Usage Instructions for HDVR-UMA
revision 1.4 - December 3, 2001

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The instructions are provided without warranty of any kind.


  • Quick guide
  • Required items
  • Items not covered
  • Don't damage your Unity Motion STB
  • Supported Firewire connections
  • Front panel status lamp - The blinking red light
  • Recording
  • Timer Recording
  • Playback
  • Use as a hub
  • Use with multiple decks


    Quick guide
    Please read this whole document to avoid unnecessary problems and potential damage to your equipment. The basic procedure described here is to tune up a satellite channel, verify the communication is ready with the VCR because the red lamp on the UM front panel is flashing once per second, and setup and begin recording in the usual way using the record button on the VCR or its remote.

    Required items

  • Panasonic PV-HD1000 deck (including IEEE1394 support)
  • Unity Motion HDR-1000A (or equivalent Integra) with HDVR-UMA installed
  • Tapes for recording and playback that are compatible with the PV-HD1000
  • Other satellite system components to enable reception and viewing
  • Information and procedure to tune the satellite system to the program desired
  • 4 pin to 4 pin IEEE1394 cable also known as Firewire.


    Items not covered

    This document does not cover the set up and operation of a satellite reception system, the operation of the Unity Motion STB, the operation of the PV-HD1000 deck, or the particulars about the channels and programming that are the target of the recording and playback.


    Don't damage your Unity Motion STB

    These suggestions to avoid damage to the UM STB are based on more than two years of experience using and servicing these machines. These tips have nothing to do with the Uma in particular, as these suggestions apply to the UM STBs whether the Uma is installed or not. However, with the Uma installed, your UM STB is that much more valuable, so suggestions to help it surivive are well worth consideration.

    Use the right splitter- Any splitter or switch connected to the UM STB satellite antenna input or used anywhere in the antenna system must block DC power from other sources from appearing at the UM satellite input terminal. If you're not certain about a particular device, don't make the connection. If only one LNB connects directly to the UM STB's satellite terminal and no other equipment connects with that one cable to the LNB, this section about splitters doesn't apply as no splitter is needed.

    Most TV splitters do not block the DC power and are NOT suitable and could permanently damage your UM STB if used.

    The Radio Shack splitter part number 16-2578 that is the same as the RCA D800 does block the DC power and is okay to use with the UM. The RCA D800 splitter is offered for use with the small dish satellite systems and may be found at stores besides Radio Shack. They've been seen offered at some Walmart stores for example. This splitter allows the UM to power the LNB, but prevents power from coming from other sources. This is precisely the protection needed. By inserting this splitter as the final device connected to the UM antenna terminal, damage from other DC power sources is blocked. There are two outputs on this splitter. Connect one of the outputs of the mentioned splitter to the UM satellite input terminal to use this protection. The other output of the splitter may be connected to other satellite receivers, while the input is connected to an LNB or amplifier that connects to an LNB.

    Use a DC Block- If another power source is available to power the LNB and other equipment in the satellite antenna system, such as an auxillary power supply or other satellite reception equipment, use a DC block such as Radio Shack 15-1259 to prevent the UM STB from powering the satellite antenna system. The drawback to this is that the UM will not be able to select left / right polarization via the control voltage used for small dish signals. This drawback doesn't apply to Horizontal / Vertical LNBs as they do not vary the voltage and the H / V selection isn't performed by the UM. The advantage to this is that the UM will run cooler and thus be more reliable, as well as blocking damaging DC voltages from the unit.

    Disconnect STB Power- Always disconnect the AC power to the UM STB before making any wiring changes anywhere in the satellite input system.

    Use surge protectors- Use a surge protector on AC power and on the satellite and OTA RF inputs. If lightning storms in the nearby area are anticipated, disconnecting the antenna and power terminals will reduce the possibility of damage from lightning surges that may be too powerful for a surge protector to stop.

