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My installation woes.....

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Installation/MDU Discussion' started by sgsmitty, Oct 21, 2007.

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  1. sgsmitty

    sgsmitty Mentor

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    Oct 18, 2007
    First, I want to be clear that I am not blaming my installer at all. I really cannot see where any of this would be his fault. Not an independent guy but from one of the large installers. Just seems like a break cant be caught anywhere.
    I ordered Directv last Saturday, Oct 13. I scheduled it for last Thursday afternoon. Late last Wednesday afternoon I received a call that there were out of receivers HR20 and I needed to reschedule. So, I rescheduled for next available which was Saturday afternoon. Saturday comes around and it is on. I am getting the HR20 as mentioned plus a standard receiver. Install took about 5 hours or so, cabling ran in the gutter (two story house) and the dish has to be on one side of the house and ran to other side of the house where the rooms for the two receivers are located.
    Hooked up the two receivers. Standard receiver works fine. Setup of HR20 and there is no joy. Never really gets past the satellite setup screens, meters on the screen alternate from 90’s to 0, etc. Portable signal testing apparently looked good so come to the conclusion that the receiver is DOA. But there is not another receiver on the truck. So, has to come back next day, which is today.
    Meet the guy at the house after church today, he hooks up new receiver. Same problem, although the screens are quicker (something that the installer noticed yesterday). So troubleshooting along, bypassed the ground block, things seem to work. Swapped out ground block, and things still look good and the meter is reading in the 90’s. Get through the set up screens, activated the receiver, and I see TV, even HD! Looks awesome! Yay! But, as the guy is loading up the truck I am bouncing around the various HD channels and I start seeing problems (MGM HD was the first) and eventually the other HD’s start dropping off, locals disappear, etc. Guy starts checking into it and the on screen meters are doing the same thing as the day before. (Note, the basic receiver works fine).
    So, now the wiring is suspect. So, he reran the wiring to the HR20 (dual line) but now through the attic. Get that done, hook up the wires to receiver, reset receiver, no joy. Same thing. Now the thought is that it is the LBNs on the slim line dish. But no extra LBN in truck so he is going to get one tomorrow and come back out in the morning.
    Yesterday when I had to wait for the new receiver today I had a good feeling that all would be done and things great. Now I am feeling discouraged and am expecting more problems tomorrow.
    Hopefully things will get better….
     
  2. hiker

    hiker Icon

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    Mar 1, 2006
    Did he install BBCs (BroadBand Converters)? They are little grey modules that attach to the back at the satellite in. If you have those, and you should, try replacing.
     
  3. sgsmitty

    sgsmitty Mentor

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    Oct 18, 2007
    Yes they are there. I recall he swapped them out the first time around and it did not help.
     
  4. rdiedrich

    rdiedrich Legend

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    Sep 10, 2007
    Usually when the signal jumps around like that it is some sort of short. Have him recheck all the connectors on the lines to make sure there are no shorts (IE: braid touching the center conductor).

    Randy
     
  5. sgsmitty

    sgsmitty Mentor

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    Oct 18, 2007
    New LBN did something. Get channels, some HD but locals fubar. tweaked the alignment but not real helps some HD's do not work (pixelate bad or do not come in). Guy has now done a hot drop from lbn's to box, HR20 locked up, reset box, now downloaded sotware update (018A)..... (he has been in communcation with his team lead).

    Time will tell....
     
  6. sgsmitty

    sgsmitty Mentor

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    Oct 18, 2007
    Software update did absolutely nothing. Now the thought is the this second HR20 box is fried. The thinking from what I understand is that the first LNB was back and fried the boxes. Apparently current is sent from the reciever up to LNB's and back and maybe that some how had screwed up the boxes before a new LNB was installed this morning.

    :(

    As I understand, the search is on for another HR20 in the area.
     
  7. sgsmitty

    sgsmitty Mentor

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    Oct 18, 2007
    This should round out the story, at least for now.

