What PC do I need for EUMETCast?

People often ask "What PC do I need for EUMETCast" to receive the data from Meteosat-8/9, and all the other services?  On this page, we try and answer that question.  We start off with David Taylor's recommendations based on five year's experience of EUMETCast reception, trying systems, and listening to what other people have said works for them.  The second part of the information is sets of comments from users, starting with comments from Arne van Belle who is probably one of the most experienced and most knowledgeable person in this field outside EUMETSAT.

Recommendations

Many people now use a single PC for receiving and processing just Meteosat-8/9 data if the PC is powerful enough, but a two-PC network is recommended, with the lower-spec (and perhaps lower power consumption) PC as the Reception PC with the DVB card or USB box, and the higher-specification PC as the Processing PC, grabbing files off the Reception PC over the network.  If you intend to receive data from the polar orbiting satellites in the future, the two-PC configuration is recommended.  A two-PC system also allows your main PC to be rebooted without loss of data.  You can ask about any particular configuration on the MSG-1 Yahoo Group, where a thousand members with working systems can help!

Related information:

Popular Single-PC Configuration

A single Windows XP, Vista or Windows-7 PC configuration, given a powerful Intel CPU (2.8GHz or better, dual-core is better) and plenty of memory (at least 1GB) and an NTFS disk format, can be used for both receiving and processing the data - i.e. using the TelliCast software and MSG Data Manager and MSG Animator on the same system.  However, you must try to keep other disk-intensive, CPU-intensive or network-intensive (TCP/IP stack) operations off such a single-PC system if you want to minimise the risk of missing segments.  This really means "try not to use this PC as your main station PC".  If you want to improve the robustness of a single PC against missing segments, it is highly recommended that you use a RAMdisk.  The RAMdisk size depends on what data you take - my current (Oct 2008) suggestions are: for MSG data + EARS-AVHRR data 50MB, for MSG + EARS-AVHRR + Metop-AVHRR data 120MB, for the full Metop data set 250MB.  Many people are currently using such systems with excellent results, although such a configuration is presently considered as an unsupported configuration both by EUMETSAT and by SatSignal software.  Tests have suggested that Intel CPUs produce a smaller segment loss in the single-PC configuration.  If you are running Windows Vista, I suggest 2GB minimum memory, and 3GB if you can.  If you are running 64-bit Winodws-7, then use at least 3GB, preferably 4GB.  Be aware that the ASUS A8N SLI motherboard may be incompatible with the popular SkyStar2 PCI card - the power tracks on the motherboard can be burnt out!  Use a DVBWorld or Dexatek USB box instead.

Running a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on a single PC configuration is likely to stop reception as a VPN blocks other network access.  You can ask  on the MSG-1 Yahoo Group if someone if using a similar system to what you propose.

If you are very careful, you may even be able to use a lower specification single PC, perhaps an 800MHz processor with 512MB of memory, but you may need to do some tuning of the system configuration to avoid missing segments in the images.  Arne van Belle has demonstrated a very carefully tuned system working on a 400MHz PC with just 384MB of memory!  He uses a RAMdisk to avoid missing segments.

Typical 2-PC configuration

  • Processing PC - The MSG Data Manager and MSG Animator software is intended for use on a 1GHz or better PC (2GHz or faster desirable), with at least 512MB of memory, preferably 1-2GB if the HRV channel or Meteosat 5 or 7 visible data is to be processed.  Windows XP, Vista and Windows-7 are supported.  This Processing PC should be linked via a network connection to the PC receiving the DVB EUMETCast data.  It is recommended that the Receiver PC offer a network share, to which the Processing PC maps a connection each time it is booted.  Be sure to grant write-access if you want the source files to be deleted by the MSG Data Manager!  Running a VPN on the processing PC is likely to stop it seeing the receiver PC, although the receiver PC can continue to accumulate files while the VPN is in use.
    As the number of files can amount to many thousand during one day, you should be aware that if you wish to keep the processed data files, you will need a file system capable of handling that.  FAT32 runs out of space near that limit, with the long file names used by HRIT.  Be sure to use the NTFS disk structure, and this means using Windows 2000, XP, Vista, or Windows-7.  Be aware that Windows 2000 is no longer supported, and some of my software may not run correctly.
  • Reception PC - EUMETSAT recommend a 2GHz/1GB RAM PC, but initial tests have shown that when operating purely as a data capture PC, a 1GHz/512MB system is just adequate, and on my own 1GHz/512MB system I used to see zero missing segments when receiving AVHRR data, Meteosat-7 and 8/9 data, and the foreign satellite data from around the world.  However, since Metop data started, with its much larger files, I do see an occasional missing Metop data chunk, at the rate of less than one chunk per day.  At 28MB+, these chunks are some of the biggest single files received.  I used to run a 550MHz system with few, if any, missing Meteosat 8/9 segments.  I now run no application software on the Reception PC other than the DVB reception applications (you could use anti-virus and firewall software, which are arguably not needed, but these increase the risk of missing segments or the need for increased activity by the automatic TelliCast error correction functions.).  Only Windows XP, Vista or Windows-7 are supported.  Fast hard disks, with as big a buffer as possible, and a fast connection (UDMA 66/100 or serial ATA interface) will help minimise the chance of missing segments.  You will most likely want to add a 90-120MB RAMdisk to reduce the disk load even further.  Suggestion - start with what you can afford, but be prepared for an upgrade if required.  For reception of the Metop polar orbiting data, plan on at least a 2GHz/1GB reception machine.
    As the number of files can amount to 10,000 or more during one day, you should be aware that if you wish to keep the data files before processing, you will need a file system capable of handling that.  FAT32 runs out of space near that limit, with the long file names used by HRIT.  Be sure to use the NTFS disk structure.

Alternative 2-PC configuration

Arne van Belle has been running a slightly different 2 PC configuration recently.  He runs both the TelliCast software and the MSG Data Manager on one PC, with the image files being transferred to a second PC at the end of each 15-minute HRIT scan.  This keeps the TelliCast received directory with the minimum number of files, whilst not being dependant on the second PC actually being available.  The second PC can be switched on and off as desired.  There is more information here.

  • Reception and First-level Processing PC - minimum specification 1GHz Pentium III with 512MB of memory.  2 x 20GB disks, on UDMA 66 or UDMA 100 interface, and disks to have 8MB buffer rather than 2MB.  No interactive use.  Software kept to absolute minimum, running Windows XP, TelliCast tc-recv, and MSG Data Manager.  MSG Data Manager to have the Drop priority setting checked.  For future use, plan on at least 2GHz/512MB.
  • Main Processing PC - fast and powerful!  Suggest 1GHz+ processor (2.8GHz recommended), 1-2GB of memory (3-4GB for 64-bit systems), plenty of fast disk (60GB or more).  DVD writer for image and animation archives.  Supported OS - Windows XP, Vista or Windows-7.

