Guide to Stealing Cable
A. Converter Definition
B. The Most Common Converter Types
3. Addressable and Non-Addressable Converters
A. Addressable Converters
B. Non-Addressable Converters
A. Different Filter Types
B. Viable Solutions
A. One-Piece systems
B. Two-Piece systems
A. Cube Definitions
B. Which Models Can Use Cubes
C. Using A Cube Filter Combination
7. Finding The Right Equipment
A. Scientific Atlanta
8. Test Chips
B. Types Available
C. Tools That Are Needed To Install A Test Chip
D. Installation Instructions
9. Cable Company Deterrents
10. Legal Issues
A. General Legal Issues
12. Wholesale Sources
Section One: Introduction
Guide to Stealing Cable was written to educate interested parties on Cable Television and some of the various methods used to defeat scrambling methods on premium or pay stations. The author of this Guide to Stealing Cable is simply exercising every Americans First Amendment right, Freedom of Speech. The intent of this writing is not to defraud or promote the theft of cable services. This guide should not be interpreted as legal advice, if you have legal questions contact a lawyer or your local authorities. Be warned that stealing cable services is illegal, and there are severe penalties for anyone caught doing so. With that said and done let’s move on to the interesting stuff.
Cable TV has been around about as long as television itself. Original television signals were transmitted through the airwaves and were received through clunky antennas, located on almost every roof in America. This usually allowed for poor reception and a limited number of channels at best. With the invention of Satellite dishes came the concept of Cable television. Basically a company sets up a serious of satellite dishes and connects a community to the dishes via a coaxial cable. The average person, not having the funds or resources to buy their own satellite dish, rents the cable service from the local company. Originally this was the best thing since sliced bread, until people started realizing the monopolies that formed. You are now paying the same company whatever they want to charge, with little or no competition and limited regulation from the FCC. Slowly, but surely the new DSS satellites should provide for some serious competition among your local monopoly, but until then most of us are stuck paying the local cable guy.
With the invention of Cable Television came the thought of pay television. Instead of being bombarded with commercials you can pay a premium charge to receive commercial free television. This idea was not new, there were a few such pay stations around before cable, like Preview. The biggest pay stations around now are HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, The Movie Channel, etc. Access to these channels is controlled by scrambling the stations that they are transmitted on. There are numerous different methods of scrambling channels, which we will get into later on in the guide. The next thought in pay television was Pay-Per-View. This is also controlled by scrambling the various channels, but instead of renting the service on a monthly basis, consumers can call in and pay a one time fee to rent a movie. This fee is usually around $4 for movies that are relatively new releases in the video store, and up to $40 for events like boxing and concerts. To access and control an on-demand service like this, addressable converters are issued to cable consumers by the cable company, for a rental fee of course.
This guide describes all of the most popular brands of converters, and options available for testing these boxes, and/or replacing them. The cable company does not want you to know this, but most cable systems are vulnerable to unauthorized access. The sections that follow will describe the types of security measures the cable companies use to prevent theft of service and the means by which hackers break the law and defeat these security measures.
Section Two: Converters
The majority of cable companies in this country use a device that is called a converter. Most people recognize this device as a small to medium sized box that sits on top o their TV. The box will usually have one input cable coming from the wall and one output cable leading to the TV. However, there are some cable systems that use a dual line input. One line carries the basic channels and the other line carries the premium channels. When this is the case, either an A/B switch is used to alternate between the cables, or the box itself has two inputs and you switch between cables from the remote control. The technical function of the box is to take the signal from the input cable(s) and convert it into a viewable television picture. Converters normally output their signal on channel three, which means that you must tune your TV to channel three in order to view any cable channels. Sometimes a cable system will use converters with a channel two, or a channel four tuner output. The most common reason for this is that in some cities, there are UHF television stations that broadcast on channel three. This can sometimes cause interference with a cable system that is using a channel three output, so they usually switch to a converter that has a channel two or a channel four output. If you have a cable ready TV, you can still use a channel three output box, even if your cable company uses a different channel for the output. You simply switch your TV to the cable mode and tune it to channel three. When it is in the cable mode, the TV is tuned to VHF, not UHF where the interference is generated.
There are basically two different types of converters: addressable, and non-addressable. Non- addressable converters can be purchased by anyone at stores like Radio Shack and Wal-Mart, and, by themselves, can be used to view basic cable channels only. Addressable converters are usually supplied by the cable company, and can be used to view basic channels as well as premium channels that are subscribed to. Addressable converters are the most popular method that a cable company uses to control who is getting the channels they are supposed to be getting. Addressable converters will be discussed in greater detail in the next chapter.
If your cable company gave you a converter, it is a good idea to write down the model number and have it handy when you are calling around and pricing replacement boxes. If your cable company did not give you converter, then chances are you have a cable ready TV and do not subscribe to any movie channels. If you subscribe to movie channels, or order Pay-Per-View events, your cable company will supply you with a converter, for a monthly rental fee. If you are able to get movie channels without using a converter, and just your cable-ready TV, your cable company is using filters. Filters are discussed in section four.
Throughout the entire country, there are dozens of different types of cable converters in use by various cable companies. The most popular brands of converters in use by cable companies today are Jerrold, Tocom, Scientific Atlanta, Pioneer, Zenith, Oak, Hamlin, and Panasonic. Jerrold and Tocom converters are both manufactured by General Instrument Corporation. Within each different brand name, there are usually several different converter models. This is by no means a list of every converter in use by every cable company, but is rather a compilation of the most widely used brands and model numbers currently in use.
Most of the models are made up of a series of numbers, or of numbers and letters. For example: the Jerrold model DP 7xxx is the same as the DPV 7xxx, except that the DPV 7xxx has volume control, hence the ‘V’ in the model number.
If you have not already done so, check the bottom of your cable box and write down the brand and the model number. If you do not have a box, and are not sure whether or not you cable company uses a box, try calling a friend who subscribes to some premium channels or Pay-Per-View events. Ask him if he has a box, and if so, get the brand and the model number from the bottom of his box. If you determine that no box is used in your system, skip ahead to section four on filters. The next chapter will explain the difference between the two different types of converters, addressable and non-addressable.
Section Three: Addressable And Non-Addressable Converters
As noted in the previous chapter of Guide to Stealing Cable, there are two different types of converters: addressable and non-addressable. We will begin this chapter by explaining addressable converters.
