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What sat signal strengths matter?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Installation/MDU Discussion' started by jaguar325, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. Nov 7, 2008 #1 of 12

    jaguar325 Legend

    Jan 2, 2006
    I wrote a post a while back about a problem I am plagued with every fall - that my signal strength tends to get weak enough in the Sept-Oct timeframe that it affects what I am watching and I have to get on the roof to fool with the dish.

    This year, the shows we watch (mostly HD programming) have been working fine so I decided to ignore it and see if it had something to do with the season vs. the pine trees that surround my house getting taller -- which I always wondered why this didn't occur in mid-summer if the trees were at fault.

    This morning, we had our first snow that stuck.. it was wet and blocked the dish for a while. I looked at it this afternoon and it mostly melted off but there is a little at the base of the dish (maybe the bottom 2-3 inches). I checked the channels I normally care about (HD locals, HD channels in the range of 200-350, and movie channels). All seem to be working. The one channel that would not work is the one that used to be my "canary in the cave" for poor sat signal -- Discovery's HD Theatre at #76... it won't work. I rarely watch this one anymore since it's so far off the guide from the range I normally surf.

    I pulled the sat signal readings today, assuming this is a worst-case scenario given snow on the dish and cloudy weather. The results are shown below. What confuses me is that I cannot find a definitive source on what sat's supply what channels so that I would know whether I care enough to go on the roof for an adjustment (cedar shakes with snow - not a decision I take lightly). Can anybody tell me whether the sats with very low or no signal really matter? I read somewhere that some are being phased out and/or are redundant with others.

    101: all readings in high 80's to high 90's
    110: all readings 85-92
    119: ten transponders read "0", one reads "38"
    99a: all readings are 66-75
    99b: eleven transponders read "0", rest are between 21-96
    103a: twelve transponders read "0", remaining four are between 58-73
    103b: all readings between 74-78

    My experience with the "old" 3LNB HD dish was that the sat that carried the 10 or so HD stations we got at the time was the one lowest on the horizon and I never had good readings on it due to the trees.. as long as I could consistently keep the signal above 50, it seemed to work fine. Now with the new HD channels/dish and additional sats, I don't really watch that channel range anymore and haven't noticed a problem.

    Any advice is surely welcome.


    Big K
  2. Nov 7, 2008 #2 of 12

    RobertE New Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    For HD you want to be concerned wtih 99a & 103b, those are the conus (national) "beams". 99a & 103a are spot beams for local HD channels, they can be all over the place depending on where you are.

    What I see is that your 99a/103b is barely passible. You need an realignment. Ideally, you want 80+ on 101/99a/103b, preferably 90+. DirecTv considers 70 passing.

    As for 76 not comming it, it comes from 119, which as you see are zeros.
  3. Nov 7, 2008 #3 of 12

    litzdog911 Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2004
    Mill Creek, WA
    The tricky satellites to optimize are the 99 and 103ยบ satellites that beam the new HD channels. These satellites use a higher frequency, so their alignment is more critical. Your readings are a bit low. While DirecTV considers readings in the 70's to be "acceptable", you'll have more reception issues than if you optimize your dish alignment to get them up in the 80-90s.
  4. Nov 7, 2008 #4 of 12

    houskamp Active Member

    Sep 14, 2006
    What matter? 103c and 99c.. rest will be good if those are..
  5. Nov 7, 2008 #5 of 12

    2dogz Godfather

    Jun 14, 2008
    That Discovery HD Theater channel 76 is now mirrored on the new HD sats. Find it on channel 281, ever better, sharper HD than the older version from sat 119. All the HD channels in the 70-79 range have new versions from the Ka sats, HBO, ESPN, Max, etc. The 70's range is obsolete for people with the newer HD receivers.
  6. Nov 7, 2008 #6 of 12

    jrd1967a New Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Looked all over for some kind of tutoriol and not having any luck. Hopefully you guys can help.
    Been using Directv SD in my RV for years. Recently went HD. Picked up an H-21 receiver from BestBuy and a AU9-SL3 from SolidSignal. I'm now on the Choice pkg with HD & local HD, which I believe will be HD West as I do have the RV designation at Directv. Works great, but a few questions:
    1. I understand the SL3 will is used to see sats 99,101,103.
    I believe 101 is for local HD west, which I get, but what I'd like to know what sat is suppose to give me what channels, etc.
    2. I see a lot of posts concerning even & odd transponders on the different sats. Is there a particlular transponder I should be tuning to on certain sats? (I guess it would help if I knew why there are more then one transponders on each sat)
    3. During sat setup on my H-21, it asks me what kind of dish I'm using...The drop-down menu did not list a 3LNB, 99,101,119, so I believe I used the 5LNB setting. And if I remember correctly, I saw the 110 or 119 sat, or at least the H-21 said I did.

