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Things Every HD-FOX T2/HDR-FOX T2 Owner Should Know

Discussion in 'HDR-FOX T2 Freeview Recorder' started by Black Hole, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. Black Hole

    Black Hole Usain the Whippet

    Latest update: 2017/04/16

    (Please note: for brevity, when something applies to both HD-FOX T2 and HDR-FOX T2 they are referred to as "HD/HDR-FOX". "T2" can be omitted without creating confusion. None of what follows is necessarily applicable to any other Humax device, including the Foxsat HD or Foxsat HDR, although HDR-1800T and HDR-2000T have much in common with the HDR-FOX and users may benefit from some of the information.)

    Contents

    Note to other authors: if linking to this topic please link the contents list rather than individual articles (things might get moved around).
    1. Firmware Revisions
      How to update your HD/HDR-FOX; History of Versions
    2. Retuning
      Pros and cons of automatic and manual retuning; Confused EPG
    3. AR (Accurate Recording) versus Padding
      Methods of setting Series Recordings
    4. EPG Update
      Problems of stale EPG data
    5. Encrypted Recordings
      When and how recordings are decrypted
    6. Use Without an Aerial (as a media player)
      Problems and work-arounds
    7. Power Saving Mode / Automatic Power Down
      What they do
    8. Antenna Power
      What it's for
    9. Hidden Service Menu
      How to get at the hidden settings and utilities; CRID codes and what they do
    10. Destructive Deleting
      Emergency action when your Humax says it's deleting stuff
    11. BBC iPlayer and YouTube Internet Streams (TV Portal)
      Tricks and tips
    12. What Drive Can I Use?
      Advice for choosing an external drive, and comments on replacement internal drives
    13. Why Isn't My Remote Control Handset Working?
      Common mistakes
    14. Record Three Programmes Simultaneously
      A method for when there's something you can't do without
    15. Skipping Adverts (or other boring bits), and Problems Thereof
      How to use the Time Shift Buffer
    16. Playing Wide-Screen Movies with the Correct Aspect Ratio
      How to display at 2.35:1 without stretch
    17. It Just Deleted the Wrong Recording!
      The reason and a way to avoid it
    18. Power States and Misoperation
      On, off, or somewhere in between - what the HD/HDR-FOX can and can't do
    Footnote: Custom Software

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    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
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    Black Hole Usain the Whippet

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    1. Firmware Revisions

    Presuming it has power, the HD/HDR-FOX performs an "OTA (over-the-air) search" at 4.30am daily. This is the means by which revised firmware (the software which defines its operation) can be made available and installed automatically, without user intervention. It will come out of stand-by if necessary. Whether the HD/HDR-FOX detects and installs new firmware depends on (i) whether it has an aerial connection and access to the appropriate Freeview channel, (ii) whether there is an update being broadcast at the time, and (iii) whether the update is more recent than your existing firmware. If you happen to be viewing TV using the HD/HDR-FOX at 4.30am, a message will flash up saying it is about to search for new software, and offering you the chance to abort. If you make no response it will go ahead regardless.

    Updates are broadcast when a new version of the firmware is released, and repeated occasionally afterwards so that anyone who missed it or has just acquired a new unit from old store stock will (sooner or later) be updated. The occurrence of these OTA update broadcasts are published on the Internet HERE (click), and the current version installed on your HD/HDR-FOX can be inspected on-screen: Menu >> Settings >> System >> System Information >> Software Version

    It is also possible to download firmware updates from the Humax web site and install them manually using a USB pen drive. Further details are available HERE (click).

    Firmware updates have no serious consequences (other than new bugs!) to your HD/HDR-FOX - they do not destroy your existing recordings, or affect any recordings you may have scheduled for the future. If you use timer on/off (Menu >> Settings >> Preferences >> Time), these will have to be reinstated after a firmware update. It is possible that your network settings may need to be reset, if the update affects those systems. However, you might be happy with your current system (or at least not want to adopt any new bugs), and it is possible to prevent the OTA search happening - see HERE (click)*.

    It is also possible to install older versions of firmware if a user dislikes the new features - eg the enforced automatic retunes introduced at 1.02.27. "Downgrades" must be treated with care however, as the indications are that hardware changes have occurred from time to time which are only supported by firmware contemporary (or more recent than) the hardware. It is suspected that this has occurred (HDR-FOX) at 1.02.26 and 1.03.06. Before downgrading, ensure you have a way of restoring what you had in case things go wrong, and be aware that if your HDR-FOX was delivered with firmware later than 1.02.26 installing firmware pre-1.02.26 may be non-functional (likewise 1.03.06).

    Version History

    1.02.20 is the earliest revision anybody is likely to be using. The audio format broadcast on the HiDef channels changed at the beginning of June 2012, and any recordings made since the change will not play audio with earlier firmware revisions. Prior to this, the capabilities of the Humax firmware had been gradually increasing - the ability to stream recorded content to devices on the home network (HDR-FOX only), the TV Portal which provides access to BBC iPlayer and YouTube etc, and ongoing improvements to HDMI compatibility. 1.02.20 (and previous versions) does however include a bug, such that when streaming content from elsewhere on your network, it is incapable of playing or winding forward beyond the 4GB (gigabyte) point in the media file. For a HiDef video file that could be less than an hour's worth. Firmwares subsequent to 1.02.20 introduce a bug whereby AD (audio description) on StDef services does not work. There is one case on record where it appears the HDR-FOX cannot operate with 1.02.20. This may be because of a manufacturing change required a firmware change incorporated into later releases.

    1.02.26 is a bit of an enigma: it was installed on a small number of HDR-FOX units bought new/refurbished, but never on the web site or OTA so the experts never got to see it and nobody's home units were updated with it. It was probably a pre-release 1.02.27 but presumably contained some bugs which resulted in Humax updating it before wider release. If you have (or had) 1.02.26 consider yourself one of the "lucky" few - it may be that 1.02.26 addressed the hardware build issue mentioned above, and is not compatible with earlier hardware (therefore not on general release).