Limited Memory Operation

If you are stuck on a limited memory PC, you can reduce the memory load by the following steps.  Reduce the number of animations you have active.  In the MSG Data Manager, don't process channels you don't need, or channels which have a high memory consumption while being received.  Look at the Process Channel checkboxes on the Setup, Channel selection panel.

  • Whatever channels you process as HRIT you don't normally need also to process as LRIT.
  • You may not need to process any of the WV (Water Vapour) channels.  Disable them.
  • Of the Meteosat-8/9 IR channels, you may only need channels 4 (3.9Ám) and 9 (10.8Ám).  Disable the other IR channels.
  • You may not need the Meteosat-7 Indian Ocean data.
  • You may not need the HRV data, but most will want it!
  • Avoid the use of HRV data on the detailed images.
  • The Full-Width HRV centring option will use more memory than the other choices.
  • The GOES-E, GOES-W and MTSAT-1R FSD only consumes memory during the short time the image is being received every three hours, so you might as well leave that enabled, but will be a greater load if the hourly data is used.
  • Data on the MPEF, MDD/SAF and Other tabs does not generally consume lots of memory for long periods.

Data Volumes

EUMETSAT state that the expected data volume is around 7000 files per hour (I think that's too high) totalling 540MBytes.  If you take EARS data and RSS data that increases by 44MB.  Therefore a full day's data would be about 15GB.  If you keep all 12 MSG channels, but save the images as JPEG not PNG, the saved images amount to 1.1GB per day in 1152 files.  Adding the EPS (Metop) data increases these value significantly.

Typical PC loading

Using the Windows Task Manager, you can see what sort of load you might expect on a processing PC.  Here is a screenshot during the reception and processing of a typical Metoesat-8/9 scan.  You might expect a higher load at the end of a cycle if you have animations to update.  This particular PC appears to have a base load of about 8% CPU.  The peaks in CPU Usage (top graph) correspond to the wake-up intervals of the MSG Data Manager, when new data from the Reception PC is copied across the network and processed.

To invoke the Windows Task Manager, press the Control-Alt-Delete keys at the same time.  You can add a shortcut to your Programs, Startup folder to run the Task Manager every time you log on to Windows.  The shortcut should have the target "taskmgr.exe" (more pedantically: %windir%\system32\taskmgr.exe).

CPU and memory usage guidelines

Program   AMD-64 X2
4400+
3GB
Vista Ultimate
AMD-64
3200+
2GB
Win-7 Ultimate
Pentium 4 HT
2.8GHz
3GB
Win-7 Ultimate
 
    Dexatek
USB 2 box
SkyStar 2.6D
PCI card
SkyStar 2.3
PCI card
            
AVHRR Manager CPU 1.5% 1.5%    
Memory   20-50MB 20-50MB    
Dexatek DVB software CPU 0.5%      
Memory <10MB      
DWM
Display Window Manager
CPU 0.1-1% 0.1-1.1% 0-1.2% DWM on the Windows-7 systems seems to grow without limit unless the mouse is moved, when it drops back to 30MB (1024 x 768 display) or 40MB (1600 x 1200 display).
Memory 45MB 30-300MB 40-300MB
Metop Manager CPU 2%      
Memory 130MB      
MSG Animator (Met-8, RSS) CPU     4%  
Memory     30MB  
MSG Data Manager (Met-9 + more) CPU 8% 10.5% 11%  
Memory 380MB 450MB 420MB  
MSG Data Manager (Met-8, RSS) CPU     9.5% About 0.1% when RSS not running.
Memory     125MB  
MSG Animator (Met-8, RSS) CPU     4% About 4.4%/30MB displaying and updating one RSS animation, 5-minute updates, 2.9%/15MB displaying only (when the RSS stopped).
Memory     30MB
MST defragmenter CPU 0.8% 0.7% 0.8%  
Memory <10MB <10MB <10MB  
Server4PC CPU   <0.1% <0.1% Not sure I believe this figure.
Memory   <10MB <10MB  
TelliCast
tc-recv.exe
CPU 2.5% 13% 4.5%  
Memory 40MB 30-40MB 30-40MB  

Any PCs to avoid?

  • One user reported problems with an MSI motherboard MS-7235 Ver :1.1 P965 Neo - P4 Socket 775, and replacing the motherboard with a Gigabyte P35-DS3-P cured these issues.  
  • The ASUS A8N-SLI motherboard is reported to blow tracks when a SkyStar PCI card is plugged in!  Use the Dexatek/DVBWorld USB 2.0 hi-speed boxes with these PCs.  These boxes are available from GEO.

 

Comments from Arne van Belle

The choice of PC depends on your usage of EUMETCast!

Personally I would say to fully benefit EUMETCast you do need to run your receive PC 24 hours to get all the data (like FSD) to be able to animate hurricanes and typhoons for example. I have been using a Pentium III at 1 GHz with 512 Mb RAM and 20 GB disc as receive PC since the start of EUMETCast with excellent results. With a receive only PC you could run with only 192 or 256 Mb RAM.

Receiving 24 hours a day, processing, animating and doing the odd other tasks like mailing is not easy to do on a single PC.  Furthermore a full blown Pentium 4 running at night does use a lot more energy and produces more noise and heat.  My RX (receiver) PC uses about 60 to 100 watts, my P4 over 180 watts.  But to be honest, you cannot buy Pentium III anymore and buying a second hand one especially for EUMETCast is not recommended.

For the last year I have been using the same receiver PC to decode images too using the MSG Data Manager.  So on my second PC I get the decoded images over the network, run MSG Animator, create AVIs using GeoSatSignal and archive some of the images to DVD or CD.  That leaves enough time to process photos, email and so on with this PC.  This second PC is equipped with 1 GB ram to make lengthy animations but runs only when I am present.

On the other hand if you only use the visual Meteosat-8/9 images and watch occasionally, you can easily do with a single PC setup.

So to make it short:

  • If you do have a Pentium II or III with at least 600 MHz processor and 256 Mb Ram, go for the dedicated RX PC and the two PC setup.
  • If not then:
    • Either A: you want 24 hour images/animations: use a moderate speed PC (2 GHz for example if that is still on sale) with 512 Mb to RX and decode.  You can run MSG Animator too on this PC. Do the image editing/GeoSatSignal, archiving and so on on a second more powerful PC.
    • Or B: Buy the fastest Pentium (at least 2.8 GHz) with at least 1 GHz RAM and fast discs.  Run all on one PC but don't be surprised if you loose some segments when doing other stuff on the PC, if it hangs you will loose complete images.

Operating System

I use Windows 2000 for RX and decoding and processing; bear in mind that this is the EUMETSAT recommendation.
My RX PC does run month's with having to do any administering or a reboot.  As I don't internet / mail on this PC it does not need firewall, virus scanner, weekly Microsoft patches and so on.

