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Pace Apollo MSS200 MSS300 satellite receiver FAQ

Happy Customers

>Dear Martin,
>My MSS300 whistled last week and now it seems completely dead.
>The fuse mesures OK so please tell me if I need a SATKIT?

Just replace the 22uF and the 2 x 10uF near the TEA2018A.

If the 47uF/400v is manufactured by LCC, replace that, too.

The kit that includes these parts, should you need it, is RELKIT 9.

You will not need SATKIT 9 until the fuse melts :o)

Kind Regards,


> AMAZING!!! Amazing for speed, amazing for accuracy, amazing for
> kindness. I did not want to wait for the RELKIT, so today I brought
> home some fresh capacitors from the company shop, and PRESTO!, the
> blasted thing came back to life. Even at the risk of letting you
> think that I'm one of those wimps who swear their car goes faster
> when freshly washed ... I actually get a better picture. Sky News
> had developed sparklies lately, and they're GONE! I classify this
> one as "saved me lots of money and time", so I'll see where to find
> a "fiver" or something like it in Madrid, and send it to you, not in
> payment but in appreciation. I'll also see what I can find in the
> way of stamps for the kids.
>Thank you SO MUCH Best regards Antonio Giron, Madrid, Spain...
>PS: Please let me know if there is any way in which I can return the great
>help you provided

1. Why did my power supply fail?

The usual cause of failure is a mains electricity power surge. Perhaps you had a power-cut or perhaps you plugged in an electric lawnmower or drill (or similar) nearby or perhaps you have faulty wiring in the plug, socket or somewhere in your house. Another common cause of failure is that the receiver has been dropped or banged heavily. In this case the board around the transformer will be cracked. If the receiver has been subjected to too much heat, the capacitors may fail. The big 47uF/400v is a favourite, together with the smaller ones near it (a 22uF and two 10uF). Also check diode D17 for a short circuit.

2. How do I repair the power supply?

If the fuse has not melted, simply replace the capacitors (see above). Bear in mind that, if *those* capacitors need to be replaced then *other* capacitors are probably failing already. Why not order the full RELKIT and do the job properly? (please tell me more about these kits!)

If the fuse has melted then the safest repair is to fit all the parts supplied in the SATKIT.

*Remember, these are classed as "Safety Critical" components. You MUST use the Pace-approved parts. If you don't you risk damage and fire hazard.

3. Can I get extra channels?

Yes. There is a special "hack" which can be done with the "Pacelink Pro" computer system. You will need to send your receiver to someone who has this system. Alternatively, simply buy the 250 channel upgrade kit. This includes a pre-programmed memory chip that provides 250 channel locations. You can program these locations yourself so it's useful if you have a motorised dish or a dish with more than one LNB fitted. Note that the upgrade does not "give" 250 more programmes - it simply gives you the channel numbers so you can tune in extra programmes (TV and Radio).

4. Are there any "secret" handset codes?

Yes. The "factory reset" will reset channel 1 only to Sky One. It will also reset the Installation menu settings. It will NOT change the rest of the channels.

Menu, 0, Store, Right arrow, Left arrow.

To Authorise card: [F] [9]

To set Channel on after power fail:
[F] [RCL] [x] (where [x] is the channel number).
Repeat this sequence to turn the feature off.

Note: Due to a software conflict, this feature also causes card authorisation (you will see a black background with flashing "P"). To cure this problem, disconnect diode D65 which will disable the card authorise system. The two are never likely to be needed together.

To turn Blue Screen ON/OFF press

[F] [store]

5. I get only a blue screen. What has happened?

The blue screen appears if there is no signal.
The most obvious cause is that your LNB is not connected or, on a twin-input receiver, is connected to the wrong input. Alternatively, you may have shorted out the LNB cable and damaged something inside the receiver. Make sure that LNB power is ON in the installation menu.

6. I get "LNB Short" on the screen, even with the LNB disconnected.

Occasionally this happens if you've selected power for just one LNB in the Installation menu (MSS300 only). The simplest way to correct this is to plug the receiver into the mains and press the factory reset sequence. This resets it to "LNB Power 1 & 2".

