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Tivo HD Pixelation Troubleshooting

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

  1. Feb 4, 2009 #1061 of 1597
    oregonman

    oregonman Member

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    Jul 1, 2002
    Portland OR
    A few questions:

    1) How do you know what the signal from the street looks like? Is there anything that I can tell Verizon to look at?

    2) What do you mean when you say "adjusting the signal levels in the house"? Are you talking about the attenuation that has been discussed in this thread?

    3) If the errors originate at the CO, why don't I ever see it on my Motorola DVR? Why would attenuation affect it at all on the Tivo? It seems to me that even if the Tivo did not handle errors as well as the Motorola, then it wouldn't change depending upon the attenuation.
     
  2. Feb 4, 2009 #1062 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    I've posted a number of tmes on this and the other pixelation thread - attenuate to 31db. Briefly:

    1) A local "Big Boss", and a top VZ tech soon to become that, have clipped meters directly to the fiber optic cable from street at the ONT. This was done during the most horrific periods of pixelation I've ever seen, July and November '07. Each time they saw an enormous level of errors on the various frequencies which had severe tiling/pixelation in house. Each time they passed the information to the CO; weeks of tilng then abruptly stopped witiin 36 hours; they called to inform me that the root of the issue had been at the CO, not in the street cabling.

    2) Yes, I'm referring to attenuation primarily, for cable feeds. I've seen channels pixelate and lose signal lock occasionally OTA during high winds or just with weak station signals. I think it's rare that a cable signal is weak though; if actually so it's the provider's responsibility to fix it.

    3) From what I've seen directly, and read, different brands of tuners deal with signals loaded wiith errors very differently - some very well, some not so. The three oldest cc QAM tuning devices I have are all Sonys. During the very worst signal times, when some frequencies' channels were a mosaic fiasco on other tuners, the Sonys just had a macroblock or tile here or there once a minute or so. From what I read on DSL Reports when the problems were scattered across the VHO region, the Motorola STBs tuned similarly to the Sonys - pretty robust compared to the S3 and Toshiba TV I have.

    I'm not an electrical engineer so somebody else could better answer your question. Irhorer? I believe that tuners can better manage signals with errors, and deliver a clean picture, when the signal level is in a certain range - thus attenuation often helps; and that what you see on the diagnostics screen reflects more how the signal is being tuned, not the raw errors that the techs read before the ONT.

    If my speculation is wide of the mark. I'd be glad to hear of it.
     
  3. Feb 5, 2009 #1063 of 1597
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
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    Jan 4, 2003
    OMG! OMG! That explains why I'm suffering from pixilization at work (my TiVo's fine BTW). Now I have to seek professional help. Aurgh! At least I have an explanation for the boss (and the wife). :D
     
  4. Feb 5, 2009 #1064 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    This is your most difficult question. The initial "Big Boss" in my area was responsive by cell phone and had an interest in the case generally. His replacement was also pretty good for awhile. When I had off and on issues last Winter and Spring, my calls weren't returned, and I never saw dramatic endings of tiling as I had before. The only path is to open a case with Verizon, be persistent, and hope for the best. Ask that the lead in cable be checked for errors, though most techs don't have the meter to do this (in my experience). Inform them of the pixelating frequencies. It's a laborious PITA compared to putting attenuators in your coaxial feed. Fortunately I haven't had any significant pixelation since June.

    Nothing wrong with home remedies but somebody should be making the calls when things are off. The line errors are real and worth reporting in my view if you can make the time.
     
  5. Feb 5, 2009 #1065 of 1597
    V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

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    May 28, 2005
    New Mexico...
    I don't post much on this subject 'cause I am clearly in the minority, but I figure my last comments are buried deep enough in this and other threads that maybe it is time to add one more.

    IMHO, wasting time trying to fix this problem by attenuating the signal is a complete joke. But everyone seems to focus on that simply because it is easier for them than to attempt to make Verizon send a clean signal to their ONT. I realize that my CO and my specific situation may not be representative of everyone, but I've seen the signal problems crop up 3 or 4 times over the past three years, and every instance was only completely resolved by the CO when pushed. Verizon CAN send a clean signal that works 100% of the time without any attenuation and showing 100% signal strength.

    The signal problems can be seen in the TiVo diagnostics, the Verizon STB diagnostics, and the techs out at the input to the ONT with their meter. It is true that the TiVo is more vulnerable to displaying pixelation and tileing from these errors than the STBs are, but the fault is still the bad signal from Verizon, NOT the signal strength or the TiVo hardware.