I also have Windows XP Pro and after additional settings/tweaks it will do everything Windows 2000 can.  But it isn't as stable (yet) and the additional settings do need more knowledge/computer experience.  Don't try XP on a low spec "RX only" PC as it will only take more memory and CPU and doesn't give any benefit in return.

About dishes

60 cm is fine, but I cannot comment on using these in Scotland and Scandinavia, Turkey however.

Arne wrote a comprehensive article about multi-satellite dishes in the GEO Quarterly number 20.

USB box or PCI card version?

[David Taylor comments]  Today I would have no hesitation in recommending the new Dexatek/DVBWorld USB 2.0 hi-speed boxes.  These have been tried and tested on Windows XP and Windows Vista, and found to give excellent performance with little or no segment loss.  They don't need you to open up your PC, and can easily be transferred between machines if you need that, and they don't run hot.  I recommend a direct connection, not via a hub.  The boxes appear to have none of the problem of earlier USB boxes, and they may even cost less!  I recommend GEO as a supplier - ask if the box is not yet listed.

[Earlier comments from Arne van Belle]  I have only card version, did hear that both perform the same.  But: USB is more expensive and has a weak link, the USB port itself, many have problems with USB hubs and conflicting USB software.  The USB version seems to run hot, and generally this means lower life expectancy.  So I would recommend to use the USB box only if you want to run on a notebook and not for 24 hour operation.


PCI slot requirements

Note: The SkyStar 2 PCI DVB card requires a PCI bus with a 5V capability.  Very recent PCs with the PCI-X slots are not compatible.  Please check before you purchase a new PC!


 

A low-power system - from Florian Fuchs-Steigerwald

I asked you many about the receiving hardware...and so I was able to think about a low power system.

My EUMETCast system works now very fine and so I like to tell you more about it.  Perhaps its interesting for other people (you can put it of course to the homepage as system tip, too).  I haven't had here a free and fast enough computers for running one for receiving and one for processing.  And running two extra computer was to much power money for my thinking (120 Watt each computer).  I was used to have a standalone "black box" for the old WEFAX Meteosat 7 receiver with a small Monitor. (Grundig MST 100).  And this was my dream to become again a "one black box for receiving and processing" now...

After checking out your information here and thanks specially to Arne and the OPS, I build follow system:

Small and silent heat pipe cooled barebones system Shuttle SK21G, and cheap to get, too:
http://eu.shuttle.com/de/DesktopDefault.aspx/tabid-72/170_read-11799/

with:

  • AMD Turion ML 34 Mobile CPU with 1800 MHz, needs just 35 Watt only at full power. As fast as an Athlon 3000+
  • 2 GB Ram DDR 400 (the Turion runs best with fast and much ram)
  • 250 GB S-Ata Samsung Serial-ATA HDD, fast , cool and 3 years warranty ;-)
  • Samsung DVD-Rom
  • SkyStar 2 DVB-S-card
  • Windows 2000
  • RAMdrive

connected to the cheapest TFT monitor which I could get.

The trick at the CPU is, that the ML version is to get really cheap at the market (80 instead 200 Euros), because it's the "more power needed" mobile CPU of the Turion series.  The MT series need just only 25 watts.  The ML is bad for battery running time, so.  But anyway at our project are 10 Watt more at power supply no problem.  And so the ML cheaper then the MT series...  A normal desktop CPU costs the same money but needs more power..  Additionally, the PowerNow technology allow that Windows slow down with a special driver the CPU to 800 MHz while receiving and animation the most time (basically 20-30 % load of windows and 30-40 degree Celsius CPU temperature).  The CPU cooler is a heat pipe with 92 mm fan.  This doesn't turn most time so, because he starts first at 50 degree Celsius.  At the mean processing times the CPU load goes up to 100%, then the CPU clocks goes to 1800 MHz and the CPU temperature went for one 1-2 minutes to 50-55 degrees.  The heat pipe fan now start turning with slower speed. Nothing to hear..just to see in the motherboard monitor.  The temperature goes down then.  Fan switch off...and the processing was done.  At the same system runs MSG Manager and MSG Animator and shows the animations very greatly..

I installed 2 GB ram and make a 256 MB ramdrive "Z:". The TelliCast software save his files temporary to the ramdrive like told by Arne's great trick.  Additional I save the received images to Z:\msgreceived\ (i.e. the RAMdisk). That's faster and keep the HDD load down.  And the turion had a great memory bandwidth.  MSG Manager then catch from the RAMdrive the pictures and process it and save it to a second partition of the HDD.

This works since some days very fine...and I have checked all services which I can get by my EKU license.  No problems with the load or missed segments

The best is the power..( checked by a special power meter without TFT).  In the main time the computer needs 30-40 watts power.  Only at full load the systems needs - 45-51 Watts.  That's 25-30% of a normal computer system and 50-60% of two computers.

That saves much money for power and the invest of hardware is soon get back. (ONE normally computer needs in Germany 400-500 Euros power at 24/365 run).  And EUMETCast is something which runs over years..

At last, if in future the satellite sends more data, the Turion CPU can easy overclock to 230 MHz frontside bus instead 200 MHz without any more power needed, but then have 2070 MHz and 15% more power of free.  I tested it out and it works fine.  Even many other people in the web include a computer magazine notice the same.  But this time the 1800 MHz are more then enough.  And in future AMD will distributed a dual-core Turion too.  So in worst case fall just change the CPU...

I hope its perhaps a other way of receiving hardware ... and be interesting for all others!


 

Remote Control of your PC

A number of people have had problems using a variety of remote control products (including Microsoft's Remote Desktop).  Typically, access to the eToken is disabled when remote control is in use, rendering reception impossible.

It seems that the free VNC remote control software from www.realvnc.com does not suffer from this problem, and for Windows Vista try UltraVNC, and TeamViewer does not stop EUMETCast reception.

Andy Eskelson (G0POY) writes:

There are several solutions, most already mentioned.  Software-wise, I'll agree that VNC is a good method.  The best method is to use hardware switching.  DO NOT use simple manual switch boxes as they don't work correctly, and 
will confuse the PCs.  The generic name for the correct switchboxes are KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) and there are several types.  The more standard type of KVM I have used dozens of.. ranging from the ultra expensive to the cheap and nasty.

