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Old 11-05-2012, 12:24 AM   #1
Tim N.
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Pixilation issues from Tuner

I have a S3 that has been working fine for years on TW cable. It uses (2) S-cards. Yesterday the Scards started heavy pixilation. It is un-watchabble. I can play back previously recorded programming with a clear picture. I can ask for web based downloads and the picture quality is HD. The problem is with ccard tuning. I do have a Tuning adapter. I have tried to isolate Card 1 verses card 2. Both are pixilating.
I look at the DVR Diagnostics and I can see Signal Strength move from 86 to 77 to 33 to 0 to 72. It is all over the place in real time. Card 2 seems slightly better jumping from 83 to 77 to 83, but the picture is still un-watchable.

Does this sound like S3's tuner is breaking, or does it sound like the S-Cards are misbehaving?
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:29 AM   #2
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Sounds like you have weak signal coming in, call cable company.
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:53 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Tim N. View Post
I have a S3 that has been working fine for years on TW cable........
First say a little prayer of thanks. That's much better than average for a TiVo on TWC, especially using a TA!
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Sounds like you have weak signal coming in, call cable company.
I agree. For further confirmation look at the SNR and RS error counts found at the same place as Signal Strength in DVR Diagnostics. I predict the RS Error counts will be non-zero and climbing as you watch and the SNR will be less than 32 dB.

The cable signal is either degraded prior to entering your premises or is being degraded by an intermittent bad connection (corroded or loose), perhaps at a splitter, inside your premises. Or it could be a bad splitter. To the degree possible, follow the inside cable runs and inspect/tighten connections. Beyond that it will be up to your cable co to fix it.

Another possibility is a failing power supply. To check this out you have to remove the cover of the TiVo and do a visual inspection for bulging capacitor cans and, preferablly, measure some voltages. Do you have other cable tuner equipment (e.g., another TiVo, or set top box) that is NOT having trouble with your signals? If so that makes the probability it's the power supply much higher. Unless you're in an extreme hurry, I would pursue the signal-problem theory first. Ask your cable co to check the signal quaility. If that doesn't produce a fix, then check out the power supply. Detailed instructions and even pictures of bulging caps have been posted on this forum and can be located when you get to that point.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:08 AM   #4
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Does this sound like S3's tuner is breaking, or does it sound like the S-Cards are misbehaving?
I had a similar experience last year. Heavy pixilization and some channels were showing up on TiVo screen as not available at this time; call cable co.

Problem was found to be that a rodent had chewed the home run cable up at the utility pole.

I thought the T/W Tech would replace the home run cable from the pole to the first split inside the attic (such as it is), but he did not; mumbled something about attics...

Instead, the T/W Tech replaced the cable from the connection at the pole to the house. By splicing the new to the original cable, just under the eaves. He also installed a heavy duty ground wire directly to the electrical service panel.
Said something about that type of grounding being the current code.

All fine after cable was repaired.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:34 AM   #5
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[quote=dlfl;9362008]
I predict the RS Error counts will be non-zero and climbing as you watch and the SNR will be less than 32 dB.
QUOTE]

The S/N is in low 30's and the RS is huge. This is a house with about 9 drops off the main. All other drops are functioning at good signal strength (86). I have tightened all leads.

I will examine the S3 for the power supply symptoms. If that is present, is there any real chance at repair? Or do I have to replace the S3? Is there a way to save my content if I have to go to another box? I have a 1T disc in the S3.
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Old 11-05-2012, 01:37 PM   #6
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Just to toally rule out signal problems, it would be good to sub your S3 at the current HD location, or vice versa. The problems should stick with the box, not the drop location.

If you can solder you can replace bulging caps. Be sure to get low-ESR type replaement caps. You can buy a replacement PS at weaknees.com. Or you could take a chance on a S3 bought on ebay (without lifetime sub or the price will be too high). Then swap the PS from the ebay unit to your unit. The PS'es differ between TiVo models so get the right one. But there is a chance the PS will have capacitor plague. S3's were made at the peak of that problem.
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Old 11-05-2012, 07:37 PM   #7
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It's quite possible that there's something wrong with the cable signal coming into your house.

Can you hook the cable directly to the TV for test purposes?

There have been cases where failing power supplies couldn't quite supply enough current to run the TiVo and the cable card(s) in the TiVo, so if your power supply is almost that bad off it might not be able to run the cable card(s) correctly.

Having a tuning adapter in the mix, unfortunately, will not make diagnosis easier.

Power supply repair is not terribly difficult once you know which capacitors need replacing.

