57 FAQ - Tips For SA (Cisco) STBs. (also Pace) - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
 

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Old 2004-11-19, 04:50 PM   #1
hugh
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Default 57 FAQ - Tips For SA (Cisco) STBs. (also Pace)

Updated 2013.08.09

Several useful tips for SA/Pace STBs (Set Top Boxes) are included in this FAQ: Much (but not all) of the information in this thread is applicable to STBs running SARA, not the new firmware.

- How to check signal strength and other diagnostics
- Rebooting (Warm & Cold) Recommended once a month, or if you have any issues.
- Viewing Formats
- Advanced Setup Wizard
- Various other items of interest.

- Broadband connection signal strength - Post 2
- Problems? Tips - Post 4
- Remote controls - manuals, codes, tips - Post 5
- Repairs - Post 9
- Standalone mode, Broadcast Mode, SDV Issues, ROD issues - Post 10.
- Using SA8300HD after cancelling service - Post 11.


Signal Strength/Diagnostics:

Courtesy of BobFillmore, For 9865 (NextBox 3.0) & 8642 & 4642 with latest firmware using the remote:
1) Press and hold the Exit key for two seconds until the power LED flashes on the front panel of the PVR
2) In quick succession, press the down arrow button twice, then press the 2 button.

Additional Diagnostics Information: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/vide...L-26413-01.pdf

Diagnostics for 8642/4642 with the new firmware - turn STB off, then press vol+ and info simultaneously for several seconds. Diagnostics are apparently quite different, however. QAM level is under Manufacture Diag. New firmware reboot - press Settings, scroll down to Troubleshooting (below system).

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/show...&postcount=712

Here’s a step by step guide on how to access signal strength information on Scientific Atlanta STBs. I believe this works on all SA STBs. (Some US service providers use Passport instead of SARA - this may not work on those STBs) Much of this also applies to Pace STB (550, 551). See post 3.

1. Tune to any digital station.
2. Depending on the STB, you may need to use the composite, S-video or component video connection.
3. On the box itself (not using the remote), press and hold the "+" (or select) button for a few seconds, the "envelope" (mail) light will come on. (the + button is the "bulls-eye" in the middle of the 4 "arrow" keys - on newer models like the SA8300HD it's the "select" button).
4. Press the "info" key next.
5. This takes you to all kinds of information.
6. Press the right and left arrow buttons (next to the "+" button) to scroll through the pages.
7. The signal strength information is on page 5. You need to look at the QAM side. The "level" should be between -10 and +10, with zero being about optimum (for digital stations). If the level is below -10, you'll see the number change to "orange" for "warning". You may have to change splitters, cable, etc to rectify the situation. Call your service provider and they'll usually rectify with better splitters, cable, possibly an amp or a new "drop" into your house. (Interestingly, many of us have found that the SA8300HD gives "false" signal strength readings of -20. If all other readings are "normal" and you've got no other issues, do not worry about a -20 reading on the SA8300HD)
8. On the same page is the Signal/Noise ratio. The S/N ratio is good if it’s at about 35 dB or higher, although a good HD signal can be received with slightly lower numbers. If your S/N is around 30-32 (or less) though, that could be a source of problems.
9. You can change channels while in the diagnostic menu and see signal strengths, frequencies, etc for various channels, however, they shouldn’t vary by more than a few dBs. You will notice that you won’t be able to see all the information for analogue channels. It will take a few seconds for the information to refresh for the new channel, so be patient. Make sure you check the signal on the problem channel, as signals can vary.
10. When you’re done, press the exit key to exit.

FDC Explained below:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/show...5&postcount=18

You can also access this information from your couch as follows (information provided by bolmsted) This method also works for the 940 STB which doesn't have any buttons.:

1. Make sure you are not on a VOD or music channel.
2. Hold the pause key on the remote for at least 10 seconds until the mail light flashes on the front. Release the pause button
3. Press page up (sometimes simply labelled with a +) on the remote and then you can page up/down through the screen info.
4. Press "exit" to leave the diagnostics.

While you are in the screens, pressing the "B" button on the remote changes the transparency of the background, allowing you to see the channel and the diagnostics at the same time.

---------------------------------------------------------------


Rebooting:

To reboot your STB without unplugging it, press the two volume buttons and the info button simultaneously (all three buttons at the same time on the STB itself). Do not touch anything on the box or the remote until the time appears (takes a couple of minutes). Even then, it may take some time for the IPG to reload its information.

