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
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.
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.
The message banners have had a new colour design, gone is the yellow and blue in favor of white and blue.
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,
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.
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.
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.
Still no sign of life for Sky Box Office, which was axed in 2016.
Not much to see here except for one last remaining service. Does it load?
Here’s a service that does load, BBC Red Button
Meanwhile on Sky News…
Radio channels had their owns section in this EPG, however still no genres
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.
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
Seems to be doing a good job considering there’s no signal strength
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.
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 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
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
Pressing OK brings up a channel list, that can be used to jump to certain channels
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.
The main menu
Setting the 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 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.
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.
Not much to see since I don’t know the smartcard PIN, but from memory you can lock certain channels.
Smart Card data, shows when the current entitlements expire. it appears this card was in use until the demise of ITV Digital
The postbox, designed to receive broadcast messages, this was never used
Signal strength, you have to manually enter the channel number to find out
Information relating to the manufacturer, software version and hardware revision
Hidden information menu, not much to do except to view certain debug information
Pressing the guide button brings up this menu
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.
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.
Not that we’d get any further, the servers were shut off shortly after ONdigital entered administration.
A look at Sky’s interactive services offered in 2002, back when interactive TV was a thing
Also can’t mention Sky interactive without the Red button dude, who’s sole purpose was to promote Sky interactive services by pressing your red button, even though that only worked on a Sky channel.
Sky’s interactive game service
Sky Gamestar – Cartoon Network
A dedicated section of gamestar with games based on Cartoon Network shows
At one time you could order Pizza through your Sky Digibox
The Classifieds and info section, for local jobs and marketplace
View and book local listings, this only worked with Odeon cinemas, which was useless because there were no Odeon cinemas in my area.
Sky used to advertise their services and competitions whilst interactive screens were loading
A dating service that relied on the internal modem
Before internet banking there was Interactive TV banking, again I only saw HSBC and LLoyds TSB being supported, other banks were not on the service
Exclusive to the Sky Movie channels, shows local cinema listings and to purchase DVD’s, a nice feature of this service was you could see behind the scenes clips from moves.
Download ringtones, logos and custom voicemail, back when ringtones were polyphonic (think Nokia 3210, Ericsson T28s)
Sky Active: Shopping
Home shopping was considered to be a main feature of interactive TV, since customers could see the items themselves. Sky allowed a range of retailers to have presence on interactive, and even had their own storefront, SkyBuy
Some sort of eBay/Gumtree service, customers could buy and sell locally
Sky News Active
Activated by the red button, a very useful service where you can browse news headlines, view ‘Active Channels’ which were small channels dedicated to certain subjects or headline coverage. These could also be tuned in using the Other Channels feature, bypassing the service
Sky Movies Active
This is where you could see the behind the scenes stuff from movies, similar to bonus scenes on DVD’s
Another view of the main Sky Active home screen
Sadly Sky axed most of their interactive services, so here is the interactive menu that you are left with
Does it work? Well…
It seems the only OpenTV interactive TV services available is BBC Red Button and the S4C language changer, none of which use the modem/return path. I’m not sure if the services offered on Sky Q are the same, I believe it’s mostly Netflix/Prime type of applications that are video on demand services.
I’ve been meaning too document the HD era of Sky for some time now and whilst I do have a HD Sky box (the DRX595), I’m interested in the early era of SkyHD.
The HD EPG has been through multiple iterations, first it launched with an upscaled version of the Sky Guide interface that graced many Digibox’s since 1998. Sky redesigned the EPG exclusively for the HD boxes in 2008, which is the EPG I’m currently interested in below, unfortunately the majority of all HD boxes run newer versions of Sky HD guide, all except for one
This was the launch STB for Sky HD, and remained the only box until 2008 when Sky started sourcing from Pace, Amstrad and Samsung, and were the only boxes that had analogue HD outputs (Component/YPbPr). Whilst the other boxes continued to receive updates after 2011, Sky began to phase out the Thomson models, which remained on the 8.3.2 EPG, and was the last OpenTV based EPG.
Admittedly Thomson were not the best manufacturer of Sky digibox’s. Don’t get me wrong, they’re mostly fine but nearly all Thomson (and Grundig, more on that later) digibox fall suspect of faulty PSU capacitors, which can cause myriad of issues from being stuck in standby to no satellite signal, and the HD box was sadly no exception to this.
The box seemed to have been in use for a few years, and has had a bit of wear and tear.
Well it looks OK so far…
Seems to have had a lot of dust and grime build up over the past few years from the previous owner
The hard drive seems to have taken the brunt of it all, since there is a fan situated right below it that serves as the air intake.
