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Old 11-30-2012, 08:54 AM   #1
mather
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Partial recordings, is this the end of my S3

Background...I have the S3, always been on OTA, two HDDS, running great for many years...until this November. All of a sudden, partial recordings for a few channels. Hit or miss, sometimes it records fully, other times, partial in the beginning, middle, or end. Other channels record fine, the family have noticed some have slight pause during playback, I don't know if it is related to same problem.

Thinking it was the HDDs that were near capacity of recordings, I had the family delete shows to regain some space. That didn't help.

Next step, ran Kickstart to test the HDDs, all clear. Then, I took both HDDs and put them on the PC to test with WD and Seagate diagnostics, ran the short tests, ran the long tests, all clear.

Rechecked the anttenna connections, check the diagnostic in Tivo for the problematic channels, SNR in the low 30s, signals in the high 90s.

I was thinking it may be too hot, and it did coincide with the dropping of leaves in the Fall. So I picked up a variable attenuator from Solid Signal and tested with the different knob settings. Lowered the signals to low 90, mid 80s. No help, still get the partial recordings.

Looked for bulging capacitors, they look fine.

As you can imagine, I'm at my wits, I don't know what to check next or if our S3 has reached it's end. I have two other methods to follow, switch out the data and power connectors on the HDDs, and completely divorce the 2nd HDD, format and re-attach. I'd rather not divorce it due to the recordings still on it, so I have been holding off.

Any other less drastic ideas?

Could it be the tuner(s), this partial recording issue is happening on only 2 to 3 channels. They all have signal 90 and up and low 30 SNRs.

Last edited by mather : 11-30-2012 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:44 AM   #2
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You've covered a lot of the bases but:

1. Test the actual voltages from the power supply.
Red: 5.0V
Yellow: 12.0V
Green: 3.3V
Black: Ground
Leave everthing connected and try to use thin probes into the back of the connector where wires from the PS connect to the motherboard. Tolerances are 5% except 10% for the 12V.

2. What is the internal temp reading?

3. Do you see any RS errors for bad channels? (Same place you get the SNR and signal strength from in DVR Diagnostics)

4. How about the cable and connections to the expansion drive?
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:36 AM   #3
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Hard drives can test out fine but still be bad. But in your case I would suspect a signal level issue first. You could get your provider to roll a tech and see.
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:57 AM   #4
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I would also suggest going into the "Recently Deleted" folder and permanently deleting everything to actually free up the space.
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:22 PM   #5
L David Matheny
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mather View Post
Background...I have the S3, always been on OTA, two HDDS, running great for many years...until this November. All of a sudden, partial recordings for a few channels. Hit or miss, sometimes it records fully, other times, partial in the beginning, middle, or end. Other channels record fine, the family have noticed some have slight pause during playback, I don't know if it is related to same problem.
It's hard to imagine how a drive problem could affect only certain channels. If it was just one channel, I'd guess it was on their end. If it was cable, I'd blame the cable company. But if certain channels are consistently affected, but never certain other channels, it does (as others have said) sound like a signal issue, either low strength or interference of some sort, or possibly a weak or failing power supply.
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:28 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the tips to follow up on. I'll address them here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlfl View Post
You've covered a lot of the bases but:

1. Test the actual voltages from the power supply.
Red: 5.0V
Yellow: 12.0V
Green: 3.3V
Black: Ground
Leave everthing connected and try to use thin probes into the back of the connector where wires from the PS connect to the motherboard. Tolerances are 5% except 10% for the 12V.

2. What is the internal temp reading?

3. Do you see any RS errors for bad channels? (Same place you get the SNR and signal strength from in DVR Diagnostics)

4. How about the cable and connections to the expansion drive?
1. My connector has a lot of wires, I'm not sure which I'm supposed to check. I have no Green, I see a Grey. I see multiple Blacks, Reds, Orange? Also, I may not be able to check w/o disconnecting the connector. I don't have a probe thin enough to check with the connector connected.

2. Temp reads 42C (normal).

3. No RS errors for the bad channels.

4. I did check the cables to make sure none were loosened.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post
Hard drives can test out fine but still be bad. But in your case I would suspect a signal level issue first. You could get your provider to roll a tech and see.
I"m using OTA so unfortunately no tech other than me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lpwcomp View Post
I would also suggest going into the "Recently Deleted" folder and permanently deleting everything to actually free up the space.
Thanks, I didn't think of that, I'll delete everything and recheck the recordings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by L David Matheny View Post
It's hard to imagine how a drive problem could affect only certain channels. If it was just one channel, I'd guess it was on their end. If it was cable, I'd blame the cable company. But if certain channels are consistently affected, but never certain other channels, it does (as others have said) sound like a signal issue, either low strength or interference of some sort, or possibly a weak or failing power supply.
That's why I was thinking tuner?.

