AzBox Premium+ observations after 6 months (1 Viewer)

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wbarrett

SatelliteGuys Family
Mar 25, 2008
78
17
Jensen Beach, FL
As title says, I've had my AzBox for 6 months now and thought I would share a few observations I found out but have not seen in other posts or on other forums.

This is my first FTA receiver. I have the two tuner model. The A tuner is hooked to a GeoSat Pro 1.2m Ku dish on a DG-380 H-H motor. The B tuner is hooked to a Sadoun 2.4m C-band dish through a G-Box V3000 positioner and a 24" actuactor.

For editing tools, I am using Filezilla 3.5.3, Maz 3.2.0.0 and ACC 1.1 to download, edit and reload the three criteria all_channel.dat and antenna_list.dat and DVBS.dat files.

===


AzBox Premium + Observations:

1. There is a steep learing curve getting this box up and running and, probably even more so to get it stable. Very, very picky about settings and sequences. Not sure I would recommend this as the first box for someone getting into the hobby. If I had it to do over again, I'd spend time with a cheap and easy-to-use box to get my Ku and C band dishes up and running and then progress to the AzBox. For that matter, I'd never try the "C-band on a Ku dish" experiment at all (that was a waste of my time). Tough troubleshooting set up when you have not had anything working and you are trying to figure out where to start.

2. I did have the AzBox external power supply die on me within a few months. It was a component failure that took out an internal fuse. This appears to be a wider ranged problem that has been addressed in production. Got a warranty replacement; so far so good. If it goes again I plan on building my own using separate +24V and +12V power supplies and just wire them to the AxBox connector. That little power supply gets way to hot. I suspect it was designed in Europe for 240VAC and therefore draws double the current when running on US 120VAC.

3. The USALS works like a champ. I set my south satellite at 83W and was done after one tweak to get a better signal on PBS at 125W. I can get 30W to 125W on Ku. For some reason, I have to set the positoner to DiSEqC 1.2 not USALS for the satellite at 34.5W. The USALS puts the dish too far west. Tweaking it manually brings signal quality from <30% to a solid 80%. This is the only Ku bird I have to mess with at all, ever. Funny thing is USALS works for 30W and 45W on either side of it just fine.

4. There is very little control over audio in this box. For services that transmit AC3 audio on different channels like NBC does, you can make yourself crazy using the "yellow" button to try to find the audio as they switch commericals, show and news vocals. It is all but impossible to watch services that transmit the TV audio on the left channel and some radio station on the right channel like Silverbird TV on 37.5W at 3775 H 2143 for example. Need to be able to selectively turn off/on individual audio channels and have a redirect to a center channel so we can select what we want to listen to.

5. Not sure what is happening but some HD channels cause the box to take more than double the amount of time to change channels and respond to a remote key. For example, if I am on the Fox "Cops" feed on 99W 4060 V 27780 and am watching the SD feed, the box responds normally. If though I am watching the same HD feed, it takes ~10 seconds for the box to respond to a channel change. This happens only on HD channles but not all HD channels.

6. On the subject of HD channels, what is wrong with eScapes HD? Audio sounds great but the update rate is not HD. I can't watch this. Looks like it drops frames. I assume it is an AzBox issue as I cannot believe anyone would transmit that poor of quality and represent it as HD.

7. I find the AzBox to be very sensitive to antenna position for C band S2 signals ... even on the same satellite I may have to move it. I can get some signals at position X then need to tweak the dish a couple of click west to get one and then have to go back east 3 or 4 clicks to get another. Not all S2 signals have this issue but ones that do I have learned to just tweak it and be done. Satellites that I like to watch like 103W, 101W and 87W are among the worse that have this issue for me.

8. Finally, I find h.264 channels will lock up the box if I tune to them and the signal is poor for any reason. For example, on 99W there are some ABC h.264 feeds at 4120 V 30000 and 4140 V 30000. If they are blocky when I tune them in, the box will lock up and not display anything else until a reboot. I can change channels but nothing displays and no audio is played. The only thing I can do is a power reboot. After reboot all is well unless I tune right back to the poor quality h.264 signal where it will lock again.


