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Old 02-24-2007, 01:58 PM   #1
glassonion
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Need ideas with S3 pixelation/signal strength issue

I am a long time user of the S2 which has and still runs nearly flawless. I now have a S3 which has been trouble since the beginning. I have very frequent pixilation/tiling which make it difficult to watch most shows. It occurs nearly every show I watch, and can be on any channel including HD and high number digital channels, but does seem to be more common on standard lower channel numbers. It will occur on both tuners. My pixilation will last anywhere from a few seconds to several continuous minutes and is associated with audio dropouts. Now I’ve seen brief 2-3 second tiling with digital cable boxes and with S2, but they have been very infrequent and never long lasting. As reported elsewhere, with removal of my cable cards, this issue resolves with the analog input. I have switched out the cable cards, tried switching component to RCA (red/white/yellow) cables, and used 2 different TVs with continued tiling. After much discussion with TiVo customer support, I had a second S3 unit sent out….which resulted in the same issue.

I began to suspect signal issues as nearly every cable tech (including internet cable guy) has commented how “strong” my signal is. Nobody admitting it is too high, but at upper limits. I thought maybe running the cable through a power surge protector would alter the signal strength (I thought decrease, but I’ve had someone tell me it bumps it up since). Well, this change resulted in constant tiling also worse in degree of tiling. Of course the new software upgrade made no change…

Well I had another cable visit yesterday and had a sympathetic tech who stayed for a long time trying to sort things out and was on the phone calling others as well. He climbed the street pole to check incoming signal, checked the box just outside my house, checked the signal inside, and even ran a brand new line from the street to my house. Nothing changed as together we watched the tiling continue to occur. Of course all the while I have no problem with S2 in another room. He felt the signal at the street was too hot and called in a maintenance order which miraculously occurred later that same day. I watched from my window as this maintenance dude climbed poles on the street checking signals. He was cool and actually came up to my door and told me the signal outside was too hot for specs and he decreased the signal (I think he said by 4-5dbs). He thought maybe it could drop it another 1 or 2, but he was worried it would affect other neighbors. Well, it seems to decrease the frequency of the tiling but it still occurs and interrupts most shows. I’ve noticed that if I run the TiVo diagnostics during the tiling, the signal strength fluctuates tremendously (maybe 60-80s) and the signal lock flips on/off. Typically all my channels are 94+, but occasional 89-93 without tiling.

I am running out of ideas. I remember seeing someone mention a terminator resistor on the antenna input which I guess I could try. Of course TiVo tells me to keep trying new cable cards, with a rep on the phone yesterday telling me his tech supervisor has a S3 and had to go through SEVEN sets of cards.

Anybody have any suggestions? btw I use Cox cable in Hampton Roads (Norfolk to be specific) with Motorola cards…anybody from the area with similar issues or with success?

Last edited by glassonion : 02-24-2007 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 02-24-2007, 05:48 PM   #2
A J Ricaud
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You could try an adjustable signal attenuator and see if that works--cheap enough:
http://www.antennasdirect.com/attenuator.html

Radio Shack used to carry them but I can't find it on their web site anymore. The product # is 15-678. Maybe your local store has one. You can return it if it doesn't help.

As for the terminator, unless you set up your Tivo with both antenna and cable, I wouldn't think that would be a factor. That said, they are cheap and available at Radio Shack. Maybe at Home Depot or Lowe's too.
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Old 02-24-2007, 07:09 PM   #3
glassonion
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Thanks for the input. Actually had yet another tech visit this afternoon. They have now replaced every inch of the line from the pole to the TiVo box. I had them put on a terminator on the antenna input. They tried an attenuator on the unit - dropping it from about +10db to +4 (6db attenuator).....all with no help.

Cox tech told me they have not had a single successful S3 installation without pixelation in the entire Hampton Roads area. aaaarrrggghhh
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Old 02-24-2007, 09:33 PM   #4
legendarybc
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Couple of questions:

1) Is your cable input still going through the surge protector?
2) Which channels tile/pixelate? All of them or just the digital channels or just the analogs or just HDTV or any combination or just one or two?
3) Do you have a Cable-co supplied box somewhere in the house that duplicates or eliminates this problem?
4) Have you tried hooking the S3 up in another room?
5) Does it pixelate if you remove the CC's and try an unencrypted QAM channel?

