I don't get much feedback on my reviews but, judging from the fact that there are nearly 7000 subscribers, I guess that I'm still providing one or two items of interest. This month the main emphasis is on Freeview rather than Sky. As always, reader contributions are welcome. To kick off, Eric has some information for Sky Plus owners. (This contribution wins Eric a free eBook).
Note: I'm heading towards southern England for a fortnight. I'm hoping to keep in touch by email using my laptop but please be patient if I keep you waiting for a reply! It's unlikely that I'll have web access so I may not be able to view the discussion forum.
CT63 "Shotgun" cable
I'm typing this at the last moment before uploading because I've just been informed that a "CAI member" has been slagging off SatCure in the "digitalspy" forums because we supply CT63 cable. Apparently he thinks it is "poor quality".
Well, I'm sure the manufacturers would be equally horrified to hear this. They make it to the same exacting quality standards as CT100. Let me explain about CT63:
CT63 twin cable was specified by BskyB for SKY+ installations because it is narrow enough to squeeze through an existing 10mm hole as used for CT100 cable.
It is acknowledged that its attenuation is much higher than CT100 - see the table in our technical section - but this is not a problem provided that you follow the rules:
1. Keep cable runs short. The maximum length recommended for use with a Sky minidish is 20 metres. If you use a longer run, you may need a larger dish or two in-line LNB amplifiers. (Don't use amplifiers unless there is no other possible choice. They add "noise" to the system).
2. Avoid kinking the cable! If you do kink it, throw it away. Putting a kink in coaxial cable has a similar effect to putting a big dent in a water pipe. It reduces the water flow. In the case of satellite TV, a kink in the cable can cause signal reflections which result in the loss of channels.
3. Use the proper "F" connectors. Internally these have a much smaller diameter thread than standard plugs.
So, for the "CAI member" who allegedly thinks that CT63 is "poor quality" and that LNB Amplifiers "don't work", I suggest you go back to school.
Sky Plus Reset
In a recent Satcure Review you said that the SKY+ had a problem in losing space and that the only cure you were aware of was to erase the hard disk and start again.
This certainly used to be true, but I recently had the problem and found that the installers menu (0 1 Select on the SYSTEM SETUP Menu) has an option to rebuild the SKY+ planner.
I tried this option and it recovered the lost space while keeping my recordings and planned recordings.
Hope this is useful.
P.S. Great article on the phone line protector last month.
Keep up the good work.
Useful? I think it's wonderful. Thanks! :-)
Not really a question, more of a comment on this month's satcure newsletter - re Grundig interference.
As you mentioned, the problem is likely coming in from the TV aerial. As Jon then mentions he's feeding through a 4 way RF amp, I suddenly remembered a piece I had read elsewhere regarding "Tetra" RF emmisions affecting amplified RF signals.
Tetra, while a fantastic idea for the emergency services, seems to have this side-effect on amplified RF systems... apparently the Tetra frequencies are close enough to TV broadcasts to cause interference - most noticable if an amp is used. However, as I have only ever read this on the internet I can't guarantee the authenticity of this...
However, I saw exactly this behaviour on my setup (8-way Global amp). For the moment I have therefore split off the TV feed down to the main television only, and then distribute everything else only (Sky, VCR, DVD, FreeView, etc) via the RF Amp to the other TV's.
Hopefully in the long run I'll get some filters on the input to the RF amp and block out anything un-toward.
Take a look at http://www.wrightsaerials.tv/Tetra.htm and at Digital Spy http://forum.digitalspy.co.uk/board/showthread.php?t=119647&page=4&pp=25 for some other people seeing the same things.
Recording on DVD
I understand the Pace digibox outputs a signal on the VCR SCART connector when a program that has been entered in the Sky Guide is about to start (I think this is the signal used by the Phantom PVR as advertised on this site). Can anyone tell me please what pin of the SCART this signal is connected to and what the voltage level is when activated (i.e. 6V, 12V etc)?