7. Can I use a "Universal" LNB?

Yes. Select tone ON in the second screen of the tuning menu for the appropriate channels. (This does not work in early Apollo version but a tone upgrade kit is available. See list of kits).

8. Why do I get no front panel display?

In the MSS200, check the solder joints of the LED display itself.
In the MSS300, check the soldering of the surface mount components on the front panel display. There is also an upgrade for early MSS300 which suffer from no display intermittently, when warm. This is explained in "The Satellite Repair Manual." The most common cause of "dim" or "no" display on the MSS300 is a dead capacitor on the display panel. This should be replaced with a 1uF/50v multilayer ceramic type for future reliability. You can order this part as "C2" for just 0.50p from SatCure.
"No display" can also be caused by a faulty microcontroller and various other things.

9. How can I tell how old my receiver is?

The date of manufacture is incorporated in the serial number.
For example: RAAYAH5245xxxxx
The "5" indicates 1995
The "24" indicates week 24 counting from first week in January.
The "5" indicates Friday.

10. How can I download the memory?

You connect a fully wired Scart to Scart cable between the Decoder sockets of identical MSS receivers then follow the on-screen instructions from the Installation menu. You can not download successfully from dissimilar receivers and, to be certain, you should use this transfer facility only between receivers which have identical microcontroller I.C.s.
If you are going to program a large number of receivers, use a "PaceLink" computer interface from Kesh Electrics.

11. Why do I get no decoder messages on screen?

Try setting the contrast higher in the Installation menu.
If this doesn't work, and you have checked the tuning, you probably have a fault in the decoder section or else you have fitted your Scart plug into the wrong socket!

>After several years of good service my MSS301-1 receiver (ser. no. P ACAE
>HA507xxxxxx has developed a fault. For the past two months it has
>intermittently failed and then recovered. It now seems stuck in its faulty
>Stations can still be received from either LNB (Astra + Hotbird).
>European stations + Sky News + QVC all appear as normal.
>The encrypted channels do not decode. I suspect the decoder rather than
>the sky card because:
>The "videocrypt" legend on the MSS front panel display does not illuminate.
>If the sky card is removed from the decoder no on-screen messages appear (Insert card ...) etc.
>When tuned to a sports channel (to which I do not subscribe) no "to subscribe..." messages appear.
>Also, when using the remote control, several menus deeper than three are not accessible. For example:
>Press Menu (OK),
>Press 4 Set up programme (OK)
>Press 1 Tuning
>and instead of showing the tuning menu the normal screen appears - as
>though the Normal button had been pressed. (The menu to change contrast
>can not be accessed).
>The Scart connectors are not used.

Thanks for your comprehensive report. The clue is in the lack of visible menus when no background colour is being generated. The symptom indicates a lack of sync pulses. This can have any one (or two) of several causes. Firstly, make sure the contrast is set to 4. Although you can't see the menu on screen, the functions do actually work so consult your user manual and press the appropriate buttons. As you step between contrast levels 8 and 1 you'll see a marked change so you can "get your bearings".

Assuming this is not the problem, look for the PTV111 chip. Close to this is a 1uF capacitor, C109. In later models this was a small, bright blue multilayer ceramic capacitor. However, early models used an ordinary 1uF electrolytic which must be replaced. Of course you can try the same type as a temporary measure for testing purposes.

Close to this is an orange coloured 503kHz ceramic resonator which can fail. These are used in most UK receivers and decoders so no problem with finding one. I stock everything in any case.

That was the easy bit. The next possibility is the PTV111 itself. This can be replaced directly with a TEA2130 which I stock.

If that still fails to cure it, I would be looking at the PTV110. Unfortunately these are officially "unavailable" although I can still buy them for £27 and occasionally find a good one in a scrap receiver (but not recently).

12. Why do I get "Card Invalid" message?

Try your card in a different receiver to test it.
Make sure that the card contacts are clean and the card slot spring contacts are clean and not bent or twisted.

13. Why doesn't my receiver work with pirate card/PC software ?

I don't know.

14. Why do I get picture interference ?

Strong terrestrial signals or a TV amplifier can cause crosstalk. The effect is to cause degradation of the Satellite TV picture through the RF output. Test simply by disconnecting the Aerial input connector. If this cures the fault, fit an attenuator.

