tuner sees to help diagnose any pairing issues.

To be sure, there are other issues with CableCard and Media Center. The utility helps with many of them and we hear there are more tools in store.

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

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