Here is a short summary of the pitfalls I have run into:

  1. PCs desperately want to see a mouse, most will not even boot if they don't see one. A bit of fiddling in the bios can overcome this if you want to run mouse-less.  KVMs emulate a mouse on all ports, this overcomes this problem.
  2. KVMs use the power from the mouse port to sense the presence of a PC If you are trying to make the KVM work with a mouse-less computer you can run into some real funny problems.
  3. Some KVMs are self powered.  I've found that the units with their own power supply are better.
  4. Most KVMs will only work up to a specified video resolution.  Exceed this and you will run into problems.
  5. Cabling - this is where I have most problems - however I do connect dozens of computers to KVMs. (I manage a smallish computer site, currently about 400 servers to connect up, most of which are unix/linux and we just telnet into them rather than use a GUI.)
    Some KVMs use PS2 type connections on the back.  This seems OK at first and generally it is (I use one such KVM at home) but when you start getting several sets of cables plugged up, they have a very nasty tendency to pull out, which can cause all sorts of problems, especially if you don't notice that a lead is half pulled out.  I use a bar bolted to the rear of the KVM, to which I cable tie the leads.  That overcomes the problem, but you have to do a bit of work.
    Other KVMs have a special lead, with a large plug on one end, normally a 25 way D type, and this fans out to the video, keyboard and mouse connectors at the other end.  The 25 way plug has screw posts, so once connected it stays put.  This is the type I prefer to use in the computer room. The downside is that the leads are normally custom to the KVM and are a bit more expensive than the individual leads.
  6. Fancy mice don't always work and are often not detected.  I've used a Logitech trackball, and a similar MS product.  Loads of buttons, but not working (I can make them work, but it's a bit of a pain).  In any case, I have several different OSes running, so I stick to the generic PS2 type mouse. (The scroll wheel works OK).
  7. In use the KVM is easy and fast, a "hot key" combination such as two taps of the control key followed by a number switches to the same numbered video port.  You can always poke the button on the KVM as well if need be.
    More expensive KVMs can be stacked, so that you can expand the number of computers controlled.  However I don't think you are in that sort of market :-)

Generally I prefer the hardware solution, as it does not impact on any of the computers at all (I have two linux PC's, a windows box, my firewall box and a spare for the laptop all happily running via a KVM) I have tried VNC, and it works, but you have to understand it's quite slow.  But as always you pay your money and take your choice.

I've tried a no-name KVM that was self powered (bought from Maplin, but that lasted about a year and started to do funny things the end result was a non working port.  I've also tried Belkin, and that was a reasonable unit, however I found that it was not easy to expand (you ALWAYS seem to need one more KVM port than you have).  Belkin products 
seem to change quite quickly.  So in the end I bought an 8 port KVM REXTRON KNV108 which is a bit more professional (and expensive) than the Belkin unit, and so far I have not have any problems with it.  This site - http://www.kvmswitchdirect.co.uk - have lots of good info and comparisons between the various KVM products if you want to look into things a bit more.


 

Remote Monitoring

Arne van Belle comments: just want to add that if you only need to monitor TelliCast on a remote PC you can use TQ's web interface!  Taken from TelliCast's Help information:

A web interface allows the easy monitoring of the Client activity.  To open the web interface: 

  • enter the URL "http://system:2517" into your favourite browser.
  • Replace "system" by the name of the system and "2517" by the selected port 
    (entry 'port', in the section [shell] in the Client Configuration File, default: 2517).

You can even monitor your RX PC on multiple PC's simultaneously, tested on W2K and XP pro.  Please note that to see the throughput diagram your browser must be Java enabled.

Example of the TelliCast HTML Shell Overview page:


 

Where to place the Received Data?

The default configuration supplied by the TelliCast software places the received data in the C:\Program Files\ folder tree, which is not really a good place as that tree is normally reserved for system files.  If you have a single HD, I recommend a folder named:  C:\EUMETCast\received\.  If you have a second physical disk (and not just a second partition on a single hard disk), I suggest you put the received files there.  In my own case, I recommend a folder named:  D:\EUMETCast\received\.  To change where the files are placed, you need to edit the recv-channels.ini file.  This file normally lives in C:\Program Files\T-Systems\BusinessTV-IP\ and you can edit it with notepad as it is a standard text file.  Only edit the lines you need to edit, leave the others!

Before the edit:

[*]
# Section per channel or channel group identified by
# channel name (wildcard "*" allowed at end of name)

After the edit:

[*]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received

With that configuration, you would point the "TelliCast received files location" of my MSG Data Manager or AVHRR Manager to: C:\EUMETCast\received.

However, you can do even better than that, and you will need to should you wish to receive METOP data.  The [*] specified above means that all data will be put into the same directory, and this will result in the data being much more difficult to manage.  EUMETSAT split the data into a number of different streams or channels, and this allows you to put the data just where you want!  

The MSG Data Manager allows you to place data for channels 1..4 (and some others) into sub-directories of the "received" directories thus:

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 1]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received\Data Channel 1

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 2]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received\Data Channel 2

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 3]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received\Data Channel 3

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 4]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received\Data Channel 4

For another example, my own file with full-scan data from MSG-2, and MSG-1 rapid scan data on channels 5 and 6 looks like this:

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 1]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received\Data Channel 1

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 2]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received\Data Channel 2

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 3]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received\Data Channel 3

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 4]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received\Data Channel 4

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 5]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received\RSS

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 6]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received\RSS

[SAF-Europe]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received

Note that data from the streams named "Data Channel 5" and "Data Channel 6" is put into a different directory from the other data.  Most importantly in this arrangement, you must specify all the data channels you want to receive, otherwise you will not get the data!  If you don't specify an entry for Data Channel 3, for example, you will get no data from GOES-E/W, MTSAT-1R or other FSD.  This allows you to select just which data you want, which minimises the load on your PC and can result in better performance.

With this configuration, you could run two instances of my MSG Data Manager (with a different executable file name e.g. MsgDataManager.exe and MsgDataManager-RSS.exe), and point the first instance to: C:\EUMETCast\received\ and the second instance to: C:\EUMETCast\received\RSS\ and hence process both normal-scan MSG-2 and rapid-scan MSG-1 data on the same PC.  By the way, if you do this ensure that you have at least 2GB of memory in the PC!

For example, if you are also taking some Metop (EPS) data, you could end up with an recv-channels.ini file looking like this:

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 1]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 2]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received

[EUMETSAT Data Channel 3]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received

[SAF-Europe]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received
# Now the MetOp data ...
[EPS-10]
target_directory=C:\EUMETCast\received\EPS-10

# .. and more like this ....

and you would point the Metop Manager to the received path: C:\EUMETCast\received\EPS-10\.  In this example, I have deliberately not included entries for "EUMETSAT Data Channel 5" and "EUMETSAT Data Channel 6", so that the PC does not have to collect MSG-2 data which is transmitted on those channels.  Taking the full-scan MSG and EPS data alone taxes the PC enough!

You should tell the TelliCast software to use temporary files, and to place them on the same disk drive (i.e. the same partition) as the \received\ directories.  In the recv.ini file, locate the parameters section, and ensure that the tmp_directory is correctly specified to be on the same disk partition, so for the examples above:

[parameters]
.
.
tmp_directory=C:\EUMETCast\temp

Note that if you put the \received\ directories on a different disk partition (D: E: F: etc) from where the TelliCast software is installed (e.g. C:), then you should tell the TelliCast software to place its temporary files on the same partition as the received files.  For example, if your received directories are on drive D:, then in the recv.ini file, locate the parameters section, and ensure that the tmp_directory is correctly specified to be on the same disk partition:

[parameters]
.
.
tmp_directory=D:\EUMETCast\temp

As Metop data (or other very large files) are built up during reception, you should see the files growing in size in the D:\Temp directory, to be moved to the final \received\ directory once they are complete.