You can also reboot your box from your couch (bolmsted):

1. Make sure you are not on a VOD or music channel
2 Press the pause button when the remote with the remote in VOD mode.
until the mail light flashes (just like for the diagnostics screen)
3. But instead of paging up to get into the diagnostic screens (and then up/down for various screens) you initially press page down
4. You will get a code on the front of the set top box. Press stop 3 times on the remote and voila it will reboot [the "LED" circle going around, or "boot" appears].

It's not a bad idea to reboot your STB once a month when you have no immediate need for it and it's not recording. These STBs seem to be a lot like computers, if you don't reboot them once in a while, errors seem to crop up...

You can also do a warm reboot via the Rogers website, or via phone call to Rogers (may be called reauthorize, reset, reactivate, etc), or via the Quick Start Guide Menu - Self Service - Need Help (may take 20-30 seconds after you select "confirm" to start the reboot process). This assumes you have a STB which has the QSGuide, like the SA8300HD repeated presses of the guide button take you to the guide or IPG. You can also change the guide order here from QSG to IPG first.

Sometimes a "warm reboot" (above) is not enough to reset things. Try unplugging the unit for a minute (Cold Reboot) and replugging it in if the warm reboot doesn't work. Always give the unit some time after the reboot to "settle" - say 30 minutes. Make sure you don't have any recordings going on at the time of a cold reboot and turn the unit off first if possible.

Hard Reboot: See instructions below courtesy of Bplayer:

Cold reboot AKA Hard reboot: A Hard Reboot will refresh all available software and modules on the system, as well as clear out the memory cache. The IPG and other data may take up to 30 minutes or more to fully download.
• Turn off the PVR and wait 10 or more seconds.
• Unplug the power cord from the PVR and wait 10 or more seconds.
• If you are resetting an external drive too, unplug it's power cord at this point and wait 5 or more seconds, then plug the power cord back into the external drive and wait 5 or more seconds.
• Press and hold the power button on the 8300's front panel. While the power button is depressed, plug the PVR power cord back in. Continue to hold the power button until the PVR display says "boot" and/or begins to cycle a few times (usually about 15 seconds).

NOTE: A Hard Reboot will resolve MANY issues with not only external drives, but memory issues too. You should WAIT until the reboot is completely finished before powering up. It usually takes about 5 - 10 min, depending on your application and IPG data. The best way to determine when the download is finished is to watch the front panel indicators. On the front panel, where the : (colon) separates the hours and minutes, the bottom " . " dot will appear after all the OS firmware has been loaded. A PVR getting a download or initializing will be blank. Leave the PVR alone until the dot appears.

----------------------------------------------------------------


What Format is Going to the TV?

The following applies to the SA3250HD - how to tell what the STB is transmitting to the TV in terms of format. (It also applies to the SA8000HDs that have passthrough enabled.)

You can check formats by viewing the small box that displays the STB output. It says 480i, 1080i, 720P, 480P depending on your channel selection, your "wizard setup" and whether you selected "pass-through (Auto-DVI/HDMI)" or "upconvert" in the "Settings" menu, etc.

You enable the small box by switching between channels that have different formats. Each time you switch between formats (720P and 1080i for example) you will see the small box.

You can also enable the small box by repeatedly hitting the "#" button, but this enables the stretch mode, so be sure to switch back to "normal" to see the actual format. Hitting "#" on a 480i signal will force an HD output - don't know why - it goes back to 480i if you go back to "normal" (unstretched).

The SA8300HD shows the output format on the front of the PVR.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Advanced Setup Wizard:

Note, that the Setup Wizard doesn't work on the 8642 or 9865 with the latest firmware. The setup is now automatic by the STB. This is also often the case if using an HDMI connection from other STBs - the wizard works, but then is overridden the next time the STB comes on.

The SA and Pace STBs have a setup wizard that you go through. See if you can find the page that guides you through the wizard. If you don't have it, follow the instructions below:

1. Turn the STB off.
2. Press the "Guide" and; "Info" buttons simultaneously (on the STB, not the remote).
3. This takes you to the wizard.
4. If you've got a 4:3 TV the wizard is very simple.
5. If you've got a 16:9 TV, then go into the "advanced" mode (which is still pretty simple)

Once you've finished the wizard which asks you the various formats your TV can display, exit the wizard and turn on the STB.

