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post #1111 of 1146 Old 09-24-2010, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theaveng View Post

Well I had two Zinwells and both had lousy reception on weak stations. In contrast my Channel Masters have performed excellently across all 5 receivers.

Discounting the flaky channel lineup/timer snafu, I've been happy. The Zinwell performs not as well as the actual HD tuner in my Hitachi plasma and performs significantly better than the tuner they put in my DISH VIP211.

We don't use any other CECBs, so I can't compare.
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post #1112 of 1146 Old 07-02-2011, 12:26 PM
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I checked and see that Amazon still has the Zinwells in stock; probably the best new box still available for $40 AND free shipping. Also stumbled across this unusual 'Zinwell' (?) site in my search (came up top of Yahoo search page):

http://zinwellzat970a.com/

Sounds like they're still making these boxes or they built up a huge stockpile. If someone buys one it would be interesting to see the mfg date code.

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post #1113 of 1146 Old 08-27-2012, 05:52 PM
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I have found a code for displaying the grid-style program guide on the early models of the Zinwell ZAT-970A (s/n less than 830) using a remote other than the DollarTree remote. If you have a General Electric remote that uses 4-digit codes it probably has it.

Apparently GE uses two versions of 4-digit codes in its remotes. Version 1 uses codes less than about 1xxx. This is what I did. On my GE model 24991 (rev C) remote I used code 1005 (which corresponds to TV brands "Gvision" and "Kogi") on the SAT key. Press the "3" button to bring up the EPG and use your regular remote control to navigate thru the listings and exit. After you exit you can press the "6" button to bring up and keep the signal meters on for as long as you want.

The Version 2 remotes use codes ranging from about 5xxx to 8xxx. The current model 24991 (yes, it uses the same model number as my apparently older remote but looks entirely different) on the Jascoproducts.com website uses Version 2 codes. Since I don't have a version 2 remote someone else will have to verify it but I suspect that code 5337 will do the same thing in Version 2 remotes.
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post #1114 of 1146 Old 01-13-2013, 05:48 PM
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I have the zinwell zat-970a how can i update it
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post #1115 of 1146 Old 01-15-2013, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slmjfv View Post

I have the zinwell zat-970a how can i update it

Update what?

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post #1116 of 1146 Old 02-06-2013, 03:31 AM
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I'm sure he means from the instruction manual it stated that Zinwell would send updates OTA .. I think, i can't remember if it has some sort of USB interface in the back for any updates... The two I have are in storage, I did set one up for an aunt and taught her the timer so she can still record onto her old Replay and split the antenna to the TV's tuner so she can record and watch live if she wishes...

But Zinwell doesn't seem to update anything, its like expecting Coby to update a 1998 cassette player... wish the company would update things like an easily available guide and being able to set record timers from it!... All they were interested is getting some quick contract cash from the US government.
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post #1117 of 1146 Old 02-07-2013, 09:12 AM
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Nothing in the manual and no interface connectors on the back; maybe inside on the PCB. I suspect they would tell us has to be done via the service center. Agent is Zinnetusa.

Speaking of which, I've heard of OTA updates on certain products but how does that work? Is it passed through on some particular channel? Just doesn't seem practical to me.

Well I wouldn't stand Zinwell in front of the class, I bet most of the companies are the same with these boxes. I don't think there was much profit margin on the products and since they're not really continuing products they can't afford to allocate engineering resources for update support. I'd like to see the bugs get fixed in the Favorites function. Otherwise I thought they were pretty darn good and unique for the genre they are in.

Out of curiosity I just checked Amazon to see if they're still selling these, which they are, but they look completely different:

http://www.amazon.com/Zinwell-ZAT-970A-Digital-Converter-Antenna/dp/B001DVZXC0

Beefy metal box like a ChannelMaster. I perused the manual and the menus look completely different too but it 'appears' they no longer have a timer or Favorites. I'm suspicious it's been design outsourced...

