"Blank recording" in action last night

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by Mr.72, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. Mr.72

    Mr.72 Icon

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    So... I had a problem with the recording of the Spurs game on ESPN-HD last night.

    Wife & kids went up to watch a recording of What Not to Wear while the game was ongoing, and this show's playback had frequent stutters and gaps in it, seemed strange and glitchy.

    Then at right about the start of the 3rd quarter I went to watch the in-progress recording of the game from the start. The game started at 8:30, recording started at 8:29. Game previous on ESPN-HD was Texas vs. someone basketball which started at 6:30.

    When I went to start the playback, it showed the little time bar at the bottom and it showed that it was playing and the time never changed from 0:00. Screen was black. FFW at 4x it acted like it was fast-forwarding but still said 0:00. If I hit the skip forward or skip back buttons, I was prompted to either delete or keep the recording as if I had wound up at the end. Also when it did this, it showed the current time as 8:30 when I started the recording (and it was more like 9:45 pm), and then when I hit skip back it suddenly thought it was 6:30 and the name of the program I was trying to watch changed from Spurs at Utah Jazz to Texas whatever (description of the 6:30 longhorn game).

    Once I started attempting to play the recording, I could not tune to live TV on ESPN, it would tune it but give me the same black screen like something was wrong with the channel.

    If I hit "off" and then "On" on the remote (not really power cycling but standby-cycling), then it would come back on and play the game live on ESPN. I wound up watching the game live (only the 2nd half). There was nothing wrong with the channel or the game feed. During commercials I tried again a few times to watch the recording, with the exact same results. Once I started trying to watch it everything didn't work and I had to off-on in order to be able to watch ESPN again.

    So .. what's this? More importantly, what can I do to prevent this in the future? I normally cannot be there to bird dog the beginning of a recording and make sure it is going to work. I have had two or three of these blank recordings in the past few months, and this is the first time I have been there to confirm that the channel was actually functioning fine and the program was on as scheduled.
     
  2. jdspencer

    jdspencer Hall Of Fame

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    The first thing to do is to restart the DVR. Then see if it messes up again.
     
  3. Mr.72

    Mr.72 Icon

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    Well, restart and see if it pops up again is precisely what I have done the last few times the blank recordings popped up, and it always pops up again.

    Is there no additional information about the cause of these blank recordings? Or any proactive strategy to minimize them?
     
  4. DogLover

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    Blank recordings are usually caused by the signal not getting all the way down the line (LNB to Hard Drive) so that it can be recorded. It's possible that the problem can be in any part of the system.

    Some of the most likely causes:
    Dish needing alignment, bad cables or connections, Failing LNB, Failing tuner in the DVR.
     
  5. Mr.72

    Mr.72 Icon

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    Feb 2, 2007
    I would buy this if not for the fact that I was watching the game live while it was in progress of making a recording that eventually finished, and wound up being a blank recording.

    There is nothing wrong with any of these things, except perhaps the tuner in the DVR, since they were all in use concurrent to the creation of the bad recording.

    My observation of the issue makes me characterize this as a software bug. It appears that the problem was with a failure to create the recording correctly in the first place, as if there is something wrong with the header or metadata or whatever other information the HR24 uses to identify a recording in order to play it back. FWIW, I am a software test engineer by profession and I work with Linux-based IT appliances. This doesn't look like a hardware problem to me.
     
  6. DogLover

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    When you say you were watching the game, you mean that you were watching the exact same channel that didn't record, or was that another channel?

    If it was the same channel, then it definitely sounds like something in the DVR. If not, it could still be somthing else in the chain.

    Blank recordings are reported every now and then, but are not widespread. If it is only a software problem, it is an unusual set of circumstances that triggers it. However, you seem to indicate that you've had a number of blank recordings. This would point to something particular within your setup.
     
  7. Richierich

    Richierich Hall Of Fame

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    Peachtree...
    When you are watching a broadcast and you attempt to Record it and the background tuner does not successfully lock onto the incoming signal then you get an Empty Recording Shell with No Audio/Video Packets Available.

    So it is just a problem with the other tuner not properly locking onto or syncing to the incoming signal thereby no Audio/Video Packets are Transmitted thereby a Blank Screen or Black Screen.

    This happened alot in the past with Series Link Scheduled Recordings not properly locking onto or syncing to the incoming signal which sometimes can be caused because of timing issues between the DVR and the LNB.
     
  8. Mr.72

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    Yeah I was watching the EXACT SAME CHANNEL live that was supposedly also recording. I don't recall if I attempted to hit the "record" button since it wouldn't have made much difference... I had to sit there and watch it in real time anyway.

    An when I say it has happened "a number of times", that number is maybe three, in a four-month time span. That's a pretty high rate of failure IMHO, but not enough to indicate a hardware problem. The DVR probably records on average about 100+ shows per month, so one in 100 recordings turning up blank is not such a big deal. But of the blank recordings, all but one have been Spurs games (and not on the same channel either, this one was on ESPN 206 and another blank one was on FSSW 677), which is super-annoying because there are no reruns to catch up and get the recording again. You miss it, it's just gone.
     
  9. DogLover

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    Yeah, that's not cool that it seems to happen most on sports. Are these channels that 1) might be blacked out for you normally but are turned on because of a extra cost pro sports package? or 2) Possibly blacked out in your area? On channels that aren't full time?

    People have reported in the past problems recording channels that are sometimes blacked out. If the timing of when it tunes to the channel isn't correct, it doesn't really tune in, and a black screen results.

    If these were 3 random recordings, I would still suspect hardware. However, since these recordings have a common element, they are probably hitting the same unique timing condition. You are probably right that you don't have a hardware problem.

    Please log the issue, along with as much detail as possible (dates, times, shows, channels...) in the issues thread for your DVR. That's the best way to let DirecTV know about the bug, so that they can work on fixing it.

    Until a fix, perhaps you can play with the padding for the recording, or set a manual recording to see if you can change the timing allowing it to lock onto the signal correctly. You could also check out which transponders the channels were on. If those transponders are low, for whatever reason, that might affect how long the box takes to aquire the channel.
     
  10. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    That's one credible explanation, but that would not be the explanation when a "black" recording suddenly starts to work normally, which I have seen numerous times.

    Then the explanation seems to be that the cataloging system of the DVR lost track of where the file is that matches what it thinks it has in its database, and if it can't find it, it can't play it, even though it is on the HDD intact. What is curious is that if it can't find it, why can it then sometimes find it 2 seconds later?

    The object lesson here is that if you have a black recording, try to play it back a number of times, rewind through it, play another recording for a bit and try it again. whatever it takes. As Stephen King once said, "Sometimes they come back".
     
  11. Richierich

    Richierich Hall Of Fame

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    Peachtree...
    Great Suggestion.
     

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