Whenever doing the setup, or troubleshooting, disconnect ALL video connections except the one you want to use. Use ONLY component video or HDMI/DVI, not both. When troubleshooting also remove S-video connections, etc. If you can't get the HDMI to work (the SA8300HD displays 480i on the front for example) then use the component video cables to perform the setup first, then plug in HDMI/DVI.

With the most recent firmware, most STBs now communicate with the TV via HDMI to set the formats. If you don't like those options, the best option is to use Fixed-1080i which eliminates a few problems associated with Auto-HDMI, provides a bit less overscan and also doesn't seem to affect picture quality much, if at all.

Note also that some HDTVs (especially some flat panel Samsungs) do NOT accept certain signals like 480i over HDMI. You'll need to delete those in the advanced setup wizard, while using component video cables, or simply use component video cables
. Tip, you can go through the wizard using HDMI, provided you know enough to press the "B" button to get to the next format if confronted with a blank screen (a format the TV doesn't display). If the TV doesn't accept 480i, then enable 480P (Standard) instead for example.

Once you've completed the wizard, press the settings button twice and go to "set picture formats". Pick "passthrough" (auto-DVI/HDMI) as this will allow 480i, 720P (if enabled) and 1080i signals to go to the TV through the component video connection. If you pick "fixed" then you'll only get one format out of the STB.

If you only have one format out of the STB, the PQ is sometimes inferior and if you have a Plasma or CRT and you want to stretch the SD channels, your TV will not automatically stretch when switching from HD to SD, whereas the TV will if you stretch the SD channels with a 480i/p signal and the true HD channels will be forced into "full".

When using the DVI/HDMI output the component output is disabled, and the pass-through option is now called Auto-DVI/HDMI in the settings (pressed twice menu) under picture format and is identical to the component passthrough but just with a different name.

Some HDTVs will NOT allow 480i when using DVI/HDMI inputs, use the formats that the TV will accept when using DVI/HDMI, or consider the component video connection.


TIPS - You can get "fancy" by deleting several of the formats in the original wizard. If you only enable 480i and 1080i, then 720P will be converted to 1080i and make surfing the HD channels much faster because the TV doesn't need to reformat each time you get to a station of a different format. Also, you can experiment with the "upconvert1" setting as this will send a 480P instead of 480i signal to the TV. You'll have to decide if this is better or worse than the TV doing the upconversion. You should "enable" 480i/P STANDARD, NOT widescreen in the wizard. Why? See post below:

http://www.digitalhomecanada.com/for...36&postcount=6

General Setup Wizard pdf below:

http://www.scientificatlanta.com/Exp...d/4003114B.pdf

See page 15 of the above to see what "fixed, passthrough, upconvert1/2" do. (I have now re-enabled all my formats since Upconvert1 will output 480P and 1080i and If I want to enable all formats, I simply use "passthrough" instead - great for comparisons and for "fast surfing" when using upconvert1.)

Summary, for most HDTVs, enable 480i Standard, 720P and 1080i and "passthrough/auto-DVI/HDMI" If you encounter issues with HDMI cables, switch to component video, or try 1080i Fixed.

On some STBs, the fixed 1080i setting may have slightly less overscan than using passthrough (for SD channels).

You may wish to visit the SA (now Cisco) site as they sometimes have additional information on these STBs.

It's also possible to select "fixed" under set picture format and then scroll up to change the desired output format under "quick settings" a single press of the settings button.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


One final recommendation. Go through all of the settings on your STB and see what the various options are and whether they are set correctly. Many people never bother to understand what the various settings in the STB do, consequently, they don't get the best performance from the STB, leaving the "default" settings which are often not correct. If you don't know what the setting does, if you press the "info" button, it'll usually tell you. Same goes for the user settings in your TV.

SA 2000/4 Remote Operating Manual Click the link below.

http://www.scientificatlanta.com/Exp...ted/715117.pdf


Tips & Tricks for the SA8300HD.

http://digitalhomecanada.com/forum/s...ad.php?t=17749


Last Resort

If for some reason you can't get the STB to do what you want and you've rebooted it by unplugging it, etc. This is a "last resort" item. You can reformat the iHDD (courtesy of websurferdude).

The Explorer 8X00 has a fairly simple procedure to erase the drive (start clean). Note that this process will erase all scheduled programming and will cause the unit to reload all programming data from your cable provider. On the plus side, it will repair any fragmenting problems.

"Press and hold PAUSE until Mail led is lit. Press PAGE down or (-),
and then press LIST three times. Turn box off. When turned-on,
formatting will begin."

