Channel Master CM-7004 Converter Box - Page 2 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #31 of 131 Old 07-12-2018, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Here are the resized screen shots that JHBrandt linked above:









User Settings:

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post #32 of 131 Old 07-12-2018, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Here are some additional screen shots that I did:

System Settings:



I had hoped that the signal strength and signal quality readings would be useful for antenna work. The signal quality seems to give relative readings, but the signal strength scale is useless; it reads 0 or 100.





Even the old Apex DT502 did better than that:



There is a firmware problem with 4:3 images like the shopping channels on ION. Sometimes it overscans and cuts off the sides, and there is no way to correct it with the remote control. I found out that if I turn the box off and then on again the full image will show:



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post #33 of 131 Old 07-12-2018, 08:00 PM
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For the price CM is asking, I'd almost expect a one-tuner version of their DVR+ (minus the Internet features, of course).
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit73 View Post
They would have done better to make a good tuner without a recording feature for people who have a projector, break off the antenna input connector on their TV, to use as a tuner for a second antenna aimed in another direction, or for people who buy what they think is a "TV" but is really a display without a tuner.
My guess is that, once you decide to put a tuner in a standalone box, adding a recording feature costs next to nothing. All you need is a USB port and some firmware.

Adding a good recording feature, OTOH, is apparently much more challenging. As this box, the Mstar boxes, and the PHD-VRX all show, it's not so easy to write good quality, reliable firmware for a DVR, even a simple one-tuner job like this one.

Oh, well, on to the measurements. Can you estimate its sensitivity? Starting with a good-quality signal, how weak can you attenuate it and still receive it without pixelation?

What about dynamic range? Many of the Mstar boxes seem to perform poorly when faced with strong signals, even on non-adjacent channels. Does the CM-7004 do any better?

Admittedly subjective, but how does it do when faced with multipath from, say, one of those "leaf" antennas? (Their DVR+ was terrible at dealing with this, although its tuners seem good in the other two areas above.)
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post #34 of 131 Old 07-12-2018, 08:20 PM - Thread Starter
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CM7004 Tuner Performance

The tuner sensitivity is surprisingly good. I have an indoor antenna on the ground floor, with trees and buildings in the signal path. I used two of my best signals and attenuated them to dropout. The 7004 was just as good as my Sony KDL32R400A on channel 40 and slightly better than the Sony on 13.

All three outputs of the 7004 work; RF, composite, and HDMI.

Equipment setup:

Ant > RCA TVPRAMP1R Preamp > Power Inserter > Variable Attenuator > 4-Way Splitter for 7004, TV, and Sadelco DisplayMax 800 Signal Level Meter (SLM).

There was a second preamp added between the splitter and the SLM to increase the sensitivity of the SLM, because it doesn't read below -20 dBmV in the single channel scan mode.

Channel 40:
Dropout at -39.2 dBmV = -88.2 dBm, 7004 signal quality < 20 %

Channel 13:
Dropout at -38.4 dBmV = -87.4 dBm for the Sony
Dropout at -39.3 dBmV = -88.3 dBm for the 7004, signal quality < 34%

For both channels, the Sony dropped out below 15 dB SNR, but the 7004 shows different readings for signal quality at dropout. The 7004 SQ doesn't have a good correlation with SNR, but it does give a useful relative reading. My guess is that the Sony SNR is actually MER; it would be difficult to read the noise in a channel being used.

The higher 7004 CH13 SQ at dropout suggests that it has been inflated by multipath reflections, which are common with indoor antennas. I quote Dr. Bendov from his paper DTV Coverage and Service Prediction, Measurement and Performance Indices:

Quote:
Defining the Signal as the total received power and the Noise as AWGN (Additive White Gaussian Noise) leads to the conclusion that the SNR at the input to the receiver increases with increased multipath.

In urban and indoor situations, there may not even be a main signal, only reflections, some of which are of equal magnitude.

If all multipath signals are part of the signal power, then the SNR margin may not be an indicative figure of merit of reception robustness. In any case, even accurate measurement of the total received power may not be trivial. The integrated signal power is not just the Desired Signal power. It includes, Man-made, Galactic, and thermal noises and residual transmitter generated in-band noise. It also includes some but not necessarily all multipath signals.

