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Old 06-23-2014, 01:07 PM   #1
westtown73
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HD Rebooting/Freezing Caused by Cable Signal or Cable Card?

Is a strong FIOS signal or cable card able to cause random rebooting and freezing?

After my HD started freezing and rebooting on a regular but random basis about a month ago, I replaced with hard drive and power supply with new units from Weaknees. The bad news is that the rebooting/freezing has not stopped. Weakness tech support had me unplug the cable line for an extended period to see if any reboots occurred.

There were no reboots during the 20 hours I had the cable line disconnected, and one occurred within two hours or reconnecting the cable. I have FIOS with the 100% signal strength, so I supposed I could try the attenuator fix, but I thought that was cleared up with by the software. Any ideas on how to troubleshoot this other than disconnecting the cable line? (This is a follow-up to a post I placed in the wrong forum)
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:23 PM   #2
L David Matheny
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Originally Posted by westtown73 View Post
Is a strong FIOS signal or cable card able to cause random rebooting and freezing?

After my HD started freezing and rebooting on a regular but random basis about a month ago, I replaced with hard drive and power supply with new units from Weaknees. The bad news is that the rebooting/freezing has not stopped. Weakness tech support had me unplug the cable line for an extended period to see if any reboots occurred.

There were no reboots during the 20 hours I had the cable line disconnected, and one occurred within two hours or reconnecting the cable. I have FIOS with the 100% signal strength, so I supposed I could try the attenuator fix, but I thought that was cleared up with by the software. Any ideas on how to troubleshoot this other than disconnecting the cable line? (This is a follow-up to a post I placed in the wrong forum)
You could make sure all your outlets are properly grounded and that all grounds (including the coaxial cable shields) are connected to the same grounding point. Varying ground levels can cause strange problems. Random freezes and reboots can also be caused by heat issues.
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:51 PM   #3
westtown73
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I checked the temperature in system information and it says 49C (Normal), so I guess I am okay there.

Is there a simple way to check the ground? The Tivo is plugged into a battery backup, which is plugged into the wall. The cable is grounded (I assume) outside at the box where the fiber signal gets converted into a coax signal.
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Old 06-24-2014, 02:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by westtown73 View Post
Is a strong FIOS signal or cable card able to cause random rebooting and freezing?

After my HD started freezing and rebooting on a regular but random basis about a month ago, I replaced with hard drive and power supply with new units from Weaknees. The bad news is that the rebooting/freezing has not stopped. Weakness tech support had me unplug the cable line for an extended period to see if any reboots occurred.

There were no reboots during the 20 hours I had the cable line disconnected, and one occurred within two hours or reconnecting the cable. I have FIOS with the 100% signal strength, so I supposed I could try the attenuator fix, but I thought that was cleared up with by the software. Any ideas on how to troubleshoot this other than disconnecting the cable line? (This is a follow-up to a post I placed in the wrong forum)

When you say HD, do you mean a TCD652160 or TCD658000?

Or perhaps a TCD648250?

If so, I'd still suspect the power supply* first until absolutely ruled out.

Do you have a voltmeter, or know someone who does?


*Apparently weaKnees doesn't prophylactically replace the usual suspects, capacitor-wise, on the power supplies it acquired from wherever, so you're still at risk of "capacitor plague".
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Old 06-24-2014, 08:19 PM   #5
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It is a TCD652160.

I think I will send the old power supply that did have visibly bad caps to Squint for new capacitors. Then I can test whether or not the "new" one arrived DOA. Is that possible? Can capacitors go bad even though the power supply is not in use? I would have thought that I would have a least some period of time before the capacitor plague hit.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:25 AM   #6
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It is a TCD652160.

I think I will send the old power supply that did have visibly bad caps to Squint for new capacitors. Then I can test whether or not the "new" one arrived DOA. Is that possible? Can capacitors go bad even though the power supply is not in use? I would have thought that I would have a least some period of time before the capacitor plague hit.
If it were DOA, it wouldn't reboot because it wouldn't boot in the first place, you wouldn't see any difference between "power cord plugged into wall socket" and "power cord not plugged into wall socket".

But if it were not performing at 100%, then you could get into a situation where not enough power is available for everything trying to draw power, which would cause some voltage sag on the supply lines for the CPU, which would trigger it to reset, which would cause a reboot.