The reason I want to know is, I have a DVD recorder which can use this signal but I use the TV SCART of the Pace box (via an active splitter) to record RGB from SKY and the "record" signal is not present on the RGB (TV) SCART of the digibox. I want to "patch" the signal accross from the Pace VCR SCART to the DVD recorder input.
I always assumed it uses pin 8. Try measuring the voltage on that pin.
Thanks for the reply. However I think pin 8 is used as an input to the Pace box from a VCR so that when you press play on a VCR, the sky signal is blanked and the VCR signal is switched right through to the TV SCART (my DVD recorder works like this when connected to the VCR SCART of the Pace box).
I will do some measuring when I get time and report back.
I think you'll find Pin 8 is an OUTPUT from the digibox which "pulls" the VCR or TV to that input when the digibox is switched on.
Hi Mike, thanks for the comment. You are correct that pin 8 of the TV SCART output goes high when the box is switched on and the voltage level is dependant on whether the picture is 4:3 or widescreen. But I don't believe this is the case with the VCR SCART. It is the VCR which outputs a high on pin 8 when you put it into playback mode. This tells the Pace box to blank the Sky picture and switch the VCR picture through to the TV SCART. This way you don't need to connect the VCR directly to the TV. I used my VCR in this mode for some time. I can use my DVD recorder in the same way but the Pace box only outputs composite video on the VCR SCART and I want RGB. Now that I am using the RGB output, I can not use the auto record signal from the Pace box as that is only available on some pin or other of the VCR SCART socket. Hence the original question.
Thanks for the explanation, your intention is perfectly clear now. I wasn't aware of the auto record signal output from the Sky box but if you've had it working on the composite output from the VCR port, then it must be there assuming it's not done via an IR link to the VCR. Unless someone else can specify which pin this is output on, I think you'll have to walk a meter across all the non audio and video pins before and after the set time to check for changes of state.
I'm interested to hear how you get on.
Yes it does work on my Panasonic DVD recorder through the SCART lead. I just put the program into the personal planner and set it to autoview. When the program starts it outputs this elusive signal and the recorder starts.
A device is available on the Satcure site called 'Phantom PVR' which converts the signal to an IR and can be used with VCR's that don't have the facility built in.
I will be having a look with my meter this weekend and will let you know what I find. My other thought was it could be a digital signal on pin 10 (I think it is called 'easylink' amongst others) which allows your TV and video recorder to 'talk' to each other and download channel settings etc. Hopefully not otherwise I will not see it with a multimeter!
OK here is the result.
Pin 8 on the VCR SCART of the Pace digibox is both an input and an output. When the personal planner is set and the program starts, pin 8 goes high, if a compatible VCR is plugged in to this port, and set up correctly, this will start the VCR recording. Any signal that may be put on this pin externally is ignored.
When the personal planner is not outputting a signal on pin 8, it becomes an input. An external 'high' on pin 8, for instance when a VCR is set to 'play', blanks the Sky signal and loops (internally) the VCR SCART input signal out to the TV SCART of the digibox.
If a VCR is in play mode as above and a program which has been put in the personal planner is about to start, the digibox blanks the VCR SCART input signal and connects SKY to the TV SCART output for the duration of the program.
Unfortunately none of this helps me as I need pin 8 connected from the TV output SCART to the DVD recorder for aspect ratio switching and I can't have both. Never mind I thought it was worth a try if only to make it 'wife proof'!
If anyone has anything to add, will they please put it in the discussion thread here:
Regarding Customer receipt (Order ID): 3074849
I've downloaded your E-Book 'The Freeview Bible' @ £7.50 + VAT and on reading I find the overall contact OK but was expecting far moore from a "book". Had I seen this in paperbook I would not have purchsed it at the price offered. I would like a refund please. I confirm that I have deleted all copies of the eBook.
Thanks for your message, Cyril.