    1.02.27 is a beta (trial) release only made available for download and never broadcast as an OTA. It cured the 4GB playback problem, but also broke YouTube functionality on the TV Portal. HDR-FOXs on 1.02.27 seem prone to spontaneous factory resets (it returns to the unconfigured state and needs tuning and general setting up, but does not lose existing recordings). On-screen icons were added so that the user gets a message when the mode buttons on the handset are pressed (PVR-TV-DVD-AUDIO) - as long as you have the right version of the remote control (those requiring three digits to program them for your equipment). Possibly the worst thing about 1.02.27 (and subsequent versions) is that it will retune your HD/HDR-FOX if the broadcast network triggers it and if you are not watching at the time to tell it not to. This clears your recording schedule in the process. See Section 2.

    1.02.28 is currently transmitting as the latest OTA. YouTube is working again but Internet Radio (TV Portal) is now broken. It includes the same other vices as 1.02.27. Sky Player is working (live and on-demand) via the custom software. For further discussion see HERE (click).

    1.02.29 is available for web download and manual update, but as far as I know never transmitted as an OTA. It is reported to solve the Internet Radio problem (which is curious, because it still works in 1.02.20!). 1.02.29 is the most recent version of firmware on general release for HD-FOX.

    1.02.31 has been found installed on HD-FOX from the factory, but has never been released as OTA or download. Details unknown.

    1.02.32 is reported to have better control over the automatic tuning process, being more careful to select the appropriate multiplexes (and apparently subsequent versions have broken this again). Although available for download for HDR-FOX, 1.02.32 has never been made available by OTA or for HD-FOX. An HD-FOX has been reported supplied with 1.02.32 pre-installed by Humax.

    As of 18th September 2014, BBC iPlayer has ceased support for pre-1.03.xx firmware.

    As of < 11th February 2016, the Humax TV Portal no longer functions at all with pre-1.03.xx firmware.


    1.03.02 made available for download in January 2015, this is an update for the HD-FOX specifically, to restore BBC iPlayer functionality. Releases for HDR-FOX had reached 1.03.12 by that time. 1.03.02 has not been made available by OTA so far.

    1.03.06 has been supplied fitted to HDR-FOX, but was never made available as download or OTA. Thanks to a completely new HTML renderer (ie web browser) based on Opera, iPlayer has a slick new interface, but EPG navigation is sluggish. Note that the navigation appears to be speeded up by removing redundant entries in the recording schedule. The HDR-FOX hardware has changed to use new tuner technology (presumably the original type became unavailable so they had to change the board), the TV aerial sockets (input and output) are now paired vertically on the new units instead of horizontally. It could be that the 1.03.xx firmware is needed to support the new hardware. Two users with 1.03.06 supplied have tried to revert to 1.02.32 and found that it rendered their units unusable... one user did it twice! A custom 1.03.06 is available for download to reverse this problem if necessary. 1.03.xx firmware is also noted to format HDDs up to 2TB in capacity - previously the limit was 1TB, and even then a bit hit-or-miss.

    1.03.11 has been reported supplied on a refurb old-type HDR-FOX. No other info at present, difference from 1.03.06 unknown.

    1.03.12 is available as OTA for HDR-FOX. The EPG remains sluggish compared with pre-1.03.xx. 1.03.12 is reported to fix the EPG update problem when using auto-padding for unattended series recording, and to fix the recording failures for BBC3HD, BBC4HD etc (although there are still occasional faults with the sidecar files which appear to be coincident with the first recording made in these services after a retune - CF can fix these).

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    * See Footnote (click)
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    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
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    Black Hole Usain the Whippet

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    2. Retuning

    It might seem like a good idea, if like me you live in a place able to receive TV signals from two or more regions, to tune them all in and be able to pick and choose. In my case it would be nice to have local news from both Bristol and Cardiff. This is OK as long as you never record anything, but if you do it is impractical. Update: it is possible if you accept certain limitations and take care to implement the necessary work-arounds. For information see HERE (click).

    The reason is that along with the digital TV channels come data for the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) that appears on-screen when you press the "Guide" button. If you use that to set up recordings (and you do!) it relies on the EPG data being correct for the channel you wish to record - and if you are tuned to more than one transmitter there is no certainty that it is correct. The consequence is the failure of recordings - either not recorded at all or recorded at the wrong time. The problem is compounded by the use of AR (Accurate Recording), where signals are tracked by the recorder in an effort to begin and end the recording when the programme actually begins and ends and not just when it was supposed to begin and end - it could end up looking for the wrong signals. It has been demonstrated that AR recordings fail when multiple regions are in use (see link in previous paragraph).

    Some users have also reported that their units crash and reboot when tuned to particular services, even with no Internet connection. This may be due to the particular service being from the wrong transmitter and some kind of conflict in the MHEG data.

    Thus, if when you retune (Menu >> Settings >> Installation >> Automatic Search) you are asked to choose which region to use as your primary, and/or if once tuned you have any channels allocated to channel number 800, 801, 802 etc (where duplicates get loaded), you need to repeat the retuning using the manual method (Menu >> Settings >> Installation >> Manual Search). Instructions how to do this are HERE (click) - be sure not to have "Network Search" selected, and remember to select "DVB-T2" when scanning the HiDef multiplexes. You can just delete any channels which appear as 800+, but as there is a risk the wrong one might get deleted it is better to manage it via the tuning.

