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The Official 169time AVX-1 Technical Status Discussion

post #1 of 3266
Thread Starter 
Have at it.

I have copied PVR's original post in his topic, which follows, and will close it to prevent any further problems.

"h2ofun" had started an old 169time techincal status topic which he later deleted. When he deleted his starter post the forum removed the 100s of useful followup messages.

I am starting a new one with the promise that I will never delete the whole topic.

This intent of this topic is for techincal discussions including trouble reports. If you want to bash the product, or flame a forum member then please go to this topic:

To start things off I will describe the basic 169time components and a brief mention of current issues.

169time makes the HDVR100 board that goes into an RCA DTC-100 box so that the HD datastream can be passed along over 1394 ("firewire") connectors.

With their 1.6 firmware in the HDVR100 many people have been able to record OTA ATSC broadcasts received by the DTC100 then on to various D-VHS VCRs.

The AVX-1 product is a small Linux based PC that acts as a "data fixer" to allow the premium HD satellite channels (such as HBO-HD, SHO-HD and HDnet) to be recorded onto D-VHS tape.

The basic data path is:
DBS Antenna -> DTC-100 -> HDVR100 -> AVX1 -> D-VHS VCR.

There are 3 main brands of D-VHS VCR that have been used with the 169time products: JVC, Mitsubishi and Panasonic. People have had different issues with the different VCRs so you should mention which brand you are using if you are reporting issues in this topic.

The main issue that people are seeing now is added "dropouts" (picture or audio glitches) and/or recordings that stop part way through when recording from HBO-HD or SHO-HD.

Various "band aid" fixes have been suggested to improve the situation. Among these are:
1> Ferrite beads on the IEEE1394 cables.
2> Inline amplifiers on the DirectTV satellite feed.
3> Inline "Pads" (attenuator) on the DirecTV satellite feed.
post #2 of 3266
Thanks, Ken I feel your effort is the simplest one to add insurance that technical information will not be lost due to deletion of the starter post.

In your opener, I would like to offer that with the AVX-1, the official support is for only two DVHS VCR's-
1. JVC 30K
2. Mits 2000U

3. The Panasonic PVHD1000, while supported with the HDVR retrofit to the DTC-100 was not supported with the AVX-1.

The second issue I have is that to my knowledge, no one has ever actually tested the "solid ferrite beads" for reduction of RFI on the 1394 cables. Implementation of "solid Ferrite beads" component would be quite difficult. Rather, I suggested the use of the broadband ferrite toroids that are designed to wrap the 1394 cable as a split toroid, plastic encased that will snap together. The "ferrite beads" have been referenced in the old thread but no one actually documented how they had implemented them. When asked, these people claiming to use the beads were actually using the split toroids.

Just an FYI- Ferrite beads refer to a surface mount chip like component that is soldered in series with an active conductor to filter high frequency RF while passing lower frequency signal. They also refer to the tiny toroid like device that will slip over the tiny jumper wires within a circuit. From this, bead manufacturers designed a split core toroid of much larger design that could be wrapped around a cable of conductors where connectors on the end prevent a large bead from being slipped into place. These became knows as the RFI Ferrite split toroid choke which is what most were using.
Use of large solid toroid beads could be uses if the core is large enough in diameter to feed the connector through and then the 1394 cable is wrapped several times around the ferrite torous. Original Panasonic 1394 cables that came with the PVHD1000 used this approach. It was klutzy but worked.

Here is the Radio Shack part number I originally offered:

Catalog Number: 273-105

These work well snapped over most IEEE1394 cables.

If one wants to use a split toroid over the AVX-1 power cable, I suggested a source from some old computer monitor VGA cables that often used them with a larger design. I scarfed one of those from that source and it was a perfect fit on the AVX-1 power cable.

I ran several tests documenting the effectiveness of placing an RFI toroid choke at each end of the FW cable that runs between the AVX-1 and the VCR as well as the cable that runs between the VCR and the DTC-100/HDVR connection. Later I demonstrated in my system that only the connection between the AVX-1 and the VCR actually required the toroids for elimination of RFI intrusion into the system during record.