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post #1118 of 1146 Old 02-07-2013, 03:23 PM
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Zinwell ZAT-970A Owner's Manual says that you can go to a Software Update menu, but didn't provide any screen shots re this feature, so maybe it exists in final products and maybe it doesn't:
http://dtvconverterboxes.blogspot.com/2009/05/zinwell-zat-970a-owners-manual.html
Manual says that there are two methods:
1) RS-232, but is ONLY for factory use (I can see RS-232 area on a picture of circuit board but TXD/RXD/GND/5V thru-holes are NOT populated with any pins for a connector).
2) OTA, which they say is via "cable"....which would (incorrectly???) IMPLY you need to attach it to a CATV system for "OTA" update....but perhaps they really mean what they call it: "OTA"....so worth a try anyway.

Both CATV and OTA systems have implemented a digital stream that cycles through software updates for THOUSANDS (???) of different products that have arranged for OTA Update Broadcast as just one more Data Stream in the MPEG2 Multiplex:
http://www.updatelogic.com/updatetv.html
http://www.updatelogic.com/network-television.html
http://www.updatelogic.com/index.html
http://www.atsc.org/cms/standards/a_97.pdf
Note that Update Logic also provides a USB Stick mail-out service if you wanted to fabricate your own RS-232 Cable (and figured out whether "TXD" was FROM board or FROM external device...I would trace back to see which went to driver and which to receiver IC).

Your PBS station KERA provides UPDATE-TV per RabbitEars Market summary for DFW:
http://www.rabbitears.info/market.php

As far as I know, some (most?) PBS Stations provide this service, so you'll have to set the Converter up on a PBS channel and let it listen for perhaps several days before the ZAT-970A update comes up in the extremely long sequence....it's also possible that once you enable the Software Update function, it will listen for the periodic time table of events and will automatically turn ON and tune to PBS at the appointed time....not sure how any particular box implemented this functionality....and it would be worth a call/email to Update-TV and/or Zinwell Service to query whether an update even exists....it would also be worthwhile to search Forum for other people's experience with OTA Software/Firmware Updates....
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post #1119 of 1146 Old 02-07-2013, 05:54 PM
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Well I'll be a monkey's uncle! My puny little manual is blank between the "Load Factory Default" section and the appendix.; same with my ZAT-950A manual.

Yeah they say via "...the cable." Funny writing these guys. "Upgrade By Air." smile.gif

That's some excellent info you provided - thanks! It's a keeper! I love that RabbitEars. AirBox must be the bizarre-numbered subs that show up via my ION station when using my Motorola HD tuner, they really freak out my Panny 34" WS HD CRT and make it shut down. I delete them out of the Mot tuner list but they keep coming back to haunt me. The SW is a buggy thing on the Mot (HDT-100) and it looks like it might be because I power-strip it off (it barely drops power consumption in standby and its brain chip and a couple of other big ICs getting pretty darn hot). Crummy memory management. I should look for an update method but not much available on this unique box.

Good thing slmjfv asked after all.

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post #1120 of 1146 Old 07-22-2013, 04:06 PM
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Amazon shows the Zinwell ZAT-970A as still being in stock and on sale for $56.72. On Amazon, the unit had 977 reviews and an average rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars.

By comparison, other CECBs shown at Amazon had the following ratings:

RCA DTA800B1 - shown at $49.97. 90 reviews, average rating 3.6 out of 5 stars.

iView 3500STB- shown at $37.99. (similar to a CECB but HD-compatible). 127 reviews, average rating 3.9 out of 5 stars.

HomeWorx HW-150PVR - shown at $45.28 (similar to a CECB but including HD). 15 reviews, average rating 4.1 out of 5 stars.

Zenith DTT900 - shown at $94.99.

There are others, but these are just a few. The easiest to buy at a retail store is the RCA.
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post #1121 of 1146 Old 07-23-2013, 02:04 PM
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I don't know about the Zinwells anymore, see my post #1117 above. Most of those ratings are probably based on the older version which were pretty good boxes and one of only a couple brands that have recording timers (I use mine as timer tuners input to a DVD recorder and VCRs).

