Difficulty getting reliable operation with Custom Firmware

Alan99

New Member
I have 2 HDRs, both with custom firmware (CF) installed. I am having difficulty getting the units to operate reliably.

The HDRs are connected to a 'homeplug' network, and to the internet. In addition to the CF, I have installed the following packages on each HDR:
auto-unprotect​
auto-update​
disable-dso​
disable-ota​
foxlink​
redring​
virtual-disk2​
webif-iphone​
undelete (on one machine only)​

I've installed virtual-disk2 and foxlink on both machines with the aim of being able to record on both HDRs, and playback recordings from each HDR on the other. I have enabled recursive auto-decrypt on the "My Video" folder of each HDR.

The problems I have been experiencing include:

1) Neither machine would reliably record scheduled programmes. Sometimes they would get recorded, but not other times. The HDR would require a power-cycle reset to clear the problem, until the next time. This seemed to be happening after the unit had been accessed by the other HDR to play a recorded program. Both machines appear to be more reliable in this regard now, but our confidence has been dented (to such an extent that Eastenders is currently being recorded on 4 different machines, just in case up to 3 of them fail!).

2) One HDR will not reliably play back recordings stored on the other HDR. During playback, the picture freezes and the sound mutes, only playing properly for bursts of up to 1-2 seconds at best. This seems to be worse with HD recordings - could it be limited bandwidth on the Homeplug network? If so, why does it work ok in the other direction (even with HD recordings)?

3) If left on for an extended period of time, say 24 hours, the HDR stops responding to the remote control. It is still decoding live TV, and can be accessed via the webif. The only way I've found to fix this problem is a power-cycle reset. This occurs on both HDRs.

4) On one occasion, at the end of playing back a recording, the HDR froze, showing the ending frame of the program. It no longer responded to the remote control. Required power-cycle reset to fix the problem. It could be that it froze on receipt of the STOP or OFF command from the remote control - my wife was wathcing the program and thought she'd switched the machine off (she switched the TV off first, I assume, so didn't notice).

5) Neither HDR would decrypt files automatically, although I could decrypt a file manually. I understand (correctly?) that auto-decrypt only runs between 1am and 6am, so the HDRs were left on overnight. Nothing happened for 4 days and nights, then all of a sudden on the 5th day, the files have been decrypted! It is currently decrypting ok - having just decrypted a file at 6pm (inconsistent with the 1am-6am window!). But why the days of delay and what will happen going forward?

Could these problems be related to using foxlink in both directions - I thought I read somewhere that it should be used in one direction?

Problems 1) and 5) seem to have gone away, for the time being at least. Problem 3) hasn't been seen for a few days, but it's too early to say that it's gone away (since when did software problems go away of their own accord, and not re-appear some time later?!).

Problems 2) and 4) are my current headaches. Does anyone have a suggestion as to how to fix either one?

I apologise for the length of this post. I really believe in the Humax with CF installed - the concept of the available features is great. But with these ongoing problems, the confidence of the other members of the family has waned, and mine is being tested!

Have others experienced similar reliability problems? Does anyone have a suggestion for the cause of my problems? Most importantly of all - can I reasonably expect to get to the point where we have 100% reliable operation with the CF, or is it really just beta software, and I should expect it to have buggy operation?

Thanks in advance for your help.
 
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Alan99

New Member
Could it be that the new 0.13.0 version of webif may have fixed problem #5? (A question for AF123 perhaps?). I noticed that the new version was posted just after midnight today, and this morning was the first time I noticed that all of the files have been automatically decrypted.

Could any of the other problems listed above be caused by bugs in webif that have been fixed in 0.13.0? It would be helpful to know, as it increases my confidence if there is a logical explanation for why a problem has disappeared.

Thanks,
 

Ezra Pound

Well-Known Member
Lots to cover, here are a few pointers :-

5) It is the Unencrypt package that only runs between 1am and 6 am. auto-decrypt runs every 10 Mins. when the Humax is out of standby

A lot of functions on the Humax need the DLNA server to be running, this is turned on in the Humax Content Share = On, however it sometimes stops unexpectedly, it can be checked with Web-If >> Diagnostics >> DLNA Server, it can also be reset (restarted) in the same screen, but you may have to toggle the Humax Content Share = Off/On menu first
 
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Alan99

New Member
Thanks for the suggestions, Ezra.

I have Content Sharing = On on both units. Next time it occurs, I'll check the DLNA server status as suggested, and report back.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I recommend (temporarily) replacing the HomePlugs with wires (even if they do have to trail through the house to the router), to see how much of your difficulties disappear. It's no good trying to debug the equipment at each end until the string in between is proven.
 
