Author Archives: drew1440

Humax Freesat with Freetime

Freesat introduced its smart tv platform in 2013, which was designed to be a competitor to smart TV platforms like Youview and Tivo (Virgin Media)

The main home screen, appears when you first turn on the reciever,

Now & Next bar, you can skim through the channels by using the Up & Down buttons

Pressing the i button bring up information about the current program, you can also view information for programs on other channels and future programs

The main TV guide, shows what’s currently on. Like most other internet connected EPG’s you can scroll backwards through the guide, which will then take you to an on demand link for the program.

A list of genres for certain channels, accesssed by pressing the List button

Where have all the music channels gone? Seems you need to manually tune them in these days

Showcase

Freetime showcase is mean to highlight and advertise upcoming programmes of interest. Similar to how TV guide magazines showcase programs of interest

Settings

This model supports both Ethernet and Wifi, however a separate USB dongle is required for WiFi functionality.

An external hard drive can be connected via USB to enable recording functionality, if you have a Freesat box that does not have an internal disk drive. This allows you to record and rewind TV, but with only one tuner you are limited to just one program/channel at a time.

Non-Freesat Mode

TV portal is still accessible in this mode.

Personally if you wish to manually tune on channels without any BS restrictions I would advise just to get a standalone FTA receiver, or get a TV with one built in.

Settings – Non-Freesat

Non-Freesat mode can be used to add channels that are not part of the Freesat EPG, but are still FTA. This won’t work with encrypted Sky channels, rather channels that are testing or misc ITV regions

A list of all Astra 28.2E transponders that can be selected, save having to enter the parameters manually

On Demand

A good selection of both Free and subscription on demand services. Most of the major catchup service are present, most of them anyway. There are some omissions though like Britbox, Amazon Prime, StarzPlay, Nowtv and Channel 4

Search

Media Player

You can also play media files from an external USB hard disk or a DLNA server using the built in media player

Humax TV Portal

Humax TV Portal allows you to access interactive applications hosted by Humax, originally supported on their Freeview HD receivers.

Recordings & DLNA

On this model, an external USB Hard disk drive can be connected to the Freesat box, to allow the use of recording. The Freesat software will automatically format the box and prepare it for storage.

Alternatively you can also stream recoding from another Freesat box, or any box that allows DLNA streaming. Some Panasonic TV sets allow this.

You can select the recording, or file to play. And can fast forward and rewind at will, depending on the network conditions, ethernet is recommended.

Alternatively you can stream from a network attached storage device.

Finally there is a section to provide help and support, which takes you to instructions and articles on how to use the various Freesat services.

Looking at early Sky Interactive

Sky digital 1998 logo

Sky and BIB (British Interactive Broadcasting) launched their interactive service in late 1999, one year after the launch of Sky Digital. Designed to be an alternative to the world wide web being delivered through the TV, the early service looked promising.

The service was originally to be branded BIB, but changed to Open…., I’m not sure if this is in reference to the OpenTV middleware stack used by BSkyB at the time. The Open interface was to mimic the experience of a TV High Street, with various banking, shopping and entertainment services being offered.

Open….

One of the loading bumpers for Open….

Austin Powers 2

Open main menu

The main Open…. menu

open shopping

Shopping Menu – Shows a list of retails who have a storefront through Open

open shopping

Even more shopping, E-commerce was supposed to be a huge draw for the service, considering the popularity of shopping channels of the time. Payment is made via a credit card, which the customer enters, and information is sent back encrypted via the phone line. At some point it was planned to use the interactive card as a form of payment

open banking

Home banking services were offered, designed after the popularity of online banking

open entertainment

Entertainment sections, which leads to the popular game section

open music

Music section, where you can check the latest charts, and purchase physical albums

open film

Another loading screen, these were common to see on interactive satellite TV, since data is fed through a carousel like system, this means the digibox has to wait for the data to be transmitted

Film section, surprisingly there isn’t much integration with Sky Movie channels at the time (Premier & MovieMax)

open email

Email – initial offerings were BT’s talk21 service. Email was not push based, you were not alerted when an email came through, instead you had to load the service and connect to open via the telephone line which would then display your inbox. Emails could be typed using the Open keyboard.

open whats new

Whats New section

Any new additions to the service would appear here

Sky digital open games

Games – games were originally delivered on open itself, they later had their own dedicated section (Game Attic), before being spun off into Sky Gamestar and having its own place on the interactive menu.

