DishPVR 501/508 User Guide Supplement

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The Dish Network User's Resource

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DISH Network has added many features to the 501 and changed several others. This page will cover items through version P168 not found in the original manual ( To check your version, go to Menu, 6, 1, 3. See Dish Network Receiver Software Versions for current versions of all receivers.

Recording Live TV
PVR Screen
Slow Motion, Frame Advance
9-Day EPG
Remote Low-battery Indicator

Recording Live TV

The show you are watching live can be made into a recorded event from the current point or even back to the beginning if the receiver has been on and not switched away from that channel. When you press record, a menu will pop up (P168) with the following options:

You can also rewind up to an hour then press Record.

When you hit Record while in Browse or Guide with the current program selected, it starts recording from the viewing point (not necessarily the current live point) and sets a timer to end the recording.

Here are some techniques for recording an in-progress show without going over the end of the program.


The concept of how recording works was changed with the long-awaited addition of name-based recording (P400).  Go to to view details, extracted from the on-line guide for the 522.

The number of event timers was increased from 10 to 50 (P118), each timer can generate up to 50 NBR events with an overall max of 256 events.

It is also now possible to edit an in-progress timer (P135).

The timer list (Menu, 7 or PVR, Timers) now shows program titles instead of channel names and is sorted chronologically by next occurring event with the option to sort by program title (P168). Not all timers created prior to P168 retained their titles, instead showing “Program Name Unknown.” There is currently no known way to title these events so if you want titles you will have to delete the unknown ones and recreate them from the EPG.

Here are some examples for setting up a recording.

Editing Timers

From the guide, you can press Select on a program that has a timer (indicated by the clock icon) and be taken directly to the Timers screen with the timer already checked (P165). At that point you can edit or delete the timer.

This means that after creating a timer by pressing Select or Record on a program in the guide, you can then edit that timer (to change the start or stop times) by Selecting the program again in the guide, and then clicking on Edit.

Alternate method for editing a timer (pre-P165):

PVR Screen

The PVR recorded event list is now arranged from the most recent recording to the oldest (P116) with the number of recordings shown at the top (P165). The “Sort” button allows you to toggle between Name and Date (P165).

Recording length is now listed with time of xx:xx instead of 1h 31m (P165).

A program currently recording now shows REC except that red is not seen when that show is highlighted unless you Page up to it (P165).

The PVR list opens with the last viewed program highlighted (P168). If that program has been erased, the program at the top will be highlighted.

Erasing a recording now requires confirmation (P165).

The “Manage” button allows you to select multiple recordings to Erase, Protect or Unprotect. If you have a password set, you will need to enter it to access this screen (P165).

You can now go directly to the Timer list from the PVR list via the “Timers” button on the right side of the PVR screen (P153).

PVR Playback

Pressing Play on the remote will cause the selected PVR event to start playing.

If you press Cancel during playback of a PVR program, it now accurately reports the time left to the end of the recording. If you press View as you might when watching live TV, it will stop PVR playback and take you to live viewing. Browse shows the current program information for the last tuned channel instead of the PVR event being viewed.

Slow Motion, Frame Advance

To access these features (P168) press Pause. To resume normal play and use of the skip buttons, press Pause again or Play to get out of pause mode. The Slow and Frame icons are yellow instead of blue and will disappear after a few seconds. To get a still screen without the pause icon press one of the skip buttons after pausing. This pocket chart (attachment no longer available) for the PVR721 from can also be used for the 501.

Slow Motion

Pressing Rewind after FF (or FF after Rewind) will slow or reverse the motion. If you press FF or Rewind enough times to reach fast motion (blue icons), pressing the opposite direction will not access the slow motion mode until you press Pause again.

Frame Advance


You will see the CallerID information displayed across the bottom of your TV (P153) whenever someone calls if you

When the CallerID comes up, you can Pause the program being watched; the display will clear shortly after. Prior to P168, you would have to press Select to clear the display before you could Pause.

The display box won't be recorded to disk as part of a PVR event because the 501 only records the raw data stream sent from the satellite. The CID box, like menus, is overlaid on the TV image after it's decoded from the disk.

However, if you're recording out to your VCR, this will show up on your tape, just like any other menu or banner. If you're going to record to tape, disable CallerID (or simply unplug the phone line), make your recording(s), then re-enable the feature (or just plug the phone line back in).

