How to record live or previously recorded TV from a Motorola QIP6416-2 set-top box
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
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:
- Connect the firewire cable from one of the ports on the back of the STB to your computer.
- 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.
- Open AVCBrowser. It’s part of the FireWire SDK, and is easily found via Spotlight.
- Click Motorola QIP-6416-2 in the AVC Browser window.
- Click Open Device Control Panel.
- Click Open Device.
- Click the Panel tab, then click Show Viewer, which will open VLC.
- Use your STB remote to either select a channel, or browse and play your DVR contents.
- Make note of the udp address in the title bar of the VLC stream that opens.
- In VLC, go to File -> Open Network.
- 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.
- Check the Streaming/Saving box, then click Settings.
- 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.
- You can transcode here if you wish. I didn’t bother.
- 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.