Some good news I hope for all the OTA fans from DirecTV

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by pjs344, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. Jan 20, 2017 #21 of 313
    JosephB

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    They could always change the way that guide data is handled for OTA channels. It wouldn't be impossible to allow receivers to integrate OTA guide data from another source, such as the internet, OTA channels that send EPG entries on their ATSC signal, or through some non-APG datastream on the satellite. Granted, it would require development resources, but if they really cared to do so, they could just have another source and internally in the firmware map that new source onto OTA channels from a new OTA adapter.

    Now, I don't think there's any chance of that happening, but it would be wrong to act as if it's some kind of insurmountable problem.
     
  2. Jan 20, 2017 #22 of 313
    slice1900

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    I agree it isn't insurmountable, but they could have solved it at any time. The AM21 doesn't know or care about guide data, that's all on the receiver it is connected to. A new OTA device would have the same limitations unless the fix the underlying problem.

    Some have speculated the guide data stream delivered via satellite to the receivers has a 16 bit field for the TMS_ID, leaving no room for higher numbered stations. Others have suggested it is a memory limitation in the receivers. I think the latter is pretty easy to rule out - the receivers don't need to hold the guide data for every OTA station in the US in their memory - just the ones for your market. In fact you can see they don't by the fact that it needs to access the satellite data stream to get station/guide info when you add a new market to the AM21. The '16 bit field in the data stream' can't necessarily be ruled out, but look at it this way. It is virtually certain there are unused bits elsewhere in the guide data stream format, and only one would need to be commandeered to expand to a capability of supporting a TMS_ID as high as 131,071 in a way that wouldn't negatively affect receivers that had yet to receive a software update to understand this, or never would (i.e. H20s that haven't received an update since 2013)

    So I kind of wonder if the limitation is actually on their end, with some old software that handles the guide database that has only room for a 16 bit ID or 64K entries. Making a change like that on the 'server' side has real risk associated with it, since a bug could potentially screw up guide data, crash receivers, etc. Maybe they don't think it is worth the risk just to add some subchannels.

    Either way, if they introduce a new OTA device, I would expect it to have the same limitations about what channels it can receive, and the same inability to scan. If they can address those things for a new device, there's no reason the changes made to support that wouldn't also fix the AM21.
     
  3. Jan 20, 2017 #23 of 313
    JosephB

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    I wouldn't be so quick to assume they'd release another tuner with the same limitations. What would be the point? If they really cared enough to come up with a new device, it stands to reason they would fix some of the problems with the previous version.
     
  4. Jan 21, 2017 #24 of 313
    slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    Problems such as size, manufacturing cost, poor reception of multipath signals, and only having two OTA tuners? There are problems with it other than the TMS_ID limit. Perhaps they'd also build an ATSC 3.0 compatible version, since the spec is supposed to be finalized this spring and chips should be available before the end of the year.

    But I remain skeptical they will do anything other than continue to ignore OTA.
     
  5. Jan 21, 2017 #25 of 313
    pjs344

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    You would think that DTV and Dish would make it simple by having the ability to manually added networks from a list of provided available network listings and than by matching those network listings to each local channel. This way DTV and Dish would only need to provide the network listings and It would be up to the subscriber to match the network listing to each local channel. One could add, remove and change a network listing for each channel as they happen. For instance the setup could look like this. Scan - Available stations and channels list (Station IDs and all the channels offered by that station 2.1-2.10 etc) - select station and channel- add network for that channel(from the network list)- then select save. (Replete same process from select station and channel for all available stations and channels) Once all the stations, channels and networks are matched up - then select completed. You should now get all the right listings and time zones for each local stations channels. If a station changes networks you would return to station and channel - edit - change network from the list - select save - then completed. Now that channel will have the new network listings. If a station removes a network with no replacement or new network you would return to station and channel - remove channel(leave blank) - then save - then select completed. Now that channel will have no listings and be a blank listing. You would also need to do this with the newer networks that have no listings available yet.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2017
  6. Jan 21, 2017 #26 of 313
    longrider

