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Help with Battery Backup

Discussion in 'DIRECTV SD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by wohlfie, Mar 10, 2007.

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  1. subeluvr

    subeluvr Icon

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    Jan 14, 2007
    Having past the half century mark a bit ahead of you I admit to a certain amount of ornoryness and crankiness that comes along with that milestone(?).

    That said, I should have been more accurate in my posts. Rather than saying "a questionably designed and executed DVR (mini computer with a HD) with a very simple power supply" I should have said "a problematic DVR without a terribly sophisticated power supply". I've been inside an R15 and the power supply, and entire unit, is remarkably cost effective... if you get my drift ;) .

    The OP was referring to a previous thread where I posted my specific experiences with PVRs- DVRs and the annoyances of losing recordings and guide info because of power drops and brown-outs.

    I solved these problems by putting these PVR-DVR units on a small (and cost effective) UPS. Nothing special, no sine wave/square wave power, just a (very) short term battery backup in effect. That solved the problems I was having. I've done the same for others and those problems were also solved for them.

    That is the first hand experience, cause, and solution I posted in that previous thread.

    I don't apply scholarly reflection when faced with a problem, I'm a tech. I do "how" problems, not "why" problems. I see the problem, I identify the cause, and I form a solution. That's what I get paid for. That's what is expected of me and that's what I do. The philosophy of the execcise doesn't concern me. I get paid for results.

    Seems to me that spending $40 is a modest enough expense to find out if that cheap UPS will solve the problems for you that it does for me. As far as I can see, putting an R15 on a small UPS will have no negative effects if the UPS and its internal battery are operating properly AND if you buy a brand name like APC they include a free insurance policy that will pay for damage to protected equipment if that UPS fails to protect devices plugged into it.

    With respect, I believe you suffer each and every problem you post about with your DTV DVRs and I defend your right to post as often and as loud as you like BUT, I have none of those problems with my two R15s. Maybe, by blind luck, I stumbled on something that mitigates some of those R15 problems or maybe I know what I'm doing, or maybe the DTV gods just smile on my two R15s. Whatever the reason, my R15s work reliably and I'll accept that and watch (and record) TV.

    Bottom line, like we said in the school yard 45+ years ago... mine works, how's yours?
     
  2. wbmccarty

    wbmccarty Icon

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    Apr 27, 2006
    Ah, I think that I now better understand the tone of your previous posting. I wasn't aware of the previous thread and had in mind a similar discussion that occurred months ago. Your most recent posting in this thread is the first report I'm aware of that supplementing the R-15's power supply with a UPS has actually improved reliability. I've previously heard the idea expressed only as a hypothesis. Frankly, I remain skeptical. But, I concede that any actual experience has a certain degree of authority in comparison to a merely theoretical argument. And, I will apologize by saying that I would not have summarily contradicted your opinion if I'd been more aware of its support. Instead, I would have given reasons for my skepticism, as I'll do later in this message.

    Personally, I'll wait for reports of replication confirming your experience rather than spend even $40. :D But, I'll readily concede that others might find the opportunity attractive. I'll also treat your claim with a bit more respect now that it's been tested to at least some extent. This wouldn't be the first time the world fails to fit informed reason. If it provides you any comfort, I'd prefer than you turn out to be right rather than me. :D

    My reasons for continued skepticism that a UPS is the general path to R-15 reliability include:

    1. Power supplies aren't that hard to design. For the power supply to be the key problem, three manufacturers must have made equivalent design errors. That seems highly unlikely. But, it's possible.

    2. Switching power supplies don't require many components. So, your observation concerning the rather inelaborate design of the R-15's power supply seems moot.

    3. Proof demands a more elaborate procedural dance than seems to have been done. As I understand your report, it's consistent with the possibility that some factor other than adding the UPS unit is responsible for the improved reliability. To adequately support your claim, at a minimum, you'd need to remove the UPS unit and verify that reliability returns to its original, degraded level as a result. Of course, I fully understand why you might not have chosen to do so: Your goal was to fix your problem rather than determine the scientific validity of a hypothesis. :D

    4. I think that most of us enjoy relatively clean power. So, even if you confirmed that the UPS unit is the cause of improved reliability of your R-15, I'd tend to put your situation down as idiosyncratic rather than one from which we can generalize.

