My wife and I are off on holiday soon, leaving our sons to look after the house. They will be relegated to the bedroom with a microwave oven because our kitchen and dining room are going to be knocked into one large room and new units fitted. We don't want to be around while that's going on so off to Mallorca we go!
Sky+ Digibox Hard Drive Problems
I have Sky+ and the PVR element has packed up, before I do a full system reset to try and restore the + functions is there any way that the recorded programs can be saved. Is it possible even for the infomation on the hard drive to be transferred to DVD, by someone with the expertise to say transfer the hard drive into a PC for instance, or is the Sky formatting/encryption not compatible to be transferred direct.
Yes, interesting question but one that I can only partly answer. First some background:
Your Digibox is basically a computer with added tuners, digital circuitry for video and audio, and an encryption system that employs key data from a viewing card. As such, it's not surprising that it's often found to be less reliable than the Average PC!
Add to this the fact that some users record and erase hundeds of hours of video each year and you'll understand that the "computer" - and especially the Hard drive - may well be stretched to the limits of reliability. If this were a high-end computer being used to create videos, the Hard drive contents would be backed up frequently and the Hard drive would be replaced at least annually before it wore out.
Now to your question: the recordings on your Hard Drive are encrypted and the ONLY way to retrieve them is by running the data stream back through a SKY+ Digibox with a viewing card. If a SKY+ Digibox has failed (say the power supply or video circuit) then the way to retrieve the recordings is to buy a new or used SKY+ Digibox and install the Hard Drive into it. If you call out a Sky technician, you won't have this option.
I don't know if it's possible to attach the Hard Drive to a PC and "clone" it onto another Hard Drive although I don't see why not.
However, if the failure is in the Hard Drive itself, the chances of recovering the data are so small that it's not worth considering. Data recovery srvices do exist but they typically charge thousands of pounds. I can't imagine that even a SKY+ viewer is so addicted to TV viewing that he would cough up that sort of money!
So, it should be clear now that you have only one possibility to save your recordings: install the Hard drive into another SKY+ Digibox. I think that the actual make/model won't matter (but I'm not certain). If that method fails then tough.
How is Signal Quality defined and measured? I can understand signal strength but not quality unless it is purely visual and based on an individual's interpretation!? I have bought and read your eBook "Installing Sky Digital TV" but it doesn't explain this point.
Thank you for pointing out the omission in our "Installing Sky.." eBook.
Signal quality is a calculation that the Digibox makes, based on Bit Error Ratio (BER) or the number of errors that it detects in the data stream. It has no effect on picture quality until the BER is so high that the Digibox is no longer able to reconstitute the picture - at which point you'll see coloured squares or (as some people prefer to call it) "pixellation" and you may hear audible pops or squeaks.
Hi I manage sheltered housing for the elderly. We have a total of 25 flats running off of one digital ariel about 20ft high. We are in a notoriously poor reception area and have huge amplifiers fitted. our problems are two-fold, ghosting from other channels, poor recption on itv, what appears to be atmospheric interference on bbc2, and most importantly electrical interference in the form of white "blobby" horizontal lines every 5-20 minutes in the evening. OFCOM have indicated it may be from a central heating thermostat but have been investigating since november and we have had no results. Can you suggest any of your products which we could have fitted which may stop this interference. I have a 2-3ft analogue ariel in my loft space operating a small portable tv and the interference is barely visible but impossible on the digital ariel. I understand the amplifiers are amplifying the interference but without them we barely have a picture at all. Will filters help or braid cutters?
Thank you in advance,
The interference is clearly caused by a thermostat of some sort. Blocking it should be done at source, since it's almost impossible to do it at the receiving end - especially if it's being received by the aerial itself.
It's usually very easy to locate the source of the problem, although it will be time-consuming as you'll have a lot of twenty minute waiting periods! Simply take a portable transistor radio and de-tune it so it's not on a station. It will then pick up the inteference loud and clear. Try to get one that has a medium-wave or long-wave setting as this will give a much clearer indication than FM. (You can buy these quite cheaply - in fact we may even have one in stock ourselves!) Then just wait for the interference to begin and set the volume at a fairly low level. Now move towards your suspect source and wait for it again. If you are moving closer, the volume should have increased. Turn the volume down to a lower level and move again. Keep doing this until you find the source. An AM radio is usually directional and picks up more signal when it is "broadside" to the interference source. It's possible that you could "practice" by using a gas igniter on an oven to create interference.
If you need help with this you should contact the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) and ask if they can recommend somebody local to you. See
Look at the right-hand column "Contact RSGB in your area".
OK, now for the amplifier. An amplifier should be connected directly to the aerial with a length of double-screened coaxial cable between 1m and 2m long. It should have sufficient gain (amplification) to "push" the signal to the farthest point. All points before that should have suitable "taps" fitted to reduce the signal if it is too strong. It is rare that you would need an additional amplifier unless the cable run is extremely long. An amplifier should *never* be fitted near the far end of a cable (the TV end).