    Just my opinion, of course, but I have been successful in getting my signal problems fixed from Verizon. Good luck.
     
  6. Feb 5, 2009 #1066 of 1597
    Chris8204

    Chris8204 New Member

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    Aug 27, 2007
    I recently had FIOS installed a couple weeks ago (i'm in an apartment so the ONT is central) and I'm noticing similar issues. It was good for 3 days and it started to act up....

    I have tried combination's of attenuators and a diplexer and no luck. Basically 98% of my channels seem to be just fine with any set up. No errors whatsoever. But, some in a certain frequency are causing me problems on occasion. Depending on the time of day I will have RS corrected errors, and other times I have uncorrected and lots of pixelation. My problem channels so far (the ones I can see):

    ESPNHD - channel 570 - frequency 723 MHZ
    ESPN2HD - channel 574 - frequency 735 MHZ
    TNTHD - channel 551 - frequency 717 MHZ

    However, curiously, channel 212 an MTV channel, at 699 MHZ is just fine. I have only noticed issues on HD channels so far.

    So, I don't know. I have been trying for a week to fix it and no luck. Verizon of course is no help, they claim their signal is in spec but they probably haven't checked the fiber going to the ONT. I suppose I could try and get the CO to do something, but I don't know how much energy I have left to deal with this. I might be caving in soon and getting a verizon DVR. I don't want to, but I'm starting to really get fed up with having to troubleshoot this. Verizon is going to claim its Tivos fault, and TiVo will claim its Verizons fault.

    While the TiVo is really nice, I am really starting to question if it is worth it. Last year when I first got it, it took comcast 4 tries to make it work, and then I had to deal with two major bugs my TiVo had. The first was the initial pixelation bug, the second was the one where the TiVo picture would freeze and the TiVo had to be rebooted every couple of days. They were fixed in software releases but it took a while. And now I am putting up with this Verizon garbage....at some point enough is going to be enough.
     
  7. Feb 5, 2009 #1067 of 1597
    oregonman

    oregonman Member

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    Jul 1, 2002
    Portland OR
    How do I get to the diagnostics in the Verizon STB? I cannot find anything in the menus (I have the HD DVR). Thanks.
     
  8. Feb 5, 2009 #1068 of 1597
    oregonman

    oregonman Member

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    Jul 1, 2002
    Portland OR
    I am really surprised that Tivo does not seem to take a greater interest in this. Even if the problem is with Verizon, Tivo will be losing the monthly revenue if Chris and others give up and switch to a Verizon DVR. How hard would it be for Tivo to find a few cooperative customers with this problem and send an engineer out with the proper diagnostic equipment and definitively get an answer? Then they could let us know how to diagnose the problem and give us some info for when we call Verizon.
     
  9. Feb 5, 2009 #1069 of 1597
    Chris8204

    Chris8204 New Member

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    I agree with you, you'd think they would care more about losing customers, but maybe the amount of people it effects is very small, who knows. Most people don't have FIOS, and the amount that have problems with FIOS is probably even smaller. My suspicion is that the Series 4 (whenever that comes out) will probably fix some of these issues.

    The worst part is that this is supposed to be a premium box. I'm paying extra money to get the best DVR on the market and yet all I get is constant hassle and trouble it seems, whether it is new software bugs or lack of support from the service provider. It seems ridiculous that I'm paying MORE money to have MORE issues. I mean, I have had several techs from Comcast and Verizon out for various problems. NOT ONCE has the tech ever known what to do, I have always had to fix any issues or tell the tech how to set up the cable cards. It's just very frustrating to spend so much money and not get any support.
     
  10. Feb 5, 2009 #1070 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    Feb 25, 2008
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    I haven't checked the DSL Reports FiOS threads for a long time but the info you want is over there; possibly very early in this thread as well. In the Philadelphia FiOS thread look for geekgirl or thegeekgirl. She explains the meaning of various diagnostics' values in depth. A Verizon employee monitors and responds in the thread also. I've never used an Motorola STB, Comcast or Verizon, so I can't tell you how to navigate the menus.

    I doubt the knowledge will help shortcut the service process. You'll still need to have everything in your house checked thoroughly before a top tech looks at the street feed and kicks it to the CO (hopefully). I haven't yet found a shortcut though my CO is less than 2 miles away. Walk up service?
     
