Before asking a question about your Sky Digibox, you need to know the Make and the Model Number from the label.
During the last couple of years I've picked up a lot of information from various forums and web sites so I thought it might be useful to compile some notes here. Grateful thanks to Michael Dranfield of Digifix for helping me to compile these notes:
Warning: Weird things can and do happen if your Digibox is too hot. The damage can be permanent so, as with all electronic equipment, keep it cool! Don't install it somewhere stupid where cool air can't flow upwards to take the heat away. Don't install it in a tiny hole. Don't place it on top of other equipment.* Don't keep your room temperature too high or install your Digibox close to a fire or radiator.
*Not only does other equipment get warm; it can also emit interference! DO NOT STACK EQUIPMENT and do not tie the cables together. If you get problems, make sure that all cables are short, well-screened and not running parallel to each other.
Note: Many Digibox problems can be fixed simply by switching the power off at the wall socket for a few seconds. Called "rebooting". A Digibox is basically a computer.
Note: The Digibox settings can become corrupted in memory. Reset them as follows:-
Press [services] 401 [select] (quickly)* then press 1 for the first menu. Press RED to change settings back to factory default. Select "Save settings" and press [backup] to return to the Installer Menu. Press 2 to see the second menu and repeat the reset procedure, above. Finally, press [backup] repeatedly to return to the main menu.
*In the new EPG (April 2009) it's [services] 001 [select]
Other problems can be fixed by forcing a software download. Switch the power off at the wall socket. Hold the front panel "backup" button. Switch the power ON at the wall socket. Continue to hold the "backup" button until all front panel lights come on. Leave for 15 minutes. (If you have a Scart connection you will see a message on the TV screen). IMPORTANT! DO NOT force a software download if your signal quality indication is under 40% as permanent software corruption can occur. This is especially so for Grundig Sky Digiboxes where one possible symptom of a power supply fault is low signal quality. Repair the PSU first. If the signal quality is poor, this could corrupt the software being downloaded. This can result in permanent corruption of the operating system software, resulting in an expensive repair.
Hint: If you have one of those faults that disappears the moment the Sky technician walks through the door, record it on video or DVD or with a camcorder so you can play it back when he arrives! This alleviates those embarassing moments when he can't reproduce the fault and you can't even remember the on-screen fault message. This is also a good idea if you have to send your Digibox away for repair; send the recording with it.
Modem failure is not rare and is usually caused by a lightning-induced surge down the phone line. Symptoms vary from simply not recognising that a phone is connected to a real slow-down when buttons are pressed - especially in early Pace models. If you want to avoid this, fit a phone line surge protector AND connect the Digibox to the phone line as rarely as possible. Overnight will do but you can usually get away with connecting just once a week. If you have no contractual obligation to connect to the phone line then DON'T unless you need to book a movie or whatever.
Prone to tuner failure. You can order a replacement tuner and fit it yourself or get your local TV repair shop to fit it. Or you can send your Digibox away for repair. The white ceramic "Data Access Module" takes the place of a modem. Damage to this and other parts can occur with a voltage surge down the phone line. Failure of power supply capacitors is rare but likely to become more common as this model ages.
Amstrad DRX200, 300, 400, 500
Michael Dranfield of Digifix (Buxton) tells me that he has had several Amstrads with failed power supply capacitors and failed tuner chips. The tuner chips need special equipment to replace them but the capacitor kit is a DIY job if you can solder. The tuner circuit is part of the mother board, NOT a separate unit.
Amstrad DRX-180 "plus" model.
No known hardware faults at present (except power supply - kit available) although the software appears to be "beta" still!
Grundig GDS200, GDS200/S, 300, 300/S, GDS2000, 3000 etc. and Thomson
Renowned for failure of the power supply capacitors. Usually not fatal and easily fixed with a kit if you can solder. The symptom can begin with "No Satellite Signal.." reported on certain channels. (But note that this can be caused by faulty LNB, cable, or dish misalignment or trees in the signal path). If you can hear an audible buzz from the power supply transformer then the LARGE capacitor is faulty; replace ALL capacitors in the power supply. Tuner can fail but extremely rare. Plug-in modem board can be damaged by a voltage surge down the phone line; this will usually result in a slow flashing of the standby LED and of the green LED on the mother board. Later (faster) models prone to CPU overheating. Keep cool; fit a fan. Typical power supply life is 12 months to 3 years. Use a Power Supply upgrade kit if the box shows any strange symptoms at all. Kits available from Satcure.com. May be available elsewhere but as Satcure design the kits I haven't bothered to look.
