Wednesday, March 7, 2012

SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME and MoCA

Quick tip if you're trying to get a networked TV tuner like the SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME working on the same jack with a MoCA box -- short answer for the impatient among you is you're going to need a diplexer. You can get something like this one which splits the signal into 5-860MHz and 950-2150MHz ranges, or something like this basic satellite/antenna diplexer from Radio Shack.

Plug the coax from the wall into the input of the diplexer, and send the lower range (which is labeled VHF on the basic diplexers) to the HomeRun and the higher range (which is labeled VHF on the basic diplexers) to the MoCA box and everything should work. Without this, when I was going wall -> MoCA box and MoCA box -> HomeRun, networking worked fine for me but there was no cable signal being sent to the HomeRun.

So longer explanation for those of you who follow my home networking trials and tribulations, with the threat of Moxi going away (though this has been put on hold indefinitely) I decided to investigate other solutions and I wasn't at all keen on spending $1.7 trillion on TiVos. (OK it's not really that much but it adds up quick for a three-room setup when you get the lifetime subscription.)

My brother pointed me to a deal on an Acer Revo HTPC that was too good to pass up, so I got that and an HDHomeRun for the tuner. Yes, I know, I'm always talking about how much I hate Windows, I'm an open source bigot, etc. etc. but the reality of the situation is that I'm not the only one in my house that watches TV so I have to at least be semi-congizant of ease of use, and much as I keep saying I'm going to build a MythTV box, every time I investigate things like remote controls, backend vs. frontend boxes, etc. it seems to get complicated rather quickly. If it were just me watching TV I'd go for it, but some people in my house just like to turn on the TV and have it work without any hassle. (Can you imagine?)

The good news on the MythTV front, however, is buying the Revo freed up another desktop PC I was previously using just for PlayOn and PlayLater so I'm going to put MythTV on there, and from what I've read it works with the HomeRun! At least that way I can maybe have MythTV in the man cave and have something more easy to use (in theory anyway) in the living room.

Back to the networking piece of this. When I had Verizon FIOS TV I had been using MoCA for networking and it worked great. When I switched from Verizon to Comcast, however, the MoCA didn't work in the rooms where I needed a cable TV signal and I didn't do enough research at the time to figure out why. I assumed it was a signal strength issue so I tried some amps but none of them worked.

Instead of digging into that more at the time I moved to powerline networking and while it's been decent overall, it's never been as solid and fast as the MoCA was and it wasn't working very well for the Revo to talk to the HomeRun. The picture would get jerky pretty often or the audio and video would get out of sync, so that wasn't going to fly. (That said, powerline networking worked quite reliably for streaming HD from the main Moxi unit to Moxi Mates in other rooms, so don't shy away from it based solely on me switching back!)

This prompted me to switch back to MoCA since that had worked fantastically well for me before, but I again ran into the issue with the cable signal. This time I did my homework and discovered that most people that were having this problem resolved it by using a diplexer, and luckily that fixed things for me too.

Next up is putting more RAM and a bigger hard drive in my other desktop machine and trying out MythTV so when I get a chance to do that I'll be sure and share how that goes.


Nunu Taupradist said...

THANK YOU! FINALLY! I’m in a pretty similar predicament and have Comcast as well. I’m looking to setup the HDHR Prime with an HTPC and plasma but the internet was coming from the adjacent wall. Was originally going to give in to running Cat6s from a switch across to my home theater (minding how shoddy it wound look to guests). Having looked at powerline adapters, I knew MoCA would be my best bet; although, connecting the Prime was hurdle. Needless to say I’m happy to have found your blog and look forward to trying this out!

Matt Woodward said...

Very glad you found this helpful. The only problem I've run into since this post is my premium channels (HBO, Showtime, etc.) no longer work on the HDHomeRun, but it's very clearly a Comcast issue and nothing to do with the MoCA setup since they did work at one point. I just haven't pestered Comcast enough times to get them to figure out what happened with the authorization on my CableCards.

Other than that I've had excellent luck with this setup.

Nunu Taupradist said...

Yeah, I'm dreading the activation of the M-Card with Comcast after reading some horror stories. Hopefully, I'm a bit lucky with that.

One thing I forgot to ask before: which brand/model MoCA adapter are you using?

Thanks, again!

Matt Woodward said...

The MoCA adapters I'm using are Netgear MCA1001 which from what I can tell aren't available anymore. Any stock MoCA stuff should work but these are the only ones I have any direct experience with.

Nunu Taupradist said...

Ah, I spot one on ebay. But it looks like the new Actiontec model should do the job as well. Another question (sorry):

Are you, or have you tried running the setup with a switch paired up with MoCA?

