As DIRECTV TiVos age, we are seeing more problems with satellite tuners. I thought it would be helpful to summarize some of the more frequent symptoms of a bad DirecTiVo satellite tuner. (Also see our TiVo troubleshooting page.) Here are some of the more common symptoms associated with a defective satellite tuner (you need not have all of these symptoms to have a bad tuner):
- “Searching for Signal on Satellite 1” or “Searching for Signal on Satellite 2” message appears on your screen. Sometimes, this message appears constantly; other times it appears and disappears.
- Some of your recordings record; others don’t, especially when you have two programs set to record at the same time.
- If you conduct a satellite test, you see one or both of your satellites without any signal strength on all transponders. (To conduct a test, go to Messages and Settings > Settings > Satellite > Test Satellite Signal Strength > Ok; then cycle through the various transponders and satellites. Note that even fully functional units do not get a signal on every transponder, but your SAT 1 and SAT 2 signal strengths should be the same.)
- If you conduct a satellite test, you see the satellite signal strength on one of your tuners jump up and down, or you see one of the satellites significantly lower than the other. (To conduct a test, go to Messages and Settings > Settings > Satellite > Test Satellite Signal Strength > Ok; then cycle through the various transponders and satellites. Note that you won’t necessarily get signal on every transponder.)
- You see heavy and significant pixellation (blocky picture) on one or both of your satellite tuners. This could be a drive or a bad tuner, and we previously wrote about ways to diagnose the source of a pixellating DIRECTV TiVo. If you rewind, the pixellation is in the same place repeatedly.
- You see consistent, heavy pixellation on certain satellite channels, but not all of them.
If you are unsure whether you have a bad tuner, here are some tests you can conduct to help troubleshoot:
- If you are running two tuners and only one of your tuners is bad, try swapping cables in the back. Put the SAT 1 cable in the SAT 2 port, and vice versa. If the problem follows the cable (i.e., if the bad tuner was SAT 1 but after swapping cables is SAT 2), then you know you have a dish problem and not a satellite problem.
- If you are running two tuners and the bad tuner seems to be SAT 2, then you should be able to repeat satellite setup (Messages and Settings > Settings > Satellite > Repeat Satellite Setup) and specify that you have only one tuner. After doing that, your unit should work fine, but with only one tuner. If it does, then you know you have a bad SAT 2 tuner.
- If you have heavy pixellation on one tuner, then you can pause a pixellating channel and switch tuners (down on the circular directional arrow pad) and confirm that the pixellation disappears. If it does, then you have a bad tuner.
If you have determined that you do indeed have a defective tuner, then you have a few options: (1) You can abandon the TiVo and upgrade to high definition using one of DIRECTV’s non-TiVo DVRs. (2) You can send in your TiVo for a TiVo tuner repair. (3) If you have a bad SAT 2 only, then you can run with only SAT 1. (4) You can get a replacement DIRECTV TiVo (while supplies last).