I double checked the SNRs and Signals again, Signals currently range from high 80s to low to mid 90s, SNRs are 28 to 31 dB. These ranges are for all my channels, ones with no problems and the 1-3 that I've seen problems.

I've also been recording overnight to test, I set recordings on the same channel say from 1-2am, 3-4am, 5-6am, 7-8am, 12-1pm. Same channel, overnight, for a few nights now. I would end up with some partially recorded, some recorded complete. It's not consistent.

I've also noticed a couple situations.

Once in a while when I change to the channel with partial recordings, it would be blank. I change away and back, the picture would appear.

I set NFL games to record and we usually watch like this; let it record an hour or two, go watch as it is recording, to skip through commercials, back out when it catches up to real time and come back when it records the rest of the game. A few times, I noticed the dreaded partial recording message and found it stopped at or around the time we caught up with the live game and backed out. It should have continued recording through to the end but it didn't for some unknown reason.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:35 PM   #7
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Sorry it's orange (not green) for the 3.3V. All the multiple reds are 5V, just measure any one of them, etc. (assuming you've found the one connector on the MoBo where all these colors are going in - all the wires of a particular color should connect into the PS board at a common point). You could improvise smaller probe tips using paperclips, I think.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlfl View Post
Sorry it's orange (not green) for the 3.3V. All the multiple reds are 5V, just measure any one of them, etc. (assuming you've found the one connector on the MoBo where all these colors are going in - all the wires of a particular color should connect into the PS board at a common point). You could improvise smaller probe tips using paperclips, I think.
Thanks, I'll give it a try later with the paperclip method.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:35 PM   #9
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You also might have low signal strength, causing partial dropouts.
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:02 PM   #10
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Troubleshooting OTA signal problems can be tricky.

Up until now, things have been good year round?

Have there been any changes to the environment (e.g. new tall building in the line of sight of your OTA signal)?

Have you checked your antenna alignment? Maybe it needs re-adjusting.
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:20 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mather View Post
Thanks for all the tips to follow up on. I'll address them here.



1. My connector has a lot of wires, I'm not sure which I'm supposed to check. I have no Green, I see a Grey. I see multiple Blacks, Reds, Orange? Also, I may not be able to check w/o disconnecting the connector. I don't have a probe thin enough to check with the connector connected.

2. Temp reads 42C (normal).

3. No RS errors for the bad channels.

4. I did check the cables to make sure none were loosened.



I"m using OTA so unfortunately no tech other than me.



Thanks, I didn't think of that, I'll delete everything and recheck the recordings.



That's why I was thinking tuner?.

I double checked the SNRs and Signals again, Signals currently range from high 80s to low to mid 90s, SNRs are 28 to 31 dB. These ranges are for all my channels, ones with no problems and the 1-3 that I've seen problems.

I've also been recording overnight to test, I set recordings on the same channel say from 1-2am, 3-4am, 5-6am, 7-8am, 12-1pm. Same channel, overnight, for a few nights now. I would end up with some partially recorded, some recorded complete. It's not consistent.

I've also noticed a couple situations.

Once in a while when I change to the channel with partial recordings, it would be blank. I change away and back, the picture would appear.

I set NFL games to record and we usually watch like this; let it record an hour or two, go watch as it is recording, to skip through commercials, back out when it catches up to real time and come back when it records the rest of the game. A few times, I noticed the dreaded partial recording message and found it stopped at or around the time we caught up with the live game and backed out. It should have continued recording through to the end but it didn't for some unknown reason.
That gray wire is the power for the front panel OLED display, and is probably fine.

Generally a TiVo power supply with "capacitor plague" will have caps going bad on the +5V (red wires) output and/or the +12V (yellow wires) output.

Those voltages are referenced to the power supply's DC "ground", or common, connection, which is what all the black wires go back to.

It's unlikely that any caps in the +3.3V circuit (orange wire) are bad, but problems elsewhere might cause it to read a bit low until those problems are fixed.

Connect your meter's black (negative) lead to the chassis as far away from the power supply end as possible, or stick it down the motherboard plug into one of the black wire holes.