When the term “addressable” is applied to a converter, it means that some of the converter’s functions can be manipulated from a remote location via the cable input line. The remote location is usually a computer at the cable company’s central office. Common functions that can be changed by the cable companies include, adding and canceling movie channels, turning on Pay-Per-View events, and completely turning off subscriber boxes. In more modern cable systems, the cable company can even send messages to individuals, or groups, by addressing their cable box. In the event that a subscriber is not home when a message is sent, the converter stores the message so that it can be viewed on the TV when the subscriber returns. Up to now, communication has only been one-way, meaning that the cable company can “talk” to the converter, but the converter can not send information back to the cable company. New boxes that are currently in being put into use be capable of both receiving information from, and sending information back to the cable company. This new technology will allow the cable company to monitor viewing habits of subscribers, and will also allow them to control theft of services more easily. It is certain that many people will be opposed to this sort of technology, which will allow the cable company to spy on you and see what programs you are watching.
Some of you may wonder how the cable company is able to “address” individual boxes. The answer is that each addressable converter has a unique electronic serial number that is programmed into the microprocessor inside the box. When the cable company wishes to change the functions of your converter, they use their computer to send out a signal through the cable lines that looks for your serial number, or “address.” Although the signal passes through all of the cable lines and reaches every persons converter on that system, it only makes a change to the converter whose serial number matches the one in the computer’s instructions.
If you are not sure whether or not you have an addressable converter, there are a couple of simple ways to check. First, look on the bottom of your converter and read any information that is found there. You are looking for something that reads “….addressable converter….”. If you cannot find anything on the bottom of your box, check the user’s guide that the cable company should have provided you with when they issued you your converter. Read through this guide and it should tell you if the converter is addressable. If you still cannot find out, call your cable company and pretend you want to order a premium movie channel. Ask them if they can turn it on immediately, or if they have to come out to your premises. If they can turn it on immediately, you have an addressable box.
Non-addressable converters cannot be controlled by the cable company. A converter that is non- addressable can only pick up the basic cable channels, unless the converter is being used in conjunction with a filter system, which will be explained in the next chapter. Cable companies will sometimes issue non-addressable converters to customers who do not order movie channels and who do not have cable-ready TV sets. A non-addressable converter is much less expensive than an addressable converter, so if a person does not have a cable ready TV and does not subscribe to any premium stations, it is much more economical for the cable company to provide a non-addressable converter instead of an addressable converter. If you have a choice, it is much more desirable to get an addressable converter instead of a non-addressable one.
Section Four: Filters
Filters are a security measure used by cable companies to prevent unauthorized individuals from receiving premium channels they are not paying for. Instead of the concept of controlling access to channels through an addressable converter inside the subscribers home, filters are placed outside the home, usually underground, or on a telephone pole. They look like metal cylinders, anywhere from one inch to one-half inch in diameter, and from one to four inches in length. Both ends are threaded to accept 75 Ohm coaxial cable. Filters placed outside a home prevent unauthorized premium channels from entering the home through the cable line. This is accomplished by physically filtering out a portion of the signal bandwidth that is being transmitted by the cable company. When the signal reaches the subscribers cable-ready TV, or non-addressable converter, the portion of the signal that contains the premium channel is masked over. As a note, it should be stated that there are some cable systems that combine addressable converters and filters in an attempt to make the system extra secure against signal theft. These systems are rare, however, because they are very expensive to maintain.
Filters usually correspond to a particular channel number. If, for instance, your cable company has HBO on channel 13, they use a channel 13 filter outside a persons home who does not pay for HBO. In addition to channel numbers, there are several different types of filters. Positive and negative are the most common. Even if your cable company uses filters there are still ways that they can be defeated. The first thing that must be determined is which channel numbers are filtered. Then it must be determined whether the filters are positive or negative. To counteract the filter, one places an opposite filter on the cable line inside the house. For example, if channel 13 is blocked using a positive filter, you would use a channel 13 negative filter to counteract the first filter. In some cases, when using a non-addressable converter, you can place a channel three filter after the converter. Since the output of the converter is on channel three, all stations are restored with the channel three filter. This only works with some system. For help when purchasing filters, consult section thirteen that deals with buying equipment. Companies that sell filters will know exactly what you need if you explain your cable system to them. The only drawback that typically comes with using filters is that if you have to purchase one for each premium station you want.
Section 5: Descramblers
If you have determined that your cable company uses an addressable converter, then it will be a descrambler that you want to purchase. There are several different types of descramblers, but the two most predominant types are one-piece and two-piece units. The first part of this chapter will explain one-piece units.
One-Piece units, or combination units, as they are commonly called, come in two different varieties: Factory equipment, and after-market brands. A descrambler that is the original factory equipment is a converter that is exactly the same as, or very similar to, the converter that your cable company uses. It is made by the same manufacturer, and has the same, or a very similar model number. The only difference is that an after-market device has been installed that allows the box to stay open for every channel. This device, commonly referred to as a chip, or a test kit will be discussed in more detail in section eight. The device basically turns an addressable converter into a non-addressable converter that is open for every channel. Since the converter is no longer addressable, it cannot receive any instructions from the cable company to turn itself off. The converter, in its non-chipped state, has the descrambler circuitry inside, it just needs instructions from the cable company to turn it on. The chip injects instructions into the converters microprocessor to turn the box on for all channels, and to ignore any instructions from the cable company to turn off the channels. The only problem with factory equipment one-piece units is that they usually cannot be purchased new. The companies that manufacture the boxes, such as General Instrument Corp., Scientific Atlanta, and Pioneer, only sell their equipment to cable companies, or distributors that supply cable systems. They will not release equipment to anyone else. What this means is that factory one-piece units are usually harder to come by and are more expensive, as compared to two-piece units.
Factory equipment one-piece units find their way to the marketplace through several means. Sometimes distributors, who are supposed to sell only to cable systems, release converters to other companies in the business of selling descramblers. Sometimes this is less than ethical, but the converters bring a higher price in the descrambler market and it can lead to higher returns for the distributor. There are even rumors about individuals that work for cable companies ordering hundreds, or thousands of converters off the record and turning around and selling the boxes to companies that sell descramblers. There have even been rumors that some small cable systems have formed, just so that they have authorization to purchase boxes from distributors. They then go around and buy as many boxes from various distributors as they can and profit by selling the boxes to the descrambler companies.
After-market one-piece units are also available to replace some addressable converters that are used by cable companies. These one piece units are basically non-addressable converters with descramblers built inside that act just like the descrambler portion of the factory box. They are available for some models only such as Jerrold and Scientific Atlanta.
