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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After having several weeks of frustration with my RCA Phase III dish in January due to cold temperatures killing satellite reception on SAT A for my Hughes E86 and many useless hours trying to get help from RCA customer service, Directv and Best Buy, I eventually determined that there was a problem with the multi-switch built into the LNB array. When RCA would not issue a work order for the repair or replacement of the LNB Array (because cold clear weather with temperatures below 30 degrees, they claimed, was an "act of god" and not a normal operating parameter), I took matters into my own hands and bought three other RCA Phase III dishes with cash and tested their LNB arrays until I found one that was cold weather resistant. Then, I returned the other dishes with the defective LNB arrays for refunds. I thought I had the problem solved. I had no other problems this winter and early spring. That is until now...


Last night, less than 2-1/2 months later, the LNB array fails again. this time I've lost reception on all three satellites on the Hughes E86. Just this weekend I was getting 91 on SAT A, 89 on SAT B and 94 on SAT C and no one has touched the cables or the dish. My old Sony SAT-A2 still works. The signal strength is fluctuating wildly from 90 percent to 0 to 80 percent to 20 percent to 90 percent, etc., but it doesn't seem to be affecting reception on the old STB just yet. It appears that the multi-switch in the LNB array has gone by by.


I'm not up for dealing with the morons at RCA/Thompson anymore. Any recommendations or a more reliable Phase III dish? Is the Wistron Phase III a better choice? I'm ready to cut my loses and scrap the crappy RCA dish and maybe try to get Directv Customer Retention to reimburse me for the new dish. The RCA/THompson LNB arrays seem to fail every 2 or 3 months. That's hardly the quality I expect.
 

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The WCN dishes don't seem to have that prob. At least not here in CO. We just had a huge snow storm a couple weeks ago and I didn't lose one point on the signal meter. As a matter of fact, I replaced a Terk 24" with this one and it actually improved my signal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Just an update...


I couldn't find any WCN Phase III satellite dishes around here and I wanted to buy my replacement dish locally in case I had any problems with it. I took a chance and picked up a Terk version with REV:1 label on the box at Circuit City. That revision is supposed to have the cold weather problem fixed. With as many problems as I've had with the RCA Phase III dish, I decided to spring from the 3-year extended warranty. I don't usually believe in extended warranties, but it was only $6.99, so I went for the extra peace of mind. After my experience with RCA/Thompson, I needed it.


Temporarily I pulled the RCA LNB array out of my RCA dish and installed the Terk LNB array in its place. I was back up and running in a couple minutes. This weekend, I think I'll remove the old RCA dish and install the Terk LNB array back in the new Terk dish and put it up. After the problems I've had with RCA/Thompson, they don't deserve any free advertising from the logo imprinted on the dish. Then, I'll toss the RCA/Thompson dish and it's broken LNB array in the trash. Good riddance. If I had more time and energy to fight this battle. I would have taken RCA/Thompson to small claims court and filed with the BBB and reported them to the local TV stations consumer action reporter. I'm still going to try to get Directv Customer Retention to reimburse me for the replacement dish. If RCA treats all its customers the way I was treated, Directv should pull its license agreement and stop allowing RCA to produce Directv equipment.


Based on this experience with a clearly defective product and being totally frustrated with RCA/Thompson's unwillingness to honor their warranty, I will never purchase another product from RCA/Thompson.


If you buy anything from RCA/Thompson, heaven help you if you need support from their customer service department or need to have an item repaired or replaced under the manufacturer's warranty.
 

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Looks to me like you should be boycotting cal amp. They manufactured the lnb's for terk, rca, & kti.


Do not worry there are problems with the acer dish as well, the ones labeled as wnc. On certain brand rca receivers, you cannot pick up a signal on the 101 at certain cable lengths.


Just fyi, but i would hang on to the old lnb, just incase.


David
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Perhaps, but I accept the fact that the world is not perfect and that achieving zero defects is a worthwhile goal but one that is often unattainable.


I believe Terk and KTI and WCN have been honoring their warranties and taken steps to correct the defects found in their versions of the Phase III dishes. RCA/Thompson was not honoring their warranty and was trying to deny responsibility for repairing or replacing the faulty LNBs. To make matters worse the customer service department at RCA/Thompson, from my experience, appears to be full of incompetent, unhelpful and downright rude people who didn't have the tools to help and didn't care. And, the company line that "cold clear weather with temperatures below 20 degrees is an 'act of god' and RCA/Thompson does not warranty their products againts acts of god" was total bullsh*t. The fact that one LNB array I tried failed with temps just under 30 degrees made the RCA/Thompson corporate spin even more galling, especially when I was holding their one-year warranty in my hand and both Best Buy and Directv kept refering me back to RCA/Thompson. H*ll, even the local authorized service center for RCA/Thompson told me they couldn't help me and that it was next to impossible to get work authorization from RCA/Thompson on most warranty service claims they handled.