    Further, even if there are no channels allocated in the 800s, it is still possible multiple relays within one region have been acquired - the services must all come from the same TV region, preferably the same transmitter. It is possible to check which broadcast channels your HD/HDR-FOX is currently tuned to: Menu >> Settings >> System >> Signal Detection >> > (right cursor) displays the full list (note these are broadcast channel numbers not LCNs, for explanation see the Glossary - click).

    Note: It is reported that firmware revision 1.02.32 introduces a better-behaved Automatic Search tuning. This may make things easier, but treat with caution.

    Note: Network Search (when it works properly) automatically tunes all the multiplexes associated with the same transmitter as the one selected. It's a handy alternative to an automatic search (which scans the whole broadcast spectrum picking up all signals from any transmitter in range twice - once for DVB-T and again for DVB-T2), but still relinquishes a degree of control.

    There is a big "gotcha" with retunes. They kill off your existing recording schedule, so before you do one note down what you have set to record so you can put it back afterwards*. To view your schedule press Guide >> Schedule (yellow) then scroll down. Events shown without times are old series recordings where there is no new episode inside the next week (they get removed after 3 months inactivity). Deleting the schedule may seem like a serious oversight on the part of Humax, but actually it can be seen as the least-bad option - a retune is likely to render the existing schedule database at best inaccurate, possibly corrupt, so to save any problems occurring it is simply deleted.

    There is an even bigger "gotcha" with firmware versions 1.02.27+ and retunes. Sometimes the broadcast network invites you to perform a retune, because there have been transmitter frequency changes or new services added. With firmware 1.02.20 (and previous) a message appears on-screen inviting a retune. With 1.02.27 onwards, the message appears but if you do not cancel it within a few minutes the retune continues without permission (at cost of your recording schedule and the possible need of repeating the retune manually). Call it an opt-out rather than an opt-in. You could be off making a cup of tea, and return to find it in the process of tuning - or even worse return from holiday to find it retuned and no recordings made while you were away*. It is suspected that it is even capable of retuning during the OTA search (confirmation awaited). For more information see HERE (click).

    Apart from losing the recording schedule, automatic retunes can also be problematic regarding transmitter selection. When analogue TV was turned off the signal power for digital was boosted, which means other transmitters then your local one may be detected. This makes it more likely you will need to use the manual tuning procedure to avoid having channels from a different transmitter as part of your set, which may show up as an unreliable signal. Firmware 1.02.32 is reported to be more reliable for auto-tuning.

    For balance, it is noted that not everyone has experienced a retune nag except when there have been major transmission changes which would absolutely necessitate a retune - but even then the loss of the recording schedule could be regarded as inconvenient if you were not given opportunity to back it up first. However, I should also note that the enforced retunes on 19/09/2012 and 17/10/2012 were only LCN shuffles and would have had no detrimental effect by ignoring them. For more information see HERE (click).
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    * See Footnote (click)
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    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
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    3. AR (Accurate Recording) versus Padding

    There are three ways to set up your HD/HDR-FOX to record something. The first (and almost beneath consideration) is manually: Guide >> Schedule (yellow) >> New Reservation (note that Mode = Reminder means that the HD/HDR-FOX will come out of stand-by or change channel to view the programme live). This is just like programming the old-fashioned VCR - the recording will be made at the stated date and time, regardless of any schedule changes in the mean time. Let's forget that one.

    An auto-padding recording is scheduled using the EPG, when you select a future programme and press OK then "Record the whole programme" or "Record the whole series", and if you have made padding settings in Menu >> Settings >> Preferences >> Recording >> Start Padding Time / End Padding Time. These settings add an allowance at the beginning and end of the scheduled time in case the programme starts early or ends late. Meanwhile, if there is a change to the broadcast schedule before the transmission, as long as the data makes it through to the EPG the recording times will be updated to reflect it (the HD/HDR-FOX has to boot up often enough to pick up the change prior to the recording). Note that padding does not get added to a programme recorded by hitting the record button to record it live (not even end padding), so if a programme runs late (beyond the nominal start for the next programme) the end of the programme will be cropped.

    AR recordings are set in the same way as padding, but in the settings menu BOTH padding times must be set to OFF - it's either all or nothing. With AR the recorder attempts to track any last minute shifts in the broadcast (due to a late-running previous programme or if the programme itself over-runs), using signals sent by the broadcasters. The problem is that if the broadcasters send the wrong signals, at the wrong time, or not at all, or if the programme shifts by so much that the HD/HDR-FOX has given up looking for the signals, it records the wrong thing or nothing at all. The situation is improving and the "big three" are more reliable than the lesser stations, but you will have to decide by your own experience whether AR is worth using*. When making your choice, consider your users: it is much easier for non-techies to understand that a recording has failed because a programme was broadcast at the wrong time, than to try to explain that a programme broadcast at the right time has failed to record because of a cock-up by the broadcasters.

    Important: If you view the details of a reservation in the schedule list [Guide >> Schedule (yellow)], it is vital to exit by using the Back or Exit buttons, or clicking "Cancel" - but definitely not "OK". Clicking "OK" updates the reservation with new details (whether you changed them or not), and converts the reservation to a manual recording. This means it loses any properties of auto-padding or AR, and cancels any series linking. The recording will be made at the times stated regardless of any schedule changes updated via the EPG. Note that when viewing the details, the times do not include auto-padding and the Repeat property will be "Once" even if it is series-linked. Manual reservations do not have a clock symbol in the top panel when highlighted in the list. Series-linked reservations have an "S" symbol to the right.

    For more discussion see HERE (click).
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    * See Footnote (click)
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    4. EPG Update

    NB: the main problem of EPG refresh with unattended recordings using auto-padding is now reported fixed in firmware 1.03.12 (not yet confirmed).

