Pace was one of the main suppliers of ONdigital receivers, having supplied boxes since the official launch on the 15th November 1998.
There are a few differences in contrast with the Nokia 9850T that I looked at previously, the bootup process behaves differently with the Pace flashing its front panel display for a few seconds before displaying the time (12:00, until it loads the time from the DVB-SI).
Another observation is the middle colon (:) on the display will flash when a button is pressed on the remote. This didn’t happen on the Nokia 9850T, even though it is documented in the instruction book.
The front LED display also flashes when coming out of standby, and like the Nokia it takes a few seconds to come out of standby.
Onwards there isn’t much difference, the software is mostly the same as the Nokia, its had the OnMail, and ONrequest update which enabled the guide menu to be accessed.
In terms of performance, it seems to be a bit more responsive compared to the Nokia
Hidden menu & Software Information
Like on the Nokia, a hidden menu exists that shows additional software information about the box.
To access, Press menu
Select option 7 (technical information)
Then select option 2 (manufacturer data)
The box didn’t come with a remote, thankfully I had the ONmail remote which has the ability to control the box but requires to be programmed at first. This is because each manufacturer used their own remote control design and IR codes.
To set the remote code:
Hold the Red and Select button for around four seconds, then type in the code
Pace – 905
Nokia – 901
Inside the box
Lets see what powers the DTR730…
At the heart we have the ST20-TP4 processor, this seems to be a variation of the ST20-TP3 used in the digibox’s of the time and appears to be clocked at 50Mhz. This contrasts to the ARM Texas Instruments chip found in the Mediamaster 9850T, which was an ARM clocked at 40Mhz. It is unfair to compare both on the clock speeds alone, as they are of different instruction set with the Nokia being of the ARM family and the Pace belonging to the ST20 family of processors. Still the Pace feels a lot more responsive compared to the Nokia, although both are sluggish navigating the menus compared to more modern boxes.
An MPEG2 decoder is provided off-chip, very similar to what Pace used in their digibox’s of the time. At this point many of the components were not as integrated, so the Cpu and decoder were still separate chips. I’d say this is the same decoder they used on their Digibox’s, and the IPTV receivers (the DSL4000).
Like the Nokia, the tuner seems to be on its own board and is connected in a similar fashion. Here you have the tuner, RF modulator and the DVB-T demodulator. Here is provided by LSI Logic, whilst the Nokia used a Motorola processor. These would have belonged to the same generation and would have lacked 8K modulation support, meaning these boxes cannot receive modern Freeview broadcasts.
As both the Nokia and pace follow this modular-like design for the tuner, I’d guess this was a design consideration, and the mainboards were intended to be adapted easily for satellite or cable use, by separating the tuner module from the mainboard. I also wonder if this is similar to the hardware Canal+ had used for their equipment, just fitted with satellite tuners instead. Pace, Philips, and Nokia did make boxes for Canal+, who also designed the Mediahighway and Mediaguard components that ONdigital used, so it may be the case they just adapted the box design for ONdigital.
Underneath is the common interface slot, which is a PCMCIA slot for additional addon board like a conditional access interface, or to add an additional decoder.
Back in the day there were rumors of a satellite tuner being added as a sidecar to allow for them to receive ONdigital broadcasts, this never materialized and as such the slot remained redundant. Compared to the common interface on the Digibox, it’s a lot smaller but uses the same PCMCIA interface suggesting this was for conditional access use only.
The modem is integrated onto the mainboard unlike the Nokia which was a separate module, it looks to be the same hardware as the Nokia however. Its certainly a lot quieter as it does not make a click when the modem is accessed like the Nokia does (You can hear it when you try to dial into the ONmail service.
The back panel is fairly typical of ONdigital boxes, with dual scarts, audio out (No digital audio like the Sony or Nokia) and a serial port for the ONmail remote.
Flash memory chips, each chip has 2MB of capacity for a total of 6MB. Rumor is there are two partitions, 2MB solely for Canal+ (Possibly the operating system itself?) and 4Mb for ONdigital’s resident applications.
The main DRAM, I’d say there’s around 2 or 4MB of system RAM, assuming there aren’t additional chips on the underside of the board. Not much information on these can be found online.
Some sort of SDRAM for the MPEG2 decoder, appears to be 1MB in size for each chip for a total of 2MB, according to this site (assuming I’ve read this correctly)
A look at the channel list, seems the box was able to retain some of its original channel list, but was rescanned at some point
Using the DigDebug and loading the appropriate configuration file, we are able to see the test process for the DTR730. Here there are options to:
- Test and clear the flash memory did not want to do this since this will erase the current channel list
- Enable/disable the test patterns (A color bar is displayed on screen)
- Test the Mediaguard smartcard (If it’s inserted and detectable)
- Turn on/off different SCART signals
- Test the modem and have it dial out (Didn’t seem to work on my box)
- Test the front LED display, you can either set it to be blank or light up all segments on the display