I don't know about the RCAs. Walmart stuff so seem cheap but folks appear to be OK with them for basic units, but nothing fancy. My mom has a pair and they've held up well. I didn't know about the lack of 16:9 if that's true (on some boxes it's called 'squeezed' or the like), I use it to record 16:9 in 4:3 format (VCR and standard DVD) which my 16:9 TV then converts back to 16:9 in one of it's aspect modes (Full); of course the same is necessary to use one of these boxes to display 16:9 on a widescreen set (the early widescreen TVs didn't have ATSC tuners and hence why these boxes have this mode).

Those are rip-off prices on the Zeniths/Insignias. I think they're taking advantage of the popularity of those boxes even though they weren't the top tier. BTW Artec looks to be a Zenith clone with good design&mfg IMO, I have a pair I use when camping since they can run up to 12 V DC.

I would avoid the Coby, Craig, and other drug store genre boxes. I've heard the Apex 250s are problematic but the rarer 502 is 'supposed' be a good box; could be the older 250s were better.

Check Fry's and see if they still sell the ChannelMaster CM7000, maybe online somewhere too. There was a TRT brand that was supposed to be great but online only from the maker. These and the Apex's have s-video output for better PQ.

Here's a very dated but decent general review from ConsumerReports:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/electronics-computers/tvs-services/digital-tv-converter/ratings/dtv-converter-boxes-ratings.htm

With patience you can find used boxes on the cheap and local on Craigslist. Some folks never used them since they gobbled them up just in case with their $40 gov't coupons. I suspect there's plenty on eBay too but CL means no S&H and probably better deals.

Me, I've found a couple of full HD tuners on CL for ~$20 each with a lot of patience. The stand-alone HD tuners were somewhat rare but the satellite companies added HD tuners into many of their sat boxes. The difficulty is figuring out which sat models didn't require a subscription but there's plenty of boxes out there because the sat part became somewhat obsolete as they added more sat channels and features like sat HD. And these are high-end high-quality boxes that sold for hundreds of dollars in their heyday.

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post #1122 of 1146 Old 07-23-2013, 04:14 PM
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P.S. When I've looked on CL I used the keywords "tv converter" and have to look at the ads that just list a TV since many people throw in a box with the TV. Should be the other way around. Anyhow I see some small easily carried TVs cheap that would be worth buying for the box and then one could give away the TV if they don't want it. I also look under the "all for sale / wanted" category which searches all categories since some folks put them in the darndest categories (Appliances?! smile.gif ).

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post #1123 of 1146 Old 07-23-2013, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

I don't know about the Zinwells anymore, see my post #1117 above. Most of those ratings are probably based on the older version which were pretty good boxes and one of only a couple brands that have recording timers (I use mine as timer tuners input to a DVD recorder and VCRs).

I don't know about the RCAs. Walmart stuff so seem cheap but folks appear to be OK with them for basic units, but nothing fancy. My mom has a pair and they've held up well. I didn't know about the lack of 16:9 if that's true (on some boxes it's called 'squeezed' or the like), I use it to record 16:9 in 4:3 format (VCR and standard DVD) which my 16:9 TV then converts back to 16:9 in one of it's aspect modes (Full); of course the same is necessary to use one of these boxes to display 16:9 on a widescreen set (the early widescreen TVs didn't have ATSC tuners and hence why these boxes have this mode).

Those are rip-off prices on the Zeniths/Insignias. I think they're taking advantage of the popularity of those boxes even though they weren't the top tier. BTW Artec looks to be a Zenith clone with good design&mfg IMO, I have a pair I use when camping since they can run up to 12 V DC.

I would avoid the Coby, Craig, and other drug store genre boxes. I've heard the Apex 250s are problematic but the rarer 502 is 'supposed' be a good box; could be the older 250s were better.

Check Fry's and see if they still sell the ChannelMaster CM7000, maybe online somewhere too. There was a TRT brand that was supposed to be great but online only from the maker. These and the Apex's have s-video output for better PQ.

Here's a very dated but decent general review from ConsumerReports:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/electronics-computers/tvs-services/digital-tv-converter/ratings/dtv-converter-boxes-ratings.htm

With patience you can find used boxes on the cheap and local on Craigslist. Some folks never used them since they gobbled them up just in case with their $40 gov't coupons. I suspect there's plenty on eBay too but CL means no S&H and probably better deals.

