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Cable TV Adapter Box - DTA

Cable TV - Digital Terminal Adapter

DTA Cable TV box

Originally all cable TV channels were analog. Digital channels came along and we had a hybrid system of both analog and digital channels. Well now your cable TV provider is all digital, converting those low numbered channels from analog to digital.

This change is significant for anyone without a cable box, even those with a newer digital TV but no cable box because most cable tv providers scramble (encrypt) their channels. Sure some channels may come in the clear (unscrambled) but you know that one channel you want is going to be scrambled. This is why you need the DTA box if you have no other cable TV box.

Xfinity/Comcast, Spectrum/Time Warner, COX and others implemented this change over time with the goal being an all digital channel lineup.

You have a few choices such as renting the full-size, full-function digital cable TV set-top-box with DVR, program guide and on-demand features or go with satellite TV services or live with internet TV.

But if you do not want premium cable services and just want the basic cable TV channels, you can rent a DTA or digital terminal adapter box. With the DTA box you get basic cable channels such as PBS, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX and a few others. Plus you can get more channels in the range most likely up to channel 99 maximum if you buy additional subscriptions. These channels would include CNN and depending on your provider, such channels as National Geographic. The channels 100 and beyond probably would not be available. These include HBO, SHOWTIME and the like. Check with your provider to find out what channels are available. You can still use a VCR but you will not be able to view one channel while recording another unless you use two DTA boxes.

Coaxial RF Cable RG-6

If you have a digital cable TV converter box from your cable TV provider then you may be fine and do not need to do anything. But if you have an older analog TV or even a newer digital TV, but you are not using any cable TV converter box from your cable TV provider, you may need to continue reading and take action. Otherwise you may not be able to view some of your cable channels.

Many cable TV customers will go ahead and rent a full size digital cable converter box, some with a DVR to record shows, but these boxes can cost more per month than the digital adapter boxes. The digital adapter box costs less per month but also has less capability.

What is the difference between a DTA box and a DTV box?

The DTV converter box is a digital to analog TV converter box for local over-the-air broadcast TV reception so that an analog TV can view the current digital TV broadcasts. The DTA box is a digital to analog converter box for Cable TV which comes to you from a cable TV provider usually over a fixed coax cable so that an analog TV can view digital cable TV channels.

What is the difference between a cable converter box and a cable adapter box or DTA?

The cable TV adapter box (DTA) does not have the full on-screen program guide or on-demand programs. Typically the DTA adapter box is much smaller than a digital cable converter box. The DTA box has no record capability and usually has less channels available.

When do you need a digital adapter box?

If your cable provider informs you that analog cable channels are being converted to digital and you have no cable TV box at all for a TV.

The adapter box will decode the scrambled digital channel and convert to analog (channel 3 or 4) or digital HDMI for your TV. This way you can still use an older analog TV or a digital TV which has an analog tuner. Any digital channel not scrambled can be viewed on a digital TV with a QAM tuner. Most digital TVs have a QAM tuner built-in. You can also connect to a VCR and tune it to channel 3 or 4 to record, then connect from VCR to TV using a coaxial cable.

How do I connect the cable TV adapter box?

Instead of a direct connection of cable to TV, the cable goes into the adapter box and the adapter box connects to the TV. The adapter box outputs on channel 3 or 4, so you tune the TV to channel 3 or 4 and select channels on the adapter box using the provided remote control. Some adapter boxes have an HDMI output which uses an HDMI cable connected to the HDMI input on a digital TV.

For older analog TV or any standard definition TV, use coaxial RG-6 cable connection and tune to channel 3 or 4.

Standard Definition TV is square, has a CRT (tube) and has no HDMI input ports.

High Definition TV is a wide rectangle flat screen display with HDMI input ports

HDMI Connection to High-Def digital TV

HDMI Cable

DTA box HDMI connection to HDTV using RG-6 coaxial RF cable and HDMI cable to TV HDMI input.

Still want to use that old VCR? Yes, you still can, by connecting the adapter box to the VCR and the VCR to the TV. Tune the VCR to channel 3 or 4 and set to the time your program starts.

How much does the DTA box cost?

Costs can range from $2 to $10 per month.

How can I get the DTA adapter box?

You can order the cable TV adapter box from your cable TV provider by phone or online. After connecting to the TV, call your provider or go online to activate the box.

Included in the kit should be the following:
DTA box
Power adapter
Remote Control
Batteries for remote
Coaxial Cable
HDMI Cable
Instruction sheet

My DTA box has a blinking light and I do not see a channel on the TV. What can I do to fix?