But some may need replacing and not show the outward signs like bulging or leaking.

Anyway, you need to verify that the cable signal is good and verify that the power supply is good.

I suspect at least one of them won't be.
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Old 02-11-2013, 01:43 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tim N. View Post
I have a S3 that has been working fine for years on TW cable. It uses (2) S-cards. Yesterday the Scards started heavy pixilation. It is un-watchabble. I can play back previously recorded programming with a clear picture. I can ask for web based downloads and the picture quality is HD. The problem is with ccard tuning. I do have a Tuning adapter. I have tried to isolate Card 1 verses card 2. Both are pixilating.
I look at the DVR Diagnostics and I can see Signal Strength move from 86 to 77 to 33 to 0 to 72. It is all over the place in real time. Card 2 seems slightly better jumping from 83 to 77 to 83, but the picture is still un-watchable.
Okay, this is exactly, word for word, my problem today and I'm wondering what you had to do to fix it. Replace the Power Supply? I have Comcast cable and they've been out and say my signal is fine right up to the S3. If I have to replace the S3 I lose my lifetime subscription and THAT would be a bummer. Appreciate some news Tim...or anyone. Thanks.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:05 PM   #9
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Okay, this is exactly, word for word, my problem today and I'm wondering what you had to do to fix it. Replace the Power Supply? I have Comcast cable and they've been out and say my signal is fine right up to the S3. If I have to replace the S3 I lose my lifetime subscription and THAT would be a bummer. Appreciate some news Tim...or anyone. Thanks.
Have there been any changes to your system?
Did you add a tuning adapter?

Both times my S3 OLED (TCD648250B) had pixelation problems; the coax cable was determined to be the cause... the last time a squirrel chewed the wire at the utility pole junction box. The TW tech said something about noise intrusion.
And yes, he checked the signal at the TiVo and said it looked good.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:17 PM   #10
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No changes to the system Teeps. It just started happening this past weekend. The very same scenario as Tim wrote at the top of the page here. I can download digital movies all day long and play them back with no problem. I can replay programs I've recorded and kept this past year with no problem. It's totally a cable reception issue on ALL channels on both cards. Pixilation and audio drops. Comcast says the cards are fine and they've done all they can do from their end (hmmmmmmm). Don't see any capacitor issues that I've read about but I'm inclined to fork out the $$ for a power supply to see if that fixes it. It's just bad that the lifetime subscription goes out the door if the S3 is no good. Been a TIVO owner for a looooooong time...2003 first time purchase I believe.
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Old 02-11-2013, 04:58 PM   #11
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Can you connect your tivo to a different cable feed, like a neighbor, friend or relative?
You can connect it to my TW feed if you are near by.

NOTE:
It can speed diagnosis if the city and state are included in your profile.
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:11 PM   #12
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Okay, this is exactly, word for word, my problem today and I'm wondering what you had to do to fix it. Replace the Power Supply? I have Comcast cable and they've been out and say my signal is fine right up to the S3. If I have to replace the S3 I lose my lifetime subscription and THAT would be a bummer. Appreciate some news Tim...or anyone. Thanks.
Do you use it for over the air tuning at all?

If so, do you see a problem in those channels?

If you have a TiVo that's newer than a Series 1 and older than a Premiere, chances are it's already had power supply problems, is currently having them, or is about to have them.

And not quite being able to supply enough current for the cable cards is one of the many strange symptoms which might occur.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:51 PM   #13
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And not quite being able to supply enough current for the cable cards is one of the many strange symptoms which might occur.
Going ahead and ordering a power supply from Weaknees. With all the talk of power supply issues with the S3 it sounds like the right move. Fingers crossed. Appreciate the feedback folks
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:46 PM   #14
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Going ahead and ordering a power supply from Weaknees. With all the talk of power supply issues with the S3 it sounds like the right move. Fingers crossed. Appreciate the feedback folks
That's a lot of money to pay someone else to replace $10 in parts via a simple soldering job.

But I suppose someone has to keep the TCF sponsors in business and it's been a couple of years since I bought that TwinBreeze bracket from them.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:01 AM   #15
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$150 for the PS and $50 refund when I send them my old one back. Guess I'm just thinking TIVO downtime is cruel, my time/labor is costly and I have "limited" troubleshooting abilities (bulging caps I do not see). A shout out to Tim N. Would love to know what fixed yours?
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:28 AM   #16
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Success. The new Power Supply fixed the cable card pixilation and audio drop issues. It may have been just bad capacitors but without the test equipment to check out individual components the $100 spent was a good expenditure. My lifetime subscription is safe.
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