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The (Un)Official Sony DHG-HDD250/500 Resource Guide

Online Since:  04/01/2006 01:30:00

 

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General Info/Comments

The Sony DHG-HDD250 and its nearly identical twin, the HDD500 (with 500GB of hard drive space), are high definition Digital Video Recorders that were released in the Fall of 2004. It has since been discontinued, but there is still demand for them, as these DVRs are part of the small minority of devices capable of recording both OTA and cable broadcasts (both analog and digital), and includes the ability to tune and record premium cable channels (with the use of a CableCard).

Some of the key features of the DVR's are:

One of the main attractions of the device is the fact that there is no subscription fee like there is with Tivo or other cable company DVRs. On the other hand, there is still some uncertainty about whether the DVR will still be able to receive the necessary guide data once the analog shutoff takes place. The guide data is currently transmitted in the vertical blanking interval (VBI) of the analog television transmission. Once analog signals are shut down, there is concern that the DVR won't be able to receive guide info via digital TV transmissions.

See Section 2.3 - The Future of TVGOS for more details.

 

The (Un)Official Sony DHG-HDD250/500 FAQ

 

Document Formatting Details:

This document uses the following conventions:

<BUTTON NAME>

{Menu Name}

(Just stuff that normally goes in parentheses)


1. DGH-HDD250/500

1.1  General

1.1.1  Where can I get the User Manual?
1.1.2  Any quirks for analog versus digital OTA?
1.1.3  Is there a phone/ethernet connection on this unit?
1.1.4  What is 'Demo Mode'?
1.1.5  What is the USB port used for?
1.1.6  Is there a way to replace a dead hard drive?
1.1.7  Is there a way to add a second hard drive in an HDD250?
1.1.8  How do you check which firmware version is being used?
1.1.9  What is the latest version of the firmware?
1.1.10  Can you update your own firmware to the latest version, is it necessary?
1.1.11  Does it have RCA inputs to record from satellite/other?
1.1.12  Where can I find the GPL/LGPL source code for this unit?

1.2  Operation

1.2.1  Can you use the remote to change the display format?
1.2.2  Can you use the remote to change the aspect ratio?
1.2.3  How about switching between OTA and cable?
1.2.4  Can I manually set the clock?
1.2.5  Can you pause & rewind a program during scheduled recording (my Zenith does not let you do this)?
1.2.6  If I'm watching a program and then decide to record it, will it record from the beginning?
1.2.7  How do I reset the unit?
1.2.8  Is there a way to access a hidden service menu?
1.2.9  How do I default the unit to factory settings?
1.2.10  Where is the <PREVIOUS CHANNEL> button?
1.2.11  Are there discrete remote control codes for <ON> and <OFF>?
1.2.12  When I pause I am no longer watching Live TV. Is there a one button solution for instantly going back to Live TV?
1.2.13  Is there a way that I can press <RECORD> to have it record, and <STOP> to have it stop recording, like a VCR does?
1.2.14  Can you record HD channels that are 4 digits? (i.e. 1810, 1837, etc)?
1.2.15  Where can I find out my hard drive usage?
1.2.16  What do each of the 9012 service menu commands do?
1.2.17  What are each of the 1234 system menu options?
1.2.18  Why doesn't the "Smart Cue Adjust" feature work on my device?

1.3  Errors

1.3.1  What is error 161-X (where "X" is a numeric value)?

1.4  Tips

1.4.1  For Pronto NG owners:

2. TVGOS (TV Guide On Screen)

2.1  General

2.1.1  What is TV Guide On Screen (Gemstar Guide Plus+), and how does it work?
2.1.2  I (finally) got TVGOS listings but I only have days 1,2,8.  Is something wrong?
2.1.3  Where does the TVGOS data come from?
2.1.4  No, I mean Where on the VBI does the TVGOS data come from?
2.1.5  What station is broadcasting TVGOS data in my area?
2.1.6  Can I contact TV Guide On Screen for help?
2.1.7  How do I find my Host Channel?
2.1.8  When to the guide data downloads take place?
2.1.9  Are there other (non-guide) download times during the day?
2.1.10  How do I check my downloadable TVGOS firmware version?

2.2  Operation

2.2.1  Is there a way to jump through the TVGOS listings instead of scrolling?
2.2.2  Is there a service menu(s) for TVGOS?
2.2.3  How do I make the TVGOS use High-Res mode (shows more info per page) if I'm on a 480 (SD) screen?
2.2.4  How do I lock the channel in the TVGOS guide screen so that it doesn't change as I scroll through the channels?
2.2.5  How do I reorder the Channel Listings in The TVGOS?
2.2.6  In the Rec List, I can't get anything to play. What's wrong?
2.2.7  Is there a User Manual for the TVGOS system?

2.3  The Future of TVGOS

2.3.1  The potential problem with receiving guide data after February 17, 2009
2.3.2  Will TVGOS continue operation after the analog shutoff date?
2.3.3  What about these DVRs? Will they still work?

3. Tips and Tricks

3.1  Host channel tricks
3.2  Lockup Problem Resolution

1.0  DGH-HDD250/500

1.1  General

1.1.1  Where can I get the User Manual?

You can download the User Manual here or from Sony here.

