TUCoPS :: TV, Cable, Satellite :: cablenew.txt

Ways to get free cable


               Cable TV Pirating

               Part 1


Today I will cover the most commonly used method of cable
scrambling, that of In-Band gated sync. For the more comatose of
you, I will now present a brief description of how it works and
why it is so commonly used.

The simplest first: It is often used because the boxes are so
damn cheap. The gated sync unscramblers do not even require a
tuner, the whole process is done semi-passively and requires no
internal connections to the TV. Hence, an easy way out for the
cable companies who insult you by thinking all its subscribers
are average dolts, not requiring their attention.  (hum...ma bell
must have thought that way once (cough, cough, chuckle...).

The basic workings of the gated sync are as follows:

     First, I must define a sync pulse. It is a part of the TV's
     video signal which lines the signal up, causing it to come
     out all nice and neat so you see a good picture. What gated
     sync does is to remove that portion of the signal, and
     transmit it on a subcarrier with the rest of the signal.
     This results in the scrambled mess you see when you
     desperate ones try to watch the playboy channel and your
     parents haven't subscribed to it. Now, keep in mind, the
     sync portion of the signal is not distorted at all, but
     merely transmitted on a slightly diverted frequency. Thus,
     it remains in time with the rest of the signal, and needs
     only to be recombined with the rest of the signal. This is
     much simpler than it may seem. All the circuit must be able
     to do is to receive the sync pulses, and retransmit them on
     the original frequency, where they will be lined up
     "But" you may say, "isn't that rather difficult?" not at
     all, my friends; think of your video modulator: It must
     transmit the entire signal, and it is only about 2"*1"*1".
     The receiving is simple: the receiver doesn't need to be
     able to change channels - the cable companies need only have
     their unscramblers set for the channel the box receives on,
     because that is the only one it will be necessary to

How to figure out if you have gated sync scrambling: 

     This method of scrambling is characterized by correct sound,
     and a picture that is allllmoooost normal, if you could just
     get the vertical hold to work a little more. if you want to
     be 100% sure, call up your cable Co's customer help line and
     ask. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I called Century
     Cable in California for the Pope, and it worked for me. Just
     play it cool and say "what kind of scrambling method are you
     using?" and I they should give it to you. Incidentally,
     Century Cable does use gated sync, for anyone in California
     who happens to read this.

Places to get gated sync units:

     Well, the best place to look is in the back of electronics
     magazines - not the idiot ones like 'Popular Electronics'
     (does it even still exist?) but the dedicated electronics
     ones- like Radio-Electronics (best) or 73, the Amateur Radio
     technical journal.

     Here is an address which I got out of Radio Electronics,
     August 1985, p.110: Gated sync: kit form, all parts,
     instructions, very  good, $39. Write to: J&W Electronics,
     Inc. p.o. box 800, Mansfield, MA. 02048 Phone: 1 800 227
     8529 (Orders)        617 339 5372 (tech. info)

Pirating Cable TV
    Part 2

Today we will discuss over the air pay TV scrambling. This is
used widely in many areas without cable, and all of the systems
in use use essentially the same system, that of SSAVI scrambling.

Discussion of SSAVI scrambling: SSAVI stands for Suppressed Sync,
Audio Video inversion. This method of encoding video
transmissions  was developed by the Zenith Radio Corporation, who
manufactures the vast majority of legal unscramblers used today
with this method. Suffice to say, SSAVI is the Anti-Christ of
cable pirates. The system involves several less sophisticated
methods combined to produce a severely scrambled signal which is
very difficult to decode without the proper hardware. (ie, a REAL
box.) It is illustrated by the name: 

Suppressed Sync: 

     This is the method discussed in part 1 of this series, only
     worse. The sync portion of the signal is not transmitted on
     an audio subcarrier, but in lines 1-14 of the picture
     information which are not seen on the screen. Hence, the box
     must be able to isolate the first 14 lines of video and
     extract the information from them. 