    Under some circumstances, particularly if you have set padding (but also with AR), it is possible for the EPG data to become "stale" when the HD/HDR-FOX is left to get on with recording for a period - eg while on holiday. The consequence is series reservations failing to record. The solution is to set a daily reminder as a manual schedule entry [Guide >> Schedule (yellow) >> New Reservation, Mode = Reminder] for at least 20 minutes, which will keep the EPG updated and avoid these problems. By setting it to 4.20-4.40am the reminder can also be used to defeat the OTA search (if you wish to continue to receive firmware updates by OTA, avoid the 4.30am slot). For further information see HERE (click).

    A problem with this is that the reminder wake-up then has the potential to sneak in a retune (with the consequences noted in section 2). To avoid this, unless you are keen on the "benefits" of firmware revisions 1.02.27+, it seems best to stick with 1.02.20 and prevent its automatic update.

    It has also come to light that the EPG becomes stale if the HD/HDR-FOX is left permanently on with no channel change or playback activity:
    I am trialling reminder schedules as a means to work around this problem.
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    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
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    5. Encrypted Recordings

    The HD/HDR-FOX encrypts (ie securely scrambles) all recordings in the process of storing them to disk. This is transparent to the user, because they are decrypted (unscrambled) again in the process of playing the recording back to TV or streaming it out to another media player on the home network. It causes a difficulty if you want to copy the recording out for other purposes*, in summary here's what you can do and what you can't (HDR-FOX only, for HD-FOX see below):
    • Standard Definition recordings are decrypted when copied to a USB drive (using the OPT+ button on the remote control handset); HiDef are not and will be useless for anything other than playback on the original recorder (not even another HDR-FOX). A third party PC utility called Foxy can make HiDef recordings decryptable, by manipulating one of the files that make up the set before the decrypt-copy. Decryption works either way, so content will be decrypted equally well when copied from USB to the internal HDD.
    • StDef recordings are decrypted when streamed to a DLNA-compliant media player on the home network; HiDef are decrypted when streamed but will only be streamed to a compliant player able to negotiate protected delivery - the only devices we are aware of able to do this are another HD-FOX or HDR-FOX.
    • Recorded content is accessible by FTP access, but only as it is and if it is encrypted it will remain so. An external drive can be accessed by FTP, so decrypted recordings can be downloaded from there (or simply connect the external drive to your computer). FTP access is useful for Foxy.
    • Installing the customised firmware widens the possibilties for decryption. For complete details (with or without customised firmware), see HERE (click). The only way to decrypt recordings is to use the hardware decryption built into the unit that originally encrypted them (the keys are unique to each individual unit, and the algorithm is surmised but unknown to us). Neither is there a way to prevent recordings being encrypted in the first place.
    HD-FOX users recording content to an external USB drive have no means to make decrypted copies at all*, and no ability to stream content to the home network*. For more information about the technical limitations of the HD-FOX (and decryption) see HERE (click).
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    * See Footnote (click)
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    Last edited: May 14, 2017
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    6. Use Without an Aerial (as a media player)

    It seems a pretty stupid idea to try to use an HD/HDR-FOX without an aerial, right? Wrong. Well, actually, half right - there is not much point using an HDR-FOX in this mode, it is better suited to the HD-FOX which makes an ideal network media player companion to an HDR-FOX. With the HDR-FOX left to get on with making recordings and playing them back in the living room, an HD-FOX plus a network connection between the two provides access to the recordings for playback in (for example) the bedroom, and does not interfere with what the HDR-FOX might be doing (eg playing a different recording). With sufficient network bandwidth, HiDef as well as StDef recordings can be played, regardless of encryption. (This is not restricted to the HD-FOX, a second HDR-FOX will serve this function as well.)

    There are two problems with this, if you try to run without an aerial. First, the HD/HDR-FOX refuses to become operational from the factory-reset state (as received from new) unless at least one TV channel is tuned in. It does not matter if later that channel cannot be received, so it is only necessary to provide an aerial signal temporarily while the unit is being initialised - either move the unit to an aerial or run a temporary aerial to the unit. Once the channel has been tuned you can power off and move it back.

    The second problem occurs when you try to access the TV Portal (iPlayer etc). The HD/HDR-FOX sets its internal clock using the EPG data - if it has no aerial, it has no idea what the date and time are. This appears irrelevant, but the authentication mechanism used to identify the HD/HDR-FOX with the Humax servers (and thus gain access to the TV Portal facilities) depends on the unit knowing the current time. Consequently, the TV Portal will be unavailable if you try to operate without an aerial*.
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    * See Footnote (click)
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    7. Power Saving Mode / Automatic Power Down

    In the settings (Menu >> Settings >> System >> Power Management), you will find two options: "Power Saving in Standby" and "Automatic Power Down", both of which can be either on or off.

    Automatic Power Down turns the HD/HDR-FOX off (standby) after 3 hours of not doing anything (other than just playing live TV). If you are in the habit of using the HD/HDR-FOX as a TV tuner (for example your TV is "HD ready" rather than full HD - ie it doesn't have a HiDef tuner but can display a HiDef picture) and tend not to change channel much, you will want to turn Automatic Power Down to "off". APD is also a pain to those of us who retire to bed and stream content from the HDR-FOX - which has to be on to do the serving (and as far as APD is concerned is not doing anything).

    Be aware that, in addition to APD, it is also possible to set a daily on and off time in the settings (Menu >> Settings >> Preferences >> Time). It is best to set both on and off times (or neither), as the HD/HDR-FOX can malfunction if they are mismatched.

    Power Saving in Standby defines how the HD/HDR-FOX operates in the power-down (standby) state. Its purpose is to reduce the standby power to meet government directives, and does so by eliminating certain functions (while in standby) that not all people would want to use anyway. These are: (i) the ability to pass an aerial signal through to a TV (or other receiving equipment) downstream of the HD/HDR-FOX; (ii) display of the current time on the front panel.