At this point I figured I had to take the box outside and clean it with a can of compressed air to get the dirt out.
A common issue on Thomson SkyHD (and Sky+/Digibox’s) is the power supply capacitors failing, all thanks to capacitor plague. This isn’t unique to Thomson Sky boxes as it can affect Grundig models as well, Thankfully it’s fixable even in 2021 either by yourself or you can send it off to be repaired. You can see in the above picture that one of the capacitors has started leaking, whilst others are bulging slightly.
This can also affect other consumer electronics from the 1999-2006 era, notably the clock capacitor on the original Xbox and various PC motherboards.
This box specifically had issues finding a satellite signal, and would only display ‘no Satellite signal is being received’ on both tuners, respective of either single or dual feed being used. Also a audible whine could be heard from the power supply, which is usually not a good sign.
its worth mentioning that Sky no longer support this box for HD channels, whilst SD subscription channels and HD Free-To-Air channels will work, HD subscription channels will not work, since Sky moved to a different card pairing method this this box does not support, still for Freesat or basic subscription use the box will continue to work. The box also does not support any catch-up or On demand services offered by Sky.
Another thing to mention with this box is it will no longer recognize any viewing cards, this is probably due to fault with the box, either the card reader has failed or the contacts are dirty. This makes it impossible to use it with Sky+ modes since they require a Sky+ reenabled viewing card to work.
With this in mind I may decide to change the hard drive for a dummy Sata-SD card adaptor, since it makes no since having a hard drive that wont be used. I’m not sure what HDD space requirements the box has, since the box likes to reserve 140Gb for Anytime use.
The Thomson SkyHD box was quite large compared to the previous set top boxes Sky have deployed, lets see how it compares:
Many higher end Sony TV’s have had satellite tuners for a while now, and whilst you can easily connect it to a Sky dish and it’ll pick up and tune in channels, you will find that they are randomly allocated across the guide, which makes navigating them difficult. Compare this to similar Panasonic and Samsung TV’s that have proper official support for the Freesat EPG.
I decided to modify the EPG used by the TV in order to get it as close as I can to the Freesat order, allowing for a similar experience to an actual Freesat certified TV. This doesn’t fix the issue of lack of TV listings, since Freesat and Sky do not transmit their listings in the common DVB format so you will still be left with Now & Next only, you also won’t be able to decrypt the FTV channels, only view FTA channels that Freesat receivers can decode.
Whilst many Sony TV’s sold in the UK come with DVB-S2 compatible tuners, the issue is Freesat (and Sky) don’t use standard EIT (Event Information Table), which prevent these TV’s from being able to correctly manage these channels.
I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, this software is garbage. Complete Garbage
Whilst it’s able to just do the bare minimum, its a horrible piece of software to navigate, and has a tendency to garble the interface if you select too many channels.
I don’t get it, why is Sony incapable of producing software that is able to function property without glitching itself? Why did they feel the need to theme it all to hell and back, a simple Win32 application would have been more then welcome, but instead it has to be skinned. Just look at the open dialog
Why not just use the default Windows open dialog?
This is a frequent occurrence, Alt/tabbing sometimes fixes it, otherwise you will need to save and close.
This is also a pain, rearranging TV channels causes the software to get confused and plonks the channels out of order, see how it goes from 77 to 92, 93 and then back to 80
After getting fed up with Sony’s software I instead opted for an alternative
Chansort is a channel list editing application designed for various TV and satellite receivers on the market. Simply open the sdb.xml extracted from your TV and away you go. This this it was easier to manage and reorganize the channel list to the Freesat order, rather than having channel spread across the EPG.
A common issue was when reordering the channel list with the Sony editor software, it would frequently push the channel list down, rather than replacing or swapping them. With Chansort, you can tell the software if you want to swap the channels, or just insert it before or after, whilst keeping the other channel intact. This became a huge problem with the Sony software as after organizing one section of the EPG, the rest would either shuffle out of their modified positions.
After making the changes I copied the xml file back to the memory stick and plugged it in the TV to import. After importing and letting the TV reboot, the custom channel list loaded.
Unfortunately I had then hit a snag, since the TV is set to automatically update the channel list, and because I had originally deleted the encrypted Sky channels of the guide, the TV decided to add the channels back into the EPG, and then decided to merge and slot them into the existing channel list, so whilst it kept my custom channel order (mostly), you ended up with a bunch of encrypted channels in between.