     The audio is transmitted on a subcarrier in a similar
     fashion as the sync pulses in part 1. If you will remember,
     the audio was normal in the suppressed sync method. 

Video inversion: 

     The video signal is randomly inverted at the scrambling
     stage, resulting in a negative picture when the signal is
     inverted.  (yes, like a camera negative.) The indicator for
     whether the upcoming frame of video will be inverted is also
     sent in the first 14 lines of video, allowing the box to
     begin inverting the signal before you see it. All of these
     little bits of evilness exist independently of each other.
     the signal may have all, none, or any combination of these
     things. because of this, the box must be very intelligent.
     Also, because the box is used so widely, it must have a
     tuner, allowing your local transmitter to select what
     channel they are using by tuning the box before they give it
     to you. all this makes for a real fun time when you go to
     unscramble your signal. 

Box Theory: 

     The suppressed sync signal is transferred from the first few
     lines of video transmitted in the first few lines of video,
     which, incidentally, are transmitted normally. The box
     'sees' these 14 normal sync pulses, and calibrates itself to
     reproduce these sync pulses for the rest of the frame of
     video. It then inserts these pulses where they are needed in
     the signal to produce a normal picture; this recalibration
     every frame is necessary, though. Sync pulses occur over 500
     times every second, and if the clock were not constantly
     revamped, it could get out of sync (Oh God!) with itself.

     The audio is transmitted on a subcarrier deviated about 15
     kHz. All the box does to the audio is retransmit the audio
     on the proper frequency. 

Video inversion: 

     The video signal is randomly inverted, but the mode
     (inverted vs. normal) can only be switched between frames,
     not between fields, making the job of detection and re-
     inversion slightly  easier.
     The box looks at a portion of a line (line 2, I think) and
     based on the logic level at a certain point in this line of
     video, the box reroutes the signal through an operational
     amplifier's inverting input. As a result, a signal received
     inverted is now correct, and a frame of video 'seen' as
     normal is not routed through the invertor, and sent straight
     to the R.F.modulator, which retransmits the corrected signal
     to the TV set, usually on channel 3.

Physical description of the Zenith SSAVI decoder:

     The box is approx. 11" by 7", and about 2.5" tall, including
     rubber feet. It has a round vertical travel pushbutton
     switch in the rear left top corner, and in a small metal
     label on the top center of the box is engraved Zenith
     SSAVI-1. About 1.5" by .75". There are 3 female 'F'
     connectors on the left rear, and a 3 pin power connector on
     the bottom right rear. The case is brown, with a wood
     grained strip running around the horizontal center. A rather
     formidable device. 

Some interesting features of the SSAVI system: 

     When used by the Pay-TV companies, (cough cough), because of
     the extreme to which the  scrambling of the signal is taken,
     the system provides more security against the casual
     basement cable wizard than any of the other systems in use
     today, save those now being implemented by various satellite

These are really mean:

     Digital Video transcription, fluctuating transmission
     frequency, and other fun stuff.
     But that is another file, coming later. In addition to the
     complexity of the scrambling, each box is given its own
     internal ID number, allowing each box to be addressed by the
     transmitter and shut off in the event a customer does not
     pay his bill. In addition, each box contains a firmware code
     which is constantly being compared to that transmitted by
     the station. Hence, a stolen box will not work in another
     city, where it cannot be turned off by the normal method due
     to the fact that some one may already be using a box
     containing  the same security code. There are several more
     codes stored in the box:
     Those which determine the services to which a subscriber is
     entitled.  (such as optional sporting events, nite life,
     etc.) these codes are stored in a volatile memory powered by
     a rechargeable battery, to allow reprogramming from the
     station. This also means that if the box is stolen and/or
     left un-powered for several days, the battery will run down
     and the authorization codes will be lost.

