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SWM-8 Failure x 2

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Installation/MDU Discussion' started by waynemb, May 15, 2010.

  1. waynemb

    waynemb New Member

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    May 15, 2010
    I have a SWM-8 installed on my RV using a Winegard Travler 5 LNB Directv satellite antenna which is simply a mobile version of the Slimline dish. It is routed to the SWM-8 and then to two HR-21s and one HR-20 receiver using an appropriate digital splitter and power supply. I had first installed this setup in February of 09 after I had the dish installed on the RV. Because the manufacturer of the RV only ran one line to each TV and it was almost impossible to run additional lines, without going through the roof, it made sense to install the SWM-8. The first one I had mounted horizontally on the roof near the dish. The system worked fine until September of that year then failed unexpectedly. For several days prior to the failure, the receivers would intermittently all say "Searching for signal on satellite in 2" and there would be periods of pixelation and picture freeze. I replaced the unit with a second one, this time mounting the unit vertically and taking special care to make sure all connections were tight and sealed with silicone. I assumed that the problem with the first unit was water intrusion, although I have no evidence to back that up. This second unit failed 24 hours ago and we had noticed the pattern of pixelation, signal searching, and intermittent picture freeze for the last couple of days.

    I first tried powering down all receivers and the SWM and then restarting the SWM, waiting a minute or two, and then powering up one receiver. This did not work. I checked the voltage coming out of the PI and it was 28 as was the voltage at the SWM itself. I then tried connecting one of my receivers directly to one of the dish outputs and I am able to get a signal from the dish to the receiver without any problem. I did notice that in leaving the SWM plugged in it feels cold to the touch and most of the time when it is working it feels warm; I can only assume that even though power is being supplied nothing is working internally. I have scoured the internet for any kind of "reset" procedure but none seems to be available and it seems failure of any kind is quite rare. I do not know if there is any kind of internal fuse that could blow. Further the RV is protected by a whole house surge suppresion system and I have a separate surge protector on the power supply to the SWM.

    Of course I am now on the road and these units are just not available at your local Radio Shack and I will have to order one if I choose to replace it. My other option at this point is to by a cheaper and simpler 5x8 multiswitch and run new lines across the roof. At $120 every time this SWM fails, the cost is starting to add up. I am hoping someone here has had a similar experience and can tell me if they know of any reason why these units should fail. I know many people mount them outdoors so I do not believe the elements are the cause and we have been in snow, rain, sandstorms, and freezing conditions and the unit has continued to work just fine. The only two things that make this different from a residential installation are the vibration from moving the RV and the fact that power is interrupted to the unit every time we move the RV as well. I do not know if frequent power interruptions could be a cause of premature failure so if anyone has a more advanced knowledge of the SWM's inner workings, please let me know.

    I would appreciate anyone's input as I am trying to make a decision as to whether to plunk down the large chunk of change for a new swich or wire it up the old fashioned way.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. curt8403

    curt8403 Hall Of Fame

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    Dec 27, 2007

    this is only a guess, but it looks like the SWM may have failed. probably due to powering up and down all the time as well as the vibration.
     
  3. veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Have these been mounted in direct sun?
    They do get warm and perhaps overheated in the sun.
     
  4. doctor j

    doctor j Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    No direct knowledge.
    I have used an SWM-8 in a mobile tripod tailgate setup.
    Not that many power recycles overall so no problems.

    I would be highly suspicious that the frequency of on/off 's is the issue.

    I bet there are not many with a similar setup for other opinions.

    The SWM-8 usually is a 24/7 device and even power outage recycles has destroyed SWM-8 in regular installs. Thus frequent power cycles has to be bad.

    I'm slightly familiar with the traveler dish but wonder if a SWM-LNB could be tried. On some other units one of the lines gives power for the alignment motor so might not be feasible. Not less immune to power cycle failures but could be found cheaper on e-bay.

    Doctor j
     
  5. Valve1138

    Valve1138 Legend

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    Apr 26, 2008
    When say the swm-8 was mounted horizontally, do you mean flat on your roof?
     
  6. waynemb

    waynemb New Member

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    May 15, 2010
    Yes, the first unit, not the one that just failed, was mounted horizontally on the flat roof of the RV. When I replaced that unit, I mounted it vertically to ensure there was no water pooling and made sure every connection, crack, and crevice was properly sealed.

    If I do replace this unit, I imagine I will have to add an UPS to make sure it never powers down.
     
  7. curt8403

    curt8403 Hall Of Fame

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    Yes, a UPS powered off of your RV Battery would probably work to keep the SWM powered up.
     
  8. netraa

    netraa Godfather

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    Mar 27, 2007
    When you get a ups, make sure you get one that only uses the battery, and uses the line in only to re-condition the battery. It's also not going to be good for these things to be using the dirty power that comes out of a normal generator, and the power surges that you get when the AC starts/microwave/slide out motors... is not doing it any good.
     
  9. waynemb

    waynemb New Member

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    May 15, 2010
    Awoke this morning and bypassed the splitter and ran the output from the IRD side of the PI directly to one receiver. I did manage to get a dual-tuner signal on that one machine. So, thinking it might be the digital splitter, I replaced it with a new one, an easy part to find. However, when I powered up the SWM and then one receiver, I did not get a signal at first. Then a few minutes later, after rebooting a second time, I got a signal and it said it received 100% of the satellite data. However, when I tried to view a channel there was no signal and it was "searching" again. I imagine this is some kind of intermittent failure or does the unit simply not have enough power to push a signal through a splitter at this point? Can the SWM get weak prior to complete failure? Any thoughts?
     
  10. waynemb

    waynemb New Member

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    May 15, 2010
    Well, after walking away from the problem for a few hours I decided to fool with it again. First I bypassed the splitter and ran the signal to a different receiver and got single tuner capability on one. Then just to see, I ran everything back through the splitter, and got single tuner capability on the first receiver, and dual tuner capability on the second, both with high signal strengths. The SWM channels were showing 98 to 100 on each transponder. Then I went and looked at the settings on the first one and it was set to single tuner only, presumably from when I disconnected the SWM yesterday. I set it to dual, reset it, and sure enough dual tuner signals were received. Now I had two receivers with dual tuner signals from the SWM with high signal strengths. I then tried to activate the third receiver and it received no signal. I tried to change it to a different port on the new splitter, one that one of the other receivers had worked on, and it still did not receive a signal. Then, for whatever reason, I changed the wire from the back of receiver number 3 to a different cable, and reset it, and sure enough it rebooted with dual tuner feeds from the SWM with high signal strengths. It is as if nothing ever happened.

    While being totally perplexed, I can only think that the original splitter was in fact bad and the SWM was never the issue. I can only think that I must have put a different cable on the back of the third receiver when I wired in the new splitter and that it could not carry the signal for whatever reason. I am thankful it came back up, but I wonder if it really was the splitter or that the SWM will fail intermittently.

    Any thoughts?
     
  11. veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Too many squirrels running around to know.
    Time now to leave things alone and see what happen over time.
    First you had no problem with either the WB68 or the SWM8 by themselves and finally found the splitter wiring was the problem.
    Lately you've had some sort of SWM issue, but it's unclear what.
    These rarely "fail". Sometimes the comm signal and the receiver's requests can get mixed up.
    Complete reboots normally resolve these [if the cabling isn't the problem].
    Power everything down. Boot the SWM first and give it a couple of mins and then do one receiver at a time, waiting for it to completely boot before going to the next.
     

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