The AVX-1 operation was shown to be especially sensitive to RFI while in use during record. Several sources of this RFI were reported in the old technical thread- I made a list of these:

1. 2.4 Ghz wireless phones
2. TV Monitor Horizontal sweep oscillators
3. Microwave ovens that are leaky
4. Digital cell phones
5. WAP Wireless access points in the 802.11 LAN specification
6. Wired ethernet switch in vicinity and/or wires from it running in proximity of the AVX-1 system
7. Broad spectrum RF such as brush motors, electric drills, Vacuum cleaners etc.
8. Open or leaky computer CPU's
9. Nearby high power Radio and TV broadcast transmitters.
I'm sure there are others but this was my list.

I specifically tested a 900Mhz telephone as well as some 900Mhz wireless microphones and these were not affecting the AVX-1 at all.

AVX-1 installation- Early on we also documented the need to place the AVX-1 a reasonable distance from the VCR and DTC-100. We found problems when the AVX-1 was located above, below on either side of the VCR. Locating it a measured distance of 5 feet between the components and feeding with a 6 ft FW cable allowed the offending issues to be eliminated.

It was also documented that there were specific normal DTC-100 operation functions that would cause either immediate or chronic signal destruction during the recording when the AVX-1 was used.
These operations include anything that interrupts the continuous and contiguous data flow from the HDVR 1394 connection off the DTC-100. Examples of these functions would be channel changing of any type, menu access, or guide access. Our recommendation was to not connect the AVX-1 cable until one is set ready to record, and then connect the cable from the AVX-1. Once connected, the only user function that should be executed is the record button on the VCR and when done recording, the stop button. Then immediately, disconnect the Firewire from the AVX-1.

Their is a time delay that is required to allow the AVX-1 to stabilize after FW connection that may take between 10 seconds and 20 seconds or fail. In order to know for sure the AVX-1 is ready, I suggest one connect a small VGA monitor to the AVX-1 and watch the operation proceed. When it is converting the data the readings will indicate that and you will then be allowed to connect the Firewire to the VCR to proceed. Adding the monitor to the AVX-1 greatly improves one's success in the initialization of the system.


Several members have used the channel selection feature on the JVC VCR to allow the FW cable to be connected by software but those using this method have not had consistent success as I have experienced using the hard wire disconnect procedure.

Many users have reported the need to boot the AVX-1 prior to recording but I have done extensive testing on this and I am not convinced this is necessary when the VGA monitor indicates all is normal with it's operation. When the monitor indicates a stack overflow, system freeze, or other strange readout of data, I reboot to get it working normal again. This has happened only in cases of know outside issues acting on the AVX-1 such as power brownouts and leaving the FW connected to the system while violating the known DON'Ts on the user function list. All other times the AVX-1 appears stable to the same extent as my windows2000 computer!

As I think of more AVX-1 technical tests and conclusions of the early beta period I will post them.

Timer recordings using the AVX-1
Internal DTC-100 timer recording was not supported in the beta release of the AVX-1. We tested and had excellent timer recordings using an IR remote control supporting timed event control on a single channel. Due to the chronic disruption of the AVX-1 when executing a channel switch, we never were able to get the remote control timer to execute a two event recording with channel switch from one HD channel to another without record destruction on the second record event.


Summary- many issues reported above are similar between the JVC and the Mits VCR. The difference is in the initialization and stability of the two VCR's with the AVX-1. There was a documented procedure where the FW could remain connected on the JVC and operation was stable. I won't comment further on the JVC as there are many who have had success with that VCR and those should report what has worked consistently well for them.

Note- All my early testing was performed using a Mitsubishi DVHS VCR and with DirecTV HBO HD, HDNet but not Showtime HD. Later I ran confirmation testing on the Showtime HD channel and did not notice any new issues with that channel vs. HBO HD or HDNet.
post #3 of 3266
I wonder if this summary thread ( my words ) should be tacked to the top since it looks like a pretty comprehensive summary of current status and no one else has seen to post in this one yet.

post #4 of 3266
Talking to Richard tonight, as he is working on the s/w, he is asking me to collect some data from folks on features, priorities, etc they would like to have.

Things that have been brought up in the past are (in no order)

stability of signal for HBO/SHO and HDnet
Serial port data (what mean and need for?)
display only error info on avx-1 screen
Send the data to hard drive on Windows XP machine
Ability to make own avx-1 computer

post #5 of 3266
#1: stability of signal for HBO/SHO and HDnet
#2: Send the data to hard drive on Windows XP machine
#3: Ability to make own avx-1 computer

(Combining #2 and #3 such that a WinXP computer could do the processing nessary to capture the data directly from the HDVR-100 would be very nice.)