After connecting either coax or HDMI cables from DTA box to TV, selecting the proper TV input or channel, plug in the box and wait for any updates to load. This may take a while. Next, you may need to activate the DTA box by either calling your cable TV provider or by going online to the providers website. For example, Spectrum Cable TV - Spectrum activate

You may need your Cable TV provider account number and your DTA box serial number. Your account number may be on your bill statement and the box serial number should be on a label on the bottom of the box.

After activation, you may need to unplug the DTA box, wait 30 secs. and plug back into wall outlet. This will reboot the DTA box. If you still do not see a channel on the TV, call your provider. The LED light on the DTA box should be solid ON if working properly.

Green light blinking on cable box - FIX

Is High Definition available?

It depends on the adapter box and your TV and your cable service. Some adapter boxes have an HDMI out, so if you have an HDTV with HDMI in and the correct cable TV service with HD channels, you could possibly get High Definition. Keep in mind your provider may charge a fee for HD. If your TV is analog (CRT tube) then HD is not possible but you could get a low resolution version of an HD channel if you have HD cable service.

Who makes the adapter boxes?

Four companies authorized by FCC include Motorola, PACE, CISCO and Thomson.

Does the DTA have a guide?

A basic guide was rolled out throughout 2014-2015.

Cable Channels

Cable Channels 2-24 considered basic cable will all be eventually transmitted digitally, some in the clear and some scrambled. 

If you have an older analog TV, you will need a digital cable converter box or DTA adapter box. This box is similar to the OTA / Over The Air digital adapter box, but smaller. It needs to be authorized and activated by the cable company and you have to use its remote for your channel functions.

Channels 25-70 considered expanded cable are most likely transmitted encrypted and will require the converter/adapter box, per TV.

If you have a QAM tuner in your HDTV and expanded cable 2-70, you presumably will get basic channels 2-24 unencrypted. You tune to channel 3 or 4 to get the cable signal from the adapter box for channels 25 through 70.

If you already have a digital cable box (channels above 100) with every TV, nothing changes. Just keep using the rented equipment.

If you do not have a cable box for all additional TVs, then those additional TVs’ reception will be affected for the basic and expanded lineup included with your service.

What is included in your adapter box kit from your cable TV provider?

The Adapter box with two coaxial jacks, input for wall cable and output to TV, a channel 3/4 switch, an AC wall plug, a coaxial cable for TV connection, a remote control for the adapter box and a user manual. Some will also include an HDMI cable if the box has HDMI capability.

The Cable TV Adapter Box Hookup

Connect the coax cable from the wall to the (Cable IN) box instead of directly to the TV.

Connect the supplied coax cable from the (To TV) box to your TV's coaxial input jack.

The adapter box will require power from an AC outlet. Plug in the supplied AC wall plug to the wall outlet (C) and also into the correct spot on the box (B).

Switch the small two-position switch in the rear of the box to Ch 3.

Plug in the power to the box and wait 15 min. before activating the box with your cable TV provider.
Tune your TV to channel 3.
Tune the adapter box to a channel you want using the remote that came with the box.

Some cable companies may not activate your box until the analog channels are initially switched to digital channels. You can get the adapter box before the switch and be ready. On the day of the switch, you may need to contact your provider to activate the box. Some providers will activate your box automatically.

The CISCO DTA 170HD DTA adapter box

Cisco DTA 170HD with HDMI output. Available Jan 2013. Connect HDMI cable from DTA box to HDTV. Tune TV to HDMI source input.  HDMI can carry High Definition video to your digital TV with HDMI input. Your cable TV provider may even include an HDMI cable in the kit.

Activating the CISCO 170HD box for the first time

After connecting the box to your TV, plug in the power adapter. The green LED light on the front of the box will flash on and off. This means the box needs to be loaded with code provided by your cable TV company. Until the box is loaded/updated with code, it will not be functional and will continue to flash on and off.

When the box is activated and loaded, the green light will be solid on (stay green with no flashing at all). This is the normal operating mode. The light will be solid red when powered off. 

The DTA Box will not power off if not loaded with software code. Your Cable TV provider will load box with updated software from their end. This may take some time and may be required to do several times to get the latest updates.

Power cycle the box by pulling power plug in rear of box and not plugging back in for 30 secs. This may be requested by your provider to reset the box. 

The Coax cable and the HDMI cable can be connected to the TV at the same time.

Typically, if the green LED on the front of the box is not solid on green (no flashing), the box is not fully operational.

