Frequently Asked Questions
All the ZvPro and HDbridge 2000 units are RF modulators, and they are digital and HD so provide much better video quality than older analog modulators. Because they are modulators, they are set up much the same way as those old analog modulators:
- Connect an AV source to the ZeeVee unit.
- Connect the unit to the coax cabling in the building.
- Find an empty RF channel you can use for broadcast.
- Set the unit to broadcast on the selected channel.
- Tune in the channel on the HDTVs.
Those are the basics, so if you installed analog RF modulators years ago, you already know most of what you need to know to work with our products.
Because it's there!
HD video distribution solutions typically require new cabling for each display. This means that even though the cost of HDTV’s is plummeting, full-scale deployment is often labor intensive and costly.
In contrast, distributing HD over coaxial cabling often allows the use of existing cabling. ZeeVee products can broadcast up to 135 channels simultaneously over one coax cable, substantially reducing labor costs and deployment times. This is accomplished using RF modulation of the source – a technique that’s been around for some time, but has now made the leap to HD.
For a full explanation of RF Modulator Basics, typical applications and killer apps, download our white paper Why Send HD Over Coax? Because it's there!
I heard that the cable and satellite companies were going to shut off HD over component video outputs forever on their set top boxes – the so-called ‘analog sunset’. Is that true?
No. In a recent ruling, the FCC said they can shut off HD over component video on set top boxes only for ‘early release’ video-on-demand movies that are still in theaters, or haven’t yet been released on disc. All other TV shows and movies remain available in HD over component! You can read a summary of the ruling (and get to the FCC press release) here.
We have two product lines: HDbridge 2000 Series for high-density video distribution, and ZvPro for adding digital signage and smaller deployments. All products are available in QAM or DVB-T/C versions. Plus, every model is built on the same architecture, so it's simple to choose the one that's right for you based on the number of channels you require and your worldwide region. See our HDbridge 2000 and ZvPro product line pages to learn more.
General Product Information
If you are feeding the audio directly from the source into the audio system and not through the ZeeVee unit it will arrive to the speakers before the video arrives to the HDTV. This is because the Video is being encoded into a digital signal, and modulated by the unit and then demodulated at the HDTV. Each of these steps adds a bit a latency that is not added to the audio because it is traveling a shorter path.
There are a couple of ways to work around this issue. First, you can use an audio delay device that allows you to add some delay to the audio stream before it reaches the sound system. The Hall Research AD-340 is one other customers have used for this purpose, though we have not tested it directly.
The other work around is to feed the audio to the ZeeVee unit. Then take the audio pass through from an HDTV into your audio system. The audio will have the same amount of delay since it has gone through the encoding and decoding process just as the video did. If the HDTVs are not close enough to the head end, you can use an external tuner like the Centronics ZAT-502HD or Channel Master CM-7001 at the head end. Feed the coax into it, just as you do the HDTV, but take the audio out into the distributed audio system.
"Delay Matched Audio"output functionality allows for compensation for the encoding time of a ZeeVee encoder/modulator and the decoding time of a television (site dependent). This is useful in applications where audio is distributed with a house audio system (as in a sports bar) and video distribution is done by ZeeVee.
In those cases the video take a short amount of time to be processed by the ZeeVee encoder/modulator (roughly 300milliseconds) and some amount of time to be decoded by the television (roughly the same). If the audio path goes directly from the source (a set top box, for example) into a stereo system, the audio could arrive at the patron about half a second prior to the video getting there. By providing a delayed audio capability (1.5-2 seconds), the user can dial the audio time to match the time for the video, then feed it into the whole house audio system so that video and audio arrive in-sync at the patron's eyes and ears.
Calibrating Audio Out delay:
- Provides delayed audio
- Defaults to 400 ms, can be set from 0 to 2000ms
- Channel and Power and audio delay can be set up from Maestro (web-based software) or from the front panel menu
- Changes take affect in real time, no need to apply to hear the delay change, but must apply at the end to save final setting
The error '1080 or 720 video resolution is not supported' is displayed on the screen when the video source resolution exceeds the capability of your ZeeVee device.
