Thursday, March 4, 2010

LVW-5005 DVD recorder repair

I bought a Lite-On LVW-5005 DVD recorder off of Okinawa Yard for cheap: only $20, and that included the remote. Refurbished units with new DVD-writers go for top dollar on e-Bay. It's hard to get DVD-recorders anymore... very few manufacturers even make them due to increasing cable-tv DVR use, and declining sales. But, for those of us with a satellite dish, it's critical for recording, without having to use bulky, messy VCR tapes. The unit has some nice features, including built-in cable/antenna tuner, component out and ability to play JPEG picture discs, as well as audio compact discs and MP3 music discs.

Well, the thing had it's problems right after I bought only would record to CD-RW's for a week, and not DVD-R or RWs. Then it just fizzled out. It stopped initializing discs of any flavor. With American Idol and "24" in high gear, and the wife working some evenings... this was full panic mode, with marital bliss and my tech reputation on the line.

So, the internet search went into high gear, where I learned that the units were known to be plagued by weak factory DVD-writer lasers, and would poop out after a few hundred hours of burning.
Fortunately, forum users have had luck replacing the DVD+/-RW drives with off-the-shelf DVD writers. The downside is that most of the online information was four or more years old, and the recommended drive list included drives that were no longer available. Most of the best forum help is on .

I tried a few DVD-writers lying around the parts bin in the house or in unused computer towers, and no joy. I went to the Air Force exchange electronics area (The "Powerzone"), and found the I/O Magic Lightscribe 22x DVD+/-R/RW dual format double layer writer. Model # IDVD22DLS, made by Lite-On (rebrandedIHAP422 DVD writer).

After removing the old drive, I ended up removing the new writer's front face plate, drawer cover, and the bottom metal cover. It rested easily upon the mounting posts of the original case and I ended up gluing it into place. After re-fitting the top case cover, and with the IDE and power cords bolstering it in the rear, it doesn't move when the unit is re-positioned. Some of the forums talk about drilling some holes in the case and zip-tying the replacement drives in more firmly, to avoid any possibility of jostling loose from rough handling of the unit.

Well, time to test the whole she-bang. I slipped in a Memorex CD-R and it didn't work. Bummer. But, I was really only hoping for DVD burning, so I tried some DVD-R disks I had in great supply: Imagine 8x and Maxell 16x's. Both a bust, they were recognized properly as DVD R, but no reliable recording past about one frame of video, and then wouldn't play back.

I had a pack of ten Pengo DVD+RW discs, and Voila!, they initialized and recorded fine. Even a few test timed recordings starter, recorded, and ended without a problem. Whew! Finally, a winner disk. Fortunately, I have a ten pack, (they sell them at the Base Exchanges here on Okinawa). The nice thing about the DVD+RW discs is that after watching the show, you can just erase the actually no need to replace the disc at all. The LVW-5005 can record in 1hr, 2hr, 4hr or 6hr quality. The 4-hr mode gives an adequate SD quality with stereo, and has quick 16x fast-forward capability with a visible image, so you know when to hit "play".

Hope this helps you repair your own unit, if you found this post through a google search for "broken LVW-5005" or "repair LVW-5005".

Geek out,


Monday, February 22, 2010

Is there a Bloom Box in your future?

Imagine a $3000 box in your backyard or basement, that supplies all the energy for your home for half the cost per kilowatt you are currently paying. That is what Bloom Energy is all about. At the heart of this venture is a scientist who invents technology for NASA missions to Mars, and the units are currently successfully making power for FedEx, eBay, Staples and Google. This could be BIG... I mean REALLY BIG. How about not having to pay an electric bill ever again? Not losing power in an ice storm or after a hurricane? Not having to build more coal-powered energy plants?

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blu-ray players as Home Theater Set Top Boxes

Read the story here on how your next Blu-Ray player will do just about everything *besides* playing BR discs: stream Pandora music, stream Netflix movies, play pay-per-view movies from Amazon/Vudu/Blockbuster sources, show YouTube videos, display the weather, and just about anything else you can think of...


Geek out,


Friday, January 1, 2010

New HD satellite box for Armed Forces Network (AFN)

I just signed up for the new Hi-Def satellite box, the Cisco 9865:

Cisco Video HERE

There is a Stars-n-Stripes article on it HERE. EDIT: did you catch the little blurb about not going HD until 2012? I doubt you did, either...

