REVIEW - AI Turbo S2 Meter - The BEST Gets BETTER!

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Scott Greczkowski

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For years I have never really been happy with my C/KU band setup. Last year I became most happy when I purchased a Arc set from Gourmet Entertainment, this fixed my tracking of the arc, my setup was just off a hair but with the arc set I was solidly on the arc.

But even then when I was tracking correctly I was still not happy as there were still a few S2 format signal that my dish could not lock on. Those being the RTV signals on 87 West...

Last week I got a nice box in the mail from the Haywood family who are the owners of Applied Instruments, in the box was their brand new AT Turbo S2 Meter. For them its an update to their wildy popular SuperBuddy 29 Meter, but for me its an update to my trusty old SuperBuddy Meter. The SuperBuddy 29 added support for powering DIRECTV SWiM LNB's as well as being able to power WildBlue / Telesat / Xplornet TRIAs!

The new AI Turbo S2 meter is the evolution of the SuperBuddy 29 meter and amazingly the folks at Applied Instruments have outdone themselves again by making the best satellite meter sold even better!

The AI Turbo S2 Meter adds the following new features and functions...

* compatibility with DVB-S2 broadcast signals (QPSK & 8PSK) (This is a REAL S2 Tuner, not a S2 Emulator like other meters use!)
* a high capacity lithium-ion battery that’s easily replaceable (One of the biggest requests I have seen from SatelliteGuys members who are SuperBuddy Owners was to have field replaceable batteries... AI has heard you and your wish has been granted!)
* faster signal locking and faster overall operation (Its a LOT faster then my old SuperBuddy... and I thought my old SuperBuddy was fast! This allows you to make more precise adjustments!)
* faster spectrum screen with better resolution (I didn't think the old screen was bad, but the new screen is even easier to read outside)
* constellation screen for DVB-S2 broadcast signals (QPSK & 8PSK)
* faster software downloads and uploads. (And unlike my old Superbuddy which needed a serial port to update, the new Turbo S2 features updating via USB)
* 250-750 MHz frequency range tuning for satellite signals, which is becoming more useful as satellite service providers incorporate new methods of band-stacking outside of the normal L-Band (950-2150 MHz)
* for DIRECTV applications, adds SWiM LNB control and SWiM module control, adds multi-sat display screen for DIRECTV SWiM, adds SWiM channel search feature to test which SWiM channels are in use on the network, adds ability to tune to DIRECTV B-band signals without the use of a B-band converter, adds ability to display an estimated signal quality for the DIRECTV 99 & 103 Ka band satellites
* ability to quickly save spectrum plots for later upload and viewing on a PC
* allows tuning out to 3 decimal places for narrow carrier work (i.e. can tune to 12001.528 MHz instead of to 12002 MHz)

As well as other small refinements!

I don't know how the folks at Applied Instruments do it but they just made the Best Meter BETTER! The construction of the meter is just like all other SuperBuddy meters, tough, rugged and strong. This is a meter that can take the abuse of constant use in the field. I have tested many satellite meters over the years but none has been constructed as well as the Applied Instruments line of meters.

When I first got the meter I went outside and peaked my DISH Network 1000.4 dish it was like using an old friend. If you have used a SuperBuddy meter before you will feel at home with the Turbo S2. I was able to quickly peak the dish and bring up the signal.

After peaking the dish I went inside and charged the meter, when charging the meter you see all kinds of info on the screen about the charge. Now you will never have any concerns about the status of your battery as you will always know how its doing.

After I charged the meter it just sat there waiting for me a few days... I had a bunch of other obligations to attend to, but all week long I wanted to know how we would it perform on S2 signals.. and could I finally aim my C/KU band dish to pick up those S2 signals that have escaped me the past two years. On my drive home from Rhode Island today I couldn't wait to get home and find out.

For those of you who haven't had to fiddle to tune in a S2 satellite signal yet just wait you will soon, as more and more C and KU band transmissions are using the S2 format. Those who do a lot of C and KU band work already know what a headache the S2 signals are to tune.