    The head tech in the area came on the scene and he brought a new receiver. New receiver behaved pretty much the same way although he did find a connection that might have been a problem which he fixed. He then proceeded to check out what all the tech had done and they started replacing cabling again, this time from the LNBs to the block. After that segment was replace he came back in to see the signals are relayed by the receiver (portable tester said it was okay). Again, lots of flaky readings etc. He sat there perplexed for awhiile and glanced up at he ceiling fan lights. He then got up, said "I wonder..." and turned off the light. Suddenly the numbers all started coming in strong in the upper 90's. He turned back on the light, they started dropping off. Then then turned off the light and went to one of the HD channels that had seemed problematic in the past, channel came in fine, turned on light (4 60 watt bulbs) and things started pixelating.
    So, the guy said the electrical in the room needed to be checked out. Said that when enough draw was done on the circuit it can cause the level the receiver gets to either flucuate or drop some when then effects the processors in the receiver to function properly. So, they are done as it stands. It all does work just fine I just need to not have to not have too much going on in the room.

    It sounds real crazy I know, or at least to me it does. But I will be the first to tell you I know jack about electric. I have a monster power strip that has a conditioner/surge protecter and that is plugged into a UPS, so I would thought that would have helped but apparently not. As for the circuit breaker for the room I think it has a 15 in it for now.

    Having said all that, what do you all think? This sound plausible? I see the results (watching Colts game in ESPNHD right now) so there is something to it.

    Thanks
     
  8. RobertE

    RobertE New Member

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    Jun 9, 2006
    Interesting. I guess with electronics anything is possible.
     
  9. wildbill129

    wildbill129 Godfather

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    Dec 22, 2006
    Possible, well anything is possible. Likely......No......If the voltage drop was severe enough to cause those kind of problems, you would be having problems with other electrical devices as well.

    Maybe I missed it in your earlier post. Are the lines from your dish inside or outside? Could they possibly run parallel to the power running your ceiling fan? Or right across it? Was the fan on or just the lights when you were having problems?
     
  10. SteveInNC

    SteveInNC AllStar

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    Oct 8, 2007
    Also, is the ceiling fan or any lights therein on a dimmer or speed control? Cheap brands of these work by chopping the AC power sine wave. This can cause lots of radio frequency interference, and really ugly power. In some cases, you can actually hear incandescent bulbs buzz or hum if the circuit is dimmed.
     
  11. sgsmitty

    sgsmitty Mentor

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    Oct 18, 2007
    Thanks for the response.

    Actually I did not try the fan just the lights. The cabling for the sat is outside and not parallel to them at all.
     
  12. sgsmitty

    sgsmitty Mentor

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    Oct 18, 2007
    Thanks for the response,

    Yes, the light kit of the fan is on a dimmer switch that is integrated by a little sliding deal right next to the switch itself! I have heard the buzzing you mention from time to time.

    So you think that can effect the power at the wall outlet (located on other wall from where switches are)?

    Thanks
     
  13. K4SMX

    K4SMX Hall Of Fame

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    May 19, 2007
    Good catch, SteveInNC!

    Absolutely! Dimmers are notorious for causing RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) both over the airwaves to receivers and through the power lines to directly parallel (electrically) connected receivers. Newer ones are rated to minimize RFI, but I have yet to see one which is totally "quiet." They can also go bad, generating RFI when they originally did not. Solving this problem may simply be a matter of a trip to your local home improvement store for a new/different brand dimmer, which you can easily replace yourself after killing the circuit at the electrical panel. If this doesn't solve the problem, you may have to run a line to a different circuit in your house, assuming the problem is coming through the AC power vs. over the airwaves.

    I would make sure that when the installer returns (?), he shows you how he has properly grounded both your dish and your grounding block in accordance with D* "best practices."

    I also want to point out that you will probably eventually have a problem with coaxial cable that is run in a rain gutter, but you can always replace it when it goes bad.
     
  14. K4SMX

    K4SMX Hall Of Fame

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    May 19, 2007
    If you determine that the interference is coming over the power lines (running your receiver in its same location, but off a different circuit using an extension cord fixes the problem), a ferrite choke where your receiver's AC cord enters the receiver may solve your problem. You can also wind the wires from your dimmer several times around one of these and jam it back in the switch box. The way these work is the more times you can wind the AC line around them the better they work. You can buy these from (click) DX Engineering.
     
  15. techrep

    techrep Hall Of Fame

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    Sep 15, 2007
    Nice info Stew, and now, you are in consideration for the coveted title of, "RF Guru."

    Now, don't start protesting or I might get "CHOKED" up.

    !devil12: Shoulder :angel:
     
  16. kwsmithphoto

    kwsmithphoto Mentor

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    Oct 19, 2007
    He's right that it could, but since you have the receiver on a UPS the problem most likely isn't coming from the AC line, though it could if the UPS has a broken ground. UPS's work as a line conditioner too, but work better when grounded well. The snap on ferrite thing might help anyway though.

