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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,


I'm back after an extended absence on this board. Good to see that

it is still alive and all the regular exports are posting. I am now

living in the Bay area.


I am currently on the commitee for our Burlingame condo assoc.

to investigate bulk satellite service for our 21-unit condo. The plan of course would be to include HDTV capability (both off-air and satellite).


First, does anyone know of a really good dealer/installer in the

bay area who deals with MDU (Multiple Dwelling Units)? We have

called around but have not really found someone good.


Second, with the Echostar merger dead, do we go with

Echostar (at about $13.50 per unit per month for top 100

in bulk) or DirectTV (at $24.95 per unit for total choice per

month in bulk)? From an HDTV programming perspective, I

guess DirectTV has HDnet and Dish has HD Discovery, and both

have SHowtime/HBO--but does anyone know which company

is more commited to HD for the long term (used to be Dish)?


Also, is there any choice that makes more sense from an install

perspective (eg. cheaper mult-switches, cheaper HDTV decoder,

more chance of hitting the satellite that carries HD (we have a

pretty good view from the top of the complex). I need to get

caught up but last time I heard HD was harder to get from Dish

Network if you were in California since they didn't yet have

HD on the 49.5 West bird).


Thanks for your help! Marv
 

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Why bother with bulk? Install a single community antenna for DirecTV and off-air and leave it up to each unit owner to arrange his own subscription/connection as he sees fit. That way, you won't have to get tied up with restrictive access agreements, and the homeowner's association won't have to fight with the residents with their connectivity costs or service.


Admittedly, DISH owns more transponders, so they could provide more HDTV without sacrificing other valuable offerings if they so chose.
 

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Dish used to have HD only on 61.5 (not 49.5...),

but now they have it on 148 as well. 148 is at a much more reasonable place in the sky for the west coast. You still have to have a seperate dish for the HD chans than Dish's regular Dish500 dish.

With DTV (at least) you can get all their HD chans with the same 3LNB wide dish that gets the regular chans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Dear AntAltMike,


The idea of a "community antenna/dish" for anyone who wants to use it is intriguing. There are in fact only a few of us who are pushing this, in part because the condo association rules prohibit putting up a dish/ antenna on your own balcony. I know I could fight the HOA on this, but I figured it was easier to get on the board and look into MDU service for the whole complex. It could benefit everyone. Right now most of the 21 people are paying something like $40-$80 for AT&T cable. I fiound out that if you get MDU bulk from Dish, then you can get the TOP 100 $32.00 package for only $13.50 per unit per month. The catch is that if you do "bulk" then all 21 units must commit, and one bill goes to the HOA. So the HOA fees would be raised by this amount but, then everyone could stop paying for cable.


Here's a question-- say we opt for a community antena instead of bulk, and say more than 6 people want to hook up to it, what equipment can we buy to make this work? Can you cascade several SW64s? Or do you have to buy special commerical DBS splitters/splicers? Are these different for DIsh versus DirectTV? Thanks in advance


Dear PVR,


Thanks for clarifying the sat sitation. Yes I meant 61.5 not 49.5.

I am glad dish finally has HD at 148.


Best, Marv
 

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Marv,

I believe you are mistaken on the monthly pricing. We install distributed satellite systems in MDU's on the East Coast for DirecTV and the prices are the same as what you would be paying if you were in a single family residence. The bulk rate you are talking about is not for residential MDU's, it is for Hotels, Hospitals etc where one entity pays for all of the programming. The HOA is not allowed to purchase at the bulk rate and resell the programming.

The only manageable method of distributing a DirecTV satellite signal is to install 3 dishes (101, 110, and 119) and contract with an installer to figure out the exact hardware necessary. You can do a stacked LNB system or a multi-switched system, depending on the type of installation. These will require anywhere from 2 to 5 wires going from one unit to the next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Dear SteveHiFi,


Thanks for the post.


I am pretty sure that for Dish the HOA can purchase bulk programming as long as they don't charge a higher price than covering their own costs. I am going here on my memory of the conversation with the Dish rep and the following web pages"
http://commercial.dishnetwork.com/co...on/index.shtml


For directv I have no contact with a rep but

it looks like this vendor offers bulk rates to

apartment complexes for $15.99:

http://www.eyeinthesky.net/main/mdu_bulk_program.htm
http://eyeinthesky.net/main/DigitalSatellite_MDU.html


I wonder why this doesn't jive with your experience in the business.?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Dear AntAltMike,


I see from your other postings also on dbsforums.com

that you are THE man for MDU.


Regardless whether we go bulk or community antenna,

what sort of equipment would we use to wire 21 units?

Let's assume we went with DirectTV since the switches

are more standard.


We might need something like a 3 x 21 switch if that

exists (3 inputs, 21 outputs). It looks like 21 is sort

of an odd number, there are many switches that provide

16 outputs, but not necessarily any for 21. I am also

interested in the brand of multiswitch you recommend.

Equpment that can diplex the antenna signal would

be nice too.


