I have had the Magnavox 513 for a little over a year (refurb unit). Recently, I started having a problem where the recorder records blank. The cable box feeds into the Mag. It starts to record the timed recording but then at some point it no longer records the cable feed. It continues to record - the "title" shows the full time that was in the Timer Recording event - so its not the timer function. But everything after a certain point is blank.
The first time it happened I though it was the cable company's failure. But the second time I know that the cable feed was good.
So the Mag is not reliable to record my shows. Does this mean that I have to throw it out and try to find another refurb unit? (it's no longer available at J&R where I bought it and is much more expensive at Sears)
Or is there something that can be fixed and if so, where.
thank you for your assistance.
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Are you recording to the hard drive or directly to a DVD? Also, is it possible that your cable box includes an energy-saving feature where it shuts itself off after a period of inactivity or at a specified time?
I'm recording to the HDD. There are lots of hours available on it. The cable box does not have an energy saving shutoff. I have been recording for over a year without having any problem. This problem just began a few days ago.
How does your cable box "feed" your Magnavox? Is it connected to the Magnavox line input, and all your recordings are from line input, or do you have the cable output looped thru the Magnavox tuner?
If you're using the Magnavox tuner to record cable, the problem could be with your cable transmissions. These have been changing lately, and the Magnavox tuner is incapable of dealing with the new cable updates. Symptoms like you describe (records beginning of program then blacks out) are common. The only workaround is to connect the cable box to the Magnavox line inputs, and preset the channels on the cable box.
If you already have your cable box connected to the Magnavox via line inputs, it could be a problem with the cable box connectors, the Magnavox connectors, or the wires connecting the two units. Try a different set of wires and see if that helps, also try switching the hookup from the Magnavox rear panel to the front panel inputs (you'd also need to change the timer settings from back to front).
It is unlikely for all the Magnavox connections to be broken, switching the hookup around should solve your problem. If not, you may need a new cable box or a new Magnavox. Most cable companies will replace a problem box for free, esp if you bring it in yourself. The latest version of the Magnavox MDR513 is the model MDR533, available new from WalMart website for $228. Cheaper 533 refurbs will probably start appearing at J&R after the holidays.
NOTE: nearly all cable companies have recently shifted to a REALLY annoying system called "switched video," in which what they consider "less important" channels get turned off (black screen) two to four hours after you tune in that channel on the box. This automatic blackout is not related to "energy saver" settings and is not under your direct control: the box will insist on blacking the screen on many channels after two hours of "inactivity" (in other words, you need to actually sit there and switch to another channel and then back again every two hours to maintain the channel feed on your desired channel). The auto blackout nonsense is not consistent from city to city, although the afflicted channels are never the major networks or premium channels and usually not TCM or AMC. For everything else, from Discovery to TBS/TNT, all bets are off: depending on viewer statistics in your town, these "lesser" channels will black out after two hours (some only at night, others 24/7).
This new "switched video" idiocy allows the cableco to jam hundreds more channels into their lineup, at the expense of constant availability. It really screws up timer recordings, even for those who subscribe to the cableco's own PVR. So double check the channels you are having timer problems with: if they are on the "switched video" system, there's nothing you can do. The good news, of course, would be there's nothing wrong with your Magnavox.
Last edited by orsetto; 7th Nov 2012 at 23:18.
it could also be some kind of copy protection in the cable signal
Novice20 has indicated the recording continues for the full timer duration, but switches to dead air shortly after recording starts. That symptom implies an issue with faulty connectors, faulty cables, cableco "switched video," or hardware defect in either the cable box or the recorder.
Thank you orsetto and october262 for your replies.
How does your cable box "feed" your Magnavox?
coax from cable box into Antenna In on Magnavox rear panel.
