Sky Plus Repair Guide


Go to content

Sky Digibox FAQ

Section 3


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Which Sky Digibox gives the best picture?
Q. How do I access the "secret" Installer menu?
Q. What's the minimum "Signal Quality" needed for reliable viewing?
Q. My Digibox reports "No Satellite Signal is being received. What should I check?
Q. I think my Digibox is faulty. What should I do?
Q. Do I need to connect my phone line?
Q. How do I connect a second TV to my Digibox?
Q. How do I control the Sky Digibox from my second TV?
Q. How do I connect TWO TV sets to my Sky Digibox?
Q. How do I force a software download?
Q. What's the difference between Signal Strength and Signal Quality?
Q. What's Freesat?
Q. I'm in Spain. Why do I lose some programmes in the evening?
Q. Why is the aspect ratio wrong on my 2nd TV?
Q. Do I need Planning Permission?
Q. Will a Sky card work in any Digibox?
Q. Why is my Sky picture grainy?
Q. How do I tune the RF output channel?
Q. Can I use Sky-Plus with only one LNB cable?
Q. Why "insert your sky viewing card"?
Q. Why does my Digibox keep going to standby?
Q. Why won't my Digibox respond to the remote every time?



Q. Which Sky Digibox gives the best picture?

A. It depends on the compatibility of your TV set. Some TV sets make the picture look really poor. Reports suggest that Panasonic Sky Digiboxes have more incompatibility problems than other makes, although they are generally highly regarded.

Q. How do I access the "secret" Installer menu?

A. Press [services] 401 [select]

In the new EPG (April 2009) it's [services] 001 [select]

Q. What's the minimum "Signal Quality" needed for reliable viewing?

A. Most people have no problems until it falls below 30%. In general 50% is fine in all but the worst weather.

Q. My Digibox reports "No Satellite Signal is being received. What should I check?

A. Read THIS page.

Q. I think my Digibox is faulty. What should I do?

A. Read THIS page.

Q. Do I need to connect my phone line?

A. Your Digibox must be connected to your phone line permanently IF you have signed a contract which states this. Read your contract. If you have a "mirror" subscription card for a second Sky Digibox then you must keep BOTH Digiboxes connected to the SAME phone line indefinitely. If you breach your contract in this respect then Sky will charge you the full subscription rate backdated. Sky periodically send a signal via satellite to tell each Digibox to "phone home". In practice some Digiboxes cause problems with PC modems (especially ADSL) and it is necessary to disconnect the Digibox from the phone line which you access the Internet. This will not normally cause a problem because "phone home" signals are sent out mostly in the early hours of the morning. In addition, for safety sake, you should disconnect your Digibox from the mains power and from the phone line when you go away. Sky may not like this but it's better than coming back to find your equipment damaged or even, in extreme cases, your house burned down after a lightning storm.

Q. How do I connect a second TV to my Digibox?

Get some double-screened satellite cable and fit a female TV plug to it (or a male plug with an adapter). Connect it to RF Output 2 at the rear of your Digibox. Fit a TV plug to the other end and plug it into your TV.

Temporarily disconnect the aerial feed from the Digibox aerial socket. Switch the Digibox on to get a picture on your main TV. The Sky Digibox normally sends its signal out on UHF channel 68 so go to the second TV and tune it to 68 (or tune it till it finds the Sky picture).

Now plug the aerial cable back into the Digibox. If there is now interference on the Sky picture on the second TV (or on the terrestrial channels) your Sky signal on 68 is causing interference. Press [services] 401 [select]* and set the RF output to a different UHF channel number. You need to connect it via a Scart lead on your main TV in order to see the menu.

*In the new EPG (April 2009) it's [services] 001 [select]

Try each RF output channel number in turn (21 - 69) and retune the second TV until you get clean pictures on the terrestrial channels and the Sky channel. Also check the picture from the VCR (if connected).

This is just a brief overview. If you need a real in-depth explanation you should read the "Piping TV Around the House" Ebook by satcure.

