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
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.
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.
Now & Next bar, very similar in practice to Sky Digital
The main home screen
The main TV Guide, called ‘At-A-Glance’, this shows TV listings for the next three days
Pressing i calls up a description of the program
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
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.
Main settings area
You can set the reminder notification warning before the program starts. Its worth noting that cable had implemented this before Sky Digital,
Here you can change from RGB to Composite, and set the box to output widescreen or standard. Letterbox options are also available.
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.
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
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.
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
Hitachi SuperH/SH3 Processor – Central Processing Unit
Another view of the main processors
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
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
Appears when the stb is powered on
Liberate middleware is initialising, normal part of boot up
Wait, The stb is preparing to update
Appears when you hold the power button down upon boot, stb waiting for a front panel command
Flashing memory, part of the update process
Checksum passed, last part of the update process
Error code, where X means the error number
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Connecting an old ntl box running ancient (by cable standards) software to a modern Virgin Media network. Whilst Virgin Media is the sucessor to ntl there are a few possible roadblocks to this;
VM no longer broadcast their channels in MPEG2 with the exception of a few off air slates and radio channels.
The DVB-SI that VM broadcast may not be consistent with what the software is expecting
The STB itself may be looking for something that VM are no longer transmitting
Getting the box to boot was a struggle itself, just connecting it to a cable feed is not enough since the box will get stuck on the starting up screen, I left it overnight and the box was still trying to start up
Forcing a boot (holding Up+Down and letting go once LDR appears on the display) wouldn’t work either
What worked in the end was to power up the STB will the cable feed disconnected, this will cause the box to display NIT on the front panel LED display. Connecting the coax feed, the box will then proceed to the start up screen and after around 5 minutes a channel will be displayed.
Well the box managed to load something, lets see what we get…
The main EPG, showing the many channels or streams Virgin broadcast
What’s disappointing is nothing can be tuned, you can select a channel but nothing will play, not even radio channels. Potentially this could be the NetID mismatch causing this , since the STB originated from a different area of the network.
Looks like software update streams for the various tivo box models currently in use with Virgin Media.
To breakdown what works and not
Channels Numbers exist but its not the order that Virgin use, the STB seems to place them consecutively in the EPG, i.e starts at 1 and goes up to 350
There are issues selecting channels over 255 in the guide, trying to select a channel number over 255 causes the box to pull a channel from the top section of the EPG, i.e selecting channel 260 causes channel 5 to get selected instead.
Only now and next information is loaded, no further schedule information is available
Subject search does not function
Channel genres do not work, selecting Entertainment or Sports shows no channels.
Various hidden streams and channels appear in the guide
Changing channels using the + and -, the list is out of order and the STB seems to jump between different channels.
Program reminders work and can be set
Maybe changing the Net ID will at least allow the radio channels to be opened
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.
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 – 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
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
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.
Sets the default frequency which is checked when the stb boots up, this frequency carries the netid for the area and any software updates
Shows build information about the software loaded, and the hardware identifier of the box.
The replacement to CR2 software that saw the launch of interactive services for the bromley platform, CR3 saw a rewrite of the guide software, with everything now being written in the Liberate browser, and Two Way TV support for downloadable applications, whilst Liberate being used for interactive. This software would form the basis for Langely CR3, and would be the next step in unifying the platforms in terms of feature set.
Sadly not all areas had access to CR3 with former Videotron areas in London being stuck on pre-interactive CR1 blue to the networks inability to support a return path connection. ntl would have to upgrade and repull the network in order to provide support for broadband and on demand services, all of which are dependent on a return path.
The software here is running on a Pace Di4000N
The user interface of ntl digital, not a fan of their purple/pink colour scheme and the bad thing is that its everywhere, thankfully they changed the scheme by the time it can to Langely.
Interesting is the listing for interactive settings, rather than be part of the list it looks like a separate link,
Now & next
Unfortunately the purple makes it’s way onto normal viewing, with the now and next bar
I’m not sure why these early cable TV software did not allow for the volume to be changed via the STB remote, since the Telewest side also did not support changing the volume. One theory was that customer would complain to ntl about how they were unable to her any sound through their TV, unaware that the volume on the analogue box has been set to a low level or mute, so to prevent further calls that disabled the feature.
In the end they enabled the volume control in a later build ofCR3, along with Telewest. Maybe they got fed up of the support calls asking why the volume control isn’t working on their box. In hindsight they should have followed the Sky design where the STB remote controls the volume on the TV at launch (they ended up doing this later, with the newer remotes)
The options button gives a small menu, allowing for access to the help function and a shortcut to the diary. The audio Language lets to changed the language of the audio, or enabled narrative audio description, Sky would later implement a similar feature in its Sky Guide.
The main TV guide grid. No channels here since the box is not connected to the cable feed.
Here would have been a list of all channel genres, such as Movies, Sports, News, etc
Pressing the i button shows a short description of the program
TV Guide: Diary
The diary is ntl’s version of the personal planner, and is used to store reminders for future events and shows. Future PPV events appear here.
The subject search feature can be thought of as an alternative to the A-Z listings of Sky Guide, showing programs rather than the channels themselves. The idea is that the customer can find a program they like by the genre of the show.
Sadly the TV guide only has 3 days of TV listings, compared to the 7 days offered by Sky Digital.
A list of subgenres
Searching for a specific program via text
The on screen keyboard, not sure if this is the way it’s supposed to look since a lot of the text to the right being cropped off.
ntl customers could also purchase an optional keyboard to make it easier to enter text.
One nice feature is the ability to save personalized genre lists, here you choose the type of programs to like to see and you can easily search for that list without having to manually select categories.
Trying to load interactive services which sadly no longer exist. the Liberate middleware was used to deploy the interactive microsites, with the TwoWayTV middleware being used for the interactive applications such as games.
Looking for PPV events, this was before true video on demand had launched
The parental control feature
Changing TV settings, not sure what Enhanced Programming corresponds to?
The favorites feature, very similar to Ntl Langely CR3
There’s a help system but with no content stored on the box.
Diag screen that shows the software an signal information
Using with Virgin Media
Somehow I was able to get the box to bootup on a modern Virgin media connection, with many Channel and TV listings being loaded. Sadly I was not able to get any TV channels to load, not even radio channels which still broadcast in MPEG2