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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After all weekend working outside to set up a new dish location, I think I finally have everything in place and the best signal strength I can get in my area. I thought a few others might benefit from my trials and tribulations, some of which are a bit humorous, so here goes.


First, I've had an old pre-phase 3 dish on the roof for about 5 years. It was an old 18x24 Channel Master fiberglass dish with 3 LNB's and worked fine for about the first 4 years until one particular ~50 foot tall tree in the back got tall enough last year to cause SAT B to start having reduced signal. This year, the tree is tall enough so that the dropouts make HBOH, HDN, and other channels on SAT B unwatchable.


In the mean time, I bought and installed a Terk phase III dish (18x20) in hopes of correcting the audio dropouts on my old HTL-HD receiver thinking the old dish might have had a bad multiswitch or LNB(s) but that's another story. Interestingly, the Terk 18x20 phase III dish didn't do nearly as well as the old 18x24 dish. Signal strength was not quite as high on SAT A and SAT C and SAT B that is now coming through the top of a tree was almost completely dead with the Terk 18x20 which might give you a blip of a signal every few minutes compared to the old 18x24 giving you a signal most of the time with frequent dropouts.


For those who have noticed reduced signal strength with the new 18x20 phase III dishes compared to older 18x24 dishes, I can certainly confirm that is the case with me as well. Even throwing out the SAT B/tree situation, the 18x20 dish was absolutely horrible with rain fade! That dish lost signal even in light rain... I'm talking rain light enough that you'd be comfortable standing outside having a conversation for a while in it without getting too wet! The old 18x24 dish never did that, and only dropped in moderate to heavy rain. Again, this is with SAT A and SAT C which are completely in the clear. I installed both dishes (and a few others), am experienced at it, and know that I got the most out of each dish, so the old "it's the installer" excuse doesn't hold any water in this case. Both dishes were installed in the exact same location too. Another interesting observation: I was able to get about the same signal strength in fair weather from both dishes (18x20 versus 18x24) but the phase III 18x20 just dropped off like a rock in even light rain.


Now, on to my GainMaster experience. I installed the GainMaster 24x36 in the same location as the other two dishes and it did no better than the old 18x24 through the tree, but did pick up significant signal strength for the two satellites in the clear. OK, no big deal since probably no dish is big enough to get a signal through dense foliage. I only tried it in that location because I saw a web site about a guy (forum member I think) that used a 1 meter round dish to acquire a signal through trees. I'm here to tell you that if you have dense leaves or an evergreen where you can't see any sky, you won't get a signal unless your dish is bigger than the tree it's shooting through! I suspect the guy with the 1 meter dish was shooting through a part of the trees that had limbs/holes where sky shows through so the bigger dish just allowed the signal coming through the holes to reach the dish. In my case, the foliage at the top of the problem tree is just too dense.


After spending a couple of hours scouting our yard for a new location, I determined that the roof will no longer do because the trees behind the house are growing too fast to try moving the dish left/right a few feet trying to find a temporary hole. I've already cut one tree down 5 years ago when I installed it up there and can see several more that will need to go in a few more years. I needed a more permanent solution and one that would make tree-huggers proud. ;) For me, the only solution was to move the dish in front of the house and down the hill, far enough from those trees that they'd never be a problem. This required cable runs of about 150 feet! So... the old dish and cables came off the roof and I started digging my trench!


Due to the amount of rock in our yard and the fact that the trench had to be dug both downhill and on the side of a hill, I decided against a Ditch Witch and started Saturday morning digging the trench by hand with a pick. :eek: It was 90+ outside but by about 3:30pm I had dug the trench about 4 inches deep the entire 150 feet. 4 inches doesn't sound that deep until you try to dig a trench that deep 150 feet in a day. To make this part of the story short, I burried 5 cables (the four I needed plus one extra), covered the trench, put my 4x4 post in the ground with Sakrete, let it dry, put up the GainMaster, grounded it, and hooked everything up. A big thank you to my ATV and trailer for wheeling me and my equipment up and down that hill many times, even when laying the cable from a spool on the back of the ATV as I rode up and down the hill 5 times. It was quite a setup. I should have gotten pictures because I know forum members would have enjoyed seeing that: me in my sweat and glory with my ATV full of masts, dish equipment, post hole diggers, pick, shovel, rake, RG6 spools, connectors, multimeter, wrenches, DeWalt drill, etc. etc. etc.


