View Full Version : Complete Review- Fortec Star Mercury II



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drhydro
06-04-2006, 12:50 PM
The Mercury II is powered by an NEC 61114 processor, and has two meg of flash ram, with 16 meg of sdram. Quite a bit of power packed into a nice little case, and this unit uses it to produce lots of cool "why didnt they think of that before?" features. This unit has lots of goodies a true FTA head needs including:
Power scan
AC-3 optical output
USALS / disecq motor compatability
Component and svideo outputs
Universal remote (very nice touch)


Looking at the front of the unit the first thing you notice are the 8 buttons on the front. These buttons control the following: on/off, channel up/ down, volume up/down, a MENU button which allows access to all the important menu functions, and a cancel button which is also used with the menus. Even if your dog just ate the remote, you can still control the the most important aspects of the reciever from the front panel, including sat installation, scanning, etc.

On the back of the unit are the following connections: LNB in, ANT (OTA) in, coax TV out, loop out, video component and svideo outputs, rca audio/video outputs, spdif (optical) for ac-3 output, rs232 serial port, channel 3/4 modulator switch and an on/off rocker switch.

First thing I did was to hook the Mercury II up to my p* fixed dish pointed at g10, and turned it on. After the boot sequence you are asked to select a language, and then you are led into the menus area.

There are 4 seperate icons on the top of the menues area, and you use the left/ right buttons on the remote to select them. The icons stand for the following :

A) a satellite antenna icon- this is for the installation menu. Sub menus off of this are antenna setup, auto scan, tp scan, power scan (more on that later) and factory reset.

B) a gear icon- this is for the system setup menus. Sub menues off of this icon are language, tv setup, time setup, lock (here is where you select what you want locked and passwords, you can select no locks if you want), product information and "others".

Lots of cool little goodies under the "others" menu including:

1) Channel switch mode - this controls various modes of channel switching when using the PIG on the channel list.
2) Channel number - select satellite your on or all channels/ all satellites
3) Channel change mode - either freezes present pic or shows black screen until
new channel is locked in.
4) Banner timeout -this selects how long the channel banner is displayed, 1, 2 or 3 seconds.
5) Satellite sort
6) Lnb power on or off- nice to have if you are slaving this to another reciever.
7) Front display (local time or channel number)
8) Signal beep sound (turns the signal beep sound on or off)
9) Radio image. The radio image selection is real nice, you can select a black screen or an image when playing radio stations, something I am suprised that all fta recievers dont have. Iceberg would love this feature ;)


C)a folders icon- this is for the channel manager. Here is where you can do channel edit, channel sort, and select channel favorites/ groups.

D) a heart/question mark icon, this is for the utilities menu. Included here is edit satellite, add channel (you can manually add a single channel, NICE feature that my pansat lacks, closest it has is advanced tp scan), calander, games, and timer setup.


Now lets get down to the fun stuff. The Mercury II has lots of real cool features.

[EDIT- AFTER PLAYING WITH THE BLIND SCAN SOME MORE THERE HAVE BEEN SOME BUGS FOUND IN THE FIRMWARE. THE OPTION TO SELECT FOUR STEPS (MOST DETEAILED SCAN) DOES NOT APPEAR TO WORK PROPERLY. SCANNING AT 6 STEPS OR ABOVE DOES THO.[/EDIT]
One of the niceset of those features is its customizable Power Scan. You can select range of frequencys scanned, select the number of of "steps" (frequency hops) the reciever takes in between looking for active transponders (from 4,6,8,10,12,15), scan for FTA or scrambled or both,and select in between normal, detail and quick scan. I like that the percentage of scan done is shown on the front panel LCD.

I ran three tests with different settings for scans, all scans are on g10 vertical with default frequencies selected. All test were in fta/scramble mode so all channels where found. I used the lowest number of steps allowed which is 4.

Test 1, set at detailed scan, took 8 minutes and found 10 tps with 38 channels.
Test 2, set at normal scan, took 5 minutes and found 9 tps with 38 channels.
Test 3, set at quick scan, took 2 minutes and found 6 tps with 33 channels.

The Mercury II has one feature I found that is really handy, the Channel backup and recover, NICE feature which allows you to back up your channel list at any point and then restore them. Say you were just scanning a sat and got a lot of scrambled channels. All you have to do is delete all channels and then restore your previous channels. Way cool.

Other features I really like:

The channel banner shows if you are on an ac-3 channel or if there are secondary audio carriers. Volume is also shown on the channel banner.

Volume offset- Volume offset allows you to raise or lower the volume on that particular channel and save that value, so you can have a consistant volume level as you are channel surfing, real nice idea.

8 favortites lists, which can be renamed to your tastes.