Sales will reply later to confirm either a cancellation (not charged) or a refund (if already debited). Please bear with them because Monday is always a really busy time for Sales as they catch up with orders that came in during the weekend.
You omitted to give a reason for your disappointment. As we update our eBooks frequently on the basis of customer feedback, it helps us to know precisely what was missing from the text.
For example, one customer complained that our "Installing Sky Digital TV" eBook failed to give enough information about cabling his signals round his house. But of course this is covered in detail in our eBook "Piping TV Around the House" so he had simply bought the wrong eBook for his needs. Once we supplied the appropriate eBook, he was very happy with the help it gave him and the fact that it really did save him time and money.
Anyway, please let me have your specific questions that were not answered by "The Freeview Bible" and I'll do my best to answer them.
(No reply received. Draw your own conclusions).
Aerial Alignment Meter
I was looking for a cheap meter for aligning my TV aerial.
D S Smith
You can get a really cheap one for around £300 from Horizon Global Electronics Ltd.
These meters are more expensive than "satfinder" meters because the signal from a TV aerial is very weak (microvolts) compared with the amplified signal that comes from an LNB. Also because I suppose there has been little consumer demand for them. I suspect the price won't fall because people will need them for digital signals and will expect them to identify the various multiplexes - no mean feat!
Freeview and trees
My location is: DA13
Equipment made by: Pioneer Freeview
Model number: DBRT210GBS
Aerial: Maxview 43 element (only 10.2db forward gain), bought a couple of years ago when 1st got Freeview, is the same aerial as a neighbour has, who has perfect pictures (see below).
CT100 cable external to house (just installed).
Aerial amplifier (plug in 12db gain) installed just before digibox (this improves signal from 2 (good) to 2.75 (good) on the Mux channels that have a signal. It is quite old but seems to work - nothing fancy!
Problem: No signal on Mux 2 and A - hence no picture (only red 'no signal blob).
Aerial points across/through some trees towards Crystal Palace (15-20 miles)(which is our primary transmitter despite dtg website saying Bluebell Hill). Signal has deteriorated over summer, basically only signal on Mux 1, B and D - lost ITV + Channel 5 etc on Mux 2/5.
Have avidly read "Freeview Bible" and replaced cable (with your CT100) from aerial to Freeview box (outside house). Signal level similar to before (ie 2.75/5), but gained Mux C. Much less breakup on existing signals (although not very bad before), and now have similar analogue signal via coax on both video (1st)and TV(2nd).
Main problem is with the trees and this has got worse over the summer (could get Mux A/2 earlier in year) I guess as the leaves have hardened off. Analogue picture good on 1,2,4 and 5, ITV and to a degree 2 are ghosting.
We can get a Mux 2 signal on original 18 element aerial which is still pointing at Bluebell Hill, although I have not yet changed the cable to CT100, no signal on other Mux's.
I have spoken to a local Aerial man who has allegedly dealt with other houses in the Close (12 houses) and basically said we should get Sky and it was not worth coming out although he could put on a higher gain aerial. As we have a perfect Mux1 (and close neighbour has perfect signal), I still think it is worth persisting - even if we spend £180 it is only 6 months of Sky!
Tests/checks that I've carried out:
Aerial - have plugged my Pioneer box into neighbour's system (same aerial, standard ex Granada (?Labgear?) amps, perfect signal on all channels. Signal strength 2.75 or 2.8 on all Mux channels.
Cable - replaced existing cable with CT100.
NB - neighbours aerial is approx 80-100 feet away at bottom of our garden, still looks out through/over trees but may be slightly clearer outlook. Our aerial is however approx 20ft higher due to height of ground and actual house.
Not sure what to try next to gain extra Mux's:
ie masthead amp/higher gain aerial. Quite tempted to go the whole hog and get DAT45 with amp (inc power) as this will give two downleads.
