Cable TV De-Scramblers

The following material is from a piece of spam I received:


I have a few questions regarding this issue:

[li]The way I understand it, the descrablers are legal to build and sell, yet illegal to use, falling under “theft of service.” If their use is, in fact, a violation of the TOS I signed with my cable provider, why is it legal to own one or sell one? Are there any legal uses?[/li][li]I heard a number of things about de-scramblers. Among them, I heard that one uses it by plugging it in to the back of a cable converter periodically and that this “treatment” wears out every couple of weeks. When it does wear out, every channel on your TV reverts to C-SPAN until you plug the de-scrambler in for another “treatment.” Is this true?[/li][li]On a related note, I heard that the cable companies are now using the C-SPAN method of dealing with delinquent accounts, saying that it is more effective that simply cancelling service? Anyone hear anything like this? What does this say about our population?[/li][li]How do these suckers work? Why are they illegal (if they are), technically? Why isn’t the, “If they didn’t want me to watch it, they shouldn’t send it to me” argument valid?[/li][/list=1]


The same reason it’s legal to buy or own a hammer but it’s illegal to use it to break into a house. There is nothing inherrently morally wrong with owning a cable descrambler. Legal uses include testing systems or simply experimenting with electronics. Keep in mind that different cable companies use different types of encryption.

That doesn’t make any sense, so I doubt it. Some digital television services, like the various small-dish satellite services, change their encryption keys every so often, which requires you to get a new smart-card every once in a while for an illegal convertor.

I’ve never heard of the “C-Span” method. Sounds like UL to me. Cable companies are not interested in giving people any service if they are a delinquint account. I have known people who have had collection action taken against them for stealing premium channels.

They are illegal (to use) because you are stealing service that you did not pay for. The “they shouldn’t send it to me argument” is stupid. If you want to argue the ethical validity of it, head over to GD.

BTW, what the hell is “R-D-O Shack?” :rolleyes:

I was always under the impression that while these descramblers use to work in the past, they no longer do. I remember seeing these instructions on a web page someplace a few years back, but I’d assume that cable companies have long since modified their scrambling techniques to render these simple devices useless.

They prolly don’t want to get into copyright infringement on top of everything else :rolleyes:

This doesn’t work anymore however. I worked at Radio Shack for several years, and the key part is no longer stocked. I used to get people all the time with these little lists looking to build a descrambler and its always the same answer. “I can sell you most of this stuff, but the key part(I think its a crystal of some sort, I forget exactly now) is no longer stocked.”

I had a similar post not that long ago that dealt with this very same issue. A few years ago, when I missed a payment to the local cable company, I assumed they would switch off the cable and give me the local stations.

Nada. They made the cable box turn to the Spanish channel and stay there. No amount of fiddling with that damn box could change it.

I ended up driving the payment into the main office that night.


Thanks for replying. Your answers lead me to more questions. You say:

Your hammer analogy doesn’t hold water; I am sure there are many more legal uses for a hammer than illegal ones. Other that your vague “testing/experimenting” hint, I can’t imagine any legal uses for these devices at all. Could you please elaborate?

How did the Cable Company know that your friends were descrambling their signal illegally? How did they prove the crime had been committed?

Ummm… why?



Thank you! I knew I had seen that somewhere online. I have friends with similar stories. (Nice posting with you again!)

BTW, I feel I should post a disclaimer: I have no intention of using the information in this thread to break any laws. I am merely curious.


No sweat sd.

I think the better analogy your looking for is the real world case made for paraphernalia.

Possessing the means to commit a crime does not necessarily mean a crime has been committed- Honest officer, I use that bong for tobacco.

“Possessing the means to commit a crime does not necessarily mean a crime has been
committed- Honest officer, I use that bong for tobacco.”
Nope. If you have a bong, they can use that to search you or your car as it’s reasonable suspicion.

The OP’s cable thing has been discussed for a long time. Youcan do it without buying any parts at all,course only works on 1970 cable comp’s…

If you pay for the cable service, you can watch it using whatever descrambler you want, including one you built yourself (with most companies, at least. YMMV). Of course, if you bought the service, you already have a descrambler from the cable company, so there’s no real reason to want a different one. I guess that DIY types who just like fooling around with electronics might be interested, but they’re a minority.

As to the debates about the ethics of stealing cable and “why do they send it to me”, they’re just that: Debates. Please keep them in the appropriate forum.