TV Set-Tops FAQs

For technical support and other issues, please contact your service provider directly.

Recording and Playback

What is the difference between the 8300 or 8300HD and 8300C or 8300HDC?
The 8300C and 8300HDC have a CableCARD interface. The 8300 and 8300HD do not. CableCARD, also known as separate security, is required for set-top boxes newly deployed by Cable Service Providers in the United States after July 1, 2007.

Can I transfer content from my explorer DVR to my computer through USB or firewire connection?
No, this feature is not currently available due to stringent content copy protection restrictions.

How can I record only first-run episodes of a program?
Not all cable operators have enabled the software that allows first-run recording. But if your cable operator has, and you have the Cisco or Scientific Atlanta version DVR software the steps are:

When you choose the "All Episodes" recording option on the Confirm Recording Screen, you are given the choice of recording:

  • All episodes during a specific time slot on a specific channel (including reruns)
  • All episodes at all times on a specific channel (including reruns)
  • First-run episodes only on a specific channel

If you cannot see the "first run only" option, it is either not active on your cable system yet, or you have a different version DVR software.

I have an Explorer DVR. How much programming can I record and what is the capacity of the drive?
Explorer DVRs are available with either 80GB or 160GB hard drives. If you have an 80GB hard drive, you can expect to record up to 50 hours of standard definition digital programming or up to 12 hours of high definition programming. The 160GB drive can store up to 20 hours of HD or up to 90 hours of SD programming. However, total program hours that can be stored will depend on the format and data rate of the programming source.

Can I copy programs from the Exploer 8000/8000HD to a DVD Recorder?

How do I stop playback, turn off the television and Explorer 8000, and start up the playback at the point that I left without having to fast-forward?
The last viewed playback is always automatically bookmarked after stopping it or channeling off the DVR channel. So, the next time you select the same recording, it will resume at the point where you left it, regardless of whether or not you turn of the TV.

Can the Explorer 8000 record Dolby Digital 5.1?

Does the Explorer 8000 have to be turned on to execute a scheduled recording?
No, it doesn't need to be on, but it should remain plugged into an active electrical outlet.

Can I copy a recording play back or a live TV show to my VCR ?
Yes, you can connect your VCR input to the main Composite Output (or the RF output) on the Explorer 8000 to copy a live program or a playback to VCR tape. However, this method will record everything you display on the TV screen (including pausing the program, bringing up the PIP screen, or bringing up the Program Guide).

What does the red light mean on the front of the Explorer 8000?
A recording is currently in progress when this light is lit red. It's recommended that you "Power off" the Explorer 8000 with the front panel POWER button each night, and as long as the power cord is plugged in, scheduled recordings will still be made.

How many channels can I record at one time?
You can record 2 channels at one time. While recording 2 live shows, you can play back one pre-recorded show. Press the green remote LIST button any time to display your recordings available for playback.

Can you record the 1/4 screen video in the Programming Guide or the DVR Recorded List?
Yes, you can record the quarter screen on all DVR screen by pressing Record. You can also record the quarter screen in the Program Guide. Press Exit to display the video in full screen, and the press Record. Note: Pressing Record while in the Program Guide will record the highlighted program in the grid.

Can you record the PIP screen content?
Yes, you can, but you must swap it into the Main screen first. After pressing RECORD and confirming the recording, you can swap it back into the PIP screen and it will continue recording. You can even close the PIP screen and it will continue to record the PIP program.

If I've been tuned to a program since it started, do I have to rewind to the beginning to record the entire program?
No, if you have been tuned to the program since the beginning, and the program is one hour or less, just press RECORD from any point in the program and you will get the entire program.

Do I have to press the remote STOP button to stop recording the program when it ends?
No, the recording will automatically stop based on the program run times you specified on the recording confirmation screen.

How will I know when I'm almost out of recording space?
When you try to schedule the next recording, a warning appears on the Confirm Recording screen. Also, you can see what percentage of recording space you have used. Press List and then press B for preferences.

Can you play back more than one recording?
No, only one recording can be played back at a time.