For example, pairs of identical and asymmetric echoes, one of positive amplitude and positive delay relative to the main signal and one of negative amplitude and negative delay relative to the main signal, will cause only a second-order distortion of the displayed power spectrum. They will create group delay. Thus, in a multipath channel, a pair of such echoes would measure high SNR when using the spectrum integration technique whereas in reality, the true SNR would be much lower.
My indoor antenna only has a folded dipole for channel 13. My first location for the antenna was near the dresser, but the antenna needed a VHF reflector added to the dipole to reject multipath reflections for good reception. (It would not decode without a reflector; see my avatar at the left.) The best location for the antenna was, of course, in the middle of the room in a high traffic area. The signal was stronger and a VHF reflector was not needed. The present antenna is in the corner of the bedroom without a VHF reflector. The ability to handle multipath reflections well would seem to be useful in Mexico, where indoor antennas are often used.





There is usually a chair in front of the antenna to hide the 5 gal Home Depot paint bucket which contains old magazines as weights.
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post #35 of 131 Old 07-13-2018, 02:38 PM
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Unless I'm wrong, it seems like as a tuner it's somewhat better than the $40 boxes. Would you consider trying it out with a HDD used in the $40 boxes to see if it's possible?

That 'flash / SSD only' stuff looks like a lot of crap. Sounds like they're trying to cover their butts (like denying the 7004 could record).

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post #36 of 131 Old 07-13-2018, 03:14 PM
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Just got an email that the box is on sale for nearly 50% off for a 'limited time'. Currently listed at $49. Still a bit over-priced when compared to the alternatives -- but at least not so outrageously so.
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post #37 of 131 Old 07-13-2018, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncsercs View Post
Unless I'm wrong, it seems like as a tuner it's somewhat better than the $40 boxes.
That is also my impression.
Quote:
Would you consider trying it out with a HDD used in the $40 boxes to see if it's possible?
I hadn't planned on doing that, but I will consider it as my toy budget allows. I don't know much about external disk drives; that would give me a chance to learn more.

IIRC, the Broadcom BCM7543 is rated for USB 2.0 because it is an older design; would have been better if it was 3.0. To do it right, I should try 32 GB 2.0 and 3.0 thumb drives as well as the external HDD.
Quote:
That 'flash / SSD only' stuff looks like a lot of crap. Sounds like they're trying to cover their butts (like denying the 7004 could record).
Yup, there isn't much in the Quick Start Guide about recording, and there is no User Manual.
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post #38 of 131 Old 07-13-2018, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eherberg View Post
Just got an email that the box is on sale for nearly 50% off for a 'limited time'. Currently listed at $49. Still a bit over-priced when compared to the alternatives -- but at least not so outrageously so.
Ha! I just got the same email.

I had asked them if they were going to do a 4th of July sale like they did two years ago when I ordered two 7003s at half off. The answer was no, but they would give me 10% off. I said that wasn't what I had hoped for. Their answer was they were sorry to hear that, but I could return it.

Maybe they reconsidered having a sale, or more likely they read my review after I told them I was buying a 7004 for evaluation.

I notice that the latest sale email makes no mention of recording. It does say the remote can be programmed to control TV volume and power, but the Quick Start Guide doesn't give the details.

I wonder if the firmware can be upgraded to enable usable signal level readings?

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post #39 of 131 Old 07-13-2018, 04:05 PM
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I wonder if the same hard-workin' Chinese folks who do the firmware for the Iview/Homeworx, etc boxes do the firmware for these? As the software for those other boxes has been around for a few years - it's not a complete stretch that some dressing-up-the-pig the last 3 - 4 years of the old stuff may have happened. Or maybe a completely different Chinese group doing the programming. One thing is certain - I can't imagine Channel Master having anything to do with the software (for any of their products).
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post #40 of 131 Old 07-13-2018, 04:43 PM
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Well, it's a different chip AIUI - a Broadcom something-or-other rather than an MStar. But I see no reason the CM-7004's nicer UI couldn't be ported to an MStar-based box. Someone just needs to hire the right Chinese programmers.