Sky Sports Active

Sky sports active, one of the defining feature was the ability to choose your viewing angle when watching a main sports event, which was offered when Sky had first launched digital. This could be done via the interactive service, but it was also possible to tune into the stream via the other channels feature

Games

Beehive bedlam open....

Beehive Bedlam

One of the classic games on Sky Digital, and the most well known. Beehive Bedlam was one of the only games that stayed free to play, with the exception of the master levels update in 2004, however the classic levels were still free to play

Corporal Cluck sky games

Corporal Cluck

King Tutti Sky games

King Tutti

Early EPG concept

Sky guide movies 1998

An early pre launch EPG background design, also note the channel text below the Sky logo

sky guide tv listings

Another look at the Sky guide design

Sky guide 1999

Meanwhile, here’s the actual EPG design Sky launched with, note how it says TV GUIDE LISTINGS rather than ALL CHANNELS

Reusing a Virgin Media Superhub 3 as a Wifi Extender

Or an ethernet hub

Despite the Superhub’s remaining property of Virgin Media, when I asked about the return on the Superhub, they advised that the hub didn’t need to be sent back, most likely because they have moved into the Superhub4, and that the old hub can be disposed of.

This seems quite wasteful, since the hub works perfectly. I’m not a fan of disposing electronics needlessly if its in working order. Besides if you need an extra few ethernet ports, why not reuse the equipment you already have?

Starting from Scratch

Probably best to reset the hub back to its factory state. This can be done by holding the reset button down for 10-12 seconds, then waiting for the router to restart

Configuration

Enter 192.168.0.1 into the browser address bar to access the superhub configuration page, you will need to enter the settings password, which can be found on the underside of the superhub.

Before we make any major changes, we can configure the basic settings using the interface. Use this to change any settings relation to the Wifi configuration, as it will be harder to change later.

Disabling DHCP

Since you will be using the superhub on a network that already has a DHCP server, you will need to disable the DHCP on the superhub, since your main router will perform the DHCP duties.

What is DHCP? It is responsible for issuing and maintain the IP address on your network, which ties into NAT (Network address translation). You only need one on your network, having multiple DHCP servers is unnecessary unless you have an enterprise network. Also not to be confused with HDCP

After this you will lose network connectivity with the router, this is because the super hub is no longer assigning IP address. To restore you will need to switch to a static IP temporarily whilst we configure the router. In Kubunu you can configure this in the connections panel in the system settings. For Windows there are various tutorials on how to configure a static IP.

Remember to use 192.168.0.1 for the default gateway, as for the client IP address, you can use 192.168.0.2, You might need to login to the router interface again.

Changing the gateway IP (optional)

You might not need to do this, depending on the IP configuration of your network. By default the super hub uses the address 192.168.0.1 as long as you don’t have any other devices using this address then you should be fine, but you should check first regardless.

Unfortunately with the superhub 3, if you change the default IP address to anything other than 192.168.0.1, the configuration page is no longer accessible. the router will still function as a switch or hub but you will no longer be able to edit any settings or access the configuration page. therefore before you do this, ensure the superhub is configured as you prefer as you will be unable to modify them later, unless you perform factory reset.

This also means that if you have two superhub 3’s, then you will need to do this on one of the superhubs to stop one from interfering with the others, since its a bad idea two have two devices using the same IP address, especially if one is a router/gateway.

Normally you cannot change this via the default interface. We can work around this by entering commands via the address bar as outlined below.