Two-piece descrambler units consist of a basic non-addressable converter and an add-on descrambler. The add-on descrambler is often referred to as a pan, which is short for pancake. The reason for the name pancake is that the descrambler is usually enclosed in a flat metal box, and because of it’s flatness, they call it a pancake, or pan for short.
There is no shortage of generic, non-addressable converters. Anyone can buy them. The same holds true for pans. Pans are manufactured overseas, usually in Taiwan. They are produced by the thousands and imported into this country be a few key distributors. Pans are made to simulate the descrambling circuitry of the original factory converters, and when used in conjunction with a non- addressable converter, the two-piece unit acts in much the same way as the factory unit. Pans are available to replace many, but not all, brands of addressable converters supplied by the cable companies. The advantage of a two-piece unit is that if you move to an area where the cable company uses a different type of converter, chances are that all you have to do is buy a new pan. Hook-up of the two-piece unit is straightforward. The cable from your wall goes into the input of the converter. The output from the converter goes to the input of the descrambler. Finally, the output of the descrambler goes to the input of the TV or the VCR. Two-Piece units are typically much less expensive than one-piece units, but are not always as reliable. In most cases, they work fine, but sometimes it takes trying a couple different pans before you find the exact one that works best in your area.
Section Six: Cubes
A cube is a device that, when attached to an active addressable converter, sends a signal to the box that simulates the cable company’s computer turning the box on for all channels. The device is named a cube because the first ones made looked like square cubes about three to four inches high, enclosed in a metal or plastic. Attached to the cube is usually an AC adapter cord that plugs into the wall to provide the unit with power. In addition, there is a coaxial cable coming from the cube. Modern cubes have become much smaller in size. They are about the size of a tape cassette. Here is exactly how the process is done: after purchasing a cube, the input line from the cable company’s addressable box is disconnected. The coaxial cable from the cube is then connected to the input of the cable box. The cube is then plugged in and left on for a couple of minutes. Next, the cube is unplugged and disconnected from the cable box. The input cable from the wall is then reconnected to the cable box. When the box is turned back on, it is authorized for all channels. The only drawback to the cube is that every so often, the cable company does a global sweep, which means that they send out a signal to turn off every box that is not supposed to be on. Since the cube does not effect the addressable portion of the box, it is restored to its pre-cubed status. Cable companies do these sweeps at varying rates. Some do them every couple of weeks, some do them several times a day.
Cubes are available for the following brands of addressable converters, but keep in mind that you must have an addressable box in order to use a cube: Pioneer models BA 5000 – BA 6750, all Jerrold models, and all Scientific Atlanta models from 8550 and up. If your cable company uses one of these brands and models, you have the option of using a cube.
Through the use of traps, you can prolong the length of time that the cube keeps your box activated, in most cable systems. You first have to find out what frequency your cable company transmits it’s data signal on. Common frequencies are 97.5, 106.5, and 108.5. This can be done with an FM radio. Take the cable line and touch it to the antenna of the radio. Search around using the tuning dial until you here a digital data type signal. Confirm you have found the signal by removing the cable and touching it again. When you find out what frequency it is you can buy a fm trap that will eliminate that frequency from the signal. The box still gets shut down occasionally, but not as often as without the trap. Most suppliers of cubes will include a filter with the cube.
Section Seven: Finding The Right Equipment
If you have determined that your cable company uses an addressable converter, it will be a descrambler that you will want to purchase. There are several types of descramblers, as we talked about earlier. If you still have not written down the model number of your addressable converter, now is the time to do so if you wish to determine the different options you have available when purchasing your particular equipment. This chapter will go through a rundown of the boxes from table 2.1 in chapter two and will tell you what replacements are available for your converter.
Scientific Atlanta produces many different models of converters. The original, and most basic, is the 8500. The 8500 is a beige box with the buttons on the top panel. As far as replacements for the 8500 go, there are several. You can use an actual 8500 descrambler, but this is not always the best idea because 8500’s are very old boxes and have been known to have some problems. A better replacement would be another Scientific Atlanta model that is a bit newer. The 8535, or 8536 makes a suitable replacement, as does the 8550. An 8580 will also work nicely, but is a bit more expensive. As far as two-piece units go, a non-addressable converter combined with an SA-3 descrambler will work in most places, but is sometimes temperamental. The best suggestion would be to go with a newer model Scientific Atlanta descrambler such as the 8536, 8550, or 8580 for trouble-free viewing.
If your cable company issued you a Scientific Atlanta 8511, this is not an addressable converter. It means they either use a different model converter for movie channels, or they use a filter system. There is no descrambler that replaces the 8511.
The Scientific Atlanta 8520 and 8525 are very rare converters. If you have one of these boxes, your best replacement options are an S.A. 8535, 8536, 8550, or 8580 descrambler. The SA-3 two-piece unit will sometimes work, but it is best to stay away from the SA-3. It is old and outdated.
The S.A. models 8535 and 8536 are fairly common. Suggested replacement options are 8535 or 8536 descramblers. Higher models, such as the 8550 and 8580 will also work. The advantage of an 8550 or 8580 is that you do not have to switch between modes. On an 8535 or 8536, when you want to view premium channels, you have to physically flick a switch on the unit to switch between modes.
If your Scientific Atlanta converter is a model 8550, you can replace it with an 8550 descrambler. This is about your best and most inexpensive option. The 8550 is usually an easy model to find and works will if the company you buy it from installs the correct chip. To determine which chip is the correct one, see the next chapter on Turn-on Chips. You can also replace an 8550 with an 8580 descrambler, but 8580 descramblers are usually more expensive. Two-piece units are not favored for S.A. converters.
The Scientific Atlanta model 8570 is also a relatively rare converter. Some systems mix 8570’s in addition to other models of S.A. converters, but very rarely do systems us 8570’s exclusively. If you happen to have an 8570 converter it is likely that the only replacement that will work for you is an 8570. In some places (Staten Island, NY is the most common) 8570’s are used in combination with 8580’s. The model 8580 descrambler does not work well there, but the 8570 does. The only problem is that the channels do not line up the same way they are supposed to. For instance, what should normally be channel three, might show up on channel 18. All the channels are there, they are just in a different order. So, in short, if your cable company issued you an 8570 converter, you should buy an 8570 descrambler. There is no two-piece replacement for the 8570.
