MHEG CONTROL TAP

Current Version: B1

1                    INTRODUCTION

           

This TAP provides the following major functions:

 

·         Automatic switching of MHEG on when required & off when not required.

 

·         A “shortcut” facility to enable user-defined shortcuts to interactive  pages of interest – e.g. weather or news for your particular region.

 

·         A facility to toggle subtitles on & off with a user-definable key.

 

·         On-screen identification of radio channels + reminder when text facilities are available.

 

·         Automatic reselection of subtitles when returning to TV from radio channels if they were in use last time TV channels were watched.

 

·         Automatic reduction in volume when viewing radio channels.

 

which can be selected or deselected according to the users’ needs.

 

Though not related to MHEG operation, this TAP also include features to define a start-up channel by LCN which is selected when the TAP is started (a feature available in other TAPs but included here to cut down the number needed in Auto Start) and on-screen labelling of radio channels.

 

MHEG Control uses various UK-specific features, so will only run on the TF5800. An error message is generated if the TAP is run on any other model. It should work with all recent & future firmware versions (bar a major rewrite by Topfield).

 

2                    NEED FOR MHEG & ITS DISADVANTAGES

 

The MHEG engine must be running under two circumstances:

 

(1)   For use after the OneList TAP, or any other method of generating a combined radio & TV channel list, as otherwise the sound will not come on.

 

(2)   For viewing the text/interactive features available on many channels.

 

On the other hand MHEG must be switched off to use subtitles, and when running it uses processing power and thus slows keypress responses generally. In addition it apparently leads to memory leaks and eventual crashes on some firmware versions.

 

This TAP automates the MHEG on/off switching by monitoring the current channel & text selection, and switching MHEG on or off as appropriate whenever a channel change or text selection/de-selection is detected. However MHEG can be temporarily enabled or disabled using the standard Toppy Menu/System settings until the next channel change or text selection/de-selection.

 

3                    INSTALLATION

 

Download the latest version of MHEG Control from here, and unzip the received file, which includes the following files:

 

·         MHEGControl.tap

 

·         A sample “MHEGControl_text.ini” file, which defines text shortcuts etc

 

Copy the “.tap” file into “/ProgramFiles” (or a subdirectory thereof) and start it from the native Toppy Archive. If you wish to use the text features, copy the “.ini” file into “/ProgramFiles/Settings”, after making any amendments you wish using a text editor (e.g. Wordpad on Windows). If there is no “MHEGControl_mode.ini”  in “/ProgramFiles/Settings” you will be unable to use most of the text-related facilities.

 

The first time the TAP is run, it will bring up the main menu that enables you to specify the features you wish to use, and will save them in a “MHEGControl_mode.ini” file in “/ProgramFiles/Settings”. Part of the menu is the key to call up the menu again, or you can access it by deleting/moving the “MHEGControl_mode.ini” file, or via TAP Commander.

 

When you are satisfied that the TAP does what you want (and doesn’t do what you don’t want!!), transfer it to your Auto Start directory.

 

To close MHEG Control down, use either TAP Commander or the main menu (more details below).

 

N.B. This TAP will not load if either MforR or MforRT is already running.

 

N.B. If you do not have an “MHEGControl_mode.ini” file in “/ProgramFiles/Settings” and you have Initial Text Shortcuts (On/Off) set to On, you will get a “whinge” message every time the TAP loads to the effect that the “ini” file is missing.

 

4                    SKINS

 

The colours used for the various display elements can be changed using a “skin” file called MHEGControl.mcf” in “ProgramFiles/Settings/Skins/”.  If this is not found, “EMJBTaps.mcf” is used, if present. If neither is found, a default colour scheme  is used. A copy of a MyStuff skin file can be used, though only the following elements are used:

 

·         “Background=” (normal background)

·         “Highlight=” (background for selected menu entry)

·         “TextForeground=” (normal text)

·         “TextHighlightedForeground=” (selected menu entry text)

·         “Frame=” (border round warning/info messages)

 

and all other entries are ignored. The keywords above should be followed by the red, green & blue values (separated by commas) in the range 0-255 with no spaces or final comma (e.g. 255,0,0 for red, 255,255,0 for yellow etc).