Q. How do I control the Sky Digibox from my second TV?

The simplest method is to fit a "tvLINK" type "magic eye" device. These are made by various manufacturers under various names but the generic name is "SkyLink". Disconnect the cable from the aerial socket on the second TV. Connect it to the SkyLink. Use a short cable to connect the SkyLink back to the TV set. On no acount connect the SkyLink directly to the TV aerial socket! This can put strain on your TV tuner and your SkyLink, resulting in internal damage.

Press [services] 401 [select] on your Sky remote and set the "RF outlet power" to ON.

In the new EPG (April 2009) it's [services] 001 [select]

Your remote control should now operate the Digibox from the "magic eye".

See troubleshooting notes HERE.

Q. How do I connect TWO TV sets to my Sky Digibox?

Use a "SkyLink compatible" amplified splitter or a "Loft Box". This will amplify the signal to compensate for cable loss. It will also let the "magic eye" send remote control signals back to the Sky Digibox. Be sure to use double-screened cable for all connections.

Q. How do I force a software download?

Check the Operating System and EPG revision in the menu by pressing [SKY], [Services], 45.

Switch off your Sky Digibox at the wall socket. Press and hold the "Backup" button on the front panel. Switch on the wall socket. Continue to hold the "Backup" button till all the front panel lights come on. (If your Digibox is connected to the TV you will see a message on-screen). Release the button and leave the Digibox for 15 minutes before turning it ON from standby.

Check the Operating System and EPG revision in the menu by pressing [SKY], [Services], 45.

Panasonic TU-DSB31 models may not download new software successfully if they already missed the previous update. See "Digibox Problems" for more details.

Q. What's the difference between Signal Strength and Signal Quality?

Signal strength is a rough guide to the amount of signal being received by the LNB at the default transponder frequency*. It varies from one Digibox to the next - even with identical models - so it's a VERY rough guide.

Signal quality is the inverse of Bit Error Ratio and indicates relative freedom from data loss at the default transponder frequency*. 50% is generally good enough to get a reliable picture in all but the worst weather but, again, the reading will vary from one Digibox to the next.

*If you want to see the signal strength and quality at any other frequency you must type the parameters into the hidden Manual Tuning menu.

Q. What's Freesat?

Freesat is Sky's special offer to install a minidish, Digibox and viewing card for just 150 as of October 22nd 2004. A phone connection is NOT required (although Sky state that they will connect the Digibox to the phone line if possible UNLESS you ask them not to). Having a phone connection will allow you to use Sky's interactive services and book PPV movies.

You can also order an FTV card alone for just 20 in order to receive ITV, CH4 and FIVE. Phone 08706 061111. You have to phone Sky to activate the card in your Digibox.

More info.

Q. I'm in Spain. Why do I lose some programmes in the evening?

A geostationary satellite travelling at roughly 6800mph needs to orbit the earth once every 23 hours, 55 minutes, and 4 seconds.

But geostationary satellites don't orbit in a perfect circle! They can be thought of as doing so, but the truth is their orbit is slightly elliptical. American satellite Telstar 5 has an apogee of 35,799 km and a perigee of 35,773 km. And Directv 2 has an apogee of 35,796 km and a perigee of 35,777 km. So these satellites aren't completely stationary. They move toward and away from the earth, which makes them speed up and slow down. This makes them appear to oscillate east-and-west. Also, since the geostationary orbital plane is not coincident with the plane of the earth's orbit around the sun (the ecliptic) or that of the moon's orbit around the earth, the gravitational attraction of the sun and the moon act to gradually pull the geostationary satellites out of their equatorial orbit, gradually increasing the satellite's orbital inclination. In addition, the noncircular shape of the earth's equator causes these satellites to be slowly drawn to one of two stable equilibrium points along the equator, resulting in an east-west libration (drifting back and forth) about these points. To counteract these effects, each geostationary satellite has an onboard propulsion system that it uses to periodically correct any changes to its orbit, in order to keep its daily north-south and east-west drift within the ground antenna's beamwidth. These periodic corrections are known as stationkeeping.

Another factor could be that the satellites need to run on battery power when the sun is hidden by the earth.