If you have a model 8580 converter from your cable company, you are not alone. This is the most popular model of Scientific Atlanta converter. You have several options for descramblers. First, and most obvious, is the 8580 descrambler. This is the best all-around choice. It is fully automatic and almost always trouble-free. Model 8580’s are sometimes difficult to find, but are worth the search. As far as two-piece models go, there are a couple of pans that work will. The SA M-80, and the SA-DF are the most popular. They usually get the job done will, but they have external switches that must be used to switch between descrambling modes. It can get very tiresome getting up and switching a switch every time you want to view a premium channel. But for some, the money saved is worth it. As a note, the model 8582 converter is the same as the 8580, except that it has a phone jack in the rear of the unit that can be used to address the box. As far as replacements go, an 8580 will work just fine, a will the other units listed in this paragraph.
The S.A. 8590 and 8595 are Scientific Atlanta’s entries in to the base band converter market. If your cable company issued you an 8590 or 8595 converter, you must replace it with an 8590 or 8595 descrambler. There is no two-piece unit available on the market at the time of this writing. When shopping for a descrambler, you will probably find that most companies only have 8590’s. This is perfectly fine.
If you have the model 8600 converter from your cable company, you have the most state-of-the-art converter available from Scientific Atlanta at this time. The 8600 has features such as volume control, and on screen graphics. The converter also has the ability to receive messages from the cable company to individual subscribers. When buying a descrambler, most of the time an 8590 will work, as will a model 8600. Again, there is no pan available for the 8600. You are best off trying to locate an 8600 because of the advanced features available with this model.
General Instrument (Jerrold)
Jerrold converters, which are manufactured by General Instrument Corporation, are the most widely used converters in this Country. The most popular models and their replacements will be reviewed here. This section of the chapter will cover only the Jerrold converter models that are addressable, since many of the older models are used in conjunction with filters.
The Jerrold models DP5xxx and DPV5xxx are exactly the same, except that the DPV5xxx has volume control and the DP5xxx does not. The xxx’s stand for numbers that your model number will contain. The numbers after the 5 vary from box to box and are, for the most part, insignificant. To replace the DP or DPV5xxx with a descrambler, you have three basic options that are worth considering. The first option is a one-piece DP or DPV5xxx descrambler. This is a relatively easy box to find because it has been in existence for quite a while. It is also reliable and reasonably priced. The second option is using a DP or DPV7xxx descrambler. These models are the next up from the DPV5 series and work just as well as A DP or DPV5, plus have the advantage of being newer. The are also more expensive, but if for some reason you cannot find a DPV5, the DPV7 is a good alternative. There are several two-piece units out on the market that work very well for the DP and DPV5. The pan portion of these units come in varying styles and go by various names. The latest version out at this time is the STEALTH descrambler. It seems to be the best performing unit to date and it is highly recommended. When used with a high quality non-addressable converter, it will produce just as good a picture as a factory box. The two-piece units are also much lower in price than one-piece units.
The most popular Jerrold models are the DP and DPV7xxx. You should already have guessed that these two models are the same except that the DPV7 has volume control. The replacement options are simple. You can use a DP or DPV5 descrambler, a DP or DPV7 descrambler, or the two-piece unit with the STEALTH descrambler as mentioned in the previous paragraph. Any of these models will bring you a quality picture.
The model DPBB5xxx is a Jerrold base band converter. Base band is a more sophisticated signal that is harder to decode. Replacement options for this model are the DPBB5xxx, and sometimes the DPBB7xxx, although if your cable company issued you a DPBB5 it is best to get a DPBB5 descrambler. There are no two-piece units available to replace base band converters.
The DPBB7xxx is similar in concept to the DPBB5, but the DPBB7 has even more sophisticated technology. The two converters are also completely different in appearance. The DPBB5 is larger and has a wood grain appearance, while the DPBB7 is a more modern style and is a bit more compact and solid black in color. The only replacement for the DPBB7 converter is the DPBB7 descrambler. Unfortunately, these descramblers are also the hardest to find and the most expensive on the market. If you have a DPBB7, you might consider using a cube.
The CFT2xxx is also a Jerrold base band converter. It looks the same as the DPBB7, but it has on-screen programming features that the DPBB7 does not have. Currently there is not a CFT2xxx descrambler, but there are companies that install an internal cube in the CFT to make it into a descrambler. The DPBB7 descrambler will work as a replacement for the CFT2xxx converter. It will function the same, but will not have the on-screen graphics. An external cube will also do the job.
General Instrument (Tocom)
Tocom converters are also manufactured by General Instrument Corporation. Incidentally, GI corp is the largest producer of set-top cable converters in the world. There are only a few different models of Tocom converters, which makes finding a match all the easier.
The model 5501 is one of the first Tocom converters. The best replacement for this box is the Tocom model 5503A. Tocom descramblers are always hard to find, but there are quite a number of 5503A descramblers out there, and they are the easiest to find of all Tocom models.
The model 5503A converter is also replaced by the 5503A descrambler. The 5503VIP and the 5507 will work for the 5503A, but they are much more expensive, so try to stick with the 5503A if you can find one.
The model 5503VIP is identical in appearance to the 5503A, but is more advanced. If you have a 5503A converter, you can use a 5503VIP descrambler, or a 5507 descrambler. If you can find one, the 5503VIP is slightly less expensive than the 5507, but the 5507 is much more modern in appearance.
The Tocom model 5507 is almost the same internally as the 5503VIP, but the 5507 has a newer and more compact design, plus some updated components. If your cable company issued you a 5507 converter, the 5507 descrambler is the only replacement for it. There are no two-piece units available for Tocom converters. Unfortunately, the 5507 is a very rare box, and descramblers are very hard to find for it. The descrambler also commands a premium price, usually over $300.
Pioneer makes several models of converters that are commonly used in the United States. The most common models are the BA 5000 and the BA 6000 series. If you have a model that is lower than 5000, you can still use one of the replacement descramblers that will be mentioned here. If your cable company issued you a BA 5xxx converter, you have two replacement options. The first is a one-piece unit, you can use any model that starts with five. For example, if your cable company gave you the model BA 5130 converter, you can use the model BA 5135 descrambler. You can also use a higher model Pioneer descrambler, such as the BA 6100. Any of these units will work just fine. When you are purchasing a one-piece descrambler, make sure you mention the city you are planning to use the unit in. Some areas require a special configuration. Any company that sells one-piece Pioneer descramblers will know what you need for your area. You also have the option of using a two-piece unit. There are several different pans available for Pioneer. The best one to use to replace a BA 5000 series converter is the PN-3A pan. It has dual switches on the back of the unit to allow it to adjust to a wide variety of systems. It is the most trouble-free pan available for 5000 series Pioneer converters.
