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Thread: Help with SWM 3 Dish & LNB: Pointing & Troubleshooting

  1. #1
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    Help with SWM 3 Dish & LNB: Pointing & Troubleshooting

    Hi guys,

    Hopefully some of you can offer some advice. I'm currently trying to set up a HR21 and a SWM-3 Slimline dish in an "RV" type configuration. I know this is supposed to be difficult and to make things worse I am trying to do it on a shoestring budget. (I was laid off last year and moved to temporary housing where I can't have a dish installed professionally. I ran out of time that DirecTV would allow me to suspend my service, so I had to decide either to pay the big contract cancellation fee for no TV at all or to try and figure out a way to receive the signal. Just to make my life difficult, I figured I'd give it a try. I am also separated from most of my tools, etc. here to make things even more fun.)

    I have an HR21 HD DVR connected to the SWM-3 LNB through a PI-21 power inserter. Because I have only a single receiver, I am not using a splitter and just have the power inserter between the DVR and LNB. My understanding is that this is a valid configuration...



    Of course dish mounting and pointing is the biggest gotcha. Also of course, I don't have a signal meter. I can see the TV while pointing so was planning to use the receiver to point the dish. I've made a stand for the dish from PVC which has turned out pretty sturdy, but to add to the stupidity factor I don't have a bubble level or compass here. I am using dishpointer.com to sight to nearby objects for the approximate azimuth, and just eyeballed the mast to "pretty darn close" to vertical. Yes I know, bad plan, but my thinking was that I could sweep the dish slowly across my approximate azimuth. Then if I didn't get a signal, I'd adjust the elevation by a degree or two to compensate for possible off-level mast and sweep again, then repeat as necessary. Then I figured I could dither in elevation and azimuth once I got a signal to peak it, and then maybe be able to watch some TV!

    So I think I must have gotten to within at most a degree or two in elevation and azimuth of the correct satellite position somewhere in this process, but I've seen nothing in the signal strength screen. I'm using 101, which I understand is Ku and thus has a wider beam width. I don't know how fast this screen updates, and I haven't seen anything but "Not Acquired" on the meters, so I'm not 100% sure this is the right approach to pointing using the receiver.

    My main question is this: is the beam width so narrow that I'm probably just missing the satellite completely with my sloppy pointing, or is this evidence that maybe the LNB is bad? The power inserter and cabling are new, but I bought the dish/LNB second hand on eBay. Or do I not have the receiver set up correctly for dish pointing? I know a compass and level (not to mention a signal meter) are essential if you are going to be doing this much, but I figured with enough patience hopefully I could get the thing pointed once with this method. But maybe not if I'm not going to see anything unless my angles are within half a degree.

    It is conceivable that some trees are in my LOS but I believe the elevation clears them. A neighbor is receiving SD Dish Network on a similar sight line, and her dish is closer to the trees.

    Thanks for all your help, I know this is a pretty hairbrained thing to try to be doing without better equipment, but here I am... I know I probably need to ensure that the mast is completely level anyhow to be able to get good signal on all 3 satellites since otherwise the skew angle might be off, but if I should be getting something non-zero for signal once I'm in the ballpark and this is clearly a case of a dead LNB I'd like to figure that out ASAP.
    Last edited by RyanBiggs; 05-01-2010 at 10:25 PM.

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  3. #2
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    Thread Starter
    I see that some of my questions were answered in this post by someone making a similarly primitive install: http://www.satelliteguys.us/directv-...e-install.html

    The short version of my question is: how close should I have to have the dish pointed to get a non-zero signal? It's clear I'll need to get the post exactly plumb to get things adjusted well.

  4. #3
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    The 101 should be fairly easy to get a signal on. Once you nail the 101 in the 90s, you should be able to find the 99 & 103 from there.

    Being level & plum is of the utmost importance though......

  5. #4
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    Easy answer find and flag down a Directv tech and offer him $50, that easy

  6. #5
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    Thanks, good to know that I have the right idea about the 101.

    Haha yeah, I've been doing my research enough to know I might need professional help here. But I am pretty proficient with electronic and RF technology so since I have time on my hands and am pinching pennies, I figured I'd give it a go first. This science project is kind of an entertaining break from job search activities... If it doesn't pan out then the "flag down an installer" idea is a great one.

    OK so it's clear I'm just wasting my time and yours until I know the mast is really plumb. Once I have that assured, anyone want to hazard an estimate of how close I'll need to be in azimuth before I can expect to see anything? Does it matter which transponder I have selected in the signal meter screen during pointing?

    Any simple way to check an LNB without special equipment? Is it at all common for them to fail? On the signal strength screen, there is a SWM page that I understand shows signal for the guide information for each SWM receiver channel. These are zeros too - I take it that's normal without satellite acquisition? Clearly the best way to know if the LNB is working is to get the dish pointed accurately first, and that's probably the problem, but if there's a way to know if the receiver is definitely seeing the LNB or not it would be helpful.

    Thanks again and sorry for the silly questions - clearly I'm ignorant here but I'm trying not to be stupid!

  7. #6
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    Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I think that if you are using a SWM, you should NOT have the B-band converters installed...Just checking a variable...

    As for the 101, if you have the correct elevation & are indeed level & plumb, the 101 is nearly impossible to miss...try moving it ever so slowly a little at a time till you get something...you may need to slightly adjust your elevation to really nail it...

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