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Thinker
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:05 am Reply with quote
Regular contributor Joined: 21 Feb 2010 Posts: 52
Took the plunge as my good old Toppy was finally giving up the ghost despite capacitor swap outs etc.

Bought a Miraclebox Premium Twin Plus with 3 x Terrestrial tuners. Figured I'd be able to record bloody loads of channels at the same time with 3 tuners. I use Freeview BTW and opted for the VIX image (v4.0).

Out of the box life is not sweet TBH. A wizard runs on first use and as you would expect from any TV box, takes you through an automated scan for Freeview channels. The resulting list of channels it creates is just a random list no good to man nor beast.

However, a utility called AutoBouquetManager is included which also scans all the channels and puts them in dedicated groups, news channels in news groups and so on. From there you can re-organise the groups, add your own, rename them, sequence the channels how you want them. I had an issue trying to get ABM to work initially but after exchanging some posts on the VIX Support Forum I was able to get to the bottom of the issue (which was me having set a setting incorrectly).

Overall I find VIX to be a little un-intuitive. There isn't a great consistency about what any given button does and there are a bewildering number of setup options to painstakingly work through. Not for the faint-hearted but Toppy owners won't struggle.

No "page Up page down" buttons on the remote so you find, when say browsing the EPG grid that you have to press numeric keypad 2 for up and 8 for down. Not ideal imo.

There is a Timeshift feature as there was with the Toppy but there is no setting to define how much time is kept in memory when you are viewing a channel. Timeshift is either enabled or disabled. So that means if you enable it and leave your box switched on all day and go out, the system is constantly recording more and more of the channel that happens to be selected, presumably infinitely until it fills up your hard disk. I feel very uncomfortable enabling timeshift as a result, and yet I think timeshifting (the ability to rewind a channel you are viewing but not actually recording) is pretty essential. Don't know what to do about this.

The box itself seems fine. Much smaller than I was expecting, turns on instantly from standby and the picture I am getting on the TV, connected via HDMI cable is excellent indeed. In the first 20 mins of using the box I set 5-6 recordings going simultaneously across a range of MUX's. I'm sure with 3 tuners I can record a lot more simultaneously.

I now want to connect my laptop to it so would appreciate any tips on how to do that via an Ethernet cable direct between the devices (i.e. not using my home Wi-Fi router). What software do I need on my laptop for this?

One final point I will make is this. If you are going to ship twin tuner boxes (let alone triple tuner boxes) then it's a pretty poor show not to include those small aerial loop-through cables in the box. We all had them with our Toppys.
So my new Miraclebox arrived with 3 tuners in it so 3 Tuner IN sockets and 3 Tuner OUT sockets at the back, and yet World Of Satellite hadn't included even one loop-through cable. So from the off you are stuck, unable to use your multi-tuner device until you get hold of the loop-thru cables. Like I said, for something so utterly simple, they really should be sending these out with ANY twin (or more) tuner device imo.

I will post updates as I progress with this in case others are considering the Miraclebox.

Cheers


Last edited by Thinker on Sat Apr 23, 2016 6:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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birdman
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:45 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 13 Dec 2006 Posts: 1765 Location: Hitchin, HERTS Tx: Sandy Heath
Thinker wrote:
So you then start Googling and searching forums for how to get the EPG into some form of organised sense and you discover that you need to set up your own groups (called bouquets). A piece of software is provided to help facilitate this called AutoBouquetManager which is supposed to scan for channels and put them in groups like News, Sport, etc. Really you should do this out of the box and NOT run the basic channel scan at all but nowhere does anything tell you this.
I bought mine before ABM handled Freeview HD, so I have a Perl script I run on my (Linux) PC. Just scan - copy the tuner info (lamedb file) over to the PC, run the script and copy back the bouquet files. It also means I can have TV+Radio in the same set (never figured out why they are kept separate forcing you to use the TV and Radio buttons).

Quote:
Overall I find VIX to be wholly un-intuitive. There isn't a great consistency about what any given button does and there are a bewildering number of setup options to painstakingly work through. No "page Up page down" buttons on the remote so you find, when say browsing the EPG grid that you have to press numeric keypad 2 for up and 8 for down. Nuts.
2 and 8 are for Page Up/Down - the Up/Down arrows switch the channels in the EPG. At least they always have for me.

