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Pro black-screen tuner failure, but Mini works!

Discussion in 'TiVo Roamio DVRs' started by lew-wolfgang, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. Sep 27, 2013 #1 of 159
    lew-wolfgang

    lew-wolfgang New Member

    26
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    Sep 23, 2013
    San Diego
    Hi Folks,

    I'm a Cox customer in south San Diego county, which is SA/Cisco territory. I purchased a Pro and a Mini a couple of weeks ago and have been experiencing an intermittent live-tv tuner failure issue. At times, 50% of the channel changes fail with a black screen. At other times it works well as I select sequential channels with the channel up/down button.

    I've looked at other threads here containing various tuner problems, and I've seen this black-screen issue mentioned before. Most of the threads seem to reference failures to use all of the tuners available on the cable card, but I'm not sure that's my problem. As a test, I started six simultaneous record sessions, all channels encrypted as reported by the CCI variable being 0x02. I confirmed that the six encrypted channels were actually being recorded by looking at the content, first with the Mini and then with the Pro. All was well. I then stopped the recordings and confirmed once again that all six had appropriate and unique content. I would assume that all six of my tuners are working correctly.

    But this is interesting: the problem is mostly non-existent when tuning live-tv on the Mini! I've tested this by confirming that the Pro was failing most channel changes, then running upstairs to find that the Mini was working perfectly on the SAME channels the Pro was failing! I repeated this experiment a number of times with similar results. So why would the Mini's tune requests to the Pro work, while the Pro's own requests to itself fail? This doesn't make any sense, but it is what it is, and suggests an issue in the Pro itself.

    Some threads here suggest that the cable card's firmware needing updating. But wouldn't stale cable card firmware affect both Pro and Mini channel selection?

    Here are my stats:

    90-db signal strength
    35-db SNR
    Manuf ID: 259
    Firmware: PKEY1.5.3_F.p.0601

    Cox also supplied a Cisco STA1520 Tuning Adapter.

    For the record, the Mini does fail to tune from time-to-time, I'd guess maybe 1% of channel changes, versus 50% on the Pro (at times). I've also had the "waiting circle" a time or two that required a Mini reboot.

    Don't get me wrong, the Pro and Mini are great, and I'm happy with the purchase. I'm sure that Tivo will fix this issue soon since it (or a variant) seems to be affecting multiple customers. Indeed, I'm going to purchase a few more Mini's.
     
  2. Sep 28, 2013 #2 of 159
    NJguy

    NJguy New Member

    86
    0
    Sep 10, 2013
    Maybe the mini was just using a tuner that was not tuned to the black channel. I think around post 135 Margaret tells you what to do to see if all 6 tuners are working properly. I was having the same thing happen and figured out I only had 4 tuners working and when I went to my mini's (I have 2) they would draw on a tuner that worked.
     
  3. Sep 29, 2013 #3 of 159
    lew-wolfgang

    lew-wolfgang New Member

    26
    0
    Sep 23, 2013
    San Diego
    Yes, I saw Margarett's postings. But I've demonstrated to myself that all six tuners are usable by recording six simultaneous streams, then confirming that all six recordings had correct content.

    Today I set up five simultaneous recordings, leaving one free tuner. In this case, the Pro had absolutely no black screens when channel surfing. I surfed around for 30-minutes and couldn't find one black screen! Kill the recordings and the black screens return.

    The "Tuners 5 and 6 not authorized" thread now has talk about the problem possibly being related to the Pro trying to tune to an analog channel. It can't play analog, doesn't have the circuitry. But there are indications that it's trying on channels which simultaneously broadcast analog and QAM. Check post #396 by HarperVision.

    Since the mini uses the Pro's hardware, and the mini doesn't see the problem, what does the mini do that the Pro doesn't? Maybe it accesses the channel list differently and doesn't request analog content?

    I've also reported all this to Tivo customer service and Doug, after consultation with the developers, said he was puzzled and that they haven't seen exactly these symptoms before. There is one possibly related issue they're working on and Doug will submit our observations, they may possibly be relevant.

    Doug also recommended swapping out my TA as a long shot, which is on order and will be here on Monday.
     