First, enable the developer window in your browser by pressing F12

For Chrome based browsers, Click Console, then enable LogXWLHttpRequests

For Mozilla based browsers, this should be enabled by default

Refresh the router page and inspect the console log

We need to get the authenticator code. This is generated when you log into the router interface and can be found highlighted below, and will begin with n=, followed by a random string of numbers, in this case mine was 82177

To change the default gateway address to 192.168.1.1, use the address below and paste it into the browser, changing the n= value at the end to the one we noted down earlier

http://192.168.0.1/snmpSet?oid=1.3.6.1.4.1.4115.1.20.1.1.2.2.1.5.200=%24c0a80101;4;&_n=0

Best Hex to IP Converter / Translator (codebeautify.org)

likewise if you wanted to change it to 192.168.0.2 instead

http://192.168.0.1/snmpSet?oid=1.3.6.1.4.1.4115.1.20.1.1.2.2.1.5.200=%24C0A80001;4;&_n=0

To save and apply the settings, again amend the n= number

http://192.168.0.1/snmpSet?oid=1.3.6.1.4.1.4115.1.20.1.1.9.0=1;2;&_n=0

The Superhub should shortly reboot itself after. If not, check the commands have been issued correctly, especially the last one since that applies the settings.

Does it work well?

Almost, there are a few issues with the router being in this setup.

One of which is the constantly flashing green light at the front of the hub. This is due to the router attempting to find a DOCSIS signal, even though it is technically connected to the internet, the cable modem side of things is still trying to connect via its coax connection. There’s no option to disable this so I’d advise to just tape over the light, since its never going to find a DOCSSIS signal.

Firmware updates for the Superhub are delivered via the cable network only, and the Superhub has to be authorised at the headend in order to receive the update. This means you will be stuck with t he same software currently on the router. Whilst this isn’t a huge issue, since the Superhub firmware is relatively stable, with the main issue being on the cable side of things which we are no longer using.

Further Information

Re: Superhub 3 internal network address – Virgin Media Community

Original Process used to change the default gateway address on a superhub 3.

Cable & Wireless launch EPG

A few screenshots of the original Cable&Wireless guide have surfaced online. They look to have been taken from a magazine, and may have been an early preview of the software. Similar to the pre launch Sky software that was a redesigned prior to its launch.

There isn’t much to say since it looks remarkably similar to the Telewest guide that was used for its launched, and was possibly based on the same code base. the initial EPG used by both Telewest and ntl was built using by Pace, and was designed to be a basic EPG with the Liberate browser running in background.

The software below is known as CR1, this lacks interactivity as the liberate client was yet to be deployed to the STB’s of the time, and the service was still in the process of launching. ntl later rebranded the CR1 software to their own colour scheme, but the design remained the same until ntl started rolling out CR3, which saw the EPG being completely redesigned to use the Liberate TV Navigator. In some areas of London, the ntl CR1 EPG was still in use, due to the poor condition of the Videotron network that was originally deployed.

Cable&Wireless Guide

The main menu, shows TV on demand (Pay per view), at a glance (EPG guide listings), programes by subject (subgenres) and preferences.

Cable&Wireless EPG

The options and layout of the guide look similar to the Telewest build of the software, and the later ntl rebrand

Cable & Wireless 1999

PayPerView on demand listings, I believe Cable & Wireless used Sky Box Office at the time, rather than Front Row

Cable & Wireless listings

List of the PPV event along with the show times, again very similar to the Telewest layout

Cable & Wireless Interactive

It’s a shame the pictures appear to be zoomed in and that there are not any better shots of the ‘At-A-Glance’ EPG available

Comparison with Telewest

You can see distinct similarities within the layout the the guide software, I’d imagine the rest of the guide would look the same.

A look at the Nokia 9850T

The Nokia Mediamaster 9850T was one of the first ONdigital receivers released to the market, alongside the Philips and Pace models, and one of the first digital terrestrial receiver that Nokia had made.

Like other ONdigital boxes, the 9850T uses SECA Media-highway for its middleware, alongside the MediaGuard conditional access system. The box also has a PCMCIA slot for future digital interfaces, likely to enable upgrades. The front panel design is similar to the other models of the time, all boxes had a Power, Select, Menu and directional buttons to allow basic control of the receiver without a remote, and a 4 digit display which would show the channel number and the time in standby

Front View

Rear View

Lifting the Lid

Tuner Block

The tuner is implemented on a separate module away from the mainboard, it seems the board is based off the 9800/9700 satellite receiver, and when it came to adapting the design for the 9850T, Nokia added the DVB-T tuner module as a separate module. This module is soldered in and cannot be removed.

Motorola MC92314 Datasheet

The modem is also a separate component, connected what looks like an internal RS232 port, to the left you can see spaces reserved for the satellite tuner modules

Shot of the CPU and MPEG2 decoder, cannot find any other chips unless they are on the underside, so I assume this also contains the decoder.