Quote:
There is a Timeshift feature as there was with the Toppy but there is no setting to define how much time is kept in memory when you are viewing a channel.
Apparently a bug.

Quote:
I feel very uncomfortable enabling timeshift as a result, and yet I think timeshifting (the ability to rewind a channel you are viewing but not actually recording) is pretty essential.
Whereas I've never used it.

Quote:
I now want to connect my laptop to it so would appreciate any tips on how to do that via an Ethernet cable direct between the devices (i.e. not using my home Wi-Fi router).
Why would you want to do that rather than just put it onto your standard network?
Quote:
What software do I need on my laptop for this?
Nothing that you wouldn't need to connect to it over your standard network. The simplest thing would be PuTTY (which can run telnet, FTP or ssh).

Quote:
One final point I will make is this. If you are going to ship twin tuner boxes (let alone triple tuner boxes) then it's a pretty poor show not to include those small aerial loop-through cables in the box.
It also doesn't ship with an HDMI cable, an Ethernet cable, etc.. I feed mine from a powered splitter/amplifier, so I have no need of them.

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Thinker
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:56 am Reply with quote
Regular contributor Joined: 21 Feb 2010 Posts: 52
birdman wrote:
2 and 8 are for Page Up/Down - the Up/Down arrows switch the channels in the EPG. At least they always have for me.


Yep, 2 and 8 for page up/down. It's nuts. It's horribly awkward trying to use those keys as they are right at the top of the remote. Your hand naturally balances the remote at the middle and your thumb naturally rests on the central wheel like any other remote. You can't comfortably hit the num pad at the top without having to look at the remote. They should have used Vol Up/Down or Channel Up/Down for paging up and down in the EPG. It is what it is, one can only hope they change it over time.

Timeshift is an invaluable feature imo. Many is the time we have been watching a programme and the wife says "Hey just rewind that a minute, I'm sure I've seen her in some other programme", or equally I've wanted to rewind when I've spotted a continuity error that I wanted to check. Timeshift should be an easy fix. They just need to make it do a rolling hour or 2 hours that's all.

birdman wrote:
It also doesn't ship with an HDMI cable, an Ethernet cable,


Actually mine DID ship with an HDMI cable which is great, but no loop-thru aerial cables just sucks. Also I wasn't overly pleased to see it arrive with a 2 pin power plug and an adapter to convert it to UK 3 pin. Not sure of the legality of that in the UK, I thought all devices had to have a proper 3 pin plug but hey ho.
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Bizman
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:35 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 06 Apr 2010 Posts: 1707
birdman wrote:
Also I wasn't overly pleased to see it arrive with a 2 pin power plug and an adapter to convert it to UK 3 pin. Not sure of the legality of that in the UK, I thought all devices had to have a proper 3 pin plug but hey ho.
If the case is plastic, i.e. non-conductive, 2-pins are ok, but if the case is metal and under fault conditions could become live, then the case should be earthed, hence 3-pins required.

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alan_m
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:10 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 18 Oct 2006 Posts: 3492
Bizman wrote:
birdman wrote:
Also I wasn't overly pleased to see it arrive with a 2 pin power plug and an adapter to convert it to UK 3 pin. Not sure of the legality of that in the UK, I thought all devices had to have a proper 3 pin plug but hey ho.
If the case is plastic, i.e. non-conductive, 2-pins are ok, but if the case is metal and under fault conditions could become live, then the case should be earthed, hence 3-pins required.



The Toppy has a metal case but only two wires connected in the plug.

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alan_m
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:24 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 18 Oct 2006 Posts: 3492
Thinker wrote:
Not sure of the legality of that in the UK, I thought all devices had to have a proper 3 pin plug but hey ho.


Many STB, phones computer peripherals sold in the UK come with power leads with two pins that fit into a variety of three pin adapters.