The only workaround is to connect the cable box to the Magnavox line inputs, and preset the channels on the cable box. Not sure I know what are the "line inputs", nor the presetting of channels on the cable box. The Magnavox is set up to recognize only channel 3; all channel changes for timed recordings are done on the cable box' timed recording settings.
try switching the hookup from the Magnavox rear panel to the front panel inputs
The only front panel inputs that I see are RCA jacks, not coax jacks. So how would I connect that to the cable box? (sorry if this is a dumb question; as my userid implies, I am a novice)
NOTE: nearly all cable companies have recently shifted to a REALLY annoying system called "switched video," in which what they consider "less important" channels get turned off (black screen) two to four hours after you tune in that channel on the box...the afflicted channels are never the major networks or premium channels and usually not TCM or AMC.
The channels that have failed are BBC America (BBCA) and ABC. BBCA failed after about one hour and three minutes (on a scheduled four hour recording) at a few minutes after 3:00 AM. ABC failed after about one minute (I start the recording early as some networks are less than precise on their start times), exactly when the "next" program - the one I wanted to record - was to start (10:00 PM). However, I recorded two ABC programs the previous night without a problem (one hour recording, one hour break [cable box off], one hour recording) .
It could also be some kind of copy protection in the cable signal
That's exactly what Funai Support said today (I finally got through to them). She said the DVD recorder is "extremely sensitive" to copyright signals. Is this something new from the networks? Are they doing this on some shows but not on others? Did it just start this week? (Did not have a problem before this past Saturday)
Copy protected signals would normally stop the timer recording cold within minutes, if not seconds. You wouldn't get a recording thats 3 minutes of video then 57 mins of dead air: the recording would stop at 3 minutes.
That's what happened on the BBCA show, though all four hours were the same show - just four episodes broadcast back-to-back. On the ABC show, as I said above, it went dark exactly when the show was scheduled to start (after a minute of the prior show).
Funai wants me to do test timed recordings on news shows, which apparently are not candidates for copyright signals. Their alternative is to reset the unit, which they don't want to do unless they've ruled out the copyright signal (perhaps it's a big procedure to do the reset and/or they're trying to save my having to redo all of my settings).
Is there any way around this copyright signal, if in fact that's what it is? And if this is the problem, why hasn't anyone else on this forum had the problem and raised it in a post? Surely, I can't be the only person facing this.
Thank you for helping me with this.
OK, we can explore this further now that you have clarified how the cable is hooked up. I had not considered that you might have connected everything in the "worst" possible way: if you are using a cable box, there is no reason to use the coax output to feed the Magnavox on channel 3, and many good reasons NOT to. The first thing you should do is go to the nearest electronics shop and buy a triple-plug AV cord (yellow/red/white). When you get this cable, disconnect the coax between the cable box and the Magnavox: it is unnecesary. Using the new triple cable, plug the yellow into the Composite Video (yellow) output in back of the cable box, and White and Red audio plugs into the matching Audio Outputs in back of the cable box (white is left channel, red is right channel). Connect the other end of this triple cable to the matching Line Inputs in back of your Magnavox.
Turn everything on, then use the Input button on the Magnavox remote to cycle thru the inputs until you hit Line 1, which should then feed video and audio to your TV. Going forward, leave the Magnavox set to this Line 1 input for all recordings from the cable box, and do the same in the Timer Recording screen (instead of Channel 3, choose Line 1). This will give you somewhat better picture quality and notably better audio (which will now be true stereo). This is the recommended connection setup for all cable and satellite boxes, as it bypasses all possible tuner issues in the recorder and gives the best potential recording quality.
When I mentioned "presetting the channel on the cable box," I meant exactly what you're doing: use the cable box to select channels you want to record.
Funai Customer Service means well but has absolutely no clue how their own recorders work. The instruction manual is riddled with errors, so the phone reps are prone to giving bad advice. The Magnavox is not any more or less prone to copy protection sensitivity than any other recorder, but like other recorders it is more sensitive when recording from its tuner than its line input. You should notice less problems using the new hookup, but it depends on the channels and your particular cable system.
Further advice requires that you please clarify EXACTLY what the problem is: your two posts suggest conflicting issues. Are the recordings stopping completely, at say a few minutes in, or are you getting the full length timer recording you set but the picture goes dead for most of it? This is important: if the actual recording stops within a few minutes, that could be copy protection, but if you get the full four hour recording but the picture goes black while continuing to play, that could be one of several issues.