Anyway, with everything hooked up, I adjusted the dish and only had odd transponders on SAT B. Everything else worked fine. Turned out to be a bad LNB. Replaced it with one off the old 18x24 dish and am now getting 96+ signal strength on all three satellites. Those signal strengths simply were not possible with the other two dishes where the GainMaster easily outperformed them even when installed in the same location on the roof. The GainMaster definitely gives better signal strength even through 150+ feet of cable with no inline boosters. It hasn't rained yet so I don't know how rain fade will be but I will report back: I expect rain fade to be less of a factor seeing that I get better signal strength. In my location (Maryland), I've never gotten higher than about 89 on SAT A and maybe 85 on the other two, so the GainMaster appears to have kicked up the signal strength about 10 points for me.


So the last part of this message is just a testimonial. I'll report back in this same thread once I check rain fade, but I can definitely say that the GainMaster has more gain and better signal strength than other dishes. Remember that I was the installer for all three dishes so again, the "excuses" I've read here WRT the GainMaster only being stronger because it was adjusted better or corrected some existing problem like a bad LNB are just pure baloney! This thing definitely has better gain and will give you better signal strength (and I assume more resistance to rain fade) than the "normal" size dishes. It ain't the installer or bad equipment... this thing really works! If you think about it, how could it not work? It's simple physics: bigger dish (up to about 4 feet), more signal because, well... you are capturing more of it. The only negative I could find is that it took me a lot longer to hook it up just because it was more cumbersome/heavy to deal with and doesn't really come with all the parts you need: I needed to make my own cables to connect to the multiswitch, etc. It also requires a little more assembly than some other dishes.


For now, I'm a happy camper, and thanks for letting me share.


Mike
 

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Congrats on your new setup! I, too, have the GainMaster dish, and get 95+ on all transponders, most of them are 100. It still fades out for me in moderate to heavy rain, but I expected it could not eliminate it entirely.

Sid
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Kamakzie
Mine seems to cut out a lot when it doesn't seem all that bad out. It usually does rain pretty good but I don't remember my Dish Network Dish 500 cutting out as much.
Same here. The newer 18x20 would lose the satellite signal altogether in anything more than a light sprinkle. The older 18x24 would hold on to the signal much better and required a moderate to heavy downpour to lose signal. Both were installed in the exact same location and signal strengths were optimized on both. I've aligned so many triple LNB dishes that I can do it in my sleep now, so I know they were both aligned properly. I've heard reports here from others getting less than satisfactory results from the phase III 18x20's and I'm now a believer. They just are not as good as the older 18x24's at holding a signal in adverse weather conditions. What I can't figure out is why they'd change them in the first place. Maybe to pass some landlord or subdivision rules on size or maybe to make them just a tad less "noticeable" when installed on neighborhood roofs?


Mike
 

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We get very few issues with the GainMaster. On the East and West coast we sell them like crazy. Mostly by word of mouth. This dish really attacks rain fade. We get very few back from our customers. Its a great dish and performs very well. I wish Channel Master could work out a deal with DIRECTV so they could be licensed to use the Phase III head. Oh well!
 

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SS, do they make much of a difference here in Michigan? I wonder if this is just a freak of nature lately with all these storms.


Quote:
Originally posted by SolidSignal
We get very few issues with the GainMaster. On the East and West coast we sell them like crazy. Mostly by word of mouth. This dish really attacks rain fade. We get very few back from our customers. Its a great dish and performs very well. I wish Channel Master could work out a deal with DIRECTV so they could be licensed to use the Phase III head. Oh well!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mchaney
The GainMaster definitely gives better signal strength even through 150+ feet of cable with no inline boosters.
Does anyone know the max distance you can run RG6 without having to add inline boosters? I'm considering doing a similar job to get around some trees that border the southwest side of my property (which give good privacy, so they aren't coming down).
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Kamakzie
SS, do they make much of a difference here in Michigan? I wonder if this is just a freak of nature lately with all these storms.
We do sell many in the Mid-West. Most people get it to deal with leaves or a weak Sat C signal. I just installed one for my friend over the weekend.

