Problem with Scientific Atlanta 3100HD cable box and TW digital service

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Michael Reuben, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 1998
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    5,110
    This is a new one, and I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced anything like it.

    I've had the Sci. Atl. 3100HD box for about 18 months now. It's connected to three different sources: (i) HDTV; (ii) TiVo; and (iii) a Panasonic DVD recorder. Never had any problems with it until recently.

    Several times in the past two weeks, the box has simply "frozen". The behavior is almost like a computer that's locked up and needs rebooting. The screen is frozen in a kind of mushy video snow (sometimes pink, sometimes green) and the audio goes to static. The power on/off switch has no effect on the display; the box won't power off but just keeps sending out the same fried display. Oddly enough, the HD channels continue to display accurately -- but no other channels, even through the HD output.

    Unplugging the box and waiting a few minutes before plugging it back in always brings it back to normal operation -- just like a computer that needs a complete reset.

    Has anyone seen anything like this before? Is it an indication of something in the box going bad, or could it be an effect of some signal that Time Warner has been sending out (their digital channels have been particularly bad lately)?

    All thoughts and speculations welcome.

    M.
     
  2. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    38,763
    Likes Received:
    488
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Is it unusually hot to the touch now? It's possible it's showing its age, and on the downswing of its life.
     
  3. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2003
    Messages:
    813
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have a 3100hd and a regular 3100, and they'll both reset themselves at night for no apparent reason (there's not a power failure) every two months or so. I would say that's more of a sign of weird signals from TWC whereas your case sounds more like gradual failure of the equipment.

    What does your channel guide do when it's doing this?
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 1998
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    5,110
    Patrick --

    Good thought. I checked, and while the box is warm to the touch, it's not unusually so. Seems normal.

    James --

    When the box freezes, the guide doesn't come up. Hitting the button does nothing, which is pretty much the case with every other button on the remote or the box. It really is like a computer that's locked up tight.

    I'm beginning to suspect that the problem is a severely degraded signal on the Trio network. I was trying to watch the film 11-09-01 on Trio's broadcast last night, and it looked like a DVD with a major scratch -- massive picture breakup with big digital blocks of information going missing, until finally the picture and and sound froze entirely, and the box suddenly reset itself. After that, the Trio network was still unwatchable, but every other channel I checked was fine. I know that at least one of the prior lockups occurred while the box was tuned to Trio.

    I don't know if it's an appropriate analogy, but it struck me that it seemed similar to running a buggy piece of software on a computer that's otherwise in good working order.

    M.
     
  5. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 1998
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    5,110
    It's looking like the problem is a dying cable box. According to TW cable, they are receiving no similar complaints from people in my area -- and the glitches just keep on coming. I have yet to be able to receive an intelligible broadcast of HBO's latest offering Carnivale. A tech is coming later this week; I can't wait to see the look on his face when he (or she) eyes my system.

    I'm glad, though, that I saved some recordings of glitch-laden broadcasts. It would be just my luck that it all performs flawlessly while the tech is here.

    M.
     
  6. Mark Hedges

    Mark Hedges Second Unit

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2003
    Messages:
    442
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My 3100 HD box has always been unusually hot to the touch. It seems to put out way too much heat for something that has no need to handle large amounts of power. And it is almost as hot off as it is on!

    Mark
     
  7. Martin Rendall

    Martin Rendall Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2000
    Messages:
    1,043
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have aa 3100HD, and have had the occasional hang, just like you.

    A couple of observations:

    From the service menus, it certainly appears that the box could be running an embedded unix of some sort.

    Also, the cable company can reset the box whenever they want, which could explain the myserious reboots at night.

    Martin.
     
  8. ScottWR

    ScottWR Auditioning

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2003
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have that issue occasionally, too. But...

    My real beef with the 3100 is that the component video output only sends 1080i to my Hitachi 51SWX20B RPTV. Thus, I can only choose from normal 16:9 (which displays the 4:3 signal on non-16:9 material and leaves the black side panels) or 16:9 zoom (which cuts off part of the top and bottom of the material).

    I have resorted to using the S-video out from the 3100 on 4:3 material, but it bugs me that I can't use the component video out for it.

    Anyone figure out a workaround to this issue?
     
  9. jeff peterson

    jeff peterson Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 1998
    Messages:
    675
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Scott, the replacement for the 3100HD is out (the 3250HD); our TWC here in Albany, NY has it and allows a trade. All channels our output via component with options for 480i(and p), 720 and 1080. See if your cable company has it in.
     
  10. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 1998
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    5,110
    I had an interesting chat with the TW tech who handled the service call this evening. In general, I've found the techs who handle the problems in NYC (as opposed to the installers) are intelligent and experienced.

    According to this gentleman, the typical sign of a deteriorating box is a complete absence of picture or sound (or both). Digital break-up like I've been experiencing -- and I'd saved a selection of TiVo recordings to show him -- is usually an indication of a weak signal. He told me that, with their move to digital cable, they've been seeing many more instances where just a slight fall-off in signal strength causes major problems of the type I've been experiencing.

    So then we started tapping into the system at various points to try to determine where the signal might be getting drained. The signal into my apartment is plenty strong enough, but it drops off significantly when it passes through surge protection. We debated the pros and cons of surge protection, and he ended up replacing most of the connectors in the system and the splitter that gets me a separate feed to the VCR. After that the signal into the cable box measured much stronger than before.

    He wants me to try watching for a few days, and if it continues to misbehave to try taking it off the surge protector for a while. I'm hoping I don't have to proceed with that experiment, though.

    It's interesting that all of these connectors have worked fine for me with digital cable for almost two years. Something must have changed in TW's system, but I'm not sure what.

    M.
     

Share This Page