Maybe when Leszek perfects the DVHStool filters he can write an AVX-1 replacement as a WinXP filter component?

Any news on the AVX-1 as a PVR device front?
post #6 of 3266

#1 Stability of Hbo, Showtime, HDnet (including Ch199 PPV HD)

This means immediately recovery from the unavoidable data stream irregularities/errors.
We need the new improved software for the AVX-1 asap.

#2 Timer recording


post #7 of 3266
So here is a sneak peak of the web site that is being worked on for 169time. It is NOT ready to be published but I thought I would put the link out and get inputs from folks. Should this type of format replace whats there? If so, what inputs can you give as to content, etc.

Again, this is not ready for prime time for technical accuracy!!!!

Look forward to hearing so good technical inputs for improvement.


I forgot about PVR. I know it can be done since I already had done it while he was in development. Its just he is not sure if enough folks would want since now it would have to be linux since this is whats running. We were hoping Dan Dennedy would make the PVR linux control s/w but looks like he got busy on other stuff. Now, if someone wants to work with Richard on this. Unless, since I could grab the file from my XP box from the Linux box, I guess a control interface could be made in Windows. PVR, you ready to work with RIchard yet?

post #8 of 3266
- Stability of signal for HBO/SHO and HDNet

This is priority 1, 2, 3, and 4. If you don't have that, what's the point of the other stuff?

- Serial port data (what mean and need for?)

This is not a requirement. It was a suggestion I made. There are two things you could do here.

1. Simple one is to just echo the status messages out the serial port at maximum speed, no handshaking. If people have problems, it could be captured easily to computer and send in for diagnosis.

2. Better but more complex, provide a control protocol through the serial port, or through the ethernet port if it has one. This would allow the device to be controlled via control systems, to power it on and off, get its status, etc... This would allow people who have a control system to monitor it without having to have a monitor dedicated to the AVX, and to help with automatic recording jobs by being able to power it on and off, and make it do other things it might do in the future, via the control system.
post #9 of 3266
post #10 of 3266
"display only error info on avx-1 screen "

I would hope that the above would be user selectable only. I use the avx-1 screen now to advise me when things are ready and stable. I would not want a blank screen until there is an error. I don't want the AVX-1 to just tell me when I made an error in operation. Now it tells me things are ready.

Since stability was the single most common complaint, I think the efforts in the next software release should concentrate in this fix. Once that has been achieved, other features that are not yet supported can be worked on. I think the next software release should be offered as soon as the tests indicate that the stability issue has been resolved to the track record of OTA recording. THEN, after that is field approved, especially by Dean and a few others who have been the most vocal, an upgrade of the software that offers additional features can be put in the works. Let's not confuse upgrade of features with fixing something fundamental that is broken.
post #11 of 3266
Dave- I just glanced at your proposed web site design for 169Time. It looks much better than the existing one. I found it easy to navigate. Nice of you to offer both online and pdf manuals.

I have one question, overall-
The site specifically excludes the Mitsubishi VCR with reference to the AVX-1. Does this mean that 169Time is dropping support for this or does it simply mean that the Manual and information for the Mitsubishi is just not YET added to the proposed site?

Second item- Above, I have listed some basics of technical stuff from the old thread. I do not have the JVC procedure for AVX-1 operation which is quite different from the MIts. You posted it in the Manual for the AVX and the JVC VCR. Would you post that procedure to this thread or do you wish this remain a copyright of you and/or 169Time at this time?

Note- I plan to submit to this thread a startup process for the Mits VCR and it would be nice to have one for the JVC as well. I was going to ask Jeff but since yours looks like what I had in mind, it will save him the bother.
post #12 of 3266

Obviously the most important thing is stability in recording HBO, SHO and HDNET, 199 pay channel in that order.

I would be extremely interested in recording to hard drive.

post #13 of 3266
Lets see. I also told RIchard last night that stability is number one.
But as he is debugging this, he may have time to put other stuff in.
This is why he is asking.

Don, the web designer put on the web which 169time had.
As I said, I can modify the web to put what ever we want in it.
Do you want to send me Mits stuff and I can update. Just tell me how you would like the web changed, and I can do it. No, 169time is not leaving the mits!