The major broadcast networks are technically prohibited by law from employing copy protection, but cable companies routinely go thru brief periods where they screw up and do switch on the protection. BBC-A is not usually protected, but it might be now on your system, and it very probably is on the "switched video" system I mentioned previously. We can't rule out the possibility of two simultaneous issues: one of these channels might be suddenly copy protected, while the other is experiencing technical problems.
While it is unlikely your Magnavox is defective, because you can still record most other channels OK, it wouldn't hurt to do a reset of the recorder. The simple, risk-free reset procedure for the 513 is to unplug it for about 5-10 mins. Then, plug it back in and immediately press and hold in the power button until the front panel display changes from "--/--" to "P-On." You might need a second person to plug the recorder in while you hold down the power button. This procedure clears most of the recorder "brain" and solves most common minor glitches. You'll need to reset the clock time, but your timer programs should still be in memory.
The more thorough reset, which Funai was cautious about recommending to you, involves some risk because you must pay close attention to what you're doing: if you make a mistake, you could cause more problems. To perform a complete reset of your Magnavox, turn it on and be sure you can see the cable box playing thru it on your TV. On the remote, quickly but firmly press these buttons one after the other: SKIP, 1, 2, 3. You should see a "FW Versions" screen on your TV: if not, try the button sequence again. When the "FW Versions" screen appears, press the "OK' button and the recorder will completely clear its memory and revert to factory new condition. This means you'll need to reset the clock and re-enter all your timer programs.
If none of the above helps, and your recordings continue to drop out on some channels it might be a new and ongoing copy protection on those channels. Getting around this costs serious money: you would need a "protection filter box" such as the Grex device ($90) or a Time Base Corrector (TBC) like the AVT-8710 ($238). These connect between the video line output of the cable box and video line input of the Magnavox. Because of the cost involved, I strongly suggest you completely eliminate other causes before assuming the problem channels are protected. If at all possible, borrow another DVD recorder and see if you get the same problem. Double check the cable box: try disconnecting the Magnavox from both TV and Cable Box, and connect just the Cable Box directly to the TV. See what happens if you simply try to watch (not record) the problem shows directly from the box. If the shows play all the way thru without incident, you've probably got a protection issue. If the shows are still interrupted when playing directly from cable box to TV, theres another issue with those channels or the cable box itself.
I have not had a problem similar to yours except when my cable box was starting to die. Eventually the cable box stopped providing video and audio at some point every time I tried to watch TV, not just at odd random intervals.
Thank you orsetto for taking the time to give me such detailed help and instruction. And thank you usually_quiet for your help as well. You are both most kind and I greatly appreciate your assistance.
I had not considered that you might have connected everything in the "worst" possible way
Just proves what I said in my previous post that I am a novice
Further advice requires that you please clarify EXACTLY what the problem is: your two posts suggest conflicting issues. Are the recordings stopping completely, at say a few minutes in, or are you getting the full length timer recording you set but the picture goes dead for most of it?
It is the latter. I am getting the full recording length with dead picture for most of the recording.
I will follow your advice and change the input to the Video In & Audio In jacks, do a mini-reset of the Mag, and watch "live" one of the programs that failed to record this week (that program won't be on until Monday night; the other program is at 3:00 in the morning so I'll wait for the Monday program)
Minor aside: I expect the Line Input connection cancels the Mag's antenna out coax TV pass through (used sometimes when the Mag is off or needs to be bypassed to check the cable). Not significant - just checking that my novice understanding is correct.
Last edited by Novice20; 9th Nov 2012 at 09:51.
This thread is already getting much longer than I have interest in reading, but I do have a comment that might be useful. A quick scan did not find it already above, but I apologize if I missed it.