G-Box V3000

1. The G-Box V3000 works well through DiSEqC 1.2 once it is set up. But... a blind scan causes the software limits to be reset and the dish will go to the full east or west limit and "Error-2" out. I have learned to go to Sathint.com and just look for changes and add them manually. Blind scan is very slow anyway with the AzBox and frankly I have not found much using it.

2. Moving distances either direction virtually guarantees the count will be off. This is another widely discussed issue it seems. I track the C-band arc from 37.5 W to 131W. If I move short distances from satellite to satellite... say 91W to 99W then to 101W I find the count error is small and the dish stops close enough to get a good Q signal. If I move a large distance... say 50W to 103W at one move, but when the dish stops it will not show a signal and will always need to tweak the position using the G-Box remote control. Lots of discussion out there about reed switches but it sure acts like a bug (way too predictable and repeatable and pervasive).



Edit Software Observations:
1. Do as much as possible with the edit tools and not in the AzBox itself. Deleting satellites or more than one channel at a time or renaming a channel can cause unpredictable results if you do it via remote control and AzBox.

2. Use Filezilla *only* to retrieve the three files. Use Maz *only* to edit the files. Use ACC *only* to relaod the files back to the AzBox. Use of any other tool or mixing use of these three can (will) cause unpredictable results.

3. Even in Maz, it is always best to do one thing, save the file and reload it rather than doing several of the same thing in a row. For example, deleting multiple channels off a satellite then saving can cause unpredictable results. It is always better to delete a channel, hit save, then reload before deleting the next.

4. In Maz if you get a memory violation error, stop what you are doing, do not save the file and start over at last save.

5. If you enter frequency and SR in Maz, be sure to always add three zeros to the field. 3710 H 27000 for example must be entered in freq as: 3710000 and in SR as: 27000000

6. Not sure why there is so much discussion and concern about this being a Unix-based box though. You do not need to be a Unix-guru to use this box. Having a real good understanding of how to get a wireless connection set-up will be of more use than knowing any Unix at all.



Hope this helps someone in setting up or making a buying decision.

===
Bill
 
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Cham

VE4GLS
Pub Member / Supporter
Dec 19, 2008
2,393
962
Boonies
Nice write-up Bill.
I have two Ultras, wouldn't be without. Certainly not a beginner's box but it seems you did all right.
I'm using the OEM software, others report success using other software being less buggy..
Maybe someday someone will develop an all in one tool that can download, edit, and upload the channel lists!
-C.
 
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AcWxRadar

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
4,575
4
40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
Bill,

Did you read the A-Z Guide first or did you just jump right in to the discovery process with the AZBox on your own?
Your write up was very nicely written and flowed well, it sounds like a recitation of the manual. You have obviously
achieved a great handle on the box either way, but if you used the manual, then I am glad that you did as it seems
to have really served its purpose.

RADAR
 

wbarrett

SatelliteGuys Family
Mar 25, 2008
78
17
Jensen Beach, FL
I end up saving them in both the Az Box (as P1 - P31) and also in the V-Box by count. You are right James that having them only in the V-Box avoids the limit problem when doing a blind scan. I just figure I so rarely blind scan compared to moving the dish that I would rather not deal with two remotes and just let the Az Box control the V-Box.
 

wbarrett

SatelliteGuys Family
Mar 25, 2008
78
17
Jensen Beach, FL
Bill,

Did you read the A-Z Guide first or did you just jump right in to the discovery process with the AZBox on your own?
Your write up was very nicely written and flowed well, it sounds like a recitation of the manual. You have obviously
achieved a great handle on the box either way, but if you used the manual, then I am glad that you did as it seems
to have really served its purpose.

RADAR
I absolutely devoured the A-Z Guide and everything else I could get my hands on to include back-dated posts on this forum and most others that have anything to do with Az Boxes or FTA. Your posts, RADAR, and your write up were definitely a big help especially when trying to figure out what tools to use and what files to get off the box.

I felt the things I highlighted above were simply those items that I needed clarification on or in some way or that I had a discovery on my own. For example... I mention the lack of audio controls. I never saw that anywhere.
 