Tuning voltage from L26 also supplies the card reader. Picture interference which disappears when the card is removed can be caused by a fault on this 30 volt rail.
You might have tuned the satellite RF output too close to a terrestrial UHF channel frequency.

Your receiver might be running too warm in which case locate it in a cooler place and fit RELKIT 9 and also consider fitting the SatCure "miniature cooling fan."

15. How do I change the audio bandwidth on MSS300 ?

Early models did not have audio bandwidth selection. Fit later Micro.
Latest models have an additional 600kHz bandwidth option. Fit Micro and later Audio processor IC (both).

16. How do I increase the LNB voltage ?
The LNB 13v supply is always too low. You can cure this by changing two zeners.
D32 (5v1) becomes 4v7 2%
D33 (6v2) becomes 6v8 2%
This solves problems if you run the receiver through any sort of splitter.

Explanation: For vertical polarisation, D32 gets shorted out so it affects only horizontal polarisation voltage. D33 is in circuit all the time so it affects BOTH vertical and horizontal polarisation voltages. Alter the values of these zeners to achieve the LNB output voltage that you want. (You can't have more than 13.8v vertical or more than 19v horizontal).

17. How does the search function work?
A two-speed search function has always been available on the MSS range of receivers, but is not mentioned in the User Manual. In the Tuning Menu press 'F' to commence the search in 50MHz steps. Press 'F' again to access the 'fine' mode in lMHz steps.

18. How can I disable the internal decoder to watch MTV2 and VH1 ?

You can use a switch to disconnect one wire of the 1uF capacitor next to the PTV111. This should work OK in Pace MSS, later Nokia models etc.

> >On your Pace Apollo etc. FAQ page
> >under question 18, you give a hint for watching MTV Europe.
> >By trial and error, I've found another way just by using
> >the menus. This is for a Pace Apollo, which I have.
> >
> >Under the "External AV Menu", set "Decoder Output" to
> >"Clamped" and "AV Source" either to "DEC-V" or to "DEC-AV".
> >
> >This unscrambles MTV Europe without the need for any
> >hardware adjustment.

Yes, good idea. I'll add this to the FAQ.
Of course you need to reset it to watch Sky channels.

> Actually, I'm not sure about this. On my Apollo at least, each
> channel has its own setting under the menu so I never have to reset
> anything. I can flick to MTV Europe and over to Sky News or
> Paramount or whatever without any resets.
> Raj Bobal

19. No colour on MSS260 D2Mac

JBF wrote:

>Suddenly I get no colour on D2Mac channels. It happened as I was changing
>from one channel to another. The Screen turned black for a second and then
>there was no colour. Tried to unplug and turning it on again but without
>luck. Any ideas (secret menus ?) or should I just throw it away?

Service Menu for Pace Mss 260 is 876 from the MAC install menu.

The settings are:

1) VCO Value 212
2) Red Drive 100
3) Green Drive 100
4) Blue Drive 100
5) SLL Value 25
6) H. Position 136

20. Fitting a fan

>With the Pace MSS300, I mounted the fan mid-circuit board with silicone
>sealer and connected black to the tuner can; red to cathode of D17 through a
>68 ohm resistor to give me 9.3v (voltage on D17 was just over 14v and I
>wanted around 9v).


21. How do I turn the LNB voltage OFF in standby?

Most satellite receivers run too warm for their own good and the MSS is no exception. The reliability upgrade helps, of course, and mounting the receiver on an open shelf, but still it feels very hot to the touch.

Pace receivers continue to supply current to the LNB, even in standby. The original reason was to protect the LNB from sudden temperature changes. Amstrad receivers and a few other makes turn the LNB supply off in standby so I could see no reason why the MSS shouldn't. Since most modern LNBs require 200 - 250mA at 13 volts, the power saving would be significant. In addition, nobody would be able to send a signal to the smart card while the receiver was "off".