1.1.2  Any quirks for analog versus digital OTA?

None Reported.

1.1.3  Is there a phone/ethernet connection on this unit?

No, there is an area for an ethernet jack on the main board and a punch-out in the case, but that's it.

1.1.4  What is 'Demo Mode'?

This is a mode used for retailers to display their units.  It allows a recorded program to replay indefinitely.  See this document for more information.

Demo mode can be cancelled or turned on using the 9012 menu (see Section 1.2.16).

If your DVR is in Demo Mode (i.e. you bought an open box unit from a store that was using it as an HD demo source for their SXRD TV's), and you are unable to get it out, it has been reported that one way to cancel it is to use the "Wipe Unit" option in the Hidden Front Panel menu (as described in Section 1.2.8). Obviously, this is done at your own risk.

1.1.5  What is the USB port used for?

Sony says: "Reserved for future use".  From the experimentation done by some people it seems to be a bootable port.  Meaning this could be used for firmware updates.  Since this is Linux we are dealing with, it could eventually lead to external storage with the right hacks to the firmware (Pure speculation on my part).

1.1.6  Is there a way to replace a dead hard drive?

Not that we are aware of.  There are some people working on this now, but there hasn't been any success yet. It appears that Sony implemented methods to prevent this from working (perhaps the drive's serial number is encoded on the mainboard?).

1.1.7  Is there a way to add a second hard drive in an HDD250?

See section 1.1.6

1.1.8  How do you check which firmware version is being used?

<MENU>  {Preferences}  {System} {System Menu}

1.1.9  What is the latest version of the firmware?

Version:  1.2.13

1.1.10  Can you update your own firmware to the latest version, is it necessary?

Yes, but you do it at your own risk. A copy of the 1.2.13 version of the firmware has been posted online. This is a link to a .zip file containing the update files. The contents of the .zip file should be placed on an empty USB flash drive, where the volume label of the drive must be "SONYHDD500" (without the quotes). The drive must also be formatted as FAT32. Successful updates have been reported by using a 256MB Lexar JumpDrive.

If the files are unpacked correctly, there should be a SONY folder at the root of the drive, and this folder will contain 3 files: MSDDF.BIN, SIGN.DAT, and TARGET.CFS..

To install the update, you insert the USB drive into the port on the back of the DVR while it is turned on. The DVR should pop up a message stating that a new version of the software is available. Pressing "OK" will start the update process. Don't touch anything while the update is running.

NOTE: It has been reported that unplugging the DVR for 30 seconds, plugging it back in, and waiting for it to fully reboot before attempting the firmware upgrade has helped some people to get the firmware to "take". These individuals found that the DVR wouldn't respond to the insertion of the flash drive until they did this unplug.

The reported versions of firmware are :1.2.05, 1.2.06, 1.2.09, and 1.2.13 (after factory update and this user-performed firmware update).

1.1.11  Does it have RCA inputs to record from satellite/other?

No.

1.1.12  Where can I find the GPL/LGPL source code for this unit?

You can find it from Sony here.

1.2  Operation

1.2.1  Can you use the remote to change the display format?

Yes, with the FORMAT button. It toggles through the various fixed formats (1080i, 720p, 480i, 480p), then through some "variable" formats, and "native" (which makes the output format match the input format). However, the "variable" and "native" formats tend to slow down the channel changes when they require a video format change.

1.2.2  Can you use the remote to change the aspect ratio?

Yes, the SCREEN button toggles through various choices for aspect ratio conversion. These choices seem to vary depending on the current input and output video formats.

1.2.3  How about switching between OTA and cable?

The channel list is integrated, so you don't have to explicitly switch. OTA and cable channels are combined in a numerically ordered list. Just channel up/down or 10-key to the channel that you want. In the program guide, you can customize the ordering of the channels to suit your needs.

1.2.4  Can I manually set the clock?

The short answer is NO, however I have been able to reset the clock back to 12:00 by using the 753159852 G* default option.  Resets to 12:00 am 01/01/2004. So for example, if you reset the recorder on Feb 1 at 12 am, the time and day of month will be same as with the current time, but you must make adjustment for month and year since unit will be behind by one month and two years. See section 1.2.16 for another method for setting the clock if your host channel has been established.
 

1.2.5  Can you pause & rewind a program during scheduled recording (my Zenith does not let you do this)?

Yes.

1.2.6  If I'm watching a program and then decide to record it, will it record from the beginning?

Yes, sort of.  It will record from the time you started watching it up to the amount of time set for "Pause Live TV" (30 minutes by default).  I suggest you set your "Pause Live TV" time to at least 60 minutes (90 if you record a lot of Sports).  Please note that your recording allotment will be reduced by the amount of time you select. The easiest way to do this is to press <GUIDE>, make sure that the program you want is highlighted, and then press the Record button within the guide. This should start the recording without the need for adjusting recording options.

1.2.7  How to I reset the unit?

There are 2 reset options:

Warm Reboot:  Press <EXIT> and <TV GUIDE> buttons on the front of the unit simultaneously.
Cold Reboot:  Unplug the unit from the AC power source for at least 60 seconds.  This method will stress the units power supply and is not recommended as the warm reboot will accomplish the same results.