The "switched video' that orsetto mentioned is new to me. I did not know about that. I am an ATY&T Uverse customer and if the OP also is, he needs to be aware of something they do. It's not the same thing, but it can cause major problems with trying to use 3rd party (ie. the Magnavox) recording devices. Basically Uverse has a feature that users CANNOT in any control that after a random period of hours, usually between 4 and 6, the cable box will go into hibernation mode. The only thing that MIGHT stop it (it is very unclear) is that if you change the channel on the box, it MAY reset the counter back to 0. But after 4-6 more hours it's going to go back into hibernation mode again. The Uverse DVR that they offer with the service still works even if the cable box is in hibernation mode, so what I have to do is record any shows I wish to keep to the DVR and then play them back in real time so my Colossus card can record them to a PC. Something like this would also explain why your recordings go dead in the middle. I've done testing and once the Uverse box hibernates, your signal dies. However, I am able to record the hibernation message so that's how I know it's in hibernation mode.
The only benefit to using coax from the cable box is as you say, the ability to turn off the DVD recorder when you don't need to record.However, most standard definition cable boxes provide a signal via their coax connection and their analog line outputs at the same time, so connecting the cable box's coax out to the TV, and using one of its other analog connections with the Magnavox DVD recorder will give you the same benefit.
You have up to 4 options other than coax to choose from for connecting your TV to the DVD recorder, depending on what the TV provides. Your Magnavox DVD recorder allows you to connect to your TV with HDMI, or a set of composite A/V cables (yellow video plus red-white stereo audio), or a set of S-Video A/V cables (black mini-DIN plus red-white stereo audio), or a set of component A/V cables (red-green-blue video plus red-white stereo audio).
Last edited by usually_quiet; 9th Nov 2012 at 14:17.
This thread is long, but the details may be helpful for recorder newbies (yes, they still exist) who can't make heads or tails of the Magnavox instruction manual.
Novice20, we should have asked you what kind of TV you have, because that affects your connection options as well. In my earlier advice I assumed you had a modern TV with HDMI connections: in such a case, both the Magnavox and the cable box can be connected separately via HDMI 1 and HDMI 2, and the Magnavox would not need to be turned on to watch cable. Most cable boxes have multiple outputs: line outs to feed the Magnavox, and HDMI for the TV.
If you have an older TV without HDMI, you would connect the cable box line outputs to the Magnavox line inputs, and the Magnavox line outputs to the TV line inputs. You can also run the cable box coax output to the TV coax input. This way, for highest quality video and audio, you would watch thru the Magnavox over line inputs. If you don't want the recorder turned on for any reason, just switch the TV to channel 3 and use the cable box directly.
I am 100% in agreement. I don't own such a recorder and probably never will, but this info is extremely helpful. I just didn't feel like going over everything with a fine tooth comb when a quick scan seemed to indicate that my point may not have been made. I think my point is most likely not the OP's problem, but I wanted to put it out there in case others find this thread later and they do have that issue.
Connected Cable Box to Mag via Line Out/In (L1). ABC show (1 hour) recorded successfully. Won't know abut BBCA show until the weekend. I do not have AT&T Uverse - it's Cablevision. But if they are employing "switched video" after two hours, that won't explain mine getting turned off after only one hour and a few minutes. But I have broken up the four-hour BBCA into four fifty-nine minute recording events (on the cable box), to see whether it won't go dark. But it means that I will lose either the very end or very beginning of each of the four episodes.
Note: doing the minor reset (disconnecting for more than a minute) will delete all settings, timer events et al - per Funai. So I have not done that (yet).
I do not have AT&T Uverse - it's Cablevision. But if they are employing "switched video" after two hours, that won't explain mine getting turned off after only one hour and a few minutes.
But I have broken up the four-hour BBCA into four fifty-nine minute recording events (on the cable box), to see whether it won't go dark.
But it means that I will lose either the very end or very beginning of each of the four episodes.
If you have a modern digital decoder box that uses a TV-Guide-like program grid to set timers (instead of a clock), the shows should flow seamlessly unless they're on different channels and the network start/end times are tampered with, as ABC sometimes does. Set the Magnavox timer to record for four continuous hours and you won't miss the beginnings or ends: later you can divide the long recording into four individual shows by choosing the break points yourself.