If your cable system issued you a Pioneer BA 6110, or 6150 converter, you also have two replacement options. The first is to use a BA 6110, or higher, descrambler. The BA 6110 descrambler will work perfectly, but is sometimes hard to find and can be expensive. A better alternative is to go with a two-piece unit. The best pan to use with a two-piece system is the Pioneer Green descrambler. It is fully automatic (no switches), and almost always works flawlessly. The Green is also very easy to find, as almost all dealers carry it.
If you happen to have a model BA 6310 or BA 6350 converter, your only suitable options are a one-piece descrambler with a model number of BA 6300 or higher. These units are usually difficult to find, but they are out there. Occasionally, the two-piece unit with the Green descrambler will work, but it is a gamble.
For those of you that are unfortunate enough to have a Pioneer model that is above BA 6350, there is currently no reliable replacement that works on a consistent basis. Do no get too discouraged, however, because it is only a matter of time until there is a suitable replacement available.
If you have a Zenith converter that was issued to you by your cable company, your replacement options are relatively simple. There is a two-piece unit available called the SSAVI, but it is recommended that you stick with a one-piece descrambler. If the model of your Zenith converter starts with the letters ST, followed by four numbers, then you can use the model ST 1600 descrambler to replace your converter. If, for example, your converter has the model number ST 1000, you could use an ST 1000 descrambler, but it is recommended that you use an ST 1600 instead. The reason is that Zenith converters are usually very old and it is better to stick with a newer model to avoid problems in the future. Since the ST 1600 will replace any Zenith converter starting with the letters ST, it saves a lot of time and confusion to go with the ST 1600. If you really shop around, it is even possible to find a brand new Zenith ST 1600. They are rare, but there are always some out there. They usually run about $300, and are worth the price.
If you have a Zenith converter that has the model number PM-1, PM-2, or PZ-1, there is currently no replacement descrambler available. Some people claim to have something that will work, but there is no descrambler that will effectively replace any of these three models.
If you have an Oak converter with the model RTC-56, or RKDM-400, it is best to go with a one- piece descrambler as a replacement. There are some two-piece units on the market, but their reliability is sometimes questionable. When you are searching for a replacement for you Oak converter, you may have to call several dealers before you find one that has what you need. The reason for this is that many dealers choose not to carry Oak because it is an old unit and is not used very widely throughout this country.
If you have an Oak converter that is a Sigma series, there is no replacement available for you. Eventually, there may be, but at this point there is not.
If you have a Hamlin converter, reference the model on the bottom and search for a one-piece replacement. There are very few Hamlin models, so there is relatively little chance for confusion. If you have a model CR 6000 converter, use a CR 6000 descrambler. If you have a model CR 6600 converter, use a CR 6600 descrambler. If you have the MLD 1200, us the model MLD 1200 descrambler.
Chapter Eight: Test Chips
Test chips are devices that, when installed into addressable converters, transform the converters into descramblers. Test chips are not always just single chips. Many times there are circuit boards that contain a chip, or chips, in addition to other components such as resistors and diodes, etc.
Test chips are available for many of the converters listed in this manual. This chapter will explain the different types of test chips available for the most popular converter models and will give instructions pertaining to the installation of the devices.
Before purchasing and attempting to install any test devices, you must be aware of several thing. First, and most important, it is a violation of various laws to perform any alterations to cable converters that are the property of a cable system. Second, before considering the installation of a chip, you should be familiar with basic soldering techniques and have the proper equipment to do the job. The proper equipment consists of a low-wattage soldering iron, rosin-core solder, a de-soldering pump, tools to open the box, wire cutters, spare wire, and general tools such as screw drivers and pliers. If you have a converter that has tamper-proof screws to secure the cover, do no attempt to remove these screws with anything other than the proper tool. The main types of tamper-proof screws are torx (used for Scientific Atlanta, Pioneer and Zenith), star ( used for most Jerrold and Tocom), and oval (used for some Jerrold). The bits used to remove these tamper-proof screws are available on our home page. If you feel you have the experience and tools necessary to do the job, then proceed to the next section and find the brand and model of the box you wish to fix.
Of the various Scientific Atlanta models, we will discuss the different types of chips available and the installation procedure for the most widely used models. The first of these models is the SA 8550.
The 8550 is a relatively easy converter to fix. There are three main test modules available for the 8550, but there is one that is the best. It is called the 8550 quick board. It is a small circuit board, about one square inch in size. On the circuit board is one small chip, and four other components. To install this fix, you must first begin by removing the four screws in the bottom corners of the box. Removing the screws requires a T-20 size tamper-proof torx bit. Next, lift off the cover carefully. You will notice that there is a strip of ribbon wire that runs from the box to the cover. Carefully pull the wire from its connecting point inside the box. You can now place the cover out of your way. Inside the box, there will be a circuit board towards the front that runs the length of the box. It is about three inches wide. In the rear center of the box is the tuner. It consists of two square metal boxes, one on top of the other. To the left and in the rear of the box is the transformer. Examine the circuit board and locate the 14 pin chip in your box does not have this exact number, do not worry, there is only one 14 pin chip on the entire circuit board, and that is the one you are looking for. Included with the test device will be a 14 pin IC socket. Take this socket and piggy-back it onto the 14 pin chip so that each leg of the socket is touching the corresponding leg of the chip. Next, take your soldering iron and solder each leg of the socket so that it bonds with each corresponding leg of the chip. Once this is done, the test device simply plugs into the top of the socket. You can now replace the cover and power up the unit. If you hold down the + key, the LED display should go from 01 to 99. If it does not, go back and check all of your soldered connections. When the unit is hooked up to your TV and an active cable line, all available channels should come in clearly. The procedure is now complete.