Well, as usual, where there is security, there will be security
breakers, and this is no exception. Talk to these people about
getting your own SSAVI box:

       Video Electronics
       3083 Forest Glade DR.
       Windsor, Ontario N8R 1W6
       Phone: 519 944 6443

According to them, the box also works with SSAVI cable systems.
This is the REAL thing, made by Zenith. Why do you think you have
to get it through Canada?

Channels these people guarantee the SSAVI box to work on: Ann
Arbor 31, Baltimore 54, Wash. D.C. 50, Chicago 66, Dallas 27,
Minneapolis St Paul 23, San Jose 48, St. Louis 30, Tulsa 41,
Boston 27. 

Well, there you have it. they want $130 for the box, and compared
with a $21/month fee it will pay for itself in 6 months. Have a
good time. 
Call:       K.A.O.S. :215 465 3593
For questions, I can be reached at these (among others) boards.



       Pirating Cable T.V.
      ***Cable Converters***

First, a plea. I need a <real> recipe for Nitrous Oxide. 
(laughing gas.) if anyone knows where I can get one, or has a
file on "how to", !please! contact me at K.A.O.S.  215- 465-3593,
or leave it on a few of the more popular ae lines.
     thank you.


Cable Converters - Required Knowledge.:

1.   Most scrambled cable channels are transmitted either between
     channel 13 and channel 14 ('mid-band' transmitting) or below
     channel 2 'super-band' transmitting. Thus, if you receive
     the cut rate bottom of the line cable service (such as the 3
     networks and a few community stations) you may never even
     get a chance to see the scrambled channels, let alone try to
     unscramble them. Hence, we usher in the <<cable converter>>.
     these are nothing new or illegal, mind you; they can be
     purchased at radio shack. They were originally intended for
     the video cassette recorder owner (that is, the ones that
     are sold on the open market.) His rented cable converter and
     unscrambler, usually combined in the same TV top box, were
     busy faithfully unscrambling and converting to channel 3 the
     program he was currently watching. However, if he wanted to
     tape something on an !un!scrambled channel that was
     transmitted in the mid-band or super-band mode, he was up
     the creek, because he had no way to get the signal down to a
     frequency his TV or VCR could receive. but if he hooked up
     his little radio shack converter, presto! he was set. (Newer
     VCR,s come cable ready - but not premium cable ready

2.   Now is a good time to make clear an important point. Cable
     converters do !not! unscramble a scrambled signal, they
     merely move it to a frequency the  TV / unscrambler / VCR /
     whatever, can get a hold of it. There is lots of space
     between channels 13 and 14 - it is the dividing line between
     VHF and UHF. Here are places in there your TV just can't get
3.   Here comes another point: Those of you with 'cable ready'
     TV,s  think you're home free now, eh? no. While a cable
     ready TV will let you view any mid and super-band channels
     that you may unknowingly receive, the scrambled ones are
     still scrambled. So what do you need now? an unscrambler, of


4.   It may be necessary to explain what is actually happening in
     your boxes that you rent from the cable Co. thus: ----- if
     you have bothered to pay extra for any scrambled channels,
     you are given an unscrambler and converter by the cable Co.
     for which you gladly pay rent in addition to your cable fee.
     This is usually a brown box that comes in several styles,
     expounded upon below:

Digital with remote:
     A small box upon your TV, with a digital display of the
     channel you are watching. You have a trusty remote, and zap
     away at will.

Knob Style: 
     A box or non-wireless remote with a large knob on it. It, of
     course, selects what channel you are watching. 

Switchboard Style: 
     A 9" x 5" (or so) board with several 3 position vertically
     moving switches. What the hell do these do? you'll never

The kind without any switches: 
     (Now how will I operate my digital watch?) this is called a
     block converter. More on these later.