    Supported Firewire connections

    The Uma adds two each of the four pin IEEE1394 connectors to the UM STB's rear panel. A cable with a mating four pin male connector may be plugged into either or both of the two connectors. The opposite end of the cable may be plugged into devices from the following list of supported connections:

  • Panasonic PV-HD1000 VCR (one or more)
  • Panasonic DST-50 STB (one active unit)
  • RCA DTC100 STB with 169Time HDVR-100-2 adapter
    Although the connector at the opposite end of the cable plugged into the Uma's firewire port may have a size and shape that matches numerous other devices, connection of any device other than those listed above is not supported and may lead to unpredictable results. It is suggested that devices other than those listed not be connected. Note that compatibility with the above listed devices is intended, but isn't guaranteed.

    It is intended that the firewire ports may be plugged and unplugged while the STB is powered up, though this isn't guaranteed. Thus, it is suggested that changes in the connections of the Uma's Firewire ports only be made when the UM STB is in the stand by mode or when AC power isn't applied.

    Front panel status lamp - The blinking red light

    The stock unmodified UM STB's has a red colored status lamp that is labeled "STAND BY" on the front panel about 4" from the left side. The lamp is inside the red tinted panel just to the right of and behind the words "STAND BY."
    Click here to see a front panel view showing the location of the status lamp.

    When AC power is applied to the STB and the unit is inactive, the numeric display shows "----" and the red lamp being discussed here is lit. This is the "STAND BY" mode of the UM STB. When the front panel power switch is pressed and the unit becomes active (video monitor output turn on), the numeric indicator displays the selected channel and the STAND BY lamp is extinguished. That lamp does flash on momentarily when an IR remote control command is received. That is how the lamp works on a stock UM STB that doesn't have an Uma.

    This very same red lamp, herein after referred to as the LED (light emitting diode) is also used by the Uma as a status indicator. With the Uma installed, the lamp retains its original functions described above and also provides several additional indications that signal the status of the connection and operating mode of a connected DVHS deck.

    Here is a list of the conditions the LED signals when a Uma is installed.

  • LED is continuously lit - The UM STB is in standby mode.
    The Uma does not communicate through the firewire port in this mode.
  • LED is off - The Uma is not ready to record or play
    In this mode the LED only flashes on briefly when an IR command is received. This condition occurs if the Uma is acting as a hub, if more than one DVHS VCR is connected, or if proper communication with a single supported DVHS VCR could not be established. If this is unexpected, i.e. if a single DVHS VCR is properly connected and no other connected STB is powered up, try cycling power on the UM STB front panel and waiting fifteen seconds for communication to be established. Also try cycling the AC power plug on the DVHS VCR, reconnecting the firewire connection at both ends, or replacing a potentially defective firewire cable.
  • LED flashes briefly once per second - The Uma is ready to record or play back.
    The Uma has established proper communication with a single connected DVHS VCR. This indication occurs when the connected VCR is in the stop, off, fast forward, or rewind mode. It is from this mode that playback or recording can proceed. Note that it may take up to fifteen seconds after a firewire port is plugged in or unplugged or power is applied for the Uma to properly detect the DVHS VCR and have the "once per second" flashing begin.
  • LED flashes briefly in rapid succession twice per second - Playback mode.
    The DVHS VCR is in a playback mode. In this mode the satellite input signal is not displayed. Instead, the playback signal from the VCR is displayed. The VCR may be playing back, paused from playback, or fast winding or reversing from playback mode. Note that the displayed image only updates when the VCR is in the normal speed playback mode.
  • LED flashes steadily on and off twice per second - Record mode.
    In this mode the LED's on time and the off time are equal. Even though the LED flashes the same number of times per second as it does in playback mode, the display appears acutely different since in the other mode, (playback) the flashes occur in rapid succession for only a fraction of a second. In the Record mode, the VCR is recording from the satellite input. The signal will be properly recorded if it is compatible with the PV-HD1000 VCR and the VCR settings were made correctly. There is no special indication if the signal isn't compatible or the VCR was in the wrong mode. The only way to determine this to ensure that the correct settings are made prior to beginning record and by observing the playback of the attempted recording after recording terminates.
  • LED flashes briefly in rapid succession three times per second - multi deck Ready mode.
    The Uma has detected that more than one DVHS VCR is connected to the firewire ports. In this mode the satellite input signal is displayed until play is pressed on any connected VCR, and the Uma does not output the satellite signal to the firewire port. It will only playback from one of the decks, though recording from deck to deck is also supported.
  • LED flashes briefly in very rapid succession four times per second - multi deck Playback mode.
    The Uma has detected that more than one DVHS VCR is connected to the firewire ports, and that one of the decks is in the playback mode. The playback signal will be displayed. Another connected deck may also be recording the playback signal, thus permitting deck to deck editing while viewing the signal being recorded. The displayed video switches back to the satellite signal when the playback data from the VCR stops. It is strongly recommended that if another deck is recording, that stop be pressd on the recording deck before stop is pressed on the playback deck, to keep the decks in correct syncronization.
  • LED flashes on and off rapidly about eight or more times per second - The Uma has detected an error condition that requires user intervention to correct - The user may attempt to correct this by cycling the front panel switch on the UM STB or a connected DST-50 STB, or by cycling the AC power plug on a connected DTC100 STB or PVHD-1000 VCR, or by reconnecting the firewire connections or replacing a potentially defective firewire cable.