Me, I've found a couple of full HD tuners on CL for ~$20 each with a lot of patience. The stand-alone HD tuners were somewhat rare but the satellite companies added HD tuners into many of their sat boxes. The difficulty is figuring out which sat models didn't require a subscription but there's plenty of boxes out there because the sat part became somewhat obsolete as they added more sat channels and features like sat HD. And these are high-end high-quality boxes that sold for hundreds of dollars in their heyday.
Thanks for a very helpful response. As it turns out, today on my way home, I stopped by two neighborhood thrift stores in the odd chance that they had any CECBs. What a haul I had!! I scored three CECBs, none of them with remotes but all three appeared to power up and were very inexpensive. One was a Zenith DTT900, manufacture date August 2008 (after they fixed the audio problem), the other a Channel Master CM7000, the third a Digital Stream. The most expensive was the Zenith at $13 (I'm using it as we speak, since I already had a DTT900 remote), the Channel Master was $5, the Digital Stream was $6.

Interesting point here: as we prepare for moving and dropping cable TV, I happened to be fiddling with the DTT900 connected to a 6-year-old Samsung HD set, it turns out the DTT900 has a MUCH better ATSC tuner than the older Samsung. My wife noticed as I flipped through the channels that "Family Feud" was playing; I let her watch both episodes, and to be honest, there were ZERO pixillation dropouts. Her skepticism about relying on OTA reception may have been alleviated.

What's a good source of the programming codes for these boxes so they can work with a universal remote?
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post #1124 of 1146 Old 07-24-2013, 06:56 PM
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Wow a ChannelMaster for $5?! Remember that's a rare one with s-video out for a better pic, also has a nice program guide. Yeah many of these boxes had good to great tuners, higher generation stuff. My friend had the same experience - HD LCD tuner wasn't worth a hoot and he had to use one of these (a Zenith, CM, and a Zinwell all killed his HD TV tuner); too bad it was no longer HD though but a smaller TV so didn't matter much and the CM gave him s-video. Now he was in a poor reception area (near airport - interference) and using a portable antenna.

I don't know but modern u-remotes should have that info in their literature (and not all u-remotes use the same codes). I don't know if old u-remotes will work on all boxes anyway and if they do probably very limited functions. Now I do know the CM uses a Pioneer cable box code so old u-remotes will work using their respective code.

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post #1125 of 1146 Old 07-25-2013, 02:32 PM
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Good news: I found that RCA has a web site which lists which specific RCA remote controls can support Converter Boxes, and of those, all of the known converter box programming codes.

http://www.rcaaudiovideo.com/remote-code-finder/

You will have to go down through the various listed models to find which of the RCA remotes are capable of controlling Digital TV Converter Boxes. Almost one-half of the RCA remotes listed have this capability - some specific remotes can control more of the esoteric or off-brand remotes than others. I have listed some of the Converter Box-compatible RCA remotes below, based on the info at RCA's web site:

RCR311BIN
RCR311SN
RCR311SR
RCR311STN
RCR311STR
RCR312W
RCR312WR
RCU300TR
RCR412N
RCR412BN
RCU403R
RCU404R
RCR612N
RCU600DSN
RCR804BR
RCR812N
RCR815N
RCR3273N
RCR4258N
RCR4258R
RCR4358R
RCR4373N
RCR4383N
RCR6473N
RCRH02BR
RCRN03BR
RCRN04GR
RCRN06GR
RCRN08GR
RCRP05B
RCRP05BR
RCRV06GR
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post #1126 of 1146 Old 07-26-2013, 07:16 AM
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More info re RCA R/C codes, JP1 programmable R/C and ALL-IN-ONE R/C's that have built-in CECB codes....and of course all Logitech Harmony R/C's which download codes on-line from their master database:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1457527/channel-master-cm-7001-remote-control-code-for-universal-remote#post_22963339
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post #1127 of 1146 Old 02-13-2014, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vwilliams322 View Post

Does anyone have this box? .....[/URL]
Yes. I acquired one used at a thrift store minus remote, I had to use a universal remote and some functionality was awkward. But out of the 6 CECBs I have evaluated in my home connected to a roof-mounted Channel Master 4228, the Zinwell was the real sleeper of the bunch. Signal reception was very close to the Channel Master CM-7000 and Zenith DTT-900. Picture quality appeared to be significantly better than ALL of the non-S-Video CECBs, very close to the S-Video-equipped CM and Apex 502. Sound quality seemed to be fine.