Getting yourself a "known good" power supply by getting the proper caps installed by squint (I assume he'll test it after recapping it) is a good first step in troubleshooting, because if you try to do it without being certain the power supply is not the problem or part of the problem, you can't trust the results you get.
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Old 06-25-2014, 12:00 PM   #7
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*Apparently weaKnees doesn't prophylactically replace the usual suspects, capacitor-wise, on the power supplies it acquired from wherever, so you're still at risk of "capacitor plague".
Good to know.
How did you come to have this insight?
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:43 PM   #8
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Good to know.
How did you come to have this insight?
Because people have purchased power supplies from them which still have the original capacitors, and they have gone bad

Those owners have had to replace said capacitors, or have them replaced, in order to get the power supplies working again.
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Old 06-26-2014, 11:14 AM   #9
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Because people have purchased power supplies from them which still have the original capacitors, and they have gone bad

Those owners have had to replace said capacitors, or have them replaced, in order to get the power supplies working again.
That, WK does not replace the caps, knowing that they are more likely to fail than not, is bad business.
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Old 06-26-2014, 12:58 PM   #10
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I can verify that the power supply I got from WK did not have caps from a "good" manufacturer. The caps were made by Taicon. According to Squint, "Taicon are probably a bit better than CapXon or OST and their use in RevB2 might be a response to all the CapXon and OST failures". Whether the caps arrived already bad is still yet to be determined.

Last edited by westtown73 : 06-26-2014 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 06-26-2014, 01:49 PM   #11
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That, WK does not replace the caps, knowing that they are more likely to fail than not, is bad business.
While I somewhat agree, people will often be more willing to trust, and buy, a "new" product, over one that has been rebuilt/reworked/recertified/etc. Outside of TCF (even within TCF), how many people would have any idea that buying "new" (new old stock/NOS, as it would truthfully be called), might get them something that has just as much potential to fail, as what they are replacing?

Once you make any modifications, it is likely illegal (varies by state) to sell it as "new", or give a false-impression of it being "new".

A while back, I was trying to sell my reworked TiVo HD power supplies, which I just finally sold. I had more than one buyer back-out when I said I put in better capacitors. They "didn't like that I had messed around with them". If I had stated that I used identical-to-original replacements, they would have sold at that time, for twice as much as I just got for them.

WK can double-dip now, once they have exhausted their supply of new old stock, as is, and they switch to the recertified used model of "pay this amount, then get this much back when we get your old one back", which will eventually be the NOS ones they sold as new.

Most electronics repair shops only replace parts that are bad at the time of the repair. Even if they know there are likely problems with other components, they'll usually only replace what has failed, then bank on the next failure happening out of any warranty they offer. Somewhat "better" shops may just replace all that might be questionable, going for the extra money and labor up-front, which generally *should be* less than multiple repairs.

This whole concept of replacing every cap on the PS, or every cap except the largest one, is actually overkill, in most cases. It's certainly not standard practice. There is an official list of "known bad" cap brands, and a timeframe in which they were manufactured, which doesn't mean they aren't still sitting in warehouses and still shipping, which does provoke a reason to be extra-vigilant. At the same time, the PS manufacturers for TiVo changed what brands were used, over time, often going with what was available, and cheapest to source.

In my experience, these TiVo PS capacitor failures are less the result of "capacitor plague", and more a case of improper power supply design, and using one capacitor, where two or three should be (in parallel), per voltage rail. You get what you pay for, and either TiVo set the price, and the manufacturers complied, or the PS manufacturers wanted a higher margin, and got it by using less capacitors.

I used to source, design, and modify power supplies. Considering the number of POH it takes most TiVo PSs to fail, even these, I feel they have met the lifetime of a power supply built with the design used and the components used. If these truly were "capacitor plague" casualties, every one in service should have failed within a year or two, not 5+ years later.

While I can't deny that some plague caps made it into some TiVo power supplies, those were the ones that failed years ago. The ones just failing now, have simply reached the lifespan I'd expect. This is, of course, calculating on the assumption that these TiVos and respective power supplies have been in use, reaching the number of power-on hours (POH) it takes for the electrolyte to break down.

New flash people: No matter how good the quality of the electrolytic capacitor, it still has an operating temp rating, and a finite lifetime (limited life expectancy). The life expectancy is not set in stone. Besides the temperature variable, there are a number of factors that can shorten the life expectancy. IMNSHO, the way the TiVo power supplies are designed, held up longer than I'd expect them to. TiVo power supplies operate 24/7. They aren't like your TV that you turn off when you aren't sitting in front of it. They often aren't protected from brown-outs, and power failures that people give protection against for their computers. I've had better-designed computer power supplies fail on UPS protection. I mean complete chain-reaction failure and no operation. When I spotted the doming caps on my first two TiVo HDs, they were still operating at the proper voltages, filtering ripple, and doing their jobs. I only spotted them because I was changing hard drives, and knew to be on the lookout for bad caps (due to my job).