    The bottom line is that I do understand where you're coming from. If our roles were reversed, I'd approach this discussion pretty much as you've done. Unfortunately, I can't agree with your assessment of the situation. But, I've previously seen a few cases in which scientific method converged more slowly on the truth than alternative approaches. So, in the context of all the weirdness surrounding the R-15, I wouldn't be all that surprised to be wrong. If I can find a loose UPS unit aroud the house, I'll even have a go a testing your hypothesis myself. :D

    Cheers,
     
  3. subeluvr

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    Jan 14, 2007
    I know better than to do this but it's kinda fun and great mental exercise...

    If you read the 9th post in this thread that previous thread is prominently mentioned and there is a link to that address. You seem to take great pains to be accurate and thorough in your posts but I'm not responsible for you "skimming the thread" and missing substantive content.

    Again, see post 9 in this thread and the link it provides.

    One man's (woman's) concession to "random success" is another man's (woman's) solution to a problem :)

    No apology necessary. You contradicting the reality that my R15s are reliable doesn't alter that reality.

    I asked the OP in the 16th post in this thread to report back with his results.

    Too often on the web people ask for help or advice and never report back the results so others may learn (at least) something.

    Power supplies are very easy to design, especially switching supplies. The "flaw in the slaw" is when the production people widen the 1% component design specs to 20% tolerance and cut the assembly cost by 95% and cut the QC to almost nonexistent.

    And AGAIN, I stated in post 21 in this thread that I was inaccurate at describing the problem as the R15's power supply. You harp on that which I conceded was in error?

    See comment directly above

    I have removed both my R15s from their UPS units from time to time and those little random gremlins that you and many others bring to everyone's attention so regularly do begin to appear. Since putting the R15 back on the UPS seems to resolve them, I don't tolerate them long enough for scientific validation, I just watch TV.

    And yet again, I do how questions not why questions. I'm a tech not an engineer (I work for a living)... and that might explain why I have come up with a solution to my (and some friends) R15's problems while the DTV engineers ponder the complexities of the universe :rolleyes:

    Really? Someone with your apparent background and inquisitive nature should hang a 24 hour recording voltmeter on your electric service drop, you'd really be surprised. While frequency @ 60Hz is dead constant, according to my power company) there's a wide range for acceptable voltage. For $40 (for a cheap UPS) I can hold that to 120vac for my R15.

    What you think has little effect on what I see what I say working with my own eyes.

    What I KNOW is that my R15s work reliably and some others do not.

    If you really want to KNOW, rather than spend all this time complicating this thread with theoretical ponderence TRY IT YOURSELF. If a UPS resolves even one of your gripes about the R15s that would free up considerable bandwidth on this forum for us to disagree about something else :)

    If a UPS doesn't improve the performance of your R15 then (in your environment) I'm wrong or I'm lucky or the R15 gods are smiling on my R15s or as my grandmother would say, "God is paying you back for not believing".

    I hope others give this a try and report their experience... PLEASE
     
  4. zortapa

    zortapa Legend

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    Nov 16, 2005
    Well, I've had my R15 on a little UPS since I got it in 11/05 and I must admit that I have not had the problems that many have described. I cannot tell whether or not the UPS is the reason for my stable unit because I do not have a UPS-free control R15 for comparison. But that's OK because, like you, I just turn on my TV and watch it.....
     
  5. wbmccarty

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    Apr 27, 2006
    Most of your response seems to me to consist of polemical content that would be pointless to rebut and rebuttal of which might lead to personal attacks, which I prefer to avoid. OTOH, I see the remark cited above as highly significant. Based on it, I would agree that the most likely explanation for your experience is that your UPS unit has been responsible for improved reliability of your R-15. I hope that agreement provides evidence of my good faith in this discussion. That is, when you adduce adequate evidence, I can be persuaded of your opinion. :D

    I admit that I remain somewhat skeptical whether your experience generalizes. But, I am less skeptical of this possibility than previously. It will be interesting to see additional reports. The important element in such a report, however, is the aspect cited above. It must be possible to return the R-15 to a state of degraded reliability by removing the UPS unit. Otherwise, the improvement could be the result of the lack of experimental control.

