Bolt tuner problems

Discussion in 'TiVo Help Center' started by cmontyburns, Apr 15, 2019.

  1. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    My Bolt's OTA tuner seems to have gone kaput. Is that a thing that happens?

    I live in an area of generally good OTA reception. I've got an old omnidirectional+rabbit ears antenna in the attic feeding three TiVos in the house. The TiVos are of varying vintage: one HD, one Premiere OTA, and this Bolt. I'm aware that the tuners in the TiVo hardware have gotten worse over time, and I see this on these three boxes. The HD box barely cares if there is an antenna connected to it at all; it hauls everything in with signal strengths of 80+ on every channel. The Premiere isn't quite that good, but it gets all the channels with no artifacts or issues for the most part. The Bolt has always been the worst performer, with occasional bouts of macroblocking and sound dropouts, where by "occasional" I mean maybe once a month it gets a little noticeable. On these occasions, I just pop up into the attic and nudge the antenna a few degrees and it improves again.

    Anyway, over the past week the issue has gotten so bad on the Bolt that linear TV really hasn't been watchable. No amount of antenna fidgeting has helped the issue. This antenna is really old, so I figured I would try a new one and see if that helped. I connected it today and the Bolt behaved a bit better, but still demonstrated some issues. So, in the course of troubleshooting, I swapped out cables, connected the new antenna directly to the Bolt instead of via the drop in the attic, etc., and abruptly landed in a state where the Bolt wouldn't tune anything in at all. Re-scan channel, repeat guided setup, etc. -- nothing. My last test was to bring it into the room where one of the other TiVos is working happily, and connect it to that drop to rule out anything I hadn't already tested, and still -- nothing.

    I now conclude that the recent worsening issues were the result of the Bolt's tuner starting to fail, and connecting the antenna a couple of times tonight pushed it over the edge into complete death. Of all the things I thought might ever go wrong with a TiVo, this is the last I would have expected. Is this really a thing that happens? I've got Lifetime on this box and this is a really stupid way to lose it.
     
  2. kpeters59

    kpeters59 Well-Known Member

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    There had been been reports very early on about the Coax Jack de-soldering from the Main Board.

    What happens if you connect an antenna directly to your Bolt (without going through any splitters)?

    -KP
     
  3. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    That was indeed one of my tests. Same result: no channels found. (Well, it did find one plus its subs, four total, but it should have found ninety.)
     
  4. kpeters59

    kpeters59 Well-Known Member

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    Well, it shows that (at least) one tuner has some function. It doesn't 'prove' the signal from the Antenna is good. Or that the Coax Connector isn't loose.

    During a signal strength test, does minor pressure on the coax connector have any effect?

    Does the attached TV have an ATSC Tuner? What do the Signal Strengths look like on it? (it's NOT a great comparison, but is at least somewhat of a reference).

    Are you able to turn and point the antenna?

    I've seen very small adjustments make a very big difference on received signal strength on a TiVo.

    -KP
     
  5. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I'll try the pressure test this evening; I didn't do that yesterday. For clarity, I think I've eliminated all other variables besides the box itself. Cables, antenna, antenna location, etc. :(
     
  6. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    Pressure test didn't help; alas.

    I called TiVo and all is well that ends mostly well. They agreed to replace the box for $79 and transfer the lifetime service to the replacement. Maybe that's standard and I could have pressed for better, but the thing is out of warranty so I can't complain too much.
     
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  7. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    Just to close this off -- replacement box arrived today & connected it to the attic antenna. All is well again. Couple of side notes:

    Of course the replacement is a "renewed" Bolt. I expected that. It would be nice, though, if the renewed units didn't look so... used. My (now old) Bolt that I am sending back looks like it could have just come out of the box. This one has scuffs all over the polycarbonate.

    On that old Bolt and on my Premiere, I've managed to avoid the Hydra interface. I suspected this replacement Bolt might mean the end of that, and it did. It actually powered up with the old interface, but of course immediately updated itself on first connection. This is my first in-person exposure to Hydra. It's been well picked-over here on the forum so I'll not get into it except to say: I now feel everyone's pain. Sheesh.
     
  8. pj1983

    pj1983 Active Member

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    Assuming you're referring to the top cover(s) of the case, why not switch the two before you return the old box? There's no box-specific identifying information there AFAIK -- unless the old box is white and the new one is black, of course. :(
     
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  9. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    Yes, the top, and they are both white. I hadn't thought of that. I don't even know how to do it. Will have to look it up. Thanks for the suggestion!
     
  10. HerronScott

    HerronScott Well-Known Member

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    You can revert to TE3 if you want (but you lose any recorded shows so best to do it before recording a lot or you can transfer shows to another TiVo or your PC).

    Scott
     
  11. pj1983

    pj1983 Active Member

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    You're welcome! The first post in the Bolt HD Replacement thread contains a video that shows how to remove the covers.
     
  12. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    Heh, I had already Googled how to do it and that same video is the one that came up. Looks pretty straightforward and I have a T10 screwdriver so I think I'll give it a go.
     
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  13. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    I'm absolutely speechless.

    As posted yesterday, I got the replacement Bolt. Connected it to my antenna, set it up, everything was fine. The scan resulted in almost 100 channels as expected. Signal strengths in the 60's or better across the board, and stable picture on all channels. I went to bed.

