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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been having all kinds of problems with Directv, as some of you know, and I have come down to the point where I want to do the following, and need to know where to purchase/how to go about it:

1). Buy a new HD Dish (don't know if they have more than one for HD) with a 5LNB unit that is NOT CALAMP manufactured. Which is the best manufacturer, and where are some places I can purchase this? Cost is not a big issue, but what would be the approximate cost?

2). Buy an HR22. Is Costco the best place, and what is the extimated cost?

3). I talked with Directv about a SWM as opposed to the current multi-switches. They told me they cannot deliver it, as there are few out there, and only "certain qualified people" get them. Is this true? If it is, what switch should I get? I will have 2 HD DVRs (my current HR20 and an HR22) and two SD DVRs, for a total of 4 sets. I want to replace the multiswitch, so will I need an 8 port or 16 port switch?
What is the approximate cost for the switch?

I plan on buying this hardware upfront, then paying Directv to come out and install it. I have little knowledge in this area, so DIY is not really an option. Any better options, such as calling a local company on my own?

Finally, I assume the HR22 still has the little candy bar converter boxes on the back, is that correct? Damn I hate these things, nothing but issues. I hear the SWM gets rid of them, and drops the number of incoming cables from 2 to 1, but like I said, Directv is not handing those out right now apparantly. Any info when they will be widely available?

Any input on these above items would be appreciated, and thanks in advance.
 

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1. Given that you are going to call DirecTV and have them do the install, you might as well let them provide the dish. As to Calamp, I've got one that works just fine, not sure why you are wanting to specifically exclude that.

2. Costco $169.00. Note: You are only paying an upfront lease fee, you are NOT buying it.

3. Buy an SWM on-line (solidsignal, weaknees, value electronics, others). The SWM will support 8 tuners (4 DVRs). If you go with non-SWM, then you want the Zinwell WB68 8 port switch.

But, you already have an HR20 - does that mean you already have a 5-LNB dish of some type? You normally would not have an HR20 without a 5-LNB dish. If so, why are you looking at a dish at all?

The "little candy bar converters" are b-band converters. You should not be having issues with them, and if you are, get replacements from DirecTV (but make sure they are in fact the source of your problems). You are correct that you do not need them when using SWM, and that you can feed a dual tuner DVR with one coax with SWM.

Carl
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
carl6 said:
1. Given that you are going to call DirecTV and have them do the install, you might as well let them provide the dish. As to Calamp, I've got one that works just fine, not sure why you are wanting to specifically exclude that.

2. Costco $169.00. Note: You are only paying an upfront lease fee, you are NOT buying it.

3. Buy an SWM on-line (solidsignal, weaknees, value electronics, others). The SWM will support 8 tuners (4 DVRs). If you go with non-SWM, then you want the Zinwell WB68 8 port switch.

But, you already have an HR20 - does that mean you already have a 5-LNB dish of some type? You normally would not have an HR20 without a 5-LNB dish. If so, why are you looking at a dish at all?

The "little candy bar converters" are b-band converters. You should not be having issues with them, and if you are, get replacements from DirecTV (but make sure they are in fact the source of your problems). You are correct that you do not need them when using SWM, and that you can feed a dual tuner DVR with one coax with SWM.

Carl
The reason why I am thinking about getting a new dish is you cannot get a new 5lnb without buying the whole dish. I have been having issues with low signal strengths. After Directv sent someone out twice to align my dish, the best they could get was in the high 60s/low to mid 70s on 103c and 99c, i.e. the HD transponders. Now that is the best, during a sunny day. If it clouds or rains, then signals drop and issues insue.

After doing some research on here, I have found that several people have had issues with Calamp, in particular, lower than normal signal strengths when compared to other manufacturers. When I told Directv about this, they said they could provide the dish, which I would pay for of course, but they could not guarantee that it would not be another Calamp.

They said the same thing if I were to purchase another DVR, i.e. I may not get an HR22, which is why I am looking out outside vendors for those items. It is interesting that I can purchase a SWM from several vendors, while Directv says they cannot get them,,,,,,hmmmm. I have been told that SWM is the way to go, would you agree, i.e. less issues, etc.?

I have also had other video issues such as stuttering, particularly on TNTHD, SPIKEHD, FXHD, TBSHD and USAHD. Others have said it is a source issue, i.e. the provider to Directv, while others have said it is Directvs fault. Yet others have no issues at all. So I am wondering if maybe the HR20 is faulty as well.