$49 is a much more reasonable price (although I need another one of these like a hole in the head). However, CM is not offering free shipping this time around. Total cost is $56.50.

BTW, OT but CM also has the SMARTenna+ on sale for $69 (and it really is the SMARTenna+ this time, not the original SMARTenna that fooled me before).
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post #41 of 131 Old 07-13-2018, 05:01 PM
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The "While Supplies Last!" part of the offer leads me to believe this is a clearance sale, and they are hoping to sell out and be done with it. I can't imagine them reordering more of these from their supplier.

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post #42 of 131 Old 07-13-2018, 05:25 PM
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Well, if nothing else, I'll get one of their "enhanced" remotes out of the deal.
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post #43 of 131 Old 07-17-2018, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
.....What about dynamic range? Many of the Mstar boxes seem to perform poorly when faced with strong signals, even on non-adjacent channels. Does the CM-7004 do any better?
I have two adjacent channel combinations, 45/46 and 16/17.



In order to produce strong signals for testing, I had to connect some preamps in series. I tried this first:
Ant > CM7777HD-30dB > CM7777HD-17dB > Variable Attenuator > CM3410-15dB > 4-way splitter for 7004, Sony TV, and Sadelco Signal Level Meter

This setup didn't behave well when I adjusted the attenuator; the second 7777HD was being overloaded by the first 7777HD. I then reduced the gain of the first 7777HD and increased the gain of the second 7777HD. The CM3410 is the last, because it can tolerate strong signals.

Ant > CM7777HD-17dB > CM7777HD-30dB > Variable Attenuator > CM3410-15dB > 4-way splitter for 7004, Sony TV, and Sadelco SLM

I increased the gain as much as I dared to protect the Sony KDL32R400A tuner:

Channel 46: 40.6 dBmV = -8.2 dBm input to tuner
Channel 45: 23.3 dBmV = -25.5 dBm input to tuner

Reception was good on both channels.

Channel 16: 36.1 dBmV = -12.7 dBm
Channel 17: 15.1 dBmV = -33.7 dBm

This is as high as I could increase the signals and still have good reception; any higher, and the reception was bad. The Sony showed pixelation; the 7004 picture freeze. This point was the same for both tuners; the 7004 did just as well as the Sony with this adjacent pair. This pair probably didn't do as well because of multipath.

My report shows some weaker channels that could be used for dynamic range tests, but they are too weak for my tuner to pick up with my present indoor antenna.



Maybe WSKY 9 and WGBS 11 because a friend asked me if he would be able to receive them, or a weak UHF channel.

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post #44 of 131 Old 07-17-2018, 03:04 PM
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That's good info.

I don't have the equipment to do precise measurements, but I do have some tough situations. Check out RF 19 vs. RF 20, RF 34 vs. RF 35, and RF 38 vs. RF 39: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...9038d370f389a5

I'll have to give my new $56.50 investment a spin and see how it does on those. FWIW, RF 20 and RF 34 come in well on most of my tuners, but Channel Master's DVR+ has the only tuner I own that can lock RF 38 reliably.

RF 24 vs. RF 25 is also tough, though it doesn't appear so on TVFool because they haven't gotten the memo on KXAS/5's move from RF 41 to RF 24 yet.
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post #45 of 131 Old 07-17-2018, 07:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Those are tough pairs. I think you are doing very well. I don't know what antenna you are using (with or without a preamp), and I'm not sure where you have it mounted, but I do see a gap between the trees at the NW and the trees at the SW for 227 to 232 degrees.





Quote:
RF 24 vs. RF 25 is also tough, though it doesn't appear so on TVFool because they haven't gotten the memo on KXAS/5's move from RF 41 to RF 24 yet.
TVFool doesn't have enough staff to make corrections; they are running on "autopilot."

According to ATSC, a tuner should be able to decode a channel that is no more than 33 dB weaker than a stronger adjacent channel. Note that the maximum allowed difference is only 20 dB for a stronger pair as I did above at my location.