To correct it, change the video resolution at the source and the unit will automatically start broadcasting in the new resolution.
The ZvPro 800 series and HDbridge2840 will only accept unencrypted HDMI video, typically from a digital signage player, video camera or other self generated content. All of our products broadcast a clear QAM (unencrypted) signal over coax, therefore would break HDCP (HDMI’s encryption rules/requirements) if we tried to support encrypted video as an input. Our HDMI input most likely will not work with Apple Products (such as Macs), Blu-ray players, satellite boxes or cable boxes, as they are typically encrypted.
The most common fix for this issue is disabling wifi on the computer you are using, especially if connecting to the unit directly. If that does not correct it, please review the Connecting to Maestro document for more in detailed troubleshooting steps.
We have found some older versions of Internet Explorer will not allow our configuration application Maestro to load fully. To work around this you can use another browser such as Firefox or Chrome or update your version in Internet Explorer.
If you are using a Windows based PC, you can simply take a standard Ethernet cable (not a crossover cable) and connect it between your PC and the unit. Open a browser such as Firefox or Chrome and enter the IP address listed on the front panel of the unit. This will load Maestro.
If you are using a Mac, you can’t connect directly to the unit; you will need to connect both the Mac and our modulator to a switch or LAN. Then enter the IP address from the front panel of the unit into a browser.
Front Panel Configuration
The graphs represent encoding of audio and video. As the audio and video come and go (or get faster/slower) the graphs will change in size. Colors represent audio and video input:
- red = no audio or video
- yellow = video, but no audio
- green = both audio and video present
RF channel, RF power and Delay Matched Audio (ZvPro series only) can be set via the front panel. Please see the Front Panel Configuration document for instructions.
If the unit is connected to the internet, you can also update firmware via the front panel. Hold down the left and right arrows, then select the option “update firmware”. If this option is not available, it means the unit cannot connect to our servers to download the file and you will need to update firmware via Maestro.
Image break up can be caused by a number of issues. To check the most common causes:
- Verify there is no interference on the RF channel you assigned. The ZeeVee devices need a full open RF channel. To test, try switching to a different RF channel.
- Some analog modulators may spill over to adjacent channels and cause interference.
- Some cable companies sometimes have extra signals where there should be none.
- You may be experiencing an RF power balance issue, verify that the RF power of the modulator is balanced with signals from other modulators and from the cable company.
- Your HDTV may not be able to play the high data rate that the ZeeVee unit produces during fast action. As a test, lower the data rate via the web interface or ZvConfig.
No picture showing up at the TV can be caused by different issues. To check the most common causes:
- Verify the HDTV has a QAM (digital cable) tuner.
- Verify that you have performed a full channel scan on the HDTV with “cable mode” selected.
- Verify that the modulator is not conflicting with any other channel by connecting the unit directly to the HDTV.
VGA / HDMI
The ZvBox is broadcasting in “compatibility mode”. That means it’s receiving a picture resolution from your VGA source that doesn’t match a standard 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080 HDTV picture resolution.
When that happens, the ZvBox fits the incoming picture inside either a 1280 x 720 window, or a 1920 x 1080 window, each with black bars around the outside. It uses the smallest HDTV-sized window that will fit the image, so the image takes up as much of the screen as possible. See the diagram for an example:
ZvBox then broadcasts the 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 window, with the image contained within, which is “compatible” with HDTVs. To resolve the issue, set your VGA source to output 1280 x 720 resolution, and see this question for how to fine-tune the picture size if needed.
Your HDTV is the culprit here. Most HDTVs don’t show a full 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080 picture. Instead they mask off the picture’s edges to keep you from seeing the area beyond. The amount of picture masked off (the spec is called “overscan”) can range from 0-15%, meaning your 1920 x 1080 HDTV could be delivering a picture as small as 1632 x 918! To compensate, you can set your VGA source to a slightly lower “underscan” resolution that ZvBox will recognize. That will allow your TV to show a screen-filling picture, without masking off anything important like the start bar.
