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Voodoo, reformatting, removing BBC and other magic fixes

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by btmoore, Dec 3, 2006.

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  1. Dec 3, 2006 #1 of 39
    btmoore

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    Just wanted to toss my 2 cents out there regarding getting your HR20 to work right.

    I have owned my HR20 since they came out into general release ~ 3 months now. I have gone through just about every bug out there that is related to my configuration including stability problems. Unwatchable Partial & Canceled bugs, reboots, lockups, partial lockups, and I a lot of bugs I am forgetting right now and most recently I had 3 lockups in the first few days of the latest release 0xFA.

    I am now about 9 days into a working HR20 with the only bug being the one associated with manual recordings not working.

    So you might be asking yourself what did I do to fix this box, reformat, remove the BBC, scarf ice a chicken?

    Nope!

    I did nothing. Not a single change to anything. After the last lockup blue screen lockup, It just starting working fine. After my last lockup where I had to hit the red button (and I have hit the red button a lot over the past 3 months), it has been running like a top.

    So will reformatting your HR20 fix it for you, I doubt it, I don't know why it would, all a reformat would do is reset everything back to default values and perhaps (depending on what the HR20 actually does) block bad disk sectors on the hard drive. I guess you could just as well brick the hr20 in the reformat process as well.

    Over the past 3 months I have seen a bunch of people offer up "fixes" that span everything to cooling fans, telling people that they must have a UPS, removing BBCs to fix stability issues, resetting or telling that they should do a total reformatting of the HR20. Personally I think that for most folks they are just a placebo. IMO there is just something wonky in the programming inside of the HR20, and we can only hope they clean up the code and if you reformat you run the risk of bricking it.

    My guess is that you are just as likely to have problems after a full format as you would if you just sacrificed a chicken to it. It is just a matter of time until what ever cause the software bugs in the HR20 to present themselves once you start loading it up with scheduling and recordings.

    Like I said I am running 9 days now with no strange problems, that could change 30 sec from now or it might continue to run fine until the next release of code or longer. Who knows. I am glad it appears to be working well and recording what I program it to record, but I don't trust it, I keep my Sat-T60 DTiVo on my account as a backup unit and based on how many problems I had over the past 3 months I will likely keep my DTiVo for at least 3 - 6 months or at least as long as it takes for the HR20 to build a solid track record of success.
     
  2. Dec 3, 2006 #2 of 39
    Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    Don't cut yourself short...this is worth at least 3 or 4 cents :)

    Actually your analysis is very beneficial. I do think reformatting let me enter a manual recurring recording in that the prioritizer list may have been a mess between revisions. Beyond that, I do not have any hard and fast data. Once the prioritizer gets hosed again (ie next reboot) I am unable to enter a manual recurring with any hope of success. Sign.

    I suspect, without any direct knowledge, that Directv changed a few parameters of the signal they are sending to avoid some of the lockups we've seen. Especially small changes that affected NFL games. I had no problems with ST today and none with watching Thursday's game on 95. Since we've not had a new release, I can only guess they've changed the datastream.

    Cheers,
    Tom
     
  3. Dec 3, 2006 #3 of 39
    uteotw

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    Tonight my ABC local HD was split into two screens, switched around, with half on one and half on the other. And the lip sync problem was as bad as it's ever been.

    I may just try the chicken option...
     
  4. Dec 3, 2006 #4 of 39
    Cyrus

    Cyrus Godfather

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    btmoore, you maybe on to something. I personally have had only minor problems with HR20 and have been a happy customer. But it's always interesting that when a new release comes up some people claim it fixed their problems while others claim the exact reverse.

    I think the box has some intermittent, not easy to reproduce, problems. So some customers see them while others don't, or it may behave badly for a while and then start working (or the reverse). If the problems happens after an upgrade people blame the new release, but it may well be an existing problem that they are seeing for the first time. This also makes it difficult for D* to fix the problems since the developers or testers may not be able to reproduce them.