Matt Woodward said...

If I understand your question, I'm using switches attached to all my MoCA boxes since I have numerous wired connections running over MoCA. In one room I actually have two switches daisy-chained together going through MoCA and use that for video streaming on a computer and an Xbox and it works perfectly.

Nunu Taupradist said...

So I was able to set things up without a major hitch but have come across an issue whose source I'm trying to pin down. Was wondering you if had any experience with this problem.

I was watching tv with the Prime for the first couple days (Signal Strength: ~80%, Signal Quality: ~100%, Symbol Quality: ~100%). Then I started noticing on only my clearQAM local channels I would get intermittent drops in Symbol Quality that resulting in a stuttering picture/audio and occasional flashes of "Copying Prohibited" (using WMC). It doesn't appear to be a network problem as I have tried it without the splitter yielding the same issue. I was thinking either:

1. Cable is having poor isolation from OTA stations in my area
2. My Prime unit itself

Do you have any other suggestions?

Matt Woodward said...

I've only had issues once with the "copying prohibited" message -- a couple of shows recorded in WMC on one particular day, both on Fox, didn't record and just showed some sort of prohibited message when I tried to play them. It hasn't happened since so I'm not sure what that was all about.

If the signal strength looks good and you're still experiencing stuttering/pixelation/etc. it could be networking issues between the WMC and the HomeRun I suppose, but I personally haven't seen any of those sorts of issues. Sorry I can't be of more assistance!

Nunu Taupradist said...

That's a good one. I did not consider trying an alternative to WMC. Thanks.

Datsallfolks D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Datsallfolks D said...

Hi Matt.. I am trying to setup hdhomerun with fios on MoCA network and am not sure on how the connections work.

here are possible layouts I was thinking.. not sure though if this will work.



Would appreciate any help!

Matt Woodward said...

The living room diagram looks right if all you need is ethernet, and remember if you need more than one wired ethernet device to work over MoCA, you can plug a switch into the MoCA adapter and then plug multiple devices into the switch.

As far as the office part goes, in my case I have wall -> coax in on the MoCA adapter, and then coax out from the MoCA adapter -> coax in on cable modem, but I don't have the HomeRun in the mix with the modem in the same room as you have it in your diagram.

If you do want all that stuff in the same room, I'd probably try your dfaanc.jpg diagram first. Since the coax out from the MoCA adapter is literally a pass-through that should work fine; the only minor concern is always getting good signal strength to the modem but it should work fine.

Either diagram should work but taking care of the splitting right out of the wall seems like a better idea to me. Also I'd highly recommend using a diplexer instead of a regular splitter so you split the signal between TV and data.

In the room where I have the HomeRun I go from the wall to a 5-2150 MHz diplexer and then from the diplexer to the MoCA adapter and the HomeRun, and that works fine.

Good luck! Let me know how it works out.

Datsallfolks D said...

If I take out the MoCA Adapter and HDHR from the mix (in office diagram) and hook it up at some other coax point in seperate room then I should be able to stream from HDHR to any coax point?(XMBC on xbox in particular)

Datsallfolks D said...

The objective is to stream fios cable using HDHR to atleast 4 rooms through coac network(xboxes attached to MoCA via ethernet in each rooms)

btw great info on diplexer!

JOHNBON2010 said...

Matt, I have a set top box that works fine in my room and I have HDhomerun primer with cable card, can i split the TV coaxial cable, one runs to the fios router and the other one runs to set top box.

Matt Woodward said...

Yep, you should be able to do that without any problems.

Glaucon said...

I too have comcast. I am thinking about the HDHR P, but we don't have cat5 running through the house.

It seems as if I will be going the MoCA route. I believe I'll need 4 MoCA adapters to accommodate the three rooms that will need to connect to ethernet through a coaxial cable in the wall, plus one adapter in the basement with the switch and coaxial splitter. If I don't want to connect to the internet through ethernet with any of the devices in the rooms, then I won't need to connect an adapter through the modem, correct?

So that I don't have to buy a MoCA adapter kit with each coaxial cable that runs through the house into the rooms (so instead of 4, it would be 6 adapters), I can use a splitter to connect to one adapter in the basement for all of the rooms with an adapter exit in each room that needs to connect through the switch, correct? I have a Commscope CSAPDU9VP already in the basement. Will this Commscope device suffice for splitting from one adapter to the three different rooms? The Commscope connects all of the rooms with coaxial outlets in the house. However, if the Commscope will not work, since I still need my cable modem to work for internet through the wireless router upstairs,the tech also left and this 3-way splitter.

