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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm fairly new to D*. I'll be going through my first South Florida summer season soon where we experience rain just about every afternoon at some point between 2-5PM.


Anyway, just the ohter day I experienced my first rain fade (or heavy cloud cover fade is probably more like it).


I have a Phase 3 dish and had it installed at the highest point of my hosue where it would likely have the best view of the sky with no obstructions (including water running off the roofline). I'm using two of the four ouputs currently and the two unused outputs have 75 ohm terminators on the cable ends. I get 90-99 on most of the transponders on all three locations, A, B and C. There are a few transponders that I get in the mid to upper 80's in strength. Most of these in the 80's are in the Sat A location. All coax is RG6 Quad shield and runs are 25-50 feet max.


Anyway, is there anything I can do to reduce the chance of rain/cloud fade? Some have claimed that using a dish without a built-in multiswitch and using a separate switch can improve things. is this true? if so, where can one find one of these dishes? Everywhere I call they tell me they only stock the phase 3 now.


I know that the best solution is to use 3 individual 36" dishes, but this is not an option for me. I want to do it with a single dish. Suggestions?


If there's likely nothing I can do to significantly reduce the fade, then just let me know. I'd rather not bother if I'm only going to gain a 2% better chance.
 

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HD_Junkie


In order to live through rain fade, your signal strength(s) need to be as high as possible on a bright sunny day. Mine are no lower than 98-99 on a good day so that when the clouds and rain arrive, hopefully they dont drop much below 65-70. Yours might be a bit lower than the near perfect the need to be.


If you installed the system yourself, what meter was used for your dish point? If you used a pro, you might need someone to come out and repoint the dish so as to get stronger base readings.


Good Luck,

Kevin
 

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I agree. The key is to have the highest possible signal numbers, which can get to be tricky with a 3-position dish. That is the first main advantage to 3 separate dishes. It is easier to tune 3 dishes to the max signal.


A larger dish can help, but at some point the difference becomes minimal. Especially when we get the Monsoon weeks of rain. The good news is that we have not been following our normal rain patterns the past few years.


I'm near Tampa and am currently using the old 18 x 24 dish (without any multi switch. Originally, I used the other 2 positions for Dish Network and just never tweaked the antenna for a better signal for 101 when I added a Dish 500 dish to my roof. My tune could be better and I personally prefer a separate dish. That said, my rain fade is usually no more than 15-20 minutes in a heavy storm. Usually the type of storm you might want to turn the set off for anyway.


One odd thing to consider, which may not apply, my furthest receiver from the antenna starts losing even or odd transponders at the drop of a cloud, while the closest rides out most storms just fine. This might be partly from using CATV cable, but it isn't worth re-running cables through the attic crawl space at the moment. I'm getting too old to bend and balance myself that much. :D


I'm assuming you either want HDTV or Spanish programs or both? If not, you could switch to an 18" round dish and just point at 101.


FWIW, Direct TV comes in better than Dish for me. Dish was pro installed and I tuned Direct TV myself by ear. So my Direct TV isn't even tuned to the max!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I do have 7 transponders between A, B, and C locations that are a 99 in strength on both my RCA SD and Zenith HD receivers.


When we had the cloud cover the other day that caused my loss of signal, even these transponders showed 0 or near 0 in strength. Am I correct in my understanding that further tweaking will likely not improve this type of signal loss situation?


Would anything else help, such as using a separate multiswitch? I know about the larger dishes and have spoken with a few local custom installers about it. They tell me I'll need 3 separate dishes to accomplish the same thing that I have with the phase 3. They claim the 36" indivudal dishes with a Spaun switch would improve my signal, but even they felt that in conditions where the strength on the transponders hits 0, usually nothing will help.


Thoughts?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by HD_JUNKIE
I do have 7 transponders between A, B, and C locations that are a 99 in strength on both my RCA SD and Zenith HD receivers.


When we had the cloud cover the other day that caused my loss of signal, even these transponders showed 0 or near 0 in strength. Am I correct in my understanding that further tweaking will likely not improve this type of signal loss situation?

Thoughts?
99% signal is good enough, but a better question is are you actually using all 3 positions? Maybe one position is well tuned and the others are off?


If you only subscribe to the main programming (no HDTV and no Spanish) you can just use one larger dish, if you prefer. But if it is not a single position dish, you won't gain anything.


Also, there may be a mechanical problem with the switch or cabling. You would probably want to correct this issue first, even if you go to a larger dish. If the switch is bad you'll want it replaced while it is in warranty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
restart99


I subscribe the both SD and HD programming. I thought I stated that earlier. So, yes I want to look at all three sat locations.


