Troubleshooter Crib Sheet for Non-Tech Users

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I have an HDR-FOX stationed elsewhere for use by a "normal" person (ie not a technophile like us). It started out as a digibox replacement (providing digital terrestrial TV reception for a steam TV via SCART), which was easy enough because the TV automatically switched to an active SCART input.

A DVD player was also connected by another SCART input, and I replaced all the remotes with a Logitech Harmony 300. This has the advantage of automatically controlling the TV for volume and mute (regardless of which device its main function is switched to), unlike the Humax universal remote. Using a universal remote also means the user can use the same remote whatever changes of equipment might occur (only one set of buttons to get used to).

Everything went swimmingly until the TV was swapped out for a digital. Unlike my LG, the Samsung 32EH5000 we acquired does not remain on HDMI when switched off - when powered up again it is likely to be on internal tuner. I toyed with connecting the HDR-FOX by SCART (which auto-switches), but the loss of quality was noticable (particularly for media menus and EPG) and the user vetoed that idea.

The internal tuner is fine in itself, but then the user has to remember that the PVR functions are unavailable. It is less trouble to route all TV watching via the Humax, and then all facilities are available all the time.

The Harmony came to the rescue to some extent: the "Watch TV" button can be programmed to power up the required selection of devices and also send an input command to the TV to force it to the required state. Unfortunately it does not always work (sometimes some of the commands don't get actioned), leading to frantic phone calls for help.

I have therefore developed a crib sheet which guides the user through a series of actions to get things working normally again, and to a limited extent to bypass faults and try to establish basic TV reception. In the main, a few simple actions will get things back to normal, and the user will get used to these and not need the crib sheet for them. The crib sheet does not (and cannot) attempt to overcome every possible problem, it would be far too complicated (and take too long to write). It is reasonable that anything beyond the normal should elicit a phone call!

I am informed that more advanced models of Harmony include a "help" function, which can be programmed to similarly guide the user through a series of actions to restore normal operation.

The crib sheet is a series of questions and actions in prose. I considered a flowchart, and used one in my planning, but flowcharts are not a good fit for this application. The boxes on a flowchart need to be self-explanatory, which is fine when the target audience has sufficient domain knowledge to understand brief jargon, but in this case longer explanations are required which could not fit within reasonably sized boxes. Also, unless you are used to reading flowcharts they can be off-putting in themselves. Flowcharts are a useful tool for a different job.

I present my crib below, in case anybody is faced with a similar problem and can make use of it. If I need to alter it I will update this post. Obviously it will not apply in detail (unless you are also using the same Humax/Samsung/Harmony combination), but it should provide enough of a start for people unused to writing technical documentation, and a bit of customising should finish the job. (The presentation is a bit limited due to the restrictions of the forum posts - my finished version uses a centred main title and indented paragraphs where appropriate.)

TV Troubleshooter

"Watch TV" Button

To turn on the TV and the Humax, and set the TV to view the input from the Humax, press the "Watch TV" button and continue to direct the remote towards the TV and Humax until the lights on the remote go out.

The TV will show the "Samsung" logo as it starts up, and then should display "HDMI2" in the top left corner. Meanwhile, as the Humax starts up, the TV will display the Humax logo and then go blank for a few seconds until the live TV picture comes through from the Humax.

At this point you can then control the Humax to change channel, view a recording, or view the programme guide and set up recordings etc. The "Cable/Sat" button on the remote should flash when buttons are pressed, if it does not then press the "Cable/Sat" button before proceeding.

The "Watch TV" button will also turn both TV and Humax off again.

When Things Go Wrong

The "Watch TV" button is a convenience, that performs a series of operations from the one button press. To put things right if they do not happen as expected needs a little understanding of what was supposed to happen and what exactly did not happen. If it persistently does not work properly, this may be an indication that the batteries in the remote are fading.

Remember: when the TV is in standby there is a red pilot light showing near the right hand side of the lower edge. If there is no pilot light the TV is either on already (it should be showing some kind of picture or text), or disconnected at the mains.

Remember: when the Humax is in standby the front panel ring light is dim orange and the information display is faint. If the ring light is blue or red it is on (red means it is recording). If the Humax front panel is completely dark it is switched off at the back or disconnected at the mains.

Remember: The TV can display live programmes either from the Humax or from its own receiver, and it can be difficult to tell which is which. If the TV is displaying from its own receiver, pressing the "Media" button on the remote will do nothing on the screen (the "Cable/Sat" button should flash; if it does not press the "Cable/Sat" button and try again). If this is the case, you will not be able to operate the Humax to pause or record live TV, play existing recordings, or set up new recordings.

Troubleshooting - Turning On

Q1: Is the TV on (showing a picture or text of some kind)? If not, go to A7.

