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Tivo HD Pixelation Troubleshooting

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by Chimpware, Aug 3, 2007.

  1. May 16, 2008 #761 of 1597
    Chip Chanko

    Chip Chanko New Member

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    Nov 6, 2005
    Funny...ever since comcast was shut off my clock has been updating fine with Fios. No guide info but correct clock. I'm also getting PSIP info from them on the digital locals. I don't have a cablecard in the Sony so they locals are the only channels mapping correctly.
     
  2. May 16, 2008 #762 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    ciucca

    I wouldn't have guessed that you would be the one to throw caution to the wind. I won't join you in your appraisal. Too early. Too much is dependent on Verizon's management of signal. The second canary in the coal mine, the Toshiba, has indicated for months that my VZ VHO/CO has tightened things up a lot. No tiling. No Toshiba updates since 2/07. Yet there is still tiling on my S3 on a few channels - both tuners; tiling on a bunch of other channels - tuner 0 - signals too weak according to diagnostics screen.

    Good luck to you nevertheless. :up:
     
  3. May 16, 2008 #763 of 1597
    ciucca

    ciucca New Member

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    Jun 29, 2004
    How does the Toshiba come into play? Are you talking about your TV?
     
  4. May 16, 2008 #764 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    This must mean that you're in a good/great reception area. Good news for the TiVo. You may get away with 2 straightened paper clips for two devices. Not too much of an investment, right? They don't need to be made by Monster Cable.

    Your clock info is coming analog OTA. Redo setup for antenna, or antenna & cable, to get the guide back, and data. In Phila. area, clearQAM with FiOS isn't worth the effort unless music channels are important, or hearing from the county's HazMat engineer. Local HDs are untunable clearQAM by most brands inlcuding the Sonys and the Sharp Aquos VZ is giving away to new subscribers. Thanks a bunch VZ, even if you can remap channels manually with HDD250s.
     
  5. May 16, 2008 #765 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    I have had a cablecard enabled Toshiba Tv in my bedroom through all my time with FiOS, since 11/06. First 8 months - not one macroblock seen on it. Mid summer last year was the first outbreak of tiling/pixelation. It lasted about a month and was seen to a lesser extent by others served by Phila. VHO using VZ's Motorola boxes. Worst episode by far was last November for several weeks - all local HDs and half the rest tiled horrifically, seemingly in random order, but not random by frequency, only in channel assignment. But still almost no macroblocks seen whatsoever through 3 Sony cablecardQAM tuners. Tiling episodes have been milder since November with no tiling seen on Toshiba for about 2 months now. This is why I say I have two canarys monitoring Verizon's signal quality: The S3 being much more sensitive than the Toshiba. The Sonys seem to manage on just about any diet.
     
  6. May 19, 2008 #766 of 1597
    21364guy

    21364guy New Member

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    Oct 20, 2007
    So I too am plagued with pixelation issues on my HD TiVo with FIOS service. When I first got my unit last November I saw problems... I only noticed it on a single HD channel. Added 6db of attenuation and all was fine. Now I am seeing problems on quite a few SD channels. Signal strength oscillates on these channels quite a bit- typically 60-93, but sometimes dropping to 0. In the meantime my motorola SD box has no trouble with these channels.

    So I decided to call TiVo customer service– they told me it was a cablecard or signal issue. They didn't like the fact that my cardcards came back as:

    Auth: SUBSCRIBED
    Host Validation: Unknown 00
    Copy Protection Key: Disabled

    Any suggestions on my next step? Should I be calling verizon or TiVo again? I read over the phone hmm52's message about better tuners in new hardware, but the CSR claimed ignorance of this.
     
  7. May 20, 2008 #767 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    Your problems sound very similar to mine. Where is your Verizon home office (VHO) and central office (CO)? Most of the posts on this thread and the FiOS attenuation thread dealt with signals which were too strong - usually local HDs that responded well, and immediately, to attenuation.

    What you're seeing on these SD channels is not that. It is most likely a low signal level or at least one that is being tuned as if it is. If signal strength drops below 65 or so, especially with dropouts, you've got a problem - OTA or QAM tiling/pixelation. I'll bet that the weak channels are clustered on 3 or fewer frequencies and they're at the high end, over 650MHz. If you haven't already done so, remove any attenuators and splitters from the cable feeding the TiVo. My FiOS signal has varied a lot in the year and a half with VZ. Pretty good recently. The CSR is probably right, in one way, about the signal causing difficulty; but in my experience the S3 is much more vulnerable to imperfect signals. Check channels on both tuners.

