Satellite Signal Meter, Lower Cost Choices ?(Starband Problems) (1 Viewer)

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His Self

Well-Known SatelliteGuys Member
Nov 28, 2005
30
0
Are there any low cost Satellite Signal Meters suitable for the tight budgeted home user ? The Bird Dog looks great, but there's no way I can afford it. Even the used ones on ebay run over $100. With medical bills and the cost of living, money is very tight right now.

I upgraded my Starband 360 up to the Nova 1000 back in April. Everything ran great for the first couple of weeks, no problems at all. Then it started getting real twitchy and frequently dropping the signal. Talked to Starband Tech Support and they thought it was the transmitter and shipped me a new one. I also ordered a new new Noise Block Filter. I installed both, checked all my cable connections and cables...and the signal is still getting dropped. Looking at SkyManage the items most frequently X'd out are :

Sync
Backbone Link
TCP Acceleration

Though at times it drops just about everything other than Active Code and Powering Mode.

The same holds true whether I am connected straight PC to Modem, or through a hardwired router. Problem persists regardless of which of the 4 PC's I use, all run XP and range from XP SP2 to XP SP3 to XP x64Bit.

At this point I think it has to be either my line of sight for the Nova is different than the 360 was (in spite of being told by tech support it is the same) OR the Nova modem itself is defective. The only way I can think of to figure out which is the culprit is to use a Satellite Signal Meter to make sure I'm lined up correctly at the dish.

Bandwidth tests have varied quite a bit. This morning I got :
943 kb/s download and 113 kb/s on the upload. I've seen the download down to 426 kb/s and the upload as little as 20 kb/s when it gets flaky before it drops the connection.

Having no land-line phone, I have to use a cell phone for tech support and when I'm "on hold" for too long my call often gets dropped. Which of course is very aggravating. The nearest authorized installer is approximately 50 miles away (one way)

My location is:

Latitude: 36.5513573

Longitude: 82.7719574


Here is the SkyManage Installer page display page, copy and pasted from this morning. The asterisks are noted in red on the SkyManage site, though I don't know if that is denoting whether it's abnormal or just a required default.


General


VSAT ID * 7750

Workgroup Address * 257

Software Group Address * 516

Streamer PID * 5 15

Outbound ID *5


Boot-Time Options: Enable


Software Download: Enable

Software Download Timeout * 30 sec

DHCP : Disable

Embedded Web Site


Web Site IP Address * 192.168.1.1


Maritime Application
Maritime Application : Disabled

Network Name *

Satellite Name *

Satellite Orbital Location *
degrees
Downlink Polarization *
degrees
LNB L.O. Frequency *
GHz

ODU and LNB


ODU Constant Drift * 0 KHz

LNB Installation : 22V

ODU Type: Saturated

Modulation and Coding


Frequency * 1130000 KHz

Data-Rate * 57500940 bps

Modulation : 8PSK

Coding Rate : 2/3

DVB Reduce Latency: Enable

Turbo Reduce Latency : Normal (Maximum)

:confused: Does anybody have a recommendation for a low cost satellite signal meter... or does anything from the copy and pasted SkyManage look like there is a configuration problem ?

.... Should mention I took out the only tree which looked like it might potentially interfere with the line of sight.

Thanks for any help
 
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bajadudes

SatelliteGuys Guru
Your answer is right there on the telemetry page of skymanage. The free signal meter.

What is the Ebno reading on the signal meter?

You can put a wireless router on the modem and then take a laptop out to the dish to align it or run a long cat 5 cable.

Also did the tech run an alignment test on the antenna. if so he should have given you the results of that test.

What did he say your cross pol and Co-pol are?
 

His Self

Well-Known SatelliteGuys Member
Nov 28, 2005
30
0
Thanks for the reply. I found the Telemetry page this morning and the reading was at 5.31dB So with my wife on one cell phone watching the Telemetry readings, I stood outside at the dish and started slowly adjusting the dish elevation a hair at a time and having her call out the readings as I went. The best we got on that was 5.62dB with trying higher and lower elevation angles. Worst we got was .6dB Next we tried adjusting the LNB's low block noise filter angle higher and lower and still couldn't manage better than the 5.62dB.
I tightened all the screws and came back inside. As the temperature outside climbed too 99 degrees, I noticed the EbN0 was dropping and the Sync, Satellite Link, Authentication, Backbone Link and TCP Acceleration were turning to red X's. The EbN0 dropped to 4.26dB and after that point the SkyManage page would come up on refresh as "Not Found". At which point it occurred to me the connection had started getting flakier and cutting out each day, when the temperatures started approaching 100F around 2:00 PM EST this week and later at night around 9:00 PM the connection became a little more stable and workable. Same thing happens when heavy cloud cover moves in. We checked at Radio Shack, Circuit City and Best Buy for a Satellite Signal Meter and came up empty handed. Radio Shack said they could get order and have one in about a week for $25. And I saw Sadoun offers one for about the same price.

