TechniSat Skystar2 – The Final Solution

I apologize profusely, but the title is ironic. There actually is no real solution, I took another DVB card. And this after more than 5 years of agony.

Tonight I had a dream. In this dream I had a time machine. Many people would definitely do a lot crazy and interesting things with a time machine. But I would travel back in time, to the day where I was about to come to a decision which DVB card to buy for my new Home Theater PC running with VDR, and I would prevent me buying the Skystar2 DVB card somehow.

This story is a long one, and I will spare you the whole tale of woe, and what all I tried to make this card work flawlessly.

Two month ago I set up a new media system for my mother with recent hardware and a current Linux (Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10), and to make this as cheap as possible I put a Skystar2 budget card into this machine. I’ve installed an Open Source Media Center application, called MyMediaSystem (MMS), where I am a more or less active member, and afterwards I’ve installed VDR. This application is the preferred TV frontend for MMS, and all started to work pretty smooth.

Few days later my mother gave me a call, and told me, the “TV” is unusable, and she wants her old DVB-receiver back.
I was curious (and of course also a bit pissed), and wanted to know, what was precisely going on.

After a while I figured out, a strange effect affected the functionality of the whole USB device, where also the MCE remote were connected to, as well as the wireless keyboard (Trust KB-2950). My mom couldn’t control her MMS neither VDR anymore. But even if she could, the VDR showed only “NO SIGNAL”, because the stv0299 frontend driver of the Skystar2 crashed.

The next day I told this, more in a casual manner, to my wife while we had supper, and expressed my astonishment about this situation. I’ve asked, why my mother’s configuration isn’t working properly, but ours do. My wife answered, that the “NO SIGNAL” also occurs to her about one or two times a day, but she only stopped mentioning this years ago. When this irrevertible “NO SIGNAL” appears, she restarts VDR with the remote control. Our remote control isn’t connected via USB, so the remote kept working.

I’m almost not watching TV at all. And the few times I did, I also suffered from this “NO SIGNAL” thing, but I put it down to my wild zapping on satellites where the signal was already known to be week. The dish is optimized for reception of the satellites Astra and Hot Bird. Sirius and Amos doesn’t work reliable for all channels, and they do also have a different footprints.

An old full-featured Technotrend DVB card brought the solution, and my mom could watch TV without glitches. I’ve of course tried to find the exact reason for the problem, but after I’ve found this thread at kernel.org I started to remember again. It seemed Skystar2 driver b2c2-flexcop-pci never worked properly. And I remembered again, that the reason for my decision to buy the card, was an entry at vdr-wiki.de. There, the Skystar2 told be working with Linux, and so I bought it. I’ve tried several month to make this DVB card work, but suffered from endless “emergency exits”, what is nothing else but continues VDR restart every 30 second.


After complaining somewhere in a forum, the entry at vdr-wiki regarding the Skystar2 was modified, and since then you can read an additional remark, which says: “Attention: With current DVB-CVS drivers (since 2005-06-22) without problems, else with EPG-scan disabled.
Well – this is definitely not true for me and neither for these guys here.

I bought a Technotrend TT-budget S-1500 for 50 bucks few weeks ago and all is fine since then.

Where stv0299 glitches with the Skystar2, the TT-budget shows green squared distortions, but I do not get the “NO SIGNAL” thing anymore, and there’s no need to restart anything. Also my mother doesn’t call me anymore.

Well – does anybody know, how a time machine can be build, or can anybody borrow me one for a short trip? I just need to change a single and little vdr-wiki entry five year ago – from “supported by VDR = yes” into “no – not really“.

These are samples of errors I got, and didn’t find a solution for:

May  7 17:30:30 sun vdr: [13827] frontend 1 lost lock on channel 350, tp 112111
May  7 17:31:49 sun vdr: [13827] frontend 1 timed out while tuning to channel 862, tp 112449
May  7 17:37:37 sun kernel: [434091.403589] DVB: frontend 1 frequency 5551000 out of range (950000..2150000)
May  7 17:37:37 sun vdr: [13827] ERROR: frontend 1: Invalid argument
May  7 17:22:01 sun kernel: [433153.212355] b2c2-flexcop: i2c master_xfer failed
May  7 17:22:46 sun vdr: [13820] cTS2PES got 20 TS errors, 7 TS continuity errors

Links:
[1] www.mymediasystem.org
[2] vdr-wiki.de
[3] vdr-portal.de
[4] patchwork.kernel.org

3 thoughts on “TechniSat Skystar2 – The Final Solution

  1. iceman2

    hm, i have the same card and additional an technotrend ff card (for tv output only) with 3 satellites (passive mini diseq),no problems at all, these errors can have many solutions:

    -not enough power (have 400W power supply)
    -irq problems (try with irqpoll on boot)
    -not enough signal power from sat (try vdr femon plugin)
    -your sat cable is too long and or your diseq switch needs to much power (check if 14/18V came on end of cable)
    - card temperatur too high

    regards from germany

  2. acmelab68 Post author

    @iceman2
    except the 14/18 voltage I’ve really checked all you mentioned above over the years. And I also had this combo with the FF card as long as I was running my Sony CRT. And I really appreciate your help, but actually that’s not the point. Even if my boundary conditions with my dish, diseqcs (I had a few of them), cable length and so forth aren’t optimal, the driver doesn’t suppose to die this way. It should behave like e.g. TT S-1500, so a driver reload isn’t necessary.
    The tragedy is, that I’m sure it works for some or maybe for most of the people out there, and it must definitely work for the developers itself, else I wouldn’t be in this situation.

    Nevertheless, I really appreciate your comment, and thank you very much.

    Btw: the last things I’ve tried at my mother house was:

    - kernel settings in menu.lst: nohz=yes
    - kernel settings in menu.lst: noapic
    - kernel settings in menu.lst: irqpoll
    - tried all slots, and didn’t attached anything else to the system
    - used the latest hd drivers (hg clone http://linuxtv.org/hg/v4l-dvb && cd v4l-dvb && make && make install
    - tried three different cards (Skystar2)
    - In a counterevidence the crashes didn’t happen with an TT-FF V1.3, V2.1, V2,3, TT budget S-1401, TT budget S-1500

    I’m pretty sure my current list of try & error isn’t complete, it’s only to give people the impression I’m not a completely noob.

    Regards,
    Andreas

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