Don, not sure what your second question is? Try me again.

post #14 of 3266

Originally posted by Don Landis
"display only error info on avx-1 screen "

I would hope that the above would be user selectable only. I use the avx-1 screen now to advise me when things are ready and stable. I would not want a blank screen until there is an error. I don't want the AVX-1 to just tell me when I made an error in operation. Now it tells me things are ready.

That was my request, but please don't misinterpret what I was asking for. I did not ask for a "blank screen screen until there was an error". I ask for a user selectable option to turn off the scrolling bit rate display. The purpose was to keep the useful startup and error messages ON THE SCREEN and WITH A TIMESTAMP. With that information the user can quickly determine if a recording has errors and where they are on the tape.

I made the suggestion because it was a useful modification, and extremely easy for Richard or Dave to do (about 2 minutes of programming).
post #15 of 3266
Roger, good input. Will pass to RIchard.

post #16 of 3266
"Don, not sure what your second question is? Try me again."

Yes, I wanted to know if you would post here the JVC initialization procedure for the AVX-1 you so nicely outlined in the AVX manual.

I could resurect it from the posts but when I saw yours I thought the official version should match. I would have copied/pasted it but didn't want to have any © issues with you or 169. best if you do it.
post #17 of 3266
Don, is this what you wanted?

This is for the JVC D-VHS deck Only:

The requirement to avoid selecting the STB as the input to the deck requires some practice and planning while operating the deck's channel up / down controls. The steps are listed as follows:

1) Tune the DTC100 to an HDTV channel. This can be either an OTA DTV channel or a satellite HDTV channel. Using analog OTA channels or standard definition satellite channels is inappropriate.

2) If not already on and booted, start the AVX-1 and wait for it to completely boot at this point. Note that the AVX-1 does not need to be or reset rebooted if it had previously been switched on and booted.

3) Use the deck's channel up and down buttons to select the I-number that corresponds to the AVX-1.

4) Use the deck's channel up / down buttons to select the input source that is adjacent to the I-number of the AVX-1, while not selecting the STB. Here's more on this. If the STB has an I-number that is a lower number than that of the AVX-1, use the channel up button to select the next higher adjacent input source, typically this will display 2CH (most users). If the STB has a higher I-number than the AVX-1, use the channel number to select a lower adjacent input source that is typically F-1. This way the selection of the STB as in input source has been avoided and the deck is tuned to the adjacent input and not the either the AVX-1 or STB. Sometimes the deck is sluggish in selecting the adjacent input source. After pressing the channel up / down button allow a few seconds and then press it again if required to achieve the desired change in input as shown on the deck's front panel.

5) Use the power switch of the deck to put the deck in the power off (standby) mode.

6) Again use the deck's power switch to switch it on.

7) Use the opposite of the deck's channel up / down button that was used in step 4) above to re-select the AVX-1 as the input source to the deck, thus avoiding the STB as a selected input source. It may take a few seconds for the deck to respond to the selection. After waiting a few seconds if the I-number selection corresponding to the AVX-1 doesn't appear, press the button again.

At this point the HDTV signal should be present on the outputs of the JVC deck. Viewing or recording of the HDTV signal through the deck's outputs can commence. Even if not used for viewing, the deck's outputs are an excellent way to monitor the integrity of the recording process. If the deck is accidentally set to select the DTC100 as the input source, or there are substantial glitches in the audio or video signal output, for example a loss of audio to video time synchronization or pixelation is displayed by the deck, it is suggested to perform the steps 1) through 7) again to ensure that the deck is properly conditioned to accept the signal from the AVX-1.

post #18 of 3266
Yes, that's it. Just title it for JVC only as that will not work with the Mits VCR. This way people won't get confused and wonder why that doesn't work with the Mits.
post #19 of 3266

post #20 of 3266
Say Dave... coming from a web d-zine background, might i offer a couple of observations?
One is the little carrot indicator, when you're rolling over, it might be nice to put it on the opposite side of the words, since you're using it to indicate which page you're on... i know it adds a few bytes of graphic, but it might be nice...

Another is the green patch whit the 'introduction' you might want to take the carrot out. Kinda looks like a typo.

Another is the home page, maybe the image used to 'sell' the product should be ultra sharp, rather than the trendy blurry...

