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DirecTV Feed in a Nursing Home Question


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26 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   mikeny

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:33 AM

My father is in a nursing home which has some kind of a custom DirecTV channel selection feed to it's rooms.

All the channel numbers are different than mine and there only about 40 of them.

From my understanding there are a few "receivers" which feed all the rooms in the facility. I question whether HD is an option.

The rooms are fed with coax and they're connected to resident's TVs with that simple connection. They don't have receivers in each room.

My father just got an HDTV and someone connected the coax to the antenna port for DirecTV. From his description, it doesn't sound like HD.

Can he get a 3rd party or even a DirecTV receiver or DVR which could transmit HD? I wonder whether HD channels are even transmitted to the facility at all.

Thanks in advance for the feedback.
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#2 OFFLINE   powerhouse1960

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:13 AM

My father is in a nursing home which has some kind of a custom DirecTV channel selection feed to it's rooms.

All the channel numbers are different than mine and there only about 40 of them.

From my understanding there are a few "receivers" which feed all the rooms in the facility. I question whether HD is an option.

The rooms are fed with coax and they're connected to resident's TVs with that simple connection. They don't have receivers in each room.

My father just got an HDTV and someone connected the coax to the antenna port for DirecTV. From his description, it doesn't sound like HD.

Can he get a 3rd party or even a DirecTV receiver or DVR which could transmit HD? I wonder whether HD channels are even transmitted to the facility at all.

Thanks in advance for the feedback.


If its like the systems we use than no hd we just modulate a standard receiver on a Channel.and yes it take one for each Channel.
You need to ask for the maintenance supervisor they might allow a personal install ,we do as long as you use a flat cable under the windows of coarse we proved the in house free if they do there own than they pay.

#3 OFFLINE   bigglebowski

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 02:10 PM

The obvious answer is what powerhouse said, which can be an issue as an installer will have to put the dish somewhere and run the cable which is usually where the property will be unwilling to allow.

The leap for a private cable system like this into HD is a real non starter as the equipment to make this happens needs many thousands of subscribers to pay it off regardless of how it is implemented. Regardless of what method is used it requires set top boxes, or dedicated TVs like hotels have.

One thing that can be done at a site like this is to at least get locals put onto the system which while pricey up front for the equipment as long as they can get good signal over the air. After whomever maintains the system puts the equipment in any residents who have flat screens just need to redo the autoprogram process to see the new channels: 3.1, 3.2, 9.1 and so on.

#4 OFFLINE   goinsleeper

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 02:26 PM

The rooms are fed with coax and they're connected to resident's TVs with that simple connection. They don't have receivers in each room.

My father just got an HDTV and someone connected the coax to the antenna port for DirecTV. From his description, it doesn't sound like HD.


Keep in mind that coax can not transmit HD from a receiver to the tv, just like composite/RCA cables. That would be the first give away that it is not HD.

#5 OFFLINE   alnielsen

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 03:20 PM

never mind

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#6 OFFLINE   Combat Medic

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:41 PM

Keep in mind that coax can not transmit HD from a receiver to the tv, just like composite/RCA cables. That would be the first give away that it is not HD.


Yes it can and it does everyday. You can go out and buy QAM encoders and run HD over a local network. It just costs a boatload.

#7 OFFLINE   gov

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:50 PM

Some satellite derived nursing home cable systems have a provision for passing the satellite dish signal directly to a residents room in lieu of the cable system offering.

Nursing home wiring would have to be a continuous uninterrupted segment of RG-6 from the residents TV to the system head. Some newer facilities are wired this way, many older systems use drop taps and/or splitters and that would not work. Some facilities that have built on new wings may have appropriate wiring in some areas and not others.

Unfortunately, the nursing staff/management tends to be clueless as to how their systems work and either have a maintenance guy with some experience in attaching TVs to the system and programming channels on residents TVs, and they just call the company that installed the head for major problems or upgrades.

Depending on the size of the facility, upgrading a system to HD modulators (and an HD receiver for every channel desired) would be cost prohibitive ($1000/channel probably would not be enough).

Even if a system also carries local channels in addition to the satellite offering, because the channels are generated with cable system modulators, just patching the locals onto the cable feed won't work, TV tuners typically have to be set for Cable or Over the Air, not both, so the locals are demodded and then remodded back onto an analog channel in SD.

Some nursing home systems also have an in house channel for announcements/menus/ activities added to the line up.