What is going on: 
     Ahhh, the good part. What happens here is this: No matter
     what system you have (except for the last - ignore that for
     now.) In some way you select a channel; the cable converter
     runs off, finds this channel, and yanks it down to channel 3
     (or 2, or 4, whatever your cable co. uses.) where your TV is
     waiting for it.  (yes, that's why you put your TV on the
     same channel and change channels with the knob, remote, or
     whatever.) Now, if it's a scrambled channel, and you are
     authorized to receive it, the signal is rerouted through a
     small un-scrambler. (a note: cable scrambling methods are
     piddly little hindrances; for a real bitch of a scrambler
     see the SSAVI system, explained in part 2.) the signal is
     again spat out at channel 3, and your TV  glows happily
     away, displaying your mid or super-band channel. 

5.   At this point, a question may by nudging around your
     temporal lobes now. Something along the lines of "How do I
     get cable TV without paying for it, dammit??" well, here we
     go. you look up that place I mentioned in part II. (address
     & phone# at end) just fork over your $30 (or someone else's
     credit  card) and get one of these nifty little
     unscramblers. Now, mind you, the cable Co. wants it's
     (your?) money more than you think, and will be rather upset
     if they find you doing any of this stuff, so take care.

Here's how to hook up your unscrambler:

     First, adjust the unscrambler to receive the channel your TV
     is set on to receive a signal from the cable box. Next, send
     the output of the real box to the unscrambler, and the
     output of the unscrambler to the TV. you're all set! Just
     sit back and watch those porn flicks pour in.

6.   If you change channels with your TV set, and you don't have
     a box, get a cable converter and an unscrambler. Your
     service is too basic to rate a converter, so you have to get
     one. Just make sure it has some sort of channel selector on
     it - all selected channels must be output on the same
     channel so the unscrambler can unscramble them. Sorry.


7.   How to make this much easier on yourself: There is a much
     easier way to do all of this stuff, but you sacrifice ease
     for legality. That is, even though what you would have done
     if I wasn't telling you this was illegal, this is more
     illegal. But let's be realistic does anyone give a damn of
     any size whatsoever? No of course not. 


     Beating the cable Co. at their own game is easier than you
     would think. Firstly, call up your cable Co.'s customer (hee
     hee) service number, and tell them what optional channels
     you currently subscribe to, and ask them if you would have
     to get a new box if you wanted to add some channels. chances
     are they will say no, because most of the boxes have a small
     computer in them which  can be told over the cable what you
     are authorized to receive, (neat, huh?).
     This is the same computer which decides whether the channel
     you want to watch gets sent to the unscrambler portion of
     the box or not. So if they say no, you're in good shape. If
     they say yes, you are in a little bit better shape than if
     they say no. 
     If they say no, this means they change your authorizations
     inside the box by changing hardware - that is, connecting
     sets of wires. 

How to change your authorizations:

     (yay) First, the hardware boxes - they're easier. According
     to some people i've talked to, the cable companies get
     highly (very) pissed off if you play with their boxes, so
     you have to get hold of one they don't know you have -
     remember, they will want your rented box back when you move
     and will get unhappy if you have been monkeying with it.
     Getting a box: a). Steal one. b). Say somebody stole yours,
     your dog ate it, or whatever. c). Find some unethical person
     (druggie) who will sell his for a few bucks.

Changing a hardware box: 

     1. Open the box without destroying it. This can be a real
     challenge sometimes. While at the Sheraton Washington (Wash,
     D.C.) attending the model UN last year, I stole one from
     someone's room and tried to get it apart for about an hour
     so we could watch the flicks that night - I gave up, got
     drunk, and threw it out of a window - no, it didn't break. 
     (yes, incidentally, for any - one in the Wash, D.C. area,
     there is one in every room of the Sheraton Washington. Good
     point - ritzy hotels are great places to get those boxes.) 

     2. Look for a small set of sockets, such as an integrated
     circuit socket without a chip in it. It will have wires in
     it instead. If you can't find one of those, look for a dip
     switch - these are the same size as an integrated circuit,
     fit in an IC socket, and have the same number of switches on
     it as pins on one side of the IC socket.

