What's my best bet for beating rain fade?

Discussion in 'DirecTV TiVo Powered PVRs & Receivers' started by psydid, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. psydid

    psydid New Member

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    Nov 26, 2002

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    I live in San Francisco, where we get almost no rain for most of the year and then get hammered in the winter months.

    Three years ago I got a Sony SAT-60 DirecTivo, and every winter the rain fade has gotten a little worse. This year we lost almost all of our channels even in mild rain. I checked our transponder strengths: all were in the 40-60 range. In dry weather they range from 60-80, which I understand is also a little on the low side.

    (This is only for the general DTV channels, I should mention. The SF local channels have never faded out at all).

    Our dish (the standard round dish that was used back then) is mounted on the roof, correctly aligned, and has a completely unblocked view. There aren't any multiswitches or other junctions in the path - the cables run straight from the dish into the DVR. The connections at both ends seem solid.

    That's where all the FAQs and manuals I can find stop being able to help me, so I turn to you, oh great community of the DirecTivo. Specifically I'm wondering:

    a) What should my expectations be for rain fade? I accept that some might be inevitable, but the near-total loss of all signal in light-to-moderate rain seems unacceptable. Is my experience normal?

    b) I'm thinking of doing some upgrades anyway, but what equipment should I prioritize on? Is this something that newer dishes are likely to fix? Or would a Tivo newer than Series 1 possibly perform better? Or are there external pieces like signal boosters that might help?

    c) Sometime this year I might upgrade to an HD system, and if I did so would probably get professional installation. Is there some minimum level of transponder signal I should expect after the installation that I can hold the installer to?
     
  2. JimSpence

    JimSpence Just hangin'

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    Sep 19, 2001
    Binghamton, NY
    Your dish is not correctly aligned. You should be able to get mid 80s and up for signal strengths. Your locals don't fade because they are coming from spot beams which have a higher power. The higher the signal the better chance you have at reducing rain fade. It won't go away entirely, but may not last as long.

    When you upgrade, I would expect the installer to get what I said above, if not better.
     
  3. DougF

    DougF Well-Known Member

    15,223
    1,816
    Mar 18, 2003
    North Dakota
    I agree with Jim. Your dish is not aligned properly.

    I used a pipe level to help the last time I did one myself. I ended up with signal strength of 95%.
     
  4. Cansatfan

    Cansatfan New Member

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    Sep 29, 2005
    A bigger dish will help too.
     
  5. Knative

    Knative A Walk in the Woods

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    Oct 22, 2000
    Sunny...

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    I agree with Jim & Doug - your dish isn't properly aligned.

    I live in Florida. During the summer it (thunder)storms basically every day in the summer. Usually in the 4:30-5:00 window for those planning a trip here.

    Locals via spot beam are dialed in at a 100 signal. Everything else is at 96 or greater. A quick check of one of the non-TiVo boxes (the DTiVo is busy recording) finds transponders at:

    100 x 7
    099 x 9
    098 x 2
    097 x 5
    096 x 2

    I used a short RG-6 cable, a 13" tv, a non-DVR box, an extention cord, and a step ladder.
     
  6. psydid

    psydid New Member

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    Nov 26, 2002
    Thanks guys. What I'm wondering is how I can further check my alignment. Here's what I did:

    To check the azimuth, I used a compass, aligned it to magnetic north, and eyeballed it. Not the most scientific test, but it seemed dead on the right setting.

    For the elevation I went by the markings on the mounting hardware itself, after verifying that the vertical pipe was indeed straight up by using a standard level. I took a veeeeerrrry close look at the little guage and it seemed to be exactly correct.

    What should I do if I want to check my alignment further?
     
  7. DougF

    DougF Well-Known Member

    15,223
    1,816
    Mar 18, 2003
    North Dakota
    When using the standard level, did you just check it at one point? A pipe level will help make sure that the pipe is indeed level all around. They are just a couple of bucks at hardware stores.
     
  8. grooves12

    grooves12 New Member

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    Sep 25, 2001
    San Jose,...
    The elevation and angle should be pretty spot on in set correctly by the marking, and that the pipe is indeed level in all directions.

    The reason the recievers are set to beep when on the signal strength check is so that you can hear how strong the signal is while aligning it. When I set up mine, I turned up the colume REAL loud, and got up on the roof and tweaked the azimuth back and forth until I got the best signal I could.
     
  9. face

    face New Member

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    Feb 9, 2005
    Walky Talkies work real good too if you have someone to help. To get max signal, you need to manually aim and get the highest pitched tone as possible. Just mark your starting point in case you get out of control and move it too far. As you adjust, you will just be moving it very slighly, millimeters.


     
  10. Billy Bob Boy

    Billy Bob Boy What Me Worry???????

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    Jul 25, 2004
    Here
  11. 7thton

    7thton No raindrop ever falls in the wrong place

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    Mar 3, 2005
    You could get one of the oval dishes...they get less rain fade.
     
  12. Billy66

    Billy66 Again with shoelaces

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    Dec 15, 2003
    If he points his dish correctly he will be fine. If he doesn't, the dish he uses will be mostly irrelevant. Just tweak your dish until you have normal signals in the 90's. Then when it rains they will go down to 70's-80's and you won't notice.

    This is a pointing issue, not a dish issue.
     
  13. JimSpence

    JimSpence Just hangin'

    30,915
    40
    Sep 19, 2001
    Binghamton, NY
    You get the azimuth setting from the receiver by entering your zipcode, but it is only the values for the city of your zip. There can be some variation depending on your actual location. So set the elevation and the azimuth as you did, then move the azimuth slightly and check the reading. Move it back and forth until you zero in on the strongest position. When doing this use the TP with the lowest reading.
     
  14. Aquatic

    Aquatic New Member

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    Nov 26, 2002
    JCP -...
    My only 2 cents to this is also simple...When you're adjusting the dish, don't loosen the bolts all the way--only enough to be able to move things a bit--use a little muscle to move it. Then when you think you're tweaked, let go and make sure you stay peaked...MARK THE DISH at that point with a sharpie or other magic marker so you keep the alignments when you tighten things down--plus in case things ever get out of whack again, you can get back in the ballpark very quickly with good markings on the pipe and frame.
     
  15. smithken31100

    smithken31100 Member

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    Mar 4, 2003
    Hockeytown
    Another idea when aiming a dish, chooses a non-spot beam transponder with a low signal strength and aim the dish for the highest signal strength on that transponder. The reason is that the receiver will only show up to 100 for signal strengths. If you aim with a strong transponder you won't be able to tell the difference between a 100 signal strength and a 120 signal strength. For me there is a transponder that, at best, I can get a mid 70-s to around 80 and that's the one I aim with. When that puppy is around 80 the rest of the transponders are well into the 90's.
     

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