If your adapter is the same as I was supplied with the two pin plug is fully locked into the 3 pin adapter and cannot be removed whilst the 3 pin UK mains plug is in the 3 pin socket. And the adapter is fused.

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Thinker
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 6:00 pm Reply with quote
Regular contributor Joined: 21 Feb 2010 Posts: 52
UPDATE

Ok after uncovering a rogue setting choice that I made I have been able to successfully set up my box the way I want it. My initial troubles were frustrating but once that setting was uncovered everything dropped into place.

As a result I can heartily recommend this box to those of you wanting a replacement for your old faithful, but crumbling, Toppys.

Channel Scanning and EPG

I have scanned in all the channels from my local transmitter without problem.
I've been able to use the AutoBouquetManager utility (like a Tap) to make dedicated groups of all the channels so all the News channels are in a group called News and similar groups for Kids channels, HD channels, etc etc.

I then created my own set of groups anyway and then I copied channels from the ABM groups into my groups and sorted them how I wanted them. All done very simply with the remote.

I then deleted the ABM groups since I no longer needed them.

My box now has the following groups:

TV - All the TV channels I want in the order I want them
Radio - All the radio channels I want in the order I want them
Plus 1s - All the +1 channels (ITV+1 etc) out of the way in a separate group
Shopping - All the shopping channels, I rarely use them so dumped them here
Kids - All the kids channels. Don't use them so dumped them here in case needed.
Last Scanned - This is the boxes own system group of ALL channels inc radio

So basically my main viewing list is the TV group and this is what the EPG grid will display and it's short and contained because I've stripped out all the Plus 1 channels, shopping channels and Kids channels into separate groups which I will rarely use but which are there should they ever be needed.

My grid EPG is configured to not display an in-picture (pip) window of the currently selected channel which allows more space on the screen for programme listings. I have it configured to display 15 channels on screen at a time which is absolutely great !

Recordings

Remember that my box has 3 tuners in it all Terrestrial (Freeview)

Just before typing this I selected a load of channels and set them all recording for 15 mins concurrently. So far I have 11 channels all recording simultaneously spread over 3 MUXs. Bloody fantastic ! Can't envisage having any recording conflicts ever again ! The channels I am recording are:

BBC One HD - Ch 41
BBC Two HD - Ch 41
ITV HD - Ch 41
Channel 4 HD - Ch 41
Channel 5 - Ch 44
ITV 2 - Ch 44
ITV 4 - Ch 44
More 4 - Ch 44
ITV 3 - Ch 51
QUEST - Ch 51
Horror Channel - Ch 51

As with the Toppy I've been easily able to create my own folders in which to store any recordings I have made. Folders for Films with sub-folders for different film genres (Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Kung Fu, Classics etc). Folders for Music and so on.

I'm now just getting into series linking.

A quick and simply way to record stuff regularly is to just find an instance of the programme in the EPG, then just press the record button and you get a little prompt asking it it's just an instant record of that programme or if you want to create an auto timer for it. Nice and easy.

I will report more when I have fully explored these features.

Final note at this point. The picture quality is just excellent. My old faithful Toppy was connected via Scart cable and of course couldn't handle the HD channels.
The new box is just connected by an HDMI cable and whether viewing the HD channels or ordinary channels the picture is superb. I have it set to 1080i mode at 50Hz and using a Samsung LED TV.

More to come, but at this stage, this box looks hugely configurable and extremely versatile. I haven't even started on the Windows browser it has, network connectivity and other features yet !
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ccs
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 7:19 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 30 Oct 2007 Posts: 2582
..... so not so bad after all. Smile

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leshay
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:20 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 17 Oct 2005 Posts: 383
Thinker wrote:
UPDATE

I'm now just getting into series linking.

A quick and simply way to record stuff regularly is to just find an instance of the programme in the EPG, then just press the record button and you get a little prompt asking it it's just an instant record of that programme or if you want to create an auto timer for it. Nice and easy.


Hi

I hope you get as much from the AutoTimer function as you want/need. In my case, with my GigaBlue Quad Plus, I had so many failures that I just gave up on using that function, and have no AutoTimers at all now.

Many others seem to have no issues using it, so maybe you will find it works as expected for you.