Controlling Live TV

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How far back can I rewind live TV?
The length of time you can rewind live TV depends on how long you have been tuned to a single channel. Each time you change channels, a new copy is automatically stored to the built-in recorder. For example, if you have been watching the same channel for 15 minutes, you can rewind that 15 minutes of the program. The maximum time a program is stored without saving is 1 hour.

How long can I pause Live TV?
You can pause up to one hour. After pausing one hour, the program starts playing one hour behind the Live broadcast point.

Can you time-shift (pause, rewind, fast-forward) the 1/4 screen video on the DVR Recorded List or Program Guide?
Yes, you can press the PAUSE, REWIND or FAST-FORWARD button on your remote to control the 1/4 screen video in the Program Guide or any DVR screen.

General Settings/Parental Controls

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Do Parental Controls carry over to DVR recordings?
Yes, if you block programs by channel or rating in General Settings, those settings are carried over to DVR recordings. For example, if you decide to block all R rated programs in General Settings, the R rated programs will still be recorded, but you cannot play them back until you enter the correct PIN.

Can you change the colors of DVR screens like you can in the Program Guide?
Yes, the color scheme you select in General Settings (ie. Ball Park, Roller Rink, Campground, etc.) will change the DVR screen colors to match the colors in the Program Guide.

Explorer 8000 and Explorer 8300 Set-Top Hardware

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How much does an individual unit of the Explorer 8000 or Explorer 8300 DVR cost and how do I order one?
The Explorer 8000 Home Entertainment Server is not available for retail purchase in the US. It is currently available only through select cable operators on a lease basis, plus monthly fee for the DVR service. Please contact your local cable company to find out if the Explorer 8000 is available in your area.

Can I connect an external hard drive to my Explorer 8300/8300HD?
The external SATA port on the Explorer 8300/8300HD allows you to connect an external hard drive to expand storage of your recording. This port requires a software upgrade for activation. Please contact your cable service provider to confirm support of this feature and to learn which External SATA hard drives can be connected.

How do I know if my hard disk needs to be replaced?
The need for hard disk replacement is very rare; unless you see, "disk trouble unrecoverable write error," on your screen, your hard drive is probably working properly.

What is the hard disk drive capacity? How many hours of TV programming can I store?
The Explorer 8000 and 8000HD have an 80 GB hard disk drive. Depending on whether you are recording analog, digital or high definition programming, you can record and store between 30 and 50 hours. The Explorer 8300 and 8300HD have 160 GB hard disk drives. Again, depending on the type of program these can record up to 90 hours of standard definition digital programming. Analog programs are larger and take up more space than digital programs and high definition programs take up more space than analog and standard definition digital.

Are all the recordings securely encrypted on the hard drive? Can the hard drive be removed and the recordings viewed or copied?
All the DVR recordings are encrypted and cannot be digitally copied or viewed in another device, including another Explorer 8000 or 8300. However, the DVR recordings can be played back and copied to a VCR tape if the VCR is connected to the RF output or the "OUT 1 (TV)", main composite output. In addition, a future software release will activate the VCR Output on the Explorer 8000 back panel. When you see an on-screen option called "Copy to VCR" after you select to play back a recording, then you know this VCR copy feature is active.

How noisy is the hard drive?
The hard disk drive has a sound level of no greater than 27 dB. This is quieter than a whisper.

Does the Explorer 8000 or Explorer 8300 require a connection to a phone line or Ethernet connection, similar to the TiVo and Replay personal video recording units?
No, the Explorer 8000/8300 and DVR application uses the existing coaxial cable connection. No extra phone line or network components are needed.

What is the USB port for on the back panel?
The front panel USB port (and optional back panel) are high-speed data ports that allow transfers of data at a rate of 11 Mbps. This port currently supports the Scientific Atlanta IR Extender which allows you to store your set-top out of site up to 20ft away from your TV. S-A IR Extenders are only available through your cable operator.

What is the IEEE 1394 port on the back panel?
The IEEE 1394 port on the back panel is a very high-speed data port allowing transfers of data at up to 400 Mbps. The features and functions of the 1394 port with respect to devices supported and functions enabled vary by set-top model. Contact your cable provider for further details.

