Tag Archives: DVB-S

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.

Using a Sony BRAVIA TV for Freesat

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.

What You Need

USB Memory stick – Formatted to FAT32

Supported BRAVIA TV with a satellite tuner

Sony Channel Editor (Optional)

ChanSort (Recommended)

The Software

Sony Channel Editor

Sony Channel editor

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.

Sony channel editor
WTF?

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

Chansort

After getting fed up with Sony’s software I instead opted for an alternative

Chansort Sony

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.

Testing

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.

Considerations

  • 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

Download

SDB.xml – Contains the edit channel list that follows the Freesat line up

Download (Box)

Download (OneDrive)

Updated as of: 22nd April 2021

Importing (Export to TV)

  • 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.

Channel List

NumberChannel name
1Astra UHD Demo
2SES UHD Demo
3Astra UHD Demo
101BBC One HD
102BBC Two HD
103ITV HD
104Channel 4 HD
105Channel 5 HD
106BBC Scotland
107BBC Four
108STV
109BBC ALBA
112UTV
113ITV2
114ITV2+1
115ITV3
116ITV3+1
117ITV4
118ITVBe
119ITVBe+1
120S4C HD
121Channel 4
122E4
124More4
125More4+1
1274seven
1295 USA
1305USA+1
1315STAR
132Paramount
1335SELECT
134CBS Drama
135CBS Reality
137CBS Justice
138horror channel
139horror ch+1
1415STAR+1
142Sony Channel
143Sony Channel+1
144Pick
145Pick+1
146Challenge
147Sky Arts
148Food Network
149Food Netwrk+1
150DMAX
154ITV4+1
155PBS America
157Dave
158Drama
159YESTERDAY
160Really
162BLAZE
164Together
165Forces TV
166HGTV
167QUEST
169Quest Red
170Quest Red
172YANGA!
173HGTV+1
176Smithsonian
177QUEST HD
179QUEST+1
180Drama
181Drama+1
182Dave
183Smithsonian HD
184Dave ja vu
185YESTERDAY+1
186Quest Red+1
187Vox Africa
190Hi-Impact TV
192Showcase
194c4 l
200BBC NEWS
201BBC Parliament
202Sky News
203Al Jazeera HD
205FRANCE 24 HD
206RT
207CNN HD
208Bloomberg HD
209NHK World HD
210CNBC
212BBC NEWS HD
213RT HD
214Arirang TV HD
215TRT World
217Euronews
218CNN
219CNBC HD
220SkyNewsArabia
221Arise News
222Sky News
223GEO News
224Al Jazeera Eng
225BBC NEWS
230TVC News
250SportyStuff HD
251FreeSports HD
272BET:BlackEntTv
300Film4
301Film4+1
302Sony Movies
303Sony Classic
305Sony Action
306TalkingPictures
307Sony Movies+1
308Sony Action+1
309Sony Classic+1
382Court TV
401NDTV 24×7
402Channels 24
403Dunamis TV
404ATN
405A1TV
406CHSTV
407Kanshi TV
40992 News
410Eman Channel
411Islam Channel
412AAJ TAK
413Republic Bharat
414HUM Masala
415Takbeer TV
416Iran Int’l HD
417Ahlebait TV
418Channel 7
419British Muslim
420PTC PUNJABI
421Aastha
422KTV
423MATV National
424BEN
426Noor TV
427Madani Chnl
428NTV
429Sangat
430Islam Ch Urdu
431HUM EUROPE
432PCNE Chinese
433mta-muslim tv
434Channel 44
435Hidayat TV
437GEO TV
438NTD
439PTV Global
440Travelxp
441Iran Int’l HD
450Brit Asia TV
451ARY Digital
452Sanskar
453Dunya News
454Islam TV
455IQRA BANGLA
456IQRA TV
457Deen TV
458Ahlulbayt TV
459Sikh Channel
460TV One
500Trace Hits
501Trace Vault
510Clubland TV
512NOW 90s
513NOW 80s
514NOW 70s
516Spotlight TV
518KISS
519The Box
521Box Hits
523Magic
524Kerrang!
600CBBC HD
601CBeebies HD
602CBBC
603POP
604POP Max
605Tiny Pop
606POP+1
607CBBC
608CBeebies
609Tiny Pop+1
610CBBC
611CBBC HD
612CITV
613CBeebies HD
614POP Max+1
615CITV
616CBeebies
617CBBC
642Cruise1st.tv
650Venus TV
672KICC TV
673Good News TV
674TBN UK
675Faith UK
676LoveWorld HD
677Celebration TV
678LoveWorld HD
679Faith World TV
680EWTN Catholic
681Inspiration TV
682DAYSTAR HD
684revelation
686GOD Channel