These resets won't erase your programs.
You will lose your clock.
OK - apparently the front panel reset can/will reset all of the guide data.

For information on defaulting the unit see section 1.2.9 and 1.2.16.

1.2.8  Is there a way to access a hidden service menu?

Yes, there are several service menus.  Most are accessed by pressing <MENU> <SCREEN MODE> <XXXX> where XXXX is a 4 digit number.

Service Menu 9012
System Menu 1234
Skip Setup 1120

The 9012 menu and the 1234 menu are described in Sections 1.2.16 and 1.2.17. The Skip Setup menu allows you to skip the initial setup when you turn on the DVR for the first time. This is useful for Demo Mode (see Section 1.1.4).

Hidden Front Panel Menu --- Warning:  This may be dangerous - use at your own risk!!!!

When the unit boots up, the instant Welcome appears, press and hold Menu and Format simultaneously. Keep holding until the display says Repair?. Release both keys.

Then press and hold one of the following keys:

* Format to get Clear NVM? (NVM = non-volatile memory)
* Select to get Zero HDD? (resets CPRM code? does not appear to modify the disk itself)
* Exit to get Wipe Unit? (performs both a Clear NVM and Zero HDD in one operation)

Release the key.

Once one of the above questions is displayed, there is a lengthy confirmation step to actually execute the operation. You'll notice there's a 1 displayed above the operation name.

1. Press and hold Guide until the number changes to a 2 (takes about 5 seconds).
2. Release Guide and press Exit until the number changes to a 3.
3. Release Exit and press Format until the number changes to a 4 - the operation will then begin.
 

There is also a TVGOS menu, see section 2.2.2

1.2.9  How do I default the unit to factory settings?

To default the unit to out of the box settings do the following:

Enter the 9012 service menu. Choose the {Restore Factory Default} option. You will then get a warning message telling you that all recorded programs will be erased, and all user settings will be reset to the defaults.

1.2.10  Where is the <PREVIOUS CHANNEL> button?

Oops, Sony forgot to include one.  The unit is capable of doing Last/Previous Channel, the button just isn't on the remote.  If you use a Harmony remote you can assign that function to a button.  There is also a Hex code for Pronto (and maybe others).

Previous Channel:
0000 0067 0000 0015 0060 0018 0018 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0018 01c2

1.2.11  Are there also discrete remote control codes for <ON> and <OFF>?

Yes (Pronto codes for code set 50):

On:
0000 0067 0000 0015 0060 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0018 01D8

Off:
0000 0067 0000 0015 0060 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0018 0018 0018 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0030 0018 0018 01C2
 

There are also codes for Code set 51. See Remote Central:

 

1.2.12  When I pause/play, or hit replay, I am no longer watching Live TV. Is there a one button solution for instantly going back to Live TV?

Yes, press the <NEXT> button.
 

1.2.13  Is there a way that I can press <RECORD> to have it record, and <STOP> to have it stop recording, like a VCR does?

Yes, there is just 1 extra button press required:

To record a live show:   Press <GUIDE> , then press <RECORD> for one second. Recording will start from the time you tuned in the station, up to (30,60,90  see 1.2.6) minutes in advance of the time you pressed record.

To stop recording:  Press <STOP>, a list will pop up that says "stop recording" - it will already be set on this command, as it's the very first one at the top of a list of four - all you have to do is press <SELECT> and it stops - it's that simple.

1.2.14  Can you record HD channels that are 4 digits? (i.e. 1810, 1837, etc.)?

No.  Sony is supposedly working on a fix for this.  It is not working as of Firmware Version: 1.2.13

UPDATED 8/22/06: This may actually be working after all - I just tried this once again, and it the channel editor WILL allow me to enter a 4-digit channel number into the "tune channel" field. I don't have any cable channels at these high numbers, but the number does seem to "stick" after leaving the channel editor menu screen. I don't think I actually checked this when after I got my DVR updated to the new 1.2.13 firmware version. Others had reported that it didn't fix the problem, so I assumed that this was the case. I can't verify that you can actually record these channels, since the DVR doesn't seem to record anything if you are tuned to a channel that doesn't exist.

UPDATED 8/24/06: It has been reported that the downloadable TVGOS firmware version 8.06.30 has fixed the 4-digit channel input bug. However, only channel numbers up to 1023 can be entered. (Not a very big improvement, obviously). See Section 2.1.10 for info on finding this firmware version.

1.2.15  Where can I find out my hard drive usage?

<Menu> - {Preferences} - {System} - {System Menu}

1.2.16  What do each of the 9012 service menu commands do?

See section 1.2.8 for instructions to access this menu. The options are as follows:

"Demo Mode": This is described in section 1.1.4.

"Restore Factory Default": Deletes all recorded programs, and resets all user settings to factory defaults.

"Format Hard Drive": Reformats the hard drive (self explanatory). It is unclear whether this only reformats the partition that contains recorded programs, or the entire drive.

"Reset User Configuration": Resets all user information to the factory default, but leaves the recorded programs intact. This doesn't appear to reset the TVGOS system, but it may ask you to confirm your zip code.