Channel #s would be pretty arbitrary, when the system was setup, nursing home management usually picks a channel lineup and the system is put together. Usually, locals would be on channels 2 thru whatever, and the rest above that, and in no particular order.

DirecTV has special tiers of service for nursing homes and hotels (systems are very similar). Curiously, ESPN is usually only available with all it's brandmates in a combined package, and the cost per bed per month is considerable, so many nursing home systems may not have ESPN (et al) unless the residents really push for it.

I maintain such a nursing home system, and was extremely fortunate when it was installed that I was present, and the installers were very open about telling me how it all works. I have added channels, and reassigned channel numbers to make it easier for the folks on the system to use it. I would think most systems besides mine would not be as well maintained and upgraded.

If there was some way to pay for all the hardware, I would love to upgrade the system to HD, but that is not going to happen unless some one donates or bequeaths some serious $$$$.

An advantage of this system is, any TV will work on it. Grandma's old RCA 1988 cable ready console will work just as well (or poorly) as a new Panasonic 65 inch 3D plasma will.

My system could have a HD tv in a common area, or a resident could opt for their own DirecTV subscription. In 5 years, in our 100 bed facility, no one has ever asked.

DirecTV has a special # for customer support for the nursing home/hotel systems, I have always had excellent friendly personal service the very few times I have had to call, typically once a year or so when I add a channel or two. (we have let the residents add a few channels from time to time). As I recall, we have added Cooking Channel, Spike, LMN, Bloomberg, and several local sub channels since the original install.

In lieu of ESPN and the rest, we have (IIRC) NFL, Fuel, ESPNc (they offer that one separately), NBCS, Fox Sports, and a few others.


I really like this system. Formerly, we had an unwieldy mess of local cable and an OTA system that was a nightmare. Wires run everywhere, and the local cable company kept changing hands and the new crews did not have an inkling of how their system was wired. As residents care level changed, they would be moved around the building to different skilled nursing areas. The cable company could not keep up with all the service change orders, and we had residents getting 'free' cable, residents paying for cable and not getting it because the cable company couldn't figure out how to get the wire into one wing. The OTA system was a fall back, but with the change over to digital, that system needed a major overhaul too. The unified system was installed in one day, and has worked fine since. The DirecTV tuners reboot after power outages better than the OTA equipment does, surprisingly. In over 4 years, and over 35 DirecTV tuners, we've only had one quit working.

Edited by gov, 10 January 2013 - 11:56 PM.


#8 OFFLINE   bigglebowski

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 09:34 AM

Depending on the size of the facility, upgrading a system to HD modulators (and an HD receiver for every channel desired) would be cost prohibitive ($1000/channel probably would not be enough).

Even if a system also carries local channels in addition to the satellite offering, because the channels are generated with cable system modulators, just patching the locals onto the cable feed won't work, TV tuners typically have to be set for Cable or Over the Air, not both, so the locals are demodded and then remodded back onto an analog channel in SD.


$1000 per channel is a good figure for over the air channels in HD put onto a system but not even close for what the national channels will be.

The comment about carrying local channels in addition to analog modulated signals is incorrect. Newer flat panel TVs during the autoprogram process will find any 8VSB or QAM channels that have been placed onto the combined cable with the analog channels. The concept of air and cable mode are kind of an analog TV thing. Even with older flat panel sets that have different inputs usually the autoprogram process will search out all types on one or both inputs. Now this may not be true for a small amount of sets that were made early on in the switchover from all CRT based sets to the "digital" sets.

In a nursing home we maintain that has over to the air to QAM transcoders for local HD I think we might have had less than 3 sets that did not work in the last 5 years, which was just poor design of the set, or mistakes in the sets firmware. These were ones people already had, since the install we have had nobody buy a new TV that didnt work.

This process is great for nursing homes with a small analog offering because by adding 7-9 local channels ends up being like +20 channels. Then you can re-purpose the satellite receivers that are currently for your locals to other channels that may be in your packages or even upgrade to another package you don't have at the cost savings of the local package fee.

Gov look up Blonder Tongue AQT, it may be a nice addition to the property you maintain.

#9 OFFLINE   mikeny

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 10:32 AM

Thanks for the replies.

If there is antenna feed there is in room (which may or nor still be there..doubt it):

Could we diplex DirecTV and the antenna feed with this system? Can he have both antenna and this proprietary DirecTV feed another way?
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#10 OFFLINE   gov

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:43 PM

Appreciate the help there, did not realize a TV could handle analog cable lineup and UHF ATSC without having to swap settings in the setup menu, which would be a no-go for 100 little ole ladies (LOL) (like me mom).