Some people have asked me "what does a bulging electrolytic capacitor look like". Well, here's one that I pulled out of a power supply some time ago. You can see that the metal top has lines scribed into it. This is to allow it to burst, with less danger of explosion, if pressure builds up inside. Pressure has certainly built up inside this one because that metal is supposed to be flat! Sometimes the pressure pushes out the rubber bung underneath so remember to look for that.
Some people have asked me "what does a bulging electrolytic capacitor look like". Well, here's one that I pulled out of a power supply some time ago. You can see that the metal top has lines scribed into it. This is to allow it to burst, with less danger of explosion, if pressure builds up inside. Pressure has certainly built up inside this one because that metal is supposed to be flat!
Sometimes the pressure pushes out the rubber bung underneath so remember to look for that.
Thomson Sky-Plus and HD models
Winter 2007. Power supply failure is causing problems of "Movies and Sports channels breaking up" and "failed future recordings" as well as other symptoms. Look for bulging capacitors near the metal heat sink in the Power Supply Unit. SatCure are supplying repair kits and replacement (uprated) PSUs for these models, as well as replacement fans.
Pace BSKYB2200, 2400, 2500, 3000
Without a doubt, tuner failure is the most common fault in these models. Some of the early 2200 models have a conventional "silver box" tuner which CAN fail, but doesn't do so very often. Later models with a bare-board "ZIF" tuner are very prone to failure. (ZIF stands for Zero Intermediate Frequency). You can buy replacement tuners from various places. The modem is part of the mother board and parts can be damaged by a voltage surge down the phone line; classic symptom is a slow response to the remote (although this has other causes, too). BSKYB3000 "plus" model is prone to Hard Drive problems.
Power supplies can fail with a bang but capacitor failure is rare. Fit a surge protector.
Pace "Rapier" BSKYB2600, DS430N, 3100 and "Javelin minibox"
These models use a totally different tuner design which is built onto the mother board. It's not removable but, thankfully, doesn't fail very often.
Power supplies can fail with a bang but capacitor failure is rare. Fit a surge protector.
BSKYB3100 "plus" model is prone to Hard Drive problems which often causes the symptom of "No Satellite Signal.." as if the second tuner is faulty. Try a Hard Reset (this will erase the Hard Drive!)
Panasonic TU-DSB20, 30, 31, 35, 40, 45, 50
The TU-DSB20 is probably the most reliable as it has a slower (cooler) CPU. The others seem to suffer from CPU overheating so you should install them in a cool room with plenty of ventilation. The wisest move is probably to install a cooling fan. If you wait till symptoms develop, it may be too late to save the CPU - and Michael tells me they cost £40 just to buy!
All Panasonic models seem to develop problems with certain LNBs as they age. The symptom is that some low-band channels give "No satellite signal..." intermittently. Changing channels randomly with the number buttons then going back to the affected channel will usually bring it back. One simple test you can do is to carefully unscrew the LNB cable "F" connector from the rear panel and disconnect it for just a second before screwing it back in. The channel should come back on after a few seconds. If this test works for you then your Digibox definitely has the "LNB allergy" fault. If you don't want to climb a ladder, you can get a tiny black box called a "Panafix2d filter" that has just three wires to solder. This fixes the fault. Various suppliers seem to stock this device now.
Panasonic power supplies use good quality capacitors which don't often fail. However, there is a zener diode that is supposed to protect the power supply but sometimes fails, leaving the Digibox "stuck in standby". However this can also be a symptom of other fault causes (eg. CPU failure) so don't get your hopes up!
The TU-DSB30 currently has a lot of "lock-up" problems and nobody is quite sure if this is a sign of aging components or buggy software.
The TU-DSB31 has a peculiar problem which arises if it's not used for a while. If it gets too far out of step with the software, it becomes unable to download the latest revision and won't work (usually drops into standby). The only cure is to send it to Digifix (or any other repairer with the equipment) who will load the new software directly into the memory chips. As they need to be desoldered, this is not a DIY job.
Some models give picture problems in RGB mode. The simple answer is not to use RGB mode! But if you want it fixed, send it to Digifix for repair.
Sony VTX models
Failure of the power supply diodes is the most common fault. This can result in a Digibox that is "stuck in standby" or completely dead.
Thanks to Michael Dranfield of Digifix for this info. (01298) 73989. He will undertake repairs to all models for around £50. If the fault is simple and you can solder then kits and fans are available from Satcure and possibly other places (Maplin?)
Do a Google search for parts/kits