I have not yet swung the aerial but am pretty good with map and compass and am happy with direction
Could also try pointing better aerial at Bluebell Hill (8-10 miles) which is a lower output transmitter and trees are further away across the valley
Thanks for your comprehensive details. Your installer is basically right. Obviously, you'll find that the situation improves as the leaves fall off - and that will prove the point. The only real answer is to pollard the offending tree. The effect of the moisture-filled leaves is to form a sort of diffraction grid which lets through certain frequencies while blocking others. It's likely that removing just one or two branches will fix the problem.
The other possibility is to move the aerial left or right by an inch at a time to see if there's a point where the attenuation is acceptable. But it will all change next year when the tree grows again.
As the cable improved matters, it might be worth trying a higher gain aerial. But bear in mind that this will be more "directional" and, therefore, more susceptible to the effect of swaying branches. I would suggest trying a simple masthead amplifier first or extra height.
Whatever you do will be merely a temporary fix until the branches grow higher.
Fitting "F" Connectors
This morning I had a brainwave! A customer complained to me that fitting an "F" connector to the end of WF100 cable almost tore his thumb apart. I tried it myself and it WAS rather difficult to turn the plug.
Read the full instructions at http://www.satcure.co.uk/tech/fconn.htm
So I dipped the cable end into a jar of petroleum jelly. This helps to seal out moisture and it made fitting the plug MUCH easier. Remember, you read it here first, folks!
Many thanks for the Panafix20 - it cured my channel selection problem perfectly. One note though - you indicate that the problem could always be cured by disconnecting the LNB cable but this was not the case for me. Switching channels up/down would sometimes enable the channel to be viewed but disconnecting the LNB never seemed to cure it. This made me think twice before ordering the Panafix20 so you may want to change the wording on your Web pages.
Thanks, Hugh. I'll leave the wording as it is. I have never come across one like yours where disconnecting the LNB connection for a second did not return the picture after ten seconds. We prefer to lose an order rather than sell something that might not work. If people want to take the risk (like you) that's fine and doesn't get us accused of selling stuff just to make a profit regardless. :-)
I'm very pleased that it did the trick for you and congratulations on doing a successful job!
A previous house I owned was in a disused tree-filled quarry in Bath and the TV reception was dreadful. I had to have satellite, but no engineer would instal the dish - the only one place for it was on the top of a sheer 20m quarry wall.
So I had to buy the gear (secondhand) and install it myself. The run from the dish to the receiver was about 35m and I slung the cable over using stainless guy rope. It worked well, I spent ages aligning the dish, not having the proper signal strength indicator / satellite position finder.
Just thought you'd like to know that............
When I moved to this address I brought the system with me. It was easiest to put the dish on a short pole in the garden and run cable along the ground and then up into the house. Aligned the dish OK (by copying neighbours' installations). But signal quality bad. By reading your article on cable quality I realised the problem was there - poor cable and 4 joints (properly done using male and female connectors)! Should have known better!
Ordered new high quality coaxial from you - bingo! Over half on the signal strength and quality scales!
Distance run is 40m.
I'm moving to France in about 4 months - so here we go again........... Any tips?
Oui, il faut apprendre parler le francais. :-)
Thank you, the sat fan kit for my Panasonic Sky box arrived promptly and I guess you guys have thought of everything !!! I hope it will make the box last alot longer although it was only an eight quid boot sale buy! (got to be better than the old pace/grundig).
Only one small comment about instructions , I misread the plug/socket J9 as the pin number so perhaps for morons like me it might help to have it written as J9 pin 8 in the otherwise great instructions......what agood idea to put it on the net , no extra printing costs.
Thanks again , I have already recommended you.
Actually, the main reason for supplying the instructions as a downloadable file was so I could update them immediately if anyone reported an error. Imagine if we printed 1000 copies then discovered the instructions were incorrect!
In your case I think you simply misread them so I won't make a change unless you clarify what the problem was. "Link J9" refers to the wire link which is labelled "J9".