Thanks for your help.

Edit: Oh, also I have no issues with line of site.
 

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studdad said:
The reason why I am thinking about getting a new dish is you cannot get a new 5lnb without buying the whole dish. I have been having issues with low signal strengths. After Directv sent someone out twice to align my dish, the best they could get was in the high 60s/low to mid 70s on 103c and 99c, i.e. the HD transponders. Now that is the best, during a sunny day. If it clouds or rains, then signals drop and issues insue.

After doing some research on here, I have found that several people have had issues with Calamp, in particular, lower than normal signal strengths when compared to other manufacturers. When I told Directv about this, they said they could provide the dish, which I would pay for of course, but they could not guarantee that it would not be another Calamp.
Are you sure that the top of the mast is plumb?

A bad installer can try aiming the dish for hours and hours, but it is absolutely impossible to aim to dish to get strong signal on all sats at once unless the mounting mast that the dish is bolted to is installed just about perfectly.

I had weak signal problems on some-but-not-all sats until I went outside and reinstalled the mounting mast myself, and did a competent job of it when the installer had not. AFAIK, D* requires their installers to get better signal than what you are reporting. AFAIK, all the sats should have signal strength within about 5 of each other. What's the strongest signal strength you get? Unless the dish is somehow warped, it sounds like a bad mast-installation to me.
 

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FWIW, my slimline and every other one in the area (that I've been able to get close enough to to tell) has an Eagle Aspen LNB. Other than spotbeams and/or transponders not in use, I get nothing below about 86 or 87 across the board. I actually have a slimline still in the box sitting here that I bought as a backup plan back when I had D* install the one I have now. I figured If I couldn't get them to do it (I live in an apartment and have a pole mount...and I'm on the 2nd floor) I'd just do it myself. I bought that dish off eBay. It has a WNC LNB which was also considered one of the "good" replacements for the Cal-amps back when that was more of a problem.

I thought the Cal-amp issues were mainly with the sidecar dishes...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
russdog said:
Are you sure that the top of the mast is plumb?

A bad installer can try aiming the dish for hours and hours, but it is absolutely impossible to aim to dish to get strong signal on all sats at once unless the mounting mast that the dish is bolted to is installed just about perfectly.

I had weak signal problems on some-but-not-all sats until I went outside and reinstalled the mounting mast myself, and did a competent job of it when the installer had not. AFAIK, D* requires their installers to get better signal than what you are reporting. AFAIK, all the sats should have signal strength within about 5 of each other. What's the strongest signal strength you get? Unless the dish is somehow warped, it sounds like a bad mast-installation to me.
Well, they claimed it was plumb, but who knows. 101 is my best sat, with most signals in the 90's, which is a far cry from my 103 and 99 signals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
BLWedge09 said:
FWIW, my slimline and every other one in the area (that I've been able to get close enough to to tell) has an Eagle Aspen LNB. Other than spotbeams and/or transponders not in use, I get nothing below about 86 or 87 across the board. I actually have a slimline still in the box sitting here that I bought as a backup plan back when I had D* install the one I have now. I figured If I couldn't get them to do it (I live in an apartment and have a pole mount...and I'm on the 2nd floor) I'd just do it myself. I bought that dish off eBay. It has a WNC LNB which was also considered one of the "good" replacements for the Cal-amps back when that was more of a problem.

I thought the Cal-amp issues were mainly with the sidecar dishes...
See, that's what I am talking about. 103 and 99 seem to be in the upper 80s and 90s for everyone I have talked too.
 

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studdad said:
Well, they claimed it was plumb, but who knows. 101 is my best sat, with most signals in the 90's, which is a far cry from my 103 and 99 signals.
If you can get to the mast, you can tell if it's plumb with a carpenter's level. Just a cheapo little 8" plastic one will do.

Before you loosen the bolts that keep the dish tight on the mast, use some paint (or a permanent-ink magic marker, or some nail polish) to draw a line on both the dish and the mast where they meet (so you can line them up later when you put the dish back on the the mast to ensure that the dish is pointing in the right direction; if your installer was worth a damn, he already did this for you and you won't have to do it)... then take the dish off the mast... then hold the level vertically up against the top several inches of the mast to see if the bubble in the level shows that it's plumb... you need to do this at a few places around the perimeter of the mast pipe.