    If you have the aerial lead daisy-chained from the HD/HDR-FOX to your TV, then you will need the Power Saving setting set to "off" - otherwise you won't get a TV signal when the unit is off (in standby) - you could split the aerial feed to go to both TV and PVR separately. The PSS setting does not affect the unit's ability to come out of standby in order to make a scheduled recording, nor does it affect the unit's inability to respond on the home network when in standby!
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    Last edited: Oct 30, 2015
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    8. Antenna Power

    In the settings (Menu >> Settings >> Installation >> 5V Antenna Power), antenna power can be either on or off. The purpose of this is to provide "phantom power" up the aerial lead to a mast-head amplifier if you have one. This setting must be "off" unless you are sure you need it - in most cases you do not because either you have no mast-head amplifier or if you do it already has its own power supply.

    The slight risk that this setting is "on" at first installation means it is best to have the aerial disconnected until you have checked this setting (but there could be a Catch-22 if the HD/HDR-FOX refuses to allow access to the settings until it has scanned for a channel - oh well!)
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    9. Hidden Service Menu

    There is a hidden service menu which (amongst other things) provides a proper eject operation for USB drives, signal detection tests for the specific individual tuners, and enables the CRID codes to be displayed on the i-plate for programmes in the EPG. CRID codes are part of the EPG data broadcast for each programme, and comprise a programme identifier and a series identifier.

    These are important because they control the way series are recorded - only if the Series CRID is the same will a programme be regarded as part of the same series, and only if the Programme CRID is the same as an existing recording will it be regarded as a repeat broadcast and not recorded. Sometimes the broadcasters get things wrong and change the S-CRID mid-series, or not change it for the same time slot when a different series starts (particularly radio). The P-CRID allows the Humax to search for another broadcast of the same programme if there is a conflict when you try to set up a recording.

    If you want to diagnose why a series recording has behaved strangely, and predict/prevent mishaps, displaying CRIDs is essential.

    First, bring up the System Information menu page:

    Menu >> Settings >> System >> System Information

    Access to the hidden menu is by an undocumented service code. In sequence, on the handset press Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, Green, Yellow, Blue (ignore the "no entry" icon that appears on the screen).

    You should now have a menu including an option to allow Display CRID to be enabled.
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    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
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    10. Destructive Deleting

    Firmware after 1.01.09 introduced a background delete facility so that the user is not blocked from doing anything else (deletion in the Ext3 file system requires a fair amount of disk tidying, and can take a while for a large collection of video files). Unfortunately this sometimes goes wrong and causes the HDR-FOX to get into a state where it gradually deletes the disk contents with no way to stop it - every time you turn it off it just continues next time you turn it on.

    This does not (fortunately) happen often or to many people, but if it does your recordings are at risk without prompt action. To stop the delete process in its tracks, turn off the HDR-FOX then download and install Humax firmware 1.01.09. Of course it will not be satisfactory to keep 1.01.09 installed - it will not (for example) play back recent HiDef recordings with sound - but it will enable you to rescue any important recordings before they get deleted. Unfortunately the background delete is controlled by a system file which remains present, so restoring a post-1.01.09 firmware means the background delete will continue. The only way out of this is to reformat the disk*, which is why it is necessary to copy your recordings off first.
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    * See Footnote (click)
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    11. BBC iPlayer and YouTube Internet Streams (TV Portal)

    The HDR-FOX (not the HD-FOX*) buffers the current Internet stream to disk. This means it is possible to compensate for "buffering" breaks (when the Internet connection is running too slowly to keep up with the data) by starting the playback and then pausing it and waiting for a while before restarting. This applies even to HiDef iPlayer content when your normal connection does not support the speed. The download to the buffer file proceeds as fast as the connection can manage - including connections that are faster than real-time.

    The buffer file persists on the hard disk after the playback is completed (even if playback was aborted before the end, as long as the download was complete at the time), until a new download is started. This opens the opportunity to capture the file content before it is overwritten. Unfortunately there is no access to it through the facilities of the standard firmware, but using the custom firmware it can be saved as a .mp4 file*.
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    * See Footnote (click)
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    12. What USB Drive Can I Use? (including comments on the internal drive)

    There are several uses for a USB storage device, including:
    • Manual firmware updates
    • Transferring recordings elsewhere
    • Archive storage
    • Recording (HD-FOX)
    The first thing to bear in mind is the sheer size of video files: in rough numbers it's 4-5GB per hour for HiDef and 1.5GB per hour for StDef. This means a UPD (USB Pen Drive) will be of limited use for archive or recording, and also that copying takes a long time (about 10 or 12 GB per hour, but much faster if there is no decrypting going on)!

    The next thing is compatibility. The HD/HDR-FOX can be very fussy about the UPD used for firmware updates, although less so for data transfers. Indeed, it has been reported that the same UPD which worked for performing one firmware update then did not work on another occasion. One reason for compatibility issues is the limited range of USB storage drivers available in the Humax code (fewer are available during update mode than in normal operation), but this does not account for all the problems that have been experienced. If one UPD doesn't work, try another - and for firmware updates: 2GB in size or less.

    Note that the firmware update process does not like FAT32 formatted by Windows. One user has reported that simply plugging a UPD into a Win10 system resulted in it becoming incompatible:
    For recording on a HD-FOX, you will need to let the HD-FOX format and set up the drive to its own liking. This means a format called Ext3, and it has been shown possible to format a 32GB UPD to Ext3 and record to it but that is probably the smallest that would work. Also, Ext3 is not very kind to UPDs because of the way data gets stored, so if possible change it to Ext2 afterwards (using a computer)*. Most people interested in recording on a HD-FOX will use an HDD (Hard Disk Drive), 2TB is the maximum practical size.