My highest channel is (analog) cable 60, and all the 'as received' ATSC channel frequencies are above that. I could just combine an (amplified) antenna feed to the cable system and see if I get reasonable signal on the system. Half the building is individual wire to each bed, and half the building is drop taps. I'd say there is a good shot the new part will work, I'd bet I don't have bandwidth with the drop tap side, but that part of the building is higher skilled nursing care and probably not missed as much as in the other half of the building would be for HD locals.

I can't drop the SD local feeds at the nursing home till everyone has a 'modern' TV, it could be several years before all the NTSC picture tube stuff is gone, although, maybe I need to do a walk through and see for myself, just how many are still around. I know for sure 2 sets in public areas are picture tube models (admin hates replacing things that still work). I don't have any DirecTV receivers set for local channels, I have a large antenna array and use ordinary converter boxes to generate my locals in SD. With no monthly fee for locals derived that way, admin was thrilled to bump up the channel count for just the price of the hardware to do it.

I would probably not re-cable the drop tap part of the system, the old part of the structure is not much fun to work on, and stringing a couple miles of coax is something for the younger techs to try.

I wouldn't mind supervising someone else doing that work, LOL.


I have not encountered a D* installer that had anything good to say about diplexers, LOL. If the resident was in a 2 bed room with 2 wires, the other TV feed could have a splitter, not every setup might allow that, however.

(there are some diplexer tricks rumored about, but we should always observe DirecTVs recommendations)

Edited by gov, 11 January 2013 - 12:48 PM.


#11 OFFLINE   bigglebowski

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:43 PM

Thanks for the replies.

If there is antenna feed there is in room (which may or nor still be there..doubt it):

Could we diplex DirecTV and the antenna feed with this system? Can he have both antenna and this proprietary DirecTV feed another way?


Technically yes given the right circumstances you can stack various frequencies onto the same wire assuming they are balanced. The proper way to do it would be to have the antenna signal come into the room with the sat receivers and use equipment (ie: transcoders) to process the incoming feed or feeds and then resend it back out with the other sat channels.

If you just take the signal out of the air you will have to filter out any conflicting frequencies (including noise that is not TV broadcast) that would interfere with existing channels. For instance here in the Charlotte the "city" PBS feed is channel 11, this would mean you could NOT have a channel 11 from your SMATV system. Another problem is if in your area you needed more than one antenna it would be a problem to combine feeds from antennas pointing in different directions because a good feed off one directional antenna could get canceled out by an inferior signal off one of the other antennas.

BTW, the system in question is not proprietary it is pretty much the same as most cable TV systems have been for years. The property that maintains it could change out all the Directv receivers for Dish or even CBand and reuse the same modulators and nobody would know the difference. Except for maybe the commercial breaks could be different.

#12 OFFLINE   gov

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:54 PM

Good point about interference there, locally, all my ATSCs are UHF and I can hi pass just them, and not interfere with my analog 2-60 cable chans. presumably the modulators don't have any harmonics in the UHF band to interfere the other way.

I'd bet the drop tap half of the building doesn't have the bandwidth for UHF, but I can check. Don't want the system radiating either.

#13 OFFLINE   bigglebowski

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:58 PM

Appreciate the help there, did not realize a TV could handle analog cable lineup and UHF ATSC without having to swap settings in the setup menu, which would be a no-go for 100 little ole ladies (LOL) (like me mom).

My highest channel is (analog) cable 60, and all the 'as received' ATSC channel frequencies are above that. I could just combine an (amplified) antenna feed to the cable system and see if I get reasonable signal on the system. Half the building is individual wire to each bed, and half the building is drop taps. I'd say there is a good shot the new part will work, I'd bet I don't have bandwidth with the drop tap side, but that part of the building is higher skilled nursing care and probably not missed as much as in the other half of the building would be for HD locals.

I can't drop the SD local feeds at the nursing home till everyone has a 'modern' TV, it could be several years before all the NTSC picture tube stuff is gone, although, maybe I need to do a walk through and see for myself, just how many are still around. I know for sure 2 sets in public areas are picture tube models (admin hates replacing things that still work). I don't have any DirecTV receivers set for local channels, I have a large antenna array and use ordinary converter boxes to generate my locals in SD. With no monthly fee for locals derived that way, admin was thrilled to bump up the channel count for just the price of the hardware to do it.