Q2: Is the Humax on (front panel ring light is blue or red, not dim orange)? If not, go to A3.

A1: Check that the TV is set to input "HDMI2" (the input for the Humax). To do this, on the remote press "TV" and then "Input" (the TV button should flash). An information panel will appear on the right hand side of the TV screen, listing the available inputs. "HDMI2" should be in the white box; if not use the up or down cursor buttons on the remote (surrounding the "OK" button) to move the white box to "HDMI2". If the word "HDMI2" is in dim text towards the bottom of the screen, go to A6. Otherwise continue to A2.

A2: Check you are now able to control the Humax to affect the TV display. Press the "Cable/Sat" button (it should light up) and then press "Media" (the "Cable/Sat" button should flash). The Humax media list should appear on the screen, and you can remove it by pressing "Media" again or pressing "Exit". If this is the case, your troubleshooting has been successful and normal operation can resume. If not, go to A5.

A3: EITHER press the "Cable/Sat" button on the remote (it should light up) and then "Power" (the "Cable/Sat" button should flash), OR touch the button in the centre of the ring on the Humax front panel. The ring light should change from dim orange to blue or red, and the information display should show the Humax starting up. If not, go to A5. Otherwise continue to A4.

A4: The TV screen should show the Humax logo and then go blank for a few seconds until the live TV picture comes through from the Humax. If this is the case, your troubleshooting has been successful and normal operation can resume. If not, go to A1.

A5: There appears to be something wrong with the Humax. Until the problem can be looked into, you are able to use the TV with its own receiver to view live TV. To do this, on the remote press "TV" and then "Input" (the TV button should flash). An information panel will appear on the right hand side of the TV screen, listing the available inputs. Use the up or down cursor buttons on the remote (surrounding the "OK" button) to move the white box to "TV", then the live programme should appear. When using the remote to change channel, the "TV" button should flash (if not, press the "TV" button). Use the "Power" button to turn the TV on and off, do not use the "Watch TV" button. If the TV is now working normally, your troubleshooting has gone as far as it can. If not, continue to Q3.

Q3: Is there a message on the TV screen complaining of a weak signal? If not, you have done all you can and need additional help. If so, behind the Humax on the right hand side you will find two circular cables with circular connectors. Unplug both from the Humax and connect them together. If this does not solve the problem either the TV transmitter is off-air or there is a fault in the aerial system, nothing more can be done at present.

A6: EITHER press the "Cable/Sat" button on the remote (it should light up) and then "Power" (the "Cable/Sat" button should flash), OR touch the button in the centre of the ring on the Humax front panel. The ring light should change from blue or red to dim orange. Do nothing further for 1 minute, then repeat the above to turn the Humax on again (the ring light should change from dim orange to blue or red). Check that the TV is set to input "HDMI2" (the input for the Humax). To do this, on the remote press "TV" and then "Input" (the TV button should flash). An information panel will appear on the right hand side of the TV screen, listing the available inputs. "HDMI2" should be in the white box; if not use the up or down cursor buttons on the remote (surrounding the "OK" button) to move the white box to "HDMI2". If the word "HDMI2" is in dim text towards the bottom of the screen, go to A5. Otherwise go to A2.

A7: Ensure the Humax is in standby (front panel ring light is dim orange, not blue or red). If not, EITHER press the "Cable/Sat" button on the remote (it should light up) and then "Power" (the "Cable/Sat" button should flash), OR touch the button in the centre of the ring on the Humax front panel. The ring light should change from blue or red to dim orange. Now press the "Watch TV" button to turn on again. Keep the remote directed towards the TV and Humax until the lights on the remote go out. If this does not succeed in turning the TV on, particularly if the buttons on the remote do not flash, suspect the batteries in the remote have faded and replace them. If this is still not successful, seek advice. If the TV comes on but does not operate correctly, restart the troubleshooting from the beginning.

Troubleshooting - Turning Off

Q4: Is the TV on (showing a picture or text of some kind)? If not, go to Q5. If so, press the "TV" button on the remote (it should light up) and then "Power" (the "TV" button should flash). The TV should now be in standby (no picture, red pilot light showing), press the "Cable/Sat" button on the remote to prepare it for normal operation. If the TV is still on, seek advice.

Q5: Is the Humax on (front panel ring light is blue or red, not dim orange)? If not, your troubleshooting is complete. If so, EITHER press the "Cable/Sat" button on the remote (it should light up) and then "Power" (the "Cable/Sat" button should flash), OR touch the button in the centre of the ring on the Humax front panel. The ring light should change from blue or red to dim orange. If this is successful, your troubleshooting is complete. Otherwise seek advice.
 
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