    To prepare for recording ensure the following is done:

  • Set the DVHS VCR into the digital input mode.
    Use the input select button on its remote control. Some decks require that the Power on/off be cycled before the input select button on the remote will operate. The deck's front display window will display "dTU" at first, and then "d" when it is in the digital television input mode.
  • Set the deck to "HS" mode.
    This is the left most position of the three position slide switch in the DVHS VCR's left hand front panel located in the panel behind the drop down door.
  • Use a compatible and known good SVHS or DVHS tape.
    It is suggested that recordings of important non-recurring events only be made using tapes that have been previously tested with digital recording and are known to be in good condition and not excessively worn. Ensure that the record protect tab has not been removed from the tape.
  • Ensure that the tape has sufficient capacity to hold the length of the recording.
  • Tune the satellite system and UM STB to the desired channel.
  • Note that recording from OTA sources is not currently supported.

    Recording is initiated by pressing the record button on the remote or by pressing the record button in the left front panel of the VCR while the VCR is in the stop mode. This means that the LED is flashing briefly once per second prior to the recording being initiated.

    While recording is in progress, the LED on the UM flashes on and off steadily at 2 cycles per second and the OFF duration of the LED is the same as the ON duration.

    Note 1- If the satellite signal is lost for a more than a few seconds, proper recording may cease. In this case the deck may display "Snf" on its front panel. The "SNF" means "Signal not found." Some decks do not display the "SNF" indication due to apparent manufacturing differences from one PV-HD1000 to another. Even if the signal is restored, proper recording may only resume if stop is pressed and then record is again pressed while the satellite signal is steadily present.

    Note 2- The only reliable way to initiated recording with the DVHS VCR is to first be in the stopped mode. The controls of the VCR do permit the user the enter the recording mode through several other ways that are not supported. In particular, it is possible to press record while the VCR is playing back a tape, or press record while playback is paused, or enter a pause mode while recording. Each of these methods to enter the recording mode may lead to an error condition where the VCR reports that it is recording where in fact it is not correctly recording the digital input signal.

    As an attempt to prevent this erroneous condition where the VCR is not really recording, the Uma will automatically detect this condition and attempt to stop the VCR rather than let it continue to report that it is recording when in fact it isn't. Thus, in all these three aforementioned alternate methods to attempt to place the deck in the record mode other than while stopped, the Uma will instruct the VCR to Stop.

    To avoid this error and automatic stop of the VCR, it is suggested that the deck always be "Stopped" before pressing the record button. Use the stop button rather than the pause button to suspend recording.

    Timer Recording
    Timer recording is accomplished using the timer function built into the DVHS VCR. Connect an NTSC compatible monitor or TV to the VCR's output and use the VCR's remote control to set the clock and timer in the way described in the VCR's documentation.