Thanks in advance! Marv
 

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I don't see that you'd need to throw out the cable company. Some residents may prefer local cable for the regional news network, city council chambers, public interest channel, etc.


A DirecTV multiswitch has 4 satellite inputs: two for both polarities of Sat A (101) and two for both polarities polarities sat B (119), with a single polarity of Sat C (110) diplexed into the "even" leg of the Sat B LNB.


The benefit of going with DirecTV is that it carries the NFL season ticket. The benefit of Dish Network is that is has more foreign programming. You do not have to choose one or the other if you leave it up to the residents to arrange their own subscriptions.


I set up a 32 unit condominium with one 24" dish and three, four output multiswitches at one junction location. It is the responsibility of each subscriber to arrange for his own unit wiring. Seven residents have one receiver each and one has two, so there are still three "ports" vacant. If additional residents exhaust the ports, the homeowners association will pay for an additional multiswitch, but I doubt that will ever happen.


Are all of your cable junctions made at the same place? If so, then just put a couple of 5 in, 8 out multiswitches there (the fifth input is for a broadcast TV antenna, which you probably won't use). DirecTV LNB outputs can be split to source several multiswitches as needed. It is unlikely that any resident will need three coaxes unless these are very large apartments. Are the original antenna coaxes "home run", meaning, do they each go directly from the unit to a junction point, or do they "loop" from one apartment to another? if they loop, then they cannot be used for satellite wiring.


According to my "rain fade" chart, San Fransisco hardly ever loses its signal due to rain. You probably would use a standard 18 x 24" dish, or if you wanted to, you could use a 30" dish for the 101 satellite and 30" or smaller dishes for sats B and C.


If you need to support three receivers in several units (or even two receivers and a TIVO, which needs two input cables to fully utilize its dual tuner) then you might furnish "stacked" signals to each apartment, but if you do, then each resident would want to use Sony receivers B3, 4, 50, 55, or 65 with internal destackers to save the cost of buying external destackers.


If hardly anyone needs three inputs, then go with the regular multiswitch and leave it up to the residents who need three inputs to work out their own solution.


You could also put in a DISH Network antenna with DishPro stacked LNBs and cascadable switches. This technology works beytter than trying to connect multiple SW-64, which is a pain in the butt. You might even consider a Telstar T-5 antenna for foreign programming, with maybe a single 2x4 multiswitch. In my market, someone furnishes and installs a 30" Telstar dish and receiver for $380, but no reputable installation company would do one that cheap.


The DirecTV installation with a residential dish and two 5x8 multiswitches would cost under $1,000. In fact, even with the 30" dishes, it shouldn't cost much more than that.


If you need the stacking for three receiver-input apartments, you probably should go with an installer/dealer that you pick out from the Yellow Pages.
 

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".......(the fifth input is for a broadcast TV antenna, which you probably won't use)."

Huh?????
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ken,


I think what AltAntMike was referring to regarding the fifth input is an input for the local off-air antenna (Yagi or whatever). The multiswitch can then apparently diplex this signal with the DirectTV signal, and on the other end each receiver would undiplex it and feed it to the antenna input.


We would want this, so that we could get local stations off-air rather than having to pay for locals. Also this would allow us to receive all of the H/DTV stations on VHF band from Sutro tower.


Best, Marv.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by kenglish
".......(the fifth input is for a broadcast TV antenna, which you probably won't use)."

Huh?????
Marv had previously sent me an E-mail in which he said that each unit is serviced by a total of 3 coaxes: two that are home run cable TV lines and one MATV coax. I didn't realize as I composed my previous post that I was the only one who knew that. I was picturing his broadcast TV coming through that MATV coax.


Any time you can avoid mixing broadcast MATV with DBS in multifamily dwelling installations, you are ahead of the game because you won't have to carefully manage the broadcast TV input signal power levels such that the weakest are adequate in strength but so that the strongest do not overload the puny amplifier that is contained in most multiswitches.
 

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On further review, if there are any stations that are broadcast from a direction OTHER than the Sutro towers, then a second antenna could be pointed to pick up the other stations and one antenna could be fed through the old MATV line, the other through the diplexed multiswitch, and the residents could use an A/B switch to pick up the TV signals from the second antenna if they so desired.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks- yes now that NBC has moved to San Jose I might need two antennas with the 1st pointed north to Sutro and the 2nd south to San Jose.
 

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With the current channel arrangement in SF Bay Area with KNTV(NBC) on channel 12 from Loma Prieta and the remainder of the digital broadcasters on higher UHF channels, people also use UHF/VHF combiners with good luck from antennas pointed in the two directions needed. Therefore, you should be able to use only one coax for broadcast and if needed, diplex it into the DBS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Milimura - good suggestion to use a VHF/UHF combiner.

I had thought about combining two antennas but I didn't

think about how it would work well splitting along VHF/UHF

lines, pointing the VHF toward Loma Prieta and the UHF

toward Sutro. It does mean that the VHF non-HD signals

will not as good as they could be, but that might be OK.