    I'll readily grant that it's not your task to explain, but I remain puzzled how three apparently independent design teams could create power supplies suffering the same defect. For it to have occurred would almost certainly mean that they weren't independent. Has anyone who's opened multiple R-15 models taken note of the power supply designs? Perhaps all models use the same power supply module or power supply design. That, at least, would explain the data in hand.

    I'll definitely try to scrounge a UPS unit for testing my own R-15. However, if a UPS unit does solve my problem, l'll be even less complimentary of DTV and the R-15 than at present. :D

    Cheers,

    P.S. There's still some confusion on my part regarding what you believe to be the source of the problem. In your recent posting, you seem to be denying that the problem relates to the power supply. But, it seems to me that, if addition of a UPS unit solves the problem, the problem must be related to the R-15 power supply. Strictly speaking, there might be some other R-15 component or assembly that unreasonably taxes the power supply. But, I'm not concerned to achieve that level of precision. Can you help me understand the miscommunication here?

    Cheers,

    P.P.S. An APC Back-UPS 500 is now in place. Under your theory of operation, I can't see that an RBR should be necessary. Nevertheless, I'll perform an RBR as soon as it's convenient to do so and will report only behavior subsequent to the RBR.

    Cheers,
     
  6. subeluvr

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    Jan 14, 2007
    My knee jerk answer is that all three design teams work for companies that were the lowest bidders and within a nickel of each other in cost per unit :lol:

    Let's not forget that DTV should/must have provided the design specs and then entertained bids from as many suppliers as possible looking for fastest delivery, sufficent quantity, and cheapest price. It's reasonable to assume that within the pricing and design requirement all or many companies would end up using components and parts from the absolutely cheapest supplier thereby insuring a (lack of) QC and (generally looser and wider ) tolerance of components that would be similar in all those companies. In simpler (but general) terms, to be the cheapest all three companies are using the same $.025 20%-30% IC so all three platforms would/should suffer the same problems.

    After carefull consideration and reflection prompted mostly by your extensive vocabulary (and my having to look up a bunch of your unfamiliar words) I'm not sure that the power supplies in the R15s are the main culprits.

    Consider this, might the power supplies not be providing adequate current and/or voltage under load at higher than optimal internal chassis temperatures but are barely adequate UNTIL the wall current/voltage drops during a ripple or brown-out and then strange things happen in the R15 processor, hard drive, NVRAN and RAM that manifest themselves as spontaneous and random burps or hiccups?

    A vague scenario to be sure, but one that would sustain that even a cheap, simple UPS would provide a more stable current/voltage supply to the R15 curing the hiccups?
     
  7. wbmccarty

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    Apr 27, 2006
    Thanks, that's a helpful analysis. But, I still have trouble with the notion that the failure point for each of the three models is the power supply, rather than, say, the video display on one and the power supply on another. So, I continue to suspect that your experience will not be seen to generalize well. I think it's a peculiar combination of a particular unit, model, and power quality. But, I can't adduce much evidence in support of my view, so I will understand if you find my argument less than persuasive. :D And, I sense that we agree that empirical testing trumps theory.

    I apologize if my writing style is troublesome. At this point, to express myself differently I'd have to spend time with a dictionary. You could argue that'd be time well spent. But, I figure that few folks read past the message header and so I don't perceive a large return on my potential investment.

    Cheers,
     
  8. subeluvr

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    Jan 14, 2007
    The more beers I have the better I understand ...:grin:
     
  9. wbmccarty

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    Apr 27, 2006
    The more I think about this thread, the more puzzled I become. Based on my own experience and on problems reported here, I see two categories of R-15 problems: (1) those that are reproducible and (2) those that are not reproducible. Presuming that all three models of the R-15 suffer from similar problems that can be ameliorated by a UPS unit (I'm trying to avoid mentioning power supplies, etc. :D), we can account for the non-reproducible problems; that is, problems that would otherwise have occurred if the UPS unit were not installed and cleaning up the A/C power.

    But, this theoretical model does not account for the reproducible problems in any way that I can see. Can anyone suggest a way in this a UPS unit might eliminate reproducible problems such as those reported by JimV?