BC
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Old 02-24-2007, 10:54 PM   #5
glassonion
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thanks for the input BC

1) No surge protector. Just a brief experiment.
2) All channels will pixelate, although I think analog (low number channels) tends to do so more often.
3) I have a standard digital cable box in another room (with a S2) which has no such issue.
4) No. I guess I can try that out tomorrow...
5) No. Absolutely zero pixelation if I remove the CCs. Sorry, I'm not sure what "unencrypted QAM" means....basic analog input without decryption by cable box/CC??
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Old 02-24-2007, 11:48 PM   #6
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You are not alone.
Read other horror stories, here..
http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...72#post4905172
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Old 02-25-2007, 12:07 AM   #7
glassonion
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Yeah so much sounds like exactly the same pixelation issues. Did it turn out to be a Houston-wide issue or just a few Houston S3 owners on the same thread?

TivoTodd, are you also using Cox in Hampton Roads too? I don't think I can take this nonsense much longer...this has been going on since early Jan...I may have to turn to the dark side and use the Cox DVR...again.
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Old 02-25-2007, 12:56 AM   #8
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Nope.. Cox Kansas, here.
Uncle, and brother both on Cox. One has no issues. The other had no issues until I asked him, then he started having issues..
It's a digital STD
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Old 02-27-2007, 10:57 AM   #9
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I have Cox Cable in the Hampton Roads area, just received my first Series 3 and have been experiencing the same pixelation issues. As most have mentioned, my Series 2 doesn't have any problems at all. I haven't done as much troubleshooting as some of you have (good ideas that I'll have to try).

I did find that if I have the pixelation on one of the tuners, if I change the channel, change to the other tuner, and then go back to my original channel on the second tuner, I didn't have any pixelation.
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Old 02-27-2007, 02:39 PM   #10
glassonion
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BT

I haven't noticed a definitive way to end the pixellation, but I'll try your method. Of course that doesn't help much when I'm recording...btw I get pixellation on both tuners, although not typically at the same time. Cox is going to try another set of CC tomorrow. I've discussed at length with the techs over the phone about:
1)making sure the firmware on each CC is fully up to date (apparently an issue with some of mine)
and
2) tested on their equipment to prove the CC actually functions (I don't have any other easily accessible CC-ready stuff, unless I take down my wall-mounted plasma (one CC slot only though) which would be a beeyatch, but may ultimately be necessary

Let me know if you resolve your tiling issue.
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Old 02-27-2007, 07:58 PM   #11
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So far (as indicated in the other post), the only way I can clear up pixelation is by using the Digital Signal Meter screen or the Channel Test screen (from the CC menus) to get both tuners on the same channel. Then, one of the tuners functions correctly, the other has the pixel problem.

It really freaked me out to discover that most of the normally analog channels (below 74) are actually being broadcast in digital, and the cable cards are probably the issue in my case, too. But, because I am having almost no problems with the "real" digital channels (100 and up), I am wary to change anything for fear of getting a set of CCs that don't do well in the upper channels. I have plenty of other TiVos that do just fine getting the analog signal.
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Old 03-01-2007, 12:24 PM   #12
glassonion
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Sad update

Yet another tech visit out to the house. Brand new CC installed with latest (7/06) firmware and pretested on Cox equipment. Same freakin tiling. Tech brought in his "reliable" LG test TV and plugged in my previous malfunctioning CC into it and it ran flawlessly in my house for about 45 minutes.

It seems the only choice I have now is an endless line of CC swaps (at my expense), replacing TiVo units (again), or accepting defeat and shamefully returning to the Cox dual tuner HD-DVR. I'm sick of dealing with this issue as it is consuming so much of my time off...I have to schedule all the tech visits and calls during daytimes when I'm off work.

Last call for any bright ideas or uplifting comments...
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Old 03-01-2007, 01:32 PM   #13
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Sorry to hear that. It seems there is something that some cable providers do that the S3 can't handle as well as other devices. We may never know what the problem is since TiVo does not believe in keeping their customers informed. Thanks for the updates. I just put a terminator on the antenna input yesterday. I really am doubtful that it will help but it was only $4 from Radio Shack and it can't hurt.
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Old 03-01-2007, 10:24 PM   #14
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I'm having the same problems with both OTA and Comcast-delivered programming.

Comcast has been out twice now. Originally thought the pixelation was related to unusually high signal strength. (An employee added an amp a few years ago). Today the installer adjusted signal strength down, but that didn't correct the problem. After spending a considerable amount of time, the technician gave up and set up an appointment for Sunday. This will be their third visit. Based on what I've experienced and read, it seems the problem is not with Comcast, but maybe with a faulty S3.

If they can't fix it on Sunday, I won't have any choice but to return the S3 for a refund. I hate the idea of the Comcast dvr. I've owned a Tivo since 1999.

