I tend to babble so I’ve emphasized the key points. I hope that isn’t annoying to anyone.
[B][I]Firewire is the way to go.[/I][/B] The FCC’s interpretation of the law is that Cable DVR’s must have a working firewire port. (Not that the FCC is particularly interested in enforcing it, mind you). The filesizes tend to be quite small. They compress it way more than a consumer PVR could recompress it at the same quality.
[B][I]This will get you going:[/I][/B]
If you remove the hard drive, you’re not likely to have the slightest luck, because the stuff is saved as encrypted. (The level of paranoia puts James Bond to shame). And the cable company will probably make you pay half a thousand to replace the unit.
As a rule, [I][B]You can only capture stuff that the various channels decide you can have. [/B][/I](Almost all Cable companies leave it up to the source). There are a variety of flags that can be used to allow or dissalow, but those don’t matter - you have to try it and see.
[B][I]Start with a local broadcast station[/I][/B] (there’s a slight chance that your local CBS affiliate will dissalow, even though you could capture it digitally off the air).
Once you have that working, then you can try others. There’s one (and only one) Encore channel that works for me. IFC is good for me. Universal HD…
Premium channels (HBO, and those), are out of the question, for almost every cable system. Don’t expect On Demand to capture, but sometimes it will anyway. This means you can record a lot more to your DVR than you can record to the PC (unless you’re one of the fortunate few).
Luckily you’ve got a Motorola, because most Scientific Atlanta DVRs are seriously messed up in that regard. (Although a lot of people get them going).
Unluckily, [B][I]most of the Motorolas are running a firmware update that almost totally kills the ability to snag shows you’ve already recorded onto the DVR’s hard drive.[/I][/B] A firmware fix came out months ago, but most local cable franchises are atypically slow about rolling it out.
[B][I]There is a workaround, but it hasn’t worked 100% of the time.[/I][/B]
It’s not unusual to get a glitchy signal. And sometimes you’ll even get a perfectly good recording that won’t play until it’s repaired. Grab Mpeg2repair from videohelp.com’s tools section. VideoRedo Plus is an excellent companion tool for it. And Womble’s DVD suite is no slouch either.