Once I pulled it I tuned the dish to SES 2 at 87 and tuned the dish inside peaking it on the ME-TV transponder until I had the highest signal possible on my receiver. Then I went outside with the Turbo S2 meter in had as well as a screw driver and ladder. I hooked the meter up to my LNBF and then climbed the ladder. On the meter I used Transponder 2 to peak on first, I moved the LNB twisting it in and out and around until I had the best possible signal on that transponder. I went from a 54 to a 82 after about 45 seconds of playing with it. I locked down the LNB and came down off the ladder. Once I was on the ground I then used the meter to check other transponders... I had a lock on everything.. then I got to the 3800/V frequency which is the elusive RTV S2 frequency and what did I see on the meter??? The screen showed LOCK with a signal quality of 76 on the meter! I could not believe it so I ran inside and did a scan of the 87 satellite on my Manhattan RS-1933 satellite receiver to see what it could get... Within minutes it scanned both the C and KU band side of the satellite and when it was done I was amazed to find that it has scanned it the long elusive RTV S2 that I have wanted for so long!

A lot of people on this very site have told me that in order to tune these S2 signals I would need a 10 foot dish, but by using the Apple Instruments I proved those people wrong. I couldn't believe that by using this meter for less then 2 minutes that I would be getting the signals that I have not been able to pick up for years!

Even if you are not doing any S2 work yet, with all the new bells and whistles and new speed of the unit I find this meter worth upgrading to. It's not a cheap meter by any means but if you have ever used a SuperBuddy you know the money is well spent. If you are trying to decide between a SuoerBuddy 29 or a new AI Turbo S2 I would tell you to get the new Turbo S2... you will thank me later!

I don't know how the folks at Applied Instruments did it but they just made the best meter even better!
 

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KE4EST

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Very Nice Review....making my mouth water Scott.:D
 

Scott Greczkowski

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Thanks, I am just excited I can pull in these signals finally!

I am going back outside now as when the wind blows I lose signal on those S2 transponders and want to see if I can improve things even more. :)

I am SO happy!
 

Scott Greczkowski

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Just came back in after going outside to mess with things more and see if I could bring up the S2 signal and eliminate some of the wind issues (we are having an amazing day here but winds up to 40 MPH)

Needless to say I was able to bring the RTV 3800/H signal up to 82 from a 76 and it seems to have taken care of the wind issue the wind is blowing but no break up of video on the TV.

What I find interesting is while I am getting such a great signal on 3800, I am getting nothing at all on the 4080/H transponder. Not even a peep of a signal on the 4080 transponder. But I am VERY happy to have such a great signal on the 3800/H transponder! :)

I wish there was an easy way to take screen captures of this meter. I took a few pics that may interest some folks but unfortunately I get a bad reflection as well. :)
 

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digiblur

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Jun 8, 2005
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$859 - Its not cheap but who has any of the SuperBuddy meters line knows its money WELL spent.

I don't disagree... you would have to be a hard core heavy hitting installer to justify that cost though. Hope it comes with a good warranty too.

I will have to keep an eye out for a meter that does Directv swim and dish 1000s for a little cheaper though.
 

Scott Greczkowski

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I can't remember the last time I was this excited by Free to air... EVERYTHING IS working!

Now I am watching an amazing 70's Soul concert on LPB HD, it sounds so good! Too bad the concert is not in HD.
 

Scott Greczkowski

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Over the excitment of getting the transponders I couldn't get before I forgot to mention what the Turbo S2 meter helped me to find out about my setup. It taught me that my LNB was not perfectly centered on the dish. While I was able to get the RTV S2 by just moving the LNB, I was not able to get a consistant solid lock on the transponder until I moved the LNB holder on the dish and I did this by bening the arms holding the LNB. On my dish there are 3 arms coming up which hold the LNB in the center. I found by pressing on the lnb holder my signals would go up if I pressed it a certain way. So then I pushed and pulled on the holder arms until I had maximum signal.

My RTV signal on 3800 is now 85 and is no longer going out when the wind blows. and across the arc, on most transponders my signals are in the 90's. I have NEVER had signals like this before!

I got to admit I would have never of known or tried this if I didn't have this meter, I thought my C Band signals were the best they could get using the old meter, but in trying to lock down this ellusive S2 signal it made me try things I have never tried before.