 

5                    MAIN MENU

 

The main menu defines which facilities are to be used, and associated key allocations. Unless stated otherwise, the selections are changed with the Left & Right keys. The various entries are:

 

(1)      Radio Programme Label (None/Service Name): Allows you to select programme labels on-screen for your radio channels (normal or "OneList") when interactive services are not running. These consist of channel & programme names, and the following options are available;

·         Off

·         Static – full intensity in the middle of the screen

·         Moving – randomly moving to avoid screen-burn etc

·         Fading – gradually fading into the background over a period of ~ 1minute to a barely perceptible level.

In the last case pressing any key restores full brilliance, but note that the key is not disabled as far as other TAPs or the native Toppy functions are concerned.

 

(2)      Auto Subtitle Switching (On/Off): If you have this facility On, subtitles will be restored to their previous on/off state when exiting from OneList radio channels or after viewing text. With it Off, subtitles will always be switched off after exiting from OneList radio channels or after viewing text. N.B. Some people experienced problems with an earlier attempt to implement this facility, so it is recommended that it is left Off unless you are a regular user of subtitles and/or use the subtitle toggle facility below. If you do not use subtitles, this selection will have no effect.

 

(3)      Subtitle Toggle Key (any key except Up, Down, Ch+, Ch-, Ok, Exit): The chosen key toggles the subtitles on & off when not listening to a OneList radio channel or viewing text. Just press the desired key, or Exit if you do not want to use this facility. This needs to be a key that is not used as an activation key by any other of yours TAPs or by a native Toppy facility you wish to use during normal viewing. You may experience problems using Tv/Radio & List which are treated as the same key. N.B. In view of delay in subtitles appearing, MHEG Control puts up messages whenever it tries to switch subtitles on or off (except when switching off for interactive or radio).

 

(4)      Interactive state: This can be set to:

·         “‘OneList’ Radio” – MHEG is only switched on for a short period after selecting a radio channel in order to bring up the sound.

·         “When Required” – MHEG is switched on for OneList radio and when Text or Red buttons are pressed.

·         “Radio – On” – MHEG is always on when in radio mode (‘OneList’ or normal), but only on when needed in TV mode.

·         “TV & Radio – On” – MHEG is only switched off when selecting subtitles.

 

(5)      Use Initial Text Shortcuts (On/Off): Set this to On if you wish to use the facility to set up shortcuts to up to 10 pages of particular interest on a channel when starting interactive viewing. This is displayed for around 10 seconds while the MHEG engine and interactive services are loaded (N.B. Setting this to Off does not prevent  the use of the Text Shortcut Menu Key below to call up the shortcut menu once you have started interactive viewing.) Details of how to define the shortcuts is given in the “.ini” file section below.

 

(6)      Text Shortcut Menu Key (any key except Up, Down, Ok, Exit): When viewing text, the chosen key brings up the shortcut menu to enable easy movement to another page of interest. Just press the desired key, or Exit if you do not want to use this facility. This needs to be a key that is not used as an activation key by any other of yours TAPs or by a native Toppy facility you wish to use during text viewing – “PiP” seems to be a satisfactory choice from the latter viewpoint. This can be selected independently of the choice for item (5).

 

(7)      Start Up Channel (LCN): Use the Left/Right keys to choose the LCN of the channel to which you want to switch when this TAP is loaded. Choosing zero disables the facility.

 

(8)      Send State Data To Toppy Monitor (On/Off): With this set to On, the current channel, Interactive state, and Subtitle state are sent to the Toppy Monitor TAP for diagnostic purposes. To minimise the processing load, only set this ON if you intend to use the facility.

 

(9)      This Menu Call-up Key (any key except Up, Down, Ch+, Ch-, Ok, Exit): To access this menu, press Menu followed by the key defined here. It is recommended that you do not use Menu, Stop, Info, or Text which are used in similar circumstances by other TAPs. Just press the desired key, or Exit if you do not want to use this facility and access the menu via TAP Commander.