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post #46 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 04:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit73 View Post
The tuner sensitivity is surprisingly good. I have an indoor antenna on the ground floor, with trees and buildings in the signal path. I used two of my best signals and attenuated them to dropout. The 7004 was just as good as my Sony KDL32R400A on channel 40 and slightly better than the Sony on 13.

All three outputs of the 7004 work; RF, composite, and HDMI.

Equipment setup:

Ant > RCA TVPRAMP1R Preamp > Power Inserter > Variable Attenuator > 4-Way Splitter for 7004, TV, and Sadelco DisplayMax 800 Signal Level Meter (SLM).

There was a second preamp added between the splitter and the SLM to increase the sensitivity of the SLM, because it doesn't read below -20 dBmV in the single channel scan mode.

Channel 40:
Dropout at -39.2 dBmV = -88.2 dBm, 7004 signal quality < 20 %

Channel 13:
Dropout at -38.4 dBmV = -87.4 dBm for the Sony
Dropout at -39.3 dBmV = -88.3 dBm for the 7004, signal quality < 34%

For both channels, the Sony dropped out below 15 dB SNR, but the 7004 shows different readings for signal quality at dropout. The 7004 SQ doesn't have a good correlation with SNR, but it does give a useful relative reading. My guess is that the Sony SNR is actually MER; it would be difficult to read the noise in a channel being used.

The higher 7004 CH13 SQ at dropout suggests that it has been inflated by multipath reflections, which are common with indoor antennas. I quote Dr. Bendov from his paper DTV Coverage and Service Prediction, Measurement and Performance Indices:



My indoor antenna only has a folded dipole for channel 13. My first location for the antenna was near the dresser, but the antenna needed a VHF reflector added to the dipole to reject multipath reflections for good reception. (It would not decode without a reflector; see my avatar at the left.) The best location for the antenna was, of course, in the middle of the room in a high traffic area. The signal was stronger and a VHF reflector was not needed. The present antenna is in the corner of the bedroom without a VHF reflector. The ability to handle multipath reflections well would seem to be useful in Mexico, where indoor antennas are often used.





There is usually a chair in front of the antenna to hide the 5 gal Home Depot paint bucket which contains old magazines as weights.
@rabbit73 Base on on your testing I ordered a 7004. If the tuner is as good as Sony then I’d be pretty happy with that.
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post #47 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keeper View Post
@rabbit73 Base on on your testing I ordered a 7004. If the tuner is as good as Sony then I’d be pretty happy with that.
I hope they send you a good one; if not, return it.

After you test it, please tell us how well it works for you and how you are using it.

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post #48 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 06:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wiscojim View Post
The "While Supplies Last!" part of the offer leads me to believe this is a clearance sale, and they are hoping to sell out and be done with it. I can't imagine them reordering more of these from their supplier.

.





It's past 7/18 and they are still on sale.

.
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post #49 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit73 View Post
I hope they send you a good one; if not, return it.

After you test it, please tell us how well it works for you and how you are using it.
Good one? What should I look for?
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post #50 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 12:03 PM
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Thumbs down

IDK what happened but USPS refused to deliver mine yesterday. Got this message on their tracking page:
Quote:
Unable to deliver item, problem with address
GARLAND, TX 75043
USPS was unable to deliver your item as of 4:20 pm on July 18, 2018 in GARLAND, TX 75043. The address may be incorrect, incomplete, or illegible.
I checked the order I placed with CM; the address is correct. I don't have any problems receiving mail or other merchandise at my address.
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post #51 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 02:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by keeper View Post
Good one? What should I look for?
Manufacturing quality control isn't perfect; sometimes a lemon slips through. If it doesn't do what it is supposed to do, it isn't a good one. If you bought it from Channel Master, they will accept returns. Generally, companies that have a generous return policy, charge a little more for their products, like Channel Master and Antennas Direct.

Third party sellers on Amazon and Walmart usually don't have return policies as good as the primary seller, if you read the reviews of the third party sellers.