I had something similar on my HDR Fox T2 where it refused to respond to the remote after a short period (shorter than your problem 3 and 4 - longer description of problems starting and whole thread see link here http://hummy.tv/forum/posts/35145/ ), and the only way to get any response was to reboot via the webif -much better than powering off at the switch as it at least gives the machine a chance to sync the disc, park the heads etc.

After a dig through, reboot etc including leaving the machine unplugged for a few hours, it seemed to be fixed - although I had gone through a complete RMA reset and reinstall of firmware - std and custom.

Recently, I happened to check that the DLNA server was on and it wasn't. On turning it on, I had a freeze in a very short while (15mins or so). I rebooted via the webif, turned off the DLNA server and have not seen the problem again. I used to have homeplugs, and now I don't (directly wired to the router) and I can't now remember if the problems happened before or after the switch - but after, I think.

Anyway, I have a MyBookLive with the Twonky media server added to the mix recently (previously running another machine running miniDLNA) which all seemed to be about the same time as my problems. I haven't yet got into the testing the theory, but you might just try turning the DLNA servers off for now and see if you get any more stability.

I failed to adequately explain the onset of my problems and their cure, but the recent freeze with the DLNA was enough to make me think twice. I need to do more investigation when I get the time.

Trevor
 
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Alan99

New Member
I recommend (temporarily) replacing the HomePlugs with wires (even if they do have to trail through the house to the router), to see how much of your difficulties disappear.

Thanks BH. It'll be a challenge as both HDRs are downstairs, and the router is upstairs! Will try to find some cables long enough...

In the meantime, I've done a bit more testing with the HomePlug setup, with the following results:

- Simultaneous playback on both HDRs of an SD program stored on the other works without any problem.
- Playback on HDR2 of an HD program stored on HDR1 suffers from an intermittently freezing picture, and intermittent sound.
- Playback on HDR1 of an HD program stored on HDR2 works without any problem.
- Simultaneous playback on both HDRs of an HD program stored on the other causes both pictures to intermittently freeze, and intermittent sound, consistent with a buffering problem (I assume there is some buffering?).

So it looks to me as if I have a network capacity problem. Testing without the HomePlugs will hopefully prove that.
 
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Alan99

New Member
One of the HDRs is frozen again! By that, I mean it won't respond to the remote control or the front buttons. The webif is running, and so I've checked the DLNA server, which is also reported to be running.

It's happened sometime In the last 12 hours, after I carried out the playback testing from the other HDR. It's still in the frozen state, should anyone have any suggestions for what I could try!
 
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Alan99

New Member
I haven't yet got into the testing the theory, but you might just try turning the DLNA servers off for now and see if you get any more stability.

I may try that temporarily, but I understand the DLNA servers must be running to allow me to share files between HDRs. And that feature is the whole reason for having the Hummys in the first place.

Is anyone else running fox link without any problems?

Would I be better off going the network-shares-automount route instead?
 

Ezra Pound

Well-Known Member
Problems that are fixed by turning off the DLNA server on the Humax is most commonly associated with something on the LAN running Twonky version 7, it is a known problem, Twonky Versions 5 and 6 don't show the same problems
 
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Alan99

New Member
Problems that are fixed by turning off the DLNA server on the Humax is most commonly associated with something on the LAN running Twonky version 7, it is a known problem, Twonky Versions 5 and 6 don't show the same problems

I'm not aware of anything running Twonky on the LAN. There is a MacBook Pro, two Windows laptops (XP and 7) plus various iPads/iPhones on the LAN from time to time. We've not set up media sharing on any of them explicitly. Might Twonky be running on any of those? How can I check e.g. does it show up as a running process?
 

DelftBlue

Member
1) Neither machine would reliably record scheduled programmes. Sometimes they would get recorded, but not other times.

Do you mean entire blocks of scheduled recordings failed all in one go? Or intermittent problems?

How did they fail? Disappeared from the schedule? Or zero minute recordings with 'failure to track' on them?

If random failures - have you tried both AR (accurate recording) and 'padding' - and had problems with both? (I get failures with AR so use padding, but other people here use AR with success)

2) One HDR will not reliably play back recordings stored on the other HDR. During playback, the picture freezes and the sound mutes, only playing properly for bursts of up to 1-2 seconds at best. This seems to be worse with HD recordings - could it be limited bandwidth on the Homeplug network? If so, why does it work ok in the other direction (even with HD recordings)?

