Tag Archives: Nagravision

ntl EPG (2002 – Langley)

This update marks the start of the unification of the Langley and Bromley platforms, as the colour scheme as been changed to match the one used by Bromley CR3. Internally many amendments were made in how the DVB-SI was handled in order for it to behave like the Bromely imersion.vplentation

The channels banner keeps its layout but adopts the new color scheme

Information banner that displays details on the program being broadcast

Setting a reminder for a future event, auto tune can be enabled for when you are settings a recording for a VCR, the box will then automatically change over to the channel

Main guide screen, different genres can be accessed here

This guide still has the classic layout, whilst the Bromley guide uses the grid like layout that is well known today

Pressing text on a channel that does not have an interactive link

Using the subject search feature to find a program

The settings area, which remained unchanged since the previous version

Cable & Wireless guide (Post-Launch)

The channel banner that shows now and next information. Also supports transparency, a feature of the C-Cube GPU that was in the early Pace boxes

Future events can be found by navigating through the banner

Reminds can be set for future events, this predates the Sky personal planner which wouldn’t debut until 200. Don’t know why the symbol is upside down?

Viewing information about the show itself

The main home screen that appears when you press TV Guide, looks very similar to the Telewest version

The early EPG that was used on these cable guides was known as at-a-glance, and used a grid style layout to show channel listings

Sorting channels by genre

Pressing the i button gives detailed information about the upcoming show

Reminder notification, not sure if the STB will switch over automatically to the show being broadcast

TV on Demand

This is basically a near VOD service similar to Sky Box Office of the time, as true VOD would not launch until the ntl era, 2005

Main on demand screen with a list off currently showing events

Sample error/information box, on this one a warning is shown when the user is watching a copy protected movie

If the event is already showing a warning messages informing you will appear

Selecting the preferred start time

Updating VOD listings

Preferences

Settings area where favorite channels and preferences can be amended

Display aspect ratio can be changed, along with the scart output (Composite and RGB Scart)

Pin control to restrict TV events and channels

Interactive

A few captures of interactive sites that were available at the time, interactive launched in mid 2000 and was built on the Liberate navigator platform. Initial reception to the service was problematic, with issues bring the service being slow to load and some pages refusing to load likely due to the demands being placed on the server and lack of capacity. Supposedly this was due to the DOCSIS upstream being used to upload data as it was meant to, but the downstream being sent over the broadcast/DVB-C as opposed to DOCSIS, likely a carousel based system like Sky and ONdigital did.

Cable & Wireless planned to have up to 100 websites, with a lot being based on a cut down version to be displayed on a standard definition TV. Many sites can be loaded and accessed using a special URL which loads the homepage that the cable services uses.

ITN – Archive Interactive service

Enhanced interactive services were due to be made avaliable later, these used technology developed by TwoWayTV and would have used the full capabilities of the digital services to deliver interactive games and multimedia.

Comparisions

The first generation software was designed and built by Pace, with the operator customizing the end interface of the guide. All follow a very similar design language, which would be replaced by a Liberate HTML based EPG in later revisions for both ntl and Telewest

Fate

Cable&Wireless home division was acquired by ntl who started merging the network operations with their own digital service. Cable&Wireless customers saw their EPG being rebranded using the ntl design scheme, and would be replaced entirely with ntl CR2. Initially both platforms were ran separately as they differed in return path and SI technology, which made integration difficult. After some time the two platforms would be unified with the Langley CR3 software. After ntl and Telewest merged, the Virgin media guide would be pushed to customers in 2007

Telewest – 2002

Telewest redesigned their digital TV service in 2002, which saw the TV Guide software undergo a complete rewrite and redesign of the user interface, similar to what ntl undertook with their Bromley TV service.

Like ntl the TV guide was written entirely in Liberate TV middleware, and the entire interface is rendered using the Liberate browser. In contrast, the previous Telewest software used an EPG system developed by Pace, with the Liberate browser being added as a separate component what had to be loaded.

This meant the customer had to wait for the Liberate browser to load before they could access the interactive service, and on screen interactive prompt were not possible since the interactive stack was not running whilst the customer was watching TV.

