Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pin 3 to Ground

That's how we did it back in the day... All you had to do was connect pin 3 to the ground.

What on earth are you talking about, Crazy RxMan?

Free premium channels on the cable box! That's what I'm talking about. Years ago when life was simpler and cable was kind of new, the cable box converter had a weakness. You only had to pay for one premium channel. If you were smart enough to know how to solder, all you had to do was solder a wire from "pin 3" to the "ground" with a switch. When the unit was on, flip the switch and it fooled the circuitry into thinking all the premium channels were paid for and it would unscramble all of them!

But one thing you never want to do is do the same thing to your girlfriend's cable box without her parents knowing. One day my girlfriend's father, not a man of technology by any means, was not happy with the reception on a sports channel and called the cable company for service.

I wasn't there, but from what I'm told the conversation went something like this:

Cable guy: "Mr. Naper, come here!"

Mr. Naper: "Yes, what is it? Did you find the problem?"

Cable guy: "I know what's going on here. I'm taking the cable box with me and we will notify the authorities about cable theft."

Mr. Naper, a very religious man, by the way: "What are you talking about? You're crazy!"

Cable guy shows Mr. Naper the opened cable box (which I never bothered to put the screws back in) with my soldering job and custom switch install.

Mr. Naper: "I didn't do that. I don't know anything about that. What does that do?"

Cable guy: "Don't play dumb with me! You know what's going on here! This is how you steal cable!"

By this time, Mr. Naper had had enough and called for a son-in-law that was living with them at the time. 

Mr. Naper: "Ralph! Come here!"

Cable guy: "Are you responsible for this, Ralph?"

Ralph knew what was going on but played innocent and blamed it all on me. I was a safe person to blame it on because I was gone out of state by that time. Somehow between Ralph and Mr. Naper they were able to convince the cable guy that it was a teenager gone rogue. No charges were ever filed, but I'm a wanted man in that state, I have no doubt. Cable theft is serious.  

Many years later I attended Mr. Naper's funeral. He had a Will and in that Will he left all his loved ones many things. He even had something for me...  the old switch from the cable box and a hand written note... one sentence, which said:

"If you're going to alter someone's cable box, put the screws back in."

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