This brings up yet another point we probably should have had you check: whether your Cablevision service is digital or analog. Most franchises across the country have migrated completely to digital decoder boxes by now, but on the off chance you still have an analog box, note you can dismiss the video-switching channel issue as a possible cause of your problem. Video-switching is not possible with analog service, only digital: if you have analog service, your problem lies elsewhere (defect in the box, Cablevision letting its analog service glitch up because they don't care anymore about the analog minority, copy protection in the show, etc).
Note: doing the minor reset (disconnecting for more than a minute) will delete all settings, timer events et al - per Funai. So I have not done that (yet).
Last edited by orsetto; 16th Nov 2012 at 12:33.
Cablevision has either a copy-protection or a record-once signal on more and more channels. I don't seem to have that timed shutoff on my cable boxes. I recently left the cable box turned on for 10 hours overnight with no problems, and recorded timed recordings to a DVD recorder for, say, started at hour 1, then another show 3 hours later, and another 6 hours later, without interference from the cable box.
I have two Cablevision boxes, an older SD digital and a new HD box. Both have a Sleep Timer in their settings menus. Scroll down the list of settings until you see "Timer: Sleep", then disable it. It's probably disabled already, or you would have the shutoff problem on all channels, not just an occasional one. Since this shutoff might be enabled by inactivity, you can simulate "activity" by setting recorder timers every few hours to cover your tracks.
I don't know why anyone would use an RF for anything except the main connection to the box's cable input. Viewing and rrcording thru RF is the worst way to do it from a cable box, even with a VCR. But I see Cablevision and FIOS techs hooking TV's up that way all the time.
Last edited by sanlyn; 16th Nov 2012 at 12:35.Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. -- Henry David Thoreau
samlyn, the issue with "lesser" channels being on the cableco's internal "switched video" tier has nothing to do with decoder box settings. It is a technical "feature" inherent to certain channels that we as subscribers have absolutely no control over: we pay for these channels, but perversely don't get to really enjoy them because they continually get "switched off" at the worst possible moments. The worst offender by far is Time Warner, reports from ComCast and Cablevision subscribers are less numerous.
The reasoning goes, the cable pipeline only has so much bandwidth it can use at any given time. Keeping every single channel at "full availability" (always on when tuned) became impossible as ever more niche channels were added over the years and the tremendous expansion of On Demand offerings and internet services. To make room for all these "hot" new services, something had to go, and that something was the casual unattended recording of many less-popular channels. These "leper" channels simply get turned off whenever the cable company feels they need to free up some bandwidth: the fact that you might actually be trying to record a once-in-a-lifetime program counts for nothing. The channel is simply turned off at the cable head end, and the only way you can bring it back is to be sitting in front of your TV when it happens, so you can flick the channel button on your remote away from that channel and then back to it. This causes the two-way decoder box to send a re-tune request to the cable head end, and get a new temporary lease on that channel. If you're lucky, the lease lasts 3-4 hours, but I have often seen channels go dark within 20mins-90mins.
This channel re-activation cannot be triggered by the cable box timer grid unless you're able to set a timer program on a different channel between shows you want on an afflicted channel: the system MUST register a channel change pulse. Disabling the sleep / power saver function of the cable box has no effect, neither does the box being left ON or OFF after its program timer has been set. With Time Warner Cable, you can't even reliably record these channels using their own PVR: the damn channel will still randomly go dark smack in the middle of a recording. Absolutely infuriating that we pay for a service we can't reliably use. What irks me most is that the channels are turned off individually for each subscribers box: if they're able to micromanage our boxes to this degree, the least they could do is give us the option to choose our own "exempt from switching" personal channel lineup. This way, they'd still retain the ability manage bandwidth while we'd be able to make use of our favorite channels.
