Commercial Cable Television Products

Computer Control FAQ

How do I know the process of downloading firmware is working?

When doing a Firmware Download, even though the PC is proceeding and showing it is sending data, that is no guarantee that the unit is actually receiving it. Because multiple units can be daisy-chained together and updated at once, there is no feedback going to the PC to acknowledge the unit is receiving the data. The only way to tell it is receiving the data is to watch the front panel of the unit. When the PC indicates it is switching from downloading the PIC code to Erasing the FPGA to Programming the FPGA, you should see the same indications on the front panel. If you don’t see the front panel switch to say it is Erasing the FPGA at the same time the PC says it is Erasing the FPGA, then the download has already failed.

The final way to know that the download was successful is that the unit will reboot itself at the end of the process. If the PC indicates it is finished, but the front panel still says it is Programming and has not rebooted, and you have to unplug it to get out of the programming mode, then the download failed. If the unit reboots itself without having to do anything, that is the sign that the download worked as it should and should successfully have the new version.

I am trying to use the Drake Headend Control Program and am having trouble communicating. Any suggestions?

Note that regardless of the Drake equipment in use, you must establish a unit ID number of 1 through 63 (or 1-12 for the PS151). If set for 0, then communications will be ignored. Also, be sure to connect to the rear panel ‘IN’ connector and not the ‘OUT’.

I need the Drake Headend Control program. Where can I download it?

Visit http://giant.rldrake.com/RLDrake_Digital_Headend_Control.zip to download the latest version. Also please note that embedded with this program is the latest firmware versions for all Drake digital products.

I’ve properly opened the files you emailed for upgrading the product firmware, and it still doesn’t work. What now?

A good place to start is to check that the Headend Control Program is recognizing the product. Here’s how:

  1. Get to the Headend Control window that displays readings of your headend. Be sure you have tab-selected your equipment (MEQ1000, SCT860, etc).
  2. Are there values showing in the equipment windows? If so, this means the Headend Program is correctly connected. If the windows are BLANK, this needs to be resolved before going further. See the FAQ for this.

Why won’t my computer communicate with the Drake product?

Situation 1: I’m using a USB-to-RS232 adapter cable.

Be sure the Remote Control Headend Program has recognized your adaptor cable. Here’s how:
Un-plug the USB cable from the computer.
Get to the starting window of the Headend Program.
Right-click over the name of the system. This should bring up “edit” and “delete”. Click “edit”
Check the “Using Port” drop-down menu to see what COM choices the computer has available at this point.
Plug in the USB cable to the computer.
Close the Edit window, which takes you back to the starting window of the Headend Program.
Right-click (again) over the name of the system. Click “edit”.
Check the “Using Port” drop-down menu for the NEW port that has been added. Make this the “Using Port” selection.
Close the edit window and use the Headend Program normally.
Situation 2: The equipment connects directly to the COM port on the Computer.

Be certain the RS232 cable is a 9-pin “straight thru” cable. It is OK to use a 25-to-9 pin adapter or a gender changer if needed, but NOT a “null modem” adapter or cable.

Additional Notes on RS232:

Be sure to connect to the rear panel ‘IN’ connector and not the ‘OUT’.
Be sure the baud rates are set the same for all connected units and the PC (4800, 19200, etc). This can be reviewed and set from the front panel on Drake units. This also goes for the SCTeci, if it is used.
Check that the “Unit ID” has been set correctly. Remember, if the Unit ID is “0”, it will ignore RS232 commands.

You sent me an email for upgrading a Specific Product firmware. What now?

The files were emailed in a compressed format, and they must be un-compressed before they are used. Here’s how to do that:
Save the file. Saving it to the desktop is handy.
Since our email blocks .zip files, the file extension (the last three letters) were changed to something else. Re-name the file to (filename).zip.
Extract the files by right-clicking on the file, then selecting “extract all”.
Store the extracted files into “C:\Program Files\R.L. Drake Digital Headend Control”.
NOTE: If a “text” file was sent, follow the instructions there.

You sent me an email for upgrading the Headend Control Program. What now?