Automatic Restart

During the latter half of 2006 we have seen a number of unexpected interruptions to the data stream from the EUMETCast satellite, and you may also get this in periods of local very heavy rain, or when snow build-up blocks your LNB!  Whilst the DVB cards often recover automatically, sometimes they do not, and you come after a hard day at work only to find a red satellite icon and lots of data missing!  It's really annoying! There are a number of ways round this described here.  Your TelliCast software includes facilities for recovering from data stream loss automatically.   If the TelliCast software does not detect the "announcement" channel for a certain period, it can be configured to call a script (DOS command file) which you provide.  Indeed the TelliCast software will continue to call the script every 60 seconds (or whatever you have set) while the problem persists.  Here are three different approaches:

I now use the retune-only variant of the second method, and use the error-script even on the DVBWorld USB box for logging interruptions.  You can check here to see whether other stations in Europe have lost signal.

De-tune / re-tune method

Rather than stop and restart Server4PC, a "gentler" method is to detune the SkyStar card and the tune it back to the correct frequency.  The snag with this method is that when retuning you need to specify all the PIDs etc. on the command line, so the command line can become long and complex, and you would need to alter the command line should you change any PIDs etc.  A program called b2settuner.exe is required, and that program can be found here, together with its documentation.  There are versions for drivers V4.3.0 and V4.4.1, and the V4.4.1 version also works with the V4.5.1 SkyStar software (only b2status.exe tested on 64-bit Windows-7).  A sample of the commands is given below.  Please note that I have made the font small purely for display purposes so that everything fits onto a single line - use copy and paste to put the lines into Notepad when creating your own command file.

David Taylor comments:

I note that Arne van Belle uses "b2settuner -a eth1", and that Giuseppe Cico uses "b2settuner -a skystar" but I found on the first system I tried that the "-a <value>" argument does not appear to be required with Windows.  I would suggest trying a line like:

b2settuner.exe  -i s  -f 11977  -s 27500  -l 10600  -e 3/4  -o h  -k 22  -d n  -pd 100  -pd 300  -pd 301  -pd 302  -pd 500  -pd 509  -pd 510

My current use skips the "detune" line, so I just have the line tuning the card to the correct parameters.  Arne also does this.

Arne van Belle comments:

"As long as you use the recommended TechniSat 4.3.0 driver and the transponder and PIDs do not change, it is OK.  Please note that the retune script also sets all PIDs!  I think this will override PIDs set by server4PC but I have not tested this.  The tool does support multiple LNB switching using Diseqc but the script assumes that there is only one LNB connected to the Skystar2.

Warning, b2settuner sized 48.0 KB date 24 December 2005 10:18:00 does not work at all (just like the b2status file from this newer SDK !)"

Later comments: "[Other experiences] make me think that the Automatic Frequency Correction (AFC) mechanism in the SkyStar software/driver is not constantly active, which is quite disappointing.  [This] makes me re-think about the way I re-tune my SkyStar after a signal interruption.  Currently I use the setdvbtuner command as this acts much quicker but I better use the restart server4PC method!"

b2settuner.exe -a eth1 -i s -f 11977 -s 27500 -l 10600 -e 3/4 -o h -k 22 -d n -pd 100 -pd 300 -pd 301 -pd 302 -pd 500 -pd 509 -pd 510

Comments after the switch to Eurobird-9:  "There are some parameters which need changing in the scripts, including "-k 22" which switches the LNB LO for high-band.  It seems that the "-l 10600" alone doesn't switch the LNB, but is only used in calculation.  I use just the "Set Correct Frequency" part of the script, and don't tune away first.  It causes less disruption when accidentally triggered."

"I use re-tune only in my error-script.  When it is triggered by mistake, and the receiver is already locked, it will remain locked and I don't see any segment losses.  I never found that a de-tune was required to obtain lock again."
 

Here is a sample of the b2settuner.exe program in use in a TelliCast restart command script, as sent in by Giuseppe Cico (thanks), I have updated it for Eurobird-9.  You could omit the detune and "wait" sections if you wish.

echo ------------------------------------------------------------------------------->> E:\Eumetsat\restarts\ConnectionEventlog.txt
:: Check for Error cause %1 and duration %2
IF %1==0 (
echo %date% %time% Connection to Announcement Ch.lost for %2s, detuning Server4PC...>> E:\Eumetsat\restarts\ConnectionEventlog.txt
::
:: detune SKYSTAR from 11977MHz
b2settuner.exe -a skystar -i s -f 11677 -s 27500 -l 10600 -e 3/4 -o h -k 22 -d n -pd 100
::
:: Wait 10s before retuning 
ping -n 10 127.0.0.1
::
echo Retuning Server4PC ...>> E:\Eumetsat\restarts\ConnectionEventlog.txt
::
:: retune SKYSTAR to 11977MHz
b2settuner.exe -a skystar -i s -f 11977 -s 27500 -l 10600 -e 3/4 -o h -k 22 -d n ^
                -pd 100 -pd 300 -pd 301 -pd 302 -pd 500 -pd 509 -pd 510
::
echo Server4PC retuned.>> E:\Eumetsat\restarts\ConnectionEventlog.txt
) ELSE (
echo %date% %time% Error cause %1 is unknown, duration %2s >> E:\Eumetsat\restarts\ConnectionEventlog.txt
) 
exit
 

Recommended simplified version with detune and wait sections removed, and a simplified way of naming the event log.

REM  Alter the path here to suit your own configuration
SET EVENTLOG=C:\EUMETCast\ConnectionEventLog-%COMPUTERNAME%.txt
echo ------------------------------------------------------------------------------->> %EVENTLOG%
REM  Check for Error cause %1 and duration %2
IF %1==0 (
    echo %date% %time% Connection to Announcement Channel lost for %2s >> %EVENTLOG%
    echo %date% %time% Retuning Server4PC ...>> %EVENTLOG%
    b2settuner.exe  -i s -f 11977 -s 27500 -l 10600 -e 3/4 -o h -k 22 -d n ^
                    -pd 100 -pd 300 -pd 301 -pd 302 -pd 500 -pd 509 -pd 510
    REM sleep 5
) ELSE (
    echo %date% %time% Error cause %1 is unknown, duration %2s >> %EVENTLOG%
) 
exit

As before, decide on a name for this file (I suggest: RetuneServer4PC.cmd), edit the file with Notepad to contain the contents above, suitably adapt the file path locations for your own system, and edit the [Watchdog] section of the recv.ini file to point to the file you have used.  Here, I have assumed that the RetuneServer4PC.cmd file is in the TelliCast working directory, and I have set the timeout to 60 seconds because EUMETSAT have said that gaps of up to 30 seconds may occur during certain routine operations (server restarts).