The next model we are going to cover is the SA 8570. There are two test modules available for the 8570 and each has its advantages and disadvantages. The first module is the 40 pin test chip. Start by removing the cover of the box. There will be five screws you need to remove, one in each corner of the bottom of the box, and one that is off-center and slightly recessed. Again, the removal of the screws requires a size T-20 tamper-proof torx bit, as do all SA converters. When the cover is removed, you will notice a 40 pin chip near the center of the circuit board. The 40 pin test chip replaces the existing 40 pin chip that is in the box. To remove the existing 40 pin chip, you must first access the bottom of the circuit board. To do this, remove the two Phillips head screws that hold down the heat-sink chips. There is one on the left and one on the right. After these screws are removed, carefully lift the circuit board from the chassis and turn it upside down, being careful not to damage the wires that attach the board to the tuner and the transformer. On the bottom of the circuit board, locate the points where the legs of the 40 pin chip pass through the board and are soldered. With your de-soldering pump and soldering iron, carefully heat each connection and remove the solder. Be sure to remove all of the solder so that the chip can be easily extracted from the board. Once all of the solder is removed, turn the board back over and gently pull the chip up from the board. If it does not come out easily, you have not removed all of the solder. Once the chip is removed, insert the 40 pin socket that should have been supplied with the test chip. Now turn the board back over and solder each connection on the bottom of the board. Once this has been done, secure the board back to the chassis by replacing the two Phillips head screws. Now take the test chip and insert it into the socket. It is crucial that you make sure the notch at the end of the chip points toward the rear of the box. Replace the cover of the box and plug the unit in. Hold down the + key and the unit should power-up, starting on channel four. To the left of the channel number will be a small red dot, riding “high” or “low” to indicate the status of the decoder. When the unit is hooked up to a TV and active cable line, all stations should appear clearly. If they do not, press the AU button on the box or remote to change the position of the dot next ot the channel that is scrambled. The image should now be clear. The advantage of this type of test chip is that you can turn the decoder on and off by using the AU button. The disadvantage is once the chip is installed, your box is no longer compatible with the clock feature.
The second type of test device that is available for the 8570 is the quick board. Installation of the quick board I simple and straight forward. With the cover removed, locate the white strip that has 11 metal pins protruding upward. About one inch to the right of this strip, you will notice two eight pin chips. Included with the quick board will be a 14 pin socket. Position this socket so that it is flush with the end of the eight pin chip that is farthest from you (if you are looking at the box from the front). The socket should cover the entire eight pin chip farthest from you, and half of the other eight pin chip. With your soldering iron, carefully solder each connection of the socket to the corresponding leg of each eight pin chip. Once this is done, the quick board simply plugs in. On the bottom of the quick board will be a row of metal cylinders. These cylinders slide over the metal pins on the white strip. On the other end of the quick board will be two metal prongs. When you slide the cylinders onto the pins protruding from the white strip, the two prongs on the other end of the board will slide perfectly into the socket you installed on top of the eight pin chips. Installation is now complete. Replace the cover and power-up the unit. It should go from channels 01 to 99. When the unit is hooked up, all channels should be viewable. The advantage of this chip is that it is clock compatible and it is easy to install. The disadvantage is that it is sometimes (but very rarely) vulnerable to being shut down by the cable company.
The next SA box we will cover is the 8580. Test kit installation for the 8580 is very similar to the 8570 so instructions will be very brief. For more detail, refer to the previous two paragraphs. There are three widely used test devices for the 8580. As with the 8570, there is the 40 pin chip and the quick board. But there is also another device called the spider board. The spider board was the original test device designed for the 8580, but we are no going to cover it because many cable systems have found ways of zapping it and rendering it inoperable. When purchasing a test device for the 8580, you must know exactly what you are looking for. There are two different versions of the 8580. One has six buttons on the front and the other has seven.
For the six button box the only option, besides the spider board, is the quick board. The quick board installs I much the same way as it does in the 8570, except it is a different shape. First, install the socket over the eight pin chips in the middle right of the box. Next snap the quick board onto the white strip that has 13 pins protruding up from it. The other end of the quick board has two prongs that will align with the socket installed over the eight pin chips. Once the cover is replaced, the unit is ready for operation. If you have a seven button 8580, you have the option of using the 40 pin chip, or the quick board. Keep in mind, however, that the quick board for the seven button box is different from the one for the six button box, so you must determine which one you need. If you choose to install the 40 pin chip, remove the circuit board from the chassis and turn it upside down. De-solder the chip and remove it from the circuit board. Next, install a 40 pin socket and solder all of the connections. Re-secure the circuit board to the chassis and insert the 40 pin test chip into the socket with the notch at the end of the chip facing toward the rear of the box. Replace the cover and the unit is ready for operation. The decoder is toggled by the AU button, just as it is with the 8570. If you choose to install the quick board, install the 14 pin socket over the 8 pin chips and plug the quick board into the white strip and socket.
The SA 8590 has two options when it comes to test devices. You can use either the 40 pin chip or the quick board. There are two different versions of the 8590. One has 11 buttons, and the other has 10 buttons. The volume and channel buttons, although they appear as one, are counted as two(this applies only to the 10 button box). The 40 pin chip for the 10 button 8590 is exactly the same as the chip for the 8570. They are interchangeable. If you choose to use the 40 pin chip, remove the chip from the circuit board and replace it with a 40 pin socket. Insert the chip into the socket and replace the cover. The decoder is toggled by the AU button. The quick board installs in the same way as the other quick boards. First install the socket over the 8 pin chips, then plug the quick board in . the unit will now be in descrambling mode.
If you have an 11 button 8590, you can also use a 40 pin chip, although it is different from the one used in the 10 button box. It installs in the same manner. As for the quick board, in the instance, there is only one 8 pin chip. Install an 8 pin socket over the 8 pin chip and then the device will plug in the same way as the other quick boards do. Just line up the connectors to the white strip and the socket over the 8 pin chip.
The SA model 8600 also has two options. As you may have guessed, they are the 40 pin chip and the quick board. The 8600 is cosmetically identical to the 8590 11 button box, and the chips for the two are also interchangeable. When installing the e40 pin chip into the 8600 or 8590, there are a few extra screws you must remove to access the circuit board. Usually, there are two screws inside the box holding the board to the chassis, and one screw in the rear of the box, just above the output jack. One of the screws you must remove inside the box is the one all the way to the right that holds the heat-sink chip in place. Remove these screws in addition to the two hex nuts that secure the input and output jacks. You can now move the circuit board, which will allow you to remove the 40 pin chip and replace it with a socket. There is one more connection that needs to be made if you are using the 40 pin chip in the 8600. If you are looking at the circuit board fro the front, top , locate the third button from the left on the front of the circuit board. If you look straight up from this button, You will see a small black transistor. About one centimeter above the transistor, there are two holes. The hole on the left has a yellow letter “c” next to it. The connections underneath these two holes must be jumped together, or you will have scrambled audio. Use a small piece of wire to connect the two points together. If you are installing the quick board into the 8600, locate the single 8 pin chip near the front, tight of the box. Install an 8 pin socket over the chip and then plug the quick board into the white strip and socket. Installation is complete.
General Instrument (Jerrold)
General Instrument converters are the most widely used boxes in this country. GI manufactures over 50% of all the converters I use by various cable companies. The most popular models are the Jerrold DP series. The DP series includes the DP5, DPV5, DPBB5, DP7, DPV7, and DPBB7. This section will provide the information needed to install test kits into most of these models.
