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CHAPTER 8 - TEST CHIPS

This guide was written to educate interested parties on Cable Television descrambling, descramblers and some of the various methods used to defeat scrambling methods on premium cable or pay cable television stations. The author of this guide 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.

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 explains 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 things.  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 company.  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 be found at www.electronickits.com.  If you feel you have the experience and tools necessary to do the job, then proceed to the next chapter and find the brand and model of the box you wish to fix.

SCIENTIFIC ATLANTA

Of the various Scientific Atlanta models, we 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 3 main test modules available for the 8550.  The one that is highly recommended is the 8550 quick board.  It is a small circuit board and is 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 (about 3 wide) towards the front that runs the length of the box.   It is about 3 inches wide.  In the rear center of the box is the tuner consisting 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, if it does not have this exact number, do not worry, there is only one 14 pin chip on the entire circuit board which 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 the active cable line, all available channels should come in clearly.  The procedure is now complete.

The next model 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 to 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 available for the 8570, is the quick board.  Installation of the quick board is 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 8 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 8 pin chip that is farthest from you (if you are looking at the box from the front).  The socket should cover the entire 8 pin chip farthest from you, and half of the other 8 pin chip.  With your soldering iron, carefully solder each connection of the socket to the corresponding leg of each 8 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 8 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 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 3 widely used test devices for the 8580.  As with the 8570, there is the 40 pin chip and the quick board.  There is also another device called the spider board.  The spider board was the original test device designed for the 8580, however we are not going to cover it because many cable companies 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 beside the spider board, is the quick board.  The quick board installs  much the same way as it does in the 8570 (the only difference being the shape).  First, install the socket over the 8 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 8 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 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 is needed.  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 the 40 pin chip or the quick board.  There are two different versions of the 8590.  One has 11 buttons 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 above.  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.  Line up the connectors to the white strip and the socket over the 8 pin chip.

The SA model 8600 also has two options. 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 40 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 from the 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, right of the box.  Install an 8 pin socket over the chip and plug the quick board into the white strip and socket.  Installation is complete.

 

GENERAL INSTRUMENT (JERROLD)

General Instrument converters are the most commonly used boxes in this country.  GI manufactures over 50% of all the converters used 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 chapter 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.  Then go directly across and continue counting upward until you reach the end.  Next, 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 will depress this switch.  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, currently there is no chip available at this time but may be available soon.  The most popular test device available for the 7 series boxes is the 3-wire board.  When shopping for test devices you should look for these.  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 3 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 3 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 1-2-3-4 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

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 3 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 on your particular model number (We will give also 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 point "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 turn on to channel 2.  The unit is now in test mode.

 

ZENITH

If you have a Zenith converter that has a model number that starts with ST the installation of a test chip is relatively simple (there is one chip that will work with 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 in a socket.  Depending on the model number of the box, it will either be a 16 or 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 3 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 3 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 3 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.

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