"Sadoun SF95LK DSS Satellite Signal Finder Installation KIT" I think I will order that one unless somebody here says it's a waste of money.

The tech did not run an alignment test on the antenna. Or at least did not say anything about it that I can recall

Nor did he say what the cross pol and Co-pol are.

I have no currently working laptop, so thats out.

It seams to me with the slow adjustments based on the SkyManage Telemetry, I am not getting any improvement. Maybe a Satellite Signal Meter would help some since I could be getting a faster indication of the signal than by relaying back and forth on the cell phones with my wife.
Frankly with the EbN0 reading I'm getting, I'm surprised to be able to get any connection any of the time.

But Starband Customer Service had repeatedly told me the satellite the 360 and the Nova used were one and the same and my 360 had been getting a much better signal than this.

So we have a new Nova modem that worked great the first two weeks before yhe connection going flaky, a brand new transmitter and low noise block filter. The cable and connections appear to be fine inside and out. Tried different computers, different ethernet cables... all of which offered no change to speak of.

I can't help but feel either Starband has changed something at their end (happened once to me with the 360 and a cluster change which they had not notified me they had mad) or the satellite line of sight is NOT the same for the Nova as it was for the 360 or the Nova modem is bad.Is there any possibility Starband can move me over to a different satellite, or cluster or change the configuration at their end in any way which might help ?

I loved my Starband internet but if I can't get this resolved soon I will have to either get a land-line installed again and go back to Dial Up internet :river

Or see if Wild Blue or Direct can get a line of sight on a satellite for my internet. Can you tell me which of their satellites would be designated for my East Tennessee location ? And the angle and direction I would need to point a new dish ? We have a fair number of trees and when we checked three years ago Direc was not viable in line of sight and Wild Blue wasn't offering service in my area.

Latitude: 36.5513573

Longitude: 82.7719574

I know I'm asking for a lot of help and I've likely provided way too much details about my situation. But with no service people any where near us and money being tight, I hate to call for a repair man to come in and pay him hefty fees only to say, the Starband dish with the Nova modem just will not work on the same line of sight as the 360... Though again, that wouldn't explain why the Nova got great bandwidth the first two weeks I had it.

Again, thank you for responding to my post. I appreciate it very much.
 

bajadudes

SatelliteGuys Guru
OK a few things:

You are on the correct line of sight to the satellite or it would not work at all so dismiss that right off the bat.

the telemetry page is very responsive and i have tons of customers that use only that.....

do not move the lnb. keep it right at whatever your polarity setting should be, either V or H

stand behind the dish while your wife is on the phone. lightly pull at the 3 oclock position on the dish and hold. did the reading go up?

Do the same at 12, 6 and 9. That will give you an indication of which way if any you need to move.

if no amount of pushing or pulling at any point along the rim does anything it is time to start looking at other things.

What is the noise figure on the LNB? The lower the noise figure the more sensitive and better it is. .8 is the worst and .4 ( rare and expensive ) is the best.

Take a look at this field service bulletin...does it apply to you?
What can I do to increase the signal quality (signal-to-noise ratio) to the modem as measured by Mission Control?

Are you sure that nothing has grown into the line of sight? Anything leaf out?

Be aware that the signal from the satellite is actually coming down to the dish about 13 degrees higher than it appears the dish is pointing at.

Take a good look along the cable any points that are damaged, squashed ripped?

unscrew the connectors and carefully look at them., any corrosion at all.

try swapping the rx cable and Tx cable at both ends so that now you are using the TX for RX and the RX for TX. Is the signal the same?

You are not my customer but if you want I would be happy to loan you a digital sat meter and send you a working good LNB. All i would ask for is a deposit that I would refund as long as you sent me the meter back in 2 weeks or less.

If the LNB is the issue and you want to keep the one I send you I would ask for $59.

Just be slow and methodical. There is no reason why in Tenn with a .75 meter antenna and a .6 LNB you should not be getting an EBNO in the 7 to 9 range.

By the way how long is the coax run? is it good quality coax with a solid copper center and sweep tested to 3 ghz?

You can tell if it's a solid copper center by snipping a tiny section off. if it's shiny like steel in the center, then it's copper clad steel.

You can call me if you want for more detailed advice.

Contact info is on my website.
Good luck, you can get this resolved
 

His Self

Well-Known SatelliteGuys Member
Nov 28, 2005
30
0
We had overcast skies and episodic light rain on Saturday and I couldn't even connect online long enough to check this forum. I've printed the info you've provided me with and am going to go back out today and try again with that info. Your response is generous and positive, it provides me with hope of getting my Starband working right. The last couple of months has been my first disappointment in Starband services.
Thank you and I will post back here what kind of results I get from today's efforts.
 