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    Unfortunately the networks supply a very small part of the local stations programming. For example our local CBS affiliate gets CBS This Morning form 7 - 9 AM, CBS news at 5:30 PM, Prime time from 7 - 10 PM , and late night from 10:35 to 12:35. Everything else is local, syndicated, or infomercial
     
  7. Jan 21, 2017 #27 of 313
    JosephB

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    I am in complete agreement with you here. If DirecTV were still independent, I would not be so absolute, but with AT&T ownership and their heavy push to new internet delivered services, mobile viewing, and the eventual replacement of U-Verse TV with a DirecTV based system, this is probably not on the radar at all.

    Dish is supposedly coming out with a new dual tuner OTA adapter next week, but even then they still have similar issues. Many markets are missing guide data and OTA features on the Hopper are buggy. They won't even have the second tuner enabled in software until summer.

    On the other hand, Dish's new adapter seems to just be an off the shelf USB PC tuner, much like Microsoft did with the Xbox. Basically requires no hardware development. The tuners exist, they just need some software written to make them work with their set tops
     
  8. Jan 21, 2017 #28 of 313
    slice1900

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    Its possible that the AM21 isn't the only tuner that works with a Directv box. I wonder if you plugged it into a PC, what it would identify itself as via USB, and if you could get it to work on a PC given the proper driver? I find it difficult to believe Directv would have had an OTA chip developed just for them, instead of buying one off the shelf. If so, then other USB tuners that use the same chip should work as well. They'd be older ones, but if so they'd probably be available cheap on eBay - a lot cheaper than an AM21 and a lot smaller too.

    Obviously Directv wouldn't support such a thing, but given that they don't really support the AM21 anymore either that's not really a concern :)
     
  9. Jan 21, 2017 #29 of 313
    JosephB

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    Oh I can guarantee they didn't develop the OTA tuner themselves, but the USB interface may or may not be custom, or, it may be running completely different firmware that would prevent it from working on a PC. I used to have an AM21 when I was a DirecTV customer, but I think it's packed up in storage somewhere. Maybe one day if I find it I'll give that a shot. I would not expect it to work or be detected as anything but an unknown device, though. It might not even speak true USB or true to spec USB, depending on how they need to talk to the receiver

    When it comes to the "off the shelf"-ness of the new Dish and the existing Xbox One tuners, they are literally just off the shelf. I think the new Dish one will have Dish silkscreened on the case, but is otherwise supposed to be identical to one sold at retail for PCs. The whole delay is supposedly due to getting drivers written, so it leads me to believe it's a normally Windows compatible device that needs Linux drivers written

    And the Xbox One tuner is literally just a Hauppage WinTV tuner. I got one of the "beta" tuners and it was just a retail PC box. The "Xbox" edition is just the exact same one with the same firmware, just with a black case and the box says Xbox One compatible on it. Makes sense since the Xbox runs Windows. No new drivers required, just application support in the XBone dashboard.
     
  10. Jan 21, 2017 #30 of 313
    slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    I made a note to plug one of my AM21s (I might try an AM21N too since it may be slightly different) into my laptop. It is running Linux so I can easily get a lot of USB debugging info, and since Directv receivers run Linux, they'd need a tuner chip that has Linux drivers available.
     
  11. Jan 21, 2017 #31 of 313
    trainman

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    You're forgetting about CBS's daytime programming -- "Let's Make a Deal," "The Price Is Right," "Bold and the Beautiful," "The Young and the Restless," and "The Talk."

    But I assume pjs344's proposal (assign a network to an "unknown" channel, and generic listings for that network appear) is not aimed at affiliates of the major networks, but is more aimed at being able to provide listings for the various networks that are usually carried on digital subchannels, which do have 24/7 programming and are only rarely pre-empted by individual stations.
     