If anyone figures this out, please report back.
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Old 03-02-2007, 07:43 AM   #15
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I really wish I could give you some encouraging words. I think the S3 was built and tested on one system with perfect signal strength. Unfortunately, as the S3 gets in the wild, more problems are cropping up.

In my case, ABC, NBC, and CBS HD channels go out every night. I can't watch any of my favorite shows on those channels in HD. I also noticed a signal drop on the channels that go out. Weird thing is that the signal drops when I tune to those channels, but stays in the high 90's when I tune to another HD channel that works. Considering that cable is just one copper pipe running into my house, how could a channel have intermittent signal when all the rest are nearly perfect?
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Old 03-02-2007, 10:06 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Necro
Weird thing is that the signal drops when I tune to those channels, but stays in the high 90's when I tune to another HD channel that works. Considering that cable is just one copper pipe running into my house, how could a channel have intermittent signal when all the rest are nearly perfect?
I believe somebody posted that the "Signal Strength" meter is really more of an error free signal indicator. If you are getting errors, the "signal strength" goes down. At least this is how I interpreted what I read. Maybe somebody else can confirm this? Measured error rate does not mean that there really are errors though. It just means that the S3 can't read the signal which could be a problem with the signal or the S3. Without TiVo letting us know what is going on, we can only speculate.
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Old 03-02-2007, 03:27 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by CosmoGeek
Without TiVo letting us know what is going on, we can only speculate.
Choice words. I have techs coming out Tuesday to check. I'll have them swap out CC's if they've got them.
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Old 03-02-2007, 04:47 PM   #18
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Necro,

If you need them to swap out cards, I'd advise you to call and tell them to bring em so. Specifically tell them 2 if you want both swapped. Almost every tech visit (and I've had a few as you could guess from this thread) they try to bring only ONE, not realizing it's a dual tuner. Occasionally they even still arrive with one and have to call for another tech to drop off a second...

sometimes you just have to do the thinking for them...ok most of the time
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Old 03-14-2007, 10:41 AM   #19
BayouTerrebonne
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Since my last post (2-27), I have not experienced any more pixelation issues. I was going to try some of the ideas listed but apparently Cox Cable did something to the signal in Hampton Roads. Now I just have to deal with the skipping when fast forwarding or rewindig. Good Luck!
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Old 03-14-2007, 05:09 PM   #20
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Since the new firmware, my S3's audio dropouts + Pixelization are much improved.

Where I would previously lose 2-3 seconds of a show with the old firmware, the issue now corrects itself instantaneously. I am losing no audio and the pixelization is brief < 1 sec. I can now live with it if I have to.

Some other factors in my setup have also changed since S3 firmware rollout. I did tinker with the gain on my coax cable amplifier and have turned it down a bit. Therefore, I'm not really sure if it's the new S3 firmware or the lower gain of the coax cable amp that has improved the issue?
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Old 03-16-2007, 01:15 PM   #21
glassonion
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BT,

My pixelation seems to have improved as well with Cox (maybe something changed after they added to additional local HD channels), but I still do see the problem. It occurs less often, but still happens enough to be annoying. I'm trying to adjust my signal with some attenuators I bought last week as a last ditch. Couldn't find any at Radioshack (they told me they don't carry em anymore) so I had to find some online...here's the website if anyone is interested (btw I have no financial interest)

hometechsolutions

Weird thing...on Wed night nonHD ESPN (ch 12) pixelated for hours on end...no matter what I tried. Never seen it continue for more than a few minutes straight...ESPNHD was fine...
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Old 03-20-2007, 04:42 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glassonion
Necro,

If you need them to swap out cards, I'd advise you to call and tell them to bring em so. Specifically tell them 2 if you want both swapped. Almost every tech visit (and I've had a few as you could guess from this thread) they try to bring only ONE, not realizing it's a dual tuner. Occasionally they even still arrive with one and have to call for another tech to drop off a second...

sometimes you just have to do the thinking for them...ok most of the time
try all !!!!
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Old 03-20-2007, 09:24 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glassonion
I'm trying to adjust my signal with some attenuators I bought last week

Any luck?
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Old 03-20-2007, 09:36 PM   #24
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Any luck?
Made no difference when I tried them. Went from -6 to +11 with attenuators and amps. Made no difference at all in the digital channel dropouts/pixelations. Issue seems to not be related to signal strength.
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Old 03-21-2007, 12:26 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by SCSIRAID
Made no difference when I tried them. Went from -6 to +11 with attenuators and amps. Made no difference at all in the digital channel dropouts/pixelations. Issue seems to not be related to signal strength.
If the signal is noisy or leaking an attenuator or amp won't help at all; in fact it can make it worse. So it still may be a signal problem.