Texas Instruments TMS320AV7110

From looking at the datasheet below, the CPU of the box is based on an ARM design and runs at 40.5MHz

Datasheet

Sony CXA20920 – AV encoder

Front panel display

Another shot of the main CPU and MPEG2 decoder, the Flash and RAM chips can be seen to the left side

The modem module itself

Size Comparison

Vs Pace Di4000

Vs Pace 2500S5

Conclusion

As this was one of the first DDT receivers on the market, the box seems to be quite primitive compared to the later Freeview receivers with its lack of a full EPG and more importantly 8K tuner support, however in the ONdigital era the Nokia was considered to be the more reliable and supported box (The Sony and Toshiba models did not get MHEG support) and there are reports of the 9850T being able to lock onto weaker signals better than its Philips or Pace counterpart.

The addition of the digital audio connecter would have been the main distinction from the other ONdigital boxes besides the Sony, since they were the only models to feature this.

Nokia would later go on to continue creating DTT receivers for the Freeview service, with models like the 221T or the 121T, which had an unorthodox and unique design compared to the traditional 9850T. Unfortunately Nokia exited the Freeview market after 2005, along with its satellite receivers and focused on mobile phones before Microsoft purchases their handset division. It’s not known it Nokia will reenter the set top box market.

A look at the Panasonic TU-DSB40

Panasonic were one of the major manufactures of Sky Digibox’s, and were considered to be one of the more reliable makes in terms of reliability and performance.

The front panel is typical of the average Sky box of the era, 4 led lights followed by 9 front panel buttons along with two card slots.

A loot at the system details screen, showing the software and revision information

Lifting the Lid

A very clean design, similar to the 2500S5

On the left you can see the main CPU and MPEG2 decoder, seems to be a custom Panasonic MN2 processor (MN2WS0002AD). Whilst I’ve not been able to find a lot of detail on it online, It’s a lot faster than the ST 5512 found in the Pace 2500S5

Not sure about the Panasonic chip towards the bottom, the MN7D022B3M, nothing much turns up online. Not much can be found with the Conexant chip either (SMARTSCM/336 CX88168-12) however one MAME driver source page has it down as a modem

Second card slot

Another view of the MN2 chip with the flash rom (bottom) and memory (Samsung chip next to the MN2)

Main central processor MN2WS0002AD, Looks like it’s missing a heatsink, or maybe Panasonic figured it didn’t need one. Most likely Sky winged about the price so Panasonic had to cut corners. Still the box feels cool to the touch when in use.

The front panel removed

Vs Pace 2500S5

Vs Pace Di4000N

Conclusion

The DSB40 comes from the same generation of digibox as my 2500S5, yet it feels so much faster in operation thanks to its processor. I’m not sure why Pace held onto the St5512 for so long when over digibox’s were moving onto more capable processors. Unfortunately I’m not able to find any further information regarding Panasonic’s MN2 chips that they used, only that they were used for Directv and OpenCable boxes also, and they were mostly MIPS based designed like the NEC EMMA used on some digibox’s.

Then again this box is running older software, maybe the later versions were more demanding?

The only major issue the the telephone cable connector, once you insert the wire, its suck to the digibox and cannot be removed without removing the back panel. I’m not sure why this is, if the connecter was mismatched for the case or maybe it was a cost saving design.

Dell Optiplex GX1

A SSF (Small Form Factor) desktop class PC powered by the Pentium 2 processor.

Internal view of the GX1 showing the replacement PSU with adaptor

Power Supply replacement

The power supply in this desktop was well over 20 years old, and was in dire need for replacement, since the system had issues remaining stable after adding two PCI cards. Unfortunately with these old Dell Optiplex machines, changing or upgrading the PSU is not an easy task since Dell opted to use a different pinout for their ATX connector, alongside a proprietary connector than provided 3V to the mainboard. Using a regular AT power supply will damage the mainboard since the wiring is completely different, therefore an adaptor is required for a PSU replacement.

6 Pin Dell P10 AUX Connector Adapter (atxpowersupplies.com)

One downside to this adaptor is that it adds additional slack to the ATX main power cable, which was already long to begin with, this means I had to tie up the excess cable and shove it under the CD drive.

