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How to record live or previously recorded TV from a Motorola QIP6416-2 set-top box

February 16, 2012

I recently have been messing around with my media setup (now that I have spare time – open source job leads anyone?). I wanted to get a couple of important sciency-type shows off of my Verizon FIOS DVR that have been trapped on it for years. So I sucessfully used a formula from a site that was formerly located at http://itsjustyouand.me/ .

It worked! But the site was taken down.

Here I am replicating it for use by others. I only hope that it can retake the #1 spot for google search with “qip-6416-2 firewire” :-p

From: http://itsjustyouand.me/2009/06/17/how-to-record-live-or-previously-recorded-tv-from-a-motorola-qip6416-2-set-top-box/

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I have two needs: one, to record an episode of a certain TV show next week in high quality that is well-suited to burning to a DVD, and two, to keep my mind occupied to avoid dwelling on my current personal problems. In pursuit of satisfying those needs, I started reading up on how easy it would be to just pull the video from my DVR, which is a Motorola QIP6416-2 from Verizon FiOS. It has a ton of USB and FireWire ports, so I thought it wouldn’t be very difficult.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, the internet is full of bogus blog entries, misinformation, forum threads that are hundreds of pages long and impossible to parse in a single sitting, and the few bits of relevant info you may find hasn’t been updated in years. I was finally able to get rid of the cruft and put together a simple process for recording HD video over FireWire that’s straightforward and doesn’t require any extra hardware or software.

For this to work, you need:

  • A compatible STB. Listing compatible STBs here is beyond the scope of this entry. If in doubt, go up to step 3 and make sure your STB shows up in the list.
  • A 6-circuit FireWire cable. Hint: it’s the bigger kind of FireWire cable.
  • Something running OS X. From what I’ve read, anything newer than 10.2 will do. I did this on 10.5.7.
  • The Apple FireWire SDK. I used v26 for this. You can download it here. You’ll have to register first, but it’s free, so…

Once you’ve got all that set up and ready to go, proceed with the following steps:

  1. Connect the firewire cable from one of the ports on the back of the STB to your computer.
  2. Just to double check, go to the Apple Menu, then About this Mac, then More Info, then look under Hardware -> FireWire, and make sure your STB is in the list.
  3. Open AVCBrowser. It’s part of the FireWire SDK, and is easily found via Spotlight.
  4. Click Motorola QIP-6416-2 in the AVC Browser window.
  5. Click Open Device Control Panel.
  6. Click Open Device.
  7. Click the Panel tab, then click Show Viewer, which will open VLC.
  8. Use your STB remote to either select a channel, or browse and play your DVR contents.
  9. Make note of the udp address in the title bar of the VLC stream that opens.
  10. In VLC, go to File -> Open Network.
  11. Type the udp address you noted earlier into the Media Resource Locator field. This whole process might not be the best way to do this. I’m not sure. Either way, this works.
  12. Check the Streaming/Saving box, then click Settings.
  13. Check “Display stream locally” and select a destination with the “Browse” button next to File. Note: pick a drive that has quite a bit of storage space available. I’ve read that this video can take up around 9 gigs per hour.
  14. You can transcode here if you wish. I didn’t bother.
  15. Click OK, then OK again. It should reopen the stream from your STB and begin recording.

That should do it. You can change the video file name from the default “vlc-output.ts” if you like. Use the .mpg file extension. As far as I can tell, this technique will record the video at whatever resolution the channel is broadcasting in, so some will be 720p and some will be 1080i. And yes, it works with the movie channels. I didn’t try it with any On Demand content.

I’d also like to mention that I tried a few other oft-recommended apps, namely VirtualDVHS and FireRecord, and neither worked worth a damn. VirtualDVHS picked up the STB fine, but I couldn’t get it to actually record anything. FireRecord 0.5h picked up the STB and pretended to record, and I liked the scheduling aspects quite a bit, but the video format was either corrupt or I screwed up while recording. I couldn’t get it to play in VLC or Quicktime, even after renaming to .mpg. I also couldn’t get MPEG Streamclip to open it for conversion. I just assume I screwed up somehow while recording.

I hope someone finds this useful. I read in a lot of places that it wasn’t possible to pull video from these things. It seems to be true that you can’t just download a file from the STB’s hard drive, but this method is almost as good.

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14 Responses to How to record live or previously recorded TV from a Motorola QIP6416-2 set-top box

  1. Elliot says:

    Hi,
    While I appreciate the good news and your amazing efforts, is there something that a Windows PC can do the same thing as your Apple?
    I recorded four movies that are laying dormant on the hard drive and I want to extract them onto my PC for burning to a DVD using Nero.
    Unfortunately, I was told by Verizon there are no output jacks from this Motorola unit that would allow me to do this.
    Other than the five jacks (three color and two audio) that plug into the TV, I do not even know how to reconfigure them to plug into my DVD recorder that only has one video jack and two audios.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thanks.

    • JR says:

      I’m no expert on this sort of thing, but I’m pretty sure that the only way to get any output from this STB is over Firewire, not through the composite/component/HDMI interfaces. I know there are quite a few equivalent PC apps that will accomplish this, but I don’t use them, so I can’t give you specifics. You should be able to find them with some searching.

  2. Kerry Maxwell says:

    Thanks for these instructions. I haven’t got to actually work yet, but I’m closer than I’ve been! ;) I can get VLC to display what is playing on the STB, but I haven’t been able to get it to record. I’m using a G4 powerbook, OS X 10.4.11, and VLC 0.8.6i. If it’s a leopard or PPC vs Intel issue, I can first try my wife’s intel macbook, and then upgrade to leopard if that doesn’t work.