    For transporting and archiving, the main consideration is format. There are four possibilities:
    • FAT32 - a FAT format drive can only cope with files up to 4GB in size. If you copy a recording larger than this onto the drive, the Humax will truncate the end and not tell you it has done so*. However, FAT has the advantage of being useable on almost anything.
    • NTFS - no problem with large files, but the HD/HDR-FOX can only read from it, not write to it*. (Note for HDR-1800/2000T owners: write support for NTFS is standard.)
    • Ext3/Ext2 - Again no problem with large files, and the Humax can format drives up to 2TB to Ext3 (for larger drives use Linux utilities on a PC). For UPDs it would be better to format Ext2 using Linux utilities. The problem here is Ext3/Ext2 is not directly compatible with Windows PCs (Linux is OK), unless you install a utility.
    • exFAT - Extended FAT, without the limitations of FAT32 and maximum compatibility between Windows and Mac, but not compatible with the HD/HDR-FOX*
    Thus there is no clear winner and which is most convenient depends what you want to do. For simple jobs (particularly with the smaller files of StDef recordings) FAT is the easy solution - except most USB drives and larger UPDs are supplied formatted NTFS these days, and Windows will only format drives up to 32GB as FAT. For larger drives a utility is available:
    The best all-rounder is probably Ext3 (on a HDD), but note that the way the drive is formatted may impose an additional limitation on the file sizes:
    ...and bite the bullet regarding using a utility on Windows:
    Alternatively, install custom firmware* and use NTFS or exFAT.

    There is a quirk in the OPT+ copy operation, in that unless there is about twice as much free space on the destination drive than you expect to need, the large .ts recording file will be copied but not its small sidecar files (.hmt, .nts, .thm) that hold information about the position of bookmarks and the synopsis information. This can be disasterous if copying encrypted HiDef recordings:
    It has been found that some drives will not let the Humax boot properly when plugged in, they have to be inserted after boot. This may be due to power surges during start up, and should be solved by buffering it with an externally-powered USB hub, or by connecting a dedicated supply to the drive (if a connection is available). It is also possible that drives with USB3 interfaces could draw too much power for the Humax USB ports to supply - there should be no such problem with drives that have their own power supply (but less convenient). For more information about the pros and cons of USB 2.0 v USB 3.0 see HERE (click).

    See section 5 for comments about encryption. The problems of format and file sizes can be side-stepped to a certain extent by transferring direct to PC via the home network - see HERE (click).

    Drives Larger than 2TiB

    It seems that the HD/HDR-FOX only recognises the first partition on an external HDD. Also, typically, drives physically larger than 2TiB require a different partition table structure because the traditional MS-DOS MBR cannot "point" to all the storage locations on larger drives, and the operating system in the HD/HDR-FOX is not compatible with other partition tables.
    See the update to this at the foot of this article.

    One person does seem to have got a 3TB drive working using 4096-byte sectors:
    Meanwhile, it has also been reported that some external drives have translation technology built into their USB-to-SATA adapter (internally the physical drive does not come equipped with a USB interface!) so that 512-byte sectors are presented across the USB link as 4096-byte sectors - thus rendering the whole of a 4TB drive (or larger) accessible to the Humax operating system:
    Note that this will only work with drives that perform this translation (probably confined to USB3 drives), but it gives some hope that if a drive were physically formatted with 4096-byte sectors and an MBR partition table, drives up to 16TiB could be supported.

    If you have an interest in trying to do any of this, follow the links back to the original discussion topics (the up arrow symbol in the header for each quotation).

    Update: As of March 2016, the custom firmware* for HD-FOX and HDR-FOX includes facilities to enable installation and formatting of GPT disks. This means there is now no practical limit to the size of disk, if the user is prepared to go the custom route (returning to standard Humax firmware while a GPT disk is installed could result in erasure of the disk contents).
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    * See Footnote (click)
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    Last edited: Jul 6, 2016
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    13. Why Isn't My Remote Control Handset Working?

    One of the most common complaints from the family used to be "the remote control is broken". It probably wasn't, they just pressed one of the other "mode" buttons at the top (PVR, TV, DVD, AUDIO). You can tell - press the control buttons and the current mode lights up. Press the PVR mode button to regain control of the Humax.

    This issue has been addressed in recent firmware updates, pressing a mode button flashes a graphic up on the TV (if you happen to be looking), and pressing a control button for an unprogrammed mode flashes up a message to tell you. However, this does not work for early issue remotes (the ones that require a four-digit code to program devices).

    Inconveniently, it is not possible to program the Humax controls into the other mode buttons (it's fixed on the PVR button), and the TV button can only be programmed for TVs (DVD button for DVDs, etc). When you do have (for example) the TV button programmed, it would be handy to have the volume buttons control the TV instead of the Humax (when in PVR mode) - but it doesn't.

    If you have two or more Humaxes in the same room, there are instructions HERE (click) for assigning the handset for each to different control channels. Unfortunately you do need to use separate handsets for each Humax. This can be a reason the handset does not appear to be working: it is possible to code the handset to a different control channel from the Humax (if it was done accidentally or with a poor line-of-sight to the Humax). If the handset is outputting IR (see below) but the Humax does not respond, try resetting the control channel.

    Problems reported (which apply to IR handsets in general) include:
    • Obstructed line-of-sight;
    • Interfering sources of IR, eg incandescent lamps on dimmers or fluorescent lamps (including "compact fluorescent" energy efficient lamps);
    • Other handsets accidentally transmitting.
    Note that it can still be an interfering source or other handset, even when it appears that the misbehaviour only occurs when the Humax handset is in use.

    To test whether a handset is transmitting when expected (and not when not expected), view the emitter with a digital camera (eg the camera on a mobile phone). Digital cameras (not all - check with a known working remote) are sensitive to IR (Infra-Red) and the flashes will show up in the viewfinder (electronic, not optical). The iPad rear camera is not sensitive to IR but the front one is, so this is my favourite way to test IR handsets because it is like an IR-vision mirror.