There are various other Dell models which use this type of power supply wiring, generally models from the Pentium 2 and 3 era. The website linked has a list of affected models that use this type of power supply.

Seriously! Don’t use a regular ATX power supply without this adaptor!

Operating Systems

The Optiplex GX1 had a range of officially supported operating systems to use;

Windows 98

The go to operating system for PC retro gaming. Whilst its not the most stable operating system in the world, its widespread support and popularity and to an extent charm means it deserves an install. The GX1 has native support for 98, and most likely came preloaded on most shipped systems for this model.

Windows NT 4.0

The GX1 had full driver support for NT4, since it was designed as a business class system to be used in offices, however with limited DirectX support, the games we can run on NT4 is a lot more limited comparted to 98.

IBM OS/2

The GX1 has official drivers for OS/2 Warp 4, I’ve not tried installing on this system, however I am interesting in getting it running on the system since I have only used OS/2 on virtual machines or PCem.

Red Hat 6.2

One of the officially supported GNU/Linux distro, at least going by the Dell driver support page, which offered official downloads for the GX1. I’ve not tried installing Red Hat on this system (yet)

PCI Expansion

This system has 2 PCI slots and 2 ISA slots, a maximum of three cards can be installed because the middle slot is shared between the PCI and ISA

USB 2.0

USB 2.0 4 Port 480Mbps High Speed VIA HUB PCI Controller Card Adapter PCI

A must have upgrade since the USB bus on this system is limited to the 1.1 standard, and maxes out as 12Mbps. VIA still provide Windows 98 drivers for their cards. Plus the 4 extra USB connectors are useful.

Some older motherboards can be picky in regards to the USB chipset used, apparently VIA chipsets are considered more problematic compared to NEC ones, due to the way IRQ’s are handled and reserved with different chipsets.

Which USB 2.0 cards for old motherboards \ VOGONS

Firewire 1394

Firewire 1394a Dual Port – PCI Full Height Card | eBay

Surprisingly Windows 98 supported 1394 Firewire/iLink cards, and drivers for 98 exist for this card. By adding a 1394 card, this become one of the faster interfaces on the PC, the other being the USB 2.0 PCi card. The onboard ethernet maxes out as 100Mbps.

Spare ISA Slot

Not sure what to put here, a modem? Gameport card? (useful since I have a Microsoft Sidewinder that has a Gameport)

Compact Flash Card

Could be used in the slave IDE channel with the correct adaptor, in order to add additional storage, or to install another operating system like one of the many supported OS.

Specifications

OptiPlex GX1 Midsize Managed PC Systems Reference and Installation Guide (dell.com)

Graphics

ATI Rage II – This is the main graphics adaptor built onto the mainboard. Internally it uses the AGP bus and has 4MB of VRAM with the ability to upgrade to 8MB via onboard memory upgrade.

The graphics processor, with the VRAM to the right along with the VRAM expansion slot. The white IDE looking connector to the top right is the ATI video connector and is meant to connect to an ATI MPEG2 decoder.

This graphics card support the ATI CIF 3D API, which was ATI’s graphics library used with some early 3D titles before the widespread adoption of DirectX. Games such as Wipeout, Tomb Raider used this API. This API was only supported on Windows 95 and 98, it had no support for Windows NT, also later ATI drivers versions remove the CIF support.

Chipset

Intel 82440BX

Memory

There are 3 SDRAM slots available, with one slot populated with a 64MB module, and an extra 64MB module was added to the GX1 to bring the memory up to 128MB. According to the Dell documentation, the system can handle a maximum of 768MB of memory.

Desktop

ATi RAGE utility, showing information about the onboard graphics

wipEout

Oh my… lets try a different resolution

Ah that’s better, Wipeout running at 640×480

South Park

South Park had a PC port, in addition to the console PSone and N64 releases, running in a higher resolutions with Anti-Aliasing

Driver

ATI CIF

I plan on looking at further ATI CIF powered games, in addition to Wipeout listed above (Driver/South Park are DirectX games)

A full list of CIF supporting games is available here

Using ntl CR3 Guide on Virgin Media 2021

Previously I connected a former ntl box (Pace Di4000N) running an old outdated version of its guide software to a modern Virgin media network in attempt to see what would happen, the result was it could load the TV guide listings somewhat (now & next) but the channels would be out of order. There was also no chance of receiving any channels, since the NetID didn’t match my area.

ntl bromly CR3 on modern Virgin Media

I came across an ntl: Langely box (Pace Di4001NC) which still had an older build of its software installed, which was later build than the Di4000 box described above. It can take a few boot attempts to get it to load the TV channels, sometimes it gets stuck on the loading screen.

