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Tivo HD Pixelation Troubleshooting

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

  1. Sep 7, 2010 #1461 of 1597
    mphtrilogy

    mphtrilogy New Member

    49
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    May 29, 2007
    thanks Rich. I am going to try the ESATA cable first, hope for the best. The work my way back to an internal drive swap.
     
  2. Sep 7, 2010 #1462 of 1597
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    Good plan. Make sure all of the connections are snug as well.
     
  3. harry99

    harry99 dls956

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    Aug 19, 2010
    Just thought I'd go through my steps to fix the problem: freezing on live and recorded programs and pixellation on HD channels.

    After 3 phone calls with Tivo techs, and several with Comcast, I looked at many ideas in the forum and tried most all. Powered off and on, recorded short HD programs every day, got a new eSATA cable for the expander, checked signal strength and moved splitters etc. to get perfect numbers, replaced cable cards (have two HD boxes - one of first two new cable cards from Comcast worked, returned to Comcast and got another which didn't work, did that again with same result, then got 4 cable cards and first one worked, returned the others - Comcast standard technicians (4 over 4 days) have no knowledge of Tivo and didn't even ask about the data id/host id - asked for supervisor who knew how. Then started calling supervisor first thing with good results - just bad cards. My Comcast location only gets returned cards - no new ones!. Still freezing.

    Bought Premiere (only had two days before the end of their upgrade sale (then they exptended it for another month!) and hooked up with expander. Stuttering second day and then system powered down/rebooted by itself 1/2 hour later. Next day powered down again. Seemed like it was worse than the HD it replaced. Also go on the phone with WD tech support - no help there since expander out of warranty. Finally gave up on all my saved programs which I had moved from HD with expander to other Tivos and PC, then back to Premiere with expander - only 2 days worth of moving - threw a lot away. Removed the expander and have not had a problem since on either the HD or the Premiere. Obviously I didn't need to buy the Premiere at all - trying to decide whether to keep it or return within the 30 day period. Right now I am getting a bigger internal drive for one HD and will move stuff back again.

    Net result - the expander seems to be the cause of the problem on both the HD and the Premiere. Only got a life of 15 months out of it. May try to reuse on my PC as an extra drive.

    Quite a waste of two weeks effort - but I got to know my Tivo cabling and transferring programs a lot better.
     
  4. richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    Welcome to the forum Harry...sorry it's under such frustrating circumstances. Thanks for the info though. :up: It's too bad you didn't find the Drive Expansion and Drive Upgrade FAQ earlier:

    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?p=5616160#post5616160

    Many folks have gone before you with the exact same problem and resolution. The 500GB WD My DVR Expanders seem to have an average lifespan of 12 to 18 months. Once the go south a lot of issues can arise as you found out. Interestingly enough it appears that about half of the problems are with the enclosure or power supply and not the actual hard drive. It's quite possible that if you pull the hard drive you'll find that it still works fine. A number of folks have "repurposed" them as backup drives for their computers, etc.

    In any case, it's probably good to know that everything else is working fine and life can be good again.

    Happy upgrading!
     
  5. harry99

    harry99 dls956

    30
    0
    Aug 19, 2010
    Thanks, Rich. Hopefully the frustration will be over soon - ordered a 1TB Hitachi Deskstar drive ($69.99), torx screwdriver set, and SATA to USB adapter from Amazon this morning. Total of $112.22 including shipping. Thought a lot about getting a 1TB My DVR expander - now only $109 from Amazon, but since my HD warranty is up anyway, decided to upgrade instead.

    Have you heard anything on the life of the WD 1TB expanders? Any better than the 500GB?

    FYI, I checked when I bought the WD 500GB expander from TIVO - it was May, 2008 - so I actually got 26 months out of it before it started causing problems. Guess I should feel lucky it went as long as it did.

    I will be following the upgrade instructions on the forum - if it goes as well as others reported, will probably do the same to my other HD.

    Thanks to all the people who have put such good info on this site.
     
  6. richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    Good plan. :up: Although the WD 1TB My DVR Expanders haven't been around as long, there are far fewer reports of any issues with them as compared to the same time frame of the 500GB models so WD may have learned some lessons.

    Happy upgrading!
     
  7. hio3791

    hio3791 New Member

    8
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    Dec 4, 2009
    Hi everyone,

    I have a Series 3 TivoHD with Comcast in the Pittsburgh market. My Tivo box is unmodified and I do not have an expansion drive on it. I bought this unit in January 2010 and I noticed pixelation about 2 weeks ago. The problem occurs 100% of the time on PBS Sprout channel (SD). It also happens quite a bit on HGTV (HD). As far as I know, the other channels are coming in fine, at least haven't noticed it on any other channels.

