Satellite TV Software AB IPBox Receiver Enigma Alternative Firmware for AB IPBox HD Receiver Why would someone consider installing an alternative firm are to a satellite receiver now a days? If we take a look in the past, some 10 or 15 years ago it really made sence. When mass public satellite tv started to appear in Europe, satellite DXers and enthusiasts who wanted to see almost everything, had not much choice in receivers. Being seriously limited with its original firmware,a receiver fully unlock edits potential only after being upgraded with an alternative stock image file. Although its interface couldn’t be called user friendly, alternative firmware in the old days made possible the SCPC reception, PID entering and much more. It was a real revolution back then.
But enough nostalgia, we live in the 21st century now. Not just digital satellite tv, but also HDTV made its way into all parts of the world. There are lots and lots of different receivers available, which would perfectly fit the needs of almost any user already with its original firmware.So does it make sense to think alternative today?
Especially if we are talking about powerful Linux based HD PVR receiver. ABCom, one of the market leaders in this segment, even with the original firmware could reach such flexibility,that hardly any thing was left to be desired. And once we learned that even ABCom itself is releasing an alternative firmware for its IPBox HD receiver family, we decided to have a look and find out,what made them do so. We decided to carry out the tests on AB IPBox 910HD, although, Enigma1 is already available also for 91HD, 900HD and 9000HD as well.
Satellite TV Software AB IPBox Receiver The most comfortable and worry free way could be an Online Update, which normally would allow us to download the image right into the box’s memory from the Internet, however, we didn’t find Enigma1 in the list of available updates. So we had to download the image from AB ipbox software and upload it via USB. To do so, first you need a USB stick,which should be formatted in FAT or FAT32 just before the image file is transferred to it. Next step is to rename the image file to usb_update.img,and“safely” remove the USB stick from your PC, stopping it in the OS you use. Now plug it into your IPBox receiver, and for some time put the remote control away now all the operations need to be done with the buttons on the front panel.
Simultaneously press “Standby” and “OK” buttons to reboot your box, then hold “Standby” and “Up” for a few seconds, releasing firstthe“Standby”,then the “Up” button. The front display should clearly read “USB Upgrade” now, and if the receiver finds the usb_update.img file on the USB stick and no extra files were left there by the user, the process should start. In some cases it might say “ER 10”, nothing is wrong, it could happen sometimes with earlier versions of boot loaders. Just try it couple of more times, and soon you’ll have the job done. Upgrading this way is safe enough, just make sure that the power is not shut off until the new image file success fully lands in the box’s memory and it’s front display says “Done”.
Following an upgrade, you’ll first see “Booting”, then “Loading”, then “Load Enigma HD”. Then just a black screen.
Strange, in case of an official firmware a nice wizard would greet us here, offer-ing to select various options. Enigma also has it, but in the current version it only appears after a “Factory Reset”. Don’t worry, just press “Menu” on the remote control, then choose “Setup” – “Expert Setup” “Factory Reset”, and you can configure the new firmware from zero right the way you’d like it. First the receiver asks you about the TV system (PAL, PAL60, Multinorm and NTSC are offered), then you can select the preferred OSD language (the on-screen menus are currently available in English, Czech, Danish, German, Greek, Spanish, Estonian, Finnish, French, Croatian, Hun-garian, Icelandic, Italian, Dutch, Nor-wegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Slovenian, Serbian, Swedish and Turkish). Third step is the time zone, with lots of sample cities to select from the dropdown box. Next menu brings three icons to the screen, which pretty much speak for themselves – “No DiSEqC”, “Simple” and “Complex”. Yes, it’s the right time to select the options of your multi-satellite system. And once you’re done with it, nothing prevents you from starting the most interesting procedure at this point the Channel Search.
Again, three options are offered here, “Automatic Transponder Scan”, “Automatic Multisat Scan” and “Manual Scan”. Unfortunately, the current beta version of Enigma1 is behind the official one here. Automatic Scan on a 100-transponder satellite position kept the receiver busy for a long 19 minutes and 30 seconds, storing 1052 TV and Radio channels.