I'm on a waiting list, and there is no increased cost for the monthly lease. Looks like it has HDMI and Component video out.

The product manual is HERE on the Cisco website.

No word on whether my current LNB antenna will work, or if the signal gets routed through the same satellite I'm using now. And Dolby Digital Plus may be a software upgrade, and don't know if that is implemented in the current firmware. Surround sound will be via S/PDIF RCA type connector (not optical), which is fine by me, as my only optical input is taken by the PS3, but I have two open S/PDIF inputs on my Pioneer A/V receiver.

I will keep everyone posted when I get my box from the exchange.

Geek Out,

20 FEB 2010 UPDATE: The new box will **NOT** give a HD signal until 2012, when AFN switches the satellite to an HD signal. The box does have HDMI, but will only upconvert the regular SD picture to 1080 (but still be low-resolution). **Don't get the box** if you don't have to!!!!! The instructions they hand out at the Customer Service Desk do NOT work with setting up the new box for Japan/Korea (AFRTS)... only Guam (DTS Pacific), DTS Atlantic and DTS Indian Ocean areas.

Upside is:
1) upconverts to 1080 over HDMI
2) simultaneously outputs audio and video to your recording device (via composite and stereo out) at the same time as outputting over HDMI
3) Has an EGN (Electronic Guide) with all the channels and their names, from which you can select to change channels without having to input numbers.

NOTE: Right now, the unit will NOT pass through ANT IN signals (say from another video source like a cable box), through TV OUT unless the unit is powered off. Cisco says they will correct this with a future software release. There is no discussion how to upload firmware upgrades to our boxes.

I am going to post instructions in the next few hours on the settings to acquire the AFRTS Japan/Korea satellite with the new box.

Configuration Guide for the D9865 “HD” AFN Satellite Decoder Box:

This is specific for the customers in Japan and Korea including Okinawa
Plug in the unit and all video/audio cables. There is a power switch on the “BACK” of the unit (turn on).

Using the supplied remote control, do the following after hooking up satellite wire and television via cables:

{NOTE: The “preset” in the decoder for AFRTS Korea/Japan has incorrect data and will NOT work}

1) Hit the “MENU” button
2) Using arrow down button, highlight “Setup Menu”, and hit “OK”
3) “Tuning / Preset” should be highlighted, and hit “OK”
4) Using the arrow buttons and OK button to edit the following settings to match:
Modulation Type: DVB-S
Downlink: 12.647 GHz
Symbol Rate: 28 MSps
NetID: 4
LO Select: Auto
LO Freq 1: 9.75 GHz
LO Freq2: 10.6 GHz
Crossover: 11.7 GHz
LNB Power: V-NIT (or) H-NIT [You may need to try one or the other, depending on your antenna]
DisEqC: Disable
DisEqc Switch: Off

5 ) Once you set these up correctly, you should get a “LOCK”
6) On the remote, hit the GREEN button to save
7) The unit should start to automatically “Acquiring Network” and “Acquisition Success”
8) Hit “OK” to save
9) Hit “Exit” to exit the menu
10) You should either get a picture or a message stating that the particular channel requires authorization. It may take up to 24 hours for authorization to be downloaded to the satellite box.

This instruction was compiled by a local Okinawa military officer subscriber, and may have inaccuracies depending upon your satellite dish hardware, and in the event it does not work, you will have to call your satellite installer for more detailed technical help.
** AAFES does not condone nor endorse this instruction, nor responsible for charges for setting up your satellite decoder box by a professional. **

Hit the Blue Button to “ACTIVATE” and follow the prompts, for acquiring the signal.
If you get a signal LOCK, that is what you want, and then Exit.
If you go to the channels and don’t see a picture, it should say something about requiring authentication… that means you are getting the right satellite, and you just need to wait until your decoder box is authenticated back in California. Make sure you have the customer service manager IMMEDIATELY input your new box into the system at the exchange, or they may wait until the end of the shift… and you won’t get authenticated as quickly as needed.

Fun Pic of my Daihatsu Pyzar in Okinawa with Moon Discs: