What's the deal with NBC Mux Ch4 on SES-3 (103W), KU? (1 Viewer)

rmccolman

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Apr 10, 2021
47
33
Hillsborough, NC
Does anyone know what's up with the "NBC MUX" channels (KU) on SES-3 that occasionally have a solid picture and sound, but most often have a very weak signal/quality, and only show digital hash, if anything? For instance, I can occasionally see and hear good solid picture and sound on NBC MUX CH4 (TX138) with MSNBC broadcast content. The channel info for it on my Amiko HD 265 indicates a frequency of 11911 with horizontal polarization (4599). Mind you, these NBC MUX channels don't appear on the LyngSat listing for that satellite.

If MSNBC is a pay channel (that's what I've always assumed), I wonder why it occasionally shows up with a strong signal on a FTA channel. It seems equally strange that part of the time you can see a signal with major, unwatchable, breakup and sometimes too weak a signal to see even digital breakup. All this while the "standard" KU channels on that satellite, including DW English, NHK World Japan, CGTN (China), COZI TV, various occasional NBC feeds, etc., all have consistently strong signals (except during rain fade periods, of course).

Do note that I'm not expecting to get pay content like MSNBC for free (unless they happen to make it available for free). I just find it an oddity that it, and content on the other NBC MUX channels, are sometimes there with a good signal, but more often exhibit little or no signal. It seems like it would be an either/or situation, especially for a what I think is a pay channel. The way it's behaving, these NBC MUX channels are kind of "phantom channels."

I imagine there's a straightforward explanation that someone here knows about, so I'd appreciate being illuminated.

Thanks,

Richard
 

rmccolman

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Apr 10, 2021
47
33
Hillsborough, NC
BTW, I think I've got my dish (a repurposed Orby dish) zeroed in to what I think is optimal aim. With a clear sky I get 98% signal strength and 90% quality on most channels (DW, NHK, CGTN, NBC feeds) on my Amiko HD 265, and with clouds and even moderate rain the signal quality on those channels only drops to around 80%. I could understand the inconsistencies on the NBC MUX channels if the Orby dish wasn't up to the task for receiving from that satellite across the board, but since I get consistently strong signals on the other channels, this situation seems weird.

Richard
 
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rmccolman

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Apr 10, 2021
47
33
Hillsborough, NC
That doesn't surprise me based upon the experience I've had so far. But I do wonder why that is. Particularly, why are the NBC MUX channels so weak/variable, while the other channels -- including the NBC feed channels -- aren't problematic. It's almost like the NBC MUX channels are "experimental."

Could it be that the uplinks on those channels to the satellite are weak, I wonder?

Richard
 
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JFOK

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 12, 2012
890
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Cape Cod - MA.
Richard,

The only NBC mux I currently receive on 103ku includes NBC west, mountain and Cozi all at 10.6 db.
The mux which includes CGTN and the preview channel I get at 11.8 db.
I dont receive the NTA or DW feed...why I dont know.
Always found the NBC mux difficult at best, to receive on a consistent basis with my 8 foot solid dish.

John
 

rmccolman

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Apr 10, 2021
47
33
Hillsborough, NC
It's always weak and irregular, even on my 90cm dish. Don't recall the size of an Orby dish.
Interesting and good to know (your dish size). I've never measured the Orby dish, but it's approximately 3 feet (~90 cm) across its long axis, and maybe 2 feet (60 cm) across its shorter axis. If the info can be relied upon, however, I see on another online forum that someone says the dish is 27 inches by 18 inches (52 cm x 43 cm). (Perhaps someone else here knows the Orby dish dimensions and can chime in -- sorry, my dish is mounted up on the side of the house just below the roof, which would require me to get on a ladder to measure.) Since I assume that your 90 cm dish is round, that would give you considerably more dish surface area and signal capture capability than the Orby dish provides. The fact that you're experiencing similar variability in signal strength and quality means that any improvement, if possible, would require going with a 1.2 meter or larger KU band dish, if that would indeed help.
 
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rmccolman

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Apr 10, 2021
47
33
Hillsborough, NC
BTW, I don't know what others have seen, but my general impression is that the signal problems tend to be more pronounced during daylight hours. For instance, MSNBC (NBC MUX CH4) was fine last night (signal strength 98%, quality 80%) and was fine up until about 7:30 this morning, at which point I started to get some breakups, with the quality fluctuating between about 50% and 78%. Right now (2:50 PM), the quality is jumping around between 0% and 45% (signal strength still at 98%), and picture/sound is continuously breaking up. All this is with no rain and party cloudy conditions, both when picture/sound were good, and when it's unwatchable.

This seems to be the general pattern, though I must admit I don't monitor it all the time -- just on occasion.