Some work is surely still to be done here, as well as with adding new satellites and transponders to the Enigma’s database.
The built-in list of satellites is more or less up-to-date for Europe, but if, for example, you plan to receive some Asian bird, like ABS-1 at 0750, the only way now to do this is to download the satellite / transponder list from the receiver to your PC and manually edit it. The OSD allows adding new satellites and transponders, but, unfortunately, once you exit the menu, even pressing “Save”,all entered information is “forgotten”.And since the official PC Editor does not support Enigma (as it’s clearly stated in its readme file),the only choice is to use some text editor that would not ruin the Linux CR/LF in the downloaded file.Most of IPBox HD users have their receivers connected to the Internet and know the box’s IP number, if not, it’s easy to find it out go to Setup Expert Setup Communication Setup menu and make note of it, since, most likely, the receiver already automatically configured the connection.If for whatever reason it didn’t happen, all the connection parameters can be entered manually in the same menu.
Open your favorite FTP client, then enter the IP address of your IPBox HD. Once prompted for username and password, enter root and ipbox respectively. Go to /var/etc directory and download satellites.xml file.First make a backup copy of it in case something goes wrong, then copy one of the existing satellites, changing the name, position and transponders to the ones you need. Note that all the frequency values are in Hz and all the symbol rates are in sps, which means three extra zeros compared to values available in SatcoDX satellite chart. Once all the changes are made, make sure there are no extra spaces, returns or letters, then save and upload the fileright to where you got the original from. If you go to Setup satellite tv services Searching – now, the new satellite becomes fully visible and available.
Probably this is the biggest problem with Enigma currently, which should be relatively easy to fix.And most European users would hardly notice it since their favorite birds are already there with quite-up-to-date transponder lists.
Enigma1 also has an Internet update function, which can be reached by accessing Setup Expert Setup Software Update Internet Update menu. The updating process is as easy as with official firmware,and once the new image sees the light, it can be in the memory of your box within minutes, fixing old problems and bringing new features.
While we’re still at the Installation stage, it’s worth noticing that even Enigma itself can look totally different after just a few clicks. You can swtich between several “skins”, the menu i self can appear like a “wheel” which can be moved left and right by the cursor keys, or can be easily switched back to a more traditional look. Even the buttons on the remote control can be used for different purposes by selecting a different “Remote style”. However, not to get too lost at first we would advise to stick to “Ipbox (Relook)” style at first,which copies almost all remote functions of the original firmware.
If you’ve selected the above mentioned “Ipbox” remote control style in the menu, press “OK” to open the classic Enigma channel list. If you already had a chance to try out the Enigma firmware one arlier SD models of ABCom receivers, you would know that coloured buttons of the remote control play the key role here. For example, red button brings up all channels from all satellites in one list, green one first shows satellites as directories, you can open them one by one to find the channel you’d like to watch tonight. Yellow one forms the directories by satellite tv providers, and the blue button opens the “Bouquets” mode, which actually means the favorite lists here. Differently from original firmware,channel list editing here could be reached by going to Setup – Service Organizing menu. And actually editing here only means the favorite lists, unfortunately, it’s not possible to delete, move or rename channels in the main list. However, maintaining the favorite lists is absolutely easy just select the “Add Services to bouquet” submenu, mark the needed channels with “OK” button and voila! You always have the needed channels in one place, without the need to endlessly browse through one of the main lists.
Channel list can be displayed in three different modes channel names would come in one column, in three columns, or, in case of “bouquets”, the left column becomes outlined, displaying the “directories”, while the rest of the screen is filled with channel names.This way,reminding some popular file managers,channels from several different favorite lists can be quickly accessed, without the need to endlessly change screens and select different lists. Pretty convinient ! Three channel list modes can be selected by repeatedly pressing the “check” (“v”) button on the remote control.
