Gadgetry and IT

Sky HD box shows FAILED a lot, and broken picture

Sky HD box internals (thanks to Satcure)

My second gadget-related failure of the weekend was my Sky HD box, which had spent the last two days showing a couple of problems: scheduled recordings were showing “FAILED” even though their transmission time hadn’t been reached yet; and the picture was breaking up, but oddly only on certain channels. Of course, nobody buys Sky’s expensive warranties, and they charge £65 to come and take a look, so as ever with these things, it’s off to Google. This was a hard one to track down, because it’s difficult to describe the problems in the same way as everyone else, but it turns out that loads (and I mean loads) of people are having the same problem. It’s caused by some cheap capacitors in the Sky HD box power supply unit failing: this apparently leads to interference with specific channels, and the clock racing ahead into the future, so that recordings appear to have failed even though the time to record them hasn’t actually happened yet.

Here is a long discussion about Sky HD and Sky+ power supply failures and here is another one about the same subject of Sky HD recording and picture blocking failures. However, you may wish to jump straight to the solutions, which come from a company called Satcure in Telford, which is behind the first discussion forum above.

  1. If you’re a dab hand with a soldering iron, read the notes and for £10.95 buy a capacitor upgrade kit from Satcure and replace the offending components with some decent ones;
  2. If you’re OK with a screwdriver and some fiddly stuff, extract your power supply unit and send it back to Satcure to replace the offending components with some decent ones for £32.95;
  3. Find a local repairer who is familiar with the problem (don’t just go to any old TV shop) – there’s a list here – I guess this’ll cost at least £50, but get a quote based on the information above;
  4. Buy a new Sky HD box – £199 (see the small print there);

I opted for the second option, using these great notes here. It only took 5 minutes to remove the power supply, although I’ve always been someone who takes electronic stuff to bits, so the operation didn’t hold any fear. It took longer to package it all up safely, and longer still to walk down to the post office and queue up to post it. Fortunately we have our old Sky+ box from pre-HD days, so that’s now resumed service in the lounge. I’ll report back on Satcure’s service.

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