I liked that the Zinwell is equipped with both Signal Strength and Signal Quality meters. It's not clear whether the current-model Zinwell boxes sold on Amazon perform as well as the 4-year-old unit I have evaluated, recent Amazon reviews seem to be on a downhill trajectory so quality control may have deteriorated. YMMV.

Now if I could just pick up a Zinwell replacement remote....
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post #1128 of 1146 Old 02-14-2014, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seatacboy View Post

Now if I could just pick up a Zinwell replacement remote....

Some folks didn't like it because of its tiny size. Otherwise mine work OK. Of course it probably wouldn't cost much more to buy an entire setup used the way folks jack up their remote prices; if so see if you can snag a 950A (or without the A I think is without pass-thru), basically the same remote. My 950A is a little better IMO - more stable box, maybe a little better tuner, and can pass-thru while on like a VCR (very useful for daisy-chained setups).

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post #1129 of 1146 Old 03-04-2014, 07:32 AM
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I've had a 970A for several years and it has functioned reasonably well until recently. Now, the sound that it passes through to my recorder goes off and on spontaneously. I see this when I'm watching, But worse is when the sound goes out overnight and my recording has no sound. And then in the morning I will see that the 970A volume is down at zero, even though I always leave it near the max.

In TV System I have Audio Mode set to Line Mode. I have a YRW cable connecting it to my recorder. I tried a brand new cable - same problem, so I don't think it's the cable. It's not the antenna signal because video comes in fine, and video/sound comes in fine for my other devices from the same antenna.

Anybody else have this problem?
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post #1130 of 1146 Old 03-04-2014, 09:52 AM
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No but try a hard reset - pull the plug on it while it's on. Of course there's probably a factory reset in the menu to try too but those tend to lose all your stored info.

I suspect you tried jiggling the connections to see if that has any affect.

Then there's RF Mode if that somehow solves the problem. Stable mono is always better than erratic stereo.

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post #1131 of 1146 Old 03-09-2014, 05:55 AM
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The only one I haven't tried is the "hard reset". I have found another wrinkle. Yesterday the sound was coming through on all channels except one - my CBS affiliate. Weirder and weirder.
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post #1132 of 1146 Old 03-09-2014, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElCoyoteSurvives View Post

The only one I haven't tried is the "hard reset". I have found another wrinkle. Yesterday the sound was coming through on all channels except one - my CBS affiliate. Weirder and weirder.

Interesting development. That would persuade me to do a factory rest and start over as painful as it is to lose all the settings. Weird things can happen to 'some' boxes if stations change their transmitting info (i.e. what happens to any old stored station info when a change is made?). I've had stations here make changes and tell us to do a total rescan.

BTW these boxes are certified as Dolby Digital [which I assume means it can convert it to Dolby Surround (Pro Logic) since it only has RCA audio connectors].

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post #1133 of 1146 Old 03-24-2014, 05:40 AM
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Oddities like this take time to nail down because they are intermittent, unpredictable. Anyway, I tried pulling the power plug while the machine was on. No difference. So I did a factory reset and re-scanned channels. Not that big a deal. Seems to be much better. I haven't observed sound spontaneously going off and coming back on while watching (this has nothing to do with the volume setting). But on a couple occasions I have looked at it in the morning (powered on all night) to see the volume had been turned all the way down and any recordings made that night had no sound. No idea what is telling it to turn down the volume. The remote sits alongside other remotes in a box, and nothing sits on top of it to press the Vol button.
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post #1134 of 1146 Old 03-24-2014, 12:09 PM
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Glad to hear you got some improvement.

