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Old 11-12-2007, 06:34 PM   #1
fergie8
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Chicago, IL
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TiVo HD Pixelation with 9.2a

FWIW ...

Got my new TiVo HD a week ago. Managed to get the just released 9.2a software onto the box a couple of hours before the RCN tech arrived to do the cable card install on Thursday. Cable card install went fairly well. No big problems. Nice HD picture afterwards. Loved it!

On Saturday I started noticing pixelation problems on some of my SD digital channels. I surfed through all the channels and noted about 40 channels with pixelation problems. I didn't love that so much.

I spent a lot of time over the weekend going back and forth from live tv to the diagnostic screen on lots of different channels trying to see what I could figure out. That was compounded somewhat by the fact that the TiVo went into freeze mode (i.e. menus over black background, can't do live tv, restart required) three different times when I tried to switch directly from the diagnostic screen to live tv.

Here's what I've learned so far:

TiVo HD
9.2a
RCN
1 M card

Tuner 0 looks all good. No pixelation problems noticed when tuning any channels on that tuner.

Tuner 1 sometimes has pixelation problems on channels that are mapped into the 591Mhz - 639Mhz range. When there is pixelation on one channel in that band, there seems to be pixelation on all the channels mapped into that band. But channels delivered outside that particular band of frequencies seem all good on tuner 1.

BTW, the "sometimes" qualifier above means that I had pixelation problems for most of the weekend. However after the last of my three freeze ups and restarts on Sunday evening, the problem has not reappeared again (yet).

Wondering if anyone else has noticed that their TiVo HD pixelation problems only occur on one tuner? Or only in a specific band of frequencies?

Thanks.
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:26 PM   #2
Phantom Gremlin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fergie8 View Post
That was compounded somewhat by the fact that the TiVo went into freeze mode (i.e. menus over black background, can't do live tv, restart required) three different times when I tried to switch directly from the diagnostic screen to live tv.
The Tivo HD has two different screens that report signal strength.

The first is a diagnostic screen that lets you do channel up/down etc and quickly scan a number of channels. As you have discovered the TiVo quickly goes tits-up when you use that function. It has done that since the first day the box was available. I guess I'm not surprised that TiVo hasn't fixed that problem, because there are innumerable higher priority problems they haven't fixed either. I really don't trust that screen. Because who knows what is happening before the crash? Is a program bug causing memory to be scribbled over randomly, the crash occuring once something "critical" gets destroyed? That's why I never use that screen anymore.

However, there is a second diagnostic screen. I'm not in front of the TiVo so I can't find it right now. But I think it's somewhere near account settings. In that second mode the TiVo won't crash. It will display S/N and error rate for the two tuners. But you can't change channels.
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Old 11-12-2007, 11:05 PM   #3
fergie8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Gremlin View Post
The Tivo HD has two different screens that report signal strength.

The first is a diagnostic screen that lets you do channel up/down etc and quickly scan a number of channels. As you have discovered the TiVo quickly goes tits-up when you use that function.
No, that is not what I have discovered. I had no problems with that display, I just didn't find it terribly useful.

Quote:
It has done that since the first day the box was available. I guess I'm not surprised that TiVo hasn't fixed that problem, because there are innumerable higher priority problems they haven't fixed either. I really don't trust that screen. Because who knows what is happening before the crash? Is a program bug causing memory to be scribbled over randomly, the crash occuring once something "critical" gets destroyed? That's why I never use that screen anymore.

However, there is a second diagnostic screen. I'm not in front of the TiVo so I can't find it right now. But I think it's somewhere near account settings.
Yes, this one ...
Messages & Settings -> Account & System Information -> Diagnostics

Quote:
In that second mode the TiVo won't crash.
No, for me it was quite the opposite -- my TiVo HD froze up three times when I tried to go from that Diagnostics screen to live tv.

Quote:
It will display S/N and error rate for the two tuners. But you can't change channels.
My guess would be that the freeze up is not the disease in my case, it's a symptom. Perhaps the tivo has trouble locking onto a channel that has a high error rate and that somehow causes the no-video black screen freeze up. Also, in the native video output mode I was using, the video is switching from the 720p format of the diagnostic menu to the 480i format of the pixelated SD channel, which could also be a factor in the lockup. (Dunno for sure though, just speculating.)