I like the design of the Phase III dish. It pulls in impressive signal strength and it's basically the same size as my original Sony round dish I put up in 1996. I don't want a bigger dish like the Channelmaster oversized model or even the older 18x24 dual LNB dish with optional SAT C kit, if I can avoid it. I don't want to try a 3 dish solution with 3 old round dishes, one pointed at each of the birds either. With the Terk dish and the extended warranty, I'm protected for the next four years and I should be able to get any future problems with the Terk dish taken care of. And, who knows, in four years, I may be ready to switch to HD cable and give up Directv, especially if Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. slow or stop expansion of HD on Directv.
 

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I wish I'd read this before I spent the last 12 hours trying to get my damn HDTV dish up and running. I bought a Hughes E86 toady and Best Buy threw in an RCA 3lnb dish. Now I know why. I could always get 110 but I could never get 101 or 119 at the same time. I could get one or the other but never both. Right now I gave up and everything, receiver and all, is packaged up and ready to go back to Best Buy in the morning. Just not worth the hassle.
 

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First off, who is WCN? Never heard of them....


Anyway, FYI KTI is owned by California Amplifier. Calamp bought them in mid 2002. I just had a Phase III KTI dish installed in my home last week. So far so good. Well, I live in Maimi, FL so I doubt I'll experience much of a cold weather problem, assuming there is one. I put in a call to Cal Amp this afternoon to get a reply from them on the Phase III LNB/multiswitch issue. Maybe they just sold the production line fall-offs to Terk.....Ha, ha!


If you want to test your new Terk go out and get a can of aerosol chiller used to diagnose semiconductor components that typically fail from heat. This chiller will definitely simulate freezing temps for you. If you spray enough of it, I believe you can simulate below zero temps. You won't damage anything by spraying the chiller on the LNB housing, its designed for this purpose.


According to the Cal Amp specification sheets, the LNB is capable of working down to -30 degrees F.


Has anyone considered that it might be a power related issue and not necessarily an LNB failure? Since the LNB is powered by the Sat receiver(s) its important to use RG6 with a copper center conductor. This is to minimize voltage drop. Most installers use either copper clad over steel RG6 or plain steel RG6. If the runs are relatively short, these lesser expensive RG6 cables are fine. For longer runs the copper is required otherwise a separate power supply might be required. Maybe your cold weather situation is causing voltage drop. It would be unusual, because lower temps normally allow electrons to flow mroe freely which would usually cause a voltage increase. Maybe your Sat receiver is dropping the voltage on cold days. One never knows.... How long are your cable run(s)? Check to see if you have copper core RG6.


Last, are you using all four outputs from the LNB? If not, make sure the unused outputs have 75 ohm terminators on them. Don't leave them open or a dangling piece of RG6.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ram1220, you may or may not have a problem with the LNB array on that RCA dish. You may just have an alignment problem. The mast must be plumb in both directions and the tilt needs to set correctly along with the azimuth so that you can pick up all three satellites. Also, the 3 LNB dish doesn't point in the exact same direction as a round dish that's only pointed at SAT A (101).


HD Junkie, I'm not that worried about cold weather with the new Terk dish. I did not see any posts on this board or any other forum about any cold weather problem with the Terk version of the Phase III dish once Revision A was released and the defective LNB arrays were replaced with the Rev A unit. There's been plenty of cold weather in various parts of the country since mid January. For all I know the cold weather problem has been fixed on all the versions of the Phase III dish. And, I may have been able to eventually get RCA/Thompons to replace their LNB array now that it went completely dead, but frankly, I have no more patience for trying to deal with RCA/Thompson. The amount of time I wasted trying to get satisfaction from them was worth more to me than the cost of several of their dishes. I was tired of fighting them.


I don't know whether the RG-6 cables I'm using have copper cores or not, but my cable runs are right at 50' and I've got terminators on the two unused connectors on the multiswitch. The final failure of the RCA LNB array this week occurred with low temperatures in the mid 40s and I lost reception on all three satellites on my Hughes E86 but I could still get reception on SAT A using my old Sony SAT-A2. Warmer temperatures did not restore reception on the E86 at all. Signal strength stayed at zero for all three birds. And, putting the Terk LNB array in the RCA dish and hooking it up restored reception of all three satellites.