[watchdog]
error_script=RetuneServer4PC.cmd
error_script_cause_announcement=60

In the script above you will see a line commented out:  REM sleep 5.  If you have the sleep.exe program installed, adding the "sleep 5" at that point in the script allows you to see any messages from the b2settuner.exe command.  In a recent snow storm, I saw an error message from the program:  Error: cannot lock.  If TelliCast is running on a PC you routinely monitor, you may find this useful.

Use with the Dexatek & DVBWorld USB boxes

We have found that the Dexatek & DVBWorld USB boxes do not suffer from the same "detune on lack of signal" problem, but you might still want to record the events using a script like the above, but without the retuning command:

REM  Alter the path here to suit your own configuration
SET EVENTLOG=C:\EUMETCast\ConnectionEventLog-%COMPUTERNAME%.txt
echo ------------------------------------------------------------------------------->> %EVENTLOG%
REM  Check for Error cause %1 and duration %2
IF %1==0 (
    echo %date% %time% Connection to Announcement Channel lost for %2s >> %EVENTLOG%
    echo %date% %time% Retuning DVB USB box ...>> %EVENTLOG%
) ELSE (
    echo %date% %time% Error cause %1 is unknown, duration %2s >> %EVENTLOG%
) 
exit

If your DVB USB box does need retuning, you could use the DVBreport.exe program from this download copied to the same directory as your command script, and a command script such as:

REM  Alter the path here to suit your own configuration
SET EVENTLOG=C:\EUMETCast\ConnectionEventLog-%COMPUTERNAME%.txt
echo ------------------------------------------------------------------------------->> %EVENTLOG%
REM  Check for Error cause %1 and duration %2
IF %1==0 (
    echo %date% %time% Connection to Announcement Channel lost for %2s >> %EVENTLOG%
    echo %date% %time% Retuning Server4PC ...>> %EVENTLOG%
    DVBreport.exe
) ELSE (
    echo %date% %time% Error cause %1 is unknown, duration %2s >> %EVENTLOG%
) 
exit
Use with IP receivers such as the Ayecka SR 1 and Novra S300E

You can record the events using a script like the above, but there is no retuning possible or required:

REM      file: ErrorLog.cmd
REM  Alter the path here to suit your own configuration
SET EVENTLOG=C:\EUMETCast\ConnectionEventLog-%COMPUTERNAME%.txt
REM  Write a delimiter to the log file
ECHO ------------------------------------------------------------------------------->> %EVENTLOG%
REM  Check for Error cause %1 to flag "Lost" errors
IF %1==0 (
    echo %date% %time% Connection to Announcement Channel lost for %2s >> %EVENTLOG%
) ELSE (
    echo %date% %time% Error cause %1 is unknown, duration %2s >> %EVENTLOG%
) 
EXIT

Change the lines in recv.ini to tell TelliCast where to find the file:  ErrorLog.cmd, and what delay is required before the script is called.

[watchdog]
error_script=ErrorLog.cmd
error_script_cause_announcement=30
 
Comments from Giuseppe Cico:

Just to show that the method above is not the only way of doing things....

[Received: 2007 January 18]  This is just to notify correct behaviour of my two systems on today's outage.  I've set TelliCast's recovery batch files in different ways, and both did the job:

  • PC1 (2.3 card) is set to detune/retune skystar
  • PC2 (2.6D card) is set to kill/restart setup4pc

In past weeks I remember some problems with PC1, needing to restart after killing/restart because of missing segments.  Maybe detuning/retuning is really a better way.

[Received: 2009 January 09]  Commands I'm using are a little different, just to fit parameters set by EUMETSAT update for Eurobird-9.  Just a little story about my moving... while editing batch file I modified only frequencies, so at first occurrence system was offline for half a day... I missed to set 22khz parameter with "-k 22" instead of "-k 0"...  Five minutes of investigation for what was going wrong.  De-tuning parameters are not really important, provided that on new frequency there is no signal.

 

Alternative stop and restart Server4PC

Experiments by Arne van Bell, EUMETSAT, and I have provided the basis for a command script which you can customise to your own needs.  But it will need to be customised, as each system is different.  You will also need on external command - PSkill - from the sysinternals Web site.  The command script needs to stop the Server4PC process, wait a short while, restart the Server4PC process, and log what it has done for your own reference.

You will also need to tell the TelliCast software that you have added this facility.  You should edit the [watchdog] section of the recv.ini file, as follows.  Note that the recovery script will be called repeatedly until the service is restored, and the interval is set to 60 seconds in the example below.  Here are the updates:

[watchdog] 
error_script=C:\Tools\RestartServer4PC.cmd 
error_script_cause_announcement=60

Notes on the script below:

You may find that after this script is run, you get an error message when using the Status function from Setup4PC, and the Network ID and Orbital position are missing from the Status display.  This situation may last until the PC is next rebooted.

REM (1) - you will need to choose a directory and file name to save the event log entries.  I suggest using a directory you already use rather than creating a new one.  If you are running EUMETCast on more than one PC, you may want to give the event log a PC-specific name, so that log files can be brought together centrally.  You can do this automatically by using the %COMPUTERNAME% environment variable as shown.

REM (2) - the command TaskKill appears to be available only in Windows XP Pro, although it works if copied to XP Home.  If you don't have that command, or you are running Windows 2000, you can use the PS Kill command from sysinternals mentioned above.  Please be sure to run PS Kill at least once after downloading it and copying to the Windows System32 directory, and accept the Licence Agreement.

REM (3) - you need to wait a few seconds after terminating the old Server4PC.exe.  If you have the sleep.exe from the Windows Resource Kit (free download) you can use it, otherwise the PING command can provide that delay.

REM (4) - please check that the location of Server4PC.exe is correct for your system.

 

Warning - do not attempt to use this script unless you are 100% confident you understand it!

This file should be named RestartServer4PC.cmd and placed in a known directory, e.g. C:\Tools\

-------------- start of RestartServer4PC.cmd -----------------------------
REM This script is called if TelliCast detects an error
REM If the error number is "0", it attempts to restart
REM the Server4PC program, and logs its actions 
REM
REM You must alter the SET line below to define where the event log should be saved
REM Point to where the event log should be written.  If you have more than one PC
REM you may want to give each event log a different name for central collation.
REM (1)
SET EVENTLOG=C:\Tools\ConnectionEventLog-%COMPUTERNAME%.txt

REM Write a delimiter for this event to the log file
ECHO ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- >> %EVENTLOG%
REM
REM Check for Error cause %1 and duration %2 parameters set by TelliCast

IF %1==0 (
    ECHO %date% %time% Connection to Announcement Channel lost for %2s>> %EVENTLOG%
    ECHO %date% %time% Stopping Server4PC... >> %EVENTLOG%

    REM You can use TaskKill on Windows XP Professional, otherwise
    REM download PSkill from the sysinternals Web site

    REM (2) TASKKILL /F /IM server4pc.exe 
    PSKILL -t server4pc.exe

    REM  Wait before restarting - server4pc won't restart if another process is still running 
    REM (3) SLEEP 5
    PING -n 10 127.0.0.1

    ECHO %date% %time% Restarting Server4PC ... >> %EVENTLOG%

    REM You must alter the START line below to point to Server4PC.exe
    REM The location shown is the normal default.
  