  11. Feb 5, 2009 #1071 of 1597
    oregonman

    oregonman Member

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    Jul 1, 2002
    Portland OR
    I found it. This is from the FAQ on dslreports: To enter the diagnostics menu: With your STB powered On, hit "Power, Select, Select" quickly in sequence from the front panel or remote. To exit the menu, hit "Power" to turn off the STB. The next power up will be back to normal.

    I was hoping that if errors were showing up in the diagnostics of the Motorola STB, then that would be evidence that the problem is not restricted to Tivo. Then I could use that to counter a Verizon claim that the problem is with the Tivo.

    Right now I am seeing tons of errors on the Tivo diagnostics and none on the Motorola. How would this information fit with the theory that the errors are generated at the CO?
     
  12. Feb 5, 2009 #1072 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    If I'm correct in my speculation that diagnostics mostly shows you how the signal is being tuned, not the raw errors themselves, then it follows that the Motorola will display much fewer or no errors. This is true for the Sonys. Diagnostics in these devices is not the same as the meter the VZ techs use. I think what you reported just tells you that the Motorola is doing a better job than the TiVo at tuning the same signals - something you already knew. When things get really out of whack, it will show on the Motorola and Sonys.----- A good time for Irhorer to weigh in on the subject if he's interested.

    A TiVo + a VZ CO that's not doing its' job well = some aggravation. You can't completely counter the claim that the fault lies with the TiVo.
     
  13. Feb 5, 2009 #1073 of 1597
    webin

    webin New Member

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    Feb 13, 2008
    Hillsboro,...
    That is precisely how V7Goose convinced his local techs to complain to the CO until they "swapped out a card", fixing his problems. Give me a few minutes and I'll find that link here on the forums.

    Edit: Here it is: http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?p=6580907#post6580907
     
  14. Feb 5, 2009 #1074 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    We're waiting....

    Do you mean swapping out a QAM at a CO?
     
  15. Feb 5, 2009 #1075 of 1597
    webin

    webin New Member

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    Feb 13, 2008
    Hillsboro,...
    Waiting for the link I edited into my previous post? I'm confused

    I can't tell you the specifics, since I only have third-hand knowledge of what went on. What I can tell you is once V7Goose had sufficiently convinced Verizon that his signal problems originated before arriving at his house, they changed something in the Central Office overnight and his problem went away.
     
  16. Feb 5, 2009 #1076 of 1597
    Chris8204

    Chris8204 New Member

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    Aug 27, 2007
    My problem with all of that is it took him a month and a lot of hassle. I don't know if I have the patience to deal with all of that. Plus all my problems are on HD channels, so I'd have to get a motorolla HD box to try and look at the diagnostics. Maybe I will try and get a free HD DVR for 6 months (i think there is a special now) and hook it up and see what happens. Maybe it will show up the errors and that will make them fix it so I can ditch their box again.
     
  17. Feb 6, 2009 #1077 of 1597
    V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

    384
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    May 28, 2005
    New Mexico...
    In my case, the eventual key to forcing Verizon to accept the problem was to show the errors on ALL channels in a specific frequency (NOT a range of frequencies). Each individual frequency has something like 2 - 5 separate channels assigned, and they are not grouped together. This took some effort on my part tuning in every single channel and checking the TiVo diagnostics to write down the frequency and note if it had errors. After I found the bad channels, I then was able to go to the Verizon STB and check each of them there and see that they also showed massive numbers of errors in the diagnostics. Most of them were "corrected" errors (meaning you didn't see them in the picture), but the significant point was none of the "good" frequencies showed any errors at all. And they couldn't just brush me off because most of them were "corrected", since there were some "uncorrected" errors even on their STB that did show up in the picture, even if you had to watch it for a while to see them.

    When I was done I was able to clearly show the techs on paper which frequencies had signal errors, and that ALL channels on those four frequencies had errors. Once that finally got through their skulls, they focused on those frequencies at the ONT and saw the errors there, also, using their own test equipment. That is when they finally escalated it to the CO.

    After fighting this battle the first time, and having to go through several call-backs with different techs, I finally got most of it recorded properly in their trouble ticket system. After they fixed it the first time, I had problems show up twice more, most significantly after the channel realignment last fall. In each of those cases, I knew what to do right up front. I spent a couple of hours checking all channels and mapping the bad ones to frequencies, then when I called them I was able to convince them quickly what the problem was and it was fixed quickly.
     
