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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm having a very strange set of issues with my SWM-16 setup. The initial problem was largely with whole home networking -- random receivers would intermittently lose connections to each other. There really was no pattern to the loss.

Now my signal strengths have dropped dramatically on a number of satellites. About a week ago pixelation started on certain HD channels (E, Comedy central, discovery). I started checking signal strength and actually saw signal strengths fluctuating between 50-60 and 90-100 on the 101 satellite (one pass through I had 60s, next 95+, then back to 60s). After about a week the fluctuation is gone and my signal strengths on the 101 are in the 50-60 range again. Pixelation is severe with any cloud cover.

The combination of the networking failure plus the poor signal strength leads me to believe the SWM-16 might have gone bad. Tech is coming out this week to look at the system, but given past experiences with the local company I'd like to give them as much guidance as possible.

One smoking gun appears to be the low SWM numbers, especially the low signal on the guide transponder (#1--77 signal strength)

Could this be a bad SWM? Or is it a cable problem?

Here's the details on the setup:
5 receivers
HR-20/100
HR-20/700
HR-24/100
HR-21/200
HR-21/200

Performed the coax test on the HR-24, noise levels were -30, -34, -36, -42, -50

Satellite Signal Strengths:
Satellite transponders (32 total at 101º)
[Most of your standard definition channels are beamed from 101ºW]
1-8 58 51 62 0 57 74 64 74
9-16 54 53 61 0 58 74 65 76
17-24 55 74 61 0 58 76 64 74
25-32 55 42 60 24 59 73 60 74

Satellite transponders (3 total at 110º)
[No channels are currently beamed from this satellite]
1-8 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA 95
9-16 NA 93 NA 95 NA NA NA NA

Satellite transponders (11 total at 119º)
[Local SD channels for some cities, Spanish package]
17-24 NA NA NA NA NA 96 86 100
25-32 0 100 100 100 0 100 100 100

Satellite transponders (16 total at 99º(s)) [or 99º(b)]
[Local HD channels for some cities]
1-8 96 0 89 0 86 0 NA NA
9-16 NA NA NA NA NA NA 92 0
17-24 0 0 0 0 83 75 94 86
[Note: these can be very slow to appear]

Satellite transponders (14 total at 99º(c)) [or 99º(a)]
[National HD channels]
1-8 82 79 74 75 78 76 73 74
9-16 77 76 73 72 81 77 NA NA
[Note, these can be very slow to appear]

Satellite transponders (16 total at 103º(s)) [or 103º(a)]
[Local HD channels for some cities]
10 0 0 34 0 0 NA NA
9-16 NA NA NA NA NA NA 0 47
17-24 0 0 45 48 0 0 0 0
[Note, these can be very slow to appear]

Satellite transponders (16 total at 103º(ca))
[National HD channels beamed from D12 satellite]
1-8 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
9-16 26 26 27 24 23 21 18 22
17-24 20 15 24 20 19 8 21 17

Satellite transponders (14 total at 103º(cb)) [or 103º(b)]
[National HD channels beamed from D10 satellite]
1-8 36 33 31 33 32 34 30 34
9-16 33 35 34 37 32 33 NA NA
17-24 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA

Satellite transponders (9 total at SWM)
[You'll only see this if you have a Single Wire Multiswitch (SWM) dish]
1-8 77 0 0 75 77 57 58 57
9-16 57 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
One other note: Despite the low signal strengths on the 103(ca) and 103(cb) sats, there is no pixelation on any of the channels on those sats (tried more than a dozen, including 277, 101, 284. 231 & 236).
 

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Looks like the dish is out of alignment.

As for:
Performed the coax test on the HR-24, noise levels were -30, -34, -36, -42, -50

This isn't noise levels but the DECA signal levels or loss between nodes and anything over -45 sucks, so you've got some cabling issues there too.

-36 is "OK" with a -16 for between the two outputs, but -42 is pushing it, and -50 is well over the limit.

"I guess" I'm saying I don't see a SWiM-16 issue [yet].
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the quick response. Tech comes tomorrow and I'll mention the alignment issue.

Guess I need to dig into the cabling issue more -- the -50 is actually over one of the shortest runs -- probably no more than 20 feet between the SWM-16 and the receiver. Given that short run I'm worried that there is an a physical cable issue somewhere inside the wall :(.

I'll post an update once the tech comes out.
 

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RichmondHT said:
Thanks for the quick response. Tech comes tomorrow and I'll mention the alignment issue.

Guess I need to dig into the cabling issue more -- the -50 is actually over one of the shortest runs -- probably no more than 20 feet between the SWM-16 and the receiver. Given that short run I'm worried that there is an a physical cable issue somewhere inside the wall :(.

I'll post an update once the tech comes out.
You need to look at the system as a whole.
The -16 has two outputs/legs, and the crossover in the -16 adds some loss.

If you would post your basic setup, with what's where, what splitters, and coax [guesses] lengths, I actually have a calculator that gives "about" what the losses should be.
 

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I have to agree with VOS here. (No surprise.) I see two things: First of all dish alignment is probably weak, or there are loose/weak/corroded connectors at the dish. Second there is an issue with signal loss that needs to be dealt with. I strongly advise that all unused cables be disconnected and that 8-way splitters be replaced with 4-ways whenever possible.

The receiver that shows -50 on the test, and is on a short cable, can be explained one of three ways. Either it is the furthest away from the receiver you are using to test, or there are too many/too big splitters in between, or there is a loose/weak/corroded cable somehere.

That's how I see it anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Update: Problems solved.

One of the better DirecTV techs I've seen came out today to work on the system. There were a couple of issues:

1) Dish was out of alignment slightly. In the process of realigning, the tech also replaced the reflector with a newer one...looks great.

2) Dish was also blocked from a clear view (somehow a tree got in the way in the last week), so I grabbed the saw and cut down the tree (it wasn't supposed to be in the landscaping bed anyway...).

Signal strength is now in the high 90s, just like it used to be. FYI -- before we chopped the tree it was in the low 80s, but it was obvious the tree was only going to make things worse in the future.

3) The biggest issue was the Whole Home setup.

Initially the tech tried to convince me that there was no way that you can have more than 4 receivers connected together in whole home. Since I have 5, he thought there was no way to solve my problem--there would always be one receiver that can't connect to the others. Obviously that was wrong, so he checked with his supervisor and confirmed that you can have up to 8 DVRs on a SWM-16 connected through coax.

Then the problem was fixing signal strength. Turns out the previous tech (worst I've ever had....should have know) had installed two 8 way splitters on the outbound side of the SWM-16, even though he only needed 6 connections total (5 receivers and the cinema connection kit). The resulting signal loss was killing the whole home connection -- causing individual DVRs to "drop out" from the network depending on the length of the run between them.

The fix was simple, remove the eight-ways and replace with a four way and a two way.

Now my levels for the Coax network range from -20 to -32 and everything works great.

Thanks for help! Saved a lot of time with the tech today.
 
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