The files were emailed in a compressed format, and they must be un-compressed before they are used. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Save the file. Saving it to the desktop is handy.
  2. Since our email blocks .zip files, the file extension (the last three letters) were changed to something else. Re-name the file to (filename).zip.
  3. Extract the files by right-clicking on the file, then selecting “extract all”.
  4. Run “Setup” by double-clicking on Setup.exe

Analog Equipment FAQ

I am adding a security camera to an installation by using the VM286, however I can’t get a signal from the VM286.

The VM286, as well as the VM2551, has an IF input and an IF output on the rear apron for use with an external scrambler or an alternate video source. A short coax cable is supplied with the VM286 to connect these two ports, make sure this cable has been installed.

I have several of the DA8642 distribution amplifiers and I have one unit that has failed. It will not come on, yet I can measure output from the AC power adapter.

All Drake distribution amplifiers have an internal fuse. The internal fuse is a 2.0 amp and is mounted in a fuse holder for easy replacement.

I have the HCP2550T channel processor, which was working fine until I switched to a T-channel. I have checked all switch settings, I have the composite loop in place and nothing works.

When using the HCP2550T or the HCP1550T unit on a T-channel, the signal must be fed into the “T-channel input” and a jumper must be added between the “Up-converter output” and the “RF input”.

I have the VMD806AG or VMR806AG and it has no output.

Be sure to set the front panel “mode” switch. This switch must be set in the BCTV for Broadcast TV, CATV for cable TV channels 02 to 99, or CATV+100 for CATV channels 100 to 125. In addition, the T-channel switch must be set properly.

I just received a VMM860AG unit and I can’t measure an output.

Be sure to set the front panel “mode” switch. This switch must be set in the BCTV for Broadcast TV, CATV for cable TV channels 02 to 99, or CATV+100 for CATV channels 100 to 135.

I noticed that several of your rack mount models have small exhaust fans. Does this mean that I can stack the units without a space?

The exhaust fan is to provide air movement through the unit. When the unit is mounted above or below other rack mounted equipment, a 1U space should be left between the unit and the other equipment to allow ambient air flow between the units.

Digital Equipment Settings FAQ

Can you advise where to obtain the latest DAD860 control software?

The latest control software can be found through the Product Updates FTP. You can reach this FTP site through the Support page at https://rldrake.com/product-firmware-updates/. Once within the FTP site, you will find the DAD860 folder near the top.

Do you recommend a specific USB to serial adapter cable when controlling DAD860/A’s?

We suggest a BAFO model BF810 adapter cable. Also needed is a DB-9 male to female adapter or cable so that the DB-9 on the BF810 can plug onto the DAD. The standoffs on the stock part will not allow it to be inserted into the DAD860 DB-9 unless the adapter is used with it. Install the included driver to the PC before connecting the cable to the PC. We have had good results with this cable. If it doesn’t recognize the com port, try plugging into a different USB port.

Does the DSE24 change the frame rate or resolution of the input video while encoding?

No, the DSE24’s encoded output will follow the input resolution and frame rate.

I am attempting to use a DSE24 in the composite mode, and the output picture has a green tint. Why?

This issue is the hue inversion that occurs when the mode is changed to composite – the composite hue default is not the same as the rest of the video modes. All you have to do is change the hue to the default setting (It’s 128 for composite and 0 for every other video mode) and it’ll look fine.

I am defining major and minor channel numbers from my Drake product. Afterwards, do I provide the new major/minor channel information to the people doing the channel mapping?

No, the required information for mapping purposes is still the actual RF channel, QAM mode, and MPEG number. When the change is made to the major/minor channel numbers, this is defined in the VCT (Virtual Channel Table), and this information is NOT relative to set top box mapping because this table is ignored.

I am interested in setting the major channels on my Drake unit, but don’t want to confuse the customers with the minor channel number. Is there any way around this?