His Self

Well-Known SatelliteGuys Member
Nov 28, 2005
30
0
Well I spent the day, taking out tree limbs, rechecking all connections (cable is solid copper, not sheathed steel) no signs of corrosion or water infiltration. Took off noise block filter and re-seated it (it is a .6 noise filter) removed the transmitter, reseated it. Made sure there were no seals covering the openings or any traces of adhesives. Tried swapping the cables point of attachment. Slowly in literally 1/64 inch increments attempted tweaking the dish to get a better signal and never got anything better than a 5.6 ebN0 on a clear day with no wind and when the temperature reached 95 degrees at about 3:00 PM, even that dropped to below 4 ebN0.

Even moving the dish just a hair caused the signal to drop out for several minutes. More than 1/8 inch from original marks dropped the signal out completely and it did not reacquire the signal at that far a movement.

So we have a new Nova modem (April 2008) that worked great for a couple of weeks before going flaky. A new transmitter and .6 noise block filter (last week) I tried hooking it up to several different computers, different versions of XP, different ethernet cards and cables, no firewalls... and am not finding any substantive difference from what I started with.

I am buffaloed on this one. :confused:
 

bajadudes

SatelliteGuys Guru
when you originally got the new modem and it was working fine what was the ebno?

Are you still running on the old dish?

Am I understanding that you do now have a new LNB in there along with a new TX?

if the signal is dropping with the heat then it is sounding like the LNB is going bad.

Ok this may sound crazy but try putting one of those cold packs, like the kind you pull out of your freezer and put in a cooler on the LNB. You can hold it there with an ACE bandage.

Does that make the signal go up and stay strong?

if you have a voltmeter, carefully read the voltage from the center pin to the outside of the connector that goes to the LNB. It should be between 19 and 22 Volts. be careful you do not short it out.

it's not the PC, it's something to do with the outdoor electronics.

it sounds like the signal was marginal to begin with for some reason and then the new modulation and coding rate that they implemented a month or so ago threw you over the edge.

We have to figure out why the signal is marginal. Something is up with the outdoor part of your setup.

I can send you a complete new dish ( the new Phase III style ) and you can try it just for giggles. No charge. If it works keep it and send me some bucks. If it does not just send it back.

I have occasionally run across an install where the dish just sucked and i could not get a good signal for whatever reason.
 
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His Self

Well-Known SatelliteGuys Member
Nov 28, 2005
30
0
Well besides the transmitter, I ordered the NJR2544HWN which carries the .6 rating. It consists of just the small block with the coaxial end for the cable. No new lens or other parts. I recognize the possibility that any new part could be defective from day one and accept it as just one of those bad luck of the draw type incidents. The dropping of signals has been consistent with higher temperatures and any precipitation, even light ... starting a couple of weeks after the new Nova modem arrived in April. I don't know what the ebN0 was when I first got the modem. I just found the SkyManage page a few days ago. But bandwidth tests were running 1 Mbs and at times close to 2 Mbs down and 256 Kbs up. After the first couple weeks it started crapping out and just keeps getting worse as time goes by. I've not broken the FAP limit as far as I know. My biggest download was the SP3 pack for XP and I saved it to a USB flash drive to put on the other computers here, rather than download it seperately for each one. The cold pack idea is excellent and I will try it tomorrow . I want to call Starband Tech Support again, go over all the telemetry data, the configurations, etc and see what they have to offer in advice. Though the nearest Starband Dealer/Installer is 50 miles away, I found out there is a WildBlue Installer about 12 miles from me. I think I will call him in the morning and see if he is willing to troubleshoot my set up and see if he can find something I am missing. I have no multimeters, continuity testers, nor have I ever used them. If nothing else he should be able to test the cable run ( which is approximately 125 feet) with his equipment and tell me if the line of sight is obscured by trees. We are on top of a hill, there are large Beech and Oaks at the bottom of the hill, but the original installer (3 years ago) said those trees would not impact the signal for 7-8 years and last year was a terrible drought, this year well below normal rain fall... so trees are growing very slow. What I trimmed out today was everything that looked like it might block it, that had come up between the dish and where the hill drops for the next 75 yards in the past three years and grows fast (Catalpas, Poplars, etc)
These symptoms remind of of similar ones in the past on the 360 when Starband changed subclusters and never bothered to let me know about it until I called them and found out ( hey, it happens and didn't bother me overly much as it was a quick fix)

If Starband Tech Support doesn't have anything useful to say or if I can get the WildBlue guy to verify I have a bad component, I will definitely be willing to buy what equipment I need from you. Can you pretest components before shipping them ? If the new LNB or transmitter I just bought are bad, I think getting smacked with another bad one right off the shelf would be more than my delicate psyche could handle.

.... and , at a 125 ft run of cable, is there a signal strength booster which would make a significant improvement in performance ( and if so, how much do you sell them for) ? If I can get a 15-20 % boost on the strength of the signal that would push me past 6. most of the time. I can live with outages during moderate rain.

Thank you again for all your help and I think if it's a matter of needing a new component , I would rather buy it from somebody like you, who has proven to be willing to help assist others.
 
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