"TV Guide": This is the TVGOS sub-menu, which contains two more items:

"Reset to Factory Defaults": This menu will return the TVGOS system to factory defaults. Warning: There is no warning before this reset is done. Selecting this option immediately performs this reset.
"G* Factory Test": This is a useful menu for checking for VBI packet reception. To use this test, you must switch to your Host Channel before entering the 9012 service menu. The test will show you various info, and will count VBI packets as "Good" if all is well with your Host Channel. Don't be concerned if the Serial and IR test are shows as "Fail" on the left side. Also, the downloading of VBI data doesn't mean that you are seeing guide data packets. This shows all VBI data (which can include things like Closed Caption info). It has also been reported that performing this test on your host channel (or possibly your Clock Set channel) will reset your clock if it is inaccurate. This doesn't work, however, if your Host Channel has not yet been established.

1.2.17  What are each of the 1234 system menu options?

See section 1.2.8 for instructions to access this menu. The options are as follows:

"Main": This selection shows your Model Name, Serial Number, Geographic Location (ZIP), and has an line called "System Error". I don't know what this is - mine reads zero. There are "Done" and "Next" buttons on this page, but "Done" is the only one I can access.

"Software Main": Shows The following info (the values are from my device):

Main: 1.2.13
Date: (Blank)
Boot ROM: v2.1
Fail Safe: v3.3
Gemstar: 8.1.42
Release Version: 1.2.13
Software Version(Factory Default): 1.2.13
Software Version(Avail. for D/W): (blank)

"Software Module": This item contains two pages of information, one of which lists Device Driver info (Sony UDRD Platform Release 0.0.75), and Application Module Versions. The second page is titled "Middleware Module Version" and lists numerous versions I won't bother to list here.

"Firmware": This page lists 4 items:.

USB: Unknown
Failsafe: v3.3
BootROM: v2.1
FP Micro: 1016

"Network": Just an empty page titled "Network"

"HDD": This item contains three pages. The first page summarizes the serial (or possibly model) numbers of the drive(s), the capacity remaining on each, and the total size of each (244 GBytes in my case for HDD1). Uninstalled drives show as N/A or "Not Installed" on this page. The next page shows what appear to be S.M.A.R.T. status indicators for HDD1, and the third page lists the same for HDD 2. I would be curious to compare the readings that I see on these pages to those of you who have gotten the messages that say your HDD has recovered from and error". If interested, please let me know and I can take a digital picture of mine and post it.

"Signal": This page initially looks like it is blank, but it populates after about 5-10 seconds. It contains various diagnostic info about the channel that you were tuned to when you entered the 1234 system menu.

1.2.18  Why doesn't the "Smart Cue Adjust" feature work on my device?

There is a bug/quirk with this DVR that causes the "Smart Cue Adjust" feature to stop working if you disable any of the FF or REW speeds in the {Preferences} - {Recording} - {FF/REW Speed} Menu. If you don't know what this feature does, it steps back the playback by a certain amount when you press the Play button after Fast Forwarding (or Rewinding). This is intended to make it easier to Fast Forward (and Rewind) by preventing you from going "too far". NOTE: This was submitted by another user, but it doesn't seem to happen on my DVR. It may be that this was corrected in later firmware versions.

1.3  Errors

1.3.1  What is error 161-X (where "X" is a numeric value)?

Note: Some of this info has been gathered from other places on the web - some of them regarding the Tivo Series 3 DVR. Their application to the Sony DVR is uncertain.

161-1: This seems to be a hardware problem with the CC.  Typically, a new cablecard will resolve this issue.

161-2: This seems to be a hardware problem with the CC.  Typically, a new cablecard will resolve this issue.

161-4: This error can usually be ignored. I haven't seen it in reference to the Sony DVR, but I have seen reference to it in the Tivo support site. This error shows up most often when initially installing the card in the device.

161-6: This seems to be a hardware problem with the Sony DVR and a CC.  The only fix at this time is to send the DVR back to Sony for a electrical modification and firmware update.

1.4  Tips

1.4.1  For Pronto NG owners:

To make the DHG-HDD250/500 feel more responsive, set the minimum IR duration time to 0.17 seconds for each code.  (Note that you'll need the latest Pronto NG / ProntoPro NG firmware and editor for IR duration support.)


2  TVGOS (TV Guide On Screen) aka. Gemstar

2.1  General

2.1.1  What is TV Guide On Screen (Gemstar Guide Plus+), and how does it work?

Follow this link to get a general overview of the system.

2.1.2  I (finally) got TVGOS listings but I only have days 1,2,5, and 8.  Is something wrong?

No, this is how the TV Guide On Screen system works.  You will receive the same 1,2,5, and 8 listings every night.  The unit shifts the data every day and that is how the list is populated:

First DL: 1,2,5,8
Next DL: Day 2 moves to Day 1, a new Day 2 is downloaded, Day 5 moves to Day 4, and new Day 5 is downloaded, Day 8 moves to Day 7, a new Day 8 is downloaded.
The reasoning for this pattern is to reduce the amount of data sent, while still allowing program changes with 24 hours notice.
This progression continues until the list is populated and thereafter. A full week of data will be available on Day 3.