Satellite DXers would really enjoy the extended channel information screen, available at Information – Stream info menu. Channel name, provider, Video, Audio, PCR, PMT, Teletext PIDs, video format, Transponder Stream ID, Original Network ID, Service ID, Encryption systems, as well as transponder parameters are displayed here. Audio and video bitrates are available from the Bitrate Viewer plugin, accessible by clicking the Yellow button and selecting “Bitrate viewer”. Pretty helpful to find out if the channel is really HD or just pretending to be one.
Double-click on the EPG button makes the “EPG Style” menu appear, with three options – Channel EPG, Multi EPG and EPG Search. The first one displays the EPG only for the currently selected channel, line-by-line. Multi EPG brings to the screen a grid with the current and neighbouring channels. The selection that you make (Channel EPG/Multi EPG) is remembered, and next time you single-click the EPG button, the chosen EPG type would be displayed. EPG search allows looking for a specific satellite tv program either in the EPG of selected channel, or on all available channels, even “Genre” can be selected here. Another serious improvement! Although, it would be nice to make the text typing a bit more user-friendly, not just by pressing “up” or “down” in the typing field,butal so in the SMS style,using the numerical buttons to enter letters, for example.
Unfortunately, at the moment it’s not possible to select specific programs for recording right in the EPG, this was mentioned in the release notes. However, manual recording timer programming is there, in the “Timer” menu. Start/stop times can easily be selected, and there IS a link to EPG here that would help you to get the proper values for beginning/end of the show you’d like to record.
Our tests were carried out on AB IPBox 910HD with a built-in HDD. The file systems of original and Enigma1 firmware are not compatible with each other, so make sure you’ve backed up all the valuable recordings before switching to the new OS. Once the Setup System Settings Harddisk Setup menu is accessed, the receiver will satellite tv offers you to format the HDD so it becomes accessible from Enigma. The process doesn’t take too long and the experimenting spirit has no chance to disappear until it’s completed.
Surely the good old red circle button starts the recording right away, and the files are stored properly,regardless if SD or HD channel is recorded. Fast for-warding/pausing still needs some work to be done, but the regular playback rises no questions. The recordings are easily accessed from the wonderful “File Mode” (Menu – File Mode), which might look simple, but from the usability view-point leaves the original firmware far behind. Indeed it looks like a computer’s file system with different directories for photos, MP3s, PVR recordings and so on. Everything is so logically organized that you’ll find the needed file within seconds. But the really hot thing here is the Internet streaming radio,which was also introduced in the latest original firmware versions. In case of Enigma1, there is no need to endlessly look around and edit endless files,just get them 3u file from your favorite station, and upload it via FTP to /media/mp3.Voila, the station immediately appears in the File Mode menu. Getting access to Internet music outside of your PC has never been so easy!
Description of the glorious “File Mode” would not be complete without mentioning the “Playlist”, which stores all lately accessed recordings, files or Internet radio stations.That’s right, the receivers are no longer storing just the list of lately accessed channels, but also of all other accessed multimedia. Since we are no longer talking about just a satellite receiver, but about a really powerful computer-like device – it’s just a matter of installing the right firmware.
This is also something Enigma1 can be proud of. Open your favorite web browser and type in the same IP address you’ve used earlier to access the box via FTP. Being prompted for User ID/password, use root/ipbox again. Almost all receiver features can be addressed from here, even a virtual remote control can be brought to the PC’s screen. Are your kids too busy watching cartoons instead of doing their homework? You can send a “message” to the IPBox that will appear right on their TV set! Extended stream, channel, EPG and teletext information is also available via Enigma1 Web Interface in one or two mouse clicks. PVR recording and playback can also be controlled, up-to-date information about remaining disk space is provided in the upper right part of the screen.
Although it’s clear that the first beta version can’t be perfect from all sides, Enigma1 is really a promising project. Computer geeks at heart and hardcore DXers would be absolutely happy with it, since it really erases the borders between a PC and a satellite receiver, unlocking the full power of the Linux-based box. And now we are not talking about some amateur project, but about the one fully supported by the manufacturer. It’s definitely worth trying out, and hopefully easy-to-install updates will follow soon, making it even more flexible,powerful and reliable.
Satellite TV Software AB IPBox Receiver : Download