what's wrong with my TV/cable box

I own a sharp television (model 32F641)
I also have Mediacom cable service.
I have the Motorola cable box provided by Mediacom.

Everything was working fine until one day I turned on the television and I could not get past Channel 26 (I think) without a distorted picture.

the television displays some channels in black-and-white, scrambled pictures… while others aren’t even show. The weird thing is, when I switch the channels on the cable box, the blue box that always appears on the bottom of the screen upon changing channels remains the same…crystal clear… It’s the channel that is distorted.

why is it doing this? I consulted the owner’s manual and it said to set it up for cable channels…I did this and nothing changed, same problem

I called the cable company and they said it was my television. However, I cannot find anything to change on my television that hasn’t already been attempted.

What do you think it is? Have you ever had this problem? What fixed the problem?

like I said, the blue box appears just fine on the bottom of the screen when changing channels on the cable box. I’m clueless. Help!

It’s not your TV. I suspect it’s the cable box. I’m surprised the cable technician dindn’t try to “reset” your box remotely–that’s what they do when I’ve had problems before. I you plug your TV directly into the cable, bypassing the cable box, do you get OK reception? If so, then it’s definitely the box.

I would try to unplug your cable box to let it cool down, and maybe gently tap it while holding it upside down (seems to work for me).

I’m not sure that I fully understand what you’re saying. Are you suggesting that I connect the television to a cable, then directly to the wall jack? I’ve tried the powerdown method a few times with the cable box.

I can get basic cable channels without the cable box with the jack that is in my room. Does it have to be the same jack?

its digital cable, so I’m assuming that I need the box… actually, on-demand is a feature that I pay for which still works regardless of the channel problem.

I also have the TiVo unit… it’s working and I have the subscription. When my cable was working, I had the TiVo hooked up. However, when the channels screwed up, I disconnected it so that I could deal strictly with the cable box and troubleshoot it first.

what are we thinking?

Most new(er) televisions have an automatic channel finder. When using a cable box, you have to be very careful to have your television set to whatever channel the box is using (usually channel 3 or 4 in the USA). Turn on the cable box, find the channel (3 or 4) and then go to your TELEVISION menu using your television remote. Somewhere you should find SETTINGS and somewhere around there you should see something that says AUTO CHANNEL FINDER (or similar verbiage). Select that and theoretically, your television will quickly scan and “find” all the channels on your cable box. Oh, and make sure on your television settings that you have it set for CABLE and not ANTENNA or AUX.

Hope this wasn’t too confusing, and hope it helps.

I mean, turn on your cable box and then find whatever channel, 3 or 4 ON YOUR TELEVISION and then…

BTW, this type of thing sometimes happens if the electricity went out for a few minutes and screwed up your TV settings, or if you might have accidentally hit the wrong button on your TV remote (most likely).

I think that we are getting close to the answer… I have choices under cable channels:

Cable IRC
Cable STD
Cable HRC
Any idea what this means?

First, what are you using to connect the cable box to your TV? Is it the single coaxial wire, like the one the cable comes in on, or are you using the 3 wire setups with audio and video on separate wires?

If you’re using the single coaxial wire, you need to set the channel on the TV to 3 or 4. It doesn’t matter how the TV is setup, just pick the right channel, whether it’s ANT/CABLE/Whatever, channels 3 and 4 work the same.

If you use the multi-wire setup, then select the correct Video Input (Video1, Video2, etc). It still doesn’t matter what the channels on your TV are setup like, since you’re now not using them at all.

The channel setup on your TV only matters if you plug the TV directly into the cable input, with no cable box at all.

These specify the channel plan – what frequencies are used for channels. IRC stands for Incrementally Related Carrier. In this plan the lower edge of the channel space is on a whole MHz. HRC stands for Harmonically Related Carrier. In this plan the video carrier that is assigned to harmonics of 6 MHz. STD and Air use the standard NTSC channel plan – video carriers are 1.25 MHz below the channel edge. STD uses all the same channels as Air, but there are addtional channels in STD which are allowed on cable systems, but not over the air.

As you should only be tuning the TV to channel 3 or 4, you should use the “Air” setting.

I’m connected with a coax cable…

on channel 4…

four more attempts to reprogram and no luck.

Ok, everyone is just complicating the issue for you with irrelevant facts. It’s obvious to me the problem is with the box. What I suggested before, is to connect your TV through a cable directly to the wall jack. Tune your TV to channel 26 or whatever (it doesn’t matter that you have digital cable…the box is only required for channels above 99.) You may have to re-program your TV channel list–use the cable standard menu. If you can see the channels without distortion, then it is the cable box.

If not, then it is either the jack itself, or the cable. It is definitely NOT your TV, if you can get some channels in clearly with the box, but not others.

You said you “powered down.” Did you completely unplug the box unit and all cables from it? Did you try tapping it upside down yet?

thank you for clarifying that some of that info is just too much. I’ll take step one tomorrow then go from there.

Our cables typically reliable in quality? I think there are about four connecting the cable box to the television with loops and such in the back.

the upside down and tap method makes me somewhat hesitant to try since I once lost a game that I played for hours on Nintendo only to have it freeze on the last level, then reset. I’ll save that info for Dr. Phil but is there science behind this?

how about a quick hijack? is it feasible to connect my TiVo directly to my TV and use that as my cable box? Are both required? if possible, it would be awesome to strictly use TiVo and not the Motorola cable box. Somehow I doubt this though.
Results to come

Yes, you will need the cable box if you want to watch the digital channels. No, there really isn’t any science behind the tapping, but it worked for me–maybe it dislodged a dust particle on the circuit board? I did it very gently, so there wasn’t any real danger.