Over my Homeplug network (which is not set up optimally) SD recordings play fine, HD recordings are sometimes unwatchable due to the broken picture and sound.
If you have Devolo Homeplugs, open 'dLAN Cockpit' on your computer, what speeds do you see? (If you click on each installed plug it shows you the different speeds e.g. currently I have one at 164 Mbit/s and the other at 132 Mbit/s)
Have you got the Homeplugs on their optimum set-up (no extension cables, no adjacent plugs/equipment etc as per the instruction leaflet)

5) Neither HDR would decrypt files automatically, although I could decrypt a file manually. I understand (incorrectly?) that auto-decrypt only runs between 1am and 6am, so the HDRs were left on overnight. Nothing happened for 4 days and nights, then all of a sudden on the 5th day, the files have been decrypted! It is currently decrypting ok - having just decrypted a file at 6pm (inconsistent with the 1am-6am window!). But why the days of delay and what will happen going forward?
As already said by others you need unencrypt for a fixed schedule decrypt. auto-decrypt is a different package and although it runs a scan every 10 minutes it doesn't act if there isn't enough memory (until recently the rule was that there had to be 10% free disk space, I think this has been tweaked to something more lenient).

If you go to the Diagnostics page of Web-IF and look at the 'auto.log', can you see better what happened?

Have others experienced similar reliability problems? Does anyone have a suggestion for the cause of my problems? Most importantly of all - can I reasonably expect to get to the point where we have 100% reliable operation with the CF, or is it really just beta software, and I should expect it to have buggy operation?

I think you can be optimistic, that with some tinkering and help here from those more knowledgeable than moi, that you can get things working better.
Did your HDRs work perfectly smoothly before you installed the CF?
In my experience, the HDR on its own can behave unpredictably, quite unconnected to the CF, with occasional freezes and crashes. Sometimes the issues are outside Humax control - such as broadcaster programme time flags or overlapping transmission signals.
The CF works very well for me (on 2 HDRs/Homeplugs) - I find it reliable - and now I have understood the rules and interactions of the various processes, it is predictable.
At most there are teeny tiny minor insignificant glitches once in a blue moon (usually fixed promptly), I definitely don't think of it as 'beta' software or buggy in operation - there wouldn't be so many of us using it so happily otherwise :)
There could be lots of disparate factors causing your HDR problems, I am doubtful that the CF is the root of all of them. I guess the acid test would be to remove the CF from one of your HDRs, and see if that fixes things!
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
You can be sure that if the CF caused problems in more than a very few cases there would not be so many users!
 
Just to confirm my version of Twonky is 5, and I definitely have a problem with something on the network when turning on the DLNA server. I turned it on again last night and sometime later - can't say when but about 45mins later when I checked, the humax was again un-responsive to the remote and front buttons.

Later, I'm going to turn off the Twonky server, turn baack on the dlna server and try again.

T
 
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Alan99

New Member
Do you mean entire blocks of scheduled recordings failed all in one go? Or intermittent problems?

The HDR appears to get into a mode where it no longer records any programmes in the schedule. This mode is consistent with it no longer responding to the remote control or front panel switches. The only way to get it out of that mode, and start recording again, is a reset - either via webif or power cycle.

It seems to get into this mode some time after playing back from one HDR to the other over the LAN.
 
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Alan99

New Member
Over my Homeplug network (which is not set up optimally) SD recordings play fine, HD recordings are sometimes unwatchable due to the broken picture and sound.
If you have Devolo Homeplugs, open 'dLAN Cockpit' on your computer, what speeds do you see?

I have D-Link 200Mbps HomePlugs. Ran test as you suggested, and the speeds between the 4 units in different rooms varies from 160Mbps down to 6Mbps!! Of course, the 6Mbps would have to be between the 2 HDRs!

At least I've found the cause of the stuttering playback problem. Now I've just got to come up with a better LAN solution.

Does anyone know if the 500Mbps HomePlugs work significantly better in difficult installations like this one?
 
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Alan99

New Member
As already said by others you need unencrypt for a fixed schedule decrypt. auto-decrypt is a different package and although it runs a scan every 10 minutes it doesn't act if there isn't enough memory

Sorry - I didnt mean to say "unencrypt". I'm using auto-decrypt, and its now running fine on both HDRs, ever since the 0.13.0 firmware upgrade. So I'm putting the problem of it not working for 4 days down to something in the previous version of CF. :)

Thanks for all of your suggestions DelftBlue.
 
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Alan99

New Member
I'm pretty happy that all of the original 5 problems, except one, have been solved, or I know what I've got to do (in the case of the LAN).

The one outstanding problem relates to the HDR getting stuck in a mode where it no longer responds to the remote control or the front panel switches, and at the same time stops recording scheduled programmes. The webif and rs functions continue to work ok, and when I've checked, the DLNA server has been running.

I don't know how to check for the presence of a Twonky server on the LAN. Any suggestions?

If there was a Twonky media server on the LAN, interfering with the HDRs, would the DLNA server stop running?

Any other suggestions for what I check next?

Thanks in advance,
Alan
 
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