Sorry for digging up an old post, but you seem able to help. And I do appreciate any help.


Matt Woodward said...

"If I don't want to connect to the internet through ethernet with any of the devices in the rooms, then I won't need to connect an adapter through the modem, correct?"

If I get what you're asking there -- my interpretation is that you want them on your internal network but with no access to the Internet at large? -- then no, that wouldn't need to hit your modem anywhere in the chain. I guess my question would be why not just hook up MoCA at point of origin (modem) and not keep the setup potentially a bit simpler? I might me missing something about what you're trying to accomplish.

"I can use a splitter to connect to one adapter in the basement for all of the rooms with an adapter exit in each room that needs to connect through the switch, correct?"

Yes, this should work fine.

"I have a Commscope CSAPDU9VP already in the basement. Will this Commscope device suffice for splitting from one adapter to the three different rooms?"

Unfortunately I'm not familiar with that particular device so I can't say for sure. Generally speaking if it'll work for a coax signal for TV, it'll work for MoCA as well (given the potential necessity for a diplexer and some of the other caveats I've mentioned).

"... since I still need my cable modem to work for internet through the wireless router upstairs,the tech also left and this 3-way splitter."

Just be aware of the differences in signal ranges between network and TV traffic -- depending on what you're doing a plain old splitter may not work correctly. Might take some trial and error to get it all working correctly.

Glaucon said...

Unfortunately, we originally had the tech put the cable modem in a room we don't use for tv viewing, so the HTPC is in a different room on the main floor (same floor and close by, mind you). And so the cable modem is not with what I believe is the cable line that comes from outside, down in the "lower level" or basement along with the Commscope splitter I mentioned.

The townhome I want to MoCA network is a bit strange: on the main floor, it has a built in corner tv cabinet thing, which we don't have a tv in, but where we put the modem, router, an Obihai110 (we don't get phone service from Comcast), and Verizon signal booster (parents need it for work, and the signal quality is quite shotty). The HTPC, also on the main floor, is in a room not adjacent, but close by.

The coaxial wiring starts, if you will, in the lower level/basement, which is then split and sent through the house to all the rooms that have coaxial outlets.

So, you suggest I place the Prime, switch, and MoCA adapter with the HTPC? entailing that the Prime, MoCA adapter, and HTPC are connected to the switch, which will then provide cable access from the prime and internet access from the modem (in the other room) to the HTPC. If I do not need to use the regular cable line from the wall with HTPC because I have the Prime connected to the HTPC, I don't need a splitter at the HTPC then, right?

If I do that, that would seem to leave one adapter with the modem, one adapter with the upstairs bedroom (with extender 1), and one adapter with the downstairs bedroom (with extender 2), for a total of 4 MoCA adapters, but I don't believe that would work. The adapter at the modem would be routed to the lower level/basement with the big Commscope splitter, however, there is no adapter left for the lower level/basement. Of course, since at least the coaxial cables are labeled for each room routed, I could easily unscrew the rooms I need routing through the MoCA network. Though, wouldn't I need to put an adapter in the lower level/basement with some kind of splitter so that the MoCA network extends to the three different rooms I want to include in the MoCA network? Consequently, I would either not have internet to the devices connected to the MoCA network, or I would have to buy an additional adapter (totaling 5), right?
Or, do I simply connect the adapter of the HTPC room, alongside a switch, to the wall, which goes to the basement, and at the basement, connect the HTPC room to the input of a splitter, whereupon I connect the other two rooms to the output of the splitter?

josh jones said...

Thanks for the great information Matt, hope you don't mind me resurrecting this article from the dead. I'm planning to switch to Comcast and use a HD Homerun Prime. I have a few FIOS Actiontec MI424WR that i'm hoping to use as as MoCA bridge by using this configuration technique:

My house is wired with coax only, so i'm hoping I can use these to convert the coax to ethernet and then into an XBOX to tap into a WMC server on the network.

Since I want to use the MoCA bridge further downstream from the modem-router, do you think i'll still need a diplexer? If so, where should it go in this setup?

Thanks a ton Matt.

Matt Woodward said...

The only time you should need a diplexer is if you need to split the signal and use one half for TV signal, the other for data.

What I don't understand in your diagram is how the cable modem *isn't* the first thing you're plugging into from the drop. What I'd think you'd have to do is have the drop go to a diplexer, and then have the data side of that go to the cable modem, with the TV side going to the HD Homerun.

Probably other ways to do it but that seems the most straightforward to me.

josh jones said...

So setting it up like this should work?

Thanks again.

Matt Woodward said...

Yep, that looks right to me. Good luck!