Viewing TV on Demand listings

The Liberate middleware was upgraded to 1.2, which featured several programme and feature upgrades to the HTML browser used, one of which was the ability to use a mosaic style screen with different video feeds .As mentioned earlier, the Liberate intake now runs constantly, allowing for ‘press Red’ functionality to be used on TV channels, this was essential since Sky and ITVDigital had implemented similar interactive prompt features. These would also be instrumental for the upcoming Big Brother and Wimbledon 2002 interactive services, where customers could choose from different angles and feeds through the use of interactive, of which was not possible with Liberate 1.1 (The mosaic feature mentioned earlier)

A reminder alert for an upcoming program

Also new addition was the mini TV guide feature, where a small screen of the channel the customer was currently watching is displayed whilst the customer browses the TV guide or interactive. The exception to this is when they are browsing the On demand TV section, where the box changed to a Front Row preview channel, the reason being this was to allow the box to get up to date PPV listings rather than rely on cached data, and to do so it was necessary for the box to tune into a specific frequency that carried this data, preventing the use of mini TV.

A weird design decision since Telewest already had a functioning return path due to the internal DOCSIS modem inside the Pace box, why not use that to retrieve the PPV listings?

Adding Favourite channels

Viewing Favourite channels

Pressing reveals information on the selected program, and any program broadcast within the next 24 hours

View of the search and scan banner, known here as the Mini Guide like Sky you can view what’s on other channels

In 2003, a slight update was made to the interface layout, the Telewest Broadband branding is now in effect, and the layout is more square compared to the previous design.

ntl: launch EPG (2000 – Langely)

ntl launched it’s digital TV service in 2000, shortly before acquiring the Cable & Wireless consumer division. Since the two networks had select differences between the implementation, it took some time before the networks were fully merged. The original network is referred to as ‘Langely’ as that was the location of the main headend and playout centre.

Now & Next

Now and next banner that appear when you change channels

You can bring up the information banner, which shows what’s on now and next, and allows you to browse through the channels on ntl digital

TV Guide Listings

Pressing Guide bring up this menu, this gives two options. The regular channel guide and the On Demand (NVOD) guide

The guide layout is quite different here compared to the grid view that other systems like Sky Digital use. Here you select a channel from a list which will then show a page full of listings.

Pressing info brings up a description of the program or episode

TV On Demand

Front row was the services used to provide PPV events for cable customers, similar to Sky Box Office

A list of movies and events to order

Purchasing a movie,

Help Information

Appears when the set top box is in the process of starting up

Updated Build

A revised update now adds a reminder diary feature, that allows reminders to be set for future program’s – similar to the Sky personal planner

Channel list

Listings for a single channel

Viewing a PPV movie listings

Programs entered into the reminder diary

When a program is about to start

Telewest launch EPG (1999)

Telewest active digital

Telewest launched it’s Active Digital TV service in 1999 and was built on the same foundation that Cable & Wireless used for their digital TV service.

These screenshots were originally hosted on Digitalspy and were captured by a forum member, but the links to them were broken in an update, and were no longer directly accessible. From the looks of it they were captured using the RF output, so they are not indicative of the quality available at the time.

Startup Screen

Telewest 1999

Now & Next bar, very similar in practice to Sky Digital

Telewest 1999

The main home screen

At-A-Glance

Telewest 1999

The main TV Guide, called ‘At-A-Glance’, this shows TV listings for the next three days

Telewest 1999

Pressing i calls up a description of the program

TV-On-Demand

Telewest 1999

This isn’t true video on demand, at this point only NVOD was supported. the customer selects a convenient time slot showing to view the movie or event

Telewest 1999

Different categories

Programs-By-Subject

Telewest 1999

This I imagine is similar to the A-Z listings on Sky, where you can view programmes by their genre. Useful for discovering new or similar programs.

Settings

Telewest 1999

Main settings area

Telewest 1999

You can set the reminder notification warning before the program starts. Its worth noting that cable had implemented this before Sky Digital,

Telewest 1999

Here you can change from RGB to Composite, and set the box to output widescreen or standard. Letterbox options are also available.

Telewest 1999

Telewest 1999

Interactive

The early implementation of interactive was done in a separate Liberate browser, that had to be loaded separately. this meant that red button functionality was not yet possible in this build, since the Liberate environment was not yet running full time.

The main interactive menu, very similar to the ntl interactive portal

List of all entertainment interactive services, which are customised websites that are designed for use on an embedded set-top-box.

Interactive is delivered using the internal broadband cable modem built into the set top box, a phoneline is not required and the service is always on

Nearly all of the content and service are built using HTML3, which makes it easy to develop and host service, although there are some differences and restrictions comparted to a desktop class website.

A navigation bar can be used to browse around the service, and to exit back to the tv channel you were watching

An email service was built into the service, and was tied into the blueyonder email service.

Vs Cable & Wireless

Pace DiTV 1000

The DiTV 1000 was one of the first digital cable boxes released in the UK, and one of the first DVB-C box’s with a built in DOCSIS cable modem.