  18. Feb 6, 2009 #1078 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    Very good information. Each QAM frequency with Verizon carries up to 2 HDs and 10-12 SDs. Whether the problem is in the house or before it, pixelation is clustered on a few specific frequencies (unless things are really bad) and nearby ones are unaffected.

    I'm very interested. How much different was the service process after the first one?

    Each time I've done it, it went something like this: Call--low tech visit--low tech visit--top tech visit--info passed to CO--fix within 36 hours; with other calls and miscellaneous work mixed in - swapping out ONT, router, LPF, etc. About 2 weeks were spanned each time.

    Ideally it would require only a call to FSC with the info you had-- FSC contacts your CO-- fix without any tech visit at all. Did the process ever become that streamlined in your case?
     
  19. Feb 6, 2009 #1079 of 1597
    V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

    384
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    May 28, 2005
    New Mexico...
    The specific frequencies that were bad were never related to each other at all, meaning they were not close together. Whatever the specific problem was, they were able to fix it by changing one or more "cards" at the CO (I was an electronics tech, but I know next to nothing about Verizon's system or digital TV).

    My last couple of service calls on this still required them to send a tech to the house, but I did my best to encourage them to have the tech review the records of my past calls before he came. As soon as the tech arrived I would stuff my papers in his face showing the proof that only specific frequencies were experiencing problems, then I insisted he stand and listen to my description of the past troubleshooting and resolutions. Finally, I insisted that if he intended to do ANY troubleshooting on my premises, the first thing he would have to do is run a new temp cable directly from the ONT to one of my boxes, effectively removing my entire property from the equation. By the way, if you are still fighting a tech on the local troubleshooting process, having them run a new temp cable like that also allows them to bypass all the stupid questions and suggestions they get from their "level 2" support when they call to escalate the problem.

    Anyway, faced with enough evidence of the likely problem, the tech goes out to the ONT and puts his meter on the street feed, sees errors on the frequencies I have identified, and calls the problem in. The problem goes away either the next night or during the next Sunday morning maintenance window.

    During the extended painful time trying to get the problem fixed the FIRST time, they replaced the ONT three times and internal cables several other times. Not to mention all the trouble taking off splitters, disconnecting other boxes, etc. I have no idea why, but many of the techs seemed totally incapable of understanding how to check the incoming signal for errors! Now that I know they can do that and actually SEE the error outside my house, I can push them into doing that and bypass everything else.
     
  20. Feb 6, 2009 #1080 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

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    You did very well to reduce it to just one tech visit. In my experience the top techs also checked for errors at various points in house, replaced a few terminals that looked suspicious, but didn't go nuts swapping parts out as the low techs did, then checked the fiber optic feed and wrapped up for the day since the evidence there was obvious. The low techs I've encountered didn't have the equipment necessary to read errors, only line level - always around 0 db as it should be.

    Electronics is no way my field but I've suspected faulty QAMs at my CO as being the source of errors causing pixelation, in most cases. Verizon committed to, then soon dropped, going IPTV to expand their channel lineup. Part of the equation must have been the cost of adding the necessary QAMs at all their COs - supposedly $10k per as of a year or so ago. I visualized QAMs as being some sort of rack mounted stainless steel modules; more likely a card or board, I guess, assuming that the "card" mentioned was a QAM. Big assumption.

    There are two cases where the faulty QAM thought doesn't fit. The prevalence of pixelation on local HDs was so widepread nationwide that it would be unlikely to be any sort of fault as the cause. More likely was that it came from an intentional decision that suited VZ's installations but caused problems with TiVos as a consequence. (I don't mean that VZ intended to make things difficult for TiVo users.) I don't think it was just a matter of frequency dependent signal level as the locals were neither at the low or high end; I don't know where they are now. Fortunately they were the easiest to fix wiith attenuation (if signals on other frequencies tolerated doing so).

    The second is the bizarre case of the ESPNs. Episodically I've seen very strange behaviour with them - directly only for 5-15 minutes per event. It seems to be source dependent and it has carried through channel realignment on new frequencies. It is the one time where the 3 Sony tuners have difficulty as much as the S3. Pixelation isn't the problem (not seen); it's achieving and maintaining signal lock. During these events a total of 5 cc devices take turns in locking the signal, and not. One tuner displays a clean picture while another does nothing, and so on. Very odd. Rare enough that I haven't had many opportunities to observe it. Frequent enough to think that that there are different types of signal errors that manifest differently.

    I expected the worst with realignment but it didn't happen up here. Signal issues were minimal through that period and since then.

    Thanks much for your advice.
     

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