Motorola DCT3412 Diagnostics

In the course of the recent Comcast debacle, I kept my eyes peeled, and gleaned a bit of info about the diagnostic menus on the Motorola DCT3412 I (“Dual Tuner DVR / HDTV Capable”).

To get into the main diagnostic status menu, grab the remote, and make sure the box is plugged in, but “off” (press Cable, then Power if it’s on). Then press Select. This bring up a menu of the status pages which you can look up to see what your box is doing, but as far as I can tell, you can’t change anything here. Scroll to Exit and Select to get out of this menu or just press Power.

To get into the User Settings menu, again make sure the box is off, then press Menu. This will let you change:

TV Type:

  • 4:3 Letterbox
  • 4:3 Pan Scan
  • 16:9

YPbPr Output:

  • 1080i
  • 720p
  • 480p
  • 480i

4:3 Override:

  • 480i
  • 480p
  • Stretch
  • Off

The 4:3 override seems to only operate when you’re component (YPbPr) output is set to one of the HD signals, and sets the 4:3 SD channels to output according to this setting. 480i and 480p are just as they say, “Stretch” takes the 4:3 signal, and stretches it to fill whatever 16:9 HD output you have selected, and “Off” uprezes the 4:3 image proportionally to fit in the HD frame, pillarboxed.

This menu will also let you change the Closed Captioning, with all sorts of language, font and color settings. More info about the settings can be found starting on page 9 of this manual [Unfortunately now offline —Ed. 2015-08-15]. Press Power or Menu to get out of this User Settings menu. That’s it!

Getting Video onto Your iPod

Here, I was, all ready to do a clever video tutorial on how to use Handbrake to rip video from your DVDs to your 5G iPod (aka, iPod with video), and I see there’s a clever app called iSquint that is optimized for doing just that. Except— wait. No it isn’t. You’d have to decrypt and rip the video to your hard drive first. And then, of course, there’s getting all that metadata into the file… Hmmm…. seems like there’s call for an all-encompassing tutorial after all.

Gigabit Ethernet Connections

Yesterday, we had quite a scare. We had run CAT5e cable throughout the ceilings and walls of the office, but when we plugged them into the gigabit Ethernet switch, none of the link lights lit up. We were dumbfounded. All of this cable had tested fine. We tried shorter cable, different cable, none of it worked, except a few old pieces of cable that had been lying around. But we couldn’t figure out why the hell those cables worked and ours didn’t. We even ran out and bought all new CAT6 cable, thinking maybe we had gotten a bad batch, and got better cable to overcompensate for it. We tried that— a 30′ cable, and a 5′ cable, and neither worked. The cable tester said it was good, but it wasn’t working — Why?

Defeated and frustrated, I frantically called my IT knowledgeable friend, Ben, and he stepped through everything, leaving me with two bits of advice: take a look at the way the cables that do work are crimped and emulate them; and if all else fails, call Linksys, and ask them what the heck is going on. Well, before calling Linksys, I looked on their web site’s support area, and found this gem, which explained the proper pin order of the wires. We cut off the old connectors, re-crimped them with the wires in the new order matching the 568B standard, and lo and behold, it worked.

I guess it has to do with how the twisted pairs shield themselves, and the way we were doing it, there were two pairs that were signal/ground instead of signal/signal or ground/ground like they should be. Good enough for 10/100, but not gigabit. The cable tester only tests the connection order, not which pairs go where, so there’s no way we could have known from that.

Anyway, I’m glad we got this figured out. Of course, now I’m the proud owner of a 1000′ spool of CAT6 that we didn’t really need to buy. I s’pose I’ll keep it handy for the home network— but let this be a lesson to you, if you’re making your own ethernet cables, follow the standard.