Well it defaults onto channel 321 upon bootup

Attempting to browse TV listings via the TV Guide browser, some listings do come through whilst others seem to be missing

At least program synopsis works somewhat

From what I’ve researched, ntl used a proprietary iEPG system for its listings, which may have used the regular DVB SI for program listings, with the iEPG handling the extra stuff that the regular DVB-SI didn’t cover. This could apply to channel genres and maybe the numbers themselves

Adding events to the diary, which is similar to the personal planner in Sky Guide

Information for a future event

A list of channels, ntl CR3 had the ability to reorder the channel list to the user preference, a feature that was lost when it was replaced by the Virgin Media UK2 software. (UK1 in some areas)

Further list of channels, These are not in EPG order, rather the box assigns them channel numbers by itself

List of channels using the favourite channels feature

And finally some system and technical information

Still no channels come though, likely due to the Network ID being incorrect, and with the Di4001 boxes, they were designed to set their own Network ID. In practice however it seems to cycle through the different Network ID’s that Virgin Media use, perhaps the box was not designed to handle multiple Network ID’s?

A look at the Sky HD Guide (2008 era)

Since Sky had launched its digital service back in 1998, very little had changed form its Sky Guide interface. Whilst numerous software upgrades were deployed that added certain features and altered the background, the menu structure and user interface remained the same thought-out. Unfortunately when the HD era rolled around, it was clear a new EPG and menu system had to be designed to accommodate the higher resolutions that HD offered.

Even though SkyHD launched in 2006,the software seen below wasn’t deployed until 2009, so existing HD boxes used a modified version of the old Sky+ guide with HD support.

Starting Up

The message banners have had a new colour design, gone is the yellow and blue in favor of white and blue.

The obligatory telephone line nag screen

The search and scan banner has been redesigned to accommodate the extra resolution offered by HD

Now its possible to see what’s on now, next and later, with the option to scroll forward upto 6 hours

You can now view information for future programs, and programs broadcast on other channels

Message that appears when asked to check your viewing card

Channels that don’t offer digital text will display this message, informing the user to access analogue text via their tv remote

When a program is about to start thats in your persdonal planner, you will be informed via the on scrren message,

TV Guide

The main TV guide screen has been revamped. Gone is channel genre list, which has been replaced with a tab-like view of genres that allows for the EPG to be filtered.

Selecting a future program gives you an option to set a reminder for this single program, or to add a series link. This differs from the older EPG, where you would add the program and would then enable the Series Link option.

Anytime

Sky’s answer to Virgin Media’s Video On Demand service, which used the reserved hard drive space of the Sky+ drive to load ‘Push’ on demand content. Despite only having 140Gb of storage

Sadly the Anytime Push service has been axed in favor of Sky On Demand, which is delivered via a broadband connection.

The best part of Anytime. Unfortunately it does not give back the reserved diskspace.

Planner

The Sky+ Planner, which shows programs that have been recorded.

Unfortunately playing back recordings requires the use of a viewing card, which the current box is unable to read.

Contents of the planner can be sorted by alphabetical, or grouped by unwatched but recorder, or anything that has already been viewed.

Box Office

Still no sign of life for Sky Box Office, which was axed in 2016.

Interact(ive)

Not much to see here except for one last remaining service. Does it load?

Oh well…

Here’s a service that does load, BBC Red Button

Meanwhile on Sky News…

Radio

Radio channels had their owns section in this EPG, however still no genres

Search

Options

The Services menu from the previous Sky Guide has been split into two, Options and Settings. Probably because the EPG design does not allow for a submenu to be under another menu.

General Sky+ Settings, you can add padding to the start and end of a program

Language and subtitles, not much has changed from the previous EPG

You will notice when you move the cursor down to the bottom half, the background colour changes to indicate it has been selected.