CallerID doesn't seem to recognize distinctive ringing patterns such as used by a second phone number on the same line. If someone calls that number the CallerID doesn't work but calling the first number works fine.

Caller info may not be displayed for all identified calls. One user found that about 20% of the time it does nothing for calls from the same number.

There are 3 ways to reach the new Search menu (P153).

  1. Press # on the remote control.
  2. Menu, 2, 9
  3. “Themes” is now “Themes & Search” so when you hit the 'Left' button it brings up the Themes menu, “Search” is option #9.

There are 2 methods of entering your search query that can be used interchangeably.

  1. On-screen virtual keyboard
  2. Alpha-numeric keypad on remote

When the Search button is pushed, the Search screen is automatically filled (P168) with the name of the currently viewed live or PVR program, highlighted PVR list entry, Browse banner, or highlighted EPG selection. To manually enter a query, first select Clear or backspace out the auto-filled query.

Your search is limited to a maximum of 15 characters including spaces. Separate words are treated as 1 string of characters and will match only if they appear in the same order, with no intervening words, in the program listings. By default it will “Search All Event Info” (title and program information) or can “Search Event Titles Only” (P168) as specified at the bottom of the main search screen. The resultant list includes all channels, even those not subscribed to (shown in red), and is limited to the first 500 hits.

Tip: Avoid common and partial words. The search string you enter may appear anywhere in the title or description, even as part of a word. Searching for 'ER' can quickly return 500 matches because the letters appear often in other words like character or Enterprise.
Workaround: Surround a very short word with spaces - [space]ER[space] or [space]24[space].
Workaround: If it is a title, check “Search Event Titles Only.”

Punctuation in the description is ignored (P165). Now, searching for SG1 will bring up matches for SG-1. The previous version would bring up no matches, and searching for just SG would bring up more matches than desired.

Each search performed is added to History so frequently searched text doesn't have to re-entered. The most recently used Search will move to the top of the list. The History button on the Search screen will take you to the list of previous searches. Move to any entry in the list and press Select. There is currently no way to delete a single entry from History.

Tip: After selecting an entry from the Search History, pressing the # key will immediately execute the search. To repeat the most recent search, the History screen can be bypassed - press # again within a few seconds of getting to the main Search screen.

9-Day EEPG

The standard 44-hour guide has been stored on the hard drive since version P118, nearly eliminating “wait or cancel” messages. A new 9-day Extended EPG (billed as 7 days since it often won't have the full 9) was introduced late Nov 2001 (P135). For your PVR501 to get the 9-day guide you need to have a Dish500 as the EEPG data stream is only located at 110°. The guide refreshes when the receiver is in standby mode, so turn it “off” at least a couple times a week to keep it from having to download when you would rather be watching your favorite show.

The guide can now be used while recording or watching a PVR event (P135). Press Cancel to return to full screen, pressing View will take you to live TV.

The upper left corner of the guide, which used to identify just the day (“Thu”), now identifies day and date (“Thu 11/29”) (P135).

If you subscribe to local channels you can now find them at their OTA number (4, 10, 13) in addition to the 8000 range (P165). (This is not a duplicate broadcast and the 501 does not have the hardware needed to record or even tune an OTA or CATV signal.) It is accomplished by adding the OTA numbers to the receiver's channel map and having them point to the 8000 range. It may take a day for the 501 to acquire and process the new channel numbers - leave the receiver off when not in use.

There is a way to page through the EPG forwards or backwards 24 hours at a time. While in the EPG, press the Skip Ahead button and the guide goes forward 24 hours. Press the Skip Back button and the guide goes back 24 hours. With this change, there is no PVR control while in the EPG (P135).

Of course you can also skip ahead or back X hours by entering X (any number of digits) on the keypad and press the right or left arrow.

Remote Low-battery Indicator

When the batteries in the remote control get low, a new “Remote battery low” warning line appears in the title banner (P139). Place fresh batteries in the remote control soon.


The mysterious lighted “dish” button takes you to the new OpenTV DISH Home menu (P165) which can also be found by going to Ch 100. To prevent the unintentional downloading of menu information, a confirmation popup (P168) requires you to press Select to enter DISH Home or Channel Up/Down to continue watching TV. Current options include weather (Ch 9500), games, news headlines, local entertainment listings, sports scores and news, lottery results and news, horoscope, and access to your Dish account status.

Compiled from user postings on newsgroup news://alt.dbs.echostar, DBSForums, and DBSTalk.