I knew there was a "capacitor plague" long before the first article hit the electronics newsletters. I simply didn't know the "why", and was always being scrutinized/criticized and reprimanded for prophylactically inspecting and replacing caps on electronics that worked fine, but had domed caps. Now that the news has been out, every bad cap is attributed to "capacitor plague". It's simply not the case. Electrolytic caps always have been destined to fail. There's no such thing as a electrolytic capacitor without a POH rating. Even the newest solid capacitors touted as "military grade" don't have immortality. I often see the charts showing the life expectancy differences really boiling down to being expected to stay in specification for ten years, as opposed to two years. Beyond that, they drift out of spec, and how long it takes to go out of spec, and then fail, depends on the way it is used, the temperatures exposed to, and proper design of what it is used it, to name a few factors. So, even a perfectly good cap will start drifting out-of-spec, and ultimately fail, eventually. If the product is designed properly, it will have enough "reserve" capacity to keep working until enough caps fail. TiVo's power supplies were built with one filtering cap per output rail. It's a good example of "how not to design a power supply".

Want to make it better? If you know enough about "inrush" current, and what the rest of the power supply's components can withstand, drill some holes for more caps and put some carefully calculated spec ones in parallel, instead of just one, per output voltage rail. That's a start. If you don't know enough to calculate this out, and do it properly, just stick with replacing what's there.

I've kind of been holding back, as the length of this implies. I keep seeing some in-good-faith advice that every malfunctioning TiVo, before the Premiere (I'm sure it's day will come soon), has a power supply that needs to be recapped. Sure, the caps probably are at the end of their actual rated life, if they've been in operation this long. I just feel that taking it to the level of advising people to recap new power supplies, which should operate for years, as-is, is taking things a bit far. Who is likely to be still using their TiVo HD 3-5 years from now? Those who feel they will be, can recap, if they like (now, or when needed). But, if you are just trying to get another year or two out of it, or transfer your programs off, then retire it, I don't see the need. What I do see is a few folks diagnosing every problem as requiring a re-capped power supply, without even suggesting any real diagnostics. This could unintentionally lead to more folks buying "new" ones from WK, rather than them re-capping what they have, and possibly not fix anything, if the blind diagnostics going on continue unchecked.

People should keep in mind that the cablecos are moving towards H.264, and that the S3 & Tivo HD do not decode H.264 channels. Even the "I'll re-cap your power supply for the cost of parts and shipping" offers popping up still cost money. Throw in all the "capacitor plague" talk, and some people will start thinking they need to cure something, out of the fear that "plague" naturally tends to incite.
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Old 06-26-2014, 02:02 PM   #12
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I can verify that the power supply I got from WK did not have caps from a "good" manufacturer. The caps were made by Taicon. According to Squint, "Taicon are probably a bit better than CapXon or OST and their use in RevB2 might be a response to all the CapXon and OST failures". Whether the caps arrived already bad is still yet to be determined.
This is a perfect example of the mindset that I don't find right.

I have plenty of caps from those brands in things that have worked fine for nearly a decade, and the caps show no signs of failure.

I have other brands of caps that exploded, new in-the-box, without ever being powered-on. They include brands named as "good".

I have an MSI high-end mainboard, award-winning, that blew the tops out of all the Sanyo caps at first power-up, but has been running stably, highly-overclocked, for years (just to see how long it would stay stable/operate).

I have multiple computer mainboard with nothing but OST caps, and they work fine, with no visual indications of failure.

I have another mainboard with Taicon caps that is fine, but another generation board with them has them all doming, and is flaky.

If somebody hadn't named those caps by name, as "bad", and you saw no signs of failure, would you even have a worry in the world about it right now?

I'm not trying to pick a fight. I'm pointing out the power of suggestion, and the results.

EDIT/ADD: The only way you can truly "test" the caps is by removing them and testing them with a capacitor tester, or they can be tested in-place with really expensive high-end test equipment. They can test fine today, and fail (whenever). I use my Fluke Meter/Oscilloscope combo to test them in-place. Like I said in a previous post, all electrolytic caps fail at some point. They can do so by simply drying-out, without any sign that they have dried-out, other than unacceptable ripple showing up on the scope. The electrolyte can break-down and not leak out or bulge the cap. Most capacitor failures happen without visible signs, once the capacitor has outlived it's expected lifetime.
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Cisco tuning adapters should never be used inline (using the TA coax OUT port) to connect a TiVo, if MoCA is in use. Use a splitter w/PoE filter on leg to TA, use other leg for the TiVo. Enjoy!