The guide populates like this:

  M T W T F S S M T W T F S S
Day 1 M T     F     M            
Day 2   T W   f S   m T          
Day 3     W T f s S m t W        
Day 4       T F s s M t w T      
Day 5         F S s m T w t F    
Day 6           S S m t W t f S  
Day 7             S M t w T f s S

Uppercase letters shown across each row represent NEW data.
Lowercase letters shown across each row represent old data.
UPDATE 1/23/07: Added Day 5 to the progression based on owner submissions. This means that the guide will be full after just 3 days (not 8 days as it was when the progression included days 1,2, and 8).

2.1.3  Where does the TVGOS data come from?

The TVGOS data is transmitted in the Vertical Blanking Interval (VBI) of an NTSC analog station feed.  The host station is usually a PBS affiliate, but any station can carry it. 

2.1.4  No, I mean Where on the VBI does the TVGOS data come from?

I believe it is on line 17.

2.1.5  What station is broadcasting TVGOS data in my area?

Well that depends on your area:

ZIP/ Postal
City
State/ Province
Call Sign
Network
OTA Chan
Cable Name
Cable Chan
02465 Newton MA WGBH PBS 2    
02886 Warwick RI WSBE PBS 36    
03801 Portsmouth NH WMEA PBS 26 Comcast 17
061XX
Hartford
CT
WEDH
PBS
24
Comcast
7
06378 Stonington CT WEDH PBS 24 Comcast 16
07853 Long Valley NJ WNET PBS 13 Comcast 94
10023 New York City NY WNET PBS 13 Time Warner 13
10704 Yonkers NY WNET PBS 13 Cablevision 14
10940
Middletown
NY
WNET
PBS
13
Time Warner
13
13601 Watertown NY WPBS PBS 16    
142XX Buffalo NY WNED PBS 17    
14420
Rochester
NY
WXXI
PBS
21
11
17851 Mount Carmel PA WVIA PBS 44 Service Electric 4
18036 Coopersburg PA PEG PEG   Service Electric 50
19090 Willow Grove PA WHYY PBS 12    
20009 Washington DC WMPT PBS 22 Comcast 22
20500 Washington DC WETA PBS 26    
21157 Westminster MD WMPT PBS 22    
21784 Eldersburg MD WMPT PBS 22 Adelphia 10
22032 Fairfax VA WETA PBS 26 Cox 26
2230X Alexandria VA WETA PBS 26 Comcast 94
22407
Fredericksburg
VA
WETA
PBS
26
10
23224 Richmond VA WCVE PBS 23    
27587
Raleigh
NC
WUNC
PBS
4
27609 Raleigh NC WUNC PBS 4 Time Warner 4
27613 Raleigh NC WUNC PBS 4    
28021 Cherryville NC WUNE PBS 17    
28202 Charlotte NC WSOC ABC 9 Time Warner 4
28601 Hickory NC WUNG PBS 58 Charter 12
29105
Sumter
SC
WRJA
27
11
29601
Greenville
SC
WNTV
29
29906 Beaufort SC WVAN PBS 9 Charter 9
30307 Atlanta GA WGTV PBS 8    
31410 Savannah GA WVAN PBS 9 Comcast 9
32246 Jacksonville FL WJCT PBS 7    
34112 Naples FL WINK CBS 11 Comcast 5
34228 Longboat Key FL WEDU PBS 3 Comcast 3
34484 Orlando FL WMFE PBS 24    
40214 Louisville KY WDRB FOX 41 Insight 9
40356 Nicholasville KY WKLE PBS 46 Time Warner 13
410XX
Northern Kentucky
KY
WCET
48
Insight
13
43123
Columbus
OH
WOSU
34
44102
Cleveland
OH
WVIZ
25
2
45177
Wilmington
OH
WCET
48
452XX
Cincinnati
OH
WCET
48
Time Warner
8
45402 Dayton OH WPDT PBS 16    
46041 Frankfort IN WFYI PBS 20 Comcast 11
46205 Indianapolis IN WFYI PBS 20 Brighthouse 20
46845 Fort Wayne IN WFWA PBS 39 Comcast 3
46953 Marion IN WFYI PBS 20    
48038 Clinton MI WTVS PBS 56    
48111 Detroit MI WTVS PBS 56    
49460 West Olive MI WGVU PBS 35    
49460 West Olive MI WXMI FOX   Charter Only 11
55125 Minneapolis/ St. Paul MN KSTP ABC 5    
60134 Geneva IL WBBM CBS 2 Comcast 2
60188 Carol Stream IL WTTW PBS 11    
61614
Peoria
IL
WTVP
47
Insight
12
61801 Champaign/Urbana IL WILL PBS 12 Insight 13
63138 St. Louis MO KETC PBS 9    
64155 Kansas City MO KCPT PBS 19 Time Warner 11
66071 Paola KS KCPT PBS 19    
68501
Lincoln
NE
KUON
12
70070 Luling/New Orleans LA WYES PBS 12 Cox 12
70433 Covington LA WYES PBS 12 Charter 12
72223 Little Rock AR KETS PBS 2 Comcast 3
752XX Dallas TX KERA PBS 13    
76XXX Waco TX KWTX CBS 10    
770XX
Houston
TX
KUHT
PBS
8
770XX
Houston
TX
KRIV
FOX
26
77845 College Station TX KUHT PBS 8 Cox 8
786XX
Austin (Metro)
TX
KLRU
18
787XX
Austin (Metro)
TX
KLRU
18
85022 Phoenix AZ KAET PBS 8 Cox 8
85750 Tucson AZ KUAT PBS 6 Comcast 6
87109 Albuquerque NM KOBTV NBC 4    
90503
Torrance
CA
KCET
28
91711 Claremont CA KCET PBS 28    
92037 La Jolla CA KFMB CBS 8 Time Warner 8
920XX
San Diego/Poway
CA
KFMB
CBS
8
Time Warner
8
92101
San Diego
CA
KFMB
CBS
8
92101 San Diego CA KGTV ABC 10    
92126 San Diego CA KGTV ABC 10    
92130 San Diego CA KGTV ABC 10 Time Warner Cable 10
94706
Albany
CA
KQED
9
95035 Milpitas/San Jose CA KTEH PBS 54    
95125 San Jose CA KQED   9 ? 9
95765 Rocklin CA KVIE PBS 6    
96281 Honolulu HI KHET PBS 11 Oceanic Time Warner 10
97062 Tualatin OR KOPB PBS 10    
9733X Corvallis OR KOAC PBS 7    
9740X Eugene OR KEPB PBS 28    
98026 Edmonds WA KCTS PBS 9 Comcast 9 (90)
98052 Redmond WA KCTS PBS 9 Comcast 9 (90)
98346 Kingston WA KCTS PBS 9    
99205 Spokane WA KSPS PBS 7 Comcast 90
K8NXXX Deseronto ON, CA CJOH CTV 6    
M6B1K2 Toronto ON, CA CBLFT CBC 12 Rogers 12
MXXXXX Toronto ON, CA CFTO CTV 9 Rogers 8
N2AXXX Kitchener ON, CA CKCO CTV 13    
               