    I've rebooted the box, I had Comcast come out, they checked the coax cable from the wall to the box and swapped out the CableCard. That made no difference. The technician did mention that we have a weak signal at that outlet. Which is surprising because the technician that came out during the install said we had a strong signal.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you very much! My 19 month old and 4 yr old watch a lot of Sprout and my wife watches HGTV, so I am getting a lot of heat from them to get this fixed! LOL
     
  8. richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    Sounds more like a local issue than TiVo if those are the only channels that are having problems. FWIW we've had both Comcast and Verizon FiOS and HGTV had/has macroblocking (pixelization) periodicallly from both carriers…although it was worse with Comcast (especially when an HGTV show would use split screens). I've read posts on other forums indicating the same experiences so I think there is something inherent in their delivered signal causing problems.

    That said, the best thing to do now is to check all of your connections (sounds like you already have) like the coax, any splitters, etc. All coax cables s/b new with snug connections. Plug TiVo directly into a wall outlet…do not use a surge protector. (The best thing to use is a UPS). By all means do NOT run your coax through a surge protector either as it can have a severe impact on the cable signal. If all your connections are good the next step is to check several readings found on TiVo's diagnostic screens.

    First go ahead and check your signal strength: TiVo Central > Messages and Settings > Settings > Channels > Signal Strength - Cable. Tune to the channels that are presenting problems and see what the meter shows. Note if it is any different for those channels Vs others (probably will be the same). Ideal SS s/b in the range of 70 to 95 (around 90 or so being best) with little fluctuation. If it's continually swinging higher and lower, if it's lower than 70 or if it's pegged at 100 there can be PQ problems.

    Next check the Signal to Noise Ratio or SNR for the offending channels: TiVo Central > Messages and Settings > Account and System Information > DVR Diagnostics. Each tuner has its own set of stats with Tuner 0 showing up first…paging down through the screens (Ch up/down on the remote) will take you to Tuner 1. The SNR s/b between 31dB and 37dB and fairly steady. Anything outside of that could indicate signal trouble.

    The next thing to check is RS Corrected and RS Uncorrected errors on the problematic channels, ideally when you see problems. These numbers can be found on the same diagnostic screen as those above. What you're looking for are the RS Corrected and RS Uncorrected lines. Ideally they should both be zero. When tuned to the problematic channels you could see hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands or even millions of RS Uncorrected errors. If so, then you have a signal issue, which could be caused by a defective splitter or cable. RS Uncorrected errors are how TiVo reports signal errors that cause macroblocking/pixelization and audio dropouts. If you see 0 RS Uncorrected errors on the channel, then you know you are seeing the channel just as it is delivered. A few dozen or even a few hundred RS Uncorrected errors generally won't be noticeable, but if you see thousands or millions of RS Uncorrected errors per minute, then you know that additional pixelization and/or AV degradation is introduced.

    Again, if you're only seeing issues on two channels it doesn't sound like TiVo. If the issues start to propagate to other channels it could be an indication of a failing hard drive, but we won't go there until we get an idea of what you're seeing with respect to the above.

    Hope that helps and let us know what you're seeing.
     
  9. pops_porter

    pops_porter New Member

    125
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    Sep 26, 2005
    Minnesota
    Did you ever get a resolution to this? I'm in a similar situation, I've had 2 techs out, the third is on Sunday and the Tivo says signal is around 50-60 and I have bad pixelation, but the guys say my signal is right where it should be. RS corrected is a constantly growing number, so I do feel that it is a low signal but thier meters saying that everything is find is very frustrating.
     
  10. richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    Can you clarify a couple of things? First is this new…something that just started happening or has it gotten worse over time? Do things get worse or better depending on the weather…particularly when it rains? Also, is it your RS Corrected or RS Uncorrected errors that are rising? It's an important distinction. RS Corrected numbers indicate how many times the forward error correction (FEC) had to be invoked to fix errors since the channel was tuned. The RS Uncorrected number indicates how may times the error exceeded the ability of the FEC to correct it. Final question, do you see the same thing on both tuners or is it just one and is it with the same channels, some of the same channels or all of them?

    If your RS Uncorrected is 0 or low teens to hundreds and you're experiencing PQ problems like macroblocking/pixelization then the issue could be poor data in the stream coming from the original provider (HGTV, CNN, etc.) or it's possible that the Tivo is corrupting the data in some fashion. If the RS Uncorrected value is climbing then you most likely have a signal issue as mentioned above.

