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Problems with Cisco STA1520, possibly, 6 flashing lights

Discussion in 'TiVo Roamio DVRs' started by GengisKhan, May 2, 2018.

  1. May 2, 2018 #1 of 18
    GengisKhan

    GengisKhan New Member

    19
    5
    Jul 13, 2002
    Sorry this is all a bit rambling.

    I've seen a few threads with this issue already but no obvious solution. Here is the situation:

    I have a single Roamio DVR with just one TV, a cable card and Tuning Adapter - probably the simplest setup possible. My provider is Time Warner/Spectrum and I'm in Rochester NY.

    I've had the Roamio for several years without any problems until a few months back. Then I started to get an issue where the TA would have a solid green light and then flash 6 times and then solid green again. This would repeat every 70-77 seconds or so, seemingly forever but see below for more information on this. When the light flashes the picture goes away and the Tivo stops recording everything in progress.

    This would happen every 2 weeks or so. I contacted TW cable card support and they would have me just reboot the TA using the following sequence:

    1. Unplug the USB cable.
    2. Power cycle the TA.
    3. Reconnect the cable.

    Sometimes, after this happens, I only get the broadcast channels but if I wait long enough they eventually come back.

    This has got progressively worse so that now it is happening once or twice a day. I must have called tech support about 10-20 times about this issue. They have sent 4! techs out to fix the problem. Most recently last Friday (5 days ago) and yesterday. This morning, when I got up, the light was solid green and working fine except that I was only getting broadcast channels. I used the remote to change channels to see what channels I was actually getting and suddenly saw the 6 flashes again. My theory is that trying to change channels while I wasn't getting the SDV channels caused the 6 flashes issue. Although that may just be coincidental. The TA was reporting the RDC out of range but rebooting seems to have fixed that. Which makes me think the issue is with the TA.

    The topology is very simple. On the outside of the house there is a splitter. One output goes down into the basement and to the cable modem (never had any problems with Internet access). The other goes into the wall and directly into the back of the TA and then out from the TA into the Tivo player. I tried putting a splitter before the TA, so that the signal goes to the TA and Tivo and not through the TA but that did not help at all. So currently that's not there.

    When the techs come out all they ever do is check the signal strength, tell me it's fine and then mess with the wiring outside the house, anyway. The first three replaced the splitter outside the house. The last one replaced the cable from the splitter to the TA completely.

    I have requested that when they send a tech out that they send out someone familiar with tuning adapters but so far that hasn't happened.

    I have had 4 different Tuning Adapters. The fifth one should arrive in a day or two. I think this is my second cable card - not sure on that but I have a replacement arriving soon.

    At least one of the TA's that I have tried was practically DOA. After I plugged it in it flashed consistently for at least 6 hours and maybe as many as 12 before it finally started working. That isn't the one I currently have.

    The previous TA's have all been picked up at my local TW Office, and I'm pretty sure they are just recycled. One time I returned the TA I witnessed the agent toss it into a large box behind him, not placed but tossed! I wonder if this is why I am getting so many problems.

    When I called in on Monday before the latest tech visit, I got pretty annoyed at TW and asked for the call to be escalated. Instead of putting a manager on they put someone on who was just another tech pretending to be a manager. I know this because I recognized his voice as someone I had worked with in the past. I asked for a different manager and as far as I can tell he might really be a manager. He also claims to be the highest person I can talk to at TW.

    I asked them to overnight a NEW TA and cable card, but was told that was impossible and that they could only send it three day delivery. I doubt that I'll get a new one. It's being shipped from an address that looks like a TW office about 200 miles away.

    He also scheduled a tech who came yesterday. I asked that he send one conversant with TA's and he said he would certainly do that. However, the tech that arrived admitted he knows nothing about them. The night before the tech arrived the problem happened at around 9pm. I think it was exactly 9pm. I thought, "Great, I'll leave this in a broken state and he'll be able to troubleshoot it." Sadly, when I got up the following morning the flashing had stopped, but it was not fully working I was only getting broadcast channels, the V53 error. A short while later though the other channels appeared too. Now looking at the TA diagnostics - it looked like it stopped flashing at exactly 3am. Not sure if that's when TWC send out a signal or not.