The DITV1000 was also used by Telewest, where it was branded as the Di1000T, however the internals should be the same, although there may be differences in the memory configuration

DiTV 1000 Front

Two card slots are present, with the smartcard slot visible behind the front cover flap. Front panel buttons can be used to change channel, move and navigate the on screen cursor and access various different menus.

DiTV 1000 Rear

Power – Mains input

RF Output: Outputs a modulated RF signal to a TV

RF Input: In from antenna

Audio Output: Outputs audio to a HiFi system, useful for radio

Scart Ports: Supports compostie and RGB, and VCR passthrough

IR Remote In/Out: To connect external IR blaster devices, Not officially used but is power enabled

Ethernet Port: Originally used to provide broadband services to a computer using the internal DOCSIS modem, redundant as cable modems are now preferred.

Serial Port: Labelled as RS232, Not Officially used

Pararell Port: Labelled is IEEE1284, Not Officially used

Internals of the DITV 1000, note the various amount of processors in this box, no wonder it runs hot.

It kind of reminds me of the Sega Saturn, which itself had 8 processors for various different tasks. Remember this box has to function as a high end STB and a cable mode, and still has to remain the size of a typical VCR.

Note the lack of a fan, since these box’s run hot they would have benefitted greatly from an additional fan to extract the heat generated by the components. Whilst this would have increased the cost of the stb slightly, the increase in reliability would have paid for itself in time, remember ntl had to pay installers to come out and replace the box once it had failed, and then had to be sent back to Pace in order to be diagnosed and repaired. Also customers are generally poor at maintaining AV equipment, with many putting the boxes in Tv cabinets and stands with closed doors, often on top of a VCR or DVD player that already generates heat. It’s no secret that heat is the main reason electronic components die early, and this was before the days of thermal throttling.

View of the memory and flash chips, with the memory module. Interesting to note the two flash banks, one labelled C&W Flash and the other as Download, wonder if these store two separate images? One for main use and the other for backup?

View of the bottom right side, showing part of the PSU

The main set of processors, from top left working down

Broadcom QAMLink BCM3118BKEF – QAM & DVB Decoder

C-Cube AViA GTX – Graphics processor

C-Cube AViA-600 – MPEG2 decoder

Broadcom BCM3220KPF – DOCSIS Modem

Hitachi SuperH/SH3 Processor – Central Processing Unit

Another view of the main processors

DiTV1000 Front Panel

Update Process

So looking into the update process for the Ditv1000 I came to a plausible theory, When pace had written the initial loader for the stb, they neglected to include a function to check for a firmware update on boot up, which the later boxes did support and do. Typically when you boot up a cable box, it checks the default frequency for a valid netID and if there are any updates available for that stb, and the loader application for the ditv1000 may not have done that.

Since the loader is present on some sort of ROM medium and its likely Pace had already manufactured the software on the ROM chips themselves, they did not want to write off these chips since it would be a considerable expense, instead they included a workaround in the software loaded in flash, where once the operator had released a new update, a signal flag would be sent out within the transport stream, of which the software would then corrupt itself in an extent that the loader would fail to boot (possibly by failing a checksum) and would then trigger the download process.

To force an update on the Ditv1000, Hold the power button upon powering on the box from the mains power, release the power button when OHAY appears on the screen. then press

Update Process, this is displayed after you enter the key sequence

Diag Screens

To access, hold the Up/Down front panel buttons together after powering the box from the mains, release once DIAG appears on the front panel.

Default Frequency settings

Hardware version information and the loaded software information

Software versions for various components

Date & Time Information

That’s a lot of credit

The bootloader status

Memory information for both RAM and Flash memory

Status and a list of logs and events

Signal information for the DVB tuner

Downstream signal information for the cable modem

Information for the DVB Signal Information that is currently being received

Cable modem upstream

Front LCD Display

There are three light’s to the right o the LCD display which indicate the following:

  • The top light indicates power is being received by the stb
  • The middle light indicated the return path status of the modem, this light should be steady which indicates it is connected, flashing means the modem is attempting to connect – also means interactive services are unavailable until the stb connects.
  • The bottom light is for the remote control, and light up when a command has been received
MessageMeaning
PACEAppears when the stb is powered on
—-Liberate middleware is initialising, normal part of boot up
LAITWait, The stb is preparing to update
OHAYAppears when you hold the power button down upon boot, stb waiting for a front panel command
ERASErasing flash
FLASFlashing memory, part of the update process
GOODChecksum passed, last part of the update process
ERRXError code, where X means the error number

DigDebug

DigDebug can be used to test various aspects of the hardware and can be triggered by connecting an RS232 extender cable to the box, and booting whilst DigDebug is active. Whilst connected, PL:03 is displayed on the front LED display.