There is no work-around for a non-plumb mast, no way to compensate for it. It's absolutely necessary is to get it plumb. If it is indeed plumb, then while you're out there notice what tilt angle the dish is rotated to on it's own bracket. Based on your zip code, you can see what tilt angle it's supposed to be adjusted to. Only when those 2 things are correct can the dish get the strongest available signal (when aimed properly for elevation and azimuth). Since you're getting a fair signal, it sounds like the elevation and azimuth are probably right.

If the mast is plumb and the tilt-angle is correct, then it sounds like the dish might be somehow warped.
But if either one of those 2 things is not correct, then a new dish won't fix anything.
 

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A plumb mast provides a starting point, insures quicker/simpler installations but the dish can still be aimed to its optimum without the mast being "exactly" plumb. It is, after all, die cut pieces of steel with stamped degree markings and a plastic bubble level, not a very precision device at all. It merely gets you close, from there you must do all of the fine tuning.
 

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davring said:
A plumb mast provides a starting point, insures quicker/simpler installations but the dish can still be aimed to its optimum without the mast being "exactly" plumb. It is, after all, die cut pieces of steel with stamped degree markings and a plastic bubble level, not a very precision device at all. It merely gets you close, from there you must do all of the fine tuning.
Sorry, but I learned this lesson the hard way: If it's not plumb, you cannot aim it to get the strongest available signal from all the sats at once. You can get strong signal from some, but not all. Optimize it for one sat, and another one gets weak. This is because you're trying to aim at multiple slightly-different pinpoint locations in the sky at once and, to pull that off, you need everything to be right.

I agree that getting the mast plumb is just a starting point, and that you have to do fine tuning from there. But if the mast is not plumb, then you will be unable to get the strongest available signal from all the sats at once, no matter how much fine tuning you do. It will be absolutely impossible to do, because one dimension of the aiming equation will be wrong. I'm getting from 96 to 100 on all of the sats, but only because the mast is plumb (being in the SE also helps a little).
 

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russdog said:
I agree that getting the mast plumb is just a starting point, and that you have to do fine tuning from there. But if the mast is not plumb, then you will be unable to get strong signal from all the sats at once.
That is why I mentioned quickly. You are correct, not all at once, only after you adjust each of the planes. By all means it is much, much harder to set up without that starting point, I merely wanted to clarify that the dish really doesn't need to be attached to the supplied mast at all to function:)
 

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The dish is adjustable in all three planes, thus the only difference made by a plumb mast is to give a valid starting point. If the mast is plumb, it is easy to find the sats for initial setting, given the elevation, azimuth, and tilt values indicated. If the mast is not plumb, it is still possible to get the same signal strengths, using different elevation, azimuth, and tilt values.

That said, it is still best to start with a plumb mast. It is easier to align that way.
.
 

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crashHD said:
The dish is adjustable in all three planes, thus the only difference made by a plumb mast is to give a valid starting point. If the mast is plumb, it is easy to find the sats for initial setting, given the elevation, azimuth, and tilt values indicated. If the mast is not plumb, it is still possible to get the same signal strengths, using different elevation, azimuth, and tilt values.

That said, it is still best to start with a plumb mast. It is easier to align that way.
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An out-of-plumb mast requires the user to (a) somehow figure out whether 1, 2, or all 3 of those parameters are wrong due to the mast, and then (b) somehow discover the correct ones from an invalid starting point. I can't imagine why anyone would want to do that. My assumption was that the user does not want to diagnose how many of tilt, azimuth, and elevation settings are invalid due to an improperly installed mast, and is trying to achieve proper positioning without devising custom values. Now, if your point is that it is possible to devise custom settings for 1-or-more of those prescribed settings, then I agree, and I stand corrected.

So, let me try this again: *IF* the user wants to get the strongest available signal on all the available sats *AND* the user wants to do that based on trusting the given settings for tilt, azimuth, and elevation (i.e., by simply following instructions rather than devising custom settings as dictated by improper mast installation), then it is necessary to start with a plumb mast.

In my experience, 2 different D* installers couldn't get it right with the mast not plumb. This is because they were trying to invent custom settings in 3 planes at once, which is a crazy thing to do. Once I simply drilled new holes to get it plumb, I achieved optimal signal very rapidly without any prior dish-aiming experience and without precision instruments. Doing it right is not that hard.

