Series3 Stuttering

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by alintz, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. alintz

    alintz New Member

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    May 26, 2003
    Haverhill MA
    I have an original OLED Series 3, with a WD My Expander, with Lifetime, and I only use OTA/ antenna. It has worked great for 5 years. But it began stuttering on playback. I ran kickstart 54, the long version, and no errors were found on either drive. I opened the case, and found one bulging capacitor, so I replaced it. Now that it is back together, it is still stuttering - not all the time, and seems worse on some channels (or maybe some times of day, or maybe some combinations of recording/playback tasks). Have not seen any pixellation or any problems in menus, or any reboots. What to do?

    Assume one of the drives is going bad and buy a new internal 1Tb drive (Weaknees $300)?
    Assume 5 years is a lifetime and buy a new Premiere XL $300 with new Lifetime $400 = $700?
    Any other possibilities to troubleshoot and fix this one?
     
  2. Series3Sub

    Series3Sub Well-Known Member

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    Mar 14, 2010
    I'm experiencing the same thing on one of my two S3 648 (OLED). However, I also have some pixellation.

    Double check your antenna signal strength to be certain you are not experiencing drop in signals that can cause the stutter. In my case I have a few channels that now drop in strength that didn't before and they do cause the problem.

    However, it is also the case for me that I experience the problem on channels that have very strong strength.

    What can happen to me is that the video will FREEZE for several seconds, then it will pixel then continue, but NOT all the time, like maybe it is just a few places on the HDD. This happens for both "Live" viewing and playing back recordings. My other S3 648 seems to do fine, along with my other TiVo's

    The Premiere has INFERIOR OTA performance. This has been confirmed by many on this board and I know this from my own personal experience. On one channel that I get somewhat spotty, the Premiere shows a very weak signal strength and can NOT get any picture, while my S3's and HDXL's show it as under strength, but they can record the channel with NO hiccups, and I mean I have a Premiere, an S3 648, and an HDXL connected to the same antenna and through the same A/V to the same TV, and I have observed the inferior OTA tuning of the Premiere.

    If you are OTA only, I would stick to the S3 platform boxes, unless you have really high gain at your antenna and your show very high signal strength, than the S4 platform might be OK. BUT remember, the Premiere pricing is $19.99 per month while the S3 platforms still have the lower monthly rate.
     
  3. alintz

    alintz New Member

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    May 26, 2003
    Haverhill MA
    I checked the signal meter in Settings>Channel for a few minutes. I saw strength numbers of 97, 98, 99 for most of the same channels that stutter. Never dropped below 96. Is it true that there can be too much signal and I need to attenuate?
     
  4. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon New Member

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    Jan 15, 2012
    No, you have as close to ideal signal strength as is possible.

    What about SNR? At least a consistent 30dB is needed to keep the BER reasonably low. What are the BER numbers? Ideally you should have zero uncorrected and very few corrected.
     
  5. HomieG

    HomieG Nowhere Man...

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    Feb 17, 2003
    Somewhere...
    Yes. On my S3, I use both OTA and cable. I was getting some breakup on my OTA. Found that my cable signal was too strong (95-100 depending on channels) and was interfering internally with the OTA RF signal. I attenuated the cable signal and all is well.
     
  6. Series3Sub

    Series3Sub Well-Known Member

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    Mar 14, 2010
    Yes, it is true, but you would need to figure that out. You could experiment by attenuating and see what happens. It would help in determining if your HDD is the real problem. It sounds like it might be your HDD, but I would try all other cheap avenues to confirm. Does you HDD seem to make any noise. That is another sign of a failing HDD.

    As for me, I did an Overnight Kickstart 54 and I got a fail in the I/O. So for me it is probably the HDD, considering my other S3 648 seems fine. I wouldn't mind that except that that HDD prices won't be down to what they were before the flooding until at least March. I am gonna run it til it DIES and hold out for HDD's to come down in price.

    I have heard a couple of testimonials on Security Now that Steve Gibson's Spinrite works for TiVo HDD's, as well.
     
  7. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
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    Was there another capacitor electrically in parallel with the bulgy one?

    If so, replace it also.
     