Come to think of it, I know my DVDR can exhibit weird recording behavior if its A/V source isn't on before it records or if there is any instability of the source during recording. Even states something to this affect in the manual. It's a problem having to use these sources with their own timers. I experienced this problem once with my Zinwell and its oddball timer, learned the hard way. Was much easier with my VCRs, they just recorded and didn't care what the input signal did (although there may have been some VCRs with input detect-sensitive circuitry).

This DVDR does have what's called a Satellite Link function where it records by detection of the source signal. The problem is that the Zinwells don't have a fine-tunable stop time (sleep timer BS).

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post #1135 of 1146 Old 03-24-2014, 12:20 PM
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Oh, if your Zinwell's volume is turned down that is bizarre. Try putting black electrical tape over the Zinwell's display to cover the remote control sensor after you make your settings and turn it off. Some devices are capable of sending out signals to control other devices; one of my VCRs has an IR lense on top of it for this function.

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post #1136 of 1146 Old 04-02-2014, 09:00 AM
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After seeing weird menus displayed in recordings made through the Zinwell, I figured - as you suggested - something is sending signals to the Zinwell. After some fooling around, I think I figured it out. A couple months ago I bought a iView 3500-STBII DVR. Today, while setting up programming on the iView I noticed that the Zinwell was putting up menus I had never seen, changing volume, changing channel, etc. Some experimenting with the iView remote settled the issue. The Zinwell is responding to the iView remote! Figures, since the Zinwell problem started about the time I got the iView.

So I'll try your suggestion - putting tape over the Zinwell sensor. Thanks for bearing with me on this one.
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post #1137 of 1146 Old 04-02-2014, 09:54 AM
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You're welcome!
Laboriously pour thru* your iView manual and see if you can turn off that option. Also see if the iView has an IR 'transmitter' (i.e. not the remote control's receiver lens) lens that you can cover up unless you want to try and control the Zinwell with the iView, assuming they're even used together in your setup. I seriously doubt the remote control is doing it unless it is flaking out - I looked up this model and it doesn't look like any kind of fancy kind of remote that should send out commands on its own.

*That's how I feel about some of these manuals, especially my DVDR and HDD/DVDR. biggrin.gif

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post #1138 of 1146 Old 04-10-2014, 07:06 AM
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Mystery solved. Turns out that the iView remote is a universal remote. If the Zinwell is powered on, pressing this remote's buttons will affect the Zinwell. The solution, then, is to never use the iView remote while the Zinwell is powered on. I can live with that. I'm happy it's not the Zinwell going belly up.

Now, the OTHER problem with the Zinwell, unrelated to the iView problem: The sound on my CBS affiliate ch 3.1 continues to go off and on unpredictably. This does not happen with any other tuner I have, and not on any of the other channels (even 3.2 and 3.3). I rarely record this channel using the Z's tuner, so it's not a big deal, just irritating.
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post #1139 of 1146 Old 04-10-2014, 11:13 AM
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Without having to reread everything, I was under the impression this occurred at night so I don't envision the remote buttons being pressed nor do I think the remote would do that on its own (and didn't you hide the remote to rule this out?). As I mentioned before I would see if the iView has an auxiliary IR transmitter lens on its case.

The unique station thing is weird. All I can think to do is totally reprogram the Zinwell from factory reset to clear out any conflicting old station PSIP info but I thought you already tried this. After that maybe see if it makes any difference if the Zinwell's audio output is set to Line Mode (stereo) or RF Mode (mono).

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post #1140 of 1146 Old 04-10-2014, 12:21 PM
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It looks like buttons have to actually be pressed on the iView remote - either by me or by accidentally by jumbling around in the box of remotes. The overnight thing was a matter of me waking up to what had happened the night before as I was programming the iView while the Zinwell was still powered up, and I then powered the Zinwell off without verifying its settings.

Yes, I've tried the factory reset. Nothing seems to work to fix the channel 3.1 sound problem. What's weird, is that this problem started about the same time as the iView problem, perhaps a bit earlier, but did not previously occur for the years I've had the Zinwell. And it doesn't happen to any other tuner I have, on the same antenna or a different one.
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