Technical Hints about Sky Digiboxes

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The Grundig GDS200/1 is one of the earlier digiboxes of its generation, its performance being comparable to that of the Amstrad DRX100/200 series. It is neither as sensitive nor as responsive as the Panasonic boxes. It seems to work best with a 60cm x 70cm dish with the signal strength at 50% and the signal quality at 75%, (signal quality is a measure of the Bit Error Correction Rate, B.E.R.), although this is likely to vary according to the transponder being received.

There is currently an issue with Astra, the satellite operator, concerning “Channel Swamping” which is a problem caused by the operator attempting to transmit too many channels with rapidly changing scenes, e.g. sports channels, particularly football, on one transponder causing it to run out of bandwidth thus seriously degrading the B.E.R. Panasonic boxes appear to be better at coping with this than the Grundig version, probably due to a more sensitive tuner, faster processor and increased memory.

                                CHANGING THE RF CHANNEL OF DIGIBOXES

To alter the RF channel of a Digibox, (Panasonic, Grundig, Amstrad or Pace); please execute the following sequence from normal Digibox viewing via the Audio/Video, (A/V), connection.

           a)     Select “Services”. This should bring up a menu numbered 1 to 6 starting with
                   “1 Using your Sky Digibox” and finishing with “6 Other Channels”.

           b)    Either press 4 or highlight “System Setup” and press “Select”. This will take you
                   to the “System Setup” menu numbered 1 to 7 starting with “1 Picture Settings”
                   and finishing with “7 System Test”.
   
           c)     In this menu press the numbers 0 then 1 and then “Select”, this should take you into
                   the “Installer Setup” menu numbered 1 to 6 starting with “1 LNB Setup” and
                   finishing with “6 New Installation”. If the “Picture Settings” menu appears then
                   the Digibox has not registered the leading zero in which case press “Backup” and
                   try again.

           d)    Press 4 or highlight “RF Outlets” and press “Select”, this should take you to the
                   “RF Outlets” menu, which should read “RF Channel Number”, (60 in your case),
                   “Second Outlet Power Supply” and “Save New Settings”

            e)   To change the RF Channel setting, ensure that this item is highlighted in the menu
                  and then enter any two-digit number between 21 and 69, with the exception of 60
                  of course, via the keypad. These will appear in the on screen box and I suggest that
                  you try either 21 or 69 to start with. Once you have entered the desired channel
                  number use the arrow down key to highlight “Save New Settings”, (leaving Second
                  Outlet Power Supply set to “Off”), and then press “Select”. The new RF channel 
                  number should now be stored. To Exit press “Backup”, “Backup”, “Backup”.

            f) After completing this procedure check all other analogue channels for
                  interference and repeat steps a) to e) as often as is necessary.

Please note that it is essential that this procedure is conducted whilst viewing the menus over the A/V link, as when in step e) having set the new channel number, as soon as you scroll down, thus leaving the RF Channel Number, the change is implemented immediately, hence necessitating an immediate retuning of any device using that particular RF output of the box.

   The second RF out power may also be activated in this menu for driving the remote link.

    
                                        Satellite Dish Connection

The Cable: -

     The cable from your satellite dish is what as known as a Co-Axial cable and is of a multilayer concentric construction. At its core is a solid copper conductor which forms the centre pin of the F connector, this is surrounded by a layer of polythene insulation, (sometimes air spaced), on top of which is the foil screen, (if fitted) and copper braid. This has to be in contact with the screw thread of the connector. Finally this is all covered with a black or brown PVC sheath.

Cable Preparation: -

    Firstly, as near to the end of the cable as is possible, cut off the end of the cable to leave a butt or stub end. Then, approximately 1 inch from the end of the cable using a sharp knife, Stanley knife, scalpel or razor blade, score a line around the outer sheath. Do not cut too deep otherwise the braid will be damaged. Having done this flex the cable at the score line and if all is well a crack in the sheath should appear revealing the copper braid underneath. Flex all around the cable until a copper line becomes exposed and the pull off the outer sheath. You should now have a 1-inch long plastic tube, which can be discarded.

