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DirecTV Technical Support Woes


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#1 OFFLINE   sonofcool

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 01:53 PM

First the good story:
A few weeks ago, I finally got around to calling DirecTV to get a replacement DVR. I kept putting it off because to avoid battling Tech Support and because a reset would keep the DVR working for a few days, but I know the disk was bad. So when I finally called, the support person had a replacement on its way within 10 minutes. A pleasant surprise, even though I had to marathon watch the recorded shows, write down on paper all the future recordings and reprogram other DVRs.

Now the bad:
Power outage today.
4 DVRs come back. The fifth is stuck with "Acquiring Guide Data".
Did a bunch of troubleshooting and finally decided to swap location of two DVRs (kept wiring, DECA, power and HDMI cables in place).
The problem follows the DVR. The DVR moved into the previously "bad" location works fine.
So now I have an issue following the DVR but not the cables.

During the 18 minute phone call, there are all sorts of gyrations, but at one point the tech has me run a system test that comes up with this code: System test: 43-72-261. The text is something about dish alignment. He claims that this requires a service call to align the dish even though the other 4 DVRs work fine and the problem follows the DVR itself.

My questions:
1. Given that this problem follows a DVR, could it be anything else but some issue with the DVR itself, in spite of the error code?

2. Is there some way that I can watch the content of this DVR either locally or on Whole Home? In other words, if I disconnect it from the DECA and just plug the CAT5 into my home network, will whole home work? Or maybe if I disconnect the Coax from the back, can I watch the recorded content?

Thanks in advance!

Jeff

Edited by sonofcool, 27 January 2013 - 01:59 PM.


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#2 OFFLINE   macfan601

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 02:11 PM

First the good story:
A few weeks ago, I finally got around to calling DirecTV to get a replacement DVR. I kept putting it off because to avoid battling Tech Support and because a reset would keep the DVR working for a few days, but I know the disk was bad. So when I finally called, the support person had a replacement on its way within 10 minutes. A pleasant surprise, even though I had to marathon watch the recorded shows, write down on paper all the future recordings and reprogram other DVRs.

Now the bad:
Power outage today.
4 DVRs come back. The fifth is stuck with "Acquiring Guide Data".
Did a bunch of troubleshooting and finally decided to swap location of two DVRs (kept wiring, DECA, power and HDMI cables in place).
The problem follows the DVR. The DVR moved into the previously "bad" location works fine.
So now I have an issue following the DVR but not the cables.

During the 18 minute phone call, there are all sorts of gyrations, but at one point the tech has me run a system test that comes up with this code: System test: 43-72-261. The text is something about dish alignment. He claims that this requires a service call to align the dish even though the other 4 DVRs work fine and the problem follows the DVR itself.

My questions:
1. Given that this problem follows a DVR, could it be anything else but some issue with the DVR itself, in spite of the error code?

2. Is there some way that I can watch the content of this DVR either locally or on Whole Home? In other words, if I disconnect it from the DECA and just plug the CAT5 into my home network, will whole home work? Or maybe if I disconnect the Coax from the back, can I watch the recorded content?

Thanks in advance!

Jeff


Try a double reset on that 5th stuck DVR. Red button reset it and when the progress bar appears let it get a percent or two and then press the red button and hold it for a few seconds. It should reset again. See if that helps any.

#3 ONLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

My questions:
1. Given that this problem follows a DVR, could it be anything else but some issue with the DVR itself, in spite of the error code?

2. Is there some way that I can watch the content of this DVR either locally or on Whole Home? In other words, if I disconnect it from the DECA and just plug the CAT5 into my home network, will whole home work? Or maybe if I disconnect the Coax from the back, can I watch the recorded content?

Thanks in advance!

Jeff

So I tried to simulate this with my HR24. I used some diplexers to filter out the SWiM, and got the error 51 [can't communicate].
I then rebooted the 24 and after it came up to the error 775 I hit the list button and had my local playlist, which lets me play my recordings.
A.K.A VOS

#4 OFFLINE   sonofcool

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 03:17 PM

Try a double reset on that 5th stuck DVR. Red button reset it and when the progress bar appears let it get a percent or two and then press the red button and hold it for a few seconds. It should reset again. See if that helps any.


