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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am writing for assistance in sorting out where I am likely have a problem with my satellite signal.

This is my setup: I have a slimline dish with four cables coming out of the LNB arm. These are connected to four additional coax cables by 4 barrel connectors. These cables then run to grounding blocks where the wires enter my house with four additional cables running from the grounding blocks into the attic. Theses attach to a WB68 multiswitch in the attic. Two cables go from there to my sitting room to one HR20-700. Three cables go from the multiswitch to my den, where two attach to another HR20-700 and one H20-100.

The problem I have is that intermittently I am getting some dropouts on the satellite signal. I first noticed it on the DVR in my den about 4 weeks ago when watching recordings of shows made on TNT-HD (initially on 75, but I am unsure if now on 245 as well with the new satellite) and USAHD. I rarely watch these channels live, but one evening when I first noticed these dropouts, which were quite transient, I went to check the antenna signal strength and found the the number 8 transponder on the 110 degree satellite was 0. I don't recall seeing a problem with any other satellite signals at that time. I reset the box, and when I checked again, everything was back to normal including all the satellite signals. But over the next few weeks I noticed continued very transient drop outs. If watching live, I would briefly get a "searching for satellite" message. This happened on both the HR20's. Two days ago I decided to check my connections outside. I found that one of the F connectors on a cable from the satellite arm into the barrel connector was slightly corroded. I changed that F connector, replaced that barrel connector, and I changed the F connector on the attached cable. I checked all the other connectors (though not the actual connections inside the satellite arm to the LNBs). I didn't see any other problems. When I checked the signal, everything was fine, but before I did that work, I had checked the signal and everything had been fine then, too. Everything has been transient after all. I did all this in the morning, when I have never seemed to have a problem.

Yesterday morning, everything was fine again, but by late afternoon multiple programs I had tried to record on the satellite never recorded. When I turned the TV on I had been watching an OTA channel (get my OTAs from an antenna, not D*), and it wasn't until I checked things and turned to watch USA HD that I got a blank screen and the "searching for signal" message. When I checked the satellite signals they were weird. The 101 satellite was normal. All the even transponders on the 119 satellite were 0's as were the 8, 10, and 12 transponders on 110. 99 and 101 seemed OK. Switching between tuner 1 and 2 would very transiently change the numbers, so there were times that tuner 1 would have high signals for 119 and tuner 2 would have 0's and then vice versa. After resetting the DVR again things seemed better, but as I watched there were again break ups on USA HD, and going back to the satellite signal strength I now found very widely fluctuating signals on all 3 110 transponders and intermittently low, but now no longer 0, signals on the 119 even transponders. I went upstairs to check the other receiver, and all the satellite signals were normal. So, I went back downstairs and now everything was normal there, too. It was now about 11 o'clock, and I am wondering if the time of day (and therefore heat) had something to do with this problem the past 4 weeks. Almost everything I record have been in the late afternoon or early evening, and I wonder if temperature is playing a role. I recorded 4 programs on both DVRs starting at midnight, and all 4 seem to have recorded without any problems. This morning all the satellite signals were normal.

It seems to me it can't be the actual LNBs can it, if it involves more than 1 satellite. It also doesn't seem likely to be from the multiswitch to the DVRs as it involved both DVRs intermittently. So, it seems I have some kind of intermittent cable failure. Can anyone help localize where that is likely to be? I do recall one of the cables from the barrel connector to the grounding block looking a little shabby in terms of the outside plastic insulation, but I didn't find any actual nicks or cuts in it, and I don't know if that means it has any problems inside. All the cables are looped, but none has a very stressed loop. Obviously, the time of day it happens, therefore temperature, could be important as well. If the wire is expanding, I could intermittently have some type of short occurring.

I was planning on disconnecting one cable at a time to see if it would give me the same pattern of signal loss, and then if that's the case replacing this cable. Any other suggestions? Would someone know if there is one cable input on WB68 would be related to this type of signal pattern?

All help is greatly appreciated.

SMK
 

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Since more that one receiver is affected, I would rule a coax failure as extremely unlikely. The LNB and multiswitch are the most likely culprits.

I would suggest bypassing the multiswitch using barrel connectors and see if the problems persist in the connected receivers. If the problems continue then that points strongly to the LNB assembly.
 

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0's on all the evens on 110/119 is probably pointing at a problem with the switch or the cable connected to the 18v tone connector. Check all the connections on that segment. If that doesn't work try swapping the 13v and 18v tone and see if the problem follows the cable or stays the same. If it follows the cable then that is obviously the issue. If it stays the same it would probably be the switch.
 