Its a very nice looking page. kudos to the d-ziner
post #21 of 3266
Matt, thanks for the inputs. Will look at seeing if I can changes myself. The d-ziner, she did a great job. IF I cant figure out, I ask for help.

post #22 of 3266
Ken H.

Could you please correct the spelling of "technical" in the title ot this thread to make it possible to search for it.
post #23 of 3266
Hye, I thought I was the only one who couldnt spell

post #24 of 3266
I am a worse speller
post #25 of 3266
Thread Starter 
To all who noted my spelling errors, I have corrected them, thanks.
post #26 of 3266
Hi, Don!

I'm not using split toroids for my IEEE-1394 cables - I'm using a continuous toroid, which is a more effective form of RFI suppression. These are made by attaching the bead to the cable prior to the connectors being soldered on, then they are overmolded with plastic to hold them in place. While they aren't cheap, these cables are available from Granite Digital.

Among many other tidbits lost from the original thread:

- Don't use a wireless access point near your A/V rack, or else you'll see long periods where the signal blanks out for several seconds.

- Improving the signal strength reduces the frequency of the dropouts. I am convinced that the dropouts we are seeing are primarily caused by internal RFI interference inside the DTC100, where the HDVR introduces additional noise. From observation, this is most likely caused by the high-impedance grounding method (long thin wires are used to connect power and ground to the HDVR board). For some folks like me, using a satellite line preamp helps reduce the frequency of dropouts. Unfortunately, for many others, the preamp raises the signal to the point where the front-end of the DTC-100 is desensitized, leading to signal-stengths.

The real fix, in my opinion, is a combination of software that is better at resyncing, as well as a hardware fix that lowers the power and ground impedances to the HDVR, possibly including a mu-metal shield around the HDVR.

post #27 of 3266
Here is an interesting process that should help for now.

We've heard from customers of an alternate way to address this problem
> > follows.
> > Just prior to leaving the setup ready to record-
> >
> > 1) set the JVC channel to NOT select the AVX1
> > 2) do a fresh reset boot of the AVX1 (it isn't selected yet)
> > 3) Just at the time you want recording to start:
> > A) have the remote operate the channel (up or down as needed) to
> > the AVX1
> > B) wait a few seconds in the remote
> > C) have the remote issue the record command to the deck
> >
> > The above is said to work because the AVX1 was freshly booted and
> > become corrupted until it's actually (running) sending the data to the
> > deck, which it doesn't do while it's waiting and not selected.
> >
> > Does this make sense?



> Thanks, the alternate way you suggested resulted in a successful timer
> recording late last night.
> When the JVC channel is not selected to AVX1 can the DTC100 perform
> changes and not mess the AVX1 up?

169time's reply

Yes, when not selected, the AVX1 and deck will not see the DTC100 signal.
The deck should also not select the DTC100 during this period.

Glad to hear this works. It's not 100% since sometimes the deck / AVX1 do
not properly communicate and / or select the first time the channel button
is "pressed."

post #28 of 3266

That's pretty much what I'm doing. I just set the VCR to channel 2, power it down and back up, press the reset on the AVX-1 and then leave my remote to channel down and record. I've had about 3 things in a row fail. One was due to forgetting to change the time on my remote for daylight savings time, one looks like the tape I put in might not have gone in all the way, and for one I think I bumped a firewire cable and it wasn't in far enough. Boy am I POed Why can't you guys get around my stupid errors

Actually, I have seen them not get synced after I do this right, but I think it tends to work most of the time. One interesting behavior is that sometimes the AVX-1 will find the HDVR and wait for data, other times it doesn't and keeps looking for the HDVR. I think it depends on the timing for when I reset and power things. I have a gut feeling that the case where it sees the HDVR and then waits works a little better, but I haven't really tracked this one down. This would also seem to go against the advice of making sure that the AVX-1 doesn't see the DTC100 until things are ready to record. I left one setup earlier today where the 30k was on channel 2 and the AVX-1 was waiting for data. I'll see how that worked when I get home.

post #29 of 3266
Let us know

post #30 of 3266
I finally got around to checking my tapes from the last couple of days and looks like they are all blank (I get the copy protected material error). I'm not sure what happened but I hadn't powered off the AVX-1 for a while, I was just resetting it. So now I unplugged it and then started it up again. I'll see how it goes for another try tomorrow. It is currently in a state where it saw the HDVR and is waiting for data, so this should be a good test. The VCR is on channel 2 with the remote set.

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