The element of this I find most surprising is the sheer number of affected channels. On the Time Warner Cable systems, pretty much everything but the major broadcast networks and the premium channels are fair game for them to randomly switch off whenever they feel like it. I'm astonished that Ted Turner alone hasn't kicked up a fuss over them pulling the plug on TNT several times a day, and constantly at night. So far, FX and Comedy Central have remained "always on" but many others are unstable. As Peter Griffin would say, this really grinds my gears.
orsetto has some other good points about T/W. (this is a edit comment - he had posted while I was typing in the post). I too have a LOT of issues with T/W's switched video. I suspect them of actually broadcasting some HD sources in 720p mode and auto up-scaling to 1080i in the cable box. Or when they re-encode the satellite feeds to convert from what is probably MPeg4 to MPEG 2 for cable distribution they are messing with the video stream bit rate (lowering it to permit more band width - see comment about trying to find out what really is going on at end of this post)
Some other possibilites Time Warner does updates to the cable system and sometimes updates to the cable box in the middle of the night (around 3am) or messes with the servers. If you are watching the TV at that time the screen shows a please wait while they mess with the servers. For a box update, the cable box does a reboot. I was trying to capture a movie the other night and while I was recoding I was watching on another cable box when the please wait occurred. When that happened the I checked the capture on the other cable box and it had failed due to dropped frames in the video stream. Note I was capturing using a Intensity Pro card in my PC to capture the HDMI output of the cable box and it is very sensitive to interrupted video and is set to abort the recording if dropped frames are present. T/W uses a switched video system for most of their the non-analog channels and does have some analog channels still available. As one member responded when they go all digital you may have to have a cable box to record anything. Also there are some Digital Channels on the cable that a digital tuner on either a TV or DVD recorder can record/watch with a direct connection to the coax cable source (are not switched sources). I'm expecting these to disappear as T/W migrates to a completely switched system - probably when they get rid of all the analog channels.
For a higher quality capture on the DVD recorder you may be able to use the Component (blue,red,green) outputs of the cable box if available which will also require an audio pair to also feed the audio to the DVR (red and white) RCA connectors. I can not use that input to the DVR since T/W does something weird in the cable box and blocks recording on the component outputs if the HDMI output of the cable box is connected to the TV. In that case the DVD capture shows a continuous message screen about blocking the recording. Note for some unknown reason this screen only shows up when recording, not when watching the component input to the DVR w/o recording. I addressed this issue with the cable repair man but he could only shake his head. T/W will never let you speak to one of the technical people to get the real story on what is going on.
This may not be relevant in your case with a different provider, but I though I'd add these thoughts to the list.
If you do get the problem solved please let us know what turned out to be the problem and how you solved it.
Last edited by rcubed; 16th Nov 2012 at 17:53.
Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. -- Henry David Thoreau
I'm still baffled by the question of how they appease the channel owners with this constant blackout strategy. I.E., if Ted Turner sells x dollars of ad time on the TNT channel, one assumes those advertisers are buying a certain level of expected viewership. If TWC is free to pull the plug on TNT at whim multiple times per day, how can TNT assure advertisers their potential audience is even there? I don't get this at all. Doubtless Time Warner explicitly has each channel sign off contractually to permit this switched video concept, but it seems a strangely unmanageable business model for the individual channels.
(novice20, my apologies that this thread has drifted off track from the gist of your original question: do please let us know if you succeed in extended recording of BBC-A this weekend using line inputs from the decoder box instead of the cable coax to Mag tuner connection.)
The drift is quite all right. It is helpful and educational.
Breaking down the four hour block into four separate events (with one minute shutoffs after each hour) with Line in did not help. I will try it this weekend with one-minute channel changes instead of shutdowns.
I cannot fully explain what happened over the weekend with BBCA. There were three contiguous episodes (three hours) rather than four contiguous episodes this week. I inserted one-minute channel changes between each hour (first to second, second to third). I got the one minute channel change before the second hour recorded, then the second hour, then the one-minute channel change, then the third hour (losing the first minute of each episode because of the channel change). But I got black for the first hour. I checked the cable timer setting three times to make sure it was set up properly - and it was.
So the channel changes apparently prevented hours two and three from going black - at the cost of losing the beginning of each episode - but I can't explain why hour one was black.