Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Reception, channel detection, network issues, CableCARD setup, etc.
rpoitras
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:14 am

Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by rpoitras »

Similar to other posts, I think, since I upgraded to the 20200521 firmware I'm noticing sporadic freezes sometimes ending with pixelation on a bunch of channels. Originally I thought it was just two channels but am realizing it's affecting more as time goes by and I watch different channels. It doesn't seem to affect all channels as when I'm watching local channels ([70]2, [70]4, [70]7, etc.) it never happens. My other favorites including Discovery, History, and Science are all affected. The issue is the channel streams perfectly but every 10 to 15 minutes or so will freeze up for up to 10 seconds and ends with some pixelation as if there's a signal issue. Sometimes there is no pixelation and it just continues as if nothing happened. Most of the time when the first round hits it will be followed by another one or two freeze cycles then may not happen for another 15 minutes, sometimes shorter or longer. Seems pretty sporadic but seems to come in groups.

I have two Primes and both have the same issue. I do have a two-way cable distribution amplifier that I've been using since I bought the Primes many years ago when they first released. I have tried taking the amp out of the picture and even tried a new amp and get the same exact issue. The problem started when I finally picked up tuning adapters from my cable company (Optimum/Altice) because they moved a bunch of channels, mostly kid channels that my daughter could no longer tune in, to switched digital. When checking the status of the TA's on the Prime pages I noticed there was a firmware update available so I updated them. This was a little over a month ago and since then the issue has been happening. I also tried removing the TA's just to make sure and the issue was still there. I originally used the built-in splitter on the TA's to feed each Prime (coax -> TA in -> TA out -> Prime) but I also tried external two-way splitters to feed the Prime and the corresponding TA (coax -> splitter -> out1 to Prime; out2 to TA) but that didn't fix anything either. So, with all the troubleshooting it seems to be directly related to the firmware update.

I have enabled diagnostics on both devices and initiated channel scans. The ID's are as follows:
1312DEB1 (used most often)
1312A519

I haven't been around here in years. Is it still not possible to downgrade the firmware? That would, by far, be the easiest way to test.

nickk
Silicondust
Posts: 15994
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 9:39 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by nickk »

Hi,

The firmware on PRIME doesn't affect reception.

The log doesn't show any errors but it is worth noting that the signal level is very high. Seeing +13dBmV on a number of channels which is near the upper limit of most cable equipment. It isn't causing a problem but you may want to revisit your splitter/amplifier layout.

Two things to do...

1) Please run the following test:
https://info.hdhomerun.com/info/trouble ... acket_loss

2) Watch live TV and look for the problem to occur. When it does, make a note of the date+time and stay on the channel for at least 10 more minutes so the HDHomeRun logs enough information.

Nick

rpoitras
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:14 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by rpoitras »

Ok, I did as asked using channel 759 (Science HD) since it has no DRM, as per instructions.

I caught the following 3 events on LiveTV (same channel as the test), the 3rd being the worst (froze for about 10 seconds):
8/20/2020
5:26PM EST
5:36PM EST
5:50PM EST

And here is the capture for the test:

Code: Select all

hdhomerun_config 1312DEB1 set /tuner0/vchannel 759

hdhomerun_config 1312DEB1 save /tuner0 null
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rpoitras
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:14 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by rpoitras »

I have a video clip of an event that took place at 6:49:50PM EST on the same channel, but the video is 90MB so not sure how to share it. Let me know if you are interested. It just basically shows Live TV in WMC freezing for about 10 seconds and when the stream resumes the entire picture is pixelated until it "catches up" again.

Also, I didn't mention it in my original post but this is all wired network which hasn't been recently changed.

nickk
Silicondust
Posts: 15994
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 9:39 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by nickk »

Well that log is interesting.

No reception errors. At each of those times a new PMT was detected. The PMT information is sent to the CableCARD.

Can you please power cycle the HDHR3-CC so we get some additional logging relating to the CableCARD.

I will continue to investigate.

Nick

rpoitras
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:14 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by rpoitras »

Just power cycled both Primes.

What is PMT?

RickNY
Posts: 23
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2020 6:18 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by RickNY »

I don't think your issue has anything at all to do with your HDHomeRun... If you take a look at dslreports and tivocommunity, you'll see there are numerous threads with over 100 responses from other Optimum customers with CableCards (most, if not all Tivo users) that have been experiencing this issue for the past 4-6 weeks. All of the responses I've seen so far have indicated the problem exists on Tivo.. I came here to see if there were other products affected to rule out a Tivo problem.

On the Tivo, it manifests itself as the picture freezing and pixelizes for a second, audio drops, and then it will sometimes recover within 3-4 seconds or the Tivo will return a V58 Not Authorized error. From what I can gather, this error is a decryption error from the CableCard.

It seems everyone having the issue is on Long Island or one of the other systems utilizing an NDS CableCard. There are a few Optimum systems that use Cisco/SA CableCards - and those users have reported not experiencing the issue.