Can I record content from my DVD player?
Most likely not. Most DVD players contain Macrovision copy protection, which keeps the content on the DVD disk from being recorded by another device.

Can the Explorer 8000/8300 be connected to a Dolby Digital receiver?
Yes, through the rear panel output labeled "DIGITAL AUDIO OUT".

Can I access the Internet on the Explorer 8000/8300?

Remote Control

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What's the code on my AT8400 AllTouch Remote Control that ties together all of the codes for the peripheral devices I keyed in? I want to be able to press just one button to turn on my Explorer 8000 Home Entertainment Server and all peripherals.

  • Press and hold SELECT and CBL until the CBL mode key blinks twice.
  • Using the remote control keypad, press 9 9 8. The CBL key blinks twice. Note: Do not press these keys too quickly. The CBL key should blink once as you press each digit.
  • Press one of the following keys to specify how the power key should function:
    • Press 1 if you want the Power key to turn on the DHCT and then the TV.
    • Press 2 if you want the Power key to turn on the DHCT, then the TV, and then the VCR.
    • Press 3 if you want the Power key to turn on the DHCT, then the TV, then the VCR, and then the auxiliary device.
    • Press 4 if you want the Power key to turn on the DHCT, then the TV, and then the auxiliary device.
    • Press 0 if you want the Power key to control each device independently.

How do I program my remote control?
Follow the instructions in the AT8400 Remote User's Guide.

What do I do if the remote control does not control a particular device such as my TV?
There are typically multiple codes listed for each brand, try each code until you find a satisfactory one. In addition, a 991 search can be done.

How do I know what remote control I have?
The model of your remote control is shown on the back. It will be either ER-1, AT2000, AT2300, AT 2400, AT8400 or AT8420. If you have an AT8400, there are two different versions B and D. These will be indicated by the last letter in the SA Part Number shown below the model number on the remote. The User Guides shown for these remotes will be AT8400-B and AT8400-D.

I can't find the remote control code for my AIWA TV (or APEX TV, TV/VCR combo unit, etc.) What should I do?
Scientific Atlanta has two new remote controls available to cable operators which have twice as many codes -- now including codes for AIWA, APEX and many TV/VCR/DVD combo units. These remote controls are available for purchase by cable operators now. Please contact your cable operator to request a replacement for your current remote control(s). These new remotes are called the AllTouch AT8420 and AllTouch AT8400-D.

None of the setup codes work for my TV or VCR. What can I do?
If none of the listed codes work, you can program the remote to search through all of the available codes for the device specified, beginning with the most popular codes. Complete steps to do this can be found in the remote control user's guides. Refer to section "To Identify Program Codes" in the Remote Control User's Guide.

Is the remote control a universal remote?
Yes, the AT8400 model remote is a true universal remote designed to operate all Cisco/Scientific Atlanta set-tops and a wide range of TVs, VCRs, DVDs and other audio devices.

Why can't certain functions on other devices like my TV or VCR, such as menus, be accessed with the remote?
There are different levels of code associated with each device. There is primary code to turn a device off and on, but there may not be enough code to work some of the auxiliary functions such as the menus.

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General FAQs

Can I record my content to a DVD?
Yes, you can connect and use a separate recordable DVD device for recording from the DVR. In the DVR user guide, reference the instructions for "Copy Recordings from Your DVR to a VCR tape". In those instructions, in place of the VCR or VCR tape, you will use the recordable DVD. Note: The output video format will be standard definition (480i, 4:3 aspect ratio).

Is it possible by connecting a DVD burner to my 8300HD to copy programs I want to keep on to a blank DVD?
Yes, you can connect and use a separate recordable DVD device for recording from the DVR. In the DVR user guide, reference the instructions for "Copy Recordings from Your DVR to a VCR tape". In those instructions, in place of the VCR or VCR tape, you will use the recordable DVD. Note: The output video format will be standard definition (480i, 4:3 aspect ratio).