In contrast, the cold weather problem I had in January centered around loss of reception of SAT A only and warmer temperatures and/or sunlight on the dish would restore reception. During my attempts to solve the problems with the RCA dish in January, I checked the grounding and replaced all the RG-6 cables. Bringing the LNB array inside to warm to room temperature or placing a warm water bottle against the array when installed in the dish would restore reception on SAT A until the LNB array cooled to the outside temperature. The different RCA LNB arrays I tried in January lost reception at various temperatures. The first lost reception with temps in single digits. The second lost reception with temperatures in the teens and after a few days lost reception in the 20s. The third lost reception with temps in the 30s. The fourth appeared to be cold weather resistant and worked fine during February and March until it completely failed this week.
 

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Well hopefully your problem is now solved. I believe Cal Amp also makes the Phase III LNB for RCA. Actually I think Cal Amp is the only one making a Phase III LNB/multiswitch right now. I could be wrong, but I've yet to see a competitive product. Correct me if I'm wrong. The RCA, Terk, KTI and Winguard dishes all appear to be the exact same design with different logos silkscreened on them.


The fact that you got your old Sony to work with SAT A indicates that their might be a voltage issue with the E86 in cold weather. Maybe the LNB required more voltage when the temps drop and your E86 can't drive it. Just a thought.


Can you tell me who WCN is?


Good luck with your Terk dish!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I believe WCN may be Wistron's logo, but I'm not sure.


I've seen several threads about the same problem I experienced with my old RCA dish and as I recall both Terk and KTI implemented replacement LNB arrays to correct the cold weather failure. I'm not sure about the other brands. I didn't explain the cold weather problem fully, but SAt A reception failed on the E86 and eventually failed on the Sony. As time went on, the Sony begain to lose reception soon after the E86 did in cold weather. I'm also pretty sure the problem was not confined to E86 models. I also eventually found an RCA LNB that functioned in cold weather and it performed flawlessly until it failed this week.


As for alternative dish solutions, Channelmaster has a 30+ inch 3LNB Directv dish, but I don't want or need a dish that larger. I'm able to get signal strengths in the mid 90s on all 3 birds here in St. Louis with the 18x20 dish. Other than that, I don't know how hard the 18x24 Phase II 2 LNB dishes are to find anymore. And, from what I've read the optional SAT C kit presents its own set of problems.


Thanks for the input. I am also thinking about buying a dish cover to further protect the multi-switch in the LNB array from the elements and minimize possible moisture intrusion.
 

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You are right, WCN is Wistron. Thanks!


Fromw hat I can see it looks like the WCN dish also uses the CalAmp LNB/Multiswitch.


I'll let you now on Monday what CalAmp tells me about this issue.
 

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Thanks for the reply to my post. I finally got my dish aimed and everything working. The only problem is now that I have it working, I'm not at all impressed with HDTV. The programing selection is poor and the picture quality is not that much better than what I had. I am probably going to take it all back to Best Buy tomorrow for a refund. Just not worth the money. As for now I feel HDTV is way overhyped. Thanks again for the replies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ram1220,


What kind of HD-Ready TV do you have your E86 hooked up to? Are you using component cables? Or, better yet component cable to view HD and s-video cables to view SD? HDNet's shows produced in HD video are simply jaw-dropping on my Sony KP-43HT20 43-inch RPTV. The quality of movies and shows shot on film and transferred to HD do vary in quality and some pop more than others. Plus, not every movie and show on Showtime HD or HBO HD is actually in HD, some are upconverted and are still in picture-boxed 4:3 format.


As for limited content, yes that's an issue right now, but more material is coming. And, more channels are on the way, but what Directv will add in the months ahead remains to be seen. Can you get OTA HD channels with an antenna hooked up to your E86? If you can't I wouldn't blame you for wanting to return your HD setup with only 3 Directv HD channels right now. I didn't spring for my HD set up until my old TV died (that's when I bought my HD-REady TV and about six months later added the E86, oval dish and UHF antenna for my local HD channels). I didn't spring for all the hardware until I knew that I could get 6 local HD OTA channels in addition to the 3 on Directv. Jay Leno is great in HD and so is ER and CSI and CSI Miami. I'm not a big fan of most network sitcoms and I've found that HD doesn't add much...a lame sitcom is still a lame sitcom, but the demo reels my local PBS station plays on its HD channel are spectacular. College football is also terrific in HD an so was the Superbowl. I'm looking forward to seeing more NFL games in HD this coming season. That being said, I still want Directv to add ESPN HD and Discovery HD and the two additional HDNet Channels and maybe Cinemax HD when it launches later this year, but who knows if or when Directv will add those additional HD channels. The only definites in my area are that our UPN and WB affiliates are supposed to start HD later in the year.