    A "gotcha" (if you are using the SCART / phono outputs) is that the Source button on the handset turns the output on and off.

    There is another potential problem with a particular HDMI facility called CEC. The idea of this is to allow a TV handset to control equipment connected to the TV by HDMI via the TV through the HDMI, but as it is a recent addition to the HDMI specification not every TV or DVD player (etc) supports it - including the HD/HDR-FOX. However, there is just a possibility that CEC commands being sent down the HDMI cable from a CEC-capable TV might interfere with the Humax handset, so as a last resort see if there is any difference with the Humax connected by SCART instead (disconnect the HDMI). If this solves the problem, try connecting the Humax to a different HDMI input on the TV, and/or look for something in the TV menus to turn off CEC (which goes by a variety of proprietary names).

    Don't overlook the obvious: when the batteries are failing, the handset should let you know by flashing the mode buttons in sequence - but if the batteries have already past that point or the connections are poor all you might get is a flicker or nothing at all. Batteries left in service for a long time have a habit of corroding the terminals or leaking gunk, so if nothing else do look inside the compartment and check all is well.

    Finally, the buttons do wear out or get dirty, particularly the frequently used buttons such as "OK". There is a guide on the Wiki for dismantling and curing such problems HERE (click).
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    14. Record Three Programmes Simultaneously

    HDR-FOX only
    It is not possible to schedule three simultaneous recordings (or trigger them manually). It is possible to view a third programme while two other programmes are being recorded, under certain circumstances (the three feeds must come from a maximum of two broadcast multiplexes).

    Presuming you are able to view the third programme, and provided it starts not more than two hours before at least one of the other recordings completes, it is possible to arrange the manual recording of the third programme post-broadcast:
    1. Do not change channel away from the third programme.
    2. When one of the scheduled recordings completes, enter timeshift mode and wind back to the beginning of the required third programme (2 hours max).
    3. Press the record button. Live playback will resume, and the timeshift buffer contents will be transferred to a recording file.
    4. Do not disturb until it has completed (there will be on-screen warnings if you try).
    The HD-FOX has one tuner compared with the HDR-FOX's two. It can only make one recording at a time (with an external drive connected), and view another channel from the same multiplex.

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    15. Skipping Adverts (or other boring bits), and Problems Thereof

    The TSR (Time Shift Recording) buffer allows you to view a broadcast up to two hours behind time without actually setting a recording - as long as you don't change channel in the mean time. Changing channel (LCN), using the TV Portal, or playing anything via Media clears the buffer and it starts accumulating the new broadcast from when you start viewing live TV again.

    To access the TSR, press pause or the skip back button - a time line appears at the bottom of the screen showing where the current playback is relative to the start of the buffer and the current live broadcast. You can navigate the buffer using fast forward & reverse, skip forward and back, and the left and right cursor control. Pause and play operate as expected, and stop returns playback to the live broadcast.

    A consequence is that it is possible to start watching a programme after it has started in the broadcast, then skip adverts. The skip buttons are programmable in how far they jump:

    Menu >> Settings >> Preferences >> Recording >> Instant Replay Time
    Menu >> Settings >> Preferences >> Recording >> Skip Forward Time


    I use 120 seconds forward and 15 seconds back, then the typical 4 minute advert break is just two forward and maybe one back.

    There is a problem however. If the TSR is full (2 hours worth), the live feed continues to be recorded and the broadcast at the beginning of the buffer is lost. Fair enough. But, in this condition the forward skip button stops working and mimics the stop button, returning to the live broadcast. This is a bug in the Humax firmware.

    HD-FOX: TSR is available with a recording drive connected and the TSR function enabled.

    It is also possible to play back recordings while they are still in progress. We refer to this as "chase play". The same controls operate as mentioned for the TSR (but without the bug).
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    16. Playing Wide-Screen Movies with the Correct Aspect Ratio

    This will not apply to recordings made with the HD/HDR-FOX, but sometimes files imported from elsewhere are wide-screen (typically 2.35:1). Using the normal aspect options (accessible from the "WIDE" button) only result in the image being stretched or squeezed into the normal viewing frame.

    Presuming you have a 16:9 TV screen (the norm for a modern TV), we can play a trick on the HD/HDR-FOX to persuade it to display the 2.35:1 source material undistorted. The trick is to tell the HD/HDR-FOX your screen is 4:3 (the original standard typical of CRT TVs), and then set the aspect to "Letterbox 16:9". The result is the source material displayed on a 16:9 screen at 2.37:1 - as near to 2.35:1 as makes no difference.

    Menu >> Settings >> Preferences >> Video >> Screen Ratio = 4:3
    Menu >> Settings >> Preferences >> Video >> Display Format = Letterbox 16:9

    Further discussion regarding aspect ratio is available HERE (click).
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    17. It Just Deleted the Wrong Recording!

    Problem: You are using the media browser (MEDIA button on the handset) to peruse your recordings, you position the cursor on a recording you wish to delete, you press OK or OPT+ to bring up a menu (either of which includes "Delete"), select Delete, OK, Yes, OK... and then find the recording above the one you intended has been deleted instead.

    Cause: Shortly after a new recording starts, it is added to the media list (under "My Video" if not part of a series recording, otherwise in a sub-folder appropriately named) and shifts the entries below it down. A design oversight in the Humax firmware applies the deletion (or any other operation) to the recording that shifted into the place, not the one you selected originally.