Thanks! Just to confirm, Do you mean hit the 2nd reset on this prompt:
"Step 2 of 2: receiving satellite info..."
<progress bar> 2%

Trying now.

BTW, this is a HR21-700 Manufactured: 10/10/2007. Which probably makes it the oldest micro-processor in my house :-)

#5 OFFLINE   sonofcool

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 03:18 PM

So I tried to simulate this with my HR24. I used some diplexers to filter out the SWiM, and got the error 51 [can't communicate].
I then rebooted the 24 and after it came up to the error 775 I hit the list button and had my local playlist, which lets me play my recordings.


VOS,
Thanks for this research! I'll let you know how it turns out. When I tried before it was stuck in "Acquiring Data" and did not respond to the list button. I'll try again here when it boots up.

#6 ONLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 03:25 PM

VOS,
Thanks for this research! I'll let you know how it turns out. When I tried before it was stuck in "Acquiring Data" and did not respond to the list button. I'll try again here when it boots up.

I think you need to wait for it to finally "give up" and then it lets you go into the menus.
A.K.A VOS

#7 OFFLINE   sonofcool

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 03:33 PM

I think you need to wait for it to finally "give up" and then it lets you go into the menus.


Ah, got it! Thanks! Will let you know.

#8 OFFLINE   TomCat

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:16 PM

I think you need to wait for it to finally "give up" and then it lets you go into the menus.

Actually, a button on the remote will allow this. "Exit", I think, IIRC. All I remember at the moment is that I have done this, and it worked.

Rather than writing everything down, use your phone or iPad to take a snap of each page in the GUI.

For a failing DVR that can still be accessed to watch shows, use a DVDR with a HDD built in. My Philips preserves the 16:9 aspect ratio. It makes SD copies, but since the source is pristine HD, the quality is remarkably good over S-video. All you are missing is a bit of resolution. Also, you can record all shows in a folder in reverse order (oldest first) just by selecting the folder and pressing "play". Not a perfect solution, but better than losing content altogether.
It's usually safe to talk honestly and openly with people because they typically are not really listening anyway.

#9 OFFLINE   sonofcool

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 02:30 PM

Folks, Thanks for your help on this.
They sent out a technician for a service call. Of course the DVR was passing self-test now. :-)
He replaced the LNB, the satellite mount (no problem with either one of these just non-standard now), all of the barrel connectors and all F-connectors to all 5 DVRs including both sides of the patch panel in the switch closet, all the patch cables, as well as the receiver I wanted replaced in the first place. (I went from an HR21 to an HR24 so that's pretty nice).
About a 6 hour job, no breaks.
The interesting thing is that he told me since the insulation on the inside barrel and F connectors were white and not blue (better) or orange (best), they were not supported in the Whole Home.
Anybody heard this before?
I guess I'm happy this tech went all out to make sure everything was tested and operating correctly.

VOS: I think this guy knew you. It said he went to a house in your old neighborhood a few years ago and the customer was a "DirecTV engineer" with tons of test equipment all over the place. I think it was you. :-) He's a pretty tall (6' 4", slim, soft-spoken guy), that really seemed to know what he was doing.

#10 ONLINE   carl6

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 02:51 PM

The interesting thing is that he told me since the insulation on the inside barrel and F connectors were white and not blue (better) or orange (best), they were not supported in the Whole Home.


The color of the insert refers to what the connectors are tested and certified to. It indicates they meet a particular specification.

The reverse is not true, i.e., because a barrel has a white insert does not mean that it doesn't meet the spec, only that it doesn't have the configuration tracking and quality tracking to prove that it meets the spec. It is very rare that a white inserted barrel connector fails to work just fine in almost any DirecTV application.

Installers may very well be required to use spec-compliant parts, so they will change out the white barrels if they encounter them. Not because they are causing a problem, but because they don't meet spec and if someone does a QC check on their work, it won't pass.