I would probably not re-cable the drop tap part of the system, the old part of the structure is not much fun to work on, and stringing a couple miles of coax is something for the younger techs to try.

I wouldn't mind supervising someone else doing that work, LOL.


I have not encountered a D* installer that had anything good to say about diplexers, LOL. If the resident was in a 2 bed room with 2 wires, the other TV feed could have a splitter, not every setup might allow that, however.

(there are some diplexer tricks rumored about, but we should always observe DirecTVs recommendations)


I was responding to the OPs question at the time but it sort of covers what you are talking about. If you have the right things in place, yes you may be able to pull off joining the SMATV and OTA feeds together. Part of the problem is the balancing of the OTA channels which is another reason that combining is an issue. Your modulator feeds are already proably balanced well but the air signals can vary wildly. With digital signal being too strong is just as bad or worse than signal being too weak.

Thats why homeruns or drop tap would be irrelevant because you process it and balance it before it leaves the headend. See if you can find a price on Blonder Tongues DHDC devices. With those you need an "downconverter" (antenna input) and a "upconverter" (the channel output) for each OTA channel you want. If the site is using "mini" modulators than the chassis and power supplies are the same. These dont need a controller as they are stand alone other than power and might be closer to $500-600 per channel. These are 8VSB instead of QAM, but honestly QAM is the way to go.

#14 OFFLINE   goinsleeper

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 08:30 PM

Yes it can and it does everyday. You can go out and buy QAM encoders and run HD over a local network. It just costs a boatload.


Indeed it can but based on what the OP was saying, though it was an assumption on my part, the home would not be running said setup.

#15 OFFLINE   BattleZone

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 05:00 PM

Posted Image Posted Image
Analog, Standard-Def head-end racks

I've installed well over 100 of these SD/analog headend systems in nursing homes. One thing that I can assure you is that each and every system is unique, and that of all the ones we installed, only 2 of them had home-runs to each room, and that's because we ran them that way ourselves. In one place, it was so old they had no existing cable, and in the other, the existing cable was run on the roof and was so sun and water-damaged that it had to be replaced. The majority of these facilities don't want to pay for homeruns, and often, the existing cable infrastructure is barely adequate. In almost every case, there are lots of splits, and many times even daisy-chained taps.

Posted Image
Com1000 HD head-end rack

Posted Image
Com1000 HD & analog SD head-end rack

Posted Image
LG CodePlus HD head-end rack

I've also installed plenty of Com1000 and LG CodePlus HD head-ends for DirecTV. These require commercial Pro:Idiom-compatible TVs (typically about $200-400 higher than the cost of a consumer TV). This is what hotels and other free-to-guest systems used, as the license agreements for the content require an encrypted connection all the way to the TV.

Is it possible to install QAM modulators on the head-end and get things to work with consumer, non-encrypted HDTVs? Yes. But you aren't likely to get a company to help you do that for non-broadcast/OTA channels, because if discovered, that company would lose their DirecTV dealership, as they are also contractually required to maintain an encrypted connection for all channels coming from DirecTV HD equipment. I haven't done the research, but there may even be penalties for doing this under the DMCA.

The options a nursing home has, typically, are as follows, from least to most expensive:

- Stay with the SD/analog system, which is what most do, and optionally allow individual satellite TV installs for specific customers.

- Install an additional satellite signal backbone, so that individual customers can subscribe to DirecTV and be connected to a single, master DirecTV dish array (called an L-Band system). Whether this is practical depends on the existing wiring at the facility, and isn't feasible for most locations.

- Switch all rooms to an L-Band system (one dish array, a receiver at each TV, allows consumer TVs to be used). This also may be impractical given the constraints of the existing wiring, and whether sufficient additional wiring can be ran.

- Switch all rooms to a commercial Pro:Idiom HD system, including Pro:Idiom commercial HDTVs.

Higher-end facilities are much more likely to look beyond the top option, but the lower-end places are loathe to spend one cent more than they have to.

Edited by BattleZone, 12 January 2013 - 06:54 PM.

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#16 OFFLINE   moghedien

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 07:17 PM

...I've also installed plenty of Com1000 and LG CodePlus HD head-ends for DirecTV. These require commercial Pro:Idiom-compatible TVs (typically about $200-400 higher than the cost of a consumer TV). This is what hotels and other free-to-guest systems used, as the license agreements for the content require an encrypted connection all the way to the TV.