    Having now exposed the braid slightly unravel it and fold it backwards along the length of the outer sheath of the cable, this should now reveal the polythene insulating layer. Approximately 2mm forward of the folded back braid score a line around the polythene insulation, again not cutting to deep so as not to damage the centre conductor. Once again flex the polythene at score line and if all is well a crack in the polythene should appear revealing the copper centre conductor. Flex all around the cable until a copper line becomes exposed and the pull off the polythene insulator. You should you now have a 1 inch long polythene tube which can be discarded, and a length of exposed solid copper conductor.
   
Fitting the connector: -

   Grip the cable firmly at the end with your thumb on the folded back braid and literally
screw the connector over the sheath and braid together as far as it will go. If the centre hole in the connector is the correct diameter the polythene insulation stub will poke through when fully home. Cut off any surplus centre core to within approximately 3mm of the front of the connector. i.e. centre core should protrude by approx 3mm. The surplus braid at the rear of the connector is of little consequence and may be trimmed off for neatness. When assembling the connector to the cable please make absolutely certain that there are no wisps of braid wrapped around the centre conductor as these will sort-circuit the input of the satellite receiver causing it to malfunction and may result in irreparable damage.

                                                       Updating Resident Software

 This may be achieved by the following: -

1) Ensure that the dish is correctly aligned with the satellite, (28.2 deg East for Sky Digital) and that the LNB is connected.
 
2) Remove the power connector from the digibox.

3) With the power now disconnected depress and hold the “Backup” button on the front panel of the digibox whilst restoring power to the box.

4) Continue to keep the “Backup” button depressed until all the indicators on the front panel illuminate, (happens after approx 15 seconds). “Backup” button may now be released. If you are using a Scart connection a message “Updating Software …….” will appear on your TV screen. You need do nothing more while the updating process is in progress except wait 15 to 20 minutes for it to complete when the digibox will revert to Standby on completion. Normal viewing may now be commenced.
The current update versions for the GDS 200 is 1.2S4FH for the Op System and 3.5.3 for the EPG.    

                                  Software Revision History

Below is a table of the software revision history for Digiboxes from what is believed to be the release version to the current version.
                             
 Op Sys      EPG        Op Sys       EPG       Op Sys      EPG       Op Sys      EPG         Op Sys     EPG
1.2S1B7    2.5.10      1.2S4Bc       2.8b*     1.2S4F3     3.2.11     1.2S4FE    3.4.4b     1.2S4FJ     3.7.6
1.2S1Bg    2.6a.9      1.2S4Bj      3.0.11     1.2S4F9     3.3a.6     1.2S4FH    3.5.3       1.2S4FM   3.8.8
1.2S3Bu    2.7a.2*    1.2S4Bq     3.1a.5     1.2S4FB     3.3b.5    1.2S4FI     3.6.4.18

                                                 ITV Regional Variations

If  the regional variation of  ITV auto selected by the viewing card,(by reading the post code from the card) is not that required, all 16 variations may be stored and viewed in the “Other Channels” menu section of the digibox. Currently the 16 ITV regional variations are broadcast from the Astra 2D satellite across 3 transponders and may be stored in the “Other Channels” menu by going to the services menu selecting the “Add Channels” option, and entering the relevant Frequency, Polarisation, Symbol Rate and Forward Error Correction (FEC). The transponder information is as follows:-

Freq 10.714GHz, Pol. Hor, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6          6 ITV Channels             Astra 2D

Freq 10.759GHz, Pol. Ver, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6          8 ITV Channels             Astra 2D

Freq 10.832GHz, Pol. Hor, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6         6 ITV Channels             Astra 2D

Freq 10.891GHz, Pol. Hor, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6         7 ITV Channels             Astra 2D

Freq 10.906GHz, Pol. Ver, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6         7 ITV Channels              Astra 2D

                                           Film Four, E4, More 4

Freq 10.729GHz, Pol. Ver, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6         7  Channels                    Astra 2D

( Now includes Ch4 London Free to Air)

                                    Channel 4, Five, Five US & Life

Freq 10.964GHz, Pol. Hor, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6         6  Five Channels           Astra 2C