What do you hope the 7004 will do for you?
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post #52 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
IDK what happened but USPS refused to deliver mine yesterday. Got this message on their tracking page:I checked the order I placed with CM; the address is correct. I don't have any problems receiving mail or other merchandise at my address.
That's odd.

Sometimes FedEx will deliver my package to another address. Sometimes USPS will say unable to deliver when it was getting late and the carrier wanted to deliver it the next day.

Some companies that are trying to save on shipping costs, start the shipment with one carrier and then it is transferred to USPS to make the final delivery. What does the tracking history show?

If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.
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post #53 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 05:49 PM
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Manufacturing quality control isn't perfect; sometimes a lemon slips through. If it doesn't do what it is supposed to do, it isn't a good one. If you bought it from Channel Master, they will accept returns. Generally, companies that have a generous return policy, charge a little more for their products, like Channel Master and Antennas Direct.

Third party sellers on Amazon and Walmart usually don't have return policies as good as the primary seller, if you read the reviews of the third party sellers.

What do you hope the 7004 will do for you?
Just looking for a better tuner. Have Dish but they have a software issue with ota channels on their hopper. Been a year and haven’t been fixed. Tried hdhomerun and it appears to be flaky with Vhf channels. Tried another same deal. Signal goes up and down. This doesn’t happen on my other tuners. The best tuner I tried is in my Sony tv. So I am glad to hear that this is similair in performance.
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post #54 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 06:11 PM
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The gods did NOT want me to get this box

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That's odd.

Sometimes USPS will say unable to deliver when it was getting late and the carrier wanted to deliver it the next day.
That may be what happened. USPS delivered it today.

So I went out my front door to pick it up, and while I was looking at the shipping label, trying (and failing) to see if there was any reason they had trouble delivering it, I got stung by a wasp. Twice!

Right next to my right eye, too. Good thing I wear glasses! So naturally, I dropped the box, my glasses, and my glass of Dr. Pepper (soaking my glasses with sugary goo - my wife made a mistake and didn't get my usual diet soda this week).

Luckily I have a pair of prescription sunglasses, and it was still daytime. So it was off to the store to get some Hot Shot, then back to find and spray the nest, pick up my glasses, clean them off, and finally bring the box inside.

Most expensive $56.50 I've ever spent.
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post #55 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by keeper View Post
Just looking for a better tuner. Have Dish but they have a software issue with ota channels on their hopper. Been a year and haven’t been fixed. Tried hdhomerun and it appears to be flaky with Vhf channels. Tried another same deal. Signal goes up and down. This doesn’t happen on my other tuners. The best tuner I tried is in my Sony tv. So I am glad to hear that this is similair in performance.
Chances are good that the 7004 will improve your reception.

OTA signals constantly vary in strength. I have a marginal channel 9. My indoor antenna only has a folded dipole for VHF-High. The strength will vary about 5 dB in a short period of time with the SNR going from 14 to 19 dB; dropout to good reception. This evening I added a temporary reflector behind the dipole giving me a few dB more gain. My VHF-High noise level is quite high from electrical interference, with the signal barely above it, so a little more gain really helps the SNR.

If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.
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post #56 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
So I went out my front door to pick it up, and while I was looking at the shipping label, trying (and failing) to see if there was any reason they had trouble delivering it, I got stung by a wasp. Twice!

Right next to my right eye, too. Good thing I wear glasses! So naturally, I dropped the box, my glasses, and my glass of Dr. Pepper (soaking my glasses with sugary goo - my wife made a mistake and didn't get my usual diet soda this week).

Most expensive $56.50 I've ever spent.
What a disaster.

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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The gods did NOT want me to get this box
That does seem to be the message.

The message they sent to me was that the box went on sale just after I bought mine.

If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.
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post #57 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
That may be what happened. USPS delivered it today.

So I went out my front door to pick it up, and while I was looking at the shipping label, trying (and failing) to see if there was any reason they had trouble delivering it, I got stung by a wasp. Twice!

Right next to my right eye, too. Good thing I wear glasses! So naturally, I dropped the box, my glasses, and my glass of Dr. Pepper (soaking my glasses with sugary goo - my wife made a mistake and didn't get my usual diet soda this week).