The Drake products now allow the setting of the one-part channel numbers as well as the standard Major/Minor number combo. It is done for all units that support setting of the numbers (DQT861/1000, MQM861/1000, MQM6000L, MEQ1000, and EH24). You set it on the same form where you have always set the Major/Minor number in the Drake Digital Headend Program. The only important note is that this one-part number is only valid when the unit is set to output the CVCT. It is not valid in a TVCT. The number can be set anywhere from 1 to 16383.

I am using a DQT1000 and am defining MPEG numbers. Will the mapping be dependent upon these customized MPEG numbers?

Yes, but please note: Due to the timeline of firmware updates, the MQM series does NOT allow the user to define MPEG program numbers. However, the MEQ1000 DOES allow this.

I am using a DSE24 and the unit is displaying “WAITING FOR CLOCK LOCK”. Why?

This is an indication that the incoming video is probably not timed correctly. This is unfortunately common on PCs with on-board video – sometimes installing the correct video drivers (instead of using what Windows ships with) will fix the problem. The DSE24 only supports the exact SMPTE timings – which some video sources fail to produce. Most modern video cards (both ATI- and NVidia-based) produce proper timings just fine; if a PC doesn’t produce correct timings with its current video card, a video upgrade card will usually make it work. Laptops are a somewhat more tricky situation, since adding video cards to them can be hard/impossible; Try upgrading the drivers on that machine and this may fix the issue. To be clear, the DSE24 supports resolutions of: 1920×1080@30, 1280×720@60, 720×480@60, and 640×480@60. These should be supported video modes on most modern machines.

I am using an EH-24, and am having many instances of motion blur when encoding fast changing content. Any advice?

When doing the setup of the individual encoders, it is often beneficial to customize the bitrate depending on the video content. You would want to increase this bitrate when encoding a sporting event, and decrease the setting for security cameras or a similar video source.

I am using your MQM6000L with satellite receivers, and I cannot get any video. What could be wrong?

Many satellite streams have a MPEG Program number 0 defined in their PAT tables. This is not referring to an actual program in the stream, but rather a Network PID. Since the MQM6000L defaults to the first program defined in the PAT, you will need to connect the PC and use the “SELECT PROGRAMS” option rather than the “DEFAULT” option, and select the actual MPEG program that you want.

NOTE: Beginning with firmware version V1.3, it will automatically skip to the second defined program as the default if the first defined program is equal to 0. So, another solution would be to update to the latest version of MQM6000L firmware.

I have an EH-24, and am only using 8 encoders. The bit rate of each is set to 4.3Mbit/s, and yet I still get the message “Bitrate too high for QAM mode.” 8 x 4.3 = 34.4Mbps. I thought the output could go as high as 38.8Mbps?

The 4.3 bit rate that you have set is for video only. To be more exact, you need to add .4Mbps for audio, and .2Mbps for table information. So in this case 4.3 + .4 + .2 = 4.9Mbps, and 4.9Mbps x 8 = 39.2Mbps, which does exceed the 38.8Mbps maximum for QAM256. So we suggest lowering the bit rate down to the 4.1 or 4.2Mbit/s range to allow for the audio and table information.

I have several of the TMQAM modulators running 64 QAM and recently I added a TMQAM/asi modulator, which I want to operate at 256 QAM, but I can’t get it to function

When running 256 QAM, it is necessary to change the BD RATE to 5.3606 instead of the 5.057 baud rate or symbol rate used for 64 QAM.

I have the DQT1000 transcoder, can I check the output level with an analog meter or analyzer?

Yes, the Drake transcoders, including the DQT1000, have a unique feature that will allow you to use the analog meter or analyzer. When switching the DQT1000 into the CW mode, the transcoder will output a single unmodulated CW carrier at the center frequency of the output channel.

I have two DSE24s in a system which work fine. But when I added a third DSE24, I couldn’t see the new channel. What should I try?

Be sure to re-scan the TV. A digital TV needs to be re-scanned so it will “learn” that there is a new channel for it to receive. Even we forget this from time to time!

I have two off air channels going to the DQT1000 and it appears to be working, but I can’t find the second channel.