    REM (4)
    START  "Server4PC"  "C:\Program Files\TechniSat DVB\bin\Server4PC.exe"

    ECHO %date% %time% Server4PC started >> %EVENTLOG%
    REM - you could insert your own commands here....

) ELSE (
    ECHO %date% %time% Error cause %1 is unknown, duration %2s >> %EVENTLOG%
)
EXIT
---------------- end of RestartServer4PC.cmd -----------------------------

Alternative Windows logoff-logon method (from Klaus-Peter Renner, EUMETSAT)

  1. Prepare an account with administrator privileges, under which DVB reception is running.
    Create a password for this account.
    Install the DVB reception software to automatically start after logon.
    Install TelliCast (NOT as a service, it will start from the startup folder).
     

  2. Restart the PC to test if reception automatically starts after manual login.
      

  3. Use Tweak UI (can downloaded from Microsoft for each Windows version) to enable autologon:
    Open Tweak UI - Logon - Autologon, then select username and password - Apply.
    Downloads: Tweak UI for Windows XP.
      

  4. Reboot system to test if reception automatically starts after automatic login.
      

  5. If Windows XP, write the following three lines into a file named autologon_XP_2000.reg:

      Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
      [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]
      "ForceAutoLogon"="1"


    Run autologon_XP_2000.reg (double-click)
      

  6. Write the following command into a file named restart.bat:

      logoff

    and put the file into the TelliCast working directory.

  7. Add the following two lines under [watchdog] in recv.ini and restart TelliCast:

      [watchdog]
      error_script=restart.bat
      error_script_cause_announcement=60

    Note: While working interactively on the reception station with restart enabled, the automatic logoff - if triggered - 
    will close all applications immediately and interrupt the interactive work.  Therefore please disable the automatic restart
    (step 8) if you want to work in the running account, or login to a different account using the "fast user switching"
    capability on Windows XP.  User sessions running in parallel will not be logged out.
      

  8. To disable the automatic restart, edit recv.ini the following way and restart TelliCast:

      [watchdog]
      #error_script=restart.bat
      #error_script_cause_announcement=60
      

  9. To disable autologon, undo step 3:
    Open Tweak UI - Logon - remove Autologon check mark - Apply
      

  10. The ForceAutoLogon setting will only be active if autologon is enabled.  To disable this setting in the registry, 
    repeat step 5 but use "ForceAutoLogon"="0".

  11. Please note that there may be minor differences between Windows 2000 and Windows XP.  Please check carefully.

Alan Banks comments about (6): If one is running command files such as 'MRTG', one may find that the logoff command will not stop the task.  The PC then 'hangs' with no EUMETCast reception.  An extra line needs to be added to the 'restart.bat' file before the logoff command.

  taskkill /im perl.exe /f
  logoff

I use taskkill in Win XP Pro.  Alternatively one can use PS Kill from sysinternals.



Missing Segments

One problem which you may get is missing segments.  This is when a segment of the data - typically one eighth of the scan height - is not correctly received by the system resulting in a data gap.  Even if you have software which retains data from the previous cycle, the resulting data gap can cause animations to be jerky rather than smooth.  If you have your software set to clear the image at the start of every scan, you may get images like the ones below:

Normally, missing segments mainly affects the HRIT (12 channel data) because there is more of it transmitted, but it can affect the LRIT data including the foreign satellite data as well.  There can be many causes of missing segments, but I've divided them here into:

  • Dish and RF - problems with the incoming signal before it reaches your PC
  • Driver problems - problems with the required driver and TelliCast software
  • PC loading problems

Dish and RF

If your dish is not pointing right at the satellite, any wind may blow the dish sufficiently off-beam to cause missing segments.  If the signal strength is varying, with greater variations when it is windy, this may be the problem.  

Similarly, if the view of the satellite from the dish is blocked, the RF signal will not be as consistent as it should be.  If problems like this develop over time, perhaps a tree is growing, and if the problem is worse during the summer, perhaps it is caused by leaves on the trees.

Another Winter problem can be snow or ice build-up on the antenna and perhaps the LNB.  If this is a real problem for you, you can get a heated antenna.  Arne van Belle comments: The LNB can be protected against snow accumulation by a shield.  This seems to be very effective in the Scandinavian region.  See http://www.degotech.de/de/dept_249.html
It is called SAT-PARAPROT : Wetterschutzhaube fur LNBs Universell verwendbar fur alle LNB-Typen. Schutzt gegen die direkte Einwirkung von Regen, Schnee und Eis und Vogel.

Ap van Weeren reports that even with a sun-blind over his balcony-mounted dish, the signal is OK.  At least that's with a plastic sun-blind.  Positioning the aluminium blind support over the central part of dish does affect things, though!

It is also possible that you may be getting RF interference at the IF - 1103MHz with Ku-band reception.

Dish Mounting

The way you mount your dish can also influence how well it responds to the wind - if the wind moves the dish it will no longer be pointing directly at the satellite and the transient signal losses can cause missing segments.  In the worst case, your dish may be blown permanently out of alignment, or even damaged!  Here are two ways users have mounted their dishes.

 

This is a good example of dish mounting.  A substantial bracket has been used to attach the dish to the house wall, and care taken to put the mounting bolts into the bricks and not the mortar in between!

   

This is a bad example.  The wall bracket is smaller but, more importantly, the dish is attached by a small arm (you can see the cable taped to the arm) and this arm allows the dish and arm to flex in high winds.  It would have been better to employ a mount like that on the good example, although with a greater stand-off to allow for the fact that the angle this dish makes with the wall is greater.


This is a revised mounting for my own system, changed from the
bad mounting shown above.  It is designed to flex less in the wind
and I've changed to a dual-output LNB for greater flexibility.
After Winter 2007, it does appear to be better!

DVB Card Driver (SkyStar software)

With the PCI DVB Card and USB interface, only the SkyStar V4.3.0 drivers are normally recommended by EUMETSAT.  They supply the earlier V4.2.2 drivers on the CD in case of problems.  The current recommendation may change as drivers are updated, of course, so be sure to check with EUMETSAT for the latest information.

