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Signal goes from ~98% to 0%

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Installation/MDU Discussion' started by wiz561, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. Dec 7, 2010 #1 of 24
    wiz561

    wiz561 Mentor

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    Dec 7, 2010
    Hi!

    I've been having a rather strange problem lately, and don't know what's going on. I'm new to the forum here so I will try to post as much as I can.

    I just have had dtv install a slimline dish last week and it's been working great for about a week. It snowed Saturday here in Chicago, and come Sunday night, around 9:00pm, the channels started to pixelate and drop. Ever since then, has done it.

    I've checked the signal strength (going from the top of my head) for sat 101 and transponder 16, 18, and the default one where it first pops up (1?). The signal strength is at 97% to 99% for about 30 seconds, then drops to 0% for a second, then pops back up to 97% for about 30 seconds, then back to 0%, and just teeter-totters like this indefinitely. I have two receivers and they both do this.

    Last night, I swapped the cable from the grounding block outside into the splitter (switch?) that has the power inverter feeding it. This seemed to fix the problem, until I turned on the other receiver. There was no pic and it was searching for a satellite. I then reset the second receiver, and during the setup of it, it wouldn't find a signal. After the initial setup, I did a signal test on the second receiver, and it would find it for about 1 second, then drop to 0 for about 15 seconds, and just go back and forth with it. This happened on all transponders too.

    I let it sit overnight and turned on both tuners/receivers this-morning, and everything was perfect. The signal strength stayed at between 97% to 99% on both tuners and there were no dropouts on the picture.

    Can anybody explain what might be going on and how I can prevent this from happening in the future? I have a pole mounted (2" galvanized pole that's in concrete) slimline dish. I would think that if it was an alignment problem, the signal would be in the 80% or 70% range, not high 90's. There's also no snow on the dish and the dish is bone dry. My next step is to attempt to swap the cable from the LNB to the grounding block, but I wanted to get some input here.

    Also, I would call the installer back, but I don't have any vacation time left at work and can't wait around for the installer. I'd like to fix it myself since I like troubleshooting things, so that's why I'm posting.

    thanks!
     
  2. Dec 7, 2010 #2 of 24
    RunnerFL

    RunnerFL Well-Known Member

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    Try replacing the cable from the LNB to the grounding block. If that doesn't fix it try taking the grounding block out of the loop for a moment. And if that doesn't do it then you may have a bad LNB.
     
  3. Dec 7, 2010 #3 of 24
    veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Loose or wet connectors is what I'd be checking for first.
     
  4. Dec 7, 2010 #4 of 24
    joe diamond

    joe diamond Hall Of Fame

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    After a little check of suspected gear as correctly mentioned....stand behind the dish and check for tree limbs that could blow in and out of the line of sight (LOS) between the dish and the satellite...23,000 miles out.

    Intermittent outages will make you crazy. Try shaking everything a little at a time until you make the rig fail again. Something is loose or temporarily blocked. See if the dish itself can move in wind.

    Joe
     
  5. Dec 7, 2010 #5 of 24
    wiz561

    wiz561 Mentor

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    Dec 7, 2010
    Thanks for the tips. If it continues to act up tonight, I will try swapping cables from lnb to grounding block. That was my next idea, but I was scared to take the LNB off the dish because I read somewhere that the slimline one is super sensitive. I would hate to knock something out of alignment.

    Another question. What would you recommend in terms of waterproofing the connection? The installer used a rubber boot that only goes over the exposed threads of the start of the connector, grounding block and switches. Nothing protects the part where the coax enters the connector. Electrical tape? Liquid electrical tape? Some sort of tape? I remember seeing little boots that fit over the entire connector, but haven't seen those in years.

    thanks again for the help!
     
  6. Dec 7, 2010 #6 of 24
    veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    If the right compression connectors were used, they have an internal seal to reduce wicking down the coax.
    I suspect a loose connector as being the problem, or at least the most likely/common cause.
     
  7. Dec 7, 2010 #7 of 24
    joe diamond

    joe diamond Hall Of Fame

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    Those boots get mixed reviews. Back in my CATV days one system paid a few bucks to add boots to any job encountered to keep water out of the connections. A few exits around the D.C. Beltway a different cable company paid a few bucks for any job encountered to remove the boots and re splice a different fitting to keep water out of the connections.

    Boots and especially tape hold water in and stop normal draining and evaporation.


    Both the approved Directv and my favorite $.09 F fitting with gel keep water out of the connection if applied correctly...meaning crimped or compressed.

    Putting the ground block and or multiswitch into a plastic drop box or similar works. Adding cable grease works. Finding uncompressed fittings works.

    Try to reach the original installer and share your concerns.

    Joe
     
  8. Dec 7, 2010 #8 of 24
    wiz561

    wiz561 Mentor

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    When you say loose connector, do you mean one that must be tightened with an open-ended wrench, or do you mean the connector's loose and must be recrimped?
     
  9. Dec 7, 2010 #9 of 24
    veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    "Most of the time" loose as in they haven't been "snugged" with a 7/16 wrench.
     
  10. joe diamond

    joe diamond Hall Of Fame

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    Seen it both ways. Tech failed to compress several fittings but did squirt silicone caulk on everything. Same guy broke the plastic port mount on the back of the B&W TV using a wrench.

    I read somewhere there is a fitting torque wrench coming.

    Joe
     
  11. NR4P

    NR4P Dad

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    Also, if the connector center conductor isn't long enough, even a tight fitting won't help. If you can remove the connector and ensure that the center conductor protrudes a wee bit past the end of the 7/16 nut. If its fully inside the RG59 connector (below the surface of the tightening nut, it may not be making solid contact into the female connection. Had once once, figured I'd pass it along.
     