I was staying in a La Quinta recently and the TV had a set-back box made by a company named Enseo:

http://www.enseo.com...d3000h_v1.3.pdf

This seems to be an alternative to buying TVs with the encryption built in.

#17 OFFLINE   BattleZone

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 07:38 PM

True.

Though MANY lower-to-mid tier nursing homes only have old, donated analog SDTVs in most rooms, and these devices require an HDTV (they connect to the TV only via HDMI). I would guess that it would be cheaper to buy new Pro:Idiom TVs than to buy TVs and these boxes, but for properties who don't research and buy HDTVs FIRST (a common issue), these boxes could be a good solution to preserve their investment in the HDTVs they already have.

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#18 OFFLINE   bigglebowski

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 11:12 PM

I was staying in a La Quinta recently and the TV had a set-back box made by a company named Enseo:

http://www.enseo.com...d3000h_v1.3.pdf

This seems to be an alternative to buying TVs with the encryption built in.


This is still a commercial hospitality device particularly for older model commercial sets. Most of the times I worked with Enseo and Galileo (the server) was on older model Panasonics. Besides handling the encryption of pro:idiom another use is to program the TVs throughout the hotel. Just imagine visiting 700 TVs just because you added or changed just one channel.

#19 OFFLINE   coolman302003

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 04:17 AM

BattleZone!!! :welcome_s back to DBSTalk, I have not seen you post in a long time, I am sure you have probably been quite busy. I have always enjoyed the photos you post of the commercial installs! You can tell that you take a lot of pride in your work. :) ;)

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#20 OFFLINE   gov

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 12:27 PM

The nursing home head I maintain is in a large utility room, and with the lights off, the indicator lights make for quite a display.

All the D* boxes with their blue LEDs, the modulators with their green ones, the OTA boxes have either red or blue LEDs.

Prior to the satellite based system, the local cable company was approached for a bid for $/month/bed and they came in double the monthly price for the D* system; granted the cable feed had ESPN and the siblings, but admin really wanted to save a buck as noted above. The cable company was reminded they were service provider for another 'in chain' nursing home in another city, and there the $ was comparable to the D* rate, I even approached the cable company management and stressed that once wired, they would never have another service call to the site, and neither argument made any difference. Admin went with D* and it has been fine. Typically (why do they do this?) the cable company came back with a better offer 2 weeks after the new sat system was installed.

We added a Video Messenger channel, and we can broadcast activity schedule and menus. I'd like an outdoor camera (in the attractive courtyard area) modulated onto a channel, but just haven't had time to string the wire for it yet.

I did not realize our facility was unusual with the cabling. Home running cables from every bed should be a no brainer. The old half of the building could be home wired, but, todate, the drop taps are working fine. That system was professionally designed and retrofitted to the building in the late 90s. Actually, the hard part is done, there is a wire from every bed to the corridor drop ceiling area, the drop taps are spaced along the hallways, and each hallway feed runs back to the head. We have consistent signal strength in the drop tap system, but the bandwidth would be ~ 500MHz. In some areas of the building we've had some plumbing problems, and a few connectors have corroded and some cable ends have had to be trimmed back.

The switch over to ATSC OTA actually helped the system, we had a slight bleed in from a local analog channel at the far end of one corridor, that problem went away when analog died.

Biggest cabling issue was running some extra coax for the KaKu dish, one masonry wall almost bested us, the 1 inch hole hit rebar and the kid running the drill got pretty frustrated.

Cable company did eventually disconnect feed to the building, but they never retrieved their splitters and taps in the head area. I think a repave over a sewer main replacement in the parking lot severed their cable lead in.

Biggest problem staff seems to have is putting 2 residents in the same room with the same brand TV, then we have a dueling remote problem. It would be nice if management matched residents for hearing loss too, but my suggestions in that regard go nowhere.

One challenge, no one is allowed near the head with a D* remote. All adjustments are done with the front panel controls. Can't have some one walk in there and click channel up a few times, I'd be there hours getting all the boxes back on channel.

DirecTV has been great to work with, the company that designed and installed the head was great too.

Surprisingly, admin approached me about getting the system, I was skeptical the thing would work as well as it does, especially with the 2 different wiring set ups. The installation crew had a field strength meter, and tweaked the feeds a bit and everything was fine. Admin saw a presentation at an industry trade show, and was actually eager to get the it. There were enough headaches with the existing system they were eager to have something that would let them focus more on all their other issues.




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