AcWxRadar

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
4,575
4
40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
I absolutely devoured the A-Z Guide and everything else I could get my hands on to include back-dated posts on this forum and most others that have anything to do with Az Boxes or FTA. Your posts, RADAR, and your write up were definitely a big help especially when trying to figure out what tools to use and what files to get off the box.

I felt the things I highlighted above were simply those items that I needed clarification on or in some way or that I had a discovery on my own. For example... I mention the lack of audio controls. I never saw that anywhere.

Bill,

That's excellent!

I do understand the audio issue. Fortunately, there are very few channels percentage wise that this exists on. Unfortunately, there are few work-around methods available that fit all or any. I guess that is the reason that there is not anything (or extremely little) in written word about that subject.

The AZBox sports a kin to a Love/Hate relationship. It's a superb box, top of the line, but it can make you pull your hair out on occasions.
Once a person has become used to it, it really is a breeze, but there are may things to learn and remember (specific and weird rules).

RADAR
 

Valasante

SatelliteGuys Family
Oct 24, 2010
48
0
49n 2.2e
I find Wbarret's posting very interesting and informative. I agree with him that the power supply was made for Europe because it has never been an issue on European forums. I have had my Abox Premmium for almost three years but have never had as problem with the power supply or any hardware problem. I except for BBC HD which often locks the RCU I have no problems with all others on the 36 satellite channels. I found that this disappeared when I created a swap memory.
 

AcWxRadar

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
4,575
4
40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
2. I did have the AzBox external power supply die on me within a few months. It was a component failure that took out an internal fuse. This appears to be a wider ranged problem that has been addressed in production. Got a warranty replacement; so far so good. If it goes again I plan on building my own using separate +24V and +12V power supplies and just wire them to the AxBox connector. That little power supply gets way to hot. I suspect it was designed in Europe for 240VAC and therefore draws double the current when running on US 120VAC.

I find Wbarret's posting very interesting and informative. I agree with him that the power supply was made for Europe because it has never been an issue on European forums. I have had my Abox Premmium for almost three years but have never had as problem with the power supply or any hardware problem.

The issue of the power supply failures has nothing to do at all with the European voltage/frequency power supply vs what is available to the U.S. electrical consumers. The failures were definitely component quality issues. You will find that more and more electrical products will be factory set-up to operate automatically from 100 - 240 VAC 50/60 Hz from stock without need to move a selector switch on the device by the end user.

RADAR
 

Valasante

SatelliteGuys Family
Oct 24, 2010
48
0
49n 2.2e
I agree with Radar that Opensat has quality issues. My knowledge of these technical issues are dated because years ago when I moved to Europe most of my equipment though converted had problems. I bought Azbox Me in December and to my surprise, I found no user manual even though Neutrino image is very rare and setting it up was no easy task. Only my knowledge of Enigma helped me through since they are very similar. When I called them they said the manual will be available soon. To date I have no feedback.
 

wbarrett

SatelliteGuys Family
Mar 25, 2008
78
17
Jensen Beach, FL
The issue of the power supply failures has nothing to do at all with the European voltage/frequency power supply vs what is available to the U.S. electrical consumers. The failures were definitely component quality issues. You will find that more and more electrical products will be factory set-up to operate automatically from 100 - 240 VAC 50/60 Hz from stock without need to move a selector switch on the device by the end user.

RADAR


What I was referring to was a design related issue, Radar, not the fact that they use 50 Hz and 240VAC in particular. This is actually a fairly common circuit design flaw that actually *causes* component failures (I know.. I did it myself years ago.)

Power = Current x Voltage. So in a European application for a given automatic power supply, the current is X. But in the US application for that same power level, if voltage is halved the current is doubled. A component can get twice it's rated current and burn out if it is not rated properly or of sufficient quality. I'd bet dollars to donuts that a Az Box power supply running in the US operates at a much higher tempature than the same one running in Europe.

So you are right in that it is one poor quality component that is failing and taking out a fixed mount fuse when it shorts ... but given the other aspects of the Az Box design I just have to believe there were other oversights like this.

===
Bill
 

stargaze

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jul 14, 2010
916
56
Out there somewhere
"what is wrong with eScapes HD? Audio sounds great but the update rate is not HD. I can't watch this. Looks like it drops frames. I assume it is an AzBox issue as I cannot believe anyone would transmit that poor of quality"

eScapes had made changes to their video about a month after they started airing their channel. This change they did has that effect on the Azbox. Before the change the video was fantastic.