    A quick thing you might try is turning the receiver 90 degrees and see if you have the same problem with the dimmer. If there's an RF problem in the air that clears up when you do that, it isn't coming through the AC. Replace the dimmer with a good one, like a basic Lutron. There's a reason why they cost twice as much as other dimmers with the same features, they're made better, and cause less problems like this.

    I deal with this a lot in home recording studios. Electric guitars have coils in them that are very sensitive to dimmer RF. Good triac dimmers often help but the only real cure is to replace it with an expensive rotary dimmer called a variable transformer, aka "variac," which smoothly varies the voltage instead of chopping the current. Not commonly found at hardware stores, try an electrical supply shop or online like here: http://www.iseincstore.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=23

    That said, the HR20 should be shielded well enough for this not to be a problem with an ordinary household light dimmer. I also have a fan with a dimmer on the light kit near my HR20. It probably helps that the dimmer is new, just put it in last weekend, but it doesn't interfere with anything.

    If changing the dimmer doesn't work you might try grounding the receiver case. Get some narrow gauge stranded wire the length of the AC cable, and strip a little insulation off both ends. Loosen the cover screws on the back and wrap one end around one of the screws, between the chassis and cover. Now loosen the wall plate screw on the AC outlet and wrap the other end around that. This will create a ground path which should, in theory, allow any RF that's hitting the case to "bleed" off into the house ground instead of penetrating the case. RF energy always wants to take the path of least resistance which you've provided with the ground wire.

    Good luck, let us know how it goes.
     
  17. jgrade

    jgrade Godfather

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    Sep 30, 2006
    Lets not forget that the OP already said he has the HR-20 connected to a monster conditioner and UPS. SO..... I guarantee there are ferrite magnets all over. If the Monster conditioner is doing it's job, the voltage should be constant (although under voltage would not be corrected, it should at least sound am alarm). If the lights and HR-20 are on the same circuit and under rated then it would be possible to see a drop in voltage. Assuming the house is wired for 120 and using a "standard" 15A breaker it would take MANY lights and appliances to get any where close to the 1800w available. RF is a different animal and can create interference but at the level that is needed to interfere with the signal would be visible in the picture. Have you noticed any visible interference in the picture?

    It may be plausible (too much Mythbusters) that a dimmer, triac, variac, improper wiring, etc is screwing with the 60Hz and thus causing fluctuations in TP levels.

    If you're up to it use a meter and scope and look at the frequency and voltage from the outlet with and without the lights.
     
  18. K4SMX

    K4SMX Hall Of Fame

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    May 19, 2007
    Actually it was Hasan, N0AN, another of our amateur radio operators here, who jogged my memory about the ferrite core RF chokes earlier today. We're a synergistic group. You'll also see these incorporated into higher quality VGA cables.

    I agree with kwsmithphoto re: the Lutron dimmers. I've had very good luck with those. If they don't have them at your local home improvement store, try a lighting store. They usually carry them up to 1500 watts. And yes, they are expensive, but you get what you pay for.
     
  19. sgsmitty

    sgsmitty Mentor

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    Oct 18, 2007
    Thanks for all the great information.

    Currently, I am experiencing no problem. I made sure the dimmer is set all the way high and I am only burning two bulbs. In this situation everything is working fine. Since I took off work Monday I will not be able to work on this until Saturday but this is the plan.

    First, I am going to remove the dimmer switch and replace with a standard switch. We do not even use the dimmer even though the wife had to have one. If that proves to be it and the wife has to have the dimmer then I will try one of the Lutrons. Otherwise, it is toast.

    Second, if there is still some residual problem I will go for the ferrite coil thing. As I mentioned before I know next to nothing about electricity other than how to turn off the main power, replace switches and outlets and that is about it. The ferrite coil was a interesting read because I have seen something similar on other commerically available electronics. I never understood what the little block that the power cord wrapped through was for until now.

    Next steps after that I will have to see as I continue to read the thread. I certainly may have to at some point get a professional but I at least want to work out all the obvious/(easy for me) to items first.

    Thanks!
     
  20. jgrade

    jgrade Godfather

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    Sep 30, 2006
    1500w dimmers usually come with very large heat sinks and can be fairly ugly. Most home improvement stores will have ones up to 600w. Lighting stores will carry larger like 1000w. My personal experience is not to go higher than 1000w. I have used 1500w dimmers and they just get too hot when pushed to their limit.
     
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