I have a Phase 3 dish with the Cal Amp triple LNB/multiswitch. I believe this is the only phase 3 solution right now (unless you upgrade a phase 2 dish with the Sat C kit).


I don't have any problems with signal normally. The problem only occured once since I had D* installed 1 month ago. The problem happened on an ugly day. Little rain, but heavy cloudcover. Not necessarily dark, dark clouds, just heavy clouds. The signal disappeared three times that day for about 5-7 minutes each time. During the outage I checked the signal strength on both my Zenith HD receiver and RCA SD receiver. Most of the transponders registered zero or extremely low, like under 30. I specifically checked a few of the transponders that I usually get 99 signal on and even those had shown me zero strength.


Is it safe for me to assume that nothing can be done to avoid this type of loss again in the future? Obviously aside from using 3 36" dishes.


I don't believe I have a dish issue, since everything works just fine other times. Even today we had rain and clouds all day, but I never experienced signal loss. My signal strength was down about 10-15 points on most transponders, but that never translated into an picture or sound loss.


My install has the four wires running from the phase 3 dish to 4 different points in my house. I'm only using 2 for now. The 2 unused lines have 75 ohm terminators on them. Cabling is RG6 Quad Shield. All runs are less than 50 feet each.
 

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I've always been averse to putting 75 ohm terminators on any multiswitch ports because I am concerned that there might be a DC voltage present that the terminator will suck down. While it is easy to design multiswitches with blocking diodes, and while, for all I know, they may all have such diodes, I have no way of knowing that for sure so I don't take any chances.


If you want to terminate unused multiswitch ports, I recommend either using a terminator that is DC blocked or putting a VBC (voltage blocking coupler) between the terminator and the port.


The signal strength numbers displayed by DBS receivers are impossible to interpret. We all know that higher is better, but that's about all that we know. Florida is in the Crane Rain Model D/E region and will have more rain fade problems than other regions. If I lived there, I'd use two or three 30" dishes.


By the way, I am very skeptical about reports of improved signal quality when using Spaun multiswitches. I use Spaun products in my commercial and multi-family systems, but I just don't know of any reason why an expensive Spaun multiswitch would tend to better maintain the signal quality of a single receiver distribution line in a residential application than would a cheaper switch. I no of know relevant performance parameter by which one brand or model of multiswitch is better than any other.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by HD_JUNKIE
restart99


I subscribe the both SD and HD programming. I thought I stated that earlier. So, yes I want to look at all three sat locations.
You said you wanted to know if 3 dishes were better, if that counts as making it "clear." If you said something more than that, then sorry I missed it even after re-reading twice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the replies.


Unfortunately for me the three dish solution is not really an option. My city/community doesn't like dishes so they somewhat strictly enforce the 1996 FCC Telecommunications Act. I'm told this permits the install of a single 1 meter dish to receive DBS service. One of my neighbors has Dish Network and does have two dishes (one pointed East at the 61.5 degree satellite. The city questioned his install and he had to prove to them that DIsh requires a twin dish install to receive all programming. I suspect if I tried 3 30" or 36" dishes I'd be in for a fight since D* has a single dish solution.


Anyone know of a dish manufacturer who makes a larger phase 3 dish? Like 30" x 36" which still fits within the Act. A larger dish should improve signal retention. Thoughts?


I've read from others that they tweak their dish install to get high 98-99-100 on all transponders for all 3 sat locations. My installer tells me this is nearly impossibe, at least here in Florida because of the obscure angle we look at the sats. I also called a local D* MDU installer and he confirmed the same thing that when using a consumer dish it is highly unlikely I could fine tune to receive high 90's from all 3 sat locations on all transponders. The MDU installer told me that he often has problems getting a max signal on all transponders when he does a 36" dish install. The MDU installer told me to focus on the "majority" of transponders from any sat location. He suspects I'll still have a few transponders in the 80's regardless. Also he told me not to worry because often the weaker transponders I see are actually spot beams providing locals to Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach (while I'm in Miami).


ANTALTMIKE - I'm not necessarily subscribing to the notion that using a Spaun will improve signal retention in rain. However when using 3 dishes an external multiswitch is required so I'd have to select something. Spaun was recommended because of their high quality.


RESTART88 - Thanks for your input.


I think I'll have to pray for no rain.......
 