You can select mulitiple screens, 4 9,13, 16 channels displayed at once. Screen selected will play, others will be paused. It does take a while for all the screens to populate though.

In full screen/ one channel mode you can zoom in on a selected area of the of the screen, using 4 different levels of magnification.

A steady signal meter that has realistic readings and varience.

The LED shows not only channel and time, it also shows percentage of blind scans done, and where you are at in the menu area. For example, if you are doing a factory reset, the LED shows FACT.

The remote is not extremely tiny, and has an ergonomic layout. Button spacing is OK, better than some remotes, worse than others. There are some nice things about the remote tho, some of those is one touch Power Scan and one touch EDIT, and a button that takes you to a calander.

Hit the PSCAN button and you are brought right to the Power scan menu. Hit the one touch EDIT button and you are taken to the channel edit screen for the channel you are on. You can select that channel as a favorite, lock it, delete it, skip it, and also set that channels VOLUME OFFSET.

One gripe I have is that the instructions for the univeral remote are not in the manual, but a quick trip to the online Remote Control manual took care of that. The manual is located here:
http://64.78.51.244/download/ManualMercuryIIRemote.pdf

I am sure I have missed some of the cool stuff this reciever does, and will add onto this review as I find out more.

Aside from the little bugs in the blind scan this is an awesome reciever. If you are into finding lots of wild feeds, this might not be the reciever for you until the blind scan bugs are fixed. BTW this unit did not come with any accessories such as a diseqc switch or a null modem cable. Of course mine was a freebie, if you purchase a Mercury II you might get these items.

Once again, thanks Satelliteguys and Sadoun :D


Here are the Factory specs off the Fortec website.

Features:

Channel Back-up and Channel recovery function
8-button Menu Control on the front panel
Universal Remote
Component video (Y,Pb,Pr) and S-Video connections
3 RCA connections (1 Video, 2 Audio L/R)
POWER Scan (blind search) with complete parameter control
One-button quick start Power Scan on the remote
One-button jump to Channel Edit function
Dolby Digital 5.1 audio pass-through (optical)
100 programmable satellites and 6,000 programmable channels
Timer function for Sleep / Wake Up / VCR Record and Channel Reminder
Fully MPEG 2 / DVB compliant, MCPC/SCPC, C/KU reception
1 LNB input with IF loop through for 2nd receiver
Manual PID scan function
DiSEqC 1.2 and USALS supported
Picture-In-Graphics function
Multi-Picture (4,9, 13 or 16 pictures) function
ZOOM In/Out
Electronic Program Guide
Multi language menu
8 favorite channel group selection and parental lock
Close Caption Supported
Data transfer: receiver-to-receiver or PC-to-receiver


IF / Tuner

Input Frequency
950 MHz to 2150 MHz

Input Signal Level
-30 to -65dBm

Input Impedance
75 ohm nominal

Input Connector
F-type, IEC 169-24, Female

FEC Decoder
Convolution Code Rate l/2, 2/3, 3/4,

5/6 and 7/8 with Constraint Length K=7

Demodulation
QPSK

Symbol rate
1-45 Ms/s SCPC/MCPC

IF Frequency
Zero IF

LNB Power & Polarization
V13 / H18, 500mA MAX. overload protection

DiSEqC Control
DiSEqC. 1.0, 1.1 / DiSEqC 1.2 Compatible

Positioner
USALS compatible

Memory
Processor
NEC 61114

Flash Memory
2 Mbytes

SDRAM
16 Mbytes

Satellite Capacity
100

Channel Capacity
6,000

Audio / Video Decoding
Video Decoder
MPEG-2 MP@ML (ISO/IEC 13818-2)

Input Rate
60Mbit/s Max

Video Resolution
720 x 480(NTSC)

Aspect Ratio
4:3, 16:9 (Letter Box)

Audio Decoder
MPEG Layer I &II

Audio Mode
Mono L/R, Dual Channel, Joint Stereo, Stereo

Audio Sampling Frequency
32, 44.1, 48 KHz

Audio / Video Output
Video
RCA composite, component (Y,Pb,Pr), S-Video

Audio R/L
RCA/Cinch Volume & Mute Control

S/PDIF
Digital Audio Output

DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 Pass-through

Serial Data Interface

Connector Type
9 Pin D-Sub (male)

Signal
RS-232C, Max. 115200Bps

Power Supply
Supply Voltage
100VAC ~ 120VAC 60Hz(SMPS)

Power Consumption
Max. 30W

General
Weight
Approx. 2.52 Kg

Dimensions
300(W) x 210(D) x 60(H)mm

IA6Newspath
06-04-2006, 01:35 PM
Thanks for the great review, drhydro!

Just a few questions...