For the 8642:, courtesy of fattest:

1. On Rogers remote, hold PAUSE until the mail icon is flashing.
2. Once it's on, release PAUSE, press LIST, PGDN, PGDN, PGDN
3. Display will say hdd3, and will reboot.

See also: http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/show...&postcount=905

If you have an eHDD, connect it to a computer to format.


The phone number to reset the STB is 1-866-894-9962 (provided by Mole)


Please PM 57 if you have any comments or suggestions.'
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Old 2006-02-26, 04:11 PM   #2
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If you have a broadband connection on your computer (via cable). The following link should provide you with a general indication of the signal strength at your house.

This is good for people who don't have a STB or whose STB (the SA8300HD) provides erroneous readings.

http://192.168.100.1/signal.html

or, if that doesn't work, try & click on signal:

http://192.168.100.1/

Signal strength above -10dB is adequate for digital channels and a S/N ratio of 35 is good. Any splitters "downstream" of where you have your cable modem connected would, of course, lower the signal strength.

Some people may not get a reading. I don't know why - perhaps if you have a router, or don't have a Motorola modem, or restricted by some service providers.

Got the following from actng. Perhaps it'll help some with different modems. (note that for me I get "file not found"...)

Quote:
Use http://192.168.100.1/_aslvl.asp and password W2402

for accessing the signal page. i've had two docsis2 modems where the signal page was locked.
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Old 2006-04-22, 12:10 PM   #3
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For those with Pace STBs, much of the above applies. Some does not. To get into the diagnostics, see the following. This will allow you to check signal strength, etc.

Access to the Signal strength and other internal parameters is achieved by pressing the center button of the 5 button clustor on the STB (not remote) and wait for the envelope logo to light up on the small screen, then press the GUIDE button on the STB. Page +/Page - on the remote allows the different data pages to be viewed. The EXIT button on the remote is pressed when all is done.

Videotron customers may need to press" Info", just like is done for SA STBs in post 1.
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Old 2006-08-24, 01:50 AM   #4
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Other Tips:

If your PVR doesn't "play", go to a previous recording and hit play... this may bring your box back to life.

Reboot the STB once a month by unplugging it and plugging it back in (or preferably via the quickstart guide if available) before you go to bed. This way the IPG will be ready when you next need to use it.

If you're getting split recordings, or sound dropouts, check the signal strength and S/N ratio in the diagnostics above. Temporarily remove any splitters, etc upstream to get the best signal strength.

With a PVR, I always recommend a UPS so that it has some surge protection and doesn't go down during short power outages. Plug the PVR (and eHDD if applicable) into the battery protected side of the UPS and any high draw equipment like a TV or AVR into the non-battery side. A HDD doesn't like to lose power when reading or writing and damage can occur at that time. If you have a cable amp upstream, the amp should also be plugged into the battery protected side and this way the PVR will record during an outage. A small UPS will usually keep a PVR operating for 30-60 minutes, depending on the PVR and UPS. If you wait for a good sale, you can usually find a small UPS (350-750 VA) for about $50-$75.

If you're having problems (like the guide not showing all the information, or any of the above), try a reboot as mentioned above. Wait for the time to display - if you can, wait for 30 minutes for some of the other features to download, etc. The guide usually renews in the early morning, so you may have to wait until the next day to get a complete guide. (mine updates at midnight).

In order to get DD5.1 sound via the optical or coaxial connections, the STB needs to be set to "Dolby Digital" in the audio settings (press the settings button twice).

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=17870 DD5.1

Heat is a killer for STBs. Make sure the STB is well ventillated and make sure it's "on top".
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Last edited by 57; 2010-10-27 at 10:18 AM. Reason: Updated.
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Old 2006-09-26, 10:10 AM   #5
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SA Remote Codes and Manuals

http://www.urcsupport.com/#


Thread discussing RT-U63P Remote (how to do Global Volume Lock and link to manual):

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=148247


If the remote blinks 6 times, then the batteries need replacing.
http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/show...851#post677851


Volume Control TV or STB?:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=60107

Note that you cannot control the volume via the STB when using digital connections like HDMI, Optical, coaxial audio. Only analogue audio. If using a digital connection, you need to programme the remote to control the volume of the device (AVR or TV) to which you are connected.
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Old 2006-09-27, 10:06 AM   #6
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Diagnostic Screen Explanations: Models will differ, but the screens are similar.