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HD_JUNKIE,


Here is what helped my signal across the board:


Note: Financially these may not be feasible for everyone.


I bought a digisat acutrac 22 satellite finder and tweaked the you know what out of Sat A and B which you can do at the same time as it has the 22khz signal available. I was able to set the dish to maximum output for both A and B at the same time. C subsequently joins the party when those two were tuned.


Everything was great or so I thought until my Terk S24 LNB's went kaput. Since I had the DirecTV protection plan (wife wanted it) I called them out and they installed one of the newest and smallest Winnegard Dishes which have all LNB'c much closer together than your standard 3 LNB terk or whatever dish.


Low and behold the signals on all the transponders jumped 5 to 10 across the board on the same day, no change in conditions, etc.


As you know this could help out on rainy days, etc.


Just my experience.
 

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HD_JUNKIE what city are you in? I'm in Tampa so the reception can't be that much different where you are.


If you can even get the tuning to over 85% signal across the board, you should be fine over 95% of the time. This morning's shower had my SC fading in and out, but D* only went down to a 69% signal and never missed a beat. I think my worst transponder is normally about the high 70s and best about 80ish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by restart88
HD_JUNKIE what city are you in? I'm in Tampa so the reception can't be that much different where you are.


If you can even get the tuning to over 85% signal across the board, you should be fine over 95% of the time. This morning's shower had my SC fading in and out, but D* only went down to a 69% signal and never missed a beat. I think my worst transponder is normally about the high 70s and best about 80ish.
I'm in the very Northeastern tip of Miami.


My signal on a clear day is between 92-100 on most transponders (all 3 sat locations) with less than 10 transponders being over 80 and one in the high 70's. I'm suspecting the one in the 70's is a spot beam providing locals to Tampa, Orlando, etc.....


The problem we have here in the Southeast is that we have an obscure view of the 3 sat locations so in most cases extra tilt is required to tweak the signal properly. This appears to only be an issue in the very Southeast US. Even the RCA dish install manual discusses this very subject. THe fact that we have such an obscure view might in fact work against us with the phase 3 dish. The LNB's might be aligned in such a way that it doesn't work best for our odd view.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by John O'Neal
Channel Master is coming out with a new 75cm elliptical dish to address rain fade issues. It is called the gain-master.
Now we're talking!!! Looks like it could be a winner though I suspect the 65% more gain figure is using the special marketing department calculations....I'd like to see some real world testing comparing a typical install using a phase 3 to one with this new gain-master. Put it through rain, dense cloud cover, etc.....


Any takers? I would but my wife will have my head if I spend more $$$ and time on this D* install. She's still telling me our free cable (included in our community maintenance contract) is just as good. Go easy on me guys....
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by HD_JUNKIE
I would but my wife will have my head if I spend more $$$ and time on this D* install. She's still telling me our free cable (included in our community maintenance contract) is just as good. Go easy on me guys....
So comprimise! :)


Drop the locals for a while to justify the expense and add them back in a few months.
 

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The 65% increase in gain is calculable, verifiable and probably accurate, but it does not mean the same thing as going from 35% to 100% on your receiver's signal strength meter. Roughly speaking, it gets you the same increased resistance to the effects of rain fade that you would get by going from an 18" dish to a 24" dish.
 

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I'm waiting for someone here in Florida to spring for one of the new ChannelMaster dishes. I have my Panasonic 3-LNB tweaked to the max (using a Digisat) but still have more rain-fade issues than I would like.


Has anyone noticed that the very times that you most NEED television reception are the times that it doesn't work. I.E. severe storm warnings, etc.


On a related note... I have in my posession a spare StarBand dish. It's just a bit smaller than the Channelmaster at 36" X 24". If I just figure out how far away from the dish to place the LNBs and a suitable mounting method I'm thinking it might be a way to eliminate some of the rain-fade without plunking down another $100 for the Gain-Master
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by jhoak


Has anyone noticed that the very times that you most NEED television reception are the times that it doesn't work. I.E. severe storm warnings, etc.

That's what those new emergency weather radios are for. :)


I'm not tuned to the max, but when my D* goes out due to rain fade, the storm is usually so bad that I turn off all non-essential electronics and go hide under the bead. :D


OTOH, my SC goes out at the mere hint of a dark cloud. But that's mainly because we are so low on the coverage footprint that I can't get over 70% signal even on a good day.
 

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To HD Junkie. Just FYI there is nothing in the FCC regulations which restricts you to one dish. In theory you can put up as many as you like. There is no requirement for you to prove "need".
 
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