Many of us have filed FCC complaints for the issue, and some of us have received follow-ups from the Altice executive offices -- this will be a tough battle to fix, as the executive offices are blaming the equipment and telling you that you need to get it resolved with the manufacturer (in my case, Tivo). I was told to try replacing my card, which I did. The problem remained and the executive offices said "We have done all we are required to do, the problem must be your equipment". They also stated that if they send a tech out and determine the signal to the house is good, we would have to pay for the tech visit.

This issue last happened in 2015 and was related to an encoder problem at the headend. Back then it was owned by Cablevision, and we had much more dedicated engineering resources from the company available to us in online forums. With Altice, that is no longer the case.

My suggestion is to file an FCC complaint.. If another provider is available to you, you may end up wanting to explore that. I doubt the issue will ever be resolved.

jasonl
Expert
Posts: 15306
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 9:23 pm

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by jasonl »

The PMT contains information about what audio and video streams are present in a particular program. Any time it changes, the host device has to report that to the CableCARD, which IIRC requires it to restart the decryption of that channel, which can lead to video freezes or glitches because of a brief amount of time when non-decrypted data is output. The PMT should basically never change except for major events like adding or removing an audio track. If it's changing frequently, then your cable provider is screwing up, and as RickNY indicated, it's an encoder problem since the encoder generates the PMT. Also, NDS cards are buggy pieces of shit in general, so no surprise that feeding them garbage data is compounding the problem.

RickNY
Posts: 23
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2020 6:18 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by RickNY »

And unfortunately - if you’re on a system that is using NDS for conditional access, you’re stuck using the NDS card. You can’t request a Cisco/SA card.

rpoitras
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:14 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by rpoitras »

Well that's unfortunate.

RickNY, I remember you from the DSLReports forums. Is Wilt no longer available? That one guy must've saved Cablevision millions of dollars and was a class act to boot.

Anyway, this does sound like the same issue and as jasonl has described what PMT means it definitely seems to be the same problem. The Prime menu on both my units say they are Technicolor/Cisco cards but it's wrong as I just checked and it says NDS right on the card. Is NDS required in some areas or can I go and swap them for Cisco cards?

If this issue won't be fixed by Optimum/Altice and can't be worked around by SD then these devices are not going to be useful to me any more as it's unwatchable. Sometimes it won't happen for 10 minutes then other times it's every minute -- no rhyme or reason from what I can tell and it's just plain annoying.

RickNY
Posts: 23
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2020 6:18 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by RickNY »

Unfortunately, Wilt left the company when Altice bought them, and more unfortunately - passed away in 2018.

If your system is an NDS system, you’re stuck with NDS cards. They are tied to the conditional access system installed at the headend. From what I can gather, areas that originally started out with Sony boxes for digital TV (when they were calling it ‘iO’) are NDS systems. I know this includes all of Long Island, the Morris system in NJ - and there are a couple of others. When Cablevision started deploying Scientific Atlanta equipment in the areas that never had the Sony boxes, they used SA for the conditional access and those systems use Cisco/SA cards. One thing to note is they were able to work with SA to have them work with the NDS system when they started deploying SA equipment on Long Island and the other former Sony areas.

So the only way to get SA cards (currently) is to move.

Also - I’ve always found this interview from Wilt in 2002 to be very helpful in explaining how all of the various Optimum systems ended up with this hodgepodge: https://www.multichannel.com/news/cable ... ive-161459

nickk
Silicondust
Posts: 15994
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 9:39 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by nickk »

rpoitras - PM sent with a test to run.

Nick

rpoitras
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:14 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by rpoitras »

RickNY, well that's not good news all around.

I have been considering just ditching the HTPC route as it's just a lot of work sometimes and going with the cable boxes but since Altice took over and raised prices I'm finding it hard to give them even more money. Hopefully it's possible to work around the issue in the Prime's firmware somehow.

RickNY
Posts: 23
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2020 6:18 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by RickNY »

rpoitras wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:44 am
RickNY, well that's not good news all around.

I have been considering just ditching the HTPC route as it's just a lot of work sometimes and going with the cable boxes but since Altice took over and raised prices I'm finding it hard to give them even more money. Hopefully it's possible to work around the issue in the Prime's firmware somehow.
Last night I ordered a used HDHR3-CC and I'll pick up another card and TA when it arrives so at least I have some ammunition with them telling them that it is not solely a Tivo issue.. I can certainly integrate the HDHomerun in to our existing system, and have been evaluating Channels DVR.. Replacing our Tivos/Minis is not an appealing option -- we have just 1 cable box in the house and our bill is $266 (and thats after their "special discount" of $44 that we are receiving - subject to go away at any time). For the rest of the TVs, we have 1 Tivo Roamio Plus with Lifetime and 5 Tivo Minis.. Replacing them with boxes would jack up the bill an additional $70/mo.

If a firmware remedy ends up not being available, you may want to check out Channels -- its not perfect -- but it will connect with the HDHomerun and also tie in TV Everywhere with just one login. Just adding the TVEverywhere channels made 170 channels available -- for the problematic channels, you could opt to watch the TVE sources instead of CableCard.

rpoitras
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:14 am

Re: Freezes since 20200521 firmware update

Post by rpoitras »

Nice, thanks for that. Always better to have more options!

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