Hopper 3 has unreliable signal strength tool

J

JJinVista

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Oct 16, 2008
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I had to do some maintenance on my patio cover which required moving my dish temporarily. I've got a Hybrid Triple WA.2. I've pointed a 2-satellite Dish Pro from scratch for many years while camping using a plywood-mounted dish base and always had good luck, so how hard could it be to do 3 satellites?

Yes, I know from reading these blogs that it's much harder for 3 satellites, but my elevation and skew had already been set by the installer, and the riser that it was mounted on was plumb, so I just got it plumb at the new location, set it to point at the approximate azimuth where it was pointing, and everything popped right back in with the same or better signal levels. I didn't have to adjust a thing. I guess I got lucky.

Ok, that's the background. Now the reason for this post, and here's where it gets interesting.

I don't have a meter, so before I moved the dish antenna, I wanted to jot down the signal strengths for a few transponders and satellite combinations to make sure that after I moved it, I was getting back to the approximate peak signals which I previously had. So I went to the Settings / Diagnostics / Dish menu on my H3 to check signal strengths. And here's a number of anomalies which I observed:
- Often upon entering this menu item, the previous channel I had tuned to would continue to play the audio soundtrack; no signal tone, even though (sometimes) a valid signal level was displayed. Sometimes the signal level would just show 0 and not locked but the low tone wasn't playing - just the previous TV show's audio.
- By positioning the cursor back to the previous menu item, then back to the "Dish" item, sometimes the display would update, show a valid strength value, and the audio signal tone would kick in. Sometimes not. Sometimes the satellite would change after a few seconds; sometimes not.
- By positioning the cursor back to the previous menu item, then back to the "Dish" item, sometimes the tone would stay exactly the same, but the display would change to a different satellite, transponder, and a signal strength which SHOULD HAVE produced a different tone (but didn't) ...as if one had been listening to a signal tone and viewing a strength bar of a satellite / transponder OTHER than the one which the display had previously indicated.

After about an hour of this nonsense, I decided to minimize the variables by trying to keep the display on tuner 4 and transponder 17 for all 3 satellites (110, 119, 129). Often the display would change these values itself for no apparent reason. Taking multiple readings I was able to record what I believe to be valid signal strengths for these three satellites - in the 60's for 110 and 119, a little lower for 129. I took "multiple readings" because there were a lot of times I got "not locked / 0 signal" and / or an audio tone not matching the displayed signal bar, even though the display showed Tuner 4, Transponder 17.

I did the same painstaking process after I moved the dish and I believe I have as good peak levels as before.

But I'm convinced that with this "broken" dish pointer diagnostic, I couldn't have peaked the signals using just this defective tool.

Is this the situation on other Hopper 3's, or just mine?
 
HipKat

HipKat

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I've never used the receiver to point a dish, but I use it to check signals. Yes on the audio playing in the background when you first get to that screen, but typically, changing sat and transponder gives you the signal code. A hint, use transponder 21. You don't need to check several transponders
 
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E

ewindowman

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Dec 19, 2006
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I have used the signal screen on numerous receivers and it always works great. You just have to go slow with the movement of the Dish . Put your phone on speaker next to the tv . Go outside I use my air pods on the cell phone and listen for the highest level of sound. Lock it in than you are done. Works well for me .
 
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Falcon195

Falcon195

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I've never used the receiver to point a dish, but I use it to check signals. Yes on the audio playing in the background when you first get to that screen, but typically, changing sat and transponder gives you the signal code. A hint, use transponder 21. You don't need to check several transponders
Does it matter which satellite (110 119 129) you use to point the dish while using transponder 21 on the western arc?
 
J

JJinVista

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Oct 16, 2008
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There's a reason I'm bent on understanding how and why I'm not getting reliable information from my Hopper 3's signal screen. And that is, when I get ready to move my dish back to its original position, I most likely won't luck-out twice in a row and land it exactly in the peak signal location. So when I turn on my H3's signal screen I don't want to be left wondering - am I looking at a false reading of 0, no-lock, or is the dish out of position.