Luckily I have a pair of prescription sunglasses, and it was still daytime. So it was off to the store to get some Hot Shot, then back to find and spray the nest, pick up my glasses, clean them off, and finally bring the box inside.

Most expensive $56.50 I've ever spent.
With your luck, the box will wind up being defective.

Nice cherry on top of your sundae to top off your miserable day.

Nick

Every day I beat my own previous record for the number of consecutive
days I've stayed alive. - George Carlin - 1996
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post #58 of 131 Old 07-19-2018, 08:39 PM
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I finally got it hooked up. Several random observations:

  • The remote is the same as the DVR+ "enhanced" remote, but it's programmed to send different codes. My DVR+ didn't respond at all when I tried to use the remote with it. Edit: That turned out to be wrong - the remote does send the same codes as the DVR+ "enhanced" remote and can indeed control a DVR+. Don't know why it didn't seem to work when I first tried it. (However, as noted on the DVR+ thread, the remote can be reprogrammed easily with a PC, a JP1 cable, and some free software.)
  • (Good) The initial channel scan starts at the first setup question (language) and runs in parallel with you answering the setup questions, so by the time you get through the setup, several channels have already been scanned and you don't have to wait quite as long for the scan to finish.
  • (Good) So far, it seems to be compatible with the Stellar Labs ATSC RF modulator (model 33-11980). That's good news because a lot of tuners aren't.
  • (Bad, but like the DVR+) Unlike Mstar boxes, the volume and mute buttons don't do anything unless you set up the remote to control your TV.
  • (Good) As you know, it has a grid-style channel guide. When you pull it up, the box starts scanning the visible channels to fill it out. As you move through the guide with the cursor keys (bad: page up/down doesn't work) it fills out the stations you page to.
  • (Bad, slightly) It doesn't update the guide when in standby and not recording. Thus, after it has been off for a while, you'll need to wait for the guide to fill back in the next time you access it.
  • Interestingly, the RF output has a "loop through" notation that the box doesn't support. This makes me think the case was designed for an Mstar box, although I haven't yet found an Mstar box with the same case. (The HW-180 and Terk are close.) I'll keep looking, though....
  • (Bad) If your USB drive isn't FAT32 format, you have to fix that on a PC. Unlike Mstar, it won't format over another existing format (such as NTFS). That may be intended to protect against accidentally erasing something important, but it isn't very convenient. (BTW, Windows 7 doesn't offer FAT32 as a formatting option for a 128GB partition - only NTFS and exFAT are offered! I had to use MiniTool's Partition Wizard to get FAT32.)
  • (Bad) Once you format the drive as FAT32, it starts "initializing" as soon as you plug it in. Not sure what "initializing" does but with a 128GB drive it takes quite a while. (A progress bar would have been nice, CM!) My guess is that it zeros all data sectors to maximize flash writing speed. Edit: That guess couldn't possibly have been right - I had to zero my data sectors on a PC to get remotely adequate performance from my flash drive. Anyway, you can still watch TV, access the guide, and lock/unlock channels while this is being done, but you can't access the settings menu until it finishes!
  • (Good) Unlike Mstar boxes, you can manually set the date & time. It also supports both 12-hour and 24-hour time formats; a feature that has appeared in Mstar boxes only recently.
  • (Good) It seems to display the first I-frame it receives, then "freezes" the picture until it gets a second I-frame and can start playing video. Other tuners usually don't show anything until they get that second I-frame. This makes channel surfing seem more responsive than with other tuners.
  • (Bad, slightly) The channel scan produced a few anomalies. In DFW, KODF is virtual channel 26 on RF channel 27. Channel 26.1 came up correctly, but 26.2 through 26.5 came up as 27.2 through 27.5. Thing is, I also have KDFI, which is virtual channel 27.1 through 27.5! So there are several apparent duplicates in my guide. For example, I have two 27.2's; one from KODF and one from KDFI.
  • (Bad, slightly) Also, for some reason, if a channel label has seven characters, it's followed by an eighth character, which always seems to be the ASCII character equivalent of the virtual channel number! So for example, my 33.n subchannels have an '!' after their names. Obviously no big deal; just kind of weird-looking.
  • (Bad) After doing a channel scan, it's very easy to accidentally start another channel scan if you go back into the Settings menu. And once it starts, it's too late: everything is gone and you just have to let it rescan everything again. Best practice is probably, after doing a channel scan, carefully go back into settings and move the cursor up to a less destructive option.
  • (Bad) There doesn't seem to be a way to delete or hide unwanted channels. Nor does there seem to be any way to add a new channel later (without going through a full scan again), rename channels, or flag "favorites." (Mstar boxes can do all of these.) This was my biggest complaint with CM's original HD tuner, the CM-7001. It was inexcusable then and even more inexcusable now. Modern digital TV offers a plethora of OTA channels, but I don't want to have to muddle through a lot of shopping and foreign-language channels when I surf.