    Rebooting or reformatting could actually fix some stuff. rebooting will cure memory leaks while reformatting may get rid of corrupted recordings.
     
  5. Dec 4, 2006 #5 of 39
    sigma1914

    sigma1914 Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    btmoore,

    I agree with a lot of what you said. Out of curiousity, how many SLs do you have? I think some people may slam the HR20 with 40+ SLs and that may cause issues. Personally, my main HR20 has rocked with only 2 lock-ups (one was my bad) and like 2 missed recordings that were weather related. I don't use SL, instead I go through the guide and 1-touch record my shows of interest. I record a lot of network primetime and no sports (unless it's a must see west coast late game, I view live sports). I recently have had a slight ice issue, but that's a dish issue.
    Also, with so many people suggesting to dump the BBC, I am going to hate to see the forum when they are required next year. People will be back to square one.
     
  6. Dec 4, 2006 #6 of 39
    lguvenoz

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    Great input to this forum. Here are some thoughts from my end on the "voodoo" fixes.

    1. The BBC issues were something that definitely resolved my 771 errors popping up for my unit. Interestingly though my unit also began run about 126 degrees down from 129-130 with the BBCs on. Makes me wonder about the other forum discussions related to the unpowered WB68 creating undue power strain on the box because removing the BBCs would remove one piece from the puzzle.

    2. General stability I am in the same boat as you. I had a red button reset five days ago and my machine has not missed a single recording and every recording has played back without an issue. I would definitely agree that a reformat may or may not help users and you do run the "brick" possibility.

    While I do think a lot of the voodoo that has been worked on boxes has a placebo effect I do think the BBC issue might be an exception. It is something that I think has much more to do with the unpowered WB68 though and not the HR20. I am putting my BBCs back on as soon as I cave in and buy a powered multi-switch, but I am holding out until January or February hoping for FTM by then as well.
     
  7. Dec 4, 2006 #7 of 39
    Meklos

    Meklos Legend in his own mind...

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    We're all flying blind here, since we really have very few reproducable bugs. We have some that we know what happens *after* we get them (i.e. unwatchable), and we have some that we suspect what can cause them (i.e. manual recordings, autorecords).

    But since D* isn't giving a full list of what has been fixed and what current bugs still exist, we have no real idea what is going on with the bugs we can't reproduce. Like you said, it's all guesses.

    If you believe that an upgrade and a reformat end up with a box in the same state, you can choose to believe that. I choose to believe it is more like a Windows or Linux box (which I believe the HR20 is Linux-based), where you have sometimes different results. There are things that can go wrong in an upgrade that don't happen during a fresh install. It's not just the OS files themselves.

    Think of this box as a server running a database, a web server, a media recording application, a media player, all on top of some OS. Let's say you could start the system in one of two states

    1) New install of 2003 Server, latest SQL with patches pre-applied prior to any data going in the database, latest web-server platform of your choice, etc .... Load your data in it's latest structure, latest format, latest tweaks.

    2) Start with an install of NT4 and SQL equivalent to that era, web server, etc. Load your database, web pages, media server files, etc. ... Do cumulative upgrades on all components through Win2K (don't forget that you would have made changes to the database structure to take advantage of new capabilties, new things you added to the software, etc), then update again to 2003 Server, latest SQL, latest web server and Windows Media components. Update and migrate your database again to the new format, etc.

    No upgrade process is perfect. No upgrade process leaves the box as clean as a fresh install. Any time any data structures are changed (especially databases), the chance for something going wrong during the migration is not zero. But that type of thing doesn't usually show up until later. Database migration routines don't usually check the data itself to make sure it makes sense in the field you just inserted it in. It just runs the script... "old data was here, perform this mod on it and insert it here".

    And as for your 9 days... 9 straight days after 3 months of off and on issues. If that's what you call "stability", then I guess it's good enough for you. It doesn't change the fact that many people have reported success by doing simple common-sense things like putting the HR20 on a UPS (omgzor why would you want it to not reboot for a reason you could prevent??!?), or by doing things like taking out the BBC and checking signal levels.

