RCA 2nd Generation specifics

This page will list details, tips and problems which are specific to the second generation RCA (7430, 4430) systems. Although these units are very similar to RCA first generation units, there are new features and possibly bugs which must be addressed separately. If you have such a tidbit of information, please send it to me for inclusion.

Disclaimer: I accept no liability for for damages to anyone or anything by following any suggestions on these pages. These tips are being provided as is, by people I generally do not know, and whom I usually cannot vouch for, either personally or technically. Try at your own risk. If you do try something here and get bad results, let me know so I can post that too.

For those owners who are considering trading up their older unit to one of the new ones, a review of the RCA 4430 is available here at John Hodgson's DBS homepage. After reading it again, I saw that the author, Steve Martin, included instructions on accessing the special menu on the 4430 as well. Having owned a first generation system, he has done a nice job of comparing the two systems. His review is far more illuminating than reading the specs for the two units.

Accessing the service mode menu, resetting the unit.

Thanks to John Hodgson for posting the original instructions by Joe Shields. I have no info on the first two ("reset" or "soft boot") instructions in Joe's post. If anyone knows how to do them on the new receivers, or knows what happens when you do, or how these differ from each other or the "hard reset" below, (does it erase your preferences, etc.), please let me know.

Accessing the service mode menu:

Since the new units don't have a 'TV/DSS' button on the front, the procedure for getting the service menu is slightly different from the one in the original instructions. This is the sequence:

  1. Turn DSS unit on.
  2. On the unit (not remote) press the 'down' key, and the 'display' key simultaneously and then release both.

You get a special menu that allows you to input a phone number* for the service test, run a service test, input a phone prefix (single digit for getting an outside line), channel hold (allows you to lock the unit to a single channel), set a default channel the system will come up on, and lock the power switch on.

*I don't know what this test phone number should be, or what kind of signal the modem will expect to see. One of these days I may get bold and see if it can call my modem and maybe let me look inside, but I'm no hacker, so I hesitate. I only know there is no default number, since the modem test hangs indefinitely when you run the test, requiring you to unplug the unit to get anywhere.

The system test in this menu is more detailed than the one in the regular setup menu, listing things like RAM and ROM separately, but I don't know what happens after the modem test...

Most of these 'special' options are apparently targetted at businesses who sell DSS systems to prevent customers from fiddling with the unit, or for the folks who use the 'realty channel' or other channels listed as 'private.' I guess most of this applies to the older RCA units as well, but I figured since I'm telling you how to get into the menu, I'll tell you what you get.

Performing a "hard" reset:

This Item was submitted by Dan Pipes.

Note: This is the same procedure given in Joe Shield's post, but with a little more data about what a "hard" reset really does.
According to Dan, an RCA tech said do a hard reset by:

  1. Turn unit off
  2. Remove ID card from unit
  3. Unplug AC power cord from wall
  4. Remove ALL other plugs from the back of unit. (I questioned why this was necessary but he said "you have to")
  5. Let sit overnight (2 1/2 hrs minumum - but over night is recommended)
  6. This allows the microprocessor to drain down completely (Note: RCA said this WILL cause you to lose all of your preferences etc. - as he said this forces the unit to return to "factory pre-sets," but According to Dan Pipes, he did this and did not lose his preferences. Your milage may vary.)

Another 'Hard Reset' solution

This Item was submitted by John S. Antún. John says he tried the procedure above in 7 different units, but it did not work, even though it is apparently the manufacturer's recommended procedure, according to Dan Pipes. And Joe Shields had the same info in his article. However, I am trying to stay unbiased on this, so here is John's procedure. He suggests the following works in RCA units model 303 and above:

  1. Turn On the Receiver.
  2. Hold Down Arrow and On/Off Switch Simultaneosly and wait 10 seconds. (Don't Release the buttons until noticed)
  3. Unplug the DSS from the wall and wait 10 seconds.
  4. Plug and Unplug the DSS 4 times at 3 seconds intervals (In the Standard Unit, the intervals are only 2 seconds).
  5. Plug the Receiver on the Wall and release the Down Arrow and On/Off Switch.
  6. Turn the Receiver On and press menu select two times.

According to John, "Doesn't matter if the card is plugged, I tried with the card plugged. "In some receivers, I haved to tried up to six times all the above steps, but definitively WORKS."

(Editor's note:I only report the news, folks. I would think the unplugging and plugging back in would not be too good on the electronics. I have not tried this procedure, and do not know how the various timings were arrived at. Read the Disclaimer at the top of the page before trying any of these tips, including this one. If you are not comfortable with something, do not do it. -jmm)

Strange behavior on power up

This Item was also submitted by Dan Pipes.

I have the 4430 RCA. It worked perfectly for about 5 weeks. Lately, after the unit has been off for some time, when I hit the DSS on the remote, the unit goes into some type of test mode. It flicks the tv video.. just a bit (no actual picture) then the remote IR LED I have attached to the VCR from the DSS will glow bright for about a second. The little green "on" LED never does come on. If I hit the DSS button on the remote to try to start the thing again, it comes right up... normal in all respects. And works perfectly the rest of the day. It seems to only do this after it has been off for a few hours, like over night. I did call RCA about the seeming reset and start up and they said "this is normal." Well, I sure don't remember that happening before.

Update on Dan's problem:
Today for the first time my DSS was left on (by my son) all day. When I returned home from work I went to change the channel and the same type of "reset" happened. Except this time I got a "searching for satellite signal" at the bottom of the screen. I also turned it off for about 2 hours and when I came home, I turned it on only to have it do the reset bit and 'searching for satellite signal.' Well... I called RCA again. This time the RCA tech asked about the weather and when he found it was clear as a bell.... no clouds etc., and all my connections have been checked and double checked, he claims I need to do a "hard reset" (see above). I really think they are guessing but what the heck... at least if it does eventually go south I will have a record of the problem prior to my 90 day warranty expiring.

Another update: Dan says that RCA is going to overnight him a new or at least refurbished unit with an as-new warranty. So the trouble may not be fixable by resetting the unit after all.

Final Answer: Dan got a new unit from RCA. Same trouble. The new RCA tech (Randy) then said it may be a problem with the remote extender, which was connected directly. So Dan unplugged the remote extender from the unit, and placed it in front. This solved the problem!

According to my friend Robert, when he had his remote extender in front of the unit, he could not use his remote because of the IR noise the thing blankets the room with. Putting it across the room solved it. I had some trouble with my video and audio blanking out, which I'm not convinced was not something caused by my remote extender.

The moral is, If things act weird, and you are using a remote extender, disable it for a while and see if the unit acts normally. These are susceptible both to spurious IR signals and to RF signals, so the potential for unwanted IR pulses coming out of the unit is fairly high.

Apparent differences with the "System Test" function between the 4430 and the 7430

When the "system test" function is accessed as the third step of the "setup" routine (accessed from the "assistance" menu item) on the 7430, the unit gives you a choice of having the system test performed automatically after a power loss. This choice is presented upon choosing "exit" after the system test is performed. According to Dan Pipes, his 4430 unit does not present this choice. The RCA tech told him the 7430 has this feature, but the 4430 does not. Does anyone know of any other undocumented differences between the two models?

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