The aerial should be positioned where it picks up least interference to begin with because whatever it picks up will be amplified.
It is most important that all cable should be double-screened and should be routed away from sources of interference (such as mains wiring in the building).
Let me know how you get on. :-)
Bye bye Analogue
According to discussions on the Dgitalfernsehen forum http://forum.digitalfernsehen.de/forum/ it seems fairly certain now that SES-Astra itself is going to force the Analogue switchoff at the end of 2008. In addition, they are insisting that from 1.1.07 "as many channels as possible will be encrypted". Those programme broadcasters who won't encrypt can broadcast till the end of their contract but after that they MUST encrypt if they want to remain on Astra-1 at 19.2° East.
SES-Astra is the operator which launches the Astra satellites and provides the actual facility for programme broadcasters to use. So far it has been a passive operation but now it seems they want a bigger piece of the action. SES-Astra is offering to provide the encryption service, the viewing cards and the customer liaison for viewers in Germany. See press release:
More and more people are asking me about fitting amplifiers to "improve the aerial signal". (Sometimes they refer instead to "Ariel" which is a brand of washing powder or "Arial" which is a computer font). I'd like to give a little tutorial here to dispel a big misconception.
The amount of signal that an aerial receives is dependent on its distance from the transmitter, its height, and its gain (which is usually related to its size or number of elements). An amplifier can not, by some trick of magic, suck more signal out of an aerial than it actually receives. I need to repeat that: An amplifier can not, by some trick of magic, suck more signal out of an aerial than it actually receives.
The sole purpose of an amplifier is to compensate for losses in the coaxial cable that connects the aerial to the receiving equipment. What does this mean?
Coaxial cable is actually a very inefficient way of getting a signal from one place to another but it's all we've got. A typical length of H109F coaxial cable will lose 50% of the UHF aerial signal in just 18 metres! Ordinary "TV coax" is even worse.
So, with cable being so "lossy" it's often necessary to amplify the signal to compensate. But first you have to understand "noise".
1. An amplifier generates "noise" and adds it to the signal.
2. A coaxial cable generates "noise" and adds it to the signal.
If you connect an amplifier at the TV end of the cable, it will amplify the weak signal coming from the cable; it will also amplify the noise coming from the cable; and it will add its own noise.
Your TV set or Digital receiver may be happier with the boosted signal but it will have problems dealing with all that noise!
However, if you connect an amplifier at the aerial end of the cable it will add its own noise to the signal. But the cable will attenuate this noise, as well as the signal, so you are better off. The cable will also add its own noise but, because the signal has already been boosted by the amplifier, the noise is now quite small compared with the signal level.
So the TV now gets a boosted signal with much less added noise.
Now here's another point to ponder: if the cable is picking up a lot of interference (sometimes unavoidable) you can reduce the effect by amplifying the signal a lot more than is necessary then fitting an attenuator at the TV end.
The attenuator brings the signal back down to just the right level for the TV but it also reduces the strength of the noise and interference from the cable!
Now we have to go a little bit technical in order for you to figure out what amplifier to buy. I mentioned that 18 metres of cable loses 50% of the UHF signal. In technical terms, 50% is called "three deciBels" or "3dB".
So, to boost the signal for an 18m cable, you'd need an amplifier with a "gain" of "3dB". To boost it for a 36m cable you'd need an amplifier with a "gain" of 6dB. And so on.
It's common practice to use MORE gain than you need because you can easily fit an attenuator if necessary.
You can buy an amplifier with adjustable gain and an attenuator that's adjustable, making it easier to set up if you are unsure about the calculation.
The type of amplifier to use is a "masthead amplifier". So-called because it's normally fitted outside on the aerial mast itself. However, it's quite OK to fit it in the roof space. The main point to note is that it is most effective when the cable between amplifier and aerial is one to two metres in length.
If you want to feed more than one TV set (or digital receiver) you can get a masthead amplifier with up to four outputs.
POWERING THE AMPLIFIER
With some designs, the amplifier outputs will be in the power supply itself. You can insert the power supply at any position in the cable. You'll need a source of mains power and this will often dictate where the power supply can go.
A masthead amplifier requires a source of power. The power supply is connected directly to one of the coaxial cable down-feeds.
This incorporates a masthead amplifier with a number of outputs. It also allows you to connect the feed from a security camera and the feed from the equipment in your main room so that ALL of your available signals can be sent to other rooms. In addition, there is provision for sending the remote control signals back down to the equipment in the main viewing room so you have control from the bedroom or wherever.
Another type of amplifier that you might like to use goes under various names such as "Loft Box" and "Attic Box".
OK, I have some final points to make:
1. This type of system can not provide high quality pictures or stereo audio (except for the Nicam stereo that accompanies some analogue TV broadcasts). To get "Scart Quality" composite video and stereo audio piped around the house you'd need a system like the BlueDelta "Milestone" that uses CAT5E cable. Use this instead of the "Loft Box".