Last edited by nooneuknow : 06-26-2014 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 06-30-2014, 04:46 PM   #13
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The latest is that it might NOT be bad capacitors causing the ongoing rebooting and freezing. Earlier in this thread I got this advice:

Quote:
Originally Posted by L David Matheny View Post
You could make sure all your outlets are properly grounded and that all grounds (including the coaxial cable shields) are connected to the same grounding point. Varying ground levels can cause strange problems. Random freezes and reboots can also be caused by heat issues.
The outlet that the battery-backup is plugged into connects to some outdoor lighting and previously had grounding issues. I happened to be by the Tivo two mornings when the outdoor lighting timer turned everything off, and both times the Tivo rebooted. That was too hard to ignore, so I got an extension cord, and plugged the battery-backup into a different circuit. This was last Thursday evening, and there have been no problems since then. This would also explain why I never had any reboots when the cable line was disconnected from the Tivo. If I go a week without any more issues, I am going to declare success. Of course, now I should get an electrician to examine the outdoor lighting, otherwise I have to live with an extension cord across the room.
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Old 07-01-2014, 04:29 AM   #14
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The latest is that it might NOT be bad capacitors causing the ongoing rebooting and freezing. Earlier in this thread I got this advice: <advice quoted not included>

The outlet that the battery-backup is plugged into connects to some outdoor lighting and previously had grounding issues. I happened to be by the Tivo two mornings when the outdoor lighting timer turned everything off, and both times the Tivo rebooted. That was too hard to ignore, so I got an extension cord, and plugged the battery-backup into a different circuit. This was last Thursday evening, and there have been no problems since then. This would also explain why I never had any reboots when the cable line was disconnected from the Tivo. If I go a week without any more issues, I am going to declare success. Of course, now I should get an electrician to examine the outdoor lighting, otherwise I have to live with an extension cord across the room.
Some would still advise you to recap your power supply (if not already done), just because some are so obsessed with the PS being the root of all problems, and with declaring that all capacitors on all TiVo power supplies are faulty, even in the absence of visual problems, or any adequate/adequate testing to prove it.

Your UPS should indicate any wiring fault condition, as well as take-over (operate) when anything upstream of it causes a voltage drop substantial enough to cause issues. Good ones also filter noise from other things on the circuit (so do the best surge strips).

Good surge strips have a single wiring fault indicator LED. Specific testers exist. Some do no more than indicate a wiring fault, some will tell you the exact wiring fault (the basics: reversed polarity, missing/open ground), it sometimes is difficult to catch a reversed neutral and ground condition, often making visual inspection all connection points along the circuit necessary. I once moved into a house with multiple wiring faults, including reversed polarity of neutral and ground, as well as having grounding outlets connected to groundless wiring. My APC power strip caught these faults before I had plugged in anything else.

I'll advise that once any wiring faults have been resolved, to consider replacing the UPS (or possibly just the batteries). Some would say that the outdoor lighting shouldn't be on the same circuit. But, things like this are hard to avoid without dedicated single-outlet-only breakers and wiring (usually needs to be installed, as this is not how residential wiring is done, unless it's a dedicated large appliance or air conditioning outlet).

Great work and persistence in tracking things down. This is the right approach, as opposed to assuming there are no wiring faults, and/or other issues and blindly blaming the power supply (or the caps in it).

Once all potential wiring faults are eliminated, you still may want to consider putting the outdoor lights on a different circuit, or the UPS/TiVo on a different circuit. If you are using one of those in-line timers, as opposed to something built-into the outdoor lighting, it could be the timer causing problems (either is possible). Timers, photo-sensors (light sensors), and dimming light controls are all potential problems in certain scenarios, even when controlling other things on a shared circuit.

Good luck. Please keep us posted.
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Cisco tuning adapters should never be used inline (using the TA coax OUT port) to connect a TiVo, if MoCA is in use. Use a splitter w/PoE filter on leg to TA, use other leg for the TiVo. Enjoy!
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Old 07-03-2014, 07:22 PM   #15
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I would advise recapping an S2 or S3 power supply because of the very high likelihood of the caps being among the millions that made it into the supply chain before it was found out about the faulty or incomplete dielectric formula so many cap makers were using, and the resultant high likelihood that said bogus caps will eventually (but much sooner than with good caps) go bad.

That way you can at least be reasonably certain that you have a known good power supply if the need for troubleshooting arises.

Is it possible that the problem is caused by something other than "capacitor plague".

Of course.

Drives fail, motherboards fail, external conditions (like flaky grounds) can interfere--there is no shortage of potential villains.

And the first step in hunting down the cause is making sure that it's not the power supply since there's such an excellent chance that it is.
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