    The CSR is wrong IMO about the cablecards being a possibility. Pull both cards out and you'll see exactly the same diagnostics values. The cards weren't designed to fix what the tuners screw up, or can't fix themselves. CSR also wrong about Conditional Access screen info. I'd be surprised if there was a FiOS subscriber anywhere that didn't have the same info which you have. I sure do - on 5 cablecard devices.

    You can let Verizon know which channels/frequencies are tiling. But it is unlikely that many in your area are having the same problems, not with the same severity anyway. They may sort it out on their own without your input. They seem to keep the closest eye on the most popular channels; the other way for less popular ones. These SDs are what? There can be as many as 12 SDs on one frequency.

    I was promised a new S3 for sometime in May, as a limited supply of them with reworked tuners should be available. I haven't talked to my contact in the exec's office in several weeks. I haven't dealt with TiVo CSRs since March. The person who gave me the info on new S3s available in May was referred to as the "lead tech"; he identified himself as a technical supervisor. I've held off calling because I assume they must have their hands full with more important issues -video freezing/rebooting after 9.3 update. Unfortunately I've seen it twice in the last 24 hours; my S3 tagged 12/27/07. I'll call Tuesday.

    In your situation, I would strongly advise against swapping your unit for a refurb. I doubt it would help, and it may well have worse problems. If you do so, better to not give up your original until you're certain refurb is OK.
     
  8. May 21, 2008 #768 of 1597
    21364guy

    21364guy New Member

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    Oct 20, 2007
    Thanks for the detailed response. I'm in Howard County Maryland. I will do some further investigation this weekend and report back-- on which SDs and frequencies are most affected.
     
  9. May 29, 2008 #769 of 1597
    ciucca

    ciucca New Member

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    Jun 29, 2004
    Just to update.

    I removed the attenuators a few weeks ago and the pixelation issue is gone and has not returned on any channel myself or my family watches. The change for me has coincided with 9.3a. I hope others are seeing the same success.

    BTW - My FIOS signal has not changed. I work for them and I have been watching it closely. It is within standards and I know nothing has changed on the operations end ;). So TIVO must have changed something in their software, although they will not admit it :D
     
  10. May 29, 2008 #770 of 1597
    ilh

    ilh New Member

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    Dec 21, 2007
    Lucky you. After 9.3 I dropped down to 10dB attenuators and RS uncorrected errors dramatically increased. I'm back at 16dB which seems to keep them largely in check.
     
  11. May 30, 2008 #771 of 1597
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
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    Jan 4, 2003
    Good to know. :up: Still, you have to wonder what the changes were and why they helped some, but still not others. :confused:
     
  12. May 30, 2008 #772 of 1597
    ErictheHank

    ErictheHank New Member

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    Jul 27, 2004
    Topeka, KS
    I had pixelation issues back in Sep/Oct and I resolved them by putting 16DB of attenuators on the line. Unfortunately Cox gave us 11 new HD channels a few days ago and apparently that 16DB was enough to completely kill the signal from over half of these new channels. I reduced it down to 10DB which allowed the new channels to come in but then I had a lot of pixelation issues during the Lost season finale last night. For me the pixelation only ever occured on my local HD channels, nothing that is a national feed. Does anyone know if and/or why the signal would stronger from local channels than a national feed? If I find the right person to complain to at Cox is there any chance that they might be able to fix it?
     
  13. Jun 9, 2008 #773 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    The signal levels are established by your cable provider. Generally the local HDs are on lower frequencies (not channel #s) and are not uncommonly transmitted at higher levels. The channels new to you are probably on higher frequencies and at a low level - as of the date of your post. Whether they're HD or SD doesn't matter. Your provider has the ability to fix both the high and low level signals. With any luck, they already have.
     
  14. Jun 10, 2008 #774 of 1597
    Cue-Ball

    Cue-Ball New Member

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    Oct 8, 2002
    Kirkland, WA
    How strong does a signal have to be to prevent this pixelation crap?

