Correctly Mapping ClearQAM Channels in Media Center in Windows 7

A year and a half ago I bought a giant aerial antenna for the sole purpose of receiving clear OTA reception of local stations in media center.  In this pursuit, I had very little troubles.  The setup has worked like a charm and I haven’t had to touch it for months on end.

That was until a few weeks ago when I started having difficulty receiving a few stations.  It seemed that I could only get strong reception on one channel if I agreed to not get good reception on other channels.  This is obviously unacceptable.

Yesterday I rushed home from work to try to play with the antenna positioning one last time before Chuck.   Fully 30 minutes later I resigned myself to failure.   

Now you have to understand–my whole setup is predicated on the success of this antenan. If the antenna falls down, I don’t watch TV…period.  I pay Comcast as an ISP and that’s it.   Being unable to resolve reception issues I decided to try something new: ClearQAM. 

I have not used ClearQAM in the past because:

  1. I wasn’t sure I received any stations as I’m not paying for any TV package. 
  2. I didn’t want to accept the degeredation in quality that Comcast imposes. (Cable companies rather selfishly compress HD content)
  3. For most of my HTPC’s life,  ClearQAM was not a native option in media center. 

So last night I optimistically hooked up the cable connection to my tuners and went through the TV setup wizard again.  The first problem I had was in the proper detection of my tuner.  Windows 7 didn’t recognize my Hauppauge HVR-1600 as a ClearQAM tuner.  Fortunately I found these instruction which helped me modify the registry to get around this.

Having succesfully completed the wizard, I found that I had a few stations, whose channel numbers and guide data were completely wrong, and didn’t have a few other stations.  After playing around with it for a good while, I found the this guide that got me 90% there

In short, Windows Media Center in Windows 7 may miss some channels in its scan. And it will most likely not know what those channels are if it does find them.   You can use SiliconDust’s webpage to figure out what channels you should be getting.  Using the “Add Missing Channels” page in setup, you can add the missing ClearQAM channels with the correct QAM modulation.  (Left most column on SiliconDust’s page).  You should also note that SiliconDust’s page displays channel data for both OTA and digital cable. You’ll want to scroll down to get to the digital cable listings. 

It will also be very helpful to know what channels you want to be getting.  For instance, I knew I wanted WSLS (Channel 10.1 NBC in my area), so I searched that page for WSLS and added the channels that seemed to match. (In my case there were some duplicate entries that I was only able to weed out after figuring out which ones worked and which ones had the content I wanted.)

Once you have added all the missing channels (or you think you have) go to “Edit Guide” and find the channels you have added.  You’ll want to do two things once you’re here.  You’ll want to change the channel number to right one.  (For instance, NBC on my setup was ClearQAM channel 64-4 but I wanted it to be 10.1 as this was the official channel number).  To do this, select the channel name (to the right of the channel number and checkbox) and press Enter.  This displays the settings for this channel.   Change the channel number as desired and press save, then go to “Edit Listing” and type in the call letters for the station you want.   Be sure to be as specific as possible.   If your channel is WSLS-DT, select that and not WSLS on the off chance the analog station has different programming than the digital station. 

You should also be sure to differentiate between WSLS-DT and WSLS-DT2 and the like.   If you can’t find the proper call sign for a station, look it up online.   In my case, I receive a station called “The CW”.  Looking online I determined that the correct call sign was WWCW. 

It’s a process of trial and error, but once you have it setup you won’t have to worry about it anymore.

I apologize for the lack of screen shots in this post.  I’m not near a media center, but wanted to get this written while it was still fresh.

  • NoName JustGrateful

    Thank you for being the first person to explain to me in easily understood terms how to use the SiliconDust info to map the channels.  I haven’t tried it yet but I think it will work for me.