Some cable TV providers offer a CHAT online to help troubleshoot your connection and box. You will need internet access and a sign-on id and password to CHAT online with your provider. 

Messages on the TV from your DTA box may include:


This message comes up first after a power on. If the green light flashes on and off, the box is not operational yet. If this message stays on the screen for more than a few mins. you probably need to contact your provider for assistance.


This message will come up after the box has been activated. Before the box works properly it has to get loaded with software from your provider. A PROGRESS bar will show you the percentage of completion for the load. If you do not see progress after 5 min. call your provider for assistance. The box may be bad and need replacement or your provider may need to reset your services. Your provider also may need to update the software on their end so your box will work. If the box completes the load, you should be able to switch channels and watch TV. 


Usually when this message pops up you need to contact your provider and ask for a reset for your DTA box. When directed to, pull the power plug from the DTA box rear panel, wait 30 secs, then plug back in. This will help to reset your DTA box and start fresh.

CHnnn NAME is currently not included in your subscription. Contact your service provider.

Where nnn is a number of a channel and NAME describes the channel such as HBO or FOXNEWS. This message may cause the LED on the DTA box to flash red. This message just means you have selected a channel which you do not get. To correct, just use your DTA remote to select a valid channel such as 13 or 24. Selecting a channel such as 441 or 500 may cause this error. Just change to a channel you know you get. 

CISCO DTA 170HD box - INFO button

Press the INFO button for 7 seconds on the DTA remote and a on-screen menu will come up showing all kinds of information. Navigate using the arrow buttons and press ENTER to see additional information. When finished, press LAST to return to the menu. Some of the information about the DTA box could be useful in diagnosing problems. 

HOOKUP DIAGRAM - VCR and DTA boxes to watch one channel while recording another channel

You need 2 DTA boxes to view and record at once. You need a signal splitter and an A/B switch plus some coaxial cables (RG-6). Switch the A/B switch to the side you want, either view the VCR or the cable TV feed. Make sure to set the DTA box, VCR and TV to channel 3 (or 4) but they all have to be on the same channel. Set VCR to record channel 3. Select the correct channel on the DTA box.

Remember, if you have an HDTV, you may be able to get over-the-air local TV channels using an antenna. This way you could view an over the air TV channel while recording a cable channel. Switch the TV input sources using the TV remote to view antenna or the DTA box source.


PROGRAM the DTA Remote control to power on/off your TV so you often only need one remote.

Program the remote control for your TV by following these steps:

1. Turn on your TV. 

2. Using the DTA remote, Press and hold the PROG and TV POWER keys at the same time until the LED turns on, then release both keys.

3. Find the four-digit device code for your TV brand. Press the four numeric keys. Example 0021

4. If the device code is valid for your TV, the LED will turn off and the device code will be retained. If the device code is invalid, the LED will blink two times and then remain on. The remote will stay in setup mode. You can go back to step three to enter another code if necessary. Try different codes listed for your TV brand until one works for your TV.


SAMSUNG TV Codes: 0021, 0061, 0081, 0101, 0121, 0171, 0231, 0281, 0341, 0371, 0411, 0471, 0801, 0901, 1041, 1061, 1131, 1231, 1281, 1311, 1371, 1501, 1691, 1741, 1751, 1801, 2051, 2111, 2221, 2291, 2641, 2661, 2671, 2881, 3241, 3341, 3371, 3601, 3631, 3661, 3691, 3721, 3771, 3831, 8001

VIZIO TV Codes: 8003, 8004, 8005, 8006, 8007, 8008

RCA TV Codes: 0101, 0171, 0281, 0441, 0961, 1041, 1061, 1251, 1521, 2651

Magnavox TV Codes: 0051, 0061, 1151, 1631, 1651, 2881

SONY TV Codes: 0031, 0051, 0061, 0141, 0171, 0191, 0261, 0611, 1161, 1791, 1981, 2331, 2401, 2471, 2881, 3381, 3621, 3701

Automatic Code Search

If the device code for your TV brand can't be found in the list, please try to search for the device code, following these steps:

1. Turn on your TV manually. 

2. Press and hold the PROG and TV POWER keys at the same time until the LED turns on, then release both keys.

3. Press the TV POWER key on your remote to enter the automatic code search mode. The remote will transmit the TV power code every 1.5 second and the LED will blink at the same time. When you see the TV is powered off, the remote has found a valid group device code.

4. Press the PROG key to store the code and to exit the search mode.

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