Standard diameter meter probe tips should be able to get down into those holes far enough to contact the metal pin or socket crimped on the end of the wire, but if you can alligator clip the black lead to the metal chassis, even better.
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:39 PM   #12
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That's why I was thinking tuner?.

I double checked the SNRs and Signals again, Signals currently range from high 80s to low to mid 90s, SNRs are 28 to 31 dB. These ranges are for all my channels, ones with no problems and the 1-3 that I've seen problems.

I've also been recording overnight to test, I set recordings on the same channel say from 1-2am, 3-4am, 5-6am, 7-8am, 12-1pm. Same channel, overnight, for a few nights now. I would end up with some partially recorded, some recorded complete. It's not consistent.

I've also noticed a couple situations.

Once in a while when I change to the channel with partial recordings, it would be blank. I change away and back, the picture would appear.
I think I read here about someone who had one bad tuner in a unit, but that would surely be very unusual, and yours has been working fine until now. I think someone also said that a weak power supply can make one tuner look bad, but I'm not sure exactly how.

Your signal numbers sound fine, but it's still possible to have a great digital link that's carrying a defective transport stream, probably because of errors earlier in the chain of equipment that's processed it. Some piece of equipment at the station could be in the process of failing. TiVos seem to be less forgiving than most TVs when it comes to certain types of signal coding errors. And intermittent Radio Frequency Interference can cause reception to come and go.
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Old 12-17-2012, 07:42 AM   #13
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Ok, I had time to check further and did the voltage test. All are within range. The next step I think is I want to try to do is swap the HDDs out. Even though the HDD diagnostics tested out fine, I'd like to fully eliminate the HDDs as the culprits before doing something like losing all the recordings and start from scratch.

Does anyone know if I can just clone the drives with the standard programs from Seagate/WD or do I need a special program to clone the Tivo drives?
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:30 AM   #14
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Go to the upgrade center- several options there. Not sure which S3 model you have, but this could be an opportunity to upgrade to a larger drive.

I'm still guessing bad caps from your descriptions (mostly because the drive tested so well), but good luck to you. I think its a logical step that will at least let you have a backup drive on the shelf when you are done.
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:41 AM   #15
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Go to the upgrade center- several options there. Not sure which S3 model you have, but this could be an opportunity to upgrade to a larger drive.

I'm still guessing bad caps from your descriptions (mostly because the drive tested so well), but good luck to you. I think its a logical step that will at least let you have a backup drive on the shelf when you are done.
What upgrade center? Are you referring to Tivo's upgrade options? I have lifetime subscription, I don't think it's transferrable to any new Tivos.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:37 AM   #16
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The upgrade center forums on this site.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:39 AM   #17
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What upgrade center? Are you referring to Tivo's upgrade options? I have lifetime subscription, I don't think it's transferrable to any new Tivos.
TiVo might give you a discount on lifetime on a new unit, perhaps $100.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:13 PM   #18
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Does anyone know if I can just clone the drives with the standard programs from Seagate/WD or do I need a special program to clone the Tivo drives?
I have used DD bit copy to do just that; but I always used same size drives.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:53 AM   #19
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Ok, I had time to check further and did the voltage test. All are within range. The next step I think is I want to try to do is swap the HDDs out. Even though the HDD diagnostics tested out fine, I'd like to fully eliminate the HDDs as the culprits before doing something like losing all the recordings and start from scratch.

Does anyone know if I can just clone the drives with the standard programs from Seagate/WD or do I need a special program to clone the Tivo drives?
When you say you have two hard drives, do you mean one internal and one external?

Is the internal the original 250GB one?

Do you have a spare 250GB or larger SATA hard drive lying around you could use temporarily for testing and diagnostic purposes?
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:17 PM   #20
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It's been awhile since my problem and I'm happy to say it looks like it is solved. Unitron's post reminded me that I did in fact have the original drive and I swapped that in and after a long update from Tivo due to the drive sitting in a box for a long time, all recordings were fine with just that drive. I then placed back the two drives back in, a Seagate and a WD. Swapped out the Seagate and cloned it to another WD (same size). It's been fine ever since.

For those that suggested the HDD, it appears that way. With my original post, I never suspected a HDD. The Seagate tested fine even with the long/deep testing from Seagate's diagnostic program. I don't understand it.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I hope this thread helps others in the future if anyone faces similar symptoms.
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