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June 2011

Comcast Installation – Update

I finally made it back out to my twin sisters place to clean up the mess that Comcast left. I had her return the old cable box to Comcast and get one with an HDMI port so that we could use the HDMI cable she paid for and already had installed. I used her fancy milk crate cabinet 🙂 temporarily until she gets a piece of furniture for that area. The slots in the crate were kind of nice for routing cables. If it were my place it would probably stay that way forever :).

I put in a surge protector, shortened the lengths of the COAX and CAT5 cables and moved the surge protector, modem and wifi router under the crate to contain them until she gets a new cabint. Cable box sits on top of the crate and i stashed the Wii behind the TV. The options were to use a wireless sensor bar and put it with the Cable box or stash it behind the TV. I decided to stash it behind the TV to keep them from having to replace batteries in the Wii. It’s easy to get to and off the mantle so my sister is happy.

It took me about 20 minutes to terminate cables and zip tie them into neat bundles and wire everything back up. Then i spent 10 minutes checking all the rooms in her house so that i could reinstall wall plates that the cable guy removed but didn’t reinstall and i had to carry around a trash bag to pick up all the cut pieces of cable and connectors. If that tech worked for me i would have fired him the next day. Total slob and ridiculously unprofessional. Enough stating of the obvious… check out the after pics below.

5 minute service call that took 4 hours

DirecTV was out at one of my clients houses and replaced a satellite receiver. I went out today to find out why its not being controlled. Its usually a broken or unattached emitter but sometimes its a nightmare where they totally hacked up the system. Today i found everything in place and the undamaged emitter laying next to the new receiver.

I pulled out the hot glue gun and attached the emitter to the new DirecTV HR24 receiver. When i tested the commands i found that the channel up and channel down buttons on the touch panel would make the box continue to channel up or down forever. Same issue with the navigation arrows. I have no idea why DirecTV would alter the codes on the remote for the HR24. Maybe someone there knows how it drives us crazy and they do it for spite or fun?

I had to break out my pronto TS-1000 to learn the commands from the new DirecTV remote and then convert the CCF data for Crestron DEAL. Then i replaced the driver in SystemBuilder. For some reason… SystemBuilder decided that today would be a good day to crash when i try to upload… every single time. I tried a few times and finally gave up and opted to load the processor via toolbox.

At some point all the new DirecTV commands were testing ok and i discovered that the TV was no longer being controlled. I checked the serial cable and then tried moving the TV to a different com port. Then i tried a different module from the crestron data base. I had been using a generic serial driver with string command for the fujitsu plasma. Eventually i discovered that if i move the TV commands (power/input selection) outside of the global preset macros they worked. Inside of those global preset commands they were ignored. Weird.. especially since these commands in these macros have been working for a long time. Its a fujitsu so that helps date the system.

While there, the client asks “when do you need to get into the bedroom?” “Why do i need to get in there?” i asked. “To integrate the system”. Rather than try and figure out what that meant i went up stairs to see what was going on. The master bedroom has an MX-700 in it with a TV/Receiver/DVD/DirecTV receiver. This system was installed a while back also. I found that they finally replaced the old sony CRT with a sony LCD. All i had to do was swap TV models in URC MX-700 editor and the bedroom was done. Good thing i had the loading cable with me!

Last bit of fun was when i asked about the guest house. “Sure, go ahead and check it for is, someone is moving in next week”. I found the DirecTV receiver to be totally “wont power up” dead. I found that the DVD player locks up at start up. So basically the guest house is offline. Good thing i checked.

Comcast Installation – Why i am not afraid of them entering into the “smart home” space

I just got back from an extended trip out of town at a project. My sister moved while i was gone and called up the geek squad to install her plasma. They mounted the TV and used bulk cable plates to route an HDMI cable to the right of the cabinet for connection at the soon-to-arrive Comcast Cable box. The Geek’s did a very nice job and actually helped my sister carry up a childs bed frame while they were there because the UPS guy wouldn’t carry it up!

All the comcast guy had to do was plug his cable box in and connect the HDMI cable… right? Wrong. They brought out a very old model with a DVI port instead of HDMI. So Comcast guy just needs to go get a newer model that has HDMI right? Wrong again. No HDMI port? No ability to remove a bulk cable plate and fish component cables? I KNOW! We will just run an RG6 directly from the cable box to the TV and call it a day! Who cares if they are paying for HD? Surely not the sub contractor that Comcast sent to my sisters house. You know.. the guy that removed the wall plates in all the bedrooms and left them off when he left. The guy that left debris under each wall plate. See the photos below. Clean up pics coming later this week when i go back out. I stopped there on my way from the airport this evening and didnt have any cable with me. This is why we have nothing to worry about from the providers. They will be stuck in iPad app land fighting with sloppy untrained subcontractors for a decade before we need to pay attention to them.