 

(10)   Radio Volume Offset: If this is non zero, the volume will be set to max while watching TV and reduced by the selected percentage when listening to a radio channel. Select a radio channel before entering the menu and then use the “<” & “>” keys to obtain the required level (typically ~-20-25%). Only negative values are permitted. The level can be adjusted with any channel selected, but is more difficult to get right if the results cannot be heard immediately. This facility is for those who find the volume on radio channels is higher than on TV channels, and wish to avoid manaual changes of volume when changing between radio & TV channels.

 

            Pressing OK when the final menu entry is highlighted shuts down the TAP. Pressing OK when any other entry is highlighted closes the menu, saves the settings in the "MHEGControl_mode.ini” file and reloads the text ini and skin files (in case you should want to change the file and use the new values without shutting down this TAP).

 

Note that, unless you are using the “TV & Radio - On” Interactive mode, you can use the same key to call up the shortcut list and to toggle subtitles on/off as this TAP determines the function required from the context. The same key can also be used to call up the main menu

 

6                    USE

6.1               Text Operation on TV Channels

 

To view the text on a TV channel, select that channel and then press either “Red” or “Text” keys (the red key will work on ITV etc channels as well as BBC). If you have selected “Initial Shortcuts” and the current channel supports them, a list of the current shortcuts will appear while the MHEG engine loads etc (~12 seconds) - select the one you want using Up/Down or numeric keys. If you do nothing the top entry will be used. On completion of loading, the selected page (if valid, of course) should (eventually) appear. If you have not selected Initial Shortcuts, or if your text ini file (see below) indicates that the current channel does not support these, messages will appear indicating progress of the MHEG loading.

 

To bring up the shortcut list again while viewing text, press your chosen Text Shortcut Menu Key, followed by OK when you have selected the item you want.

 

To exit from viewing text, press either “Text” or “Exit”. P+ & P- also cause text to close down, but if you are not running Remote Extender they leave this TAP thinking you are still viewing text – press Exit to get back in sync.

 

N.B. For these facilities to work fully you need to be running either the “Remote Extender” TAP or the “mheg_state” TAP. The “Remote Extender” patch does not provide the necessary firmware changes.

6.2               Text Operation on Radio Channels

 

While listening to radio channels (“OneList” or normal), a message indicates the channel & programme names if the first options menu item has been not been set to off. If this option has been selected & that channel has been nominated as having text features in the “MHEGControl_text.ini” file, the message will remind you that pressing Red or Text will activate those text features as in TV operation, but with no shortcut features as there is (AFAIK) no facility to enter page numbers on the simple text system employed.

 

6.3               “OneList” Radio Channels

 

MHEG is automatically activated on selecting a “OneList” radio channel to enable the sound, and is switched off again some 10 seconds later once the sound is running (during which time any text facility will begin to appear on screen) unless "Always On" has been selected for Radio. Thereafter operation is the same as normal radio channels, except that the “Mystic Dreams” picture does not appear.

 

6.4               Subtitles

 

Just press the chosen Subtitle Toggle Key to bring up or suppress subtitles. Note that there is a delay of several seconds between selection (or channel change) and the first subtitles appearing, so an on-screen message appears to confirm switching on & off of subtitles. N.B. This function is disabled while listening to radio or when viewing text, but subtitles should be restored automatically when you return to TV.

 

You can continue to use the Options/Subtitle selection method if you wish, but as indicated earlier if this is used in lieu of the subtitle toggle the auto subtitle switching may not work correctly.

 

7                    USE Of THE “.ini” FILE To deFINE SHORTCUTS

 

The “MHEGControl_text.ini” file consists of two elements as follows:

 

(1)   As list of LCNs of channels indicating whether they have associated text facilities, and if so which shortcut list should be used.  If not specified, LCNs 1-4 have text enabled and Group 0 shortcut list selected, and the rest have text disabled. Setting a group value of < 0 inhibits text operation, and > 10 enables text but not shortcuts. The latter should be used for channels where there is an interactive service but no facility to enter page numbers (e.g. BBC radio).