As for the Azbox being a big headache, I will say this, If you can not use a computer to do some things then it would appear this way as You Need to use some editor tools once in awhile to obtain the best results. If one does not know how to use a computer then they should not purchase an Azbox as they will never be satisfied with it.

Depending on the firmware one is using they could have a corrupt satellite in their list which will cause problems. this also causes problems with some editor programs such as Maz as well with the program giving error results or crashing on you. But one has to remember that these editor programs were made by private individuals to help with certain projects to obtain the best results with the Azbox and they were not made by Opensat.

If one has a corrupt sat/channel list then you will experience many different hair pulling events when you least expect it. If you have a good stable sat/channel list then you will enjoy a long happy experience with this receiver.

Power supply issues have been noted long ago and some dealers have offered to fix them properly for their customers. I have 4 azboxs and none of my power supplies ever gave me a problem in over 2 years.

As for audio issues, a simple search on many forums would have given the answer to that question on the NBC audio. There is only one I use and it works fine but the Azbox when it scans those channels usually goes to the first audio pid on the list and if it is not correct then you need to make that change yourself. Once it is changed properly it usually stays where you place it if done properly.

Remember this STB was never designed for North America, It was designed for Europe and N.A. was an afterthought and not that large of a market for this receiver. All the editor programs were designed by individuals in Europe as no one in N.A. seemed intelligent enough to create one of their own to share with others.
Will this receiver do everything? No, but it does alot more then most other receivers out there and so far I know of no other STB that will do 4:2:2 signals and even those yet to appear on the market will not have that ability.

As for quality control, well these are not made in the USA. It is all about cost these days so many places do try to use cheaper materials and quality control may not exist the way it should in some places.

When the ME was being sent to the production line some key personnel at OpenSat left the company and this left the software for the New receiver and previous Azbox's up in the air. One reason there has not been any updates in the firmware for the Azbox. OpenSat decided to go the opensource route for the firmware and this left it up to individuals to create the firmware for these receivers.
Not the style I would have chosen and it has not been an easy task to accomplish and I am sure it has hampered their sales for their new line of receivers.
The longer it takes the more their market share will dwindle, but for the diehards out there who want those 4:2:2 signals this is the only STB that will get them.

To anyone else maybe they should get the new microhd box coming out in the next couple weeks, or until Opensat gets their act together, which is a roll of the dice on how long that will take right now.

But in all honesty, with 4 Azbox's here I do not have the problems many others have and I use them all on a daily basis.
I have my own sat/channel lists in my receivers set to my particular setup here and these azbox's are still the swiss army knife of STB's out there to date for receiving satellite signals.
 

wbarrett

SatelliteGuys Family
Mar 25, 2008
78
17
Jensen Beach, FL
Stargaze... regarding this: "As for audio issues, a simple search on many forums would have given the answer to that question on the NBC audio. There is only one I use and it works fine but the Azbox when it scans those channels usually goes to the first audio pid on the list and if it is not correct then you need to make that change yourself. Once it is changed properly it usually stays where you place it if done properly."


The first audio issue I have is not that the audio changes, it is that I only get left OR right or center audio on NBC and NBC alone and that I cannot get all three to come in at the same time. I can use the YELLOW key to switch to left OR right OR center and it stays but NBC seems to transmit left audio for news but center for some commericals and right for yet others. The forums seem to be saying I need a mixer to make this work... surely that can't be right!

The second audio issue I have is with channels that put TV audio on left and some other radio station on the right channel. I cannot figure out how to turn off one of those audios so I can only listen to one or the other.


Az Box is the first and only FTA receiver I have ever used so any hints sure would be appreciated. BTW... I am using the S/PDIF optical output and not the RCA or HDMI audio outputs.

===
Bill
 
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AcWxRadar

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
4,575
4
40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
My observation after 1 year of owning a AZ Box Premium Plus....don't use it unless you absolutely have to. It's a major headace :facepalm.