2. The coaxial cable that you use should be of the type that's often called "double-screened". It has a braided copper screen and a metal foil screen combined. Anything less than this is likely to increase the attenuation and increase the noise and interference picked up.
3. Any wall plates must NOT be "decoupled" if they have to pass DC power for the masthead amplifier or the infra-red remote system. Your supplier can advise on this. All plates supplied by SatCure are DC-coupled.
SatCure on eBay
Have you been watching our eBay auctions? This week Andy got my "Installing a Sky Minidish" video on DVD for only £3.30 inclusive. When I return from holiday there will be more bargains from us on eBay!
Owners of Panasonic Digiboxes are still reporting EPG problems and loss of channels. This is being blamed on Sky software updates but I believe that many faults are caused by a faulty LNB, cable, dish alignment (especially after fitting a quad-output LNB) and the good old "Panafix" problem whereby a Panny Digibox suddenly develops an "allergy" to certain LNBs. So, before blaming one thing in particular, please test your system thoroughly to eliminate all other possibilities.
Owners of other Digiboxes are also reporting problems and blaming it on Sky software updates. I have my doubts. In many cases this is a sign of tuner failure or power supply failure.
Amstrad DRX-180 owners will be pleased to know that we will shortly be offering a power supply upgrade kit to extend the life of your Digibox. The capacitors used in the DRX-180 are not the best so we recommend replacing them - preferably before you lose all your recordings! If you can't use a soldering iron yourself, you can send your power supply to Digifix for upgrade.
Just a few words of thanks. half an hour on your site, quick read of your e-book, power supply repair kit, half an hour soldering and a repaired digibox!
Grundig 3000 was losing odd channels, then quite a few, intermittently .. then many ... first hint was a few months ago with slightly slow channel change in some cases, with pixellation.
The LNB support boss for the dish did come with the second parcel. However, it was in a box with 4 heavy T&K brackets, only in its original plastic bag with no added padding or protection and, as a result, it is damaged and unusable. I am surprised that you would put such a key and fragile component in with heavy metal hardware. Why was it not sent with the dish? The feed support arms were in the dish box!
This problem with your packaging has set my installation schedule back considerably and I should be obliged if you would send a replacement Part No 600023702 as soon as possible.
Your order was dispatched direct from our suppliers, so unfortunately we had no control over the packaging of your parcel. I have asked them to issue a replacement part today and have also asked them to speak to their warehouse about the quality of packing. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Replacement part received today and I am pleased to say it is intact. Many thanks for your prompt attention to this matter which will let me complete the installation. Your customer service and attention to details like this continue to impress, and I look forward to doing further business with Satcure in the future.
I just wanted to say a) thanks for the prompt reply yesterday, just typical that my inbox was clogged with nearly 5000 spams hence the email problem and b) I wanted to feedback the result of my amp problem as I think it could be useful in future.
I tested for power at the amp this afternoon and discovered that there was none. I powered up the amp with me in the loft along with PSU and it worked fine so next stop to investigate the aerial outlet. I knew that the cable wasn't shorting as the TV signal prior to the amp was pretty faultless.
As it turned out, I was going to pull a new piece of H109 yesterday and would have connected that directly to the PSU but ran out of time and just connected up to a socket downstairs, a socket that I had never touched since we moved in. As it happens, this socket had a PCB featuring a couple of ceramic disc decoupling capacitors which of course, blocked the DC of the PSU!
Just something to check for should anyone else come across an apparently non working amp/psu. I have to say that I can't recall ever coming across a TV socket with decoupling caps but then again, haven't really looked that hard, you learn something new every day.
Anyway, all working fine now and once again, thanks for the prompt reply yesterday.
You can't rely on a wall plate NOT being decoupled. If it is, you can usually solder a wire across the capacitor(s). All of the plates that we sell are of the coupled type (no DC-blocking capacitors).
Regarding Customer receipt (Keep-me): SA3322060639
Just wanted to take the time to say thank you for my delivery - problem solved.
I have spent about £25 trying various other methods of extending the Sky cable in my bedroom and obviously didn't succeed. However, as promised, your LNB extension cable has immediately resolved the problem and I can now position my TV where I wanted to.
Regarding Customer receipt (Keep-me): SA3012063101
Thanks for a really quick delivery and great service - it makes a pleasant surprize to see a company that provides good accurate information, is easy to deal with, and responds so quickly. The PANAFIX2D filter was exactly what I needed and I would definitely recommend you to all of my friends and colleagues.
Keep up the good work
From Sky Digi Online ( http://www.media247.co.uk ):
Installing Sky Digital TV
- All eBooks have been moved to a more reliable secure server which requires a username and password. If you can't access it, please contact Me with your original Order number and ask for the new download information, stating exactly which eBook(s) you purchased and the EBK number(s).