Can I purchase an Explorer set-top directly from Scientific Atlanta?
No. Explorer set-tops are only available through your cable operator.

Does the cable operator gather information from what I'm watching or from what I'm recording?

It says on your website that I can change the "look" (foreground and background colors, etc) of the Guide screen. How do I do this?
You can change the color scheme in General Settings -- press SETTINGS button twice, the Page Up once, select "Color Scheme". If this process does not work for you, it is because your particular cable operator is running a non-Scientific Atlanta brand DVR software. Please contact your cable operator with questions or to request the appropriate DVR User Guide.

Is Picture-in-Picture (PIP) the same as the 1/4 screen video in the Program Guide?
No, PIP is a small video screen (TV channel) tuned inside another larger TV channel. Notice that the 1/4 screen in the Program Guide and the DVR screens is NOT surrounded by a larger TV video channel. In fact, the 1/4 screen in the Program Guide and in the DVR screens is the currently tuned channel (just reduced in size). If you press the EXIT key on the remote, the 1/4 screen video will become a full screen.

Why does the DVR show a screen that says it will go into energy saving mode unless I push any button on the remote? what if I am recording something- does it just decide it's time to shut down?
The Power-Save mode is intended to help maximize the life of your DVR. Between 1:00 am and 6:00 am every day, your DVR will automatically enter Power-Save mode. In Power-Save mode, the set-top is powered-down, but all scheduled recordings still occur. At approximately 1:10 am, the DVR displays a 5-minute warning banner, which states that the DVR is about to enter Power-Save mode. When the banner appears, either do nothing to let the DVR automatically power down, or simply press any key on your remote control to stop from entering Power-Save mode. The DVR will display the warning banner from 1:10 am until 6:00 am if you do not press a key on the remote control or the front panel within 2 hours.

How can I get a VCR Commander Module for my Explorer 2000, 2100, 3000, or 3100?
VCR Commander Modules are available only through your cable operator.

Can you provide a diagram describing the connectors on the back of the Explorer set-top box?
Check the appropriate user guide for your model of set-top. There are several cabling diagrams availablefor each of the following Explorer models.

Can you explain how to hook up a home theatre or stereo configuration with the Explorer set-top box?
Check the appropriate user guide for your model of set-top.

In a home theatre configuration, when does the Explorer use the digital audio connection? Per the diagram, I connected both the stereo analog connections (Audio L, Audio R) AND I also connected the digital audio connection with a digital audio coaxial cable. How does the Explorer know which output to put the audio signal through? Shouldn't I prefer that the Explorer send a digital signal all the time?
It is correct to connect both the audio left/right and digital audio outputs to the home theater receiver inputs. The digital audio output from Explorer is active when a digitally delivered program is received. When an analog-delivered program is received, the digital audio output is inactive. The "cable out" and left/right outputs from Explorer are active for all types of program delivery. The choice of which signal to use is controlled at the home theater receiver. Most receivers provide menu control so that you can identify which source device is associated with the digital audio input. When the digital audio signal is absent, most receivers will then fall back to using the associated analog left/right inputs.

I forgot my PIN number for the Explorer set-top. What can I do?
Contact your cable operator. They can reset it for you.

What is the difference between pay-per-view (PPV) and video-on-demand (VOD)?
PPV events - such as movies or sports events - usually start and end at scheduled times. You are required either to call your cable operator to order it or to press a button on your remote control, enter an access code, then wait until the event begins. With VOD, you watch the movie when you want to - complete with full pause, rewind and fast-forward control. You simply press a button on your remote control to access, select your movie and begin watching your movie. And depending on the licensing arrangements your cable provider has made, the selected movie can be enjoyed and accessed for up to 24 hours.

If the remote control is another brand or model, contact your cable company for the codes.

I can see squares and sometimes, lines appear as gradients. Can this be my provider's fault?
Digital television signals can be encoded by the programmer in many ways. In addition, from time to time atmospheric conditions, like sunspots, can temporarily effect the signal. If the issue persists, please contact your local cable company.