  8. alintz

    alintz New Member

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    May 26, 2003
    Haverhill MA
    Signal strength is mostly above 95 and SNR is mostly 30-32 DB.

    I happened to be watching Live TV last evening and it started stuttering with video freezing for a second or two, video/sound losing syncronization, a little pixellation. I immediately went to the DVR Diagnostics screen and saw strength 96, SNR 31, no errors. Went back to Live TV and it stopped stuttering.

    Does that help determine what is causing this problem - disk drive vs power supply vs too much signal?

    Unitron, there were no other caps that were the same size as the one I replaced, but I did not look to see if another cap was in parallel. I will open the case and check it out today.
     
  9. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon New Member

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    Jan 15, 2012
    I can confirm that. Spinrite is arguably the most versatile tool for thoroughly checking out each sector on a disk. Its original claim to fame, restoring sectors that were marked bad, has been made obsolete by the sheer size of newer drives. Spending a couple of days to get back a 512-byte sector on a terabyte drive isn't worth the effort. But the repeated "exercising" of each and every sector can help some mysterious HD problems go away.

    SpinRite works with any IDE drive, on any computer that has an IDE interface and can boot DOS. The latest version (still 6.0 at the time of writing) can work with SATA drives, but only if the computer is set to legacy IDE mode. It doesn't know AHCI. Gibson has said that he's working on a new, up-to-date version. But when or if it's released is anyone's guess.
     
  10. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon New Member

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    Jan 15, 2012
    That's about as good as you can get. It really doesn't matter what the signal and SNR readings are if you're getting no BER.

    It helps eliminate the tuner as the source of problems. With modern tuners its more likely for one to fail than it is to overdrive one.

    I really doubt that bad caps is as big a problem as you're led to believe in this forum. It doesn't appear to be an issue at all at many other TiVo sites. If the PSU is demonstrably bad, I'd prefer to replace the entire unit instead of try a half-measure that may not fix the whole problem.

    If the easily replaceable things like the HD and PSU check out or are repaired and the problem still persists, it's likely that something on the main board has failed. For a S3, it's worth sending the unit in to a professional repair service for troubleshooting.
     
  11. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    What I have in mind would be something like 2 2200uF, should be identical in size and shape, between the +12V output and ground or between the +5V output and ground. But it could be that there was only one bad one in your supply with nothing in parallel with it. TiVo hasn't seen fit to send me complete sets of schematics yet. Or even block diagrams.

    If Congress was of any use at all, every piece of consumer electronics would come with a full service manual included.
     
  12. Series3Sub

    Series3Sub Well-Known Member

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    Mar 14, 2010
    Well, I thought I would share an update with my situation regarding this problem. After investing some time in research, I came across someone's suggestion to clear the Thumbs Ratings and Suggestions because if there are a lot of shows we have rated, it can grow to be an troublesome amount of data that can create the problems we have been experiencing. I realized that I, indeed, was one of those who rated a very high number of shows. I for find the Thumbs & Ratings feature not at all essential to my TiVo experience (I never set it to record suggestions), but did look in the list for suggestions and over the last 3 years only found 2 suggestions that were of interest to me.

    I should add that I was pretty close to the capacity of my HDD, so that may have been the tipping point or had a major impact on the situation as any HDD near its capacity in any system is going to star to exhibit buggy behavior.

    Well, I cleared the Thumbs Ratings and Suggestions which, at the end of the elimination of Ratings data, results in a reboot. I let it reboot all the way to the TiVo Central. Then I reboot it again, this time invoking the Kickstart 57 that is supposed to attempt repairs. After the TiVo rebooted from that process and returned to the TiVo Central, I immediately noticed how fast and snappy the menus became and how quickly my shows listed on the Now Playing list (it was quite sluggish for the last several days). Further, I have viewed several hours of recordings and live TV and have NOT once experienced the freeze and pixel problem.

    I will no longer rate ANY shows as I just don't use that feature, so I am very happy. However, it is ironic that TiVo heavily promotes the Thumbs, Ratings and Suggestions feature, to the point of enthusiastically telling you to rate pretty much EVERYTHING (as it gets better with more ratings), and yet this feature is known to cause problems if one uses it to the degree TiVo encourages you to use it. I had no idea, and I doubt too many others do, either.

