AM21 Repair

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William1

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 24, 2007
164
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Central Virginia
As many know, you can no longer purchase a AM21. I have one of these and over time, it was less and less adapt at pulling OTA, the signal strength slowly got worse and worse.
I am no electronics tech, but I can identify visually some failed or failing components.Bad fuse, burnt resistor, bulging/leaking capacitor.
After close to a year of poor operation, I decided to pull my AM21 apart today. It is all assembled with Torx security screws, the ones with the little pin in the center. You can either remove the pin or use the correct bit (t10). Be aware the board is held down with the same screws so it makes sense to use the correct Torx bit.
Once opened, it was obvious the four 470UF 10V capacitors around the shielded receiver were all bad. Bulging and leaking. Ordered new Panasonic ones @$2 each, I'll report back once I have the new parts installed and the tuner tested.
If the repair does not resolve it, does anyone know of a company that can service the AM21?
 

William1

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 24, 2007
164
5
Central Virginia
AM21 has nothing to do with the guide, as I am sure you know. All it does is tell the receiver that is connected, what channels it receives and if the channels are in the guide, it is populated. I get the same channels on the TV tuner as I do from the AM21 and all are in the guide.
 

ejb1980

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 26, 2010
3,330
546
Vermont
AM21 has nothing to do with the guide, as I am sure you know. All it does is tell the receiver that is connected, what channels it receives and if the channels are in the guide, it is populated. I get the same channels on the TV tuner as I do from the AM21 and all are in the guide.
Now that they have re-enabled the AM21 to show all of the channels it receives, all of my channels are in the guide, too. They haven't updated my market yet, so I have some that are "Regular schedule" that will be updated soon. But I also receive CBC Montreal and I know they will not add that to the database so it will always show "regular schedule." I was half joking about making it display the PSIP guide data, but I really do want it to do that. I know the guide data comes from the satellite. But there must be a way somewhere (probably a software thing) that would make it see the limited PSIP data so at least a little bit of guide data would show for channels they will never add to the database like CBC, and low-power channels and translators in the US.
 

William1

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 24, 2007
164
5
Central Virginia
Now that they have re-enabled the AM21 to show all of the channels it receives, all of my channels are in the guide, too. They haven't updated my market yet, so I have some that are "Regular schedule" that will be updated soon. But I also receive CBC Montreal and I know they will not add that to the database so it will always show "regular schedule." I was half joking about making it display the PSIP guide data, but I really do want it to do that. I know the guide data comes from the satellite. But there must be a way somewhere (probably a software thing) that would make it see the limited PSIP data so at least a little bit of guide data would show for channels they will never add to the database like CBC, and low-power channels and translators in the US.
I assume using the remote, you can tune top the stations you receive but are not in the guide, correct?
I imagine the guide is purely a software download and it is filtered based on the locals you should be able to get (and perhaps verified by what the AM31 actually tuned in). Meaning a full guide of all locals in the DTV database come down from the satellite and are loaded in to memory. Then based on the zip code and what the AM21 reports, only those locals show in the list. Same way it works with all the DTV channels (based off of the card permissions).
 

ejb1980

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 26, 2010
3,330
546
Vermont
I assume using the remote, you can tune top the stations you receive but are not in the guide, correct?
I imagine the guide is purely a software download and it is filtered based on the locals you should be able to get (and perhaps verified by what the AM31 actually tuned in). Meaning a full guide of all locals in the DTV database come down from the satellite and are loaded in to memory. Then based on the zip code and what the AM21 reports, only those locals show in the list. Same way it works with all the DTV channels (based off of the card permissions).
They changed it recently - the AM21s are showing all the channels, even those not in the database. And they are updating the database. If you haven't used the AM21 in a little bit, and you fix it, it will be a treat. If you do not get it fixed, they are developing a new local channel connector that will hopefully be available soon. They are starting to test it in Utah and Las Vegas. This is why they are making the changes in how the OTA system works.
 

ejb1980

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 26, 2010
3,330
546
Vermont
Do you have a link to the new local channel equipment information?
There really isn't much info about it publicly. You can find a little bit on their website. You can't order it yet. If you live in Salt Lake City or Las Vegas DMAs and get a CSR who knows what they are talking about, you can probably get one to be ordered. I don't think they are actually shipping them yet. The few people who have reported getting them ordered have actually received just a power cord to an AM21 because the LCC isn't available yet in the warehouse. What I am telling you is just what I have read on this and similar forums from people who would know about such things.

Supposedly, it will be a small dongle that connects in the back with a USB connection. It will have its own power source. It will use the same database as the AM21, which is why they are updating it. The progress of the updates means they should be done in a couple months. There is also some sort of a test package coming in those markets that will let you eliminate locals via satellite. I don't really have much more info than that.
 

William1

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 24, 2007
164
5
Central Virginia
There really isn't much info about it publicly. You can find a little bit on their website. You can't order it yet. If you live in Salt Lake City or Las Vegas DMAs and get a CSR who knows what they are talking about, you can probably get one to be ordered. I don't think they are actually shipping them yet. The few people who have reported getting them ordered have actually received just a power cord to an AM21 because the LCC isn't available yet in the warehouse. What I am telling you is just what I have read on this and similar forums from people who would know about such things.

Supposedly, it will be a small dongle that connects in the back with a USB connection. It will have its own power source. It will use the same database as the AM21, which is why they are updating it. The progress of the updates means they should be done in a couple months. There is also some sort of a test package coming in those markets that will let you eliminate locals via satellite. I don't really have much more info than that.
I spent a few hours on the phone with DTV. Nightmare. Finally got a person who knew what this is. Utah only. Would not budge. Period. No info regarding if and when the rest of us will see it. I did find the PDF of the 'owners manual' and have attached it here.
 

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slice1900

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Feb 14, 2015
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That owners manual has been posted a half dozen times in the past six months or so. The info in that, and that you can only get it if you are in the SLC or LV markets, is about all we know about it right now.
 

William1

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 24, 2007
164
5
Central Virginia
The AM21 is working a little. I know I have 100% signal strength going in but the tuner shows 25%.The caps in question operate as filters which logically explains the poor signal.
Simply replacing a few bad caps is pretty hard to screw up. If I were pulling the processor off the board and resoldering the 60 pins, year, my poor eye sight could be a problem. Regular caps are a walk in the park.
 

bobvick

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If he does, it's no worse than before, not working, right.
He's out $50 ....because its not working.
Actually, replacement cost wise, he’s out about $100 now, since they go for at least that usually on the used market. Of course if it’s just working at 25% capacity or so, he’s not out much.
 

William1

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 24, 2007
164
5
Central Virginia
LOL, if the performance does not improve, I'll be out $8.00 and some time. My 25% signal quality will not change. The AM21 was originally free to me, so complete loss of the tuner costs me nothing other than some inconvenience in being able to record OTA. All my TV's have OTA antenna connections already.

Interestingly, with the tuner box removed, all the OTA channels the guide listed are still showing up. Seems the DVR does not pick on the fact the tuner is 'out of the loop', I guess until I do a reboot.

Caps are supposed to be here Saturday. BTW, I paid $8 delivered and had to buy six, so I'll have two extras.
 
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