My main curiosity though has to do with the fact that in my case the pixelation only occurs on the one tuner and only in a partial band of frequencies within that tuner.
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Old 11-13-2007, 05:13 AM   #4
TomRaz
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I have a Tivo HD with 9.2a software and 1-SA Mseries cable card. I have noticed a lot more pixelation with this release of software compared to previous releases.
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Old 11-13-2007, 06:39 AM   #5
Phantom Gremlin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fergie8 View Post
My main curiosity though has to do with the fact that in my case the pixelation only occurs on the one tuner and only in a partial band of frequencies within that tuner.
Well, since you like to tinker, maybe you can do what is suggested in the following post

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...&postcount=352

and use an attenuator to play with signal levels. That post talks about FiOS, but I think it points to a more general problem. The TiVo RF front-end is IMO poorly designed, even by "consumer" standards. I had the opposite problem. I needed to use an amplifier to boost the signal level into my TiVo HD before my pixelation problems (mostly) went away.

I haven't read many threads where people complain about specific frequencies that are problematic. But I HAVE read plenty of threads where people complain about tuner 1 having more problems than tuner 0.

Then again, maybe it's just software bugs?!?
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:53 AM   #6
fergie8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Gremlin View Post
Well, since you like to tinker,
LOL!

My desire to tinker with new TiVo HD in order to make its hardware work is nil. I just want to be able to plop down on my couch after a day's (or week's) work and play with my new TiVo toy. It's not really tinkering that's going on here anyway, it's troubleshooting (although, imo, that shouldn't be required of me either).

But the 30 day return clock is ticking, so I'm trying to see what I can figure out on my own in a limited amount of time before I have to make that possibly unpleasant keep or no keep decision.

Quote:
maybe you can do what is suggested in the following post

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...&postcount=352

and use an attenuator to play with signal levels. That post talks about FiOS, but I think it points to a more general problem.
Thank you. I did stumble onto that post over the weekend though. I don't have the attenuators (not yet anyway), so I chained a couple of splitters together. I didn't see any positive results, but my setup was kludgey and I'm thinking I didn't create enough extra attenuation with it anyway.

Part of the problem here is that the pixelation is intermittent. So the recommended 2. Find a channel with pixelization can be problematic. You're put in the position of hoping your tivo malfunctions more often, so that you might have a shot at maybe getting it fixed. That's not exactly what I had in mind doing with my time when I bought my Tivo HD.

Quote:
The TiVo RF front-end is IMO poorly designed, even by "consumer" standards. I had the opposite problem. I needed to use an amplifier to boost the signal level into my TiVo HD before my pixelation problems (mostly) went away.

I haven't read many threads where people complain about specific frequencies that are problematic. But I HAVE read plenty of threads where people complain about tuner 1 having more problems than tuner 0.

Then again, maybe it's just software bugs?!?
If you can point me to those threads, I would be most appreciative. I didn't have much luck when I searched for such myself.

I'm also keen to know the meaning of the message you see if you go quickly to live tv after a TiVo HD restart. It says something like "acquiring channel information". Just wondering what that means? Is the TiVo just gathering the channel number to frequency mapping information? There isn't any sort of per channel gain setting going on there, is there? (Nah, probably not, but ... <shrug>)

Thanks for the help.

Cheers,

--
Michael
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:22 PM   #7
Phantom Gremlin
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Originally Posted by fergie8 View Post
If you can point me to those threads, I would be most appreciative. I didn't have much luck when I searched for such myself.
I searched the sticky thread at the top of the forum and found some mentions of problems on an individual tuner. But they're not all on tuner 1. I don't have time to search other threads to see if my recollection of tuner 1 having more problems is accurate.

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...1&postcount=79

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...&postcount=107

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...&postcount=149

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...&postcount=323
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:40 PM   #8
yunlin12
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Quote:
Thank you. I did stumble onto that post over the weekend though. I don't have the attenuators (not yet anyway), so I chained a couple of splitters together. I didn't see any positive results, but my setup was kludgey and I'm thinking I didn't create enough extra attenuation with it anyway.

If the other outputs of the splitters are not going into anything, it's likely not going to truely split the signal, i.e., the signal is some electromagnetic wave that's carried in a cable, and the EM wave contains energy. This energy has to have some place to go. It's the same idea as electricity, if you don't plug something into an outlet, then you are not really diverting power from it. Simply putting the signal through a splitter won't attenuate the signal, unless if you take the outputs of the splitter, and plug them into devices that will "suck" the signal in, maybe you have a few old TV, VCR, DVD recorder, anything that has a TV/cable input?

Edit: another way to do this is to run a long cable. Based on some of the specs I've seen, a 100ft long RG6 cable should attenuate typical cable signal by about a half.
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