If you know a zip that isn't listed, and you have Host Station information, please click here.

2.1.6  Can I contact TV Guide On Screen for help?

No.  Most problems seem to come from the host station or cable company, so they are the ones you should be contacting.  There is a number you can give to the station engineer for help though 800-386-7380, but this number is for host stations, cable companies, and manufacturers ONLY.

2.1.7  How do I find my Host Channel?

Enter the Service Menu for TVGOS (See 2.2.2)

(System Info) chart will appear.  Press <RIGHT> to go to second page.  5 entries down on the list it will say "Host Channel".  It will appear as 0:0-XX (example: 0:0-11), the XX is your Host Channel. In the example shown, the "0" (zero) PRECEDING the colon indicates that it is OTA channel 11. If the digit PRECEDING the colon is a "1", then it is showing CABLE channel 11 is the host.

2.1.8  When do the guide data downloads take place?

The download times are (all in EST):

2:21 AM (180 minutes)
7:01 AM (180 minutes)
10:06 AM (180 minutes)
1:46 PM (180 minutes)

Your DVR must be OFF to receive this information. Each of these downloads contains the same data, so only one of them is needed to get a particular day's download info.

2.1.9  Are there other (non-guide) download times during the day?

Yes there are other download times. They are (all in EST):

12:41 AM (30 minutes)
1:11 PM (30 minutes)
11:01 PM (30 minutes)
1:16 AM (60 minutes)
5:56 AM (60 minutes)
5:46 PM (60 minutes)
11:36 PM (60 minutes)

Your DVR must be OFF to receive this information. These downloads are used for stuff like settings (channel lineups, zip codes, programming providers, ads, etc).

2.1.10  How do I check my downloadable TVGOS firmware version?

Enter the TVGOS diagnostic/info menu as described in section 2.2.2. The first info screen that comes up will show the "main" firmware version on the second line (typically 8.01.42). The downloadable firmware version immediately follows this number. My downloadable firmware version is 8.06.44.

2.2  Operation

2.2.1  Is there a way to jump through the TVGOS listings instead of scrolling?

Yes, use the number pad to input a number (24 for example), a shortcut menu will pop up on the left side giving you the option to go forward or backward that many hours, or change to that channel in the listing.  As a shortcut to the shortcut, when the shortcut menu is present you can just press <RIGHT> for forward and <LEFT> for backward.

2.2.2  Is there a service menu(s) for TVGOS?>

Yes. There are actually 3 known service-menus/codes that can be accessed:

The TVGOS diagnostic/info menu: This can be accessed by pressing <GUIDE>, then moving the cursor up to the SETUP menu item on the top bar. Press <DOWN>, then 753159852. This gives you a series of screens that show info like Host Channel, VBI info, and numerous other pages of system info. One of the most useful screens is accessed by immediately pressing <RIGHT> after entering this "753..." menu. This page shows you the Host Channel (among other things).