There is no proper series linking as there is no CRID data to use, and the broadcasters seem to take NO pride in their EPG data at all. They quite happily have same episode of a programme with differing descriptions or differing titles, they very often have different episodes with identical descriptions, and as programme time slots and channels can frequently change makes it very difficult on occasion to trap required series linking.

I hope this doesn't quell your enthusiasm, and you may well not need to consider these points - there are many times where the above just isn't relevant at all.

If you are keen on politics and watch Daily Politics and Newsnight, then you may find you need to keep an eye on them to ensure an expected timer has been set for them.

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Thinker
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:42 pm Reply with quote
Regular contributor Joined: 21 Feb 2010 Posts: 52
Yep I could see fairly quickly that the Auto Timers are simply creating recording slots for specific channels and specific times which is not the same as a series link.

Not sure what all the options are just yet, in fact I'm reading different things on different forums. Since OpenVix is an open source platform, it's surely only a matter of time before someone develops a series link facility like those we saw on the Toppy. It is simply a case of parsing the EPG data with search strings.
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alan_m
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:17 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 18 Oct 2006 Posts: 3492
Thinker wrote:

Not sure what all the options are just yet, in fact I'm reading different things on different forums. Since OpenVix is an open source platform, it's surely only a matter of time before someone develops a series link facility like those we saw on the Toppy. It is simply a case of parsing the EPG data with search strings.


You may find that the main developers of the software are not UK based and have no knowledge of how UK UK broadcast system works hence they place little importance on UK series linking.

In my experience Auto Timers work quite well. On the main channels the EPG information is good enough for completely reliable recording but you have to be a bit careful configuring the inhibiting of repeats based on descriptions if the program is broadcast on a daily basis with what may be just a generic program description. The '5' group of channel seems to have made f******* PVR programming an art, even using CRID information. For these I just relax the Autotimer rules and delete repeats after they have been recorded.

The default settings for an Autotimer are yet another user configuration in one of the menus so after using the box for a while it may be worth altering the defaults to select what you set-up most.

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alan_m
Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:58 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 18 Oct 2006 Posts: 3492
Quote:
Yep I could see fairly quickly that the Auto Timers are simply creating recording slots for specific channels and specific times which is not the same as a series link.


They are doing more than that. They are also the equivalent of Mystuff text searches based on program names and/or descriptions with many user configured filters. a program can be found if it not in the same timeslot or channel.

http://www.admac.myzen.co.uk/vix_timer/

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ccs
Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:33 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 30 Oct 2007 Posts: 2582
Thinker wrote:
Yep I could see fairly quickly that the Auto Timers are simply creating recording slots for specific channels and specific times which is not the same as a series link.

Not sure what all the options are just yet, in fact I'm reading different things on different forums. Since OpenVix is an open source platform, it's surely only a matter of time before someone develops a series link facility like those we saw on the Toppy. It is simply a case of parsing the EPG data with search strings.
They work 100% for me, no lost recordings, easy to set up, and I've even seen very late schedule changes get picked up and adjusted.

The trick is to assume that autotimers will work, not that they won't.

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Thinker
Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:13 pm Reply with quote
Regular contributor Joined: 21 Feb 2010 Posts: 52
You are correct. I have confused Timers with AutoTimers. So everything needed is there to define your programme searches using search strings just as it was with the Toppy plus a lot more configuration options besides.

One thing I can't fathom yet is how to define the specific range of channels I want a given AutoTimer to use. When I select "Add" new Autotimer the first thing it does is ask me to select a specific channel on which the search will be done. For some recordings that's fine, for example I will record Britain's Got Talent on ITV HD every week. However, on my Toppy the tap I used allowed me to specific a range of channels to use or indeed ANY channel.

So for example, I might want to create an AutoTimer to search for the string "Derren Brown" on a partial match basis but I want it to process EVERY channel as I don't care which channel a Derren Brown programme appears on, I just want it recording. There doesn't immediately seem to be a way to do such a search but I may just not have seen it yet.
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ccs
Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:19 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 30 Oct 2007 Posts: 2582
It is there, in the filter options, restrict to certain services.

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