    The NTSC monitor / TV is used to view the "on screen" display produced while the setup is made. Tune the satellite system to the channel that will be recorded and leave the satellite system turned on or otherwise programmed to be on during the duration of the recording. The UM STB has no built in recording control feature, though external remote controls sold by some other companies could accomplish this. The simplest solution is to leave the UM STB turned on and tuned to the channel.

    Make sure to select the Digital channel as the source for the timer recording, and set the HS mode and make all other preparation checks for recording as if the recording were about to be started now.

    The final step to enable timer recording is to turn the VCR off. The AC power continues to be connected to the VCR, and it will turn itself on when the timer recording is to begin. Even though the VCR is turned off, the LED will continue to flash once per second since the Uma stays in communication with the VCR while it is turned off.

    Playback of recorded tapes with the Uma and PV-HD1000 is possible though there are some limitations. The simplest use of the playback feature is to rewind the tape and press play on the VCR to then view the playback video. So long as the UM is tuned to the same channel that was recorded and the satellite RF signal is still present, the tape will play back provided that the satellite signal could be viewed during recording and that the signal recorded was compatible with the PV-HD1000.

    Some of the limitations of Playback with Uma include the following:

  • A DTV satellite RF signal must be present to playback. Any DTV satellite signal may be used to enable tape playback. The trick here is that the UM's satellite tuner must "see" some DTV signal or it will not let the display circuit process the tape playback. The presence of any DTV signal "kicks" the UM STB (so to speak) into a mode where it will process and display the data coming off the tape. Thus, the the dish positioning and UM tuning must select a channel that is presently on the air. This is not usually a problem as there are channels on the air on the Ku band 24 hours / 7 days a week.
  • The audio and video pid number of the channel that the UM is set to must match the audio and video pid numbers of the channel to be viewed from the tape. Thus although the frequency and sample rate match the incoming RF signal, the pids match the program on the tape. If needed a scan of the transponder can be executed while the tape is playing and the UM STB will find the program on the tape and place its "bouquet" into the TV channel list of the UM STB. If the typical popular channels on Ku band are already scanned in, chances are one of these selections will match the tape being played to allow playback even if the channel originally recorded from is off the air. These popular Ku band channels also include Pid settings for playback of tapes recorded with other STBs from OTA sources. We are unable to provide the specifics about the Ku band channels being discussed here, though the information is available on the internet for those who search for it.
  • The decoder in the UM STB is not able to play some tapes, or it produces stutters when playing back. Empirically speaking, this is because the decoder in the UM STB is not as robust as the decoder in other playback STBs.
  • One potential advantage of the UM STB for playback is that it will play back some sources that can not be played back through other means. This applies to recordings made that contain Digital TV signals that are not in an OTA format, such as PCM rather than AC3 audio. Also, when / if computer based recording of UM satellite signals is offered, there will be some sources that can only be played back through a Uma equipped UM STB.

    Even though no STB is a "do it all" playback decoder machine, a DTC100 equipped with the 169Time HDVR-100-2 device, or so called DVHS option 2 is the most versatile playback STB for playing DVHS tapes recorded from most satellite or OTA sources that can currently be recorded. The robust decoder in the DTC100 plays tapes without stutter and without audio dropouts, and automatically senses the channel PID information.

    Use as a hub

    The Uma device has two Firewire ports. One of several benefits of using the Uma as a hub comes into play when another STB is used for playback and recording with the same VCR that is used with the Uma, while being able to do so without the need to unplug and plug in the Firewire connections. Currently a RCA DTC100 with the 169Time adapter or a Panasonic DST-50 STB are suitable for this configuration. In the case of the DTC100, it is more advantageous to let the DTC100 act as the hub. Instructions for using the DTC100 as a hub are in the instructions that support that product. Therefore, the subject of these instructions is the particular configuration where a DST50, a Uma, and a single PV-HD1000 are all interconnected.

