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HDMI Failure or Pioneer non-HDCP DVI problem?  

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure exactly where to post this...it involves my Pioneer PDP-503CMX (non-HDCP) DVI display, a DVI-HDCP in/out scaler (Tag McLaren), and a D* HD-TIVO with DVI-HDCP output (DirecTV HR10-250).

I posted this on the TiVo Community forum and got little feedback, so that's why I'm here amongst the Pioneer/HDMI/DVI/HDCP savvy folks here.


I received an HD Tivo from Circuit City (CC) a couple of months ago. It's connected as follows:

[HD Tivo HDMI Output]-->[Scaler DVI-HDCP I/O]-->[PIONEER Plasma via PDA-5002 DVI (no HDCP) input]

Almost immediately, the HDMI output on the HD TiVo would cut out every 1-3 days. The channel that I left the receiver on was somewhat random, e.g., HDNET, HDNET Movies, HBOH, HBO (SD), SciFi, etc. I never watched a PPV event. (It's my understanding that only DirecTV APPV events invoke HDCP....am I wrong?)

SYMPTOMS...[list=1][*] The HDMI output would cut out, i.e., the video output was either a black or snow picture. [*] Usually the digital audio would still be active. [*] Commands via the remote control would work for 10-20 key presses and then be non-functional. [*] The Format button (cycles between 480i, 480p, 780p, and 1080i output) on the front panel was non-functional.[*] (I don't know what the "HDMI Status" says since there is no video output.)[/list=1]

I would power cycle the box (either by yanking the power cord or cycling the master switch on my power conditioner). The HD TiVO would laboriously reboot and the HDMI-DVI display would always came back...

..until one day it didn't, i.e., the HDMI output was no longer functional at all, even with repeated cold reboots. Using the still-functional S-video output, I looked at the Status screen and it said "HDMI Status: HDCP Disabled".


So, I called DirecTV and got a replacement. Less than 3 hours later with the replacement I had the same problem: the screen had turned to snow. Again a power cycle again fixed the problem.

  • So do I have an HDMI failure problem? (This is a big problem of many D* HD TiVo units. See this TiVo Community Forum thread for details)
  • Or is this the expected behavior of a system where the DVI display is not HDCP capable? I.e., after so many HDCP "transgressions", the HDMI port turns itself off? However, since I don't watch any programming that turns on HDCP, why would I have any HDCP "transgressions"?
Confused near Seattle,

post #2 of 7
I'm not familiar with your scaler, but if it is following the rules, then it should only do the HDCP handshake with your HDDirecTivo if the *DISPLAY* it is connected to on the other side is also HDCP compliant. That is, it is only supposed to pass through the HDCP status of the display.

Since your Pioneer display is not HDCP compliant on it's DVI input, the scaler is SUPPOSED to present itself to the HDDirecTivo as also not being HDCP compliant.

There is an easy test for this. Tune to DirecTV channel 201. This channel is the one that runs a loop of basic tech info for DirecTV customers. It is also set up as the HDCP test channel and runs continuously with the protection flag set. If your HDDirecTivo doesn't see HDCP compliance on its HDMI output, then it is supposed to put up a message saying you can't watch this particular program using HDMI.

I believe you can also check whether your HDDirecTivo believes it is hooked up to an HDCP compliant device (all the way through to the display) by checking the "System Information" under "Messages and Settings".


However that doesn't explain why your signal is failing the way you describe because currently I believe ONLY channel 201 is carrying programming with the protection flag set. That is, you should be able to use the HDMI output for other channels even if your display's DVI input is not HDCP compliant.

For that, I have another explanation.

Apparently the HDMI plug on the back of the HDDirecTivo is subject to strain related failures. The plug can be put under strain by the weight of the HDMI cable or if the cable is shifted in any direction other than straight in and out -- such as if you jam the HDDirecTivo towards the back of the shelf it's on, causing the cable to be trapped behind it and pressed to the side.

This problem can be temporary -- easily fixed by just taking the strain off the cable and HDMI plug and reseating the plug properly in the HDMI socket, or it can permanently break the HDMI output socket.

If that's what's happening then the fix (if you haven't broken your socket) is to make sure the HDMI plug and cable go straight into the socket without putting any strain on the socket.

I did not have this problem using the supplied HDMI-DVI cable. But when I upgraded to a better DVI-DVI cable I put an HDMI-DVI male/female adapter on the HDDirecTivo end. This meant that there was a longer, rigid plug sticking out of the back of the HDDirecTivo and putting more "lever arm" on the HDMI socket. I had temporary signal loss until I realized I had to make sure that socket was not put under mechanical strain.
post #3 of 7

Bob's explanation might be part of the answer except as I understand it HDCP is enforced by the source, and I think it is always on with the HD Tivo

One thing you could try is connect the HD Tivo direct to the Pioneer and see how it behaves

Seems to me you should change out the 5002 board for one that is HDCP from Aurora
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Mark -- I don't think you and Bob are in conflict:
  • Bob is saying that the lack of HDCP support by the Pio display should "ripple back" through the DVI chain, i.e., HD TiVO should see it as a non-content protected chain. I suspicious that this is not the case, as I believe my current HDMI Status display says "HDCP enabled". (I'll double check this tonight.)
  • You are saying that source material (i.e., the HD TiVo) determines whether the chain must have content protection enabled in order to be displayed.
I am watching D* source material for which HDCP is not enabled. Therefore, regardless of the HDCP capability of my display, I should not lose my HDMI/DVI output signal. And...even if we are wrong and there is content-protected material coming out of, say, HBO-H, then I should get a message display (as per Bob's previous post) , not a blank or snowy screen for all channels, followed by ultimate failure.