He had a problem with Sat B (Trees). On average Sat A (on a Sony HD), he went from 92 to 100, on Sat C from 83 to 94 and Sat B 72 to 85. He is happy.
 

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I just want to be able to combat rainfade. As you know we have been having severe weather here in Michigan lately. Well my parents TV isn't hooked up to a OTA antenna so they get locals via satellite. Anyways when there is a severe weather statement they cant see it because the dish is blinking out. Luckily I can still get it via OTA digital with my HD TiVo.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Kamakzie
I just want to be able to combat rainfade. As you know we have been having severe weather here in Michigan lately. Well my parents TV isn't hooked up to a OTA antenna so they get locals via satellite. Anyways when there is a severe weather statement they cant see it because the dish is blinking out. Luckily I can still get it via OTA digital with my HD TiVo.
The dish works great with rain fade. It certainly will not eliminate it, but it "usually" cuts the down time by more than half. I have noticed that it most cases the signal does not drop out in many heavey Michigan Storms.
 

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Quote:
For those who have noticed reduced signal strength with the new 18x20 phase III dishes compared to older 18x24 dishes, I can certainly confirm that is the case with me as well. Even throwing out the SAT B/tree situation, the 18x20 dish was absolutely horrible with rain fade! That dish lost signal even in light rain... I'm talking rain light enough that you'd be comfortable standing outside having a conversation for a while in it without getting too wet! The old 18x24 dish never did that, and only dropped in moderate to heavy rain.
I KNEW IT. I'm not the only one that it fed up and thinks this 18x20 dish is a POS. I until 3 weeks ago was using an 18x24 one like you described with the same results virtually no rain-fade. Now if the sprinklers on I bet it would die out. Well luckily my parents still have the 18x24 on the house and are using it but unfortunately I'm going to have to swap them, before everything did run through a Spaun SMS 5802 NF 5x8 switch but after reading this thread I think its the dish.


Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by krs7272
Well luckily my parents still have the 18x24 on the house and are using it but unfortunately I'm going to have to swap them, before everything did run through a Spaun SMS 5802 NF 5x8 switch but after reading this thread I think its the dish.
I agree. It's definitely the dish. My old 18x24 had nothing but a passive 4x4 multiswitch screwed to the back which is pretty much the same as what is in the phase III head... and I had the exact same rain fade problems with the 18x20 phase III.


UPDATE: Yesterday we had a massive thunderstorm with torrential rainfall. I left the satellite on the entire time (something I normally don't do) just to see what the GainMaster could do. The signal did drop completely for about the first minute to 90 seconds of the storm in the torrential rain, but came back very quickly and stayed on for the duration of the storm. Funny thing is, the torrential rain lasted a good 15 minutes before the storm subsided and the GainMaster kept a 65-70 signal throughout with only a small pixelization on the screen from time to time which most likely was caused by lightning in the area, not the rain.


It only lost signal that first 60 - 90 seconds which could have been winds moving the dish around a little or the front edge of the clouds themselves being so dense at the onset: sunshine went to near total darkness in just a few minutes so I know the clouds were incredibly dense.


Based on what I saw, the GainMaster without question held the signal much better than any dish I've had previously. I agree with what everyone else says in that there is no cure for rain fade, but this thing is darn close. There's no way I would have ever expected to be watching satellite in a downpour that harsh before, so I'm quite happy with it, especially since a mere darkening of the sky seemed to cause trouble with that 18x20 piece of junk. I'm back to even better than the performance of the old 18x24 so that's all I expected out of the GainMaster and it certainly delivers.


Mike
 

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I have been very happy with my GainMaster. I was getting horrible signal strength months after the 110 sat fiasco. My 110 signals are still the lowest, but at ~85 I haven't noticed any rain fade. Note that I have no line-of-sight issues.