The "VBI Search Current Channel" code: (Note: This code was previously referred to as the "Force Host Channel" code, but it was brought to my attention that this wasn't actually what it does.) This diagnostic code appears to "force" the unit to search for (and download) VBI data on a channel of your choosing. This can then lead to the correct establishment of your host channel. This can be useful in situations when there are multiple host stations in a particular area, and you want to set the system to use the strongest station. WARNING: This should only be used during initial setup, or when the guide info has been completely reset. The host channel must be BLANK, as reported in the "753..." menu above. Unexpected results can occur if the system already has a host channel and this code is used. USE THIS CODE AT YOUR OWN RISK. ONLY A FEW PEOPLE HAVE TRIED THIS SO FAR, SO PLEASE DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER IF IT MESSES THINGS UP. The procedure to use this code follows:

1. Tune to the station (either OTA or cable) that you want to use as the host.
2. Press <GUIDE> - move the cursor over the SETUP item on the top menu bar, then press <DOWN>, followed by 963214785. If the code is received properly, the "Info" message just below "Change System Settings" should say "Searching Current VBI Channel".
3. Don't touch anything. The screen should disappear after 5 minutes. Once it disappears, turn off the unit and leave it alone overnight to magically download the guide.
4. On the following day, check the host channel with the "753..." menu described above. If it shows the host channel you tuned to in Step 1, you have successfully changed it! If not, try resetting the guide info and start over.

"Reset Slicing Data" : This can be accessed by pressing <GUIDE>, then moving the cursor up to the SETUP menu item on the top bar. Press <DOWN>, then 653274147. As the description says, this resets the slicing data that appears on the "753..." menu (left-up-up), and makes it easier to see whether you are getting data after a system setting change.

2.2.3  How do I make the TVGOS use High-Res mode (shows more info per page) if I'm on a 480 (SD) screen?

Simply Press <FORMAT> to change to 1080i before pressing <GUIDE>.

2.2.4  How do I lock the video in the TVGOS guide so that it doesn't change as I scroll through?

Push <LEFT> until you are on the station icon, then press <MENU>, there you will have the option to Lock/Unlock the channel.

2.2.5  How do I reorder the Channel Listings in The TVGOS?

In TV Guide, go to {setup}, then {change channel display}. With any channel highlighted, press <LEFT>. A channel ordering number with up and down arrows will appear at the left end of the channel line. Move the channel to where you want it, using the <UP> and <DOWN> arrows!

2.2.6  In the Rec List, I can't get anything to play. What's wrong?

The default view of the recorded programs list is "Group". This means that each recording is put into a group according to title name. For example, if you record "Lost", it will show up as an entry in the list that, when selected, will pop down a list of all recordings of "Lost". To play one of these recordings (even if there is just one episode listed), you need to arrow down to the one that you want, and then select it to play it. There is a setting to set the recording list to a non-grouped list. To do this from live TV, press <Rec List> - <Menu>. In the menu that appears, change the "View as" selection from "Group" to "List", and choose {Done}.

2.2.7  Is there a User Manual for the TVGOS system?

Sort of. The manual below was found on the net, and isn't specifically for this Sony DVR. It is a TVGOS training manual for an LG Television, but there is A LOT of useful information contained in this PDF file!

TVGOS Training Manual

I noticed a couple of differences in this manual between the Sony DVR and the screenshots in the manual. Some of the things that jumped out at me were:
Pages 10-11 - The TVGOS configuration steps are different (mostly because they cover settings that don't apply to this DVR).
Page 27 - The Rec List looks a LOT different and more graphical (they show a thumbnail preview of the recordings) - this one is from a DVR version of the LG TV
The really good stuff starts on page 29 - this starts the Diagnostics Info (including the 753159852 and the 653274147 TVGOS Reset Slicing menu). There is also a lengthy FAQ section. I strongly encourage everyone to download this file and read through it!

2.3  The Future of TVGOS and the Sony DHG-HDD250/500

2.3.1  The potential problem with receiving guide data after February 17, 2009

As most of you know, analog television signals will be shut off after February 17, 2009. Since the TVGOS system currently relies on analog transmission (there is no VBI data in the digital broadcasts), some older analog devices will not be able to receive the guide after the shutoff.

2.3.2 Will TVGOS continue operation after the analog shutoff date?

Gemstar is going to continue providing a new digital version of the guide that will be carried (perhaps exclusively) by CBS stations, but it is believed that they are still in testing/deployment mode. I have also heard some confusing info about this. I have heard from Gemstar that analog devices will be supported through the use of the analog converter boxes that will be needed by anyone who wants to continue using analog TVs with OTA signals.

2.3.3 What about these DVRs? Will they still work?

At this time, the answer is a defininte "Maybe". I have heard from one person in the AVS Forums who has successfully downloaded data via a digital OTA channel. His DVR has the earliest version of the Sony Firmware (1.2.05), and the most current firmware versions of the TVGOS firmware (08.01.42/08.06.44). The only issue was that the guide would revert back to the typical analog host channel for the area. Gemstar has confirmed that software places a priority for analog hosts, so this tendency for the DVR to revert back to analog hosts makes sense.

In the above example, the person lives in the Minneapolis, MN area. It appears that most (if not all) of the CBS stations that are currently broadcasting digital TVGOS data are CBS Owned and Operated stations.