http://www.***************/faq/sciatl/all#11882 Link dead, if someone has new link, please advise.
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Old 2006-10-05, 12:18 PM   #7
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Pace 501 STB? See the following:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/show...07&postcount=3

Pace 551? See the following:

You can download specs and (basic) operating manual from this link.

http://www.pacemicro.com/americas/pr...DC551%20Laguna

To change "resolutions" (from the Rogers 551 thread, post 20)

Quote:
You can change Display functions such as 16:9 or 4:3 mode, and which video signal you want enabled (480p, 720p, 1080i etc) while the unit is on by simply pressing the Display button on the front of the unit. This lets you see changes immediately on the channel you are currently watching. I know on the 3250HD you had to do this with the unit off, and press two buttons the unit to enter the display setup wizard.
See also the following (from Pace, now perhaps outdated).

Quote:
Rogers is still using the original software that has the Resolution menu accessed by pressing the "Display" button on the front panel (or holding down the # key on the remote for 5 seconds). Videotron has upgraded to a newer version of SARA which required Pace to migrate to the SA HD wizard (like the 8300 HD and 3250 HD).
With the recent firmware change from Rogers (January 2007) I believe the STBs now function like SA STBs.
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Old 2007-01-19, 10:12 AM   #8
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Videotron Operating Manual Link

http://www.videotron.com/services/st.../guide_enp.pdf
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Old 2007-03-07, 03:50 PM   #9
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Volume Control TV or STB?:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=60107


Audio Connection to TV and AVR using HDMI and digital audio.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=60033


STB Repairs - GTA & BC

http://www.thecableshoppe.com/index_fla.htm


STB Repairs - Montreal.

http://www.solutiondigitale.com/

STB Repairs - GTA: (Electronics Repair Depot)

http://toronto.**********/c-buy-and-...AdIdZ170436954

Search the web for something like "Toronto PVR repair" (major city of choice.)
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Old 2010-10-17, 10:06 AM   #10
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Standalone mode - The STB is acting as though it's not connected to cable at all. The STB probably has a poor connection to it. Check your RF-coax connections (undo and redo all connections and change cables if you have another RF-coax around). Temporarily remove any upstream splitters, power bars, etc (perhaps even a leftover filter which would need to be removed by Rogers). Put the STB as close to the incoming cable to your home as possible for the best signal. If you have another location in the home where a STB is working properly, try moving the STB there - this is no guarantee as different STBs require different signals.

Broadcast mode - the STB cannot communicate back to the head end. The fix is probably the same as above.

SDV (Switched Digital Video) Issues - Often a message like "This channel is currently not available - Please try again later." The STB is not properly communicating with the node near your home. The fix is usually the same as above - a poor splitter or connection upstream being the cause. Sometimes (rarely) the issue is with Rogers upstream - perhaps a filter they installed if you were on basic cable or a head end issue.

SDV Issues, links, post 1: http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=95651

Search Function not working properly - same as above - poor upstream connection.

On-demand Issues - The STB is not properly communicating with the head end. The fix is usually the same as above - a poor splitter or connection upstream being the cause. Sometimes (rarely) the issue is with Rogers upstream. Remember that On-demand is communicating with the head end with each button press, so please be patient - this communication is not instantaneous.

Remote TV Manager (Anyplace Home Edition) Issues - The STB is not properly communicating with the head end or your signal is not getting to the STB. The fix is usually the same as above - a poor splitter or connection upstream being the cause. Remember that Remote Manager is communicating with the PVR - this communication is not instantaneous.

One moment please - the STB is not locking onto the signal properly indicating a signal, STB or connection issue. Try the items outlined previously and call the provider if you still have the issue.

STB won't boot properly, or you cannot download the latest firmware for the 8642 or 9865 Try the items outlined previously and call the provider if you still have the issue. They may need to have a technician come to your site.

If the STB is not communicating with the head end properly, it may shut down in about 3-4 weeks and would need to be reauthorized. If any of the above suggestions don't work, call your service provider.

As always, check your signal strength and S/N ratio and perform a reboot per post 1
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Old 2011-03-01, 08:53 AM   #11
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Using 8300HD after cancelling service. Here's a post from another thread that seems to work.

Quote:
I do not know if all steps are needed, but this sequence worked:

Unplug cable
unplug dvr and reset, power on again
press and hold select button until envelope appears on display of unit
press and hold list button for a few seconds

it should say 'this unit is now authorized to play back recordings when disconnected.'
http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/show...31#post1088131
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