    As mentioned earlier, this morning I checked the signal levels from the diagnostics page. The RDC was 0 and then 5 and then 10. All of which are way out of range, but after rebooting the TA it was 37, which I think is good. I called TW and asked them what the next step to fix this would be if the replacement TA didn't work but didn't get any kind of satisfactory answer.

    At the moment I'm waiting for my replacement adapter which I hope will resolve the issue, but if anyone has any other suggestions as to how to fix this I would be very grateful. Or indeed, if anyone has any suggestions on how to get TW/Spectrum to step up and make an effort to fix this.

    Other information that may be relevant.

    TA is at F.1901
    I recently upgraded my Internet speed from 30 to 100 (not sure if this coincided with the start of the problems).
    TW/Spectrum recently went all digital requiring everyone to start using a cable box.
     
    CopRock likes this.
  2. May 2, 2018 #2 of 18
    Teeps

    Teeps Well-Known Member

    1,871
    39
    Aug 16, 2001
    Torrance,Cal...
    The T/A has been the bane of tivo users since they were first foisted upon us 6~7 years ago.
    Normally disconnecting the power cord to the T/A Bi-monthly for 30 seconds then reconnecting the power takes care of 99% of T/A problems.
    So not sure what's going on with your system. But, go outside and check that the incoming coax cable splitter has an earth ground connection.
     
    CopRock likes this.
  3. May 2, 2018 #3 of 18
    GengisKhan

    GengisKhan New Member

    19
    5
    Jul 13, 2002
    I went outside and had another look at what the last tech did. He moved everything inside a plastic box on the outside of the house and this is the first time I looked inside that. We have the following. Large orange cable coming from cable company that goes into something that I'm not sure what the technical term is - some kind of connector. That is grounded. The cable from that goes to a splitter, but the signal isn't being split. One of the outputs is terminated. The other output goes to another splitter. That splits to the cable modem and the TA. I'm pretty sure that the ground connection has always been there but don't remember offhand if it was previously connected to the splitter - probably not, probably connected to the connector.

    One other update on all this. The replacement TA and cable card arrived today. The TA was DOA, wouldn't even power on! After another 30 minutes on the phone with Spectrum, they are sending out a new TA.
     
  4. May 2, 2018 #4 of 18
    UCLABB

    UCLABB Well-Known Member

    2,371
    306
    May 29, 2012
    Riverside, CA
    I assume they are sending a new power brick each time you get a new TA.

    Are you getting the cable cards properly paired each time you’ve changed them? Just a stab, but possibly could be a unpaired cable card causing TA problems?

    Not a total solution, but have you tried disconnecting the usb from the TiVo and see what channels you get without the TA? Some people find they have no need for a TA since they don’t watch SDV channels.
     
    Teeps likes this.
  5. May 3, 2018 #5 of 18
    dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    7,680
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    Jul 6, 2006
    Dayton OH
    You should contact the Spectrum/TWC national CableCARD help desk at: 866-532-2598. They are the only part of the company likely to know anything about TiVo's, CableCARD's or TA's.

    Six-blinks-pause indicates loss of communication between TA and TiVo via the USB cable. For this problem to be random, sporadic or intermittent is unusual I think. My TA is also on F.1901 and has never had this intermittent problem. I'm on a TWC-->Spectrum system also. The only time I've seen 6-blinks is if the USB is not connected or if the TiVo is restarting and not talking to the TA. It could be a bad USB cable or, if there are two USB ports on your TiVo, try switching ports -- on some models only one of the ports works correctly with a TA.

    After power-cycling the TA it can take a while for the TiVo to "get the channel list". You can force this by restarting the TiVo after power-cycling the TA.
     