  3. Kerry Maxwell says:

    OK, was able to record after updating to after updating VLC to 0.9.10. 30 seconds of HD = 102 megs. But my results are are not easily repeatable. I tried recording something from a non-HD program, and couldn’t get it to work again. So basically, I know it’s possible, but it certainly seems a PITA.

    Thanks again for your help in getting me this far!

  4. solo 68 says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for posting this info online. I read on the Motorola site that the QIP6416-2 needs a software upgrade in order to allow the transfer of it’s recorded data to an external hard drive. Yet, you seem to have come up with a method for capturing live media. I noticed the title of your article includes previously recorded TV.

    I have several programs I have recorded and now have very limited space to record any other movies. Is there a difference in the detailed instructions you provided on capturing live media and transferring recorded media to a Mac or external drive?

    Thanks

    • JR says:

      I can only tell you that it seems to be a little finicky. Sometimes, following these steps, I can get it to work the first try. Others it takes a few reboots of the computer and the STB to get things working. It’s pretty frustrating, but better than nothing.

      • solo68 says:

        Ok, thanks. I’ll have to give it a try.

      • solo68 says:

        After trying several times, using my standard and admin accounts, I cannot get this method to work. Restarting my Mac, swapping firewire ports, turning the DVR on & off, and again it does not seem to work. If this is finicky I would hate to see down right stubborn (LOL).

        However, everything works up to step nine, but clearly that is the most crucial step. Maybe there are VLC preferences, you did not mention, that need to be configured. Perhaps, there are certain network ports I do not have enabled. I gave it a fair try. Thanks.

        • JR says:

          I can’t say. It’s been 4 months since I did this, so maybe there have been firmware changes to the STB or something. I haven’t tried it since I posted this.

          • solo68 says:

            Hi,

            I finally got some sample video to work from live TV. I have yet to try recorded video, which is what I really want. However, I paid a price to get these results. One, I stayed up all night working on this; and two, I purchased the QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component. Also, I used a different method to get it to work, but it works flawlessly. No restarting my Mac or DVR required. Dollar wise it cost me $21.74 (including tax) and I think it is worth it. Hopefully, I can get the same results working on the recorded shows. I will post my results once I get to it.

            By the way, besides using the QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component, I used the AVCVideoCap application (it is also part of the free Apple Firewire SDK) and MPEG Streamclip (freeware). The initial instructions that got me started can be found at the link below.

            http://jpicune.wordpress.com/2006/10/13/record-shows-from-your-comcast-hd-dvr-onto-your-mac/

            Thanks

          • solo68 says:

            Well, I can only capture recorded video from the local programming channels. All basic and premium cable channels are limited to one copy (the copy already on my DVR). In the MPEG Streamclip application GUI the EMI field gives an indication if video can be copied more than once. For example, if it lists “Copy Once” it means the copy already on my DVR is the only copy I can view, and if it lists “Copy Freely” it means the video can be copied and viewed multiple times. Again, thanks for listing this info on your blog and I hope this additional info helps you and others that find your blog.

            Cheers

  5. aahhgeezz says:

    I have followed your guide and everything is working but the actual recording. The output file is created and is zero kilobytes. Am i possibly doing something wrong? I get the display on my macbook/10.6.2. I have a pace dvr and I can record with AVCVideoCap and FireRecord, but sometimes the video is not viewable in any other viewer/program other than VLC on playback. I have to encode with HandBrake before MPEG Streamclip shows the video so I can edit the commercials out.

    If anyone has any information for me in regards to getting VLC to actually record for myself. Like I said, I can get it working with other programs, I just have a feeling that recording with VLC may give me better options for when I want to edit the video.

  6. Colin McNaught says:

    Thanks for the hint. All steps seem to work except at step 15 VLC is not capturing even though it appears to be in ‘Play’ mode.
    I’ve had success before with a different STB using AVCVideoCap
    My current one is a Motorola QIP6416 (FIOS)
    Using AVCVideoCap a m2t file is captured (105MB for 1 minute) but it is not readable by my usual apps, MPEGSclip, Handbrake, VLC
    Also, AVCVideoCap reports “Other/Unknown” Stream format.
    Any ideas?

  7. Al C Jr. says:

    Cannot thank you enough! I am pretty new to Mac and have been pulling my hair out trying to capture video from TV, I knew there had to be a way without buying expensive software. Pulled some more out after buying Firewire 9 pin to 6 pin cable today at Best Buy, thinking all I had to do was hook the cables up, no luck…all packed up and ready to take return – until I read your step by steps… It works! THANK YOU very much!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2012 2:58 pm

    Thanks Nick, this worked well. Appreciate the help.

  2. October 30, 2012 3:30 am

    Hey if you guys are having trouble playing back a recording – list / make note and post here if it was Copy Freely or Copy Once as noted by solo68 – I too have issues recording recordings on my motorola dvr :( but feel this might be issue – anyone with a work around?

  3. March 20, 2013 2:15 pm

    Glad some people found use of this.

    I havent messed with it in a while, though I thought about it again today because I found some old .ts files from it. Damn they are huge!

    I stopped doing this because it was such a difficult process. Too bad, I wish cable companies would make it easier.

    … yet another straw on the camels back that is making me want to break off and do a non-cable setup.

  4. April 30, 2013 9:26 pm

    My post lives on! Awesome.

  5. joec permalink
    July 22, 2013 11:11 pm

    Thank you so much!

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