If you have a cable modem you can check the signal information (though it won't be exact since they use difference frequencies). A better check, if you have a motorola cable box around, is to go into it's diagnostic screen and read the QAM errors and signal strength. Motorola's diagnostic screen can be reached by hitting power and then immediate okay on the remote. Hit power twice to get out of it.
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Old 03-21-2007, 07:24 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morac
If the signal is noisy or leaking an attenuator or amp won't help at all; in fact it can make it worse. So it still may be a signal problem.

If you have a cable modem you can check the signal information (though it won't be exact since they use difference frequencies). A better check, if you have a motorola cable box around, is to go into it's diagnostic screen and read the QAM errors and signal strength. Motorola's diagnostic screen can be reached by hitting power and then immediate okay on the remote. Hit power twice to get out of it.
SA8300 has same capability. Signal strength on SA8300 on same channels is +4 with 35-36 SNR. BER over a 4 hour period last weekend measured 0. Been there... done that....
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Old 03-21-2007, 01:25 PM   #27
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I accidentally posted on the wrong thread this morning...

Meant to post it to update my thread (this one)...here it is again in all its glory

Well my pixelation issue has certainly changed - good and bad. As I mentioned above I use to get frequent intermittent tiling on pretty much every channel, although some seemed more frequent and severe than others. Now my overall pixelation has significantly improved (after no change in S3 or CC!). Tiling is typically pretty short (couple seconds) and very infrequent (every few hours or more as opposed to every hour). I don't know if the broadcast signal changed but it seemed to correlate with around the same time Cox added some local HD channels...This all changed just as my attenuators arrived in the mail so I didn't really get a chance to try them out on the problem.

Here's the kicker though, I now have near constant tiling on specific channels on frequencies 531 and 537000 KHz. Happens on both S3 units exactly the same. The head-tech at Cox and I both suspect the CC are failing, so were trying out new ones later this week. I'll keep the forum updated. Oh yeah, I did try the attenuators (3, 6, and 9dB) which did nothing but perhaps worsen the already constant tiling channels..

I actually started a different thread a couple days ago about the CC failure thing
CC Failure Thread
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Old 03-21-2007, 02:09 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glassonion
I accidentally posted on the wrong thread this morning...

Meant to post it to update my thread (this one)...here it is again in all its glory

Well my pixelation issue has certainly changed - good and bad. As I mentioned above I use to get frequent intermittent tiling on pretty much every channel, although some seemed more frequent and severe than others. Now my overall pixelation has significantly improved (after no change in S3 or CC!). Tiling is typically pretty short (couple seconds) and very infrequent (every few hours or more as opposed to every hour). I don't know if the broadcast signal changed but it seemed to correlate with around the same time Cox added some local HD channels...This all changed just as my attenuators arrived in the mail so I didn't really get a chance to try them out on the problem.

Here's the kicker though, I now have near constant tiling on specific channels on frequencies 531 and 537000 KHz. Happens on both S3 units exactly the same. The head-tech at Cox and I both suspect the CC are failing, so were trying out new ones later this week. I'll keep the forum updated. Oh yeah, I did try the attenuators (3, 6, and 9dB) which did nothing but perhaps worsen the already constant tiling channels..

I actually started a different thread a couple days ago about the CC failure thing
CC Failure Thread
Cablecards arent 'tuners' so they couldnt care less what frequency the channel is on.
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Old 03-21-2007, 04:46 PM   #29
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SCSIRAID,

OK, so are you implying that it HAS to be signal related? Is there no interpolation/decoding/whatever done by the CC or its interaction with the TiVo that could be affected by the incoming frequency? Please educate me before I devote more time and effort to trying to solve an unsolvable problem.

As a side note, the only advice/comment TiVo has is to keep changing CC until it works...
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Old 03-21-2007, 05:29 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glassonion
SCSIRAID,

OK, so are you implying that it HAS to be signal related? Is there no interpolation/decoding/whatever done by the CC or its interaction with the TiVo that could be affected by the incoming frequency? Please educate me before I devote more time and effort to trying to solve an unsolvable problem.

As a side note, the only advice/comment TiVo has is to keep changing CC until it works...
If you are having issues with channels on those particular frequencies... it is likely either a Tivo tuner issue (unlikely if both tuners are doing it) or due to a signal issue (cables, splitters, pedistal tap, drop line, etc etc). The cablecard couldnt care less what frequency the channel is on as long as it is authorized for that particular channel. The result of not being authorized wouldnt be pixelation... it would be black screen.
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