I'm finding the following procedure seems to always get the signal screen function off to a valid start and reading:
- make sure nothing's being recorded or watched on ancillary Joey's hooked to the Hopper
- go to Settings / Diagnostics / Dish
- change the "Tuner" setting from it's initial value. It's usually 1; set it to 2. It seems as this shouldn't matter, but it does. This seems to "turn on" the signal tone.
- change the Transponder to 21 as HipKat suggested above. This Transponder value of 21 is "live" across all 3 satellites.
- lastly, change the satellite to 119. I'm used to "tuning in" to this satellite first when doing a manual point, sometimes utilizing the "aluminum foil routine" over the other two heads on the LNB
- change the other satellite values to view their signal levels, but I'd use caution in changing the Tuner value any further. I was able to "break it" by doing this.

I think the reason this procedure works:
- the TV program last being watched seems to be the same as the initial Tuner setting in the signal screen, and this seems to confuse the signal metering function. Getting the signal metering function off that programming channel starts the signal tone.
- the satellite being displayed may not really be the satellite being metered until it's re-selected. Evidence of this? There appears to be "validation tables" for the Transponder entry, based on the value of the Satellite value:
Sat 110: valid Transponders are 1-27, 29, and 31
Sat 119: valid Transponders are 1-21
Sat 129: valid Transponders are 1-32
..and most of the time when I reaffirm the Transponder's displayed value by entering it back in again, I get choices for my Transponder entry which are inconsistent with the Satellite value being displayed on the screen. I hope that makes sense.

And if you change the Transponder to a value of 21 which is found on all three satellites, you'll insure that you won't get an invalid combination of Sat / Transponder values by changing the Sat value before the Transponder value.

Now that I understand how the signal screen's defects behave, all that's left is for Dish to gum it up even more with their next software release!
 
BayouBill

BayouBill

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Mar 29, 2012
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I have observed exactly the same issues with the signal screen on my old 1st gen Hopper with latest firmware :-( I go through a very similar procedure to use the screen for dish aiming. The only difference is that I use a camera drone positioned in front of the TV sending to a tablet at the dish.
 
dishdude

dishdude

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It's all receivers. You really need a meter, there is too much of a delay in the signal meter built into the receiver to accurately peak the dish.
 
the mack

the mack

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Sep 10, 2009
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It's all receivers. You really need a meter, there is too much of a delay in the signal meter built into the receiver to accurately peak the dish.
There is a huge delay in initially responding to a locked signal, but once receiver obtains signal the delay in the fine tuning of the dish is minimal in my experience. I use cheap meter to obtain signal and receiver to peak.
The old receivers worked way better to dial in a dish.
 
J

JJinVista

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Oct 16, 2008
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There is a huge delay in initially responding to a locked signal, but once receiver obtains signal the delay in the fine tuning of the dish is minimal in my experience. I use cheap meter to obtain signal and receiver to peak.
The old receivers worked way better to dial in a dish.

Very true. The old receivers worked very well for peaking a dish and I used this method for many years when I went camping.

I finished my project today, moved my Dish back to its original position and got a strong signal just by making sure the mast was plumb and pointed in the approximate azimuth which it was previously set to. No thanks to the Hopper 3 signal dialog.

I rescind the post I made on June 7 on finding a way around defects in the Hopper 3's signal strength dialog. Sometimes you can find consistency in a software bug, but there's just nothing consistent about this. At times its worse than a blank screen because a blank screen won't lie to you.

I would switch satellites and get a signal level change which should have changed the tone....but it didn't. Or the tone would change, but the signal strength displayed the same value.
I'd switch tuners and the signal strength dialog would stop working with a reported "complete signal loss".
I would rotate the azimuth of the dish slowly and get no change in reported signal strength, until I was obviously pointing way out of bounds, and the signal strength dialog would just go away; when I rotated back the previous TV program I was tuned to would come back on - not the signal meter function.

This is important because it tells me that if one were to start without a locked signal you'd have little or no chance to keep the signal strength dialog active on the receiver to let you know when you picked up a signal.

I'm not posting this because I'm looking for a solution in pointing my dish.
I just want to let others know that the signal strength dialog on the Hopper 3 is broken.
 
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