Favorite channels

Adding channels has not changed in regards to the previous Sky Guide, you are still limited to two symbol rates

Anytime can be turned off, but does not reclaim the disk space, Mini TV can also be disabled, extending the guide interface

Settings

Seems to be doing a good job considering there’s no signal strength

Installer Menu

Single feed mod optimizes the HD box to work off one feed, useful if you only have one feed from a dish or multiswitch however you cannot wewatch and record one program at the same time.

Error Messages

Conclusion

Overall its a mostly well designed EPG with a lot of much needed improvements to bring it in line with system that Virgin Media and BT offer. The introduction of the mini TV in the guide was a welcome addition,

Whilst the new software takes better advantage of the Sky HD digibox hardware, it does fall into the trap of being too cluttered, sometimes getting stuck of confused as to where you are on screen. Whilst Sky had tried hard to make the colours stand out, they are just different shades of blue, which can get repetitive. Also the tab interface could be better designed, since it looks separate to the main TV listings area, with a slight gap between the two sections.

ONdigital

Switch On….

ONdigital was the first Digital Terrestrial platform in the world, and was to be a subscription service to compete with Sky analogue. Sadly it wasn’t to last as ONdigital entered administration in April 2002. The boxes themselves continued to work with the FTA Freeview service until 2011 when the transmissions were broadcast using 8K FFT, which the ONdigital boxes did not support.

The ONdigital guide software was developed using Canal+ Mediahighway middleware, alongside the NHEG5 virtual machine for digital text services. Mediaguard was used for the conditional access system.

Now & Next

ONdigital

Appers when you change channels, it cannon be called up by a button on the remote, you would use the Info button for now & next

The red dot means no signal

Ondigital channel list

Pressing OK brings up a channel list, that can be used to jump to certain channels

Ondigital Info

Pressing info gives a now and next view on what’s currently being broadcast, you can select different channels but can only see now & next.

Main Menu

Ondigital Main Menu

The main menu

Setting the Timer

ONDigital timer

ONdigital lacked an EPG, it had only now & next and that was it. If you wanted to record a programme in the future you had to manually set it. ONdigital did provide a monthly magazine that gave TV listings for all of their channels which could be used to track the TV listings.

Its worth mentioning that Teletext, BBC, ntl, and ONview (ONdigital) offered MHEG service that broadcasted a TV guide, but this could not be used to set a reminder.

Favourite Channels

Favourite channels worked differently comparted to Sky or cable, you could mark as many channels as you wanted as a favorite, symbolized by a heart icon. However when the favorite channels settings was on, the Chan+ and Chan- would only scroll through favorite channels list only.

ONdigital favourite channels

Whilst we are here, might as well look at the ONdigital era channel list, it seems the original owner never bothered to rescan the box after Freeview launched, and did not rescan it either after ONdigital rebranded to ITV Digital.

Parental Lock

ONdigital parental lock

Not much to see since I don’t know the smartcard PIN, but from memory you can lock certain channels.

Viewing Preferences

ONdigital viewing preferences
ONdigital box settings
ONdigital tv video settings
ONdigital modem settings

Getting Started

ONdigital getting started
ONdigital channel list
ONdigital channel list
ONdigital add channels

ONdigital Updates

ONdigital updates
ONdigital smartcard

Smart Card data, shows when the current entitlements expire. it appears this card was in use until the demise of ITV Digital

ONdigital postbox

The postbox, designed to receive broadcast messages, this was never used

Technical Information

Ondigital technical information
ONdigital signal strength

Signal strength, you have to manually enter the channel number to find out

ONdigital signal strength
Ondigital Nokia

Information relating to the manufacturer, software version and hardware revision

ONdigital technical information

Hidden information menu, not much to do except to view certain debug information

Guide: ONMail

ONMail

Pressing the guide button brings up this menu

ONMail

ONmail was ONdigital’s email service that could be access through the set top box, using a remote and a receiver that plugs into the serial port on the ONdigital box.

ONMail

A PIN is required to access the service, since the PIN number on the card is unknown, we are unable to progress past this point.

ONMail

Not that we’d get any further, the servers were shut off shortly after ONdigital entered administration.

ONMail
ONMail
ONMail