One solution to this was disabling the service update option, that would stop the TV from adding channels, but that would mean any new Freesat channels wouldn’t be picked up, also if a channel had changed transponders, then the TV would not pick up the new frequency, instead that channel would display a blank screen.
A workaround to this was to hide the channels instead of deleting them, so whilst the channels would still exist to the TV, they would be ignored. In addition I also moved the channels to the 1000+ section, so that in the event the TV does not hide the channels, they are out of the way from main view.
Whilst the EPG now mirrors the Freesat guide, you still don’t get the full TV listings, rather the Now and Next data
When Sky/Astra add new channels, your TV will detect and will automatically add them to the guide, likewise if a channel changes frequency. You will then have to hide the channel, unless it’s a FTA channel that you want to view.
Regional channels, the BBC have multiple feeds for different regions, as do ITV for local news. Channel 4 also has different feeds for local advertising. These are all recognized by the TV as separate channels. Whilst the BBC channels are easy to figure out, since the region is in the channel name, ITV and channel 4 are more difficult, since they all have the same label (except for STV and UTV, although there are multiple STV regions) I ended up using the main London regions that a regular Sky box used if it had no viewing card inserted. Alternatively you could change the regions themselves using the same software I had used. Regardless I placed all regional channels in the 900 section, but they are not in a particular order.
Some channels are duplicated twice, like Challenge. This is due to Sky running different feeds for Sky and Freesat, maybe the Freesat versions have adverts targeting to resubscribing to Sky or NOWtv?
Some channels are FTA but they are not on Freesat, most of the music channels and many international non English channels, to solve this I allocated the 400 section for international channels since that range is vacant (not sure why Freesat has that empty?) music channel I used the old channel numbers, since many of them were on Freesat at some point
The Astra UHD test channels are assigned to 1-3, since they are interesting to view and many satellite Sony TV’s are 4K, 4-99 are vacant, My assumption is should the TV find new channels, they will be added here, making it easer to manage.
Also, when importing the satellite channel list, it will also replace the terrestrial Freeview channel list also. So after importing the channel list you may need to do a full rescan on the Freeview side unless your on the Sutton Coldfield transmitter. I’m currently looking at a way to remedy this
SDB.xml – Contains the edit channel list that follows the Freesat line up
Copy the sdb.xml file to a FAT32 formatted memory stick to the root of the drive (don’t place the file in any folders)
Insert the USB memory stick into the TV’s USB2 port
After a few seconds the TV should pop up with a message asking what to do with the memory stick, Select Cancel or Ignore
For newer models (Android 9), Press Home → Select Settings (Cog wheel) → Select Watch TV → Select Channels → Program List Transfer → Import
For older models (Android 8), Press Home → Select Settings→ Select Channel Setup → [Digital setup] → [Technical Set-up] → [Program List Transfer] → [Import]
The TV will then import the channel list and will then reboot
There are a few issues and inconsistences as outlined above, mostly with duplicated channels, and the auxiliary channels section being out of order (900+), hopefully the TV’s should have minimal issues with keeping the channels updated.
When Cable & Wireless launched their digital cable service, Interactive TV was the main attraction and focus for the platform.
Cable & Wireless teamed up with Liberate to deploy it’s eNavigator middleware client for their set top boxes. Liberate had already made deals with many US digital platforms for both Motorola and Scientific Atlanta networks, and had partnered with Acer & Thomson/RCA for their own set top box / internet tv devices. These allowed for the internet to be browsed on a TV itself, similar to a webTV or the Bush Internet TV. With that in mind it made sense to go with Liberate for its interactive platform, with many of the interactive being HTML based, essentially being microsites being designed to be useable on a PAL TV screen, as well as being usable on the set top box hardware itself. By using a HTML based system, it would be easy for existing web developers to adapt their websites for cable interactive TV.
The main interactive developer portal, viewed within the Cable & Wireless interactive browser. This also showcases the browser interface, note the lack of address or URL bar, since this service was designed to be a walled garden. Instead a url bar is provided on the developer portal, likely to allow developers to test their websites.
An interesting oversight is if you sent an email with a hyperlink embedded into it to a website such as Lycos or Google, you could use that link to open the browser to that page, and if its a search engine you could use that to load other websites that are not part of the service
Not much to say here, the developer portal provide links to documentation details the requirements and limitations of the TV internet platform. This goes into details the specifics of the Liberate eNavigatior platform.
Viewed in Internet Explorer 5
A look at the services…
Unfortunately the screenshots are of a low quality and resolution since they have been extracted from the PDF documents above but give a general idea of the scope of the service provided. Some screens have the browser banner at the top of the screen, I’m assuming these are portals to the microsites.