687Hillsong
688SonLife
700BBC R1
701BBC R1X
702BBC R2
703BBC R3
704BBC R4 FM
705BBC R5L
706BBC R5SX
707BBC 6 Music
708BBC R4 Ex
709BBC Asian
710BBC R4 LW
711BBC WS
712BBC R Scot.
713BBC R n Gael
714BBC R Wales
715BBC R Cymru
716BBC R Ulster
717BBC R Foyle
718BBC RLondon
719Capital
720Capital XTRA
721Classic FM
722Gold
723Radio X
724Absolute
726Absolute 80s
727BBC R Cymru 2
730Planet Rock
731talkSPORT
732Smooth
733Heart
734LBC
736Virgin Radio
745Hits Radio
750RTÉ Radio 1
751RTÉ 2FM
752RTÉ Lyric fm
753RTÉ R na G
754EWTN Catholic
755Newstalk
757Heart 80s
758Kiss
759Magic
760Absolute 90s
761WRN Europe
762Heart 90s
763LBC News
764Desi Radio
765Heart Dance
766Panjab Radio
767Khushkhabri
768TWR
769Jazz FM
770Scala Radio
771Sukh Sagar
772Classic Rock
786BFBS Radio
800QVC
801QVC Beauty
802QVC Extra
803QVC Style
805Gems TV
806Create&CraftHD
807JewelleryMaker
809TJC
810TJC HD
811High Street TV 5
812Ideal World HD
814JML Direct
815ROK
816High Street TV 1
817Hochanda
818Studio 66 3
819High Street TV 3
820New Vision TV
821Ideal Extra
822HGTV
823Best Direct
825Xpanded TV2
826Craft Extra
827High Street TV 2
828High Street TV 4
830Babenation
831Live 360
832Psychic Today
833Get Lucky TV
834TV Warehouse
835Thane
842Xpanded TV
844
870Channel 4
871Channel 5
872BBCScotlandHD
873E4+1
874e4
875S4C
876Channel 5+1
877CBS Drama
878CBS Reality
879CBS Reality+1
880CBS Justice
881Pick
882Really
883Food Network
884Challenge
885BBC One NI HD
886BBC Two HD
900ITV HD
901ITV
902ITV
903STV
904ITV
905ITV
906ITV
907ITV
908ITV
909ITV Wales
910ITV HD
911ITV
912STV HD
913STV
914STV
915STV
916STV
917UTV
918ITV+1
919UTV+1
920ITV+1
921ITV+1
922ITV+1
923BBC One ScotHD
924BBC One Wal HD
925BBC Four HD
926BBC Two
927BBC Two Wal HD
928BBC Two Wales
929BBC One East W
930STV
931ITV
932ITV HD
933ITV
934ITV HD
935ITV
936ITV HD
937ITV
938ITV HD
939ITV HD
940ITV HD
941ITV
942ITV HD
943ITV+1
944ITV HD
945UTV+1
946BBC One HD
947BBC One Lon
948ITV HD
949STV
950BBC One Lon
951BBC One CI
952BBC One Oxford
953BBC One East E
954BBC One E Mid
955BBC One N West
956BBC One S West
957BBC One NI
958BBC One Oxford
959BBC One S East
960BBC One Scot
961ITV HD
962BBC One S West
963BBC One W Mid
964BBC One Wales
965BBC One West
966BBC One Yorks
967BBC One South
968BBC One South
969BBC Two NI
970BBC One NI
971BBC Two NI
972BBC Two NI
974Channel 4
975Channel 4
976Channel 4
977Channel 4
978BBC One NI
979BBC One NE&C
980BBC One NI
981ITV
982ITV Wales HD
983UTV HD
984BBC Four HD
985Channel 4+1
986Channel 4+1
987Channel 4+1
988Channel 4+1
989ITV
990BBC One Yk&Li
991BBC Two NI
992ITV HD
993ITV+1
994ITV HD
995BBC Four
996BBC RB 1
997BBC Two
998BBC ALBA
999BBC One NI HD

Using Sky Digital in 2021

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

Sky Guide

TV Guide

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

Box Office

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.

Services

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.

Interactive

MySky

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

Error Messages

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.

Inside a Pace 2500S5 digibox

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.

Pace 2500S5 board
Pace 2500S digibox mainboard

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.

pace ntl
Pace Di4000 ntl box mainboard

Its quite a minimal clean design compared to the other boxes Pace have produced, like the Di4001

ntl pace

Back to the 2500S5, you can see the CPU of the box

pace st20

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

digibox pace

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.

ESS Teledrive ES2898S

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