    Work-around: Unfortunately there is nothing to be done to recover the lost recording*. To prevent it happening in the first place never select "Delete" directly. The following procedure is thought to be safe: for each recording you wish to delete, position the cursor and select the recording with the red button. Then use OPT+ Delete (not OK Delete). If the Humax lists another recording in the mean time, all the selections abort and the delete process has nothing to act on.
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    * See Footnote (click)
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    18. Power States and Misoperation

    The HD/HDR-FOX has several power states:

    OFF: Mains power disconnected (the HDR-FOX has a mains switch on the rear panel). Obviously this is a zero-power state. Powering up from the off state is referred to as a "cold start", and the old chestnut "have you tried turning it off and on again" can be helpful in clearing strange faults. As with all computer equipment (the HD/HDR-FOX is essentially a special-purpose computer), it is advisable to perform a controlled shut-down (ensure the HD/HDR-FOX has entered standby before cutting the power), but in this case there is only minor risk in not doing so (eg a corrupted file if the HD/HDR-FOX was in the process of writing to disk at the time) because the operational software is running from solid-state memory.

    STANDBY: This is the low-power state, where the HD/HDR-FOX is doing nothing but waiting to be turned on (via remote control or front-panel button press) or for the internal clock to trigger an event. The actual power consumed in standby depends on the "Power Saving in Standby" setting, see Section 7. In standby the internal disk drive is not spinning (HDR-FOX) and no power is supplied to the USB ports for external devices. The processor is not running and there will be no response to network activity (for some strange reason, novice custom firmware users seem to expect otherwise).

    HALF-AWAKE: The HD/HDR-FOX is almost fully functional (drives spinning, processor active and able to respond to network activity, USB ports powered), the exceptions being there is no video output and the DLNA server is not running, and there is no response to the remote control (other than the power button). The half-awake state is the situation when the HD/HDR-FOX is recording from standby (or preparing to record - if using AR it starts up 15 minutes before the scheduled programme time), or is turned off while it is recording, or is preparing to enter standby having just been turned off (the HD/HDR-FOX is performing a controlled shutdown), or has woken for the purpose of checking for a firmware update (0430 daily).

    ON: The HD/HDR-FOX is fully functional as per half-awake, plus video output etc. Turning on from half-awake is almost instant. Turning on from standby requires time for the processor to boot up etc, during which the Humax splash screen appears on the video output.

    DELINQUENT HALF-AWAKE: Half-awake can also occur as a fault state, when the HD/HDR-FOX fails to enter standby when expected. This has been noted to occur when:
    • Power On / Power Off Timers are mismatched (ie one is set but not the other);
    • There is a corrupt recording present (the fault vanishes when the offending file is deleted or moved out of the My Video folder, but may not return if the supposedly offending file is reinstated - indicating it might actually have been a file system error);
    • There is a mismatched set of files in a recording, when a .hmt file is present with no corresponding .ts file or with a zero-length .ts file (as can occur if an AR recording fails);
    • The HDR-FOX is in the "delete loop" fault state (see section 10);
    • Immediately following a cold start (this is normal, and not a fault state).
    As far as I know, this has never been reported for a HD-FOX.

    The consequence of delinquent half-awake is that the internal and/or any external hard drives never turn off, reducing their life unnecessarily (although some will claim turning a drive on and off has a greater effect on its life expectancy), and of course the unit continues to draw almost full power. A useful side-effect of the delinquent state is that network access remains available (but not DLNA), when otherwise the HD/HDR-FOX should be in standby.

    CRASHED: The unit was "ON" but no longer responds to remote control commands or front panel controls. The front panel display is static (not scrolling). The TV picture is frozen although audio continues. There is no Ethernet activity. The only way out of the crashed state is a "hard reset" - in the case of the HD-FOX there is a reset button under the flap on the front panel, but an HDR-FOX has no reset button and must be turned off at the mains (switch on the rear panel).

    Booting

    Note that a "boot up" (ie the operational software starts up from scratch, and sets up all the normal operating parameters before then assuming normal operation) occurs when the system was in OFF or STANDBY, and transitions to HALF-AWAKE or ON. The DELINQUENT HALF-AWAKE state prevents a boot occurring, and when going from ON to STANDBY and back to ON there will not be a boot if the system does not reach the full STANDBY condition before it is turned ON again.

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2015
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    * Footnote:

    Custom software is available which addresses these issues, see HERE (click). Some people have remarked to the effect "why should we have to work around the problems, why can't Humax make the box the way it should be in the first place?". In an ideal world, maybe - but this is not an ideal world. We have to take things the way they are and either accept they have imperfections or find ways to deal with them ourselves - Humax are busy on their next product, not spending money improving an old product which will net very little in additional sales.

    In particular, the custom software can:

    • Prevent the OTA search occurring;
    • Back up and restore the recording schedule;
    • Prevent the retune nag;
    • Restore the recording schedule automatically after a retune;
    • Incorporate tuning updates without a retune;
    • Set AR or padding on a per-programme or per-channel basis;
    • Make HiDef recordings as copyable and streamable as StDef (HDR-FOX);
    • Provide a content decryption mechanism for HD-FOX;
    • Provide streaming from the HD-FOX (unencrypted content only);
    • Provide an alternative source of system time for operating without an aerial connection;
    • View EPG and schedule new recordings from anywhere with Internet access;
    • Fix disk issues including the continuous delete problem;
    • Make permanent copies of iPlayer and YouTube streams, and provide the same on HD-FOX (HDR Mode);
    • Split recordings into chunks not greater than 4GB;
    • Provide a utility to format UPDs to Ext2;
    • Make NTFS-format USB drives writable and/or exFAT compatible.
    • Provide a recycle bin for deleted recordings (from where they can be recovered);
    • Install internal hard disk drives larger than 2TB;
    • Convert radio (and TV soundtracks) to MP3;
    • Detect, place bookmarks, and optionally remove, advert breaks;
    • ...and many other goodies.
    For further information regarding any of the above (and much more besides), explore the links at the foot of this post. (If you have signatures disabled in your forum settings, the links won't be visible.)
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    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017