  4. Oct 2, 2013 #4 of 159
    lew-wolfgang

    lew-wolfgang New Member

    26
    0
    Sep 23, 2013
    San Diego
    Update: Wed Oct 2 2013

    The replacement tuning adapter was delivered Tuesday and I installed it Tuesday evening. I don't think it's premature to announce that my black channel problem has been fixed! I've spent cumulatively about 45-minutes toggling the channel selector looking for black screens but haven't seen a one. Channel selection remains reliable on the Mini.

    I still think something funky is going on in the Roamio in that a slaved mini was able to tune perfectly, but the Roamio wasn't able to tune for itself.

    I also noticed that "Analog" doesn't show up in the CableCard diagnostic screens now, where they were prevalent before.

    FWIW, the CableCard firmware remains at PKEY1.5.3_F.p.0601.
     
  5. Oct 2, 2013 #5 of 159
    lew-wolfgang

    lew-wolfgang New Member

    26
    0
    Sep 23, 2013
    San Diego
    I KNEW it would happen! As soon as I posted the above I went to check channels again and the problem has returned!

    The "Analog" modulation tag appears in the CC diagnostics screen again too.

    I've been testing on the HD channels between 1030 and 1070, where the standard definition analog channels appear between 30 and 70. It seems that when I have a tune failure on, for example, 1039, if I then tune to 39, then back to 1039 it usually works. Could the tuning adapter be picking up bogus channel information somehow, that the mini ignores?
     
  6. Oct 2, 2013 #6 of 159
    SDRoamio

    SDRoamio New Member

    11
    0
    Sep 24, 2013
    San Diego
    I'm also in San Diego, on Cox with the same Cisco/SA gear. I was having "black screen" tuning issues as well - although not as bad. Is your cable going from the wall to the TA, then from the TA to the Tivo (plus the USB from TA to Tivo)? If so, try splitting the cable from the wall, with one going into the TA, and the other going directly to the Tivo. That did the trick for me - although, unrelated, i'm having the issues described in the "Roamio RWD/FFD/30sec Local Channel Issues" with FOX in HD.
     
  7. Oct 2, 2013 #7 of 159
    lew-wolfgang

    lew-wolfgang New Member

    26
    0
    Sep 23, 2013
    San Diego
    At this point the RG-6 is fed directly from the Cox digital telephone interface to a two-port splitter. One leg of the splitter goes to the cable modem, the other to a two-port tap. The no-loss leg goes directly to the tuning adapter, the -6dB leg goes to further splitters for analog-only tv's. The TA is then connected directly to the Pro Roamio. But I tried a two-port splitter to feed the TA and the Pro, but there was no difference. One of the Cox technicians told me the TA didn't introduce any loss over the downstream feed. Indeed, he said it sometimes boosts the signal, which implies internal amplification? So the cable modem, TA, and Roamio should all be seeing -3dB from the feed.

    But the signal levels are really moot, because the Mini works! It uses the same feeds, CC, and TA after all.

    Do you have a 4 or a 6 tuner Roamio? I think the 4's have analog input circuitry, while the 6's don't. What happens if a 6-tuner Roamio is told to tune to an analog channel? Black screen? Maybe the Mini is smart enough to not request an analog channel? Just wondering...
     
  8. Oct 2, 2013 #8 of 159
    HarperVision

    HarperVision TiVo's Italian Cuz!

    5,275
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    May 14, 2007
    Paradise...
    No Roamio model has an analog tuner. I think you're confusing that with OTA capability, which the base model has, but it's still digital only.
     
  9. Oct 2, 2013 #9 of 159
    lew-wolfgang

    lew-wolfgang New Member

    26
    0
    Sep 23, 2013
    San Diego
    Ah, thanks for clarifying.

    BTW, I reported my symptoms to Tivo last Saturday and they admitted we're seeing a very interesting situation. They recommended that I swap out the TA just on the off-chance it was causing the black tunes. I did that last night and indeed, the problem did go away, for 12-hours. Black screens are back in full force this morning.

