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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

I live in an apartment complex that provides us with DirecTV - there is one central dish on the top of the community building and each apartment gets its feed from that.


When I moved in, the complex basically rented me three receivers for my TVs - I'd like to purchase a better receiver, but obviously use it with their dish. I realize I have to call DirecTV to activate the receiver (I pay DirecTV directly), but is there any chance that the complex will need to make any changes if I use a different receiver? Is there any kind of equipment they might be using here that is tied to specific receivers?


Thanks,


Matt
 

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Does your building use a "stacked" LNB system that frequency-converts the even numbered transponders to a higher band of frequencies. Are your rental receivers Sony model B3, A4, A/B50 or A/B55? These receivers have internal "destackers" that have been programmed to internally shift the even transponders back to their natural frequencies.


If your building has a stacked LNB system, you will need to obtain external destackers for each receiver you substitute. You should inform your system operator even if you have to buy these units yourself, because he is entitled to a modest commission on your programming (that comes out of your regular monthly fee: you don't pay a penny more because of it) since they paid for the headend and trunkline that are furnishing your apartment with this signal, and will be expected to repair your distribution wiring at no charge if it even needs service.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
We are using Hughes receivers (rebranded as Bell Atlantic Digital Video)


We actually pay a separate "network access charge" on top of the DirecTV fees. (the billing is a bit wierd. One Total Choice w/HBO is free, but I get charged for 2 mirrored recievers - I get a second bill from MDU Communications for an "access charge" ($8.50 a month I think) )


The receiver I'd buy would replace an existing receiver that is rented, so I don't believe the bottom line should change any.


Anyway, thanks for your help!


Matt
 

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The newest Hughes receivers, GAEBO and GCEBO, have internal downconverters that, according to my experience and most recent information, have difficulty tuning transponders 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 when configured in "wideband" or destacking mode. Do you have one of those models or an earlier one, like the D or E series? If you have model D or E and no external destacker, then you could substitute your own receiver, but if you canceled your account that is registered with MDU, they might cut off the DBS signal going into your apartment if they are able to do so.


If you have a newer one, I'd like you to put it through the transponder test or cable test that rapidly develops a table displaying all 32 transponder levels. I'd also like you to go to the system test or info screen and check the software revision. Last time I tested these new receivers, ones with the software revision 5444.0 tended to have difficulty tuning those transponders, though about one third of those I tested myself actually worked well. So if your self test shows zeros on those five transponders, then that would indicate that your MDU has a stacked LNB system and will need "subscriber units" to allow other receivers to interface with it.


Have you asked anyone from MDU what it would take to substitute your own receivers for theirs?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
MDU said it should't be a problem, but I've had numerous problems with their customer service before. The receivers are model BAHNS02-IRD


A friend of mine has a inactive RCA 430 receiver that he purchased....we plugged it in and were able to get a signal; we could tune to channel 100 and see the program guide information.


My motive in all this is to connect a receiver to my ReplayTV; the Hughes boxes don't have a serial port; the RCA did but strangely the ReplayTV turned the box off instead of changing the channel. (have another thread over in the ReplayTV forum going about that)


Matt
 

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I had never heard of a Hughes BAHNS02 before. I ran it in Google and AOL searches and only found one reference to it an an FCC document on the registration of automatic telephone dialers. The good news is, it was part of a list that seemed to be in chronicological order and it was listed before the Hughes B series models, so it is highly unlikely that it has an internal destacker in it.


The fact that your friend's RCA 430 developed a program guide and let you view channel 100 is inconclusive, since you might only need to tune the even transponders to accomplish this.


Why don't you try this: once you have established that the RCA 430 can tune even numbered transponders by putting it into dish-pointing mode and tuning even transponders individually (ignore the results you get on 4, 12, 18, 20, 26 and 28, as they are spot beams), call DirecTV and tell them that you want to swap one of your Hughes receivers for the RCA, using the same access card, and see if they'll do it for you. If they won't, then you have some work to do with MDU Communications before you shell out your money for three new receivers.
 

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The BAHNS01 and 02 are receivers that were branded "Bell Atlantic" through a deal between DirecTV and Bell Atlantic. I don't know the exact details, but it is my understanding that the deal fell through, or DirecTV stopped providing the receivers.


The Master System Operators (MSO) for DirecTV have 10,000+ of these damn receivers in stock and are dumping them off on the System Operators (SO) in the MDU program.


They suck compared to the GAEB0 receivers. They do NOT support wideband mode, do not have any Wink features, and do not support local into local.


The proper way to keep the folks at MDU happy would be to replace your BAHNS02 receivers one at a time with newer receivers. It's not the access card that determines who gets credited for the account, but the account number itself. Be sure when activating the new receivers to reference your existing account number, and then deactivate the old receivers and turn them back into the people at MDU.


Also, to explain the billing a bit: the property where you live is paying a fee for Total Choice + HBO. They're getting a bulk rate from DirecTV, and you're paying for any upgrades beyond that (ie. additional receivers, Showtime, etc.). DirecTV will not bill any service fees on behalf of its SO's, so the SO is billing you directly for their fees. $8.50 is kinda steep. The national average is something like $5.00. We charge $4.95 here in San Francisco.


Now, a question from me. Does anyone know why transponders 10, 12, 14, and 16 (we don't get 18 in our DMA) have reception problems on some wideband receivers? The cost of the external destackers is killing me, but the destacker *always* fixes the problem when a wideband receiver can't pickup the signal. I've been told it may be any issue with LO harmonics or cable tilt. Any truth to that?


Also, does anyone have a list of manufacturers that make destackers? We're currently using Sonora, but I'd like to know if there is an alternative to them, as their failure rate has been pretty high (5-8%).



--b
 

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A technician at Sonora recently told me that he has tested a new software revision for the Sony B-65 and it worked well. The problem is, he only tested one unit but I've seen half a dozen B-65s that worked well with the old 5444.0 software, so I await this new software with guarded optimism.


Someone from MDU Communications first told me of a harmonic problem with the DirecTV system, He said he was using stacking and destacking technology from a company called NAS that avoided some of those problems by frequency-inverting the upshifted band, but for bvowell, who is most interested in saving money by avoiding external destacking, that does not address his problem.


I have heard that DISH is using 700Mz of offset in its prototypes and that possibly it is inverting the shifted band, but I don't have reliable sources of information in that regard. I, too, am adversely affected by having to provide external destackers for even basic installations.


Sonora tells me that the biggest cause of destacker failures is long center conductors dislodging something inside the destackers. I had four of the last 12 I bought fail. Previously, I had almost none fail.


I think that the destackers branded Regency and Trunkline are rebranded Sonora D575s. I don't know of anyone else making a DirecTV compatible (575Mz offset) external destacker.
 

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I spoke with someone from Hughes today who said that they have a software update for the GAEB0 receivers that should be released in the next three to four weeks to address this problem. He confirmed what I had heard before about some kind of LO harmonics issue that arises in the frequency band where transponders 10-16 are in a stacked signal.


Hughes says the upgraded software will be delivered through the satellite signal. I'd be interested to find a way to load the upgraded software on a unit before installing it if anyone knows how to do this.
 
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