However, it *is* distinctly possible that D* / Hughes (or Tag McLaren) screwed up the HDCP handshaking...and/or HDMI connector problem creates a bogus HDCP situation. For example, (excuse my sophomoric reading of the HDCP 1.0 spec), if bogus HDCP system renewability messages were received by the HD TiVO that somehow slowly revoked all of the HD TiVo's or the Tag scaler's "secret device keys", then eventually, the HD TiVo HDMI/DVI might become unusable. I say "might" because I don't know if revokation of all of any of the chain's keys causes the entire link to go down, irregadless of the content protection request. I would hope the HDCP protocol is written such that the DVI chain would still work for non-protected source material even if all secret device keys on all HDCP devices (transmitter, repeaters, receivers) were revoked.

The problem with Aurora's A304-HDCP board is that it is not a true digital connection, i.e., it converts the DVI signal to analog...and then back again to digital, it has it's own scaler (I already have an expensive one), etc. There's been a lot of discussion about this in this forum. But, yes, I'll eventually have to buy this (or the much delayed and possibly never-to-be Key Digital Pioneer option card) , but only when I want to watch content-protected material.

Tonight I will try out Channel 201 and see what happens...and post the results. I'll also spend some more time reviewing the HDCP 1.0 and 1.1 specs. I think this should be a very good opportunity to understand how (and if) HDCP works on the D* HD TiVo...

post #5 of 7
I'm curious to know just how much better you think your HD pq is through the scaler than HD pq through component into input 2.(without the scaler)

Specific differences would be appreciated.

post #6 of 7
There are plenty of people on the HDDirecTivo Forum who hooked up HDMI/DVI unawares that their set was not DVI/HDCP compliant. Everything worked fine for them until they tuned to channel 201 and got the message. They then posted questions about why they could receive other channels but not channel 201.

So I'm pretty sure, at this point, that only channel 201 is enforcing the requirement that the display be HDCP compliant if you are hooked up via HDMI.

My display is HDCP compliant so I can't verify that this is still true, but it seems there'd be a lot more howling out there if the protection flag was set for other channels as well.


If this were an issue with expiring authorization flags on your access card that could easily be fixed by DirecTV tech support sending a refresh signal out for your card. Call them up and ask them to resend the authorizations to your card -- it only takes a few minutes once you get through to a human being. It *IS* sometimes the case that when you call them to change services, they sometimes screw up the prior authorizations when they send the new authorizations to your card. This is a long standing problem, but the fix is easy. When you call back to complain, they temporarily cancel your account (affects all your receivers mirrored on that account) and then restart your account -- resending the entire set of authorizations to all your receivers. Again this is all done in one phone call.

My guess is that won't fix anything. I strongly suspect that either you've just had a bad run of luck on the HDMI sockets of your various boxes or you are putting the socket under mechanical strain.

It could also be that you have a bad cable or that your overall cable length is too long to maintain a good signal, but that would probably show up as an intermittent problem from the get go rather than as a permanent problem that only shows up after some significant amount of problem-free use (more than, say, the time it would take for all the hardware to come up to final operating temperature). That's why I suspect that you've got the plug under a little bit of strain and it eventually (vibration and what not) works the socket to the point that the signal disconnects.

So the next time the HDMI signal goes out, I suggest you reach behind the HDDirecTivo and reseat the plug in the socket, making sure there is no strain. Be aware that it may take some seconds for the handshake to re-establish the video signal, so don't be surprised if the signal doesn't come back the instant you reseat the plug. For example, a Denon 5900 I'm testing takes 10 to 15 seconds to enable the video signal when it is connected to a DVI display. My HDDirecTivo acts faster than that, but there may be some variations between the set top boxes and according to which display you are connecting to.

If re-seating the plug fixes the problem for the moment, then you need to adjust the layout of the cable so that the HDMI plug is not putting strain on the socket.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
D* channel 201 is not currently HDCP enabled, so I can't do the suggested test.

My Pioneer display is not HDCP enabled (PDA-5002 card) and my scaler is currently set to *not* be HDCP enabled (the Tag McLaren AV192R processor with VSM2048 scaler lets you toggle the HDCP mode of the scaler).

Since Ch. 201 displays on my screen, clearly it's not coming out of the HD TiVo encrypted, as it would if D* had enabled content protection.

New things I've tried:
  • Separately power cycling the Tag equipment without power cycling the D* -- still snowy display and HD TiVo is locked up.
  • Wiggling and reseating the HDMI connector on the back of the HD TiVo. Nothing changes, i.e., currently snowy picture remains and the rest of the HD TiVo stays locked up, i.e., it won't respond to remote control commands or any front panel button presses.
For now, I power cycle. Next test (tonight) will be to run the HD TiVo directly to the Plasma display. However, there is nothing indicating my scaler is the problem, so I don't think this will do anything.
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