Freq 12.168GHz, Pol. Ver, S/R 27,500, FEC 3/4         6  C4 Channels             Astra 2A North

Freq 12.480GHz, Pol. Ver, S/R 27,500, FEC 3/4         6  C4  +1 Channels       Astra 2A North

Final Note: - Should the Sky card fail to work on BBC & ITV channels straight away, leave the card in the box with the box active and wait for approx 24hrs for the card to re-register the channels. It doesn’t normally take that long to do a fresh activation. Channel 5 normally drop in first, Channel 4 next, ITV1 & 2 appearing last. This only normally happens if the box and card have not been used for some considerable time.


                                   New BBC Free-to-Air Frequencies on Astra 2D

The new  Free-to-Air frequencies for the BBC on Astra 2D are as follows:-

Freq 10.773GHz, Pol. Hor, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6      7 BBC Channels + 1 Radio        Astra 2D

Freq 10.788GHz, Pol. Ver, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6      6 BBC Channels                        Astra 2D

Freq 10.803GHz, Pol. Hor, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6      5 BBC Channels +  Radio         Astra 2D

Frreq 10.818GHz, Pol. Ver, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6      7 BBC Channels                       Astra 2D

Freq 10.847GHz, Pol. Ver, S/R 22,000, FEC 5/6      2 BBC Channels + 1 BBC HD     Astra 2D

Freq 11.954GHz, Pol. Hor, S/R 27,500, FEC 3/4      4 BBC Channels + 16 Radio     Astra 2A North


                                            Free-to-Air Viewing Cards

Situation up to June 2003

  A Free-to-Air viewing card is available from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 consortium by telephoning the Free-to-View/Activation Tel No 08702 438000. The only requirement is that the viewer must be a UK TV license payer with a UK address that appears on the TV license database.
The viewing card will enable the Digibox to receive BBC 1, BBC 2, BBC Choice (Three), BBC Knowledge (Four), C Beebies, CBBC, BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament, as well as ITV 1, Channel 4 and Channel 5. It will not however receive ITV 2 off of satellite as this is a subscription channel.

When requesting a Free-to-Air card and its activation you will need to have the following information about your Digibox :- a) Manufacturer, b) Model Number, c) Version Number, d) Serial Number, e)
Card number, (if requesting activation). All this information may be found by selecting the “Services” menu, then selecting “System Details (Option 5)” from the “System Setup” menu. The version Number and Serial number can also be found on a bar-coded printed label on the base of the Digibox.

It is a little known fact that any activated Sky Digital card, current or expired, will enable any digibox to receive ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 and will only give the message "This is the wrong card for this box "on BBC channels. Using such a card will also enable the BBC Channels in the EPG and listings, hence if you can borrow someone else's card for an hour or so it will prove whether all the Free-to-Air channels are available at your location.

Current Situation
As of  Mid June 2003 a card will no longer be required to receive all the BBC channels. All 8 BBC channels are now Free-to-Air as is ITV3, (No Card Required).  ITV2 is Free-to-view, (Card required but no subscription). 
All the channels listed as FTA are free to air and do not require a card. Those listed as FTV such as ITV1,2, Ch4 & Ch5 are free to view which means that they require a card but not a subscription. You can contact Sky on 08706 061111 and pay £20.00 for a FTV card only as part of their Freesat promotion. You may have to phone 0870 8500033 to get it activated.

With regard to the card, please note that in the absence of power the card will only retain the channel data for approximately 3 weeks after which time it will require reactivation. This may simply be done by inserting the card in a working digibox and leaving it for a period of approximately 24hours, after which the channel data should be restored.

Card deactivation is only a problem if the card is removed from the box for a long period of time, or the box is without power for an equally long period.

 It has also been discovered that it is not necessary to phone Sky to get the card activated, all that has to be done is to plug the digibox into a phone line, go into the installer menu (changing the rf channels of digiboxes) and scroll down to “new installation” and press select, the box will then automatically dial Sky and activate the card, leave the phone line and dish connected until the card activates.

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