When you set up the DQT1000 for the second channel, you were instructed to enter a Mux offset. This is done to avoid conflict with overlapping use of MPEG program numbers. This same offset value is added to the minor channel number and the set top box must be mapped accordingly.

I just received the DQT1000 Digital QAM transcoder and I am feeding in two multiplexed signals. I get a FIFO OVERFLOW message; what can I do about it?

The combined bit rate of the input signals may be in excess of 38.8 Mbps. In this event, the DQT1000 will allow you to select which MPEG programs are passed and which are filtered out to reduce the data rate. Please refer to the instruction manual for details on SELECT PROGRAMS.

I just received the DQT1000 Digital QAM transcoder and I am feeding in two off air encrypted signals. I get a FIFO OVERFLOW message, what gives?

When you select the QAM mode, you will see several selections including QAM-256A and QAM-256B The A suffix indicates ITU-A or DVB compliant FEC and the B suffix indicates ITU-B or DigiCipher II FEC encoding. Selecting QAM256A with DigiCipher signals will result in the above error message. Another possibility is that the unit is set to QAM-64B instead of QAM-256B.

I noticed that several of your rack mount models have small exhaust fans. Does this mean that I can stack the units without a space?

The exhaust fan is to provide air movement through the unit. When the unit is mounted above or below other rack mounted equipment, a 1U space should be left between the unit and the other equipment to allow ambient air flow between the units.

I’m having trouble mapping the NFL Network into my system. Any suggestions?

Try enabling the CA (Conditional Access) Filter. You will also need to enable the CA filter for the ESPN Family and Big Ten Network.

I’m trying to use the HDMI input on the DSE24, but I don’t receive video on the TV. What could be wrong?

One possibility is that the HDMI source is using HDCP (copy protection encryption). The HDMI source connected to the DSE24 must be unencrypted.

I’ve connected the DSE24 to a TV, and all indications are that it should be working, but there is no video on the TV. What gives?

The DSE24 output level is designed to feed a system which typically includes splitters (which introduce a loss of signal level). Directly connecting the DSE24 to a TV may overload the input of the TV. We can’t speak for all TV’s, but often the ANT or CATV input on a TV likes to see around 0 dBmV (from about +10 to -10 dBmV). Since the DSE24 outputs a range of 29.5 to 45 dBmV, this will overdrive many TV’s. The solution is to place about 30dB of attenuation between the DSE24 and the TV, and set the DSE24 output level the same as the attenuation, which results in 0 dBmV at the TV.

In this example, setting the DSE24 for +30dBmV output -30dB of attenuation = 0dBmV at the TV.

My SDE24’s closed captioning data seems to be corrupted or missing? What could be wrong?

During some re-configuration operations, the SDE24 may lose its ability to properly encode closed-captioning data. The way to restore this functionality is by power-cycling the Encoder Host chassis by momentarily removing AC line power for 3 seconds, then re-applying power. For best reliability of closed captioning, SDE24 encoders should be power-cycled after the units have been fully configured for their long-term settings.

On the DQT1000, MQM1000, or MEQ1000, how do I change the programs that are to be included in the output multiplex?

  1. Enter Programming mode
  2. Use Left / Right buttons to get to “MPEG PROGRAMS” menu.
  3. Use Up / Down buttons to change it to “SELECT PROGRAMS” and hit “Enter” (again).
  4. Select the desired MPEG program number using Left / Right buttons.
  5. Select the MPEG program’s output Destination(s) using Up / Down buttons.
  6. Hit Enter again to save settings.

NOTE: A more detailed discussion of this is presented on page 10 of the Instruction Manual.

On the DQT1000, MQM1000, or MEQ1000, how do I know which programs are included in the input streams?

For each MPEG program number displayed on the top line, the bottom line (on the right) will indicate A, B, AB, or nothing. This will indicate that the program number on the top line was found in input A or B or AB for both, or not in either one if blank.

We have intermittent operation and some tiling with the DQT1000 units. The signal will drop out intermittently.