AltAntMike,


I am pretty sure the arrangement is "home run." There are

two big cable junction boxes on either side of the building

and I would put one 5 x 8 multiswitch in each. I would then

be able to feed up 16 of the 21 units (probably no more than

that would be needed if participation is voluntary.)


I am now searching pricing for 5 x8 muliswitches and they vary

from $99 (e.g., http://www.trianglecables.com/5x8muluptofo.html )

to $239 ,and all the way to $499 for a German-made Spaun

(e.g., http://www.hometech.com/techwire/cvsat.html )

What level of quality/price should I aim for here? I know cable

splitters can vary a lot in quality but I have no clue for multiswitches.


Thanks in advance! Marvin.
 

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You could "band join" the channel 12 VHF with the Sutro UHF ito form your present, digital broadcast antenna signal source and feed that into the Multisiwtch input, as miimura suggests, and still send the Sutro VHF down the MATV coax so that residents who want broadcast analog can still get all of the local programming. Some of the Sutro UHF stations will surely be reverting to their VHF allocations in 2006 or later, so everyone will need VHF reception from that direction at that time.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by marv
I am now searching pricing for 5 x8 multiswitches and they vary...What level of quality/price should I aim for here? I know cable splitters can vary a lot in quality but I have no clue for multiswitches.
There is very little difference in quality between cable splitters, and none that you, yourself, could perceive. Better ones have better RFI shielding which means nothing to you, and better waterproofing is unimportant if the splitter is in an enclosure.


I doubt that there is much difference in multiswitch quality either, though the preponderance of internet forum posts say otherwise. The reason that the preponderance of posts say otherwise is that whenever someone buys a cheap switch that then malfunctions and replaces it with an expensive switch, they are satisfied with the performance of the new, expensive switch. Of course, if they had replaced it with another unit of the cheap switch that was not malfunctioning, then they would have been satisfied with that switch also.


Someone in another Forum bought a 99 cent RCA jumper wire and was dissatisfied with it, replaced it with a $14.95 Monster cable, and sang the praises of that cable. Then, a week later, he replaced the Monster cable with another 99 cent cable which worked just as well, so he submitted another post saying that he had now found a 99 cent wire as good as the Monster cable. I have bought hundreds of multiswitches and generally buy the cheapest.


To use the cable TV coaxes, the splitters within the apartment will have to be removed, as they do not pass the 13/18 volt polarity select signals.


I must advise that at this point in the project you are probably getting in over your head. If you become the system designer/installer, you are going to be the person whose phone rings every time another unit owner has trouble with their DBS/off-air signal reception, even if the problem has nothing to do with a reception/distribution system malfunction. You have to somehow arrange to get power to the powered multiswitches, even though there is no A/C outlet in the cable box. An SMATV technician has a few ways to work around this problem, and an inventory of whatever he uses for power insertion to back up this installation when needed. You don't know how to balance signal levels or manage them, and if a residential unit has unreliable performance of either the DBS or off-air, you won't know if your MATV signal is overloading the multiswitch or whether the off-air output signal level is overloading their tuner's input. You may not be able to estimate the sufficiency of the signal at their units.


At this point, you can now do a better job of contracting out the installation than you could initially. You know the options for dish size, system architecture, and off-air/satellite signal integration that will allow you to advise the installer to better meet your needs, but I can't recommend designing and installing this yourself, given your limited stake in the outcome of this project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Dear AltAntMike,


Luckily there are no splitters in the apartments. Each unit gets a double-wire and it goes through the wall and hooks up to two coax jack which

are both on one wallplate, stacked on top of each other. Someone

was thinking ahead!


I agree with your advice to not take on this project as my own. In the past my enthusiasm for technology has led me to become the unofficial "tech support" person and led to a barrage of requests which I can't fulfill. So I we will have to develop a relationship with some sort of installer and/or a company that could provide support.


I talked it over with the other person on the HOA subcommittee and he

has a quote in writing from a local company that would both do the installation for DirectTV and then provide support (even VoIP & Internet for those who want it). They are quoting $3,500 for the install and then

$24.95 a month for total choice. It seemed a bit high to me but then

if you add up the equipment alone (say $1,000 for the dish & switches

and then say $100 per receiver x 21 receivers = $2,100, total $3,100)

it is not that far off. I need to see if they could lower the monthly cost

for total choice something closer to dish's similar Top 100 package which

only costs $13.50 in bulk. Also, this company could provide both a bulk "base"but also bill individual units for extra channel for

those who want PPV, etc. The company has experience with HDTV

in San Francisco for other apartments, so I would want them to put

in the HDTV LNB for the C sat as well as probably a new antenna with

the connections you mention above.


Oh you mentioned the issue of getting power-I guess they would do some electrical wiring to take power from our garage over to the junction boxes as well as make new junction boxes so as not to ruin the cable company's (apparently we own the wires but not the junction box).


There is still a chance that Dish and/or other installers will call me back,

but so far I have not had a lot of luck--I think because there just isn't

enough money in it for the installers with only 21 units.


OK thanks and take care. Marv
 
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