Additional tests can be completed for the various pools of DRAM used for the CPU/Decoder/Demodulator and a test pattern can be displayed.

Pace DiTV1000 test pattern

Pace Di4000T

The Pace Di4000T was released in 2002, 3 years after active digital had originally launched, and was a new generation of digital set top boxes.

Pace Di4000T
Pace Di4000T

Like it’s ntl counterpart, certain features were cut in this version in an effort to reduce costs for the cable company.

Pace Di4000T

Looks just like the Di4000N, with the main difference being the large Broadcom chip to the left

Pace Di4000N

The main difference is the removal of the second card slot, it remainted in the Telewest version until the Di4000TC

The Di4000T is powered by the Conexant CX22490, same as the Di4000N and is paired with 32MB of memory

Broadcom BCM3250KPB, DVB demodulator and cable modem controller.

Another view, this time with the chips cleaned

Additional space for more flash memory

Front panel with the cover removed, the Di4000T has the same front panel as the Di1000/2000 series

Rear panel, exactly the same as the ntl version

Software Version: 3.7.37.P12EN.P.KNOW.P4000.R

Diag Mode

Displays the default frequency for the local area

Shows the NetID and the different address used to identify the box, also shows the build of the software

Return path information

Date & Time information

Rf output settings, here you can change the output channel and the colume control

Smart card status

Shows the different images stored in the flash memory

Memory and Flash memory capcities

Reboots the STB, not sure why cold reset is not avaliable

Status monitoring, List of errors and notifications logged by the STB

Shows signal information for the chosen frequency and symbol rate.

Same as the previous screen but with the cable modem downstream

Signal information for the DOCSIS modem upstream

When the box can locate a valid transport stream (multiplex) it shows the details of the DVB-SI, the amount of services found

Information relating to the flash memory

Virgin Media Guide

Other Information

Virgin Media Guide

Pace Di4000N

Pace Di4001NC

Pace Di4001NC

The Di4001NC was a cost reduced cut down version of the Di4001 series of ntl set top boxes. One of the noticeable differences is the removal of the second card slot, in favour of just a single smartcard slot for the smartcard. The second card slot was originally designed for Mondex cashcards, which never launched.

Another removal was the ethernet port, despite the box still having a built in cable modem, the IEEE1284 port has also been removed, along with the audio output

Pace Di4001NC Rear

From left to right:

  • Power Input
  • RF Out – outputs the RF modulator, does not pass through the cable signal
  • TV & VCR Scart
  • IR Input & IR Output – No official function
  • RS232 – No official function
  • Cable Input

The RF output no longer includes an internal combiner, which means you will no longer be able to tune in cable channel’s via the RF tuner. Instead only the modulated output of the set top box will remain. This was due to the intention of removing the analogue channels, and to prevent the DVB-C channels from being tuned in on modern digital TV sets.

Pace Di4001NC mainboard

Well it looks very similar to the Di4001, but on closer inspection you can see the components removed, also in this model there aren’t any stickers covering the various chips.

Pace Di4001 C-Cube AViA

From left to right;

C-Cube AViA-600L – MPEG2 Decoder

C-Cube AViA-GTX – Graphics Accelerator

C-Cube AViA-iNX – Transport Demodulator

Di4001NC

The removal of the ethernet and IEEE1284 controllers, the ethernet port seems to remain but is not wired internally.

Hitachi HD6417709

A closer look at the Broadcom DAVIC processor and the mysterious Pace chip, of which the sticker covered some of it on the previous model. At the very top you can see the main processor, which is unchanged since the previous model (Hitachi SH3)

Hitachi SH-3 HD6417709

Pace 909 6162800, ORBIT 61628

Broadcom QAMLink BCM3120KTB

Engineer Mode

To access, hold the Up/Down buttons upon bootup, and release when DIAG appears on the front panel display.