Intermittent loss of signal is usually associated with inadequate signal getting to the transcoder. The front panel SNR reading must be above the 15 dB threshold level for an 8VSB signal, above 23 dB for 64 QAM, and above 27 dB for 256 QAM. Typical SNR readings are above 25.

We have recently added a few digital channels to our system, using the DDC806 digital down converter and the DUC550 and DUC860 up converters. We noticed some interference, when we try to select an output channel on the DUC that is adjacent to an existing analog channel.

When an analog NTSC signal is present on the lower adjacent channel to the selected digital input channel of the DDC806, there will be some amount of the audio carrier (250 kHz below the edge of the selected channel) from this lower adjacent NTSC signal present in the IF output of the DDC806. This is then translated to the new output channel with the DUC upconverter, even though it will also be attenuated some in the upconverter. This will not cause a problem if the translated output channel has no channel or another digital channel located in the lower adjacent channel position in the output channel lineup. However, if there is a NTSC analog channel located adjacent to the lower edge of the translated digital channel, there will be a potential beat formed between the audio carriers of this lower adjacent analog and the translated lower adjacent analog. To avoid this potential problem, avoid having a lower adjacent analog at both the input and output of the translated digital channel(s). It is OK if there is a lower adjacent NTSC signal at either the input or output sides – just not both.

We have several of the DQT1000 transcoders and we need the MPEG program number of each off air channel to have our set top boxes programmed. Is this number the same as the digital channel number?

The digital channel numbers are not necessarily the same as the MPEG program numbers. The MPEG program numbers are the numbers that are displayed on the DQT1000 front panel as it is reading the tables and building the new output tables for the multiplex. Usually this goes by so fast that you can’t really see anything. The DQT1000 has a unique feature that will allow you to see the MPEG program numbers as the unit is reading the tables and building the new output tables for the multiplex. The DQT860 also has this feature if the software is version 1.1 or higher.

Since your units have been installed and are up and running, go into the program mode by pressing the ENTER button until display starts to flash. Once the display starts to flash, exit the program mode by pressing and holding the ENTER button depressed. Normally you press the ENTER button momentarily to exit the program mode — to see the MPEG program numbers as you exit the program mode, you must press and hold the ENTER button depressed. While the unit is reading and building the new tables, it will pause for approximately 1 second on each table to allow reading of the program number. Once read, release the ENTER button and the DQT1000 should return to normal operation.

NOTE: The MPEG number read for Demod B will NOT include the mux offset amount you entered during set-up, you must add the mux offset number to this reading.

NOTE: If you are NOT using the DQT1000 in multiplex mode, with the optional 2nd Demod kit or factory installed dual demodulators, the above will NOT apply as no tables are being generated and nothing will be displayed.

NOTE: You can also get the numbers using the PC Headend Control Program and using the “Read Table” button to read the PAT Table. All of the MPEG program numbers are contained in this table. And this does provide a way to get the numbers even when in the non-multiplex mode.

We just purchased a Cable Analyzer. After connecting it directly to the output of your equipment, we were surprised at the amount of noise it displayed. Any thoughts on this?

Test equipment, like many things in life, has limits on what amounts of (anything) it can measure, as well as the conditions for making these tests accurately. Also, keep in mind that test equipment can fail.

In the above example, the first thing to suspect is that the input level to the test equipment is being exceeded, thus overloading the test equipment. When that happens, the test equipment cannot be relied on to give a correct reading. As an easy experiment, try inserting an attenuator (for example, 6dB) in line between the source product and the test equipment. Then look at the displayed noise level. If the displayed noise level did not change, or if it changed by ANY amount other than the amount of attenuation, it is likely that the test equipment is being overdriven, or has failed.

While setting up an HDE24, the received video looks normal in the center of the screen, but the top and bottom of the picture are un-watchable. What could cause this?

Be certain that the resolution you have selected is the same on both the encoder and from the source of the video.

Why can’t I program the audio PIDs into the DAD860 from the DAD860 Remote Control Software?

Be sure the value is in decimal format. Some informational sites, such as rabbitears.info, list the values in hexadecimal. These values must be converted (by you) into decimal format, and then entered.