    I would say maybe you shouldn't judge other people's suggestions so harshly solely based on your "9 days of doing nothing has gotten me a fix". We're all trying to figure this out, since D* won't tell us anything more than what's in the release notes (which is a joke).

    And you just never know, you may not have done "nothing"... you may have stopped doing something you didn't even realize you were doing which caused you to stop triggering resets.
     
  8. Dec 4, 2006 #8 of 39
    Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    Hey btmoore--

    Glad to hear that for whatever reason you've gotten nine days of relative satisfaction. Given all that you contribute to this forum, and all you've done to advise others, you deserve to sit back and enjoy the thing.
     
  9. Dec 4, 2006 #9 of 39
    lguvenoz

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    I would never say that btmoore is bashing anyone's suggestions. A lot of the "suggestions" people are discussing are voodoo. No one in this forum, to my knowledge, was involved in the hardware or software design of this system. Everything being discussed is all done through observation and only observation with no real understanding of the root cause of any issues. That is the real point to this thread.

    Reformatting - I've done this twice at the request of D*. In neither case did it make a difference in the reliability of the unit. The only thing that has ever improved the unit are software updates or resets. Reformatting does not result in a clean box, and, quite frankly, no one has a clean HR20 with the latest software. Even the newest boxes produced are running old software that will go through an upgrade process.

    UPS - Depending on your house, power company and everything plugged into the same outlet as your HR20 this could make a huge difference. For many people though this is a wild goose chase. Some will see legitimate improvements, but many will simply "feel" their box is more reliable.

    BBC - As I said in my earlier post, I think this might be a legitimate source of some woes. Should everyone remove them? No. For me, it was done to get rid of the 771 messages, and did 100% resolve my issue with no other changes occurring. I really wonder if this is not a power issue as I mentioned above.

    Cooling Fans - While 127 degrees may seem hot to a lot of folks, this is well within the operating range for most consumer electronics. I personally wouldn't worry until this number hit the 140+ range on a consistent basis. In general there is a high probability of random errors occuring in digital electronics as the temperature goes up, but this should be negligible.

    One wildcard is the whole power issue that has been discussed in numerous threads. Is the WB68 creating excess power draw on the HR20 creating undue stress on its power supply? If possible, any number of these items could help someone's situation while not actually being a fix. It's just so hard to say.

    I for one have not messed with cooling fans, a UPS or anything other than leaving the BBCs off. After much fiddling around I've come to the conclusion that it's best to leave it be.

    For me, my 5 days of full functioning is priceless. It's 5 days with no complaints from the wife about missed recordings or unplayable recordings. It's 5 days with great picture quality. I shouldn't be happy about only 5 days, but hey it's better than 5 hours....
     
  10. steve0212

    steve0212 New Member

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    I did a reformat on 11/30 and the recorder has not missed a recording since. Prior to that, it was either missing them or the recordings would not play. I figured I had nothing to lose. Since my reformat, I have still had two issues:
    • A Lockup requiring the red button
    • Pause would not restart on an NFL ST HD Channel. I had to change the channel and come back to get it playing again. Strange.

    But at least it is again recording - which for me is major progress.
     
  11. Meklos

    Meklos Legend in his own mind...

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    Calling it voodoo, saying stuff about you're just as likely to get results sacrificing a chicken... that's basically saying that people don't know what they're talking about when they suggest things. That includes your BBC experience.


    You let it upgrade, you do a full reset from within the menus (not the 2468 reset). This formats the box, reloads the database, but keeps the currently loaded firmware in place (i.e. it doesn't downrev the box). So yes, you should be at the latest firmware with a clean box at that point.

    Just like insurance. Do you call buying car or homeowners insurance a 'wild goose chase' that makes people "feel" they are more protected? It's all about risk vs reward. There are some out there with crappy power who actually *do* gain by putting the box on a UPS. If you feel you can predict the future of your power stability and are willing to risk the downtime to the unit, possibility of losing it to a brownout or power spike, then by all means - don't buy the insurance.