    I'm running my S3 using OTA antenna only. I'm about 10-20 miles from most of the station's sources and, in general, everything is fine. However, at certain times my picture becomes downright unwatchable. There is severe pixelation and the audio constantly drops. It happens fairly often, but about a month ago *really* badly during an episode of The Office, and again last night during American Gladiators. During last night's episode I was actually home and watching almost-live. I went into the signal strength meter and the channel for American Gladiators was in the mid- to high-70's for strength. I checked a few other channels and they were pixelating as well (not as badly, but they still were) even with signal strength in the high-70s to low-80s.

    I'm running an AntennaMaster antenna in my attic and I'm fairly close to the broadcast towers getting what I assume are pretty strong signals (70+ strength). Is there something wrong with the Tivo or do I really need an 80+ strength signal for channels to come in without being pixelated?
     
  15. Jun 10, 2008 #775 of 1597
    SCSIRAID

    SCSIRAID Active Member

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    Feb 2, 2003
    Vero Beach, FL
    Typically, the Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) is more important than the signal strength. For OTA ATSC you should be seeing SNR's greater than 20db. Multipath can be even more of an issue than strength/snr issues. You might try rotating the antenna several degrees either way and see if the problem changes.
     
  16. Jun 10, 2008 #776 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    As I pointed out to you in March, the signal strength meter is not great for monitoring your signal. It's a rolling average that's best used for positioning & orienting antenna. The value on the diagnostics screen is much more responsive and will show dropouts below 65 during pixelation, despite the peak average being 75,85,95, whatever.

    Attics are not great locations for antennas unless the construction is tissue paper and thread. I've now got 2 in third floor but they were very carefully aligned & needed to be; each is next to a window; a preamp is used because of cable length. I'm 9 miles from most towers; 63 miles from some received. The two most difficult are 9 miles away.

    Inputing your data on antennaweb.org will give you your actual distance to towers in region and a pretty good guess at antenna requirements for channels now and after 2/09 transition. During poor reception times, 3 Sony ATSC tuners haven't done any better than the S3's. Your problem is still the antenna setup, not the TiVo.
     
  17. Jun 11, 2008 #777 of 1597
    Cue-Ball

    Cue-Ball New Member

    1,708
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    Oct 8, 2002
    Kirkland, WA
    I'll have to check the diagnostics screen, but the signal strength doesn't seem to be dropping.

    All of the reviews I had read seemed to indicate that a quality antenna with decent line of sight would have no issues with reception, especially at the distances I'm at.

    I used tvfool.com before I even installed my antenna. The NBC tower (seemingly the most problematic) is only 10 miles away at 200*. My antenna is aimed at 210* to split the difference between stations at 200* and 220*. My house is on top of a large hill and the source signals come from a hill in Seattle so the line of sight seems to be decent.

    The most frustrating thing is that I have other stations with sources in the same location that work much better. Also, there are at least four stations that are 2-3X as far away and not facing my antenna that work better. I'll check the diagnostics screen to look for dropouts and see about moving my antenna, but you're the first person I've heard say that they need multiple antennas for such close stations. Most people getting OTA TV seem to get great reception at 20+ miles with a single antenna (or even rabbit ears!).
     
  18. Jun 11, 2008 #778 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    I didn't mean to recommend what I've got with 2 antennas on 3rd floor. One suitable antenna should be fine in most cases. I've had a Channel Master CM4221 since the turn of the millenium. It didn't work well in 3rd floor when semi casually placed but has been great at ground level on a covered terrace with dense shrubs and tall trees in the way. Go figure. Except one, all local and distant digitals have maintained strong reliable signals. The exception are the WHYY (PBS) digitals for the last several years - long story but well known to those of us north or east of the city.

    In advance of one local going back to low VHF-6 and WHYY going from 50 to 12 but not becoming any easier to receive supposedly, I added a VHF capable antenna to the mix and put both in 3rd floor. This time using an LG receiver and small TV on site to check signal strength. I found the signal was extremely sensitive to position and orientation. 1" in placement and a degree of rotation made huge differences in SS. The sweet spots were very few. Neither of these antennas would be anywhere near this sensitive if mounted on roof. Usually 2 antennas are used only when desired broadcasters are spread by many degrees, or perhaps to deal with multipath issues. A hulking monster wasn't installed because it's a large finished space and the CM4221 has been the most reliable piece of HD equipment I've owned.