The following stations are the current CBS O&O stations (with those that have been reported to contain digital TVGOS data in yellow):

  • California - Los Angeles KCBS *
  • California - San Francisco KPIX *
  • California - Sacramento KOVR
  • Colorado - Denver KCNC
  • Florida - Miami WFOR
  • Illinois - Chicago WBBM
  • Maryland - Baltimore WJZ
  • Massachusetts - Boston WBZ
  • Michigan - Detroit WWJ/WKBD
  • Minnesota - Minneapolis WCCO *
  • New York - New York WCBS
  • Pennsylvania - Philadelphia KYW
  • Pennsylvania - Pittsburgh KDKA
  • Texas - Austin KEYE
  • Texas - Dallas KTVT
  • Utah - Salt Lake City KUTV

All in all - the future of these DVRs is still a bit uncertain, but there may be hope that these DVRs won't become doorstops after the analog shutoff. It is difficult to say how well the digital guide downloads will work until the shutoff takes place, and the analog hosts stop broadcasting. Even manual recording (without the benefit of the on-screen guide) will be difficult after the analog shutoff, since the DVR's clock CANNOT be set manually. It even relies on TV signals for proper setting of the time and date!


3  Tips and Tricks

3.1  Host Channel Tricks

If you aren't getting guide data, and you KNOW what your host channel should be (from the chart above, or from other sources), there are several things that you can check on:

- Make sure you haven't mapped your host channel to a DIGITAL channel (either OTA or cable) in the channel editor, or you WILL NOT get any guide data. The system uses ANALOG channels to transmit the guide info.

- Make sure that you haven't removed the host channel from your +/- channel list OR your TVGOS channel editor (don't turn it off in the channel editor)

- If you have used section 2.1.8 to see what your host channel is (and it is wrong), you can try going into the channel editor and mapping the station that the TVGOS is reporting as the host channel to the correct host channel number (analog). This is also useful for situations where you have an all-digital lineup (this happens for some cablecard configurations), and the cable company has created an analog duplicate of the host station feed that is specifically intended for sending TVGOS data. These channels are usually in the 90-99 range. Sometimes, this channel might not even have a picture if you try tuning to it. It has been reported in the AVS Forums that TVGOS data has been received on a "blank" analog station.


3.2  Lockup Problem Resolution

Some people have reported their DVR locks up and become unresponsive to remote commands while it is recording. The recording may continue and finish normally if too many button presses aren't tried during this unresponsive time. If too many buttons are pressed, the DVR may reboot itself.

This problem has been traced to situations when the TVGOS guide has been updated to add new HD channels (at the bottom of the channel editor). This happened to several user at the same time in the Minneapolis area. The reason for the TVGOS channel additions causing the lockups isn't known, but there appears to be a solution (special thanks to "WhatHappened" in the AVS forums for posting the solution).

The steps to correct the issue are as follows:

- Turn off the DVR
- Remove both the cablecard and the coax cable feed to the to DVR
- Perform a full channel scan. This will take some time, and after the scan, you should have zero channels.
- Perform the 9012 "Reset User Configuration" (see Sections 1.2.16 and 1.2.8) - the DVR will reboot
- Reinsert the cablecard, and reconnect the coax cable feed
- Rescan the antenna channels (if you have one connected)
- Perform the 9012 menu, TVGOS - "Reset to Factory Default" - This will delete all future scheduled recordings and delete any channel reordering that was done. WARNING - this is the one under the TVGOS menu in the 9012 menu, NOT THE ONE IN THE FIRST LEVEL OF THE 9012 menu - choosing the wrong one WILL DELETE ALL RECORDED PROGRAMS.
- Make sure that you haven't removed the host channel from your +/- channel list OR your TVGOS channel editor (don't turn it off in the channel editor)
- Redo the TVGOS setup (enter your zip code, etc)
- Leave the DVR off overnight so it can reacquire the guide

The above steps should restore normal functionality.

Date Changes
10/05/07 Added 28202 ZIP code
11/26/07 Added link to remotecentral.com in Section 1.2.11
01/03/08 Added 45402 ZIP code
2/8/08 Updated Section 1.1.10 (Firmware updates), Section 2.1.11 (updated the current version of the TVGOS downloadable version number), and added Section 3.2 (Lockup Problem Resolution)
2/9/08 Updated Section 1.1.4 (Demo Mode) and Section 1.2.8.
2/21/08 Added 10704 ZIP code
2/26/08 Added 40356 ZIP code
3/1/08 Updated "Signal" page description of Section 1.2.17.
3/11/08 Updated Section 1.1.10 to add suggestion to unplug the DVR for 30 seconds prior to attempting firmware update.
4/11/08 Revised first sections of the page (including summary info and comments about the analog shutoff), added ZIP code 76574, modified cable channels for ZIP 98052, added Amazon.com links.
05/03/08 Added 46205 ZIP code
05/10/08 Added additional entry for 49460 ZIP code (note - WXMI is not the OTA channel in this area - it is only for Charter cable)
7/6/08 Added 17851 ZIP code
7/30/08 Added 18036 ZIP code
   

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