    Today, the next day, I just turned on the TV for the first time since then and was greeted with a blank screen and the same V53 error message I had started to get on my old Bolt. Went through the channels and nothing. Did a channel scan and it found only 4 channels, exactly what my broken Bolt had started doing. Brough the new Bolt into the room where the Roamio is, connected it to the antenna there, and got the same result. This new Bolt is now as dead as my old Bolt.

    I can only conclude that the antenna or the the drop into that room is now frying Bolt tuners for some reason. (They don't send a power supply with replacement units, so that is the only other thing the old and new one have had in common as a trouble source.). Both the antenna and that cable have been in use for years. I have no idea (a) how that is possible, or (b) what to do from a TiVo (corporation) perspective. Will they sell me another renewed Bolt? It seems as though the problem is not with the hardware, but with my house. However that could be.

    I'm really just stunned.
     
  14. LarryAtHome

    LarryAtHome Active Member

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    Could it be you are getting cell phone interference? A LTE filter might help. I do not live very close to any cell phone towers, but on my BOLT a LTE filter fixed issues I have been having for some time and my Roamio did not have. Just did not think it was a signal interference problem.
     
  15. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    Thanks, but while I don't know for sure, I'm thinking that is not the cause. As I mentioned, the replacement Bolt worked just fine when I set it up. I wouldn't think an interference problem like that would go from non-existent to completely blocking the Bolt from tuning anything just like that.
     
  16. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    Update: I went ahead and called TiVo. After talking through it, they granted me a one-time courtesy to replace this replacement at no charge. They think the issue is signal problem and not a hardware one, and I can hardly argue. However, after moving my Roamio to the same location and antenna connection as the Bolt, and providing them the diagnostics off a couple of the tuners (solid signal and not much noise and error correction), they agreed to the second swap.

    I'm not sure what to do once I get the box. I moved the Roamio back off that connection right away just in case that particular drop is frying tuners somehow.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
  17. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    I tried a couple other things tonight, just to rule out everything I can besides a hardware issue.

    I replaced the antenna splitter I have in the attic, which is decades old, with a new one. No change in performance on any TiVo including the failed Bolt.

    That new splitter is amplified, so I plugged it in. I know amplifiers can cause as many problems as they solve, but regardless, it didn't solve this one. Failed Bolt still could not receive channels.

    I picked up a new antenna. The one I have been using for years is an old rabbit-ears-plus-array model. Before my original Bolt failed completely, but as it was getting worse, I swapped in a new omnidirectional paper-thin antenna model to see if that would improve things, which it did not. I tried it again on the new failed Bolt and it did not help. So I picked up a third antenna, a big outdoor model just to see if I could get anything on the failed Bolt with it. Nope.

    In addition, I have tested the failed new Bolt on the antenna drops in the two other rooms where I have happy TiVos, and it can't tune anything in either of those spots. As mentioned in a prior post, I've also tested one of the other TiVos in the spot where the Bolt normally is and it was fine.

    So I'm comfortable concluding both Bolts have failed. Interestingly, they seem to have failed in exactly the same way. Which is to say that the only things either of them can tune now are the same non-network local and its subchannels, four in total. (Before the issue hit both Bolts, both of them could see about 100 channels.). I don't know what to conclude from that.

    As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm pretty scared to connect the NEW new Bolt, when it arrives, to the antenna drop the other two have failed on. Besides the power brick, the only thing these two failed units have in common is the antenna connection they have been on. I'm a layperson when it comes to RF signals, but I don't see how an un-amplified signal traveling down a cable could be causing this. But it, or the cable drop itself, seems to be the cause somehow.

    If I felt like playing chicken, I'd hook one of my other TiVos up to that drop for a day or two to see if the same thing happens to it, too. But I don't want to fry another lifetime box.
     
  18. pj1983

    pj1983 Active Member

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    Those weak RF signals coming in alone from an antenna are highly unlikely to overload a tuner to the point of failure. Even with the hottest preamp on the market in line I doubt it could be done. It looks like you have some other voltage being coupled into your antenna feed. Do you have a grounding block on your coax at the point where it enters the house (or anywhere else)? Do you have a voltmeter available that you could use to check for excessive voltage on the coax, either between the center conductor and the shield, between the center conductor and ground, or between the shield and ground?
     
  19. cmontyburns

    cmontyburns Excellent. TCF Club

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    Good suggestions; thank you. Your comment about the RF signals not being able to overload the tuner was my intuition, but I didn't know for sure.

    No grounding block, but then everything is inside the house. The antenna is just free standing in the attic, connected through a splitter to several RG6 drops. There are two to the location in question, dating back to when I used this cabling for satellite and need twin drops for the dual LNB dish. The two dead Bolts were connected to the same one of the two drops. So I decided to switch to the other one. For that one, just to be sure, I re-stripped the cable and applied new connectors. I don't have the new new Bolt yet (today, hopefully), but I took a deep breath and moved my old TiVo HD into that room onto that second drop. I'm reminded how much better TiVo tuners used to be, as the HD box is reporting signal strengths in the 80's to 90's on all channels. It has been connected to that new cable with no issues for the last few days.
     
  20. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

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    The AGC circuit in a Bolt or Roamio will try to make the signal percentage 72%. A TiVo connected to cable will try for 90%. A SNR of 36dB is also the normal value anymore.
     

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