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Default frequency settings, this would carry any software updates the STB would download upon boot up

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Some version numbers, as well as the Network ID. This box appears to be running CR3.2

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Further information in relation to the software versions on the STB

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Since this revision lacks the internal combiner, you cannot control the outputted cable feed

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Service status of the box, indicated that the signal is OK and the regional information

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Signal information for the current frequency, this is the same frequency as the default frequency

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Information relating to the DVB-SI, and the amount of services received

CAT – Encryption systems

PAT – Channel numbers

TDT – Updates the time & date

EIT – Event info, current program

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Information for the inserted smartcard, the credit amount and the pairing status

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

A log of events generated by the STB

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Signal strength status, but this time for the DAVIC tuner (also known as DVB_RC)

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Same as above but for the upstream

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Browser settings, for the Liberate navigator client

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Current date and time, this cannot be set, but is retrieved from the network stream, the STB has a built in CMOS battery

Bootloader version and flash information

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Memory information, according to these values the box has 16Mb, with 4Mb Flash

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Information relegating to the MPEG decoders. You can also set the remote control configuration here and enabled the rear in or outputs, this has little effect since the software does not support this

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

No PPV events…

Pace Di4001NC diag screen

Flash memory information, the capacity, bad flash sectors and where the image came from.

More Information

NTL CR3 Software – Software this box runs on

Pace Di4001N – Another model/revision of an ntl box

Pace Di4000N – a STB from another ntl platform

Cable & Wireless TV Guide Pace DiTV1000

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.

Inside a Pace Di4000

Earlier I went though the ntl CR3 Bromley software which was introduced in 2002 and was the basis for ntls new interactive services.

The Pace Di4000 was a redesign of the previous 4001 and 1000/2000 series box. Its worth mentioning that Pace’s model numbers don’t seem to follow a specific scheme, you would assume the Di4001 was the successor to the Di4000, however the Di4001 was the launch box for ntl in Langely areas and was a DAVIC based box, with the Di1000/DiTV1000 being its DOCSIS equivalent for Telewest and ntl Bromley areas.

These early generation boxes were designed around the Hitachi SH3 CPU with C-Cube Chipset for MPEG2 decoding and descrambling. The Di4000 replaces that with the Broadcom demodulator and the Conexant MPEG2 decoder which contains the ARM CPU.

Pace Di4000

Left Pace Di4001, Right Pace 2500 Sky Digibox

The main difference you will notice between the two is the reduction of components, with the Di4000 only having two main processors. The previous generation was split over 5 different processors. this reduction means the mainboard is smaller and the box produces less head as a result. In fact its not too far off an average Sky Digibox.

  • The Power supply is now separated from the main board, like the Sky Digibox design, allowing for the PSU to be replaced independently from the main board.
  • The audio out jacks have been removed, no you can no longer connect the box to a Hi-Fi system unless you use a scart breakout adaptor. The design for it still exists on the main board however.
  • The Serial port and Printer part are removed in favor of a single USB port. the serial port still exists and can be access using a VCR to RS232 adapter.
  • The second card slot has been removed, this was originally designed for Mondex cashcards.
  • The remote control protocol now supports IRDA and RC5

Conexant cx22490

Conexant CX22490 – ARM920 based core, 160Mhz – 175MIPS

Broadcom BCM3250KPB – Demodulator

CrystalLAN CS8900A-CQ – Ethernet controller

Conexant Bt861KRF – Video encoder for Scart/AV output

The tuner modules, one for TV and the other for data/DOCSIS modem

Pace Di4000 front panel board
Pace Di4000 rear panel
  • Power Input
  • Ethernet – For internet connectivity for the internal cable modem
  • USB port – To connect additional devices, never used officially by ntl or Telewest
  • IR in/Out – never used by ntl or Telewest
  • Scart ports
  • RF Input/Output
  • Cable Input

Diag Screens

To access these on this box, hold down the Up & Down buttons whilst the STB is booting, and continue to hold them down until you see this screen. The front panel LED display will change to ldr and will then go blank once you have entered diag mode.

ntl EPG 1
Di4000 Setup screen 1

Sets the default frequency which is checked when the stb boots up, this frequency carries the netid for the area and any software updates

Pace Di4000
Di4000 Setup screen 2

Shows build information about the software loaded, and the hardware identifier of the box.

Pace Di4000
Di4000 Setup screen 3

Cable modem IP address information

Pace Di4000
Di4000 Setup screen 4
Pace Di4000
Di4000 Setup screen 5

RF output configuration

Pace Di4000
Di4000 Setup screen 6

Shows recent PPV purchases

Pace Di4000
Di4000 Setup screen 7
Di4000 Setup screen 8

Shows contents of the flash memory

Pace Di4000
Di4000 Setup screen 9
Pace Di4000
Di4000 Setup screen 10
Pace Di4000
Pace Di4000
Di4000 Setup screen 12

Signal information

Pace Di4000

With cable feed connected

Pace Di4000
Pace Di4000
Pace Di4000
Pace Di4000
Pace Di4000
Pace Di4000
Pace Di4000 ntl loader