Another view of the interactive home screen, this may be from a later redesign
TV Internet Home
Similar to the Open… home screen, provides links to various services available
Sports Main Menu
Provides links to other sports themed websites,
Email Main Menu
Menu options are Check Email, Write Message, not sure of the third items, Drafts? Templates? Deleted?
The STB had a built in email client, designed for the C&W email service
Two Way TV
Looks like a games service, hard to tell because of the resolution
A resource for traffic information and a route planner
Looks like some sort of holiday broker
Provide links to holidays, not sure if this goes directly to the sites themselves?
News headlines, and weather from various sources.
When the consumer division of Cable & Wireless was acquired by ntl in 2000, the interactive platform continued it’s development. In 2002 ntl deployed the Liberate 1.2 middleware which bought improvements to the browser rendering engine, and the TV guide was rewritten to take advantage. ntl would later spend time developing services for the Langely platform, which was originally planned to use the PowerTV platform, but chose Liberate instead. This was done to ensure parity between the two platforms.
The Sky Guide user interface has been though a lot of changes ever since its launch in October 1998. Being one of the first Digital TV platforms in the UK, however despite having numerous software updates throughout the years, its core design remains the same albeit with certain alterations being made in light of new feature being added to the service.
Screenshots below are captured off a Pace 2500S5 running EPG software version
Search & Scan
Pressing the blue button cycles through the selected favorite channels, Personally I’ve never understood why it cant just open up a small menu showing favorite channels along with what’s being broadcast now, the way it’s been implemented seems like it was tacked on at the last minute, and if you have nearly 50 favorite channels it can take a while to cycle through them all.
If you wondered what the messages button does, It just shows the message above. Originally it was supposed to received broadcast style messages to the digibox, informing customers of any changes to their service
Low battery icon, supported on 2001 and later revision remotes
Main grid style view, programmes highlighted in white have audio description, this can be changed in the Language & Subtitles menu in the Services section.
Pressing i on the remote brings up a synopsis of the program selected. Also wtf is going on with modern Simpsons?
Sky added further categories in 2005 to accommodate the amount of channels. However in 2021 some of these genres are redundant, there’s only one channel in the Gaming & Dating category for example.
Viewing channels based on genre
No more Lifestyle & Culture channels, Sky merged the genre back into Entertainment
TV Guide: A-Z Listings
Viewing A-Z list of programs by genre. This has always been a mess since the same programme is repeated multiple times due to the advent of +1 and HD simulcasts, Ideally Sky should have combined the same program title into one per channel, instead you can have pages of the same program if it is repeated on multiple channels at different times.
Programs can be viewed by subgenres, which can be selected using the bottom row of colour buttons.
TV Guide: Personal Planner
The Personal Planner was introduced in 2001, and serves as a timer and reminder feature of Sky Guide. Programs can be added here and the digibox will remind you when the program starts. Autoview will make the digibox switch over to the channel automatically, useful for recording programs to a VCR (remember those?). Series Link automatically adds the next program to the personal planner, like the Season Pass feature of the Tivo.
To be honest, I found the Personal Planner to be buggy, many series links will randomly disappear over time.
TV Guide: Favorite Channels
The Digibox can store up to 50 favorite channels, which a separate EPG being introduced that lists the favorite channels exclusively, introduced in the EPG 3.4 update
Sadly Sky axed it’s Box Office Pay-Per-View in 2016 in favor of its on demand service. So this part of the guide is now dead.
Shows telephone numbers for broadcasters and departments on Sky. I thought this was a wasted feature since how often do you contact these broadcasters?
A better feature would be to allow the user to enter and save their own phone numbers, then should a contact call, a small message would appear with the callers phone number and name, like a caller display feature. It would certainly give customers a good reason to plug the Digibox into the phoneline. The only time I’ve seen this feature implemented was on a BT Freeview box.
Services: System Setup
Second Location Picture Format refers to the RF2 output, if the second TV is 4:3 with the main set being 16:9
On-Screen icon timeout referrers to the red button props that appear for interactive. Previously the red button icons would stay on screen unless the user pressed the Backup key
Model number referrers to the driver stack implemented on the digibox, and varies for each box model and revision
Version Number – First two characters refer to the Digibox manufacturer, the next two are the major revision (model/CPU chipset), the last two refer to the minor Digibox hardware revision. This field is static and remains the same throughout
Serial Number – identifies the digibox uniquely
Viewing Card Number – Refers to the viewing card number currently inserted
Operating System – the core operating system on the digibox, using a modified OpenTV1.2 with the NucleusOS realtime kernel
EPG Software Version – Version of Sky Guide currently running
Signal Strength – How much signal is being received, determined by the size of the dish, quality and length of the cable run and the quality of the tuner used in the box.