The test chip installation for the DP5 and the DPV5 are the same and there is only one type of test chip that will work for these types of boxes. The first step is to remove the four screws that hold the cover if place. To do this, you must use the star-bit removal tool. Once the screws are removed, lift the cover off carefully, so as not to damage the wires that connect to the keypad. Inside the box, look for a 28 pin chip that is already in a socket. The location of this chip sometimes varies from box to box, but there will be only one 28 pin chip in a socket. When you have located this chip, carefully remove it from the socket, taking caution not to damage the circuit board. Now, insert the 28 pin test chip into the socket. You must make sure that the notch at the end of the chip is facing in the same direction as the notch at the end of the socket. Gently, but firmly, press the test chip into the socket. The next step is to locate the 40 pin chip in the box that ends with the numbers -541, or -557. With a pair of clippers, cut pin 36 of this chip as close to the circuit board as possible. Always remember that when counting the pins of a chip, pin number one is always to the left of the notch in the chip. From pin one , you count downward until you reach the last pin on the left side. You then go directly across and continue counting upward until you reach the end. Now, bend up pin 36 so that it is not making contact with anything else. The next step is to take a piece of wire about six inches long and solder one end to the top half of pin 36 and the other end to a ground (the chassis will do fine). Before attempting to turn on the unit, you must replace the cover. There is a tamper-proof switch inside the box that must be pressed down in order for the unit to work, and replacing the cover holds this switch down. Once the cover is in place, power-up the unit and it should work fine.
Test kit installation for the DP7, DPV7 and DPBB7 also use the same device and follow the same installation procedures. However, there are some variations of these models that cannot be fixed. If the model number of your converter ends with R2, or V5, there is no chip available at the time of this writing, but there will be soon. The most popular rest device available for the seven series boxes is the three-wire board. When shopping for test devices, this is what you should look for. The first step in the installation process is to remove the cover from the box. With the cover removed, locate IC U4 inside the box(U4 will be printed in white or yellow letters on the circuit board just above or below the chip) and remove it from its socket. If it is not in a socket (this is very rare), desolder, and remove the chip and install a 28 pin socket in its place. Next, take IC U4 and insert it into the socket that is a part of the test kit with the notch on the chip facing in the same direction as the notch in the socket on the tip of the test kit. Now insert the test kit into the socket U4 where you removed the chip from, with the notches facing in the same direction. There will be three wires coming from the test kit. Locate the wire labeled number one and solder it to pin 15 of IC U2. Sometimes IC U2 is located underneath the tuner. If this is the case, remove the screws that secure the tuner so that you can access IC U2. IC U2 has the serial number 74HC138 on top of it and it is a 16 pin chip. Next, locate IC U5. It will be right next to IC U4. Cut pin 20 of IC U5 in half as close to the circuit board as possible. When cutting this pin, it is very important that you do not make any contact with the pins on each side of pin 20, or it will short the chip out. Now, bend up pin 20 so that it does not make any contact with the bottom half of the pin. Solder wire number two from the test kit to the tip half of pin 20. Wire number three connects the pin 18 of IC U5. The installation process is now complete. Replace the cover and the screws. To power up the unit, hold down the on button for about seven seconds. Release the button, then depress it again. The unit should now come on. If any stations have a red dot between them, remove the dot by pressing F, then PC/PM, then 1234 then Enter. Now scan through the channels and remove any dots by pressing the PC/PM button. The unit is now ready for operation.
Pioneer converters are among the most confusing boxes to fix. There are many variations among the different model numbers and sometimes even boxes with the same model number will have a slightly different internal configuration. There is one standard test device available for Pioneer converters, up to, and including the model 6110. The test device is a small circuit board with three wires attached to it. Since there are so many variations of Pioneer converters, it is best to consult the company you purchase the device from for installation instructions for your particular model number, but we will give a brief account for the procedures for the model 5130. To determine if your Pioneer converter can be modified, you must first apply power to the unit and watch the LED display. If it quickly blinks a figure “8” for about a second, you can modify the unit. If it does not, you can not install a test device into the unit.
If you have a Pioneer model 5130, remove the cover. If you are looking at the box from the front, locate the tamper-proof switch that is all the way to the right side of the box, in the middle. Push the switch down and melt it together with a soldering iron, so that it can not pop up. Locate the wire on the test device that is marked GND and solder it to the chassis of the converter. Next, locate the heat-sink in the converter. It is located in the middle, left of the box and is silver in color. On the right side of the heat-sink, there is an opening. Directly to the right of the opening, there is a jumper on the circuit board. It appears as a silver wire that connects two points. This jumper is +5V. Connect the wire from the test device that is marked +5V to this jumper. Next, you must locate the point on the circuit board that is marked with the letter “A”. This point is usually at the rear of the box an inch or two from the left side. Connect the wire from the test device marked “data” to point A. Next, locate resistor R2. It is at the front of the circuit board, A couple inches from the right and is marked “R2″. Cut resistor R2 on the back side (the side that is toward the rear of the box) and solder a piece of wire about six inches long to the end of the resistor. Solder the other end of this wire to pine “B” that is right next to point “A” near the rear, left. Replace the cover of the unit and turn on the power. It should now come on to channel two. The unit is now in test mode.
If you have a Zenith converter that has a model number that starts with ST, that installation of a test chip is relatively simple and there is one chip that will do all boxes starting with ST. If your Zenith converter starts with PM or PZ, there is no test chip currently available.
If your converter starts with ST, begin by turning the box over and removing the five tamper-proof screws. You will need a size T-15 tamper-proof torx bit. Carefully slide the cover off and locate the main microprocessor. It will have a serial number the ends with -165 or -288, depending on the model. Right below the microprocessor will be a chip that is in a socket. Depending on the model number of the box, it will be either a 16 or and 18 pin chip. Remove the chip from the socket. Next, take the test chip and insert it into the socket. The test chip is a 20 pin chip, so it will overlap the socket slightly. Align the chip flush with the socket on the notch end. The test chip will have three wires coming from it. The first one will come from pin 1 of the test chip, the second one will come from pin two of the test chip, and the third one will come from pin 18 of the test chip. If you have a -165 processor, make the following connections: Wire one from the test chip to pin 10 on the processor, wire two from the test chip the pin 11 on the processor, and wire three form the test chip (from pin 18) to pin 12 on the processor. This completes the installation process. Put the cover back on and plug the unit in. If you have a -288 processor, make the following connections: Wire one from the test chip to pin 13 on the processor, wire two from the test chip to pin 10 on the processor and wire three from the test chip to pin 12 on the processor. Next, solder pins four and five on the processor together. This completes the installation process. Replace the cover and test the unit. It should work for all channels.