    Bottom line, if your signal strength is 50 to 60 there is absolutely something wrong. Are the cableco techs testing the strength at the coax connection at your TiVo or elsewhere…such as outside or at the headend? Whatever the case, you're never going to have a decent experience with that signal strength.

    FWIW things had been going along fine for us when we had Comcast for about a year. All of a sudden all sorts of issues popped up…dropouts macroblocking, etc. Comcast came out and swore everything was "fine". It was not. After three truck rolls a supervisor came out…checked a few things on the street, said he'd be back in a little while. When he returned he said that there was a wiring problem at one of the terminals a few blocks away. Seems a new installation had caused one of their folks to mess up our connection. After that everything was perfect.

    Cableco techs often like to blame TiVo for whatever problems arise for all the reasons you can imagine. Don't take "It's fine" for an answer. Get specific readings and post them here. Make sure they understand that until your signal strength is acceptable that you're not going to let things go.

    That said, it's quite possible that it's something to do with your inside wiring…old coax, splitters, connectors, etc. The difference in our own house is measurable. The coax that runs into our downstairs family room is brand new. SS is around 95 to 100 across the board. The coax feed that goes upstairs is about 15 years old (original to the house). The SS for the upstairs TiVo is about 70 to 75…not nearly as strong. However both TiVo's work perfectly.

    They may want to put a signal amplifier in. That may or may not resolve your issue. If the SS is weak coming in, it's garbage in, garbage out. The SS from the street all the way to your first connection in the house s/b as strong as they can deliver. Some signal degradation after that can be acceptable, but it shouldn't start until after their connection to your house and it cannot be below 70 or so on your TiVo. So don't give up and don't let anyone else give up either.

    Best of luck and let us know how it goes.
     
  11. pops_porter

    pops_porter New Member

    125
    0
    Sep 26, 2005
    Minnesota
    Rich, thanks for the quick response. This problem is happening on both of my 2 tivos, the TVs without cablecards receive the analog channels fine.

    I've had Charter for 3 years and everything has been fine unitl 2 weeks ago when there was some minor pixelation. Now many channels have pixelation, both digital and analog. And it does come and go, it's never 100% as some channels always have pixelation, but there are low points where all channels have pixelation and many don't come in at all. I haven't correlated it to rain, but it did rain a lot yesterday and today has been a very bad day with many channels missing (too low of a signal I'm assuming).

    The RS Corrected number is much much larger than Uncorrected. But both are high numbers. I do see it on both tuners and both Tivos.

    The two visits I've had from Charter were contractors. They suggested I have a Charter Systems Tech come out because he has more meters. He will be here on Sunday, but I thought I should try to educate myself so we can get this figured out. It was interesting you said garbage in/garbage out regarding the amplifier. I had them try that on the last visit and it made no change. They've also run new cable from the box on the corner of my lot to the house and a new cable from the outside into the splitter inside my house. Thanks for any insight you have

    I should add that SDV will start Oct. 5th in my area, I wondered if that would affect my signal if they were testing it in the background.

    SNR is 29, which doesn't seem to be a good level from what I'm reading.
     
  12. triftraf

    triftraf New Member

    90
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    Jan 26, 2006
    My series 3 with an over 2 year old 500gb WD DVR Expander has had a few issues..

    Problems:
    1) Got the Mad Men Season 3 Amazon VOD on my Tivo and it was unwatchable - no pixelation issue - but the audio and video was more what I would call "juttery". Contacted Amazon and they initially said it was their issue - then they had me re-download - but it was still a problem. So I gave up.

    2) On a couple ABC shows on this last Wednesday night I had some pixelation and minor audio drops. I checked the signal strength and it was in the 90's.

    Since then I've not seen any more pixelation on this channel or others. Looking at the DVR Diagnostics my SNR is 35 and RS Corrected 0 and RS Uncorrected 0 on both tuners. I decided to try kickstart 54 - but I can't seem to get the kickstart to KICK in. Any special process for a Series 3?? All I ever get in 4 lights (2 red, 1 blue, 1 amber) and then eventually the little amber Tivo graphic on the front display... Pause button doesn't seem to cause any difference in the lights that I can detect...

    What is the likelihood of this being a drive going bad vs a bad Amazon VOD and a coincidentally bad couple of shows on ABC. Or maybe the limited amount of problems leads the eSata cable going bad?

    Thoughts??
     