  6. May 5, 2018 #6 of 18
    GengisKhan

    GengisKhan New Member

    19
    5
    Jul 13, 2002
    Funny you should mention the power brick. When I received the dead TA on Wednesday, I did use the new power brick that came with it. When the replacement TA did not work I plugged the old TA back in again but left the new power brick in place. I had no problem at all on Thursday, then I saw your post and thought you might be on to something but alas last night around 10pm I got the 6 flashing lights again. 40 hours without an issue is the longest it has lasted for about two weeks now.

    The new, new TA arrived yesterday evening and when the old one had a problem last night I decided to try it out. Well first time it wouldn't pair at all - continuous flashing lights. Tried again, and this time I got the 8 flashes. TWC couldn't get it to 'auth'. Tried a third time and I just got the constant flashing lights again. Left it like that and went to bed and the TA is in the same state this morning when I got up.

    Not having the SDV channels is a non-starter. I watch too much sport and more importantly my wife watches some channels that she really 'needs'.
     
    CopRock likes this.
  7. May 5, 2018 #7 of 18
    GengisKhan

    GengisKhan New Member

    19
    5
    Jul 13, 2002

    The cable card number you give is the one I have been calling.

    I have replaced the USB cable in the past but for want of anything better to do I might try that again. I also remember switching USB ports at one time, I can try that again too, but as I mentioned elsewhere, the new, new TA isn't even finishing its start up and that's before you even plug the USB cable in.

    When I called TWC last night they suggested sending out a tech - that would be the fifth overall and third in a week - and/or sending a replacement TA - that also would be the fifth overall and third in a week.

    I do have a spare cable card that arrived on Wednesday. I haven't tried that yet. I think that may be my next step.
     
  8. May 5, 2018 #8 of 18
    dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Jul 6, 2006
    Dayton OH
    Be sure to ask for a credit for loss of service. Typically a truck roll justifies this. On my Spectrum system SDV channels comprise at least half the channels we watch so doing without a TA is a non starter. This is clearly the fault of either the Spectrum system or the TA's they are furnishing (unlikely IMO). Unfortunately there is no big stick or carrot to motivate them to correct it.
     
  9. May 6, 2018 #9 of 18
    GengisKhan

    GengisKhan New Member

    19
    5
    Jul 13, 2002
    Latest Update.

    Tried replacing the cable card yesterday morning and the USB cable and plugged the cable into a different port (there are two on the back of the Roamio), plus I changed out the coax from the TA to the Tivo.

    That all lasted less than 24 hours. I got the green flashing light again this morning and decided to do some of my own troubleshooting. I was not getting any of the HBO channels (amongst others). I checked the diagnostics and saw that one of the tuners was tuned to an HBO channel and had a '-' for the Signal Strength. I switched that tuner away to a different channel and the flashing stopped. Switched it back to HBO, waited 70+ seconds, and the problem started again. Tried that with different channels that I'm not currently receiving for some reason with the same result. It's strange but one of the HBO channels is not supposed to be an SDV channel and I wasn't receiving that either - so it may not just be an SDV thing.

    So my best guess at the moment (and if anyone knows how it really works I would be all ears) as to how this works is that the cable card requests the 6 channels it wants. If it doesn't receive them after 70-77 seconds it does some kind of reset. The tuning adapter sees this reset and flashes 6 times. If you pull the USB cable out and leave it out then you get the 6 flashes and that pattern repeats without any 70 second delay.

    Armed with this information I called TWC tech support this morning. We rebooted the adapter but still had the same issue. I also rebooted the Tivo player, after getting off the phone with TWC. This seemed to fix the issue until I noticed that after reboot all tuners were tuned to 1 channel that I do get. Switching to a channel that I'm not currently receiving caused the issue again. TWC support were not able to determine why I wasn't receiving those channels and think the adapter is bad. They are sending two new ones - just in case one of the ones I receive is bad. A few hours after hanging up with them all channels appear to be back again.