    "Over the past 3 months I have seen a bunch of people offer up "fixes" that span everything to cooling fans, telling people that they must have a UPS, removing BBCs to fix stability issues, resetting or telling that they should do a total reformatting of the HR20. Personally I think that for most folks they are just a placebo. "


    Unless you have a cooling issue during the day, or during certiain times. The unit doesn't record peak temps so that we can check. It doesn't tell you why it rebooted.

    Other than leavnig off the BBCs.

    Two-a-days used to mean having football practice twice in one day. Now it means twice daily resets to some HR20 users. I guess it's all in how you measure success. :)
     
  12. Meklos

    Meklos Legend in his own mind...

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    Did you happen to use the interactive features on the NFL ST? I've seen a few posts with "problems after watching NFL ST" in common lately.
     
  13. Swartzy

    Swartzy Mentor

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    I've been one of the lucky ones... until recently. Given I have done nothing in the way or reformating and I've only had to do a hard reset once (I've had it for 6 weeks now).

    However... to support the note about issues popping up randomly for no reason... just last night I found two recordings that, when played, went straight to "delete" or "don't delete", another that showed it recorded something but wouldn't play... and last night after coming back from watching a recorded show, I saw a play on the football game I wanted to see again... went to rewind the live buffer... it jumped back to the beginning of the buffer and froze. The only thing I could do is change the channel (lose buffer) and come back to it... but then I had lost interest.

    So... it just goes to show the HR20 has issues all over the place. I agree w/ the multiple upgrade leads to instability path. It's clear D* rushed to market a box w/ as many Tivo like features it could w/o making those features stable.

    I would like OTA enabled just as much as the next guy... however, I'm also concerned w/ the fact they're concentrating on getting that working and not fixing the issues they already have.

    D* should've started small... made it rock solid and then added rock solid features from there... we would all be happy.
     
  14. Meklos

    Meklos Legend in his own mind...

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    Did you / have you rebooted since your unit recorded the unwatchable shows? Were there / have there been any shows recorded between the unwatchable shows were recorded and the time you viewed them and the last reboot?

    In other words, were there any successful recordings *after* the unwatchables were recorded but *before* a reset?
     
  15. Dave_S

    Dave_S DBSTalk Club Member

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    There's your problem right there...everyone knows a chicken won't cut it, you need to sacrifice a goat!! :D
     
  16. sigma1914

    sigma1914 Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    What are you and the others from here going to do when BBCs are required next year?
     
  17. HolmesCo

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    I TOTALLY agree with you. Though my experience is short, less than a week, and may seem useless opinion, but I had the same type of thing. I had problmes of significant nature first couple days, then suddenly after yet another red button reset on friday, voila, everything is perfect. I think its very poorly written software/firmware and the hardware design is probably questionalbe too.

    I can only hope they get real stability at some point in some release. Until then, I dread my next power outage which will cause a reset of course, as lord knows what will happen.

    FYI to backup my 'gut feel' a bit. I worked 25 years as a hardware/software technicain in the IT world, Field Engineer, for IBM, and have tons of experience with elecntronics. I think this is just a flawed design and can only hope that software will fix it all, but I really doubt it unfortunately.
     
  18. hasan

    hasan Well-Known Member

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    In the mean time, he should order replacement BBCs, because he's going to need them. Do it now....you're going to forget and when it comes time you will be SOL until you get replacements (assuming they were bad in the first place and it wasn't a power issue)
     
  19. HolmesCo

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    Hello again, if I may ask a question of ignorance, what is a BBC? There sure are a lot of abbrevaitaons etc used on this forum that leave me in the dark. They ought to have a gloassary. :lol:
     
  20. hasan

    hasan Well-Known Member

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    They are the two little external boxes with a short cable on them that connect directly to the two satellite antenna inputs to the HR20. The main cables from the dish connect to the BBCs and the BBCs connect to the HR20.

    BBC: Band Converter modules, might stand for B Band Converter or Broad Band Converter...can't recall.
     
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