    But at least there's a workaround: the CM-7004 can lock out unwanted channels with parental controls. Channel up/down then skips them. They don't disappear from the guide, but they are replaced with the word "LOCK." Trying to tune a "locked" channel just brings up the message "channel locked." Oddly, it doesn't ask for the pass code; I guess if you did want to watch, you'd have to go to the lock menu and manually unlock the channel first.

    Edit: I just discovered a problem with this workaround. If you rescan, the locked channels remain locked, and channel up/down still skips them, but they no longer appear in the guide with the word "LOCK," and you can tune them from the guide, without even entering the password!

In summary, so far I've found some good things and some bad things, but for the most part, the bad things are pretty typical for an under-$50 box. I got my money's worth (ignoring the delivery issues and wasp stings) but am glad I waited for the price to drop. Here are a few things it doesn't have, and that I wouldn't necessarily expect for $49 but would for $89, given that many Mstar boxes have these features:

  • RF pass-through
  • Component video & coaxial digital audio outputs (would need a bigger case though)
  • Front-panel channel display (to be fair, I've only seen one Mstar box that does this right)
  • Media player function (plug in a USB drive with videos/photos/.MP3s and play them)
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post #59 of 131 Old 07-20-2018, 01:23 AM
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Quote:
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Chances are good that the 7004 will improve your reception.

OTA signals constantly vary in strength. I have a marginal channel 9. My indoor antenna only has a folded dipole for VHF-High. The strength will vary about 5 dB in a short period of time with the SNR going from 14 to 19 dB; dropout to good reception. This evening I added a temporary reflector behind the dipole giving me a few dB more gain. My VHF-High noise level is quite high from electrical interference, with the signal barely above it, so a little more gain really helps the SNR.
Yeah I can watch what is happening through the Sony diagnostic screen. Snr varies like you say but the hdhomerun box flat out drops in the danger zone every few seconds while my other tuners hold steady. This is signal quality I’m referring to. The tech for them couldn’t figure it out and they sent a new box. Same thing. We tried everything from removing the amp to just using vhf. No change at all. In my opinion my network has something to do with it.

The pic I added is an example of about 30 seconds. I have no preamp as I took it off to see if things changed- wjz didn’t. It’s the same pattern for hours and days and never improves even when conditions improve. Again my other tuners hold steady. There does seem to be a pattern to what I’m seeing so I would assume it’s some kind of interference with the networked box. If I switched the cable to my Sony tv or even Dish the signal would be steady pretty much and in the superior range. It’s early morning and these signals are strong. In day to day use even with Dish I do occasionally get breakups with these channels but mostly they are pretty good. I can go hours without seeing an issue.

I get the 7004 tomorrow and will report my findings.
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post #60 of 131 Old 07-20-2018, 05:56 AM
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That sort of pattern - signal strength good but quality varying rapidly - is typical of multipath interference. It can be pretty weird, hitting some stations and not others. Tuners also vary greatly in their ability to handle it, which may explain why it's only a problem on that one station and only with the HDHR.

The "ultimate" solution is to replace or at least reorient the antenna, but that's not always practical, especially if different stations are in different directions from your home (say, DC and Baltimore stations). And it can be pretty tedious to move the antenna, scan through all the stations looking for problems, move it a little more, etc.
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