FiOS signal dropped precipitously

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Joram

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FiOS signal dropped precipitously

#1

Post by Joram » Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:00 am

My wife was reporting a strange smell coming from the area in the family room where the TV equipment lives (TV set, 7MC PC, external HDDs, Blu-ray player). As it had been a while since the last dusting of the PC's insides, I disconnected it, opened the case, blew out the accumulated dust, and then reconnected the equipment.

She says the smell is better, but now we can't watch FiOS on that system. The few channels I've tried that show any kind of image are all broken up, with choppy sound. Most channels are simply reported on WMC as "service unavailable." Trying to tune to channels using the Ceton Diagnostics tool yields a message that the "signal is too poor," and the signal levels are hovering at -20 to -26 dBmv. Signal-to-noise ratios are 13.4 and 26.1.

The CableCARD checks out on the Ceton tool.

None of this was happening before today's cleanup. A different 7MC computer has signal levels around -4 and has no trouble tuning to channels, and likewise for the Verizon DVR upstairs.

Could it be a coincidence that the system stopped working properly precisely after doing maintenance on it? I've dusted the machine dozens of times before and I don't remember this happening before.

More importantly, what can I do quickly to boost a signal that's at -20 or less?

Space

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#2

Post by Space » Mon Jan 23, 2023 2:33 am

I don't know much about Ceton, but I do know that several people have had problems with the cable that connects the connector to the card motherboard (assuming you are talking about the Ceton that goes in the PCI slot). So maybe take a look at that and see if the cable looks OK and if manipulating it causes the signal to improve. If it does improve, then you may need to make sure the cable is properly connected or you may need to replace the cable.

If that doesn't improve anything, then if possible, try to hook the machine up to the coaxial cable that is connected to the working system (or another that is receiving a good signal) either by moving the computer to the other location or if that is not practical perhaps extending the cable from the other location to the computer.

If you continue to get the bad signal on the cable that was working, then the problem is most likely your Ceton or the CableCard. If the smell is related, then it may have been the Ceton (I don't think a bad CableCard would start to smell), although I don't know much about the Ceton.

If the signal is good, then you may just have a problem with the cable or splitters that are in the cable that goes to that machine.

I don't think there is anything that can boost a bad signal like that, but I am no expert.

I know when I started having similar issues (I have a HDHomeRun Prime, not a Ceton), I had to replace the entire cable run to fix it as the cable must have gone bad (the cable was one that ran along the outside of the house, so probably was damaged over multiple years by the elements). Although mine went bad slowly over time, with only certain channels losing signal and others not (and it appeared to be affected by rain) until eventually almost all channels received no signal.

Joram

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#3

Post by Joram » Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:45 am

Thanks for the ideas!

The little connector that joins up the coax cable to the Ceton card (yes, it's a PCIe model) looks OK, but last year I bought several Ceton InfiniTV4s off eBay for a new 7MC machine ($8-$25 apiece) and I changed out the connector with one of these replacements just in case. Unfortunately, that didn't help.

Next, I took a working Verizon STB from the basement and hooked it up to the coax in the family room, to see if i could rule out the cable outlet or the coax cable that comes out of it. The STB worked perfectly, so the outlet and the coax should be good, and the inside wiring too.

Huh, I didn't think to move the problem PC to a different cable outlet, and right now I'm waiting for Windows to boot back up after replacing the Ceton tuner and bringing the firmware up to date. (Amazing that this is still possible in 2023, considering Ceton Corp went belly-up years ago!) I'll report back on how things go with this.

Hopefully it won't be the CableCARD. The Ceton Diagnostics consistently kept giving it green check marks up and down the line, except for being unable to tune to channels due (supposedly) to a poor signal.

Wondering if I'll have to get Verizon to send a signal to the CableCARD now that it's sitting inside a different Ceton tuner.
(For anybody with the same issue reading this in the future: It turns out I did have to go through TV Setup and reactivate the CableCARD. Verizon has an automated process, though, so that part wasn't too bad. However, it looks like we lost our scheduled recordings and will have to reconstruct them. I also re-downloaded the program grid from Schedules Direct with EPG123. It's very late here; in the morning we'll see if everything is actually and fully working.)

UPDATE NEXT AM: Everything seems to be working properly. We are getting live TV, the program grid is back, and regularly scheduled recordings taped this morning. (Or at least, new listings with today's date are showing for them on the Recorded TV list.) When I first launched WMC, there were notices from within the WMC window stating that we needed to activate the CableCARD, but we did that already last night so I'm not sure what's going on there. Will keep an eye on developments.

Joram

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#4

Post by Joram » Thu Jan 26, 2023 5:29 am

UPDATE 3 DAYS LATER: Absolutely everything is working fine now. Turns out that the warning about needing to activate the CableCARD had to do with the fact that we couldn't tune to any of the HBO channels, for whatever reason. A follow-up call to tech support (with a human being this time) took care of that.

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