    I'm led back to my original conclusion: power may be an issue for some users and some R-15 models. But, installing a UPS unit cannot be the path to R-15 reliability for the great majority of R-15 users who continue to have problems. At least one other significant factor other than power problems must exist. And, personally, I believe that (those) factor(s) to be even more important than quality of A/C power.

    Since I've just installed a UPS unit for my R-15, depriving my DSL equipment of its UPS unit, I'd love to be proven wrong in this line of thinking. But, my opinion goes where logic dictates. :D

    Cheers,
     
  10. subeluvr

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    Jan 14, 2007
    I guess we can beat a dead horse to death, but why?

    I NEVER said anything about ALL 3 MODELS OF R15s. I am specifically relaying my specific experience with MY two R15-300s.

    I never said that a UPS was the path to complete reliability and spiritual enlightenment of all R15s and all R15 problems. I was responding to the OP who complained about what a pain in the a$$ it is when HIS power drops out. I related my experience with a small UPS and my R15s and noted that an added bonus was that MY two R15s had been behaving very nicely with very few of the problems others had reported.


    Could just be your kharma or the R15 gods having a laugh at your expense.

    You continue to take issue with remarks I never made and then continue to argue those points after I've pointed out that Those statements were not in the posts in this thread.

    If you want to be both sides of this issue then go ahead. We could have saved a lot of typing if you'd go back and read the posts in this thread instead of putting words in my post for me :)

    I sincerely hope that the UPS solves every single problem with your R15, but if it does then you still wouldn't be watching TV... you'd spend the rest of your life attempting to understand why the UPS fixed all your problems.

    As I've said before, I do "how" questions and not "why" questions. It doesn't matter to me whether you believe me or not because my R15 works great and I'm gonna go watch TV ;)
     
  11. wbmccarty

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    Apr 27, 2006
    subelvr, you seem to misunderstand. My posting was not intended as a rebuttal to your remarks. I am trying to understand the R-15 in hopes that doing so will lead to strategies for coping with its idiosyncrasies. Certain of your remarks influence my understanding of the problem. But, what I relate is my understanding. I'm not trying to put words in your mouth or otherwise win an argument.

    I want to account for the universe of observed data concerning the R-15. I'd like your help in doing so. You've contributed several useful data points. What I'm now trying to do is to integrate your contribution into the greater picture.

    Make sense?

    Cheers,

    P.S. I've tried to treat you and your arguments with all due respect. If I have fallen short of this standard at any point, I apologize. It was not my intention to do so. Having said that, would you please consider offering me the reciprocal courtesy? I'd appreciate it.

    Cheers,
     
  12. subeluvr

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    Jan 14, 2007
    wbmccarty,

    If any of my comments were interpreted by you as snide and disrespectful you have my apology, that was not my intent. It was wrong for me to comment that "whether or not you believe me doesn't matter" and that "my R15s work well and that your's don't"... for that I aplogize.

    Setting aside the "meat" of this thread, it gets frustrating when I am told that what I see with my own eyes is NOT and can not be, AND that I have to prove it.

    It's frustrating when replies are made that are tangenetial to what I wrote and not on point.

    It's frustrating when those comments are made by someone that I've never met, doesn't know me, and who doesn't know my experience and qualifications when I'm just trying to help.

    I have learned a valuable lesson (for me) in this exercise... in the future I will share what I know privately with a poster who inquires and spare myself the futility of trying to help people who aren't receptive to that help.

    And with that I'm done, have a nice day :)
     
  13. wbmccarty

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    Apr 27, 2006
    Our agendas differ. And, our backgrounds differ. Such differences tend to complicate communication, as they've done here.

    I can see how you might understand my remarks as contradicting your observations, because my knowledge and experience are contradictory to your observations. But, I don't mean to deny your observations. I agree that's one of the greatest insults possible. What I am trying to do is thoroughly understand them and locate their limits so that I can incorporate them into a self-consistent global model. That process necessarily entails some questioning of the observations. I should have made my intention clearer somehow. I apologize for failing to do so. I suspect that this error on my part is at the root of our misunderstanding.

    You will almost certainly encounter elsewhere on this forum my ongoing attempts to better understand the R-15. If this sort of interplay upsets you, you might find it helpful to hide my postings. As I suppose you know, that's a common feature in web forums and I suppose this forum's software includes it.

    Cheers,
     
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