See my posts around:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...postid=3091374
 

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not familiar with the gain master dish, but i am on the east coast in canada actually and i use one of the starchoice oval dishes to recieve directv, i cut the end off of a direct phase 3 dish and welded the wide part to the starchoice arm to use the phase 3 lnb, you could also use the older 3 lnb setup since that would slip right on the starchoice arm, my signal strength jumped up by 12 points, i have rg6 cable runs of 260 feet with no inline amps, getting 90+ signal.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Vtb2
not familiar with the gain master dish, but i am on the east coast in canada actually and i use one of the starchoice oval dishes to recieve directv, i cut the end off of a direct phase 3 dish and welded the wide part to the starchoice arm to use the phase 3 lnb, you could also use the older 3 lnb setup since that would slip right on the starchoice arm, my signal strength jumped up by 12 points, i have rg6 cable runs of 260 feet with no inline amps, getting 90+ signal.
See what US politicians really mean when they bemoan the quality of US vs. Canadian educational systems? All true! :D

AMc
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by krs7272
I KNEW IT. I'm not the only one that it fed up and thinks this 18x20 dish is a POS. I until 3 weeks ago was using an 18x24 one like you described with the same results virtually no rain-fade. Now if the sprinklers on I bet it would die out.
You may not be the only one, but you are one of maybe two of three. I am a commercial antenna installer and have been an active participant at this and other related DBS forums for several years. I probably service about a dozen or so of the so-called Phase 3 antennas a year, using a spectrum analyzer when I do, and I have never observed any structural gain deficiency with them.


I have read several hundred posts on the performance of the Phase 3 dishes. I don't recall ever having seen one saying that the signal strength was lower than that of the 18" round or 24" oval dish that it replaced. I have seen many posts claiming that the new dish develops stronger signal strength than did the old dishes, but I attribute that to the fact that it was simply aimed more precisely than the old dish was. The standard DBS residential dish backframe and mount are made of flimsy sheet metal, and they tend to deform slightly over time, which throws their aim off just a little.


Regardless of how diligent your efforts are, it is just not possible to make meaningful comparisons of so-called signal strength developed by dishes accumulating signals that pass through trees. Your new, phase 3 dish should produce the same signal strength or greater than did the 3 LNB dish that it replaced.


The physics of the Gainmaster are obvious. It has about 60% more surface area. It directs about 60% more signal to the LNBs. The LNBs signal-to-noise ratio goes up by about 60%. It therefore takes 60% more collective rain fade to reduce the signal quality or strength to the threshold levels at which system reliability is compromised. This is roughly equal to the performance improvement that one would obtain using three, 24" dishes.


Rain density is a difficult thing to assess. There is something called the Crane Rain Fade model that can be used to estimate how often rain will exceed the intensity that will result in system disruptions based on historical rainfall data. It varies by geographic region. If someone is in a weak signal area, like Washington State, the 2dB additional gain of a Gainmaster will virtually eliminate rain fade. In Florida, where, when it rains, it pours, the 2dB will mean that you lose the picture a few minutes later and get it back a few minutes sooner. For most of the rest of the country, the benefit will be perceptible. If I cared more about maintaining my DBS reception, I'd install a better (larger) antenna, but I don't care about it. I use an 18" round dish, shooting through a window at an angle, and develop signal strengths in the 40s in fair weather. When it rains, I get more work done on my home/office computer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by AntAltMike
You may not be the only one, but you are one of maybe two of three. I am a commercial antenna installer and have been an active participant at this and other related DBS forums for several years. I probably service about a dozen or so of the so-called Phase 3 antennas a year, using a spectrum analyzer when I do, and I have never observed any structural gain deficiency with them.
But have you tested them in the rain? My phase III was fine in fair weather and developed about the same signal but dropped the signal significantly faster in the rain.

Quote:
Regardless of how diligent your efforts are, it is just not possible to make meaningful comparisons of so-called signal strength developed by dishes accumulating signals that pass through trees. Your new, phase 3 dish should produce the same signal strength or greater than did the 3 LNB dish that it replaced.
Yes, in fair weather. No, in the rain.

Quote:
The physics of the Gainmaster are obvious. It has about 60% more surface area. It directs about 60% more signal to the LNBs. The LNBs signal-to-noise ratio goes up by about 60%.
Then the same can be said about the 18x24 which is also larger than the 18x20. Doesn't it follow that since the 18x20 phase III's are smaller than the old 18x24's, the newer ones would gather less signal? Not 60% less obviously, but by some degree?


The Terk phase III is very flimsy metal also, while the old 18x24 I had was fiberglass. It is also possible that the rain interacts differently (worse) with a metal dish versus fiberglass. It's also possible that the metal dishes tend to deform a bit more and/or are more prone to shipping damage/bending.


Mike
 
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