Anway. good luck.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by ram1220
I wish I'd read this before I spent the last 12 hours trying to get my damn HDTV dish up and running. I bought a Hughes E86 toady and Best Buy threw in an RCA 3lnb dish. Now I know why. I could always get 110 but I could never get 101 or 119 at the same time. I could get one or the other but never both. Right now I gave up and everything, receiver and all, is packaged up and ready to go back to Best Buy in the morning. Just not worth the hassle.
I could only get 110 also. I even called Thompson and they sent an installer to my house within 24 hours. I was sure it was not my fault and their was something wrong with the muliswitch. The installer checked everything and agreed with me it was a bad multiswitch.


I went back to Best Buy returned the RCA dish and got a new one. I got home and within a minute after mounting it on the pole I got perfect signal from all 3 satellites.
 

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Hi Crash,


I have a Hitachi 43" HDTV. I am using the component connections. I was also using a Silver Sensor for OTA signals and only got 2 channels. I replaced it today with an RCA amplified antenna and now I get all of them except for UPN 21 here in Dallas. No matter what I do I can't get a signal for it. But then again I never watch that station so I don't mind. The more I watch this set up the more I'm starting to like it. I do have one problem with the E86 though that I think is heat related. Every so often the unit just locks up. I have to reset the box and then all is well for another few minutes. I'm going to look into buying a small fan to cool the box and see if that helps.

Thanks for the reply. I did not know that all programing on the HDTV channels was not in high definition. That would explain the poor picture quality from time to time.
 

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Happy to hear that you are beginning to enjoy your HD setup.


The E86 has been known to run hot but you're not alone, some other HD receivers run hot as well. Anyway, just make sure your E86 has plenty of airflow around it. Try not to stack it with other components if at all possible.


The E86 is a reasonable box, but I found the HD picture to be a bit on the soft side. The Zenith/Sony produce a nicer image in my book. Also the Zenith/Sony has a much better off air tuner for local HD reception.


Not sure what you paid for the E86, but you can get a Zenith SAT520 for $570 from J&R in NYC.


Quote:
Originally posted by ram1220
Hi Crash,


I have a Hitachi 43" HDTV. I am using the component connections. I was also using a Silver Sensor for OTA signals and only got 2 channels. I replaced it today with an RCA amplified antenna and now I get all of them except for UPN 21 here in Dallas. No matter what I do I can't get a signal for it. But then again I never watch that station so I don't mind. The more I watch this set up the more I'm starting to like it. I do have one problem with the E86 though that I think is heat related. Every so often the unit just locks up. I have to reset the box and then all is well for another few minutes. I'm going to look into buying a small fan to cool the box and see if that helps.

Thanks for the reply. I did not know that all programing on the HDTV channels was not in high definition. That would explain the poor picture quality from time to time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey Ram1220,


The lockup problem may or may not be heat related. It may be that your E86 hasn't downloaded the latest software from the satellite. As I recall my E86 was a little twitchy the first couple days until the updated software was downloaded and installed. It should happen automatically overnight, but I've read that E86 owners have had problems with the download and install.


Go to the installation menu in the set up. Go to system test. Go to upgrade. The latest upgrade is #5099. See if it's been installed or if its listed as a scheduled upgrade. I suspect that your E86 hasn't had time to successful download and install the software patch. You may not necessarily need the extra cooling fan, unless you've got your E86 in an enclosed cabinet with little ventilation. Mine is on an open shelf. It gets warm but never hot to the touch. Knock on wood, I've never had any heat related problems to date.
 

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I do have the latest upgrade. Thanks for the info. I got a great deal on the E86. Or at least I think I did. I called DirecTV before I bought the box and told them I wanted to upgrade to HDTV but that I felt the hardware was too expensive. I then got customer retention who gave me a $150 credit. Then I went to Best Buy because they had a sale for 50% off on all of their DirecTV open box receivers. I found my E86 which had everything in the box. No parts missing except for an access card that BB threw in free. The open box price was $449. So half of that was $225. So I paid $225 minus the $150 credit from DirecTV. Total $75 plus tax. Thanks to this forum I found out that BB was offering this sale.

I have solved my lockup problems with the receiver. So now things seem to be working fine. Just waiting for more HDTV programing.
 
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