TelliCast software version

The current required TelliCast software is V2.4.4 B and this version must be used.  There is a later version V2.4.4a which is fine as well.  This software was rolled out via EUMETCast to registered users during late May 2006.  It should have appear in your \received\updates\ folder.  The .EXE version is for Windows, and the .GZ version is for Linux.  If you don't already have this version, please e-mail Ops (at) EUMETSAT (dot) int.  You can check your version number on the HTML shell.

PC Loading - Other Software

Any other software which you run on the PC may cause missing segments by loading the CPU, disk or network stack on that PC.  It is recommended not to run other software on a receiver PC.  If such software must be run, then it should be run at low CPU priority.  My MSG Data Manager, MSG Animator and GeoSatSignal all provide a Drop Priority option (in the case of the MSG Animator, this is built-in).  Examples of software which might cause trouble are:

  • CPU - computationally intensive tools, image processing, making panoramas, complex spreadsheets.
  • Disk - almost anything but e.g. most disk defragmenters, the OS itself if you don't have enough memory in your PC, acting as a file server.  
  • Network - browsing complex Web sites, file downloads.
  • Anti-virus software - be sure to exclude any directories used by TelliCast or your saved data from real-time anti-virus scanning.

Please note that the recommended operating systems are Windows 2000 and Windows XP.  Windows 98 may not have sufficient network resources to prevent missing segments, and cannot handle the long file names as easily - it is not recommended.
 

Windows Vista and Windows-7 considerations

There are indications that Windows Vista and in particular Windows-7 may be more difficult to tame for EUMETCast, although it's not impossible.  Apart from the other considerations listed here, you will want to review the number of automated scheduled tasks, and whether any of your segment loss periods coincide with a particular task.

A further issue is that these Windows run a Multimedia Class Scheduler Service (MMCSS), which tries to improve A/V playback by giving extra priority to multimedia applications, and by throttling network I/O.  This latter action may be particularly damaging to EUMETCast which relies on an uninterrupted nwtwork and a high network bandwidth.  You can control this throttling behaviour by stopping the throttling and giving more CPU time to non-multimedia applications.  If you are comfortable with editing the registry, try the following if you are seeing losses which do not correlate with particular tasks:

In: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Multimedia\SystemProfile\
  set: NetworkThrottlingIndex to -1 (FFFFFFFF) (stops throttle)
  set: SystemResponsiveness to 80 (=80% to non-multmedia)

See: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/948066
and: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms684247%28VS.85%29

You will need to reboot your PC after making those changes to see the effect.
 

Add a RAMdisk

One major problem for the TelliCast software is the amount of disk I/O required.  You can alleviate many of the missing-segment problems by placing just one file on a 80MB RAMdisk.  Arne van Belle describes How to use a RAMdisk (PDF).  Members of the MSG-1 Yahoo group can download the AR-Soft RAMdisk from the Files area: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/MSG-1/files/  => AR-Soft-RAMdisk.zip.  If you have plenty of memory, be careful not to set the RAMdisk size too big.  Setting it to 300MB may hang the system, and require that you reboot in Safe Mode to reset the value to a lower figure.  The optimum RAMdisk size depends on what data you take - my current (July 2008) suggestions are: for MSG + EARS-AVHRR data 80MB, for MSG + EARS-AVHRR + Metop-AVHRR data 120MB, for the full Metop data set 250MB.  In late 2009 EUMETSAT were recommending a 300MB RAMdisk for the full data stream, and I now have all my PCs set to this size.  The free AR-Soft program may not handle that size, so instead use the free Dataram RAMdisk.  There is further discussion of alternative free RAMdisks here.

For example Ap van Weeren comments: The program that made the trouble was: Trendmicro Antispyware.  It used a lot of memory and did some times the H.D. working continuously, the led was continue on.  Removing the program was the solution.

Other Missing Segment FAQs

Q: What should I do to help prevent missing segments?
A: Be sure to:

  • Edit your recv-channels.ini file to select only the data you actually want.
  • Add a RAMdisk to your system.
  • Minimise the amount of logging which TelliCast does, and be sure to use the buffered mode.  
    In recv.ini, replace:

        [locations]
        log_file=recv.log

        [logging]
        log_level=normal


    with:

        [locations]
        log_file=>>recv.log

        [logging]
        log_level=quiet

Q: My disk is showing slow benchmark speeds - could this cause missing segments?
A: Check the disk with a program like HDTach.  If the speed is much slower than expected, your PC may be running in PIO mode.  This uses much more CPU than necessary to read and write the hard disk.  Be sure to run your disks in DMA mode

Q: I am overclocking my motherboard and I get occasional missing segments.
A: Assuming your signal level is OK, even just 5% overclocking may cause segment loss.  Try running you motherboard at the correct speed.

Q: I am running Windows XP and sometimes I get missing segments.
A: Check out Microsoft Knowledge Base article 819946.

Q: My system used to have zero missing segments, but even though the signal strength is OK, I'm now getting occasional missing segments.  Why?
A: Try rebooting your PC, including a power-off and power-on.  Sometimes, after a major signal loss period (such as that caused by snow on the antenna), the software or hardware doesn't recover properly, and a complete system restart is required.  If you have not already edited your recv-channels.ini, consider doing so now.

Q: Should I defragment my disks?
A: Yes, because the usage pattern with a high data turnover is one of the worst causes of fragmentation.  However, as noted above, many defragmenter programs can cause missing segments because of high CPU or disk I/O load.  One program which has been successful in avoiding these problems is mst Defrag which is not expensive.  There is further discussion of defragmenting software here, include some free software.

Q: What happens if I run multiple copies of the MSG Data Manager or other programs?
A: Except under very special circumstances, you should not run multiple copies of my software.  The exception is when you want to receive both the standard and the rapid-scan MSG data.  Normally, the software itself will warn you if you try and do this.  But if you use Windows batch files and the Windows Task Scheduler to try and automate the start-up of my software, be sure that you don't have two copies running - one as one user and one as another!  This is a sure way to get missing segments, as the programs fight each other to be first to process the data.  Use the Process Explorer to see if you have multiple copies of the software running as different users.  Note that it is normal for my software to show two processes - these will appear together in the Process Explorer and one will be using much more memory than the other.

Q: I have a lot of missing segments on my Pentium 4 HT processor.
A: Disable hyperthreading in the BIOS as it is not supported by the SkyStar2 software.  Upgrade your SkyStar software to V4.3 which appears to support hyperthreading.

Q: I have a 1Gb/s network card in use and I see a high missed packet rate - are they related?
A: Quite possibly yes.  On at least two PCs, I have seen a significant reduction in packet loss rate by changing the network card from 1Gb/s down to 100Mb/s.
 


EUMETCast Troubleshooting Guide

EUMETSAT have very kindly allowed us to make the EUMETCast Troubleshooting Guide available for general reading.

 

 
Copyright © David Taylor, Edinburgh   Last modified: 2014 Jul 05 at 11:33