    OTA reception isn't guaranteed. It's vulnerable to sunspots, atmospherics, storms, and broadcasters' transmission parameters. When moving and orienting the antenna in attic, maximize your weakest signal, then check the second weakest, and so on.
     
  19. Jun 16, 2008 #779 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    If so, I nominate myself.

    I've held some mistaken assumptions and posted them before (the derivation of Verizon's analogs for example). I stumbled onto a larger one last night that goes back to original install of S3 in February. Should have known better as early on richsadams pointed out that TiVo tuners are very sensitive and it seemed clear to me that diagnostics screen values reflect how well or poorly the tuner is doing its job rather than being a measure of the raw signal itself. My S3 has had tiling/pixelation or no tune on 55 channels mostly on tuner 0, depending on the Verizon feed, though not more than 40 at a time including 8 local HDs. From mid March until a week ago problems were limited to 15-20 rarely watched SDs and 2 HDs all on tuner 0. These channels have never been usable on tuner 0, 2/2 - 6/15/08.

    Verizon's feed the last 8 days greatly expanded the tuning issues: tiling on all local HDs through S3's and Toshiba TV's tuners; no tune on 2 premium HDs tuner 1; no tune on 10 premium HDs tuner 0; SDs not intially checked. Worse yet, both ESPN HDs were lost tuner 0 and through one of the Sony DVRs (seen only once before in 2.5 years of use). Attention required regardless of near zero free time.

    A Permacolor distribution amplifier has been retained in antenna setup for many years. Though not highly regarded, it has adjustable gain and has helped with the one difficult nearby station; other signals being in high 80s to high 90s with it in place. The antenna distribution amp, the S3, and the local Verizon feed were not a good combination. Disconnection of antenna feed brought all missing channels back without pixelation, including the ones that have never been right on tuner 0. (jackass award?). Tiling remained on all the locals however. - 2 different problems and not simply one of too high and too low signal levels as I had thought.

    Disconnection of antenna coax also brought about an immediate failure that I had seldom seen formerly - info overlay freeze, unresponsiveness to any command but continued video for a minute or so, black screen, reboot - on all the channels tried that had been no tune or heavily tiled previously. Great! A swap of one hellacious problem for another one. Toxic channel syndrome? Upon reboot it was nearly impossible to input quickly enough. Finally getting into diagnostics screen for one such channel, I saw the SS was pegged at 100, SNR at 37. These channels had shown very low values before; sometimes nothing at all registered while tuning switched in and out of QAM 64.

    Adding 14db attenuation at cable input brought instant relief from this behaviour and yielded a clean stable tune, though with signal strength of 54. A single 8db attenuator brought the same benefit with SS of 86 and SNR of 33. Every channel checked thereafter on tuner 0 was fine. As a bonus all local HDs are also free of tiling on both tuner 0 & 1.

    I 'd certainly get it wrong if I tried to analyze the interaction between the OTA distribution amp, the Verizon feed, and the S3. I would suggest to be very careful with antenna setups, and assume nothing. Based on my experience anyway, it's worth trying attenuation of cable feed if you're suffering with the freeze & reboot cycle with an S3 regardless of the rest of your setup - particularly if your lockup is relieved by detachment of cable coax.

    FOLLOW UP -- No change since last night. RS Corrected values accumulate on former problem channels, including locals. RS uncorrected stay at 0 except for the worst previous , Starz HD, which accumulated some RS Uncorrected in 6.5 hour stretch. NO FREEZE & REBOOTS OBSERVED ON PROBLEM CHANNELS where they had been certainties within minutes before addition of attenuator. All channels on both tuners are stable & good. A first.
     
  20. Jun 17, 2008 #780 of 1597
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

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    Excellent post...with the exception of giving credit to some yokel that posts here waaayyy too much. ;)

    Taking things for granted, particularly relying on existing cables, equipment that's "always been good before", etc. has gotten me in hot water more than once. Now when things go south I try to take a step-by-step approach to every item in the chain, no matter how insignificant before I declare war on any one piece of CE's.

    I'm keeping a lot of the attenuator info like yours JIC. When we connect to FIOS sometime next month (maybe/hopefully), I want to be prepared! Thanks for that. :up:
     

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