Included here is edit satellite, add channel (you can manually add a single channel, NICE feature that my pansat ),...

Looks like there's something missing here, but I think what you're trying to say is that this is a feature absent from Pansat receivers. Sounds like a great feature, but can you enter only frequenty, polarity, and SR, or do you have to enter PIDs as well for the channel to take? In other words, does this add channel feature auto-detect PIDs?


The Mercury II has one feature I found that is really handy, the Channel backup and recover, NICE feature which allows you to back up your channel list at any point and then restore them. Say you were just scanning a sat and got a lot of scrambled channels. All you have to do is delete all channels and then restore your previous channels. Way cool.

Sounds like another very handy feature. Does the Fortec Star also create TP listings for detected channels from a blind search (as Pansat receivers do), and if so, are these TP listings also deleted along with the channel listings when the channel recover is activated?

Finally, does Fortec Star provide any type of channel management software with the receiver, and do you know if it's compatible with Channel Master?

drhydro
06-04-2006, 01:55 PM
Looks like there's something missing here, but I think what you're trying to say is that this is a feature absent from Pansat receivers. Sounds like a great feature, but can you enter only frequenty, polarity, and SR, or do you have to enter PIDs as well for the channel to take? In other words, does this add channel feature auto-detect PIDs?

With this feature you manually add all parameters, which is something I can do with the Satworks, but not the Pansat. This works nice for adding in radio stations that are on a secondary carrier, like the ones on g10. Simply click on the radio button, then select add new channel under the utilities menu, then add in the channel parameters. Exit out and the station is saved in your radio menu. Closest with the pansat is an advanced scan, not quite the same tho.


Sounds like another very handy feature. Does the Fortec Star also create TP listings for detected channels from a blind search (as Pansat receivers do), and if so, are these TP listings also deleted along with the channel listings when the channel recover is activated?

Finally, does Fortec Star provide any type of channel management software with the receiver, and do you know if it's compatible with Channel Master?

The Mercury II does create a tp list from blind scans. When a factory reset is done, all channels are deleted. I cant really answer your question as to how blind scanned tps are treated, as all of the tps I found were already factory listed. I will hook this up to my BUD at some point in the future and find out for you.

This did not come with any channel management software, but I am sure either gtools or channelmaster can be used. I would check with thier websites.

sidekick
06-04-2006, 02:07 PM
I'm curious how you would rate this compared to a Coolsat? Thanks !

IA6Newspath
06-04-2006, 02:16 PM
Another question about the blind search...

Can you select the receiver to scan both horizontal and vertical, or can only one polarity be selected at a time during a blind search?

drhydro
06-04-2006, 02:17 PM
I'm curious how you would rate this compared to a Coolsat? Thanks !
Sidekick,
I havent tried a coolsat yet, so I really cant compare them except on paper lol.

Iceberg
06-04-2006, 02:32 PM
Another question about the blind search...

Can you select the receiver to scan both horizontal and vertical, or can only one polarity be selected at a time during a blind search?

I know the Fortec Classic you can do one polarity or both in the blind scan. They give you op[tions of
H-V
H
V

Iceberg
06-04-2006, 02:34 PM
VERY nice review DrHydro :):clap :clap


Hit the PSCAN button and you are brought right to the Power scan menu. Hit the one touch EDIT button and you are taken to the channel edit screen for the channel you are on. You can select that channel as a favorite, lock it, delete it, skip it, and also set that channels VOLUME OFFSET

so there is a button on the remote that automatically throws you into the POwer scan option? If so, I really would like that

drhydro
06-04-2006, 02:38 PM
VERY nice review DrHydro :):clap :clap



so there is a button on the remote that automatically throws you into the POwer scan option? If so, I really would like that
Yes, there one button that takes you right into blind scan. BTW, did some blind scan comparisions in between the satworks 3618, pansat 2700a, and the Fortec Mercury II.

Mercury II Blind Scan Times
Test 1, set at detailed scan, took 8 minutes and found 10 tps with 38 channels.
Test 2, set at normal scan, took 5 minutes and found 9 tps with 38 channels.
Test 3, set at quick scan, took 2 minutes and found 6 tps with 33 channels.

Here is a comparision with pansat 2700 blind scan-
7 minutes for the pansat (scan all), found 9 tps and 38 channels. Normal scan on the Fortec seems faster than the pansat, and found the same amout of channels/tps

Here is a comparison with satworks 3618 blind scan-
8 minutes for the satworks, found 11 tps and 38 channels. Seems like the satworks found the most TPS, in about the same amount of time as the Mercury II doing a detailed scan.

Iceberg
06-04-2006, 02:43 PM
Yes, there one button that takes you right into blind scan
oh sweet :)

Reigster at SatelliteGuys