See the Setting VGA and HDMI Underscan Resolutions document for more information about how underscan works and the Compensating for cropped video from VGA and HDMI sources document for a step by step guide on setting underscan resolutions.
An off-center VGA image typically means the ZeeVee device did not calibrate correctly when it first connected to the VGA source.
To quickly recalibrate the video first, make sure the VGA source is delivering a light-colored picture; ZeeVee units use the difference in contrast between the picture and non-picture area to calibrate positioning of the image on-screen. Then, in Maestro or ZvConfig go to the system tab and click the "calibrate VGA" button. Note that this command optimizes a ZeeVee unit for a given VGA resolution, so unless you change your VGA resolution, you can calibrate once and forget it.
The HDMI input on our new products will only support unencrypted video, typically from a digital signage player, video camera or other self generated content. All of our products broadcast a clear QAM (unencrypted) signal over coax, therefore would break HDCP (HDMI’s encryption rules/requirements) if we tried to support encrypted video as an input. Our HDMI input most likely will not work with Blu-ray players, satellite boxes or cable boxes, as they are typically encrypted.
The component input on our products is designed for use with satellite and cable set top boxes. It will allow a full HD signal without encryption. There have been some concerns about what is often called "analog sunset" but, as you can read here in an early FAQ, component on set top boxes is here to stay.
- HDbridge 2640, 2620, 2540, 2520 hardware versions “F” and higher support VGA (indicated by the last digit of the product serial number)
- Firmware version 1.5.1 and higher is also required
This idle screen is broadcast when the ZeeVee device does not detect any video input from the source. You should:
- Verify the source is on and producing a video signal.
- If using component, verify that the cable is connected to the source and modulator correctly. Especially that the green connector is in the green port, blue connector in the blue port, and red connector in the red port.
- If using VGA, verify the PC has not gone into sleep mode and that the resolution is a supported resolution (typically 1280x720).
Combining ZeeVee Products with Other Signals
Yes, but you’ll want to verify that the signals coming from the ZeeVee device match the output of the analog modulator. It is important that all signal levels are balanced when you combine them. The ZeeVee device may need amplification before combining with analog modulators.
It is technically possible to have your Zv channel on the same coax as your over-the-air (OTA) channels. Just make sure the channel assigned to the ZeeVee device is unoccupied. We recommend using channel 126 or higher, which is outside the OTA broadcast range.
The bigger issue is how your HDTV tuner lets you access both the Zv channel and the OTA channels. Some HDTVs will store both OTA and cable (QAM) channels in one big integrated channel lineup- you click up or down on the remote, and it allows you to scroll right through them all. On other sets, you have to first tell the HDTV (using several menu commands) whether you want to watch OTA or cable channels, and then you can scroll only through the selected type making switching back and forth less convenient.
Verify that you have “UPnP User Interface” installed. Follow the directions below to verify and/or install “UPnP User Interface” by following the following directions.
- Open “Control Panel”.
- Open “Add or Remove Programs”.
- Click on “Add/Remove Windows Components” on the left hand side.
- Scroll down to “Network Services” and highlight by a single click.
- Click on the “Details” button below the list of components.
- If “UPnP User interface” does not have a checkmark in the box beside it, click on the box to select it.
- Windows XP will now install the required software.
- Once the install has completed close out of the “Windows Component Wizard” and the “Control Panel”.
If these steps do not resolve the issue, please review the UPnP Trouble Shooting Manual.
Configuration and firmware updates are done via a web interface, the WebManager. Connect the LAN port directly to a PC using a standard Ethernet cable. In a few minutes, your PC will recognize the device and will list it by serial number in 'network places' (from the start menu) on Windows XP or 'network' on Windows 7. Double click the icon and the web interface will open up in your browser.
Note: Windows XP users must have UPnP installed on their computer, for information on how to install UPnP click here.
When the unit is installed on a DHCP-enabled network it will request a DHCP assigned address. The local DHCP server will administer the address to the modulator.
If there is no DHCP address on the network, the modulator will pick a “link-local” IP address.