     3. Try to correspond the wires or the positions of the
     switches with the channels you pay for. These wires or
     switches are how the box is programmed - try turning all of
     the switches on, and putting all of the wires in, and see if
     you get more channels. Conversely, try removing wires and
     turning switches off.


Cable programmed boxes:  -----------------------

     These are a bit more difficult. You have to try to separate
     the three sections - computer, receiver(converter) and
     unscrambler. When you isolate the computer section, just
     bypass it completely. Find the output of the converter and
     the input of the unscrambler and just hook them together. As
     you can probably see, this just does not permit the computer
     to have a say in what gets unscrambled - incidentally, this
     will work for the hardware boxes, but it is usually pretty
     easy to find the little wiring panel/switchboard and you do
     not have to figure out what is what inside the unscrambler.


Well, I hope this helps, If you desperately need to ask a
question, you can get me at: 
K.A.O.S 215 465 3593 or the church at 215 386 0350 pw ataru and I
will be glad to answer.


Here's the address I promised:


Warning: this unscrambler will not work with those channels that
make that obnoxious beeping noise. This is a gated sync
unscrambler. To find out if this will work in your area, get that
good 'ol customer service number and call and ask if they use
suppressed horizontal sync as their scrambling method. Yes, they
will tell you!.

     J&W Electronics, Inc.
     Mansfield, MA.
     Phone: 1 800 227 8529 (orders)
         617 339 5372 (tech info)


Well, thank you for sitting through 350 lines of my ravings. If
you download this, please give it to all. Up with the individual!


Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going
to kick back and smoke a Marlboro.

       -=> good luck. <=-


Additional notes provided by a technically competent but
dissatisfied cable customer:

     1.   Why do I have to pay $20 per month for the basic
     service of network channels and STILL watch more
     advertisements (usually for HBO)???

     2.   When I do take out a mortgage for the premium channels
     I find: a). The programming is too late. b). I've seen all
     the films before. c). The network channels usually carry
     them a fortnight later.

     3.   It also seems to me that over the air broadcasts are
     being reduced in favor of cable; therefore I'm at the mercy
     of the cable companies if I'm to get ANY decent reception.

     4.   Why should I see ugly great cable assemblies draped
     around the country-side? What's wrong with the ground or at
     least fiber optic?.

     5.   Basic infringement of my constitutional rights to do
     what the hell I like with 'over the air' reception (eg.
     satellite HBO) as long as I don't upset my neighbors.

     6.   Why don't cable convertors and descramblers come with
     separate video and audio outputs. Why go to all the trouble
     of putting it back on channel 3 or 4, if you have separate
     video inputs to your TV equipment. For that matter why not
     go the whole hog and have separate R G B and sync?. It would
     be nice if someone (or company) sold a fancy tuner that did
     all this stuff including a video processing circuit to take
     care of on screen programming and of course by no means
     least; reconstituting the messed up signal!.

     7.   Why not have a user interface box at the entry to your
     home so that you can cable up as many TV,s as you want?.

Additional info:

     New York/ Westchester area CableVision uses Jerrold 7000
     Impulse addressable decoders (which mean they reprogram them
     from their computer to enable reception). Actually if you
     unpower one of these boxes after the setup info. is lost due
     to the battery becoming discharged; it reverts to the prevue
     channel irrespective of the channel you try to select. After
     repowering and waiting some period (sometimes days if your
     cable company are slow) it re be re-activated . Thus I guess
     the device reverts to the prevue channel if it is used
     outside of the cable company's area.

     I would be grateful if anybody has any other info. to add,
     such as which specific method is used in this area.

Yours dissatisfied.                                                                                                                                                          

Frank's Funhouse - Indy's No.1 Comedy BBS
317 571 3436  Mon-Fri 6pm - 8am   24hrs Weekends

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