Richard
 

rmccolman

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Apr 10, 2021
47
33
Hillsborough, NC
That feeds I get around 68 to 70 % on a good day.

I think they use for monitoring purpose for some reason. :) :hatsoff
Yeah, it does seem pretty strange, N5XZS. As you said, maybe they are using it for some sort of monitoring purpose. Maybe the idea is that the NBC people monitor, or do something else rather specialized, using a dish much bigger than what any of us typically have, so that they can pull in the signal consistently, while also making a consistent 24-hour signal unobtainable to average FTA satellite users. That way, only they can get a consistently reliable signal. Just speculating here...

BTW, now that we're approaching sunset here soon, I see that that channel is starting to be watchable again -- quality at 78% (signal strength still at 98%) -- and that's with a fairly thick cloud cover having moved in over the past few hours. If I were to make a supposition, much of the signal degradation might seem to be Sun-related as much as atmospheric-moisture-related, along with a limited-strength uplink signal. (Of course, the Sun normally causes a problem only when it and the satellite are near the same line-of-sight to the receiver dish. But with a weaker signal, I wonder if the Sun could have more negative effect than we'd typically experience.) This supposition is based upon limited observation at this point, so I'll continue to keep an eye on it to see if the fair-weather pattern of day-vs-night signal variability continues.

Richard
 

N5XZS

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jan 23, 2005
3,581
1,487
Albuquerque, NM, USA
It's more related to temperature and atmospheric conditions affected by the sun.

No relation to sunspots cycle which mostly affects low radio frequency ranges 0 KHz to +30 MHz.

Microwave frequency ranges is too high to be affected by sunspot.

However, every Spring and Fall when the sun line ups on Equator belt the will get sun fade for a few minutes mostly on C- band more than anything else, Ku and Ka bands are not bothered by it. :hatsoff
 

rmccolman

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Apr 10, 2021
47
33
Hillsborough, NC
It's more related to temperature and atmospheric conditions affected by the sun.

No relation to sunspots cycle which mostly affects low radio frequency ranges 0 KHz to +30 MHz.

Microwave frequency ranges is too high to be affected by sunspot.

However, every Spring and Fall when the sun line ups on Equator belt the will get sun fade for a few minutes mostly on C- band more than anything else, Ku and Ka bands are not bothered by it. :hatsoff
Thanks, understood.

There does seem to be at least some correlation between daytime and nighttime conditions, from what I've observed so far. Convection currents as the atmosphere heats up, perhaps? (Just guessing, of course.) It'll be interesting to see how this plays out as we head into summer -- whether the signal quality pattern changes as we experience more temperature inversions, etc.

Richard
 
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rmccolman

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Apr 10, 2021
47
33
Hillsborough, NC
move dish up or down left or right to get max signal on that channel.
Gotcha -- thanks! Aim rather than tune. (The word "tune" threw me off.)

I think I've got the dish aimed about as close as I can reasonably get it, given the design of this Orby dish. I might be able to get it a little closer to optimum if this dish had some fine adjustment controls for azimuth and elevation, but of course it doesn't.

Another disadvantage is that the dish is at one end of the house, mounted just below the roof (ladder accessible only), and the receiver's close to the other end of the house. I also don't have a small TV to use to create a temp hookup of the TV & receiver out at the dish. I do have one of these guys:


... but I've never used it because, as I understand it, these meters are largely useless for most purposes. However, since I have the dish already aimed at the 103W satellite, I'm wondering if it might help me tweak the aim. Or is it pretty much useless for that as well?

I'd love to have one of those fancy meters that runs several-100 bucks, but having less than $200-total invested already between my Orby dish and my Amiko HD 265 receiver, getting a fancy-shmancy meter seems like overkill for a one-time single-dish aiming operation.

Richard
 

cyberham

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jun 16, 2010
3,465
1,408
Nova Scotia
You don't need a sat meter. Most of us have a computer or spare smartphone with camera, wifi and our main smartphone. Bring up your receiver's signal meter on your TV, aim a computer or smartphone camera at the TV screen, start Real VNC or similar program on the computer and your camera, receive the Real VNC signal via wifi at your dish using the Real VNC free downloadable app. You tune your dish while looking at your smartphone.

If you own an Edision receiver, it's even better. You do the above without using Real VNC. You simply connect to your networked Edision via wifi and the Edision app on your smartphone. The latency between the connection of your smartphone and sat receiver is not a problem and you can aim your dish reliably. A TV at the dish is no longer necessary. You can also remotely change selected transponder or satellite using this method.
 
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cyberham

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jun 16, 2010
3,465
1,408
Nova Scotia
Enter following into Play store search:
krkadoni SignalMeter

SignalMeter is first in the results.

Sent from my SM-G950W using Tapatalk
 

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