Will my 8300HD work with a 1080p TV?
Yes. The Scientific-Atlanta 8300HD will work with TV's that have 1080p capability, meaning you will be able to connect your cable box to a 1080p TV and see a high definition picture.

Will my 8300HD provide a 1080p signal?
Currently the 8300HD can receive a 1080p video format (as defined by the ATSC standard) into the box. The box then provides a signal to the TV that is in one of four video formats: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i. Once the 1080p TV receives the signal from the 8300HD, the TV will then display it as a 1080p video format.

I have an Explorer 8300HD - is the HDMI output active?
Yes, if you use an HDMI to DVI converter cable provided by your cable operator.

My HDTV has DVI input, not HDMI. Can I still connect the Explorer 8300HD?
Yes, if you use an HDMI to DVI converter cable provided by your cable operator.

I'm having audio problems when using the HDMI connection on my Explorer 8300HD. Is there a solution?
If you have already consulted Explorer 8300HD User Guide and connection diagrams, please contact your cable operator to report the problem. In the meantime, connect your HDTV to your Explorer 8300HD using the YPbPr and LEFT/RIGHT AUDIO connectors.

How do I format and select the best picture format and size for my HDTV with my Explorer 4200HD or Explorer 3250HD set-top box?
The answers are in this Explorer HDTV Setup Wizard Guide.

I have a 16:9 aspect ratio HDTV and an Explorer 3100HD set-top box. Can I change the screen sizes so that shows broadcast in 4:3 aspect ratio fill the screen?
The Explorer 3100HD does not have the capability to stretch or manipulate the video. It outputs all channels at a 1080i scan rate. So, standard-definition channels will be in a 4:3 mode with pillar bars on the sides. We have been working on new hardware that has several enhancements including the ability for you to stretch and zoom the video or change the scan rate - all controlled from the Explorer. Check with your cable provider shortly to find out about availability.

I have a 4:3 aspect ratio HDTV connected to my Explorer 3100HD set-top. When I am watching shows that are in 4:3 format, I get black bands on the top/bottom and on both sides of the picture. How do I get rid of these bands?
First, check to see if the HDTV has picture adjustments that will manipulate the image so that it fills up the entire screen. If it does not have picture adjustments, connect up the baseband video out or S-Video from the Explorer 3100HD to the HDTV (in addition to the YPbPr connection) and switch the HDTV's video input over to that line where the baseband or S-Video is connected. This will maximize the display area for analog channels or standard-definition digital channels.

The reason this happens is that the Explorer 3100HD is outputting to what it believes is a 16 x 9 aspect ratio HDTV. The true definition of HDTV is a 1920 x 1080i or a 1080 x 720P resolution at a widescreen 16 x 9 aspect ratio. However, many TV manufacturers have made HD ready 4 x 3 aspect ratio monitors. Some HDTV's, when connected via the YPbPr analog component inputs, think that the signal coming in is an HD 1080i signal. Therefore, the HDTV displays the letterbox bars.

Why are all my programs displayed in 1080i format?
You may have selected the Easy Setup mode and the Widescreen (16:9) TV setting in the HDTV Setup Wizard. Choosing these two settings together limits your programming to 1080i format, even on non-HD channels. To see your non-HD programs in 480i on a widescreen HDTV, use the Advanced Setup in the Explorer HDTV Setup Wizard. Make sure that you select 480i as one of your saved formats, and then select Pass-Through in General Settings: Picture Format for your default picture format.

Are local TV stations broadcasting in HDTV?
Many local TV stations are transmitting digital signals. However, transmitting a digital signal does not mean transmitting an HDTV signal. Some stations are using the new bandwidth to broadcast several standard-definition channels. Most stations, however, once they begin broadcasting in digital, or offering HD content from their parent network (for example: CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, WB, UPN, and PBS).

Why are some HDTVs 4:3 aspect ratio and others 16:9?
The aspect ratios differ because television manufacturers build both standard and widescreen HDTVs to appeal to consumer viewing preferences. On widescreen HDTVs, the programming is displayed on the full screen. On standard screen HDTVs, the programming is displayed in letterbox format in the middle of the screen (there are bars surrounding the picture).