  12. wiz561

    wiz561 Mentor

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    Interesting information about everything. Thank you all for the responses.

    When I got home tonight, I checked out the dish, took the LNB off and tightened the cable. It was a *LITTLE* loose, but I would have thought it would have made a good connection. Went back inside, checked out the TV's, and the one downstairs works, but the one upstairs is still flakey.

    I took the TV downstairs and plugged the tuner directly into the switch. Ran the setup and all the signal tests, and it looks like it's working fine.

    So, it leads me to believe that there's a problem in the cable. I'm wondering if the cable is too long because it gets stretched ALL the way across the house, up, down, and all around. If I were to guess, it would be around a 90 to 100' run. Also, the tech clipped and put new fittings on the end of the long run. It's rg6-u cable, certified to 3ghz.

    Thanks all for your help and your responses!
     
  13. The Merg

    The Merg 1*

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    Try swapping the cables at the LNB/ground block as well. That will tell you if it is the LNB or the cable as well. You can also try swapping the receivers, just to verify the issue isn't with the one receiver.

    - Merg
     
  14. joe diamond

    joe diamond Hall Of Fame

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    Hmmmm!

    Here is a guess. The rg6 U is possibly certified UNDERGROUND direct burial cable. This in itself is fine. But it is possibly from a Primestar installation. I would suggest try checking that run for any barrel connectors and or old / defective fittings. Then if that run is 100 ft and you have a considerable run to the dish it could just be too long.

    Report what you find.

    Joe
     
  15. wiz561

    wiz561 Mentor

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    FYI, I'm still looking into this issue. For another update....I've had a coax strung across the house for the past week or so, and pretty much no complaints. I did have the signal go out for a minute or two only one night, but it is, IMHO, 98% better with the new cable.

    I'm getting tired of looking at the coax all over the house, so I called the builder in to check it out. They just got done and looked over and tested the cables. I wasn't there so I don't know exactly what happened, but they said that the cable was too tight :sure: and that they have had the tv on for the past hour and it's been fine.

    I guess we'll find out later tonight. I have a hard time believing that the DTV installer made it too tight, then when I redid the connectors (used compression), I made it too tight, but yet this new cable isn't on too tight. I've been wrong before, so who knows....but I would be surprised if this fixes the problem.

    So, my next question.... If you do put a connector on too tight, will it cause a signal problem? I've heard about them being loose....but is there really something about it being too tight?
     
  16. veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    How you can tell a connector is on "too tight" is when you disconnect it, you rip out the connector it was connected to instead.
    I don't get the best "feelings" from the "they" you had come out. ;)
     
  17. joe diamond

    joe diamond Hall Of Fame

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    Too tight?

    As a rule one does not use wrenches inside the building. Finger tight is fine especially when connecting to equipment.

    "Too tight" on outside fittings could mean breaking ports on ground blocks and multiswitches. Using a 7 /16 wrench and or cable grease is ok but anything beyond a firm contact for the "O" ring is unnecessary.

    Could your man have meant too tight a cable bend? Or perhaps a staple crunching the cable..........He could have meant "too tight" on a twist-on fitting! Do not screw with twist on fittings. If they work now any slight bump could dump their service. Find and replace them as you work.

    The other thing to begin to watch is a defective LNB. The fact that both receivers fail points to a common source for the problem. An LNB problem will continue to get worse and eventually fail completely. You have done a pretty good job verifying the cable....sometimes you get two independent intermittent faults...makes you crazy!

    Joe
     
  18. wiz561

    wiz561 Mentor

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    Dec 7, 2010
    OK, as a follow up (and final) post.

    - I have two receivers; one in the MBR and one in the Family Room. The Family Room one works fine, the MBR was the one giving me problems. I took the MBR receiver and plugged it into the Family Room. Didn't find a single satellite signal and during the satellite tests, all the signal strengths were '0'. Plugged the Family Room receiver back in, everything worked fine on it.

    - Called DTV. First CSR wanted to send a tech out. I said I didn't have time now and would call back later. Found somebody to housesit, called back, 2nd CSR told me that it sounds like I isolated it to the receiver so I'll send out a new receiver. Hooked new receiver up and it was a LOT better, but occasionally, I would get the drop outs.

    - Ran a new wire. used rg-6 quad shield. I ran the wire myself this time, and used compression connectors. I forget which ones they were, but HD sold them. Anyways, hooked everything up, and now it works flawless.

    I don't know much about the receivers or how they work, but I still think that the problem laid with the cable. Maybe the new receiver can compensate for a bad cable run better? Don't know. All I know is that with the new receiver, it was still giving some problems. With the new cable run, it eliminated all problems.

    Another idea I had is the new SWiM (SWM?) setups. I think it's great, but I wonder if there's a power on sequence. From what I read, you turn the broadband adapter on first, then the SWiM power module, then one receiver, the next one, etc. I don't know if me plugging and unplugging and moving everything attributed to the issues or not. But, if somebody else has an issue like this, it might be a suggestion. But again, I'm pretty sure that by replacing/running a new cable fixed the problem.
     
  19. veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Each/any receiver will have slightly different "minimum signal" level and this may be what was happening with "a flaky coax".
    Power sequence should basically be:
    SWiM PI & BB DECA [doesn't matter which is first here].
    Then receivers.
    I've lost whole house power several times and had everything come back up at the same time without any issues.
    If a receiver doesn't come up correctly, then a simply reboot should do it.
    "If the SWiM" gets out of sync, then recycling its power & the receivers [maybe even one at a time], but this seems to be rare.
     

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