Signal Quality – Signal to noise ratio
Lock Indicator – If the digibox can decode the transport stream
Network ID – Used to identify the satellite the user is on, Astra 28.2 is 0002 with Astra 19.2E being 0001, Hotbird 13E is 013e
Transport Stream – The transponder that the digibox is tuned to
Services: Installer Setup
This menu is hidden in plain view, since it can technically disrupt normal operation of the digibox.
LNB Setup – To change tuning parameters of the LNB if a non standard LNB is being used, not needed if using a Sky Minidish.
Default Transponder – The transponder where the Digibox loads its TV listings upon bootup
Telephone Settings – If the user need to specify a prefix to access the outside line
RF Outlets – To change the RF output channel
Manual Tuning – Manually tune a frequency, similar to Add Channels but shows the signal strength and quality.
Services: Auto Standby
Services: Other Channels
Other Channels lets you add channels that are not on the Sky EPG, but are broadcasting on the 28.2E satellite. These could be regional channels not populated on the guide, or test channels.
In theory you could use this feature to watch channels on different satellite providing your dish is pointed to the satellite. In practice you are limited to two symbol rates (22.0 and 27.5) which restricts what transponders you can tune into (on 19.2E this isn’t much of an issue since Astra frequencies tend to stay consistent). The digibox isn’t a good receiver for this purpose since it wasn’t designed for it, it only barley works with the standard Sky digital service.
Services: Favorite Channels
Lets the customer program up to 50 favorite channels. This was originally 20 channels with the limit being increased in 2005.
Pressing i gives you a channel description, this also appears when you access a channel that you are not subscribed to.
A list of interactive services, or service. Sadly this menu used to be full of different service that were available back in the day (Playjam, Sky Active, QVC, DirectGov, Gky Gamestar)
Unfortunately MySky no longer loads
Pressing i gives you a description of the service
What happens when you disconnect the sat feed, the box cannot load listings, showing that the full listings are not cached in the digibox itself
A weird glitch, BBC Alba and Premier Sports on channel 65535
I believe this is due to a channel being restricted via the encryption, yet the customer is enrolled on the package. Could be due to area/post code restrictions,
Low battery message, supported on v4 remotes and later
Nag screen that appears when you boot up the digibox without a telephone line connected, since Sky have axed all of the interactive services (except for BBCi which does not use the telephone) they might as well remove this prompt
Appers when you switch on the digibox from the mains
All regular Sky digibox’s can only decode MPEG2 SD channels, if you go to an HD channel you simply receive this message. You used to be able to get tv listings for HD channels but Sky remove this to conserve memory since they were running out of EPG spaces
Appears when you insert the viewing card backwards, rumored to charge Sky for the subscription rather than the customer
When you have no signal being received for that channel transponder
Sometimes the digibox can’t load the program information, this message will be diplayed for a few seconds before the synopsis appears.
One of the many Digibox’s Pace produced over the years, and one of the first to have the tuner integrated on the mainboard, previous models had the tuner enclosed on a separate metal box fixed onto the board, or as a ZIF style socket module.
Another box from the same era was the PaceDi4000N for ntl, although this is a cable receiver you can see some similarities in the design.
Its quite a minimal clean design compared to the other boxes Pace have produced, like the Di4001
Back to the 2500S5, you can see the CPU of the box
The main, and only processor STi5512SWE. This chip incorporates the CPU (ST20) running at 60Mhz, MPEG2 decoder and graphics processor, basically a receiver on a chip. I’m not sure how it compares to other digibox’s of the era in terms of speed, considering this box was made in 2002.
ST processors were stupidly popular in many satellite receivers, and this one seems to be an NDS variant
Not sure what this chip does, maybe I/O for the RS232 port?
The unused PCMCIA slot
Flash memory chips (right) that store the EPG software and operating system. Each chip is 2Mb for a total of 4Mb Flash. There are two unpopulated banks for a potential of 8Mb. The chip at the top left, above the Omega chip is part of the RAM.
View of the dual card slots, the bottom is for the viewing card, whilst the top is for the interactive card.
Appears to be the modem used for the Digibox’s return path. This allows for the digibox to communicate back to Sky for box office events and interactive. Unsure of the port on the right
The front of the box with the panel removed, showing the location of the remote sensor