    I have not run Kickstart 54 after all the "fixes" but there are several posts on this board stating that one should not put absolute faith in Kickstart 54. It is better to take the drive out and run the manufacture's diagnostic, which I'm not going to go to the trouble to do at this point because all is working impressively well.

    Now, my drive may in fact be close to failing, but at least for now, and even if it is only for several months, I am enjoying freeze free TV, and should it really die, I will deal with that when it comes, but I'm certainly not going to replace the drive until I squeeze all the value out of this one and prices for HDD's drop to pre-flood levels, which some in the Press have said should be about March. I have already transferred the recordings I don't want to lose, and any other recordings are not critical and are being recorded on other TiVo's in the house that I can easily transfer to my former buggy TiVo.

    Of course, if the above doesn't work, one could work there way up the chain of Clear/Restarts options to "Clear & Delete Everything" (backing up the recordings first if one wants to) before investing in a new HDD.
     
  13. alintz

    alintz New Member

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    May 26, 2003
    Haverhill MA
    I don't have suggestions turned on and I don't have any thumb ratings. But I did have 175 programs in the Recently Deleted folder. So, last week I spent 15 minutes permanently deleting each program in that folder. Then I ran the Kickstart 57 that is suppose to check and correct the MFS file system (which took less than 45 minutes). It is early days yet, but the stuttering problem seems to have gone away! Shows recorded before this fix still show the stuttering because they were recorded that way, but the few new shows we've recorded and then watched since then have been stutter-free.
     
  14. alintz

    alintz New Member

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    May 26, 2003
    Haverhill MA
    After deleting all Recently Deleted shows, for a week or so every worked well - no stuttering or pixelation. Then it started to return. So, I deleted the 120 shows that were in Recently Deleted (we record a lot of shows but only keep the most recent), and again that seemed to eliminate the problem for a week or so. Today, it was stuttering on playback of last night's Sat Night Live, and I replayed the same 30 seconds of a scene 3 times and it stuttered in the same place for the same duration. Then, I deleted 50 Recently Deleted, and the same scene played back without a stutter.

    Does any of this suggest a bad hard drive, a bad mother board, or a bad power supply? Seems like something is going bad, but I don't know what to swap out first.
     
  15. L David Matheny

    L David Matheny Active Member

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    Jan 29, 2011
    SE Ohio
    It sounds like congestion caused by disk fragmentation or something similar. Can that afflict the file systems used in TiVos? What make, model and size drives are in your Series 3 and your external box? How much cache memory does each drive have?

    I don't have a Series 3, but it has dual tuners, right? When it's stuttering or pixelating, tune one of the tuners to a channel you don't receive, which should essentially disable buffering of live TV for that tuner. If reducing the unit's workload that way reduces or eliminates the problem, that would be interesting.
     
  16. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    It sort of suggests none of the above.

    If you have a recording and there's a glitch in it at a particular point, and, like yours, it's repeatable, then ordinarily there's either a defect in the part of the recording media holding that particular part of the recording, or the glitch occurred "upstream" of the making of the recording, and it's not really a glitch in the recording, it's a recording of a glitch.

    But in your case, either there's something extra tricky for the TiVo to handle at that exact spot in the recording AND having all of those entries in "Recently Deleted" somehow also puts a processing strain on the TiVo, OR, when you permanently delete the stuff in RD, the drive itself can relocate stuff from failing sectors to sectors recently freed up.

    There's no way the motherboard or the power supply know exactly where you are in which show so as to know when to give trouble and when not to, so unless you happened to have crunched on a celery stick at exactly the same time in those 3 run-throughs, that leaves the hard drive to be hauled in for questioning.

    Assuming it's the original factory installed WD, get WD's iso for a bootable cd with their diagnostics and run the short test and then run the long test.


    It might be a good time to either get a new internal for your S3 or sell it to me dirt cheap:).

    The drive thread

    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=370784

    is getting some age on it and some of the info is out of date, but you can still learn stuff there.

    Recent large Seagate drives seem not to do so well in S3 HDs and HD XLs, but I don't know if that means anything in the case of the original S3s or not.
     

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