    Incidentally, we also determined why the last adapter they sent didn't work. This was the one that would not sync up when first plugged in and had endless flashing lights. It turns out the adapter has two MAC addresses. Sometimes the wrong MAC address is entered into their system. When this happens the TA will never sync until the correct MAC address is entered. The support people were able to override that until a few months ago but now no longer have privileges to do that. Since it's Sunday the tech wasn't able to find anyone who can do that.

    Oh well - I feel I've made progress today. And in a couple of days I'll have a total of 5 tuning adapters to play around with. If at least one of the two adapters they are sending can sync and I still get the flashing lights issue, I think my best tack would be to get them to troubleshoot why I'm not receiving the channels intermittently. So far I think they've been troubleshooting the symptom rather than the cause.
     
  10. Teeps

    Teeps Well-Known Member

    1,871
    39
    Aug 16, 2001
    Torrance,Cal...
    Just a thought, but has the cable co ever checked or replaced the coax cable from your house to their service connection?
    The squirrels around here like to chew the coax cables up on the pole.
     
  11. GengisKhan

    GengisKhan New Member

    19
    5
    Jul 13, 2002
    I think it's underground. It seems to be the same issue as firedoctor is having. He is in Rochester, NY too.

    Cable Signal Cuts Out Every Couple Minutes
     
  12. GengisKhan

    GengisKhan New Member

    19
    5
    Jul 13, 2002
    Reading through that thread - I may need an attenuator. My signal levels are at 100% - when they are there. I think that'll be my next step.
     
  13. GengisKhan

    GengisKhan New Member

    19
    5
    Jul 13, 2002
    Another update:

    On Wednesday, I added an 8dB attenuator to the coax cable feeding into the TA; haven't had any problems since then, which at more than 48 hours is the longest period without any problems for three weeks.

    The signal strength has dropped to 93-95% for the regular channels and 87-88% for the SDV. These values were stuck at 100% all the time prior to adding the attenuator. SNR has dropped from 40-41 to 35-38. My expectation was that the SDV channels would have a higher signal strength than the regular channels as they were the ones I was having issues with.

    This problem has been getting worse for 3-4 months and, in that time, 4 techs have visited the house. My suspicion is that each tech has been 'improving' the signal strength and making it worse each time.

    Anyway, fingers crossed that this is resolved now. TWC scheduled a tech visit for yesterday, which I postponed to today and then postponed again to Monday. If there are no issues before Monday I'll just cancel altogether.
     
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  14. thehepcat

    thehepcat Member

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    585

    Hey Gengis - in ROC also. Where are you seeing signal strength? How did you know the 8db would do the trick?

    Since the digital switchover (can't be a coincidence) I have had channels just drop out and come back on and then pretty much all SDV have gone to black with no error messages at all. Multiple tech visits which mostly just consist of the guy saying how much he hates cable cards.

    UPDATE - I just checked up on my Bolt upstairs and it seems to be working just fine. Could it be my Roamio is breathing its last???

    EMMs on Roamio are at 0, Bolt are at 11.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2018
  15. GengisKhan

    GengisKhan New Member

    19
    5
    Jul 13, 2002

    Sorry about the delay. The problem is still not fixed but I have more information.

    The attenuator fix lasted about 3 days. and then I started to have the same issue again. I called the dedicated Spectrum cable card line (1-866-532-2598) and requested a supervisor. Then I asked the supervisor to schedule a tech that understands cable cards. I got a bit of pushback on this but eventually he agreed. The tech came out last Monday and lo and behold he really did understand cable cards and he did understand the problem. In fact he said that there was an existing work order about this issue and he added my name to the list. He also added an amp to my line and I got the SDV channels back again. Sadly they all went away again later that evening, plus perhaps some others - it's not clear to me which are the SDV channels and which not; Spectrum can't give me a list. They have been missing ever since no matter what I do.

