The Sonora SWM-D3 is discontinued. What should you use to diplex DIRECTV signals?

The item above is (or was) Sonora Design’s SWM-D3 diplexer. This type of diplexer was created in the early 2010s for commercial installations in apartment buildings. However, hobbyists sometimes used it to combine over-the-air antenna signals and satellite signals so they didn’t have to drill so many holes into the house.

The SWM-D3 is discontinued and Holland, the owner of Sonora Design, doesn’t offer a direct replacement. Why would such an important part no longer be available? It’s simple: Diplexers don’t work with DIRECTV systems and haven’t worked with DIRECTV systems in over 15 years. There are a few exceptions, but they only apply to apartment complexes and commercial installations.

Let’s unpack that: diplexing doesn’t work with DIRECTV.​

I tend to address this about every three years. Here’s an article I wrote in 2021 that talks about it. That article’s pretty comprehensive so I’ll just hit the high points here.

  • Diplexing is the process of combining two signals that shouldn’t interfere with each other onto the same line.
  • Diplexing was common in the 1990s 2000s before DIRECTV and DISH covered the whole country with local channel service, because it was the only way to get local channels as well as satellite.
  • In 2008, DIRECTV unveiled SWM technology which allows for easier installs.
  • Part of that technology allowed programs to be shared between receivers and DVRs. That part uses signals in the 450-650MHz range.
  • Over-the-air antennas use signals in the 54-608MHz range.
  • SWM Technology is mandatory in any DIRECTV box made since 2011.
  • So, you can’t diplex antenna and DIRECTV signals because there’s a conflict in frequencies.

There has been a fairly vocal minority in the last 15 years or so who really, really want to diplex over-the-air antenna signals with their satellite ones. They’ve come up with homebrew hacks which separate the DIRECTV signals in the 450-650MHz range out so they can do it. Those signals, referred to as Connected Home signals or MoCA signals, are critical for Genie systems, but optional for older DVRs and receivers.

In the end, there wasn’t enough demand for the SWM-D3 because it simply wasn’t doing what it needed to do in commercial environments. The demand in DIY installs wasn’t enough to justify manufacturing.

Talking about the exceptions​

Keen readers will tell me that there are exceptions to the rule, times when a diplexer is properly used. They’re right. Specifically:

  • Older cable internet systems for apartment complexes still use the 5-1000MHz range. It’s possible to diplex those signals along the pathways between apartments as long as they are split back out before going into the apartment.
  • DIRECTV’s latest commercial receiver, the H26K, specifically doesn’t use the Connected Home frequencies, so diplexing is possible if you are only using that receiver and nothing else in your installation.

Neither of those really apply to DIYers in single family homes who are trying to avoid drilling a hole.

However, for those cases, there is still a diplexer available. It’s my understanding that it hasn’t been made in many years but there’s still stock available. It’s this NAS STD-9501 diplexer. It will do the same thing as an SD-SWM3. Some people use this diplexer to bridge the outputs of a SWM-30. That’s a fairly risky endeavor, but it sometimes works and generally doesn’t create problems in the install.

If you try to use this diplexer to add over-the-air antenna signals to your DIRECTV system, the basic result will be that your system will stop working. Simple as that.

Diplexing is one of those ideas like carbon paper and handwritten forms that aren’t bad, they’re just outdated. It’s time to do things the way they need to be done today, even if that means drilling another hole.

The post The Sonora SWM-D3 is discontinued. What should you use to diplex DIRECTV signals? appeared first on The Solid Signal Blog.

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