  13. richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    All very good info. :up: The fact that it's happening on both boxes and that it only started a couple of weeks ago is a very strong indication that Charter has done something on their end. I've no idea if it has to do with SDV. It doesn't seem likely, but you never know.

    Bottom line again then is that your signal is unacceptably low. The contractors likely don't have any authority to deal with anything outside of a residence so it's much more probable that the Charter tech will be able to resolve things.

    My WAG is that something happened upstream to cause this. Have you mentioned it to any of your neighbors? It's possible that it's affecting them too…it's also quite possible that it's not. However if it is, that's more data the tech can use to figure things out. I suspect he or she will get things ironed out for you this weekend. Show him what you're dealing with, when it happened, share the fact that things were fine and then this issue happened on both TiVo's and they should understand that all of those aren't coincidences and not likely anything to do with TiVo itself.

    Best of luck and let us know how things go!
     
  14. richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    Well, my money will be on your DVR Expander drive going bad. Lifetime seems to be about 18 months, so you're due in a sense. Have a read of this post and see if anything fits…

    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?p=7553444#post7553444

    With respect to the Kickstart process, the single amber light will illuminate just after all four lights go out. It's very brief and that's why you need to hold down the pause button until you see just that light, quickly release it and then enter the proper KS code. I just tried it on my Series3 to be sure it still works and it does. Follow these directions carefully and you should be able to get it to work…

    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showpost.php?p=5643823&postcount=2

    Hope that helps and let us know how things turn out!
     
  15. pops_porter

    pops_porter New Member

    125
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    Sep 26, 2005
    Minnesota
    Well I had an actual Charter Systems Tech out today and he said that yes the signal strength is fine, but the signal quality is "in the dirt" and will need a Charter line tech to come out and do something at the box in the corner of my lot. so the Tivo is fine and it's nothing in my house, just sad it took 3 visits from Charter to figure this out, especially after my first two visits kept saying my signal was fine.

    SNR is up to 32 and it's a little better, hopefully my picture will be back to normal after tomorrow.
     
  16. richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    Ah, just as I thought. What a relief eh? At least you know that it's something that can be fixed...hopefully soon! Thanks for reporting back. :up:
     
  17. hio3791

    hio3791 New Member

    8
    0
    Dec 4, 2009
    Thank you for your help. A few things, my Tivo has always been on a UPS. I checked the cables, signal strength, SNR. The signal strength for PBS was in the 60's. HGTV was in the mid 80's. SNR was within range (according to Tivo's recommended low/high values). There were no RS corrected/uncorrected errors on either channel.

    Comcast came out Saturday, found the outside cable coming into my house had been nicked by something, so the installer replaced the line. That boosted the signal strength across the board. But these 2 channels still pixelate. Then he said that was his second call in one day where both customers had the same issue, previous customer also had a Tivo box. He told the first customer that it may be the Tivo since the channels come in fine with a standard cable box. But now that he was investigating the same issue at my house, he started to think that the problem may be on their end. Maybe something changed and the cablecards are affected. He said he would have someone investigate. Don't know if I'll hear back but it was interesting and highly coincidental to be a Tivo issue.

    Thanks.
     
  18. richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
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    Jan 4, 2003
    Glad to help. That is interesting, and as mentioned we've seen issues w/HGTV on both Comcast and FiOS, so I suspect that their programming/delivery, something is a little different for some reason. Could be how TiVo handles it, hard to say.

    Glad to hear things are better though. Let us know if you ever hear back from them.
     
  19. Oct 3, 2010 #1479 of 1597
    pops_porter

    pops_porter New Member

    125
    0
    Sep 26, 2005
    Minnesota
    I've recently been posting some problems and Charter fixed some equipment on their system and most channels are back up in the 80-90 signal range with SNR between 33 and 35.

    There are four channels, that were not coming in at all previously but since my signals are higher they do come in but can be pixelated sometimes. Signal levels are about 50 and SNR is 28-29. All of these have a frequency of 753000 kHz or above. Any guesses out there what I could tell the Charter guys of why only these channels have such a poor signal and SNR?
     
  20. Oct 4, 2010 #1480 of 1597
    hmm52

    hmm52 New Member

    405
    0
    Feb 25, 2008
    Lower...
    Signal levels anywhere near 50 are way too low. 80-90 isn't wonderful either but you won't get tiling/pixelation from too low a signal level in the eighties. I think most people with cable are seeing values in the 90s, typically 95-100. You've done more than your part for Charter - identifying the problem frequencies and values. It is up to them to figure out why and fix it. Have them check line level at the various outlets, directly at cable end. It's best for TiVo at 0 to +1. Good luck.
     

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