A simple modification to the receiver will cause the LNB voltage to be switched to zero in standby. The Photo shows the modification required.

photographof modification

Locate The large 40 pin microcontroller U4 just left of the transformer.
(Some receivers do NOT have the red disc capacitor shown on U4 in this picture).
Next to it is U26 which has 16 pins.
Counting anticlockwise from pin 1 (next to the "U26" marking) find pin 14.
(The photo shows a BIG red arrow pointing at pin 14.)
Underneath the board, desolder pin 14 then bend it up, leaving the hole empty.
Insert the end of an insulated wire into the hole and solder it to the copper pad.
Locate pin 5 (small red triangle). Solder the wire to pin 5 and leave pin 5 in place.

The LNB voltage will always be OFF in standby and ON otherwise.
The Installation menu selection "LNB Power ON/OFF" will no longer function.

Suitable PTFE covered wire is supplied in the SatCure Solder Kit.

20. I get no audio

If you get Left and Right audio from the TV Scart socket or L+R phono sockets then the fault is probably limited to the RF Modulator. It may be that this has been set to give PAL-I or PAL-G (whichever is incorrect for your TV). There is an adjuster inside but it is VERY EASILY BROKEN so don't touch it without consulting ME first.

If you get no audio from ANY socket then the MSP3400 I.C. is probably faulty. The fault may be accompanied by a whistling noise from the TV speaker (not to be confused with power supply internal whistling). The receiver may also show strange symptoms such as odd characters in the display because the MSP3400 is affecting the data connection to the microcontroller. The cure is to replace this I.C. but it is NOT easy and takes a great deal of care. See "Pace Spares" in the Order Form.

21. How do I unlock/ get rid of the PIN?

Hold the Standby button while switching the power ON at the wall socket.

With our test receiver there was a significant reduction in heat from the power supply but, if you insist on keeping yours in a nice warm cabinet on top of a video recorder or, if - as with most modern houses - your room temperature is quite high, then you might also consider fitting the miniature cooling fan kit.


Happy Customers

> Hi Martin, I have to write to say a huge THANKYOU to you. I have
> just fitted the caps. you sent me for my 'ticking' Pace 300 and IT
> WORKS AGAIN! To get any sort of repair these days for under a fiver
> is amazing. To get it done in 2 days is just incredible. The service
> you provide is excellent and I shall be spreading the word to the
> four corners of my warehouse (and perhaps just a bit further). I
> have bookmarked your site as the wealth of information stored there
> is unbelievable. I am considering ordering one of your mini fans,
> now that I have discovered just how hot the Pace runs, but I am
> curious as to how it is fitted. Will it actually fit in the receiver
> casing (with a bit of nifty metalwork) or is it meant solely to fit
> in the tv cabinet? Also, I have an Irte Omnisat dish motor which has
> a control/interface unit drawing power from the pace through the
> coax. Will the Pace handle the fan as well or should it be powered
> from a separate supply? Once again, many thanks. I have written your
> cheque and will post it to you first thing in the morning. Kindest
> regards, Glenn.

The fan is 40 x 40 x 10mm and I normally use silicone rubber bath sealant to glue it (upright) on the printed circuit board. There's no need to mount it in the panel. It will do wonders if it simply "stirs" the air inside the receiver, eliminating "hot spots" - hot pockets of air which accumulate.

The fan takes only 80mA at 12 volts - less if you use one of the resistors supplied. It should not be a problem and it will make the PSU run cooler.

I thank you for your kind appreciation of my four years of work. Already it has grown as I am adding a Beginners Course in Electronics to the "Hobby" section. Suggestions welcome.

This information is given in good faith, based on several years of workshop experience involving thousands of repairs. No responsibility will be accepted for any death, damage or injury caused either directly or indirectly by the use of this information. The reader should check the facts himself. It is assumed and stressed that the reader will be familiar with good, safe, electronic workshop practice and will be familiar with all tools, components and terms used. If there is any doubt about the reader's ability to carry out such work competently and safely, the work should be referred to a specialist engineer.

COPYRIGHT 1996 M T Pickering
The information given here may be re-posted to any computer associated with USENET or CompuServe and similar public systems (not on any private system with restricted access) but only in its entirety with this message remaining intact. It may be downloaded onto an individual computer and printed as hard copy but only for the individual's own use. It may not be published in any form (other than as stated) without prior consent from the author.

Martin Pickering
End of FAQ



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Version 1.7 updated on November 6, 2001
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