However, at the level of theory, I agree that I might have had equal success by doing it the wrong way, given enough painful hours of frustrating experimentation. What I don't know is whether I could have achieved this any faster than 1,000 monkeys at 1,000 keyboards might have accidentally written Gone With The Wind ;-)
 

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crashHD said:
The dish is adjustable in all three planes, thus the only difference made by a plumb mast is to give a valid starting point. If the mast is plumb, it is easy to find the sats for initial setting, given the elevation, azimuth, and tilt values indicated. If the mast is not plumb, it is still possible to get the same signal strengths, using different elevation, azimuth, and tilt values.

That said, it is still best to start with a plumb mast. It is easier to align that way.
.
Yes, it is possible to align a dish that is not plumb. But the problem is that changing the setting in one variable will affect the others. So for example if you have a dish that is not plumb and adjust elevation, it also changes azimuth and tilt slightly. Just makes alignment a lot messier.
 

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studdad said:
The reason why I am thinking about getting a new dish is you cannot get a new 5lnb without buying the whole dish.
I have seen LNB assemblies for sale on-line, but I think the alignment discussion above is more relavent to your problem. I have both brands of Slimline LNB's, and when I swap them on the same dish, I get the same signal readings (within 2 or 3 points) regardless of LNB. Dish and alignment are the same.

studdad said:
They said the same thing if I were to purchase another DVR, i.e. I may not get an HR22, which is why I am looking out outside vendors for those items. It is interesting that I can purchase a SWM from several vendors, while Directv says they cannot get them,,,,,,hmmmm. I have been told that SWM is the way to go, would you agree, i.e. less issues, etc.?
That is the only way I know of to insure you get an HR22. I don't think you will find any significant difference in the performance of or issues with a properly installed system whether it is SWM or non-SWM. I run both (SWM and WB68) in parallel, and have dVRs connected to both. No issues with either. With regard to not being able to get an SWM from DirecTV, it is because 100% of their supply is going to MDU installations.
studdad said:
I have also had other video issues such as stuttering, particularly on TNTHD, SPIKEHD, FXHD, TBSHD and USAHD. Others have said it is a source issue, i.e. the provider to Directv, while others have said it is Directvs fault. Yet others have no issues at all. So I am wondering if maybe the HR20 is faulty as well.
Those are classic symptoms of poor signal strength, which brings us full circle back to dish alignment.

Carl
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
carl6 said:
I have seen LNB assemblies for sale on-line, but I think the alignment discussion above is more relavent to your problem. I have both brands of Slimline LNB's, and when I swap them on the same dish, I get the same signal readings (within 2 or 3 points) regardless of LNB. Dish and alignment are the same.

That is the only way I know of to insure you get an HR22. I don't think you will find any significant difference in the performance of or issues with a properly installed system whether it is SWM or non-SWM. I run both (SWM and WB68) in parallel, and have dVRs connected to both. No issues with either. With regard to not being able to get an SWM from DirecTV, it is because 100% of their supply is going to MDU installations.

Those are classic symptoms of poor signal strength, which brings us full circle back to dish alignment.

Carl
Ok, thanks. I do have a tech coming out tomorrow afternoon to check some of these video issues. I will try to tap him to check if the mast is plumb. Hopefully that is the issue. I will get back to you guys on that and let you know what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ok, the kid came, was here for about 3 hours. Told him to check the plumb of the mast. When I asked him about it later, he said "it looks pretty good to me". I could have slapped him, but let him continue on. He put on a new LNB. Don't know what type it was, as it is dark out now, and he just said "it is their latest". Again, could have slapped him. The signals were lower after putting it on. I told him I was informed that after putting on a new LNB you need to re-align the dish. He was up on the roof a few more times, so I think he attempted this, but signals did not get much better. Then he switched out the multiswitch. A little improvement, but not much. Then he switched out all the connectors, no effect. Then he tried a new HR22,,,,,,worse signals, so he put my old POS HR20 back,,,,,no attempt to adjust with the new receiver or see if my stutter glitchy issues were gone. Finally he gave up, and I am left with signals worse than I had before.

Now get this, he must have been early 20's at best, and he said he had worked at Dish for quite a while, but had only been with Directv for a month. When I called Directv, they told me they would send out "advanced" service people due to all the problems I had been having, and numerous service calls. So much for that. The kid then told me that he would report back to his office and have one of their Senior people come out to take a look, and that person would definately be able to fix it. So now I am waiting for a call tomorrow to set up an appointment.

When that guy comes out, I am going to go step by step with him on how to use a level and check for plum.

Edit: oh, i also brought up the fact that maybe the dish was warped. He said maybe, but did nothing to check it.
 
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