Section Nine: Cable Company Deterrents
Many people are familiar with what is referred to as the “bullet.” The bullet is a signal that the cable company sends out through the cable lines that tells addressable boxes that are not authorized for premium channels to turn themselves off for the premium channels. All cable systems that use addressable boxes send out these signals on varying basis. For instance, if your cable company is giving a free preview of HBO for the Weekend, your box will get HBO for the weekend, but when the preview is over, the cable company sends out a signal that tells every box that is not paying for HBO to no longer unscramble HBO. Here is a little trick that you can try, when your cable company is giving a free preview of a movie channel, disconnect the input cable from your box just before the free preview is about to end. Leave the input cable disconnected for about 24 hours. When you reconnect the cable, you will still have the movie channel because your box did not receive the signal that was supposed to tell it to turn the channel off. Eventually, another signal will be seen that will shut the channel off, and there is no way to know exactly when the signal will be sent, but in the meantime, you will still receive the channel. There are rumors that some people have purchased devices like the Bullet Buster, ordered a pay-per view event, installed the device, and have had pay-per view for up to a month.
Sometimes, it is possible to use a device that filters out the bullet. Many people advertise these devices as “Bullet Busters,” or “Snooper Stoppers” and in many cases they are effective in stopping the signal that the cable company generates. These are components that connect to the cable line before it enters the box. Keep in mind, however, that there is no device that is guaranteed to stop a bullet, but it cannot hurt to use these devices.
Most chips that are installed into addressable converters turn the box into a non-addressable descrambler and make the unit immune to bullets generated by the cable company. However, some systems have come up with bullets that can render a descrambler inactive and destroy the chip. The chips that are most susceptible to bullets are the Scientific Atlanta spider board test device, and some Pioneer board test devices. But for the most part, descramblers are usually internally protected against the bullet.
Section Ten: Legal Issues
This chapter will give a brief account of some of the legal issues that concern the sale and use of Cable TV descramblers. None of the information in this chapter, or this entire book for that matter, is to be taken as advice, legal, or otherwise. If you have any questions concerning your rights regarding the use of Cable TV equipment, contact your attorney.
All vendors that sell aftermarket cable equipment, such as descramblers and test chips, will not sell the equipment within their home state. You are also not allowed or advised to buy equipment from companies within your home state. The legal reasons for this vary, but the underlying reason is that when you sell equipment out of state, there is much less chance that (if someone is caught using the equipment illegally) authorities will come across state lines to seek out the vendor that actually sold the equipment. Not that it is illegal to sell the equipment, but authorities have been know to harass descrambler companies by confiscating their equipment and tying it up with legal (or illegal)tactics without even filing any charge against the companies. This harassment is brought on mainly by pressure form large cable companies. In fact, the 1992 Cable Act actually gives cable subscribers the right to buy their own set-top hardware from vendors other than the cable company. In 1993, General Instrument Corporation filed a suit against Nuts & Volts magazine, alleging that the publication “assisted in the unauthorized reception of cable communications” by printing advertisements from descrambler companies. The suit was eventually thrown out and nuts & Volts continues to allow descramblers to be advertised in their pages.
As far as using a descrambler to view channel you are not paying for, it is in violation of the law. If you are interested in knowing the penalties for being caught using a descrambler in an unauthorized manner, check with your local cable company, or your attorney.
Section Eleven: Disclaimer
Guide to Stealing Cable was written for educational and informational purposes only. The theft of cable services is a serious crime. The purchaser of CATV equipment is not authorized to use the equipment on any Cable TV system without the cable company’s authorization. The purchaser is required to notify their local cable company and obtain authorization for use of the equipment prior to installation. The author of this equipment does not advocate the theft of cable service. Laws regarding the sale and use of cable television equipment vary from state to state. You should be advised that there are Federal and State laws prohibiting theft of cable services which carry substantial criminal and civil penalties. Sellers of this equipment assume no responsibility for claims arising from the use or resale of this equipment. “Test” Kits are not sold with the intention that they be installed in equipment that is owned by a cable TV company, unless they are installed by the cable TV company or an authorized agent of the cable TV company. Test Kits are sold for educational and testing purposes only, and are only intended for use in equipment that is privately owned by the purchaser of the test kit. Any use to the contrary is not authorized by the seller of this test kits. Descrambling devices are not sold with the intention of defrauding any cable TV company of any legitimate fees which are due them. Any descrambling device purchased from us is to be used only with the written permission of the cable TV company. This can normally only be done by paying the cable TV company for full service on all channels that the descrambling device will receive and descramble. Ownership of any Test Kit, or Descrambling device does not give you the right to receive free cable TV signals and services. It is your responsibility to comply with all local, state and federal laws as well as all cable TV company rules and regulations. You must comply with all state and federal laws regarding private ownership of cable TV equipment. Title 47 of the United States Code 553 states that: “No person shall intercept or receive or assist in intercepting or receiving any communications service offered over a cable system, unless specifically authorized to do so by a cable operator or as may otherwise be specifically authorized by law.” Guide to Stealing Cable is in no way legal advice. If you have questions about your rights as a cable subscriber, contact your local cable company, or your attorney.
Section Twelve: Wholesale Sources
By far the single largest source of wholesale distributors for cable supplies is found in Nuts And Volts magazine. This magazine has dozens of businesses that sell cable hacking accessories. The magazine also has several other cool electronic devices and articles. Instead of trying to put a list together that would need to be updated every month we’ve decided to tell you to go straight to the horses mouth. If you are interested in paying wholesale prices for cable equipment then this magazine is a must have. It will take some searching around to find the best prices and maybe a little haggling, but test chips can be had for as little as $12, cubes for $50, and one piece descramblers for $150.
The best approach to obtaining a good price is to talk to the dealers about buying large quantities. For example, you are looking to buy a test cube for your Jerrold box and you call Joe’s Electronics. Tell Joe that you are interested in buying 10 and possibly 20 lot orders of his cubes. Ask him what he can give you for a price, then tell him you want to try one out at that price to make sure they work. Most importantly, don’t ask stupid questions (i.e. will it get all the channels). That will be the fastest way to get blown off. If someone calls an Electronics shop and starts asking questions like that they get a polite good-bye. A subscription to Nuts and Volts costs $19 a year and they can be reached at (800)783-4624, or goto the supermarket and buy a copy of Popular Science (look in the back)