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evan_s said:
0's on all the evens on 110/119 is probably pointing at a problem with the switch or the cable connected to the 18v tone connector. Check all the connections on that segment. If that doesn't work try swapping the 13v and 18v tone and see if the problem follows the cable or stays the same. If it follows the cable then that is obviously the issue. If it stays the same it would probably be the switch.
Agree with you. If there is a problem on all the even transponders on 103/110/119 that initially points to a cable problem between the dish and the multiswitch since the even transponders on those satellites are carried on the same cable, the one that plugs into the "103/110/119 18v" connector on the multiswitch. If you swap that cable with the "103/110/119 13v" cable and the problem moves to the odd transponders then you are left with two possibilities. First and by far the most likely is a cable/connector issue with the "faulty" cable. It could also be the connector at the LNB that is corroded. Least likely, but possible, is a failure in the multiswitch that is built into the LNB at the dish.
And as evan_s says, if the problem does not move when you swap the input cables to the multiswitch then it's almost certainly a multiswitch problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for everyone's input. I am worried about knowing if I've fixed the problem since it is intermittent. The intermittent nature of the problem is one of the things that makes me think it's a cable. Another reason I think it is a cable is that when the slimline dish was installed with my first HR20 a year ago, two days later I had loss of all the odd transponders. At first I assumed it had to be the multiswitch, but when I bypassed it, I realized it was one of the cables. It turned out the installer had not changed any of the exiting connectors and one had corroded. Replacing that one solved that problem. Now that it's the even transponders, I am wondering again if it's a cable.

The one thing I wouldn't know how to test is the multiswitch at the LNB's itself. If everything else ends up checking out, it may end up being that.

Thanks again. I'll be working on this some time tomorrow.

SMK
 

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RoyGBiv said:
.....Two days ago I decided to check my connections outside. I found that one of the F connectors on a cable from the satellite arm into the barrel connector was slightly corroded. I changed that F connector, replaced that barrel connector, and I changed the F connector on the attached cable. I checked all the other connectors (though not the actual connections inside the satellite arm to the LNBs). I didn't see any other problems.....
You should probably replace all those "barrel adapters" with new, satellite frequency-rated ones as well as any connectors that look the slightest bit "iffy." The center conductor in each should not appear oxidized. These outdoor connections should be thoroughly waterproofed.

Also, how long are your total coax runs? You might benefit from a Sonora HRPID1422 polarity locker in the attic on the dish side of your WB68.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
K4SMX said:
..........Also, how long are your total coax runs? You might benefit from a Sonora HRPID1422 polarity locker in the attic on the dish side of your WB68.
No total run is more than 75 feet, and I've never had a problem prior to 3 or 4 weeks ago. I am not sure I need a polarity locker. I am planning, though, to redo all the connections, but I'm really hoping I find which is the culprit.
 

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If you are able to rule out the cables and barrels then, it just about has to be the WB68 or the multiswitch built into the LNB.

There is a slim chance that the grounding block is causing the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, I just got done with checking things out again. I tried to isolate which cable might be bad by removing them one by one and seeing if I could recreate the pattern of signal loss on the HR20 signal test meters.

Removing one specific cable at the grounding block turned out to reproduce this pattern (as far as I can tell exactly) and when I removed that cable I lost USA HD and TNT HD, the two channels I know I was having problems with.

Inspecting these connections I found evidence of corrosion in one connector. I was particularly annoyed to find it, because 1) it was one that was replaced by the D* installer last year when I had the slimline dish put in, and 2) it was a supposedly waterproof compression connector, which I assumed wasn't likely bad after 1 year. But, it was. I hadn't checked it the first time because I thought I'd found the bad connector at one of the barrel connectors, and I never expected one that was waterproof and replaced last year was likely bad. I replaced that connector and the one on the other end of the grounding block then connected both back to the grounding block, and I did not get resolution of the signal loss I'd caused removing the cable. It seems that grounding block is also corroded and removing the cable must have been enough to make it fail completely. I have temporarily bypassed the grounding block with another barrel connector, and right now everything is fine.

But, the problem was always intermittent. I have a number of programs set to record later this afternoon and this evening. I think that if they have no problems, I'm good to go.

Thanks to all who made suggestions about where the problem might be.

I did find another issue with the HR20 signal strength meters, but I will post that in the HR20 section.

SMK
 
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