#11 ONLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:15 PM

VOS: I think this guy knew you. It said he went to a house in your old neighborhood a few years ago and the customer was a "DirecTV engineer" with tons of test equipment all over the place. I think it was you. :-) He's a pretty tall (6' 4", slim, soft-spoken guy), that really seemed to know what he was doing.

Might have been, though it's been a long time. :shrug:

The color of the dielectric used in barrels has little to do with their performance, and everything to do with QC.
The color may indicate when and who did the work, as everyone was using white in the beginning, then changed to blue, but even the cable people in GV were using blue too, so the change to orange by DirecTV will be an indication of recent work by them.
A.K.A VOS

#12 OFFLINE   sonofcool

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 05:20 PM

Carl6,
Yes, the tech told me if he didn't replace with orange and somebody else came along and saw he left the white ones, he would be dinged for it. I'm fine with the change, only cost me a little time to move furniture around, etc.

VOS,
Thanks for the explanation as well.

Of course he wouldn't let me (while he was here) put my right angle white, f connectors back, so I found some blue ones online, couldn't find any orange. Do either of you know a definitive place to get compliant angle connectors?

Thanks,
jeff

#13 ONLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 05:39 PM

Of course he wouldn't let me (while he was here) put my right angle white, f connectors back, so I found some blue ones online, couldn't find any orange. Do either of you know a definitive place to get compliant angle connectors?

Thanks,
jeff

DON'T USE right angle connectors. :nono2:

While they may save space over a loop of coax, they cause problems as you really can't get RF to change 90º in as short a space and the connectors are.

[side note] I went through this with my cable modem in GV. They would come out for service and then I'd use a right angle after they left to "clean things up".
They'd come back out and first thing was to remove the right angle.

"rinse, repeat", until I swore to them I wouldn't use them any more. :lol:
A.K.A VOS

#14 OFFLINE   sonofcool

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 05:44 PM

DON'T USE right angle connectors. :nono2:

While they may save space over a loop of coax, they cause problems as you really can't get RF to change 90º in as short a space and the connectors are.

[side note] I went through this with my cable modem in GV. They would come out for service and then I'd use a right angle after they left to "clean things up".
They'd come back out and first thing was to remove the right angle.

"rinse, repeat", until I swore to them I wouldn't use them any more. :lol:


:-) OK, you just convinced me! I'll even throw out the blue ones I ordered :-)

#15 OFFLINE   TomCat

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 05:48 PM

...The interesting thing is that he told me since the insulation on the inside barrel and F connectors were white and not blue (better) or orange (best), they were not supported in the Whole Home.
Anybody heard this before?...

OK, I understand why they want the connectors qualified to a certain spec, but speaking as a long-time RF tech (who just upgraded a 200-drop private CATV system this week) I find this a little ridiculous in its overkill.

The issues with connectors are impedance, bandwidth, and reflection. IOW, a cheap connector might reflect more signal (due to a slight impedance mismatch, usually due to how the cable is crimped during connectorization), attenuate the signal a bit more (which is actually also due to impedance mismatch), or not pass some of the upper bandwidth. The problem with that is that even the cheapest connector will not have enough of an impedance mismatch to reflect enough of the signal to make a difference, will not attenuate the signal more than about a dB even at high frequency, and will very likely not roll of frequencies below 2.5 GHz in any amount considered significant.

Since even SWM DBS installs don't demand operational ability greater than this or could honestly be impaired by the potential issues with cheap connectors, I fail to see why they need to maintain such specs.

To me, the most important feature of a working connector is its ability to not suck water during temperature changes, because water is just about the only environmental issue (other than wind) that negatively affects DBS distribution. And all you need to meet that spec is a couple of good "O" rings inside the connector, and even the cheapest connector probably meets that spec.

But I do understand that a technical manager may perceive that many call backs or service calls are due to failed connectors, and I applaud taking steps to ensure the connectors are of high quality. Indifference would be worse.

But the real problem is not a connector that is inherently failure-prone or doesn't surpass certain specs, it is how well the connectorization process is adhered to, up to and including whether the connector is tightened properly. The best way to reduce service calls is to insist on connectors that use a crimping system that is idiot-proof, and to insist on proper training, coupled with harsh penalties if there is a call-back and the problem turns out to be improper connectorization or a loose or untightened fitting. That is the single most expensive problem the industry has, is call backs and service calls due to poor connectorization in the first place.