Q. Why is the aspect ratio wrong on my 2nd TV?

You can set the aspect ratio to the one you need for your bedroom TV. This will take effect when you go to bed and use the remote control via your tvLINK (or similar "magic eye"). The Digibox detects the remote signal coming from upstairs and switches its aspect ratio on ALL OUTPUTS to the one you chose for upstairs. Obviously you don't want to do this while someone is still watching Sky channels downstairs.

Only ONE aspect ratio is available at a time.

Q. Do I need Planning Permission?

Unless you are in a conservation area or live in a listed building then, provided you own the building, you don't need planning permission to fit a single dish up to 90cm in diameter.

If you want to install more than one dish or a dish larger than 90cm then, in theory, you need to obtain planning permission. This could typically cost you up to 100 to have the plans drawn and up to 180 for the application process.

However, planning permission is required for two principal resons:

* To ensure the safety of the installation.
* To ensure it's visually acceptable, taking into account the surroundings.

So, if you install your dish in a safe position where it can't easily be seen, there's probably no need to worry about planning permission. The council will only act if the dish can be seen from the road or if somebody complains.

Q. Will a Sky card work in any Digibox?

A UK Sky viewing card will work in any UK Sky Digibox (except for the Premium channels). So will a Free To View (FTV) or Freesat card. At the time of writing, it will also work in a non-Sky digital receiver that has a "Dragon CAM" fitted, provided that the receiver is programmed with the serial number of a Sky Digibox. For the premium channels, the card must be used in the Digibox that it was activated in. (Or a Dragon CAM in a receiver that has been given that serial number). It is not possible to view encrypted Sky programmes without a valid Sky card.

Q. Why is my Sky picture grainy?

Disconnect the TV aerial. Is the Sky picture better now? If "yes" then you've set your Sky Digibox RF output on top of a Freeview digital terrestrial channel. See below.

Q. How do I tune the RF output channel?

Press [services] then press very quickly 401 [select]

In the new EPG (April 2009) it's [services] 001 [select]

Select "RF Outlets". This menu lets you change the RF output channel. You'll need to connect the Digibox to your main TV via a Scart cable, otherwise the picture will disappear as soon as you make the change.

Q. Why does my Digibox display "insert your sky viewing card"
when the card is already inserted? Sky told me to wipe the card contacts to clean them.

This has nothing to do with the signal contacts. The usual problem is that the switch contacts hidden at the rear are not being opened. If they don't get opened, the processor doesn't know that the card is in the slot. The amount of movement is only about half a millimetre so it's easy for the card to creep forward and let the contacts close.

The good news is that the fact that the processor is detecting *closed* contacts means that NO cleaning is necessary. What is needed is for you to push the card carefully but firmly as far in as you can.

Sometimes the card will ride over the contacts and they will flip closed. You can often fix this, at least for a while, by placing a very thin piece of card on top of the viewing card to press it down a little.

If you get a message "there is a problem with your viewing card" even when the card is not inserted, this might indicate that the switch contacts are staying open. Pushing the card in and out repeatedly might free them. If this fails to work, insert the card then reboot the Digibox without touching the card. It should then work until the next time you remove the card.

This message can also indicate that the card is faulty, or it is not making proper contact with the signal contacts. Squirt a tiny amount of WD-40 on the gold plated area of the card and slide it in and out a few times. This will clean the contacts. If it still displays the fault message, try placing a very thin piece of card on top of the viewing card to press it down a little.

Q. Why does my Digibox keep going to standby?
Probably because "Auto Standby" option is set to ON in the menu.

Q. Why won't my Digibox respond to the remote every time?
Assuming that you've tried new batteries and tried a different remote, it's likely that your TV set is putting out interference. Try moving the Digibox away from the TV. Try putting a piece of black plastic, from a dustbin liner, over the front panel of the digibox (or over the "magic eye"). This will allow infra-red light to pass while blocking visible light and has solved the problem in several cases. If it works, the plastic can be put behind the front panel.

The problem can also be caused by flickering light from other sources, such as a remote control wedged between cushions, an "energy saver" lamp, etc.



Some of this information was taken from "The Missing Manual" (Sky Digibox User Guide) with permission.




Back to Home Page


Home Page | Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Site Map


Back to content | Back to main menu