    So I reported the TA swap to Tivo and they now will escalate the issue. Again, here are the main points I've observed:

    1. Intermittent black screens when tuning to a HD channel.

    2. All six tuners work, confirmed with simultaneous recordings on different channels.

    3. The problem does NOT appear when five tuners are recording, leaving only one for live TV.

    4. Every time a black screen is observed, the CC reports "Analog" as the modulation type.

    5. Whenever a black channel fails to tune by retrying, a tune to its analog equivalent will work, after which a tune to the same failed black channel will mostly work. For example: 1039 fails. Tune to 39 works. Now a tune to 1039 will work. (most of the time)

    6. The Mini, slaved to the one and only Roamio, ALWAYS WORKS!

    That the Mini always works, using the same CC, TA and channel lineup, is probably the most interesting symptom and suggests a software issue in the Roamio itself.
     
  10. Oct 2, 2013 #10 of 159
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

    37,509
    180
    Apr 17, 2000
    Nevada
    Try rebooting your TA and see if the problem goes away again. If that "fixes" the problem you may want to consider buying one of those cheap lamp timers and using it to reboot your TA every day when you're not recording anything.
     
  11. Oct 2, 2013 #11 of 159
    HarperVision

    HarperVision TiVo's Italian Cuz!

    5,275
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    May 14, 2007
    Paradise...
    I tend to agree with that statement 100%!
     
  12. Oct 2, 2013 #12 of 159
    lew-wolfgang

    lew-wolfgang New Member

    26
    0
    Sep 23, 2013
    San Diego
    Surely you jest! :) How would a lamp timer know about scheduled ongoing recordings?

    I've also tried rebooting the TA, it usually doesn't make any difference.

    BTW, I'm not angry about this whole thing. I think the Roamio and Mini are great. This glitch will be fixed, probably more sooner than later. At any rate I have a work-around in that tuning the analog channel first clears the blockage. Also, Tivo's support representatives are really good and knowledgeable, the two I spoke with impressed me. Nicole even offered to extend my 30-day product return window, but I declined the invitation.
     
  13. Oct 2, 2013 #13 of 159
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    Nevada
    I was thinking more like having it turn off for a few minutes in the middle of the night.
     
  14. Oct 2, 2013 #14 of 159
    HarperVision

    HarperVision TiVo's Italian Cuz!

    5,275
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    May 14, 2007
    Paradise...
    He's not, and please....don't call him Shirley!!! ;)
     
  15. Oct 2, 2013 #15 of 159
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    Apr 17, 2000
    Nevada
    If you really wanted to get fancy you could probably do something more automated using a PC, custom software and a Z-wave module. :)
     
  16. Oct 2, 2013 #16 of 159
    HarperVision

    HarperVision TiVo's Italian Cuz!

    5,275
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    May 14, 2007
    Paradise...
    How 'bout we just get TiVo to fix their software instead?
     
  17. Oct 2, 2013 #17 of 159
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    Apr 17, 2000
    Nevada
    If it is a TiVo problem and not a TA problem then I agree. In this particular case it sounds like a TA problem. Maybe the reason it worked temporarily after he replaced it is because it hadn't yet downloaded a firmware update and that firmware update is what's actually causing the problem.
     
  18. Oct 2, 2013 #18 of 159
    moyekj

    moyekj Well-Known Member

    11,149
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    Jan 23, 2006
    Mission...
    But the point is the OP says tuning via the Mini works every time vs tuning with the Roamio sometimes failing. If it was a TA issue then it should fail at about same rate tuning either with Roamio or Mini. Which is really strange since the Mini is just requesting that the Roamio tune to a specific channel and hence it's actually the Roamio doing all the tuning and the Mini is just streaming the feed. Certainly seems like a Roamio bug to me...
     
  19. Oct 2, 2013 #19 of 159
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    Apr 17, 2000
    Nevada
    You're right, didn't think about that.

    I've had quite a few times where I've turned on my TV and see my Roamio sitting at a black screen. But it seems to be some sort of decoder/scaler issue, and not a tuning issue, because if I hit instant replay there is video being recorded it's just not being played back properly. I wonder if that's what the OP is seeing.

    OP - How many of the resolutions to you have checked on your Roamio? Maybe these channels are triggering a resolution switch that your TV or the scaler in the TiVo isn't adjusting to properly and that's why you're getting a black screen?
     
  20. Oct 2, 2013 #20 of 159
    HarperVision

    HarperVision TiVo's Italian Cuz!

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    Paradise...
    Yeah, what he said!
     

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