Edited by TomCat, 09 February 2013 - 05:55 PM.

It's usually safe to talk honestly and openly with people because they typically are not really listening anyway.

#16 OFFLINE   TomCat

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 06:14 PM

DON'T USE right angle connectors. :nono2:

While they may save space over a loop of coax, they cause problems as you really can't get RF to change 90º in as short a space and the connectors are...

Honestly, that is not the issue.

EMF or RF is not bound by the laws of inertial physics the way that physical bodies that have actual mass are; IOW a sharp right turn has no effect whatsoever on RF, unless you get to extreme (~100 MegaAmpere) current levels such as with lightning and the plasma created by lightning, which is why ground wires should always be dressed in gentle curves and avoid sharp bends or angles (lightning discharges can "jump out" of a ground wire at a sharp bend and seek ground at a place you would rather it didn't).

The current in delivered DBS distribution is microscopically tiny by comparison, and is just not affected in this manner. To think otherwise is to have a superstitious and completely wrong-headed concept of how these things work.

The problems with right-angle connectors are:

1) they are difficult to tighten properly

2) they inherently reflect and attenuate more signal because it is difficult to manufacture them in a way that they can simulate the waveguide properties of coaxial cable (regular connectors are designed to simulate these aspects, such as diameters and distances from the center-conductor, as closely as is practically possible)

3) due to the way they are physically constructed, they fail easily and can pull apart very easily.

So VOS is right in the respect that we should avoid them if possible.
It's usually safe to talk honestly and openly with people because they typically are not really listening anyway.

#17 ONLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 07:28 PM

The problems with right-angle connectors are:

1) they are difficult to tighten properly

2) they inherently reflect and attenuate more signal because it is difficult to manufacture them in a way that they can simulate the waveguide properties of coaxial cable (regular connectors are designed to simulate these aspects, such as diameters and distances from the center-conductor, as closely as is practically possible)

3) due to the way they are physically constructed, they fail easily and can pull apart very easily.

So VOS is right in the respect that we should avoid them if possible.

It's been a long time, but they've been measured on an HP network analyzer and have a poor match.
It wasn't "mass", but the field changing direction.
A.K.A VOS

#18 OFFLINE   Scott in FL

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 07:35 AM

While they may save space over a loop of coax, they cause problems as you really can't get RF to change 90º in as short a space and the connectors are.


You can certainly get RF to change 90º in a short space. I've used coax and waveguide bends with SWR less than 1.1:1 to 18 GHz and negligible additional attenuation. Of course, their prices are a bit higher than those in this discussion.

If you use coax, pay attention to its minimum bending radius. Foam dielectric is susceptible to "cold flow."

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Edited by Scott in FL, 18 February 2013 - 11:13 AM.


#19 OFFLINE   Scott in FL

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 08:12 AM

which is why ground wires should always be dressed in gentle curves and avoid sharp bends or angles (lightning discharges can "jump out" of a ground wire at a sharp bend and seek ground at a place you would rather it didn't).

2) they inherently reflect and attenuate more signal because it is difficult to manufacture them in a way that they can simulate the waveguide properties of coaxial cable (regular connectors are designed to simulate these aspects, such as diameters and distances from the center-conductor, as closely as is practically possible)


The reason you avoid sharp bends in ground wires is because sharp bends introduce inductance to the wire. Lightning has the RF properties of a low frequency signal. Inductance "chokes off" RF by its added impedance, and will cause lightning to look for an easier way to get to ground.

The only waveguide property found in coax is the fields being confined by the outer conductor (shield). The impedance, velocity factor, and attenuation of coax is determined by the distances and dielectric material. Coax can operate from DC to extremely high frequencies (albeit, with higher loss as the frequency increases).

Waveguide does not operate in the same manner, and its operational frequency is confined to a window determined by the cutoff frequencies.

#20 OFFLINE   sonofcool

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:14 AM

Hi Scott, thanks for the picture and explanation. For my application, which is on the inside walls behind the TVs. I'll just leave off the right angles.




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