    Connect the DST-50's Firewire port to one port on the UMA. Connect the PV-HD1000's Firewire port to the other port on the UMA. When playback or recording with the DST50 is desired, leave the UM STB powered on and the Uma will pass through the communication between the DST50 and PV-HD1000 as if this two were connected directly. In this mode the Uma is acting as a hub and the LED will not flash once per second. When recording or playback with the Uma is desired, use the front panel power switch on the DST-50 to power down the DST-50. The Uma will recognize that the DST-50 is no longer active and will flash its own LED once per second to indicate that it is ready to play and record.

    Thus, the power switch on the DST-50 control whether the DST-50 communicates with the deck, or the UM communicates with the deck. In either case, the UM STB is powered up. When neither STB is recording or playing back, energy may be saved by turning both STBs off. The goal achieved by the Uma's feature to act as a hub is to permit either the DST-50 or the Uma to interoperate with the DVHS deck without the need to unplug and plug the firewire connectors.

    Another benefit of having two firewire ports is discussed in detail on the section describing the usage with two or more decks.

    Use with two or more decks

    This feature is now being shipped and may not be in a particular unit previously shipped. It can be added as an update. Contact us for further information.

    The Uma can be used with two or more decks. This may be used with two DVHS decks, each connected directly to a firewire port on the Uma without any additional hub needed. Two or more decks and other supported firewire devices may also be connected using additional hub units.

    When the Uma has sensed that two or more decks are connected, it does not output the satellite signal on the firewire port. Thus, it can facilitate playback from any connected deck, or the playback signal being recorded by a connected deck. See the Front Panel Status Lamp section for the Blinking Lamp's display for this mode.

    When more than one deck is connected, only one deck should be in the playback mode, otherwise it is unpredicable which deck's playback signal will be displayed.

    When doing deck to deck recording, pay careful attention to the Uma's blinking lamp status display. It is possible that when stop is pressed during deck to deck playback / recording (known as dubbing), the decks may be left in a mode where they are not properly communicating with each other. The Uma attempts to sense whether the decks are correctly communicating so that dubbing may begin. The two blinking rates for multiple decks are either 3 times or 4 times per second in rapid succession. If the display is wrong, the playback signal may not appear, and the signal may not be recorded to the dubbing deck.

    Our testing shows that the most reliable way to ensure that dubbing and monitoring of the dubbed signal occurs correctly is use the following steps.

  • Use the front panel controls on the deck rather than the IR remote so that the decks can be controlled independantly.
  • Playback the tape on the deck that will be used for recording to a point that is several seconds before where you want recording to begin, and press stop on that deck.
  • Postion the tape on the source deck that has the video to be played many seconds before the point where you want recording to begin from, press play and observe that the correct playback signal appears.
  • While the playback source deck is rolling and playing, several seconds before the point where you want the DTV recorded, press record on the destination deck. The playback image continues, and observe that the destination deck is rolling and is not displaying a "SNF" in its front panel. If "SNF" is displayed at any time during the dubbing, the signal was lost and recording may not resume without restarting the whole process.
  • Terminate recording by first pressing Stop on the deck that is recording. If this is not done, that is if Stop is first pressed on the playback deck, the decks may fall out of sync with each other. That is, if stop is pressed on the record deck after stop was pressed on the playback deck, the Uma may not flash the Status LED indicating that it has detected two or more decks, and it may be necessary to press play and stop several times on the decks, or even reset power on the decks and / or Uma for the decks to be ready for the next dubbing cut.
  • During recording pay attention to the Uma's playback signal, blinking status lamp, and also to the front panel of the recording destination deck to ensure there is the correct indication. The recording deck should display the time counter incrementing, the Uma's status lamp should blink 4 times per second in rapid succession, and the video expected to be recorded should be displayed while dubbing is properly taking place. There may be other reasons why dubbing doesn't work, such as copy protected tapes, or tape or deck failure. Precluding those conditions, the Uma's abilty to monitor the playback video during dubbing is a powerful feature.





    Recent Web Page Updates
    Added info regarding using two or more decks for dubbing or playback (December 3, 2001)
    Added info on DC block and Status LED photo (November 19, 2001)






    END of Usage Instructions for HDVR-UMA