I can't tell you how HAPPY I am now! There are a number of S2 signals that I could pick up before (sometimes) and now I pick them ALL up. Its almost like a got a new bigger dish!
 

sergei

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Aug 29, 2007
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you would have to be a hard core heavy hitting installer to justify that cost though.

That's the understatement, it look's like a great meter and a nice review, but I seriously doubt that many people could afford it for home use.
 

Scott Greczkowski

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I know a few people who have Superbuddy's and only use in their home and love them. I guess it all depends on how serious you are about the hobby. :)

We have a lot of people here who are not just hobbiests, but they do this for a living. Many of these folks who have purchased one of these meters will tell you that the meter quickly pays for itself.

Now one more thing... I am not saying all of this because they are a sponsor or because they sent me a meter. Over the years I have used MANY meters and no meter has ever come close to the quality and functionality of an Applied Instruments meter. Truth be told I have had other sponsors send me their meters to review in the past and I opted not to post a review for them just because the quality and functionality was so bad. I figured it was better to say nothing at all in those cases.

But the Superbuddy line and now with the AI Turbo S2 I can proudly stand behind and say it is truly SatelliteGuys approved.
 

Babadem

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May 21, 2007
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Thanks, I am just excited I can pull in these signals finally!

I am going back outside now as when the wind blows I lose signal on those S2 transponders and want to see if I can improve things even more. :)

I am SO happy!
What's your dish size, scott?
 
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lamode

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Apr 20, 2006
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After driving 50+ miles to southern jersey from nyc to pick up the 1st original SuperBuddy meter and being the 1st subcntractor using one in the cty,i have to say it is money well spent even after the repairs done to it i just wished that there was a trade-in option for the newer ones.
 

T4Runner

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I have a Super Buddy 29 I bought used on Craigs List obstensively for my Satellite business...:D, (which is now gone...), and I am always impressed with it's performance. I also like the continual software upgrade. They never relax.... But I agree the cost is prohibitive for most of the hobby world. Sure keeps my 10 dishes in tune tho...
 

superbuddy

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Jul 28, 2006
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Yeah I have one. Will there be an upgrade program for existing SB owners? I know I can get my SB 2.0 upgraded to a SB29 (for a fee, of course :)), wasn't sure if maybe I could get it upgraded to a Turbo S2.

Super Buddy satellite meters with hardware version 2.0 or newer and the Super Buddy 29 satellite meters use the same main circuit boards and thus Applied Instruments is able to offer an upgrade service to have the meter converted to a Super Buddy 29 for a very reasonable fee since only minor hardware changes are necessary. The model AI Turbo S2 meter, on the other hand, uses a completely different main circuit board with a vastly different layout and different chips. This means that a conversion from a Super Buddy or Super Buddy 29 meter to an AI Turbo S2 meter isn't possible.

Applied Instruments doesn't purchase any used instruments and is not able to offer any type of an upgrade/trade-in price for those who presently own a SuperBuddy. The Super Buddy is still a good meter and still meets many users' needs. For those that own a Super Buddy satellite meter now, 1) if you have to sell it to get funds to buy the new AI Turbo S2 DVB-S2 satellite meter, I'd recommend posting it for sale on the SatelliteGuys classified ads or eBay or Craigslist or 2) You can contact companies that purchase used test equipment (such as PTL Test Equipment or Micco Technologies) to see if they're interested in buying your used Super Buddy meter or 3) For those that can afford it, keeping their Super Buddy as a 2nd meter for yourself or a co-worker / employee is always nice, too.
 

Magic Static

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Well this is cool. Thanks to the DTV SWiM system, my new AI Turbo S2 is making me some extra cash. I'm on my way to another Error 771. Customers can no longer repoint there own dish without a meter. :) :)

15 minutes and fixed, HR20 on a SWM dish. Identified a bad 1x4 SWiM splitter. Awesome Tool
 
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Magic Static

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So does anyone have any questions about the Turbo S2 that I can answer? :)
OK I have questions. I see you have DTV's SWiM dish. I hooked up to and selected a 3 lnb SWiM and the meter shows 101w. Can you switch to the other satellites on the lnb? There is no information in the Operation Manual or on the web site about working with the SWiM systems. I don't have one of those dishes.(yet) And I was wondering if you have played with yours at all?
 
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