Channels receivable by FireWire in Chicago, IL through Comcast

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General service notes

In Chicago, Comcast supplied the 6100 series boxes to customers looking for HD service. However, it appears that new customers are only being offered PVR boxes at a higher rental cost. Only local over-the-air (OTA) channels are available, plus CSPAN in accordance with FCC regulations. Also, some customers may be able to receive MTV's MusicHD channel (209 in some regions), however this appears to be a fluke. Standard definition channels typically have static towards the top of the screen, just as the image appears when connected to a HDTV display. Unfortunately, Comcast has a municipally sponsored monopoly in much of Chicago. Comcast uses 5C encryption to block all channels that they aren't legally mandated to provide over FireWire. When requesting an HDTV tuner for rental or downgrading service while in possession of one, a Comcast representative may tell you that HD service is incompatible basic service. If you ask him about must-carry legislation he/she will explain that they were talking about HD channels like ESPN, but then quickly make whatever legitimate changes in service you want.

Installation suggestions

It appears that Comcast is (still) somewhat clueless about DVI and FireWire ports. If you want to use DVI, you must supply the cable, as installers only have component cables. The gamma level appears to be slightly lower when using the component output, however your display may use different gamma levels for different inputs. If you mention the terms FireWire or DVI to anyone on the phone they will often suggest that you are actually talking about USB. I would ask Comcast about what model of set-top box they will bring when they are setting up HD service. Unless you want a PVR, I would try to push them to bring a non-PVR box — just tell them that since you won't be using it to record that you shouldn't have to pay for it each month.


Please refer to the FireWire page for help configuring your interface with the Set-top Box (STB). Be sure to turn on one of the channels below with your remote, before testing your FireWire interface. You may also want to configure zap2it to only display the channels listed below, perhaps by creating a new account if you have an additional tuner. Remember that you probably won't get channel 209, so check that before enabling it in the zap2it web interface. Another thing to keep track of is the node number, which may change upon reboot, or more often simply changes when you reset the FireWire bus.

Example configuration procedure

This may need to be performed after each reboot or after changing to a channel with encryption, unless automated in some way. If you do so, please post your scripts on the MythTV wiki.

  1. Ensure FireWire card driver and related FireWire software is installed. Become root to issue all the following commands.
  2. Upon reboot check for the device ls -l /dev/raw1394 Change the permissions on the device to be world writable chmod 777 /dev/raw1394
  3. Run plugreport to figure out the node and port. Don't worry about what the other numbers mean. You'll probably get 0 as the port and either 0 or 1 as the node.
  4. Run firewire_tester -n0 -B -r4 where the -B switch repairs the broadcast connection, the -n switch reflects the node number and the -r switch repeats this 4 times because it doesn't always work the first time. The program defaults to port 0. (You may need to install this program by hand if your package does not automatically create it.)
  5. Once everything above is working, you can start up mythtv-setup and create a new device with the same node and port as you used with firewire_tester. Use the broadcast mode at 400Mbs. Configure mythtv to use the input device by pairing it with a channel list. Double check the mythtv set-up.
  6. Cross your fingers and run the front-end.

Channel listing

Channel Number Channel Name Format Related channel(s) Notes
2 WBBM, CBS affiliate SD cable: 189 (HD), OTA: 2.1
5 WMAQ, NBC affiliate SD cable: 188 (HD), OTA: 5.1
7 WLS, ABC affiliate SD cable: 187 (HD), OTA: 7.1
8 WPWR SD cable: 184 (HD), OTA: 50.1
9 WGN SD cable: 192 (HD)
11 WTTW, Chicago PBS member station SD OTA: 11.2
12 WFLD, Fox affiliate NTSC cable: 190 (HD), OTA: 32.1
17 WYIN, Indiana Public Television SD OTA: 56.1?(SD?)
20 WYCC, Chicago Public Television SD OTA: 20.1(SD)
40 CLTV, WGN news SD N/A
184 WPWRDT SD cable: 8 (SD), OTA: 50.1
187 WLSDT, ABC affiliate HD cable: 7(SD), 7.1
188 WMAQ, NBC affiliate HD cable: 5(SD), 5.1
189 WBBMDT, CBS affiliate HD cable: 2(SD), 2.1 OTA HD doesn't come in very well, so it's a good reason to get cable in Chicago (or a tuner that can do non-digital OTA reception and encoding)
190 Fox affiliate HD cable: 12(SD), OTA: 32.1
191 WTTW channel, mostly concerts and documentaries HD OTA: 11.1
192 WGNDT HD cable: 9(SD), OTA: 9.1
193 WLSDT3, ABC news HD
194 WMAQDT2, NBC weather SD
197 WGNDT2 HD 192 (used to show music videos, but now appears to be a video mirror of the first HD subchannel with a Spanish audio track for pre-recorded programs)
209 MTVHD HD N/A only available with certain packages and may be a bug in the system
217 WLSDT, additional ABC content SD
242 WTTW's `Create' HD OTA: 11.3 (HD) additional WTTW (PBS) content focusing on DIY themes (this is a NTSC feed, even though some programs are HD)

There are additional public access channels not listed above.