    I called the cable card number last Wednesday and asked if they could give me an update on the work order but unfortunately, since the changeover from TWC to Spectrum, the phone techs can no longer read those work orders, nor can anyone in their department. The only way to get an update would be to schedule another tech to come visit and then ask him to read the work order!!! Can't believe what a crappy system that is.

    The tech was scheduled to arrive today. Instead I got a call from the dispatcher who wanted to know why I was having so many techs visit. I explained the situation to him and he personally walked over to Engineering and asked them what was happening. They're now claiming that the problem is on a pole in Gates. I'm in South Greece - really close to the Gates 'border'. If you are located in the same area you probably have the same issue.

    Also, the problem was supposed to be fixed last Thursday but apparently wasn't. The dispatcher has scheduled another tech for next week - just as a reminder that he needs to call me to give me an update.

    This whole situation is so messed up. The only people I can call for updates don't have permissions to access the work order. I'm not allowed to contact the people that CAN access the work order and no-one is allowed to send out emails.

    For the other questions you asked, these are the screens I have found useful:

    Settings+Messages -> Remote CableCard+Devices -> Tuning Adapter.

    There are two useful options here:

    1. Tuning Adapter Diagnostics -> Status Summary

    That should say Ready. Sometimes it says B'cast Only for me but regardless of what it says I usually have no SDV channels. If you then click Next Page you'll see three sets of data

    Tuner
    FDC
    RDC

    The problem that I seem to be having is the RDC keeps drifting badly out of range. It's supposed to be around 25-55 (although I keep getting different claims as to what it should be). I've seen it as low as 0. At the moment it is 35 but still no channels.

    2. Diagnostics

    If you select this option, you'll see each Tuner with the channel that it's using, plus a bit lower down the Signal Strength and SNR. If one of these tuners is tuned to a 'missing' channel, I see a Signal Strength of - (dash) not a percentage and that's when I get the 6 flashing lights and endless resets. I can 'fix' that by pressing Live TV. If I then press Live TV again I can cycle through the tuners and then switch that Tuner to a working channel and get rid of the resets. Note, you have to choose a channel not being used by another tuner or it leaves the existing tuner on the bad channel and just switches to the tuner already using that channel.


    I hope all this helps. TBH I'm not yet convinced their explanation is correct. I'll probably know for sure next week.
     
  16. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Dayton OH
    Here's how to tell whether a channel is switched (SDV) or not for a Cisco/Scientific Atlanta TA:
    (Note: this procedure requires that the channel can be tuned.)
    Go to:
    Help ... Account & System Info ... Tuning Adapter ... Tuning Adapter Diagnostics ... SDV SESSION INFO A

    In each SESSION # section there is a item labeled SamSvcId/Type
    If the value ends with "/Broadcast", it is not an SDV channel.
    If the value ends with "/Switched" it is an SDV channel
    Note the item "SDV Freq:". To tell what channel it is you need to go to DVR Diagnostics and find the channel that is using that frequency. (Help .... Account & System Info ... Diagnostics)
    And just to add a little more tedious-ness, the frequencies are given in MHz in one place and KHz in the other!

    I've never heard of an instance where one could get a list of SDV channels from a cable co. either by phone or on a web page. Only their engineers or a customer using a TA (a small group) would ever care. Of course in an ideal world their service techs would care, and would know -- in an ideal world ;)
     
    tim1724 likes this.
  17. thehepcat

    thehepcat Member

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    Jan 9, 2002
    585
    There was a fix going in that would cover Brighton/Henrietta, but no luck with the lost channels to this point.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2018 at 9:53 PM
  18. thehepcat

    thehepcat Member

    529
    0
    Jan 9, 2002
    585
    I just tried the attenuator, but didn't make any difference.

    Wasn't sure which set of these you were talking about so here's all three:

    Tuner 705.000 MHz
    FDC 105.000 MHz
    RDC 10.00 MHz

    Tuner -7 dBmV
    FDC -11 dBmV
    RDC 37 dBmV

    Tuner 4/Sec (avg)
    FDC 0/Sec (avg)
    RDC 649 uSec
     

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