 

(1)   Details of up to 10 shortcuts for each of up to 10 shortcut lists, specified in terms of text page number (max 4 digits) and a free-text description. All entries default to page 100, “Home”.

 

Typically all the BBC channels will use one list, and all the ITV channels another, but it is entirely up to the user. In the example Ch 4 uses a different list from ITV even though the text structure is similar, as not all pages appear on both channels.

 

The sample file details the syntax, limits, and defaults.

 

Future versions are likely to include the various parameters used by the TAP such a settling & sampling times.

 

If no “.ini” file is found, or an invalid line is found, a warning message is generated on loading. However an empty file is valid, and will not cause error messages.

 

1                    KNOWN PROBLEMS/LIMITATIONS

           

1.      Shortcuts do not seem to work on Sky 3 text .

 

2.      The interactive text system is inherently slow, and it is not always obvious what is happening, so be patient. Press exit if nothing has happened after 20 seconds or so.

 

3.      Subtitles can be slow to start up (but hopefully much better than version A1!).

 

4.      After viewing text on a “proper” (as opposed to OneList) radio channel, the Mystic Dreams background is not re-instated. This is a Toppy firmware issue, I believe.

 

5.      If channels are added or deleted, recordings made before the change are likely to display the wrong channel name.

 

6.      Radio channel/programme names are removed ~ 1 minute before the end of recordings so as not to get OSD clashes between Toppy firmware & this TAP.

 

7.      If you use padding at the start of radio recordings, you may get the previous programme name displayed when replaying.

 

2                     WARNING

 

 

THE AUTHOR ACCEPTS NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY PROBLEMS ARISING.

  

3                     VERSION HISTORY

  

Alpha 1            - First substantially complete version to allow the concept to be widely evaluated.

 

Alpha 1A          - (Hopefully) fixes for:

-          Crash if skin file lines too long

-          Unwanted interaction with Improbox suppression of recording etc indications

-          Menu problem if last time’s selection was a key identification

 

Alpha 2            - Pukka radio channels should now be labelled on-screen even if “OneList” operation is not selected

-    Radio volume control added

-    Fix for “ini” problems

-    Improved subtitle switching

-    “Waiting” indications when MHEG loading but no shortcuts selected

 

Alpha 2A          Not generally available

 

Alpha 2B          - Subtitle switching inhibited while on radio channels (live or replay).

                        - OneList radio channels automatically detected

                        - Options menu item to suppress radio labels

                        - Radio recordings labelled with original programme name

                        - Fixes for:

-          Radio labels appearing over radio text

-          Radio labels appearing while replaying TV recordings

 

Alpha 2C         - Fix for problem with “OneList” channels not being detected if StartLcn = 0

 

Alpha 2D         - Additional options for display of radio channel data

                        - Radio channel data now includes programme name.

                        - Fix for other TAP OSDs appearing if keys pressed prior to saving menu settings on first use

 

Alpha 2E          - Attempted bug fixes

 

Alpha 2F          - Version with MHEG permanently on when in radio mode

 

Alpha 2G         - More bug fixes

- Interactive modes introduced

- Cosmetic changes

 

Beta 1:             - Addition of support for Remote Extender TAP & RemExt Patch for UK users

                        - Fix of minor bug in skin colours

 

 

4                    PoSsible ENHaNcements

 

1.      User-supplied picture as background for OneList radio channels and instead of “Mystic Dreams” for normal radio channels.

 

2.      Addition of settling & sampling times to one of the “.ini” files.

 

3.      Optional suppression of Subtitle on/off messages

 

If any of these particularly appeal to you, please provide feedback as below. Any others you would like?

 

5                     ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

To bdb for the use of his “exTAP” routines which enabled work on this TAP to start, to R2-D2 for providing firmware version independent versions of those routines, & simonc for help with subtitle switching.

 

 

  

6                    12                    FEEDBACK

 

At the relevant Toppy.org.uk forum here please.