Feedback and thanks
Local lightning strike, less than 50 yards away. Result, one dead Digibox (Grundig DGS310).
The LNB was defunct. No output. The digibox was very insensitive, but using a good LNB it produced a just locked signal, but a very scrambled picture.
Using Martins hints, and having a spare digibox, I decided (optimistically, I thought, at the time), to try swapping the power supplies. It worked..!!!
So using one of your kits (my O/N 3072006), I repaired the power supply, and that worked.
[I suggest that the use of a solder sucker is most important when removing the defective components, as in my case, the soldered leads were all bent over and had to be carefully straightened before the components could be removed. Also, CAREFUL use of the soldering iron to soften the glue securing the capacitors can be helpful.]
I don't really understand how the RF front end survived, but it did.
I like your style. The Email from Janet Baker in your sales office triggered this message.
I just received a courtesy email from yourselves asking if I was satisfied with the service that I received following my order. Thank you for this as it is very rare to see companies taking an active after-sales interest.
Regarding the order, I was slightly disappointed. It arrived in a large cardboard box containing no packing whatsoever, causing the packaging of the Loftbox to become damaged during transit.
Also, the plugs on my order were contained in an untied, thin plastic bag, of the blue and white stripe variety, commonly used for groceries. I'm assuming that they were contained in this bag as when I opened the large box they were actually rolling around in the box. To make matters worse, there were only 4 "F" connectors in the box despite having ordered 8.
I didn't complain at the time as I only lost out on 4 "F" connectors, with a value of 64p, however I now have the inconvenience of having to purchase some more.
I'm guessing from the level of after-sales interest and support that you provide, that this is an isolated incident and I would order from you again.
Nik, I'm sorry to hear about the packaging problems. I'm afraid the main warehouse employs monkeys, and the priority is to get the order shipped at all costs, rather than disappoint the customer. This has occasionally resulted in the sort of unfortunate event that you experienced.
If you need the "F" connectors today then I will personally deliver them to you today by hand as I am only 30 miles away.
I'll also speak to the warehouse (again) about packaging. The philosophy is to "recycle" existing packaging (mainly to save cost rather than for any thoughts about the environment). If the available packaging runs out before the end of the day, the lads have no time to start shredding old brochures or whatever and just drop the items in the box muttering a prayer. I'm no more happy about this than you are but, as I don't own or manage the warehouse (separate company) all I can do is to keep pressing them to improve. I've even offered to supply packaging on a "free issue" basis but the warehouse management felt this would cause confusion and take up valuable storage space. Yes, sometimes I despair but the incidence of real problems IS rare!
Thank you for your reply.
I can sympathise with your distribution problems but it is my opinion that the lads in the warehouse acted in an appropriate manner. I would much rather receive goods the next day slightly bruised, with no packaging than to have the order delayed. Obviously this would not be acceptable for sensitive equipment but is fine for cables and connectors (and also the loftbox as this was contained within its own packaging).
There is no rush for the F connectors as I work away from home during the week so there is no rush but if you could pop them in the post that would be great.
I'm sure that this is an isolated incident and would have no qualms with
ordering from you again or recommending you.
Thanks for your kind understanding, Nik. I've put some "F" connectors in the post to you.
Note: Mediabullet has moved servers
From Radio Bullet ( http://www.mediabullet.co.uk/radio/ ):
From Sky Digi Online ( http://www.mediabullet.co.uk/skydigital ):
- All eBooks have been moved to a secure server which requires a username and password. Please contact Sales with your original Order number and ask for the new download information, stating exactly which eBook(s) you purchased and the EBK number.
- Installing Sky Digital TV Sept. 12, 2004
- Repairing Sky Digital Receivers
- September 19, 2004 - Several pages of fault reports added
- Piping TV Around the House
- The Freeview Bible
- September 29 2004 - minor additions