    So since I use this mobile, I'd like to know what I need to know to get this sucker pointed/tuned correctly.

    Also, the RF remote works great....

    Thanks in advance
  7. Nov 7, 2008 #7 of 12

    carl6 Moderator Staff Member DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    You cannot select the satellite or transponder that is used. That is done automatically by the receiver when you tune to a channel. They are all used. There is something like 6 to 10 channels per transponder. There is a listing, an index, as a sticky thread in one of these forums, but it isn't something you really need to worry about. Properly aligned, your dish should have good readings on all.
    The SL3 can't see 110 and 119, but if you select the SL5 when doing satellite setup, you will see signal strengths for those. Problem is, you are not really seeing them. This can and will cause you problems down the road. Force a software download on your H21. After that, go back through sat setup and you should be able to select the SL3. To force a software download, do a reset and when you see the first blue screen immediately (and fairly rapidly) push the 0 2 4 6 8 buttons on your remote. Don't push any other buttons, just wait. After a delay you should see a screen that says "Found new software" with a progress bar.

  8. Nov 7, 2008 #8 of 12

    jrd1967a New Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Thanks Carl...I will give the software download a shot and let ya know. Certainly makes sense.
    One thing though, I could have sworn I had different signal strengths on different transponders...maybe not.

    Out of curiousity, with 3 different sats, what am I receiveing on each?

    thanks again
  9. Nov 8, 2008 #9 of 12

    K4SMX Hall Of Fame

    May 19, 2007
    It's actually 3 different satellite positions, as there are multiple actual satellites at each position in space. The 101 satellites carry almost all the SD programming you can receive. The 99 and 103 satellites carry all the HD programming you can receive. Here is Sixto's list of what national HD programming is on which HD satellite and transponder. You may or may not be able to receive HD and SD local network stations, depending on how far away you are from home, since those signals come from highly directional satellite antenna systems. But if you have an RV a/c, you're probably entitled to get the West/East Coast feeds, so it won't matter. I'm not that familiar with those....
  10. jaguar325

    jaguar325 Legend

    Jan 2, 2006
    I appreciate the information provided for my original post. Can anybody tell me if either of the two sats that are critical (99a and 103b) are the ones that are low to the horizon? That has been my issue with this house since the day I moved in -- completely circled by pine trees that grow 12-15" year. I've got the dish on the far side of my roof to catch as much of an angle as possible - with the old HD channels, it was barely enough and I had to keep raising the dish. The issue now is my next move would be to get a tri-pod which is going to look awful from the front of the house.

    I would be very happy to know that time/wind have gotten me and this is just a simple matter of alignment. I'd hate to think that I'll be continuing my struggle with the tree tops.


    Big K

    p.s. are either 99a or 103b the ones that you dial in more by adjusting tilt vs. elevation or side-to-side?
  11. satjoe

    satjoe AllStar

    Oct 28, 2008
    Ok, If you get the high levels on the 101 then you most definatly will be able to get the 99 and 103. The lowest sat. is the 119. the 99 is higher than the 101 and the 103 is slightly lower. They all run in a diagnal line from left to right with the 99 on the left and going down to the 103 on the right. You use the 101 as a bore sight and the 119 for the tilt of the dish. If you can't get the 119 anymore then just make sure your mast is perfectly plumb and use the tilt degree found on your reciever based upon your zipcode. The fine adjust is used to get the 99 and 103 dialed in correctly, since you can't see them. Very important to do!!!

    Good Luck
  12. carl6

    carl6 Moderator Staff Member DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    From Minneapolis, 110 and 119 would be the two orbital slots that would be lowest on the horizon, and would have impacted the older mpeg2 HD channels. Those should not be a problem for you now. 99 and 103 are much the same as 101 with regard to elevation. If you have had good 101 visibility and signals in the past, you should be okay as far as the tree line goes.

    The dish is a specially designed eliptical shape that allows the LNB assembly to see the three orbital slots. All alignment parameters (azimuth, elevation and tilt) must be correctly set to maximize signal from all orbital slots.

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