  12. Jan 21, 2017 #32 of 313
    SledgeHammer

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    So all you'd really need to do is determine if the AM21 is doing anything custom vs any standard off the shelf USB tuner... the USB portion itself has probably got to be standard, but they might do something custom in the data itself. Once you determine what the custom stuff is, you might be able to take a standard USB tuner and do a man in the middle approach to emulate the AM21. Opening up the AM21 and determine what chip they use could also be a hint.
     
  13. Jan 21, 2017 #33 of 313
    slice1900

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    I really doubt it is doing anything custom. The only thing that I think they might have done would be to have it report a non-standard USB ID....it isn't like there is any reason to obfuscate it since it is outputting OTA, not unencrypted HDMI.

    Yeah, I guess I could open the thing up and take a look inside, if the chip's markings are legible that would provide a clue.
     
  14. Jan 21, 2017 #34 of 313
    JosephB

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    Yeah, I doubt it is doing anything "custom" in that it's out of USB spec, but it could be a custom firmware on the controller that would then require custom drivers, even if the OTA tuner is a standard Broadcom or other off the shelf chipset. I find that to be highly likely.
     
  15. Jan 21, 2017 #35 of 313
    SledgeHammer

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    So what's stopping an off the shelf OTA tuner from working? If the AM21 is just a standard OTA tuner and not doing anything custom, I'd think any dongle would work... unless its checking for the mfgr string or something and it has to say "DIRECTV" or something.
     
  16. Jan 21, 2017 #36 of 313
    JosephB

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    Because when I say "standard" I mean it's a standard USB device. It will still require device-specific drivers, there's no "universal" OTA USB standard like, say, for USB thumb drives or USB web cameras. Those are standard USB devices, but on top of that there are "standard" ways to present drives and cameras and sound devices. There just isn't one of those standards for a USB ATSC tuner.
     
  17. Jan 22, 2017 #37 of 313
    slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    Directv receivers would only have a driver for the specific chip used in the AM21, so I agree the only OTA tuners with a chance of working would have to have the same chip, or a close enough relative that they share the same driver.

    Of course that assumes the chip was ever used in a USB attached OTA tuner other than the AM21. Maybe it was only ever used in a PCI card, or in one of those converter boxes made to ease the ATSC transition.
     
  18. Jan 22, 2017 #38 of 313
    P Smith

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    I hope soon we will know ;) ... isn't someone mentioned he would open the box ?
     
  19. Jan 22, 2017 #39 of 313
    pjs344

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    I have hooked my AM21 to my windows 10 PC usb 2.0 and the AM21 was recognized. But windows could not come up with a driver for it. I am sure it’s a Unix driver and if I had a Unix PC it might have worked? I also opened the box (Used the slandered torx security screws) and it’s all marked DirecTV except for the Samsung tuner module. The pcb is about the same size as the older Hauppage USB dual tuner HVR 1955. As I recall there were only 2 mfrs that built the dual ATSC tuners back when the AM21 came out and Hauppage was one of them. So the Hauppage HVR may very well be the AM21 and setup to only work with the DirecTV Receivers?
     
  20. Jan 22, 2017 #40 of 313
    pjs344

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    The list would have the same local guide listings for the local channels that you get now and are inserted automatically after doing a scan of your locals. With the manual guide insertion method you would have no guide info on any of the channels that show up after running a scan of your local channels and you would have to insert your local stations network guides into each channel from the list. The list will also have the majority of the sub networks (could be updated quarterly or half year) that are available for insertion. Now you just find out what sub networks should be on each sub channel that dose not have a guide listing and insert the right guide listing for that channel.

    You should not have changes in programming with independent tv stations because independents get programming off satellites to rebroadcast ota and only have a master control center where they insert commercials. Network stations have production studios (news etc), satellite programming, live remotes, master control and can preempt programming for other programming on sub channels.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2017

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