Jim,

I honestly cannot agree with your statement here wholly. Truly, it could be a lot better, I agree with that. But, the box can do a lot of really nice and amazing things if you are willing to be patient with it. Some items need a bit of extra "gloss" in order to overcome their stigma. But, in all fairness, there are many boxes out there which are much worse and do less.

Remember this STB was never designed for North America, It was designed for Europe and N.A. was an afterthought and not that large of a market for this receiver. All the editor programs were designed by individuals in Europe as no one in N.A. seemed intelligent enough to create one of their own to share with others.

Will this receiver do everything? No, but it does alot more then most other receivers out there and so far I know of no other STB that will do 4:2:2 signals and even those yet to appear on the market will not have that ability.

But in all honesty, with 4 Azbox's here I do not have the problems many others have and I use them all on a daily basis.
I have my own sat/channel lists in my receivers set to my particular setup here and these azbox's are still the swiss army knife of STB's out there to date for receiving satellite signals.

I summarized some of StarGaze's pertinent points above and to all of these, I agree. Having used many different makes and models of IRD's, I must say that no box is without its own set of pros and cons. The biggest problem of any box is that it always has critics. It is human nature to dwell upon the negative as that is what annoys us most. This is, however, a good thing as it is also what instills within us the desire to set out to improve it or search for solutions or resolutions.

One thing that I can state is this. There was a period early on when I first bought my AZBox when I began to question my purchase. At first this box was the cat's meow and I was thrilled with a new box. Then the newness wore off and as I discovered all the potentials of the box, I also discovered its deficiencies. But, as time wore on, I began to find all the loopholes and tricks to overcome the deficiencies. Today, I am quite confident and pleased with the AZBox.

RADAR
 
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mr3p

SatelliteGuys Pro
Pub Member / Supporter
Jan 1, 2010
1,191
166
West
I like my Ultra but the decision of whether to use/purchase an AZbox comes down to whether you want or need ability to receive 4:2:2 feeds. If you don't care about 4:2:2, I'd probably get a MicroHD and I will be. :)
 

pro96

You Member, Member ?
Supporting Founder
Jul 18, 2005
6,459
11
OC
I like my Ultra but the decision of whether to use/purchase an AZbox comes down to whether you want or need ability to receive 4:2:2 feeds. If you don't care about 4:2:2, I'd probably get a MicroHD and I will be. :)

To me azbox is still the best Standalone Satellite receiver hand down. And as an owner of one of them..I sure wont be buying that "other" receiver mentioned.

Sent from my SPH-D710 using Tapatalk
 

stargaze

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jul 14, 2010
916
56
Out there somewhere
To me azbox is still the best Standalone Satellite receiver hand down. And as an owner of one of them..I sure wont be buying that "other" receiver mentioned.

While The Azbox does have some advantages, I would not discount the MicroHD from what I have heard of it.
There will be some signals that the new MicroHD may be able to pull in that the Azbox can not except that it will not do any 4:2:2 signals.
We all have hope that there would be that one receiver that will do it all but I do not believe this will ever happen for us here in N.A..
 

donaldelee

SatelliteGuys Family
Jul 7, 2006
109
0
What I was referring to was a design related issue, Radar, not the fact that they use 50 Hz and 240VAC in particular. This is actually a fairly common circuit design flaw that actually *causes* component failures (I know.. I did it myself years ago.)

Power = Current x Voltage. So in a European application for a given automatic power supply, the current is X. But in the US application for that same power level, if voltage is halved the current is doubled. A component can get twice it's rated current and burn out if it is not rated properly or of sufficient quality. I'd bet dollars to donuts that a Az Box power supply running in the US operates at a much higher tempature than the same one running in Europe.

So you are right in that it is one poor quality component that is failing and taking out a fixed mount fuse when it shorts ... but given the other aspects of the Az Box design I just have to believe there were other oversights like this.

===
Bill
It would appear to be simply: Ohms law. IER: Volts, Ohms, Amperes. I have had my Azbox for over two years. It was purchased at the same time everyone was having problems with the power supply. I have always put my STB to sleep. Never turning it off. And, I have never unplugged the power supply. When one disturbs the amperes, volts, ohms [Ohms law] then, one can expect failure.
 
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