View Full Version : NFBT: Satellite ROCKS!
A while back, I asked for input on satellite TV. You folks were very helpful. I am here today to give you a report on my decision and the results.
A couple of weeks ago, Skip Towne installed a DirecTV satellite system at Chateau Gaz. I have a dual-LNB system, with a Hughes Platinum receiver on my big screen and a Hughes Gold receiver for my backup TV.
I am here to report that Satellite kicks cable butt.
I was secretly worried that the picture quality would not be so superior that it would justify the hardware cost. That fear was unfounded. The satellite picture is crisp and sharp, rivaling that from DVD. Cable should hang its head in shame…
Speaking of cable, I checked into digital cable. I know not what the situation is outside DooDah Lite, but there are only a handful of channels on digital cable that actually carry a digital signal. The vast majority are the same analogue signal as regular cable. My thanks to the local Cox rep for her honesty when I went to purchase "digital cable."
As far as cost is concerned, I kept the "lifeline cable" for local channels [gotta have that Buffy fix]. I did this because I have Road Runner. If I drop cable TV completely, my RR bill goes up $10 a month. "Lifeline" cable is $10.35 a month. So, I am paying $0.35 for local stations. The bottom line is that I am paying the same monthly fee for more channels and a chest-thumping digital signal.
I did pay extra for the Platinum Hughes receiver, because I wanted a satellite receiver with Dolby digital capability. What is the point in having a Dolby digital sound system if you don't take advantage of it? At least, that was the logic I used on Mrs. Gaz when justifying the extra cost for the Platinum unit.
The Hughes receivers came with an IR emitter that controls my VCRs. I push a button on the on-screen program grid and the receiver tells the VCR when to tape the program. An added bonus is that the Hughes remote controls the receiver, the TV, the VCR and the sound system.
So, I had a hardware outlay of about $200 [dish, both receivers, installation, phone line, so forth], with a monthly cost comparable to cable.
There is a downside, though. While watching a taped program, I realized that a SVHS VCR would capture 400 lines of resolution, instead of the 230 lines of VHS. As a result, a SVHS VCR is winging its way to my house via UPS.
Fortunately, I am pretty much done with the home theater system for a while. Mrs. Gaz has been exceedingly tolerant, but I do not want to press my luck any further. Unless I need a SVHS VCR for the other TV…
Clint in Wichita
07-09-2001, 10:38 AM
I've got digital cable, and there is virtually no difference between it, satellite, and DVD.
Things may be different in your neck of the woods, however.
07-09-2001, 10:41 AM
Gaz - is DSL available in your area? If so, why not dump cable outright? :)
Clint in Wichita
07-09-2001, 10:45 AM
RR is much, MUCH faster than DSL.
07-09-2001, 10:52 AM
Clint - cable is analog and bursts up to high speeds... but only when few people are online at the same time. Cable = shared bandwidth to the ISP. DSL = <i>digital</i> connection to ISP over a dedicated link to the CO. DSL will afford you a more stable, burst-free connection at sustained levels whereas cable will go fast or slow (for gaming, DSL kicks the hell out of cable).
FYI: DSL is basically a bandwidth throttled T1 (~1.5Mbps). Most ISPs throttle your d/l to 384Kbps... upload 128K(no need for highspeed upload unless you host a site locally). Connects are sold at higher speed rates... 700K all the way to 8Mbps. Data streaming over the digital connection is much faster and more stable due to the increased efficiency inherant to a digital signal.
That's a GOOD story! I've been thinking about dumping cabel in favor of a satellite system myself. I've just been too lazy to do so. Now, with football season approaching, I need my NFL SUNDAY TICKET. :D
Clint in Wichita
07-09-2001, 11:06 AM
I know it can vary, but my personal experience has been very positive...my RR always seems to run at the same speed. Here at work we use DSL, and you couldn't give it to me at home.
07-09-2001, 11:07 AM
I have noticed that bandwidth changes with cable ISPs. For instance, I have Armstrong Cable and its speed was measured to average 420k. Whereas my sons mother lives 10 miles away and has Road Runner through TimeWarner and she tells me her bandwidth averages 350k.
07-09-2001, 11:12 AM
Clint - it depends on your distance from the CO. Other factors include additional network overhead such as Proxy servers and packetfiltering. The admin at your office may have bandwidth throttling enabled or your proxy server may be incorrectly configured. My office is only 1000ft from the CO - we consistently receive speeds around 6Mbps :)
I use cable at home because DSL is not yet availble in my area :( FWIW, when I lived in Topeka, I had a RR connection. I was the first in my area, so I had the entire circuit to myself. I was hitting d/l speeds of 3Mbps! :eek: It sucked moving from an empty RR loop to an over-crowded @Home connection(@Home sux rox btw)
07-09-2001, 11:22 AM
Welcome to the brave new world with such people in it Gaz. IMO there's no comparison between a dish and cable. The sound, picture, and service on my dish is orders of magnitude better than what I got with Comcast *spit on the ground*.
07-09-2001, 11:25 AM
i use sdsl at work and have a dish at home for data...dish wins hands down, except for stormy times.
07-09-2001, 11:36 AM
HC - I'v heard that DSL is fast, ADSL which is what people get at home is not as fast as cable a lot of the time. Pretty much neither are as cool as they should be.
Clint - I think all the channels are digital on a dish, not just the upper less watched tier. Of course I could be mistaken.
Gaz - I have heard some local rumors here that sime places can't seperate their cable from their cable modems, so even if you were to cancel the cable channels you might get them free because they can't turn them off. Might not be true in your area, but interesting either way.
What I want to know is when are they going to get a Dish that can control as many TV's as you want without having to but multiple receivers. There should be a way to have the dish and then maybe a single box inside the house to run all the other TV's from.
Clint in Wichita
07-09-2001, 01:08 PM
By chance, I paid my cable bill in person during lunch, and here's the explanation I received from the dimwit behind the counter:
Many of the signals are analog before they get to your box, but the box converts the signal to digital before you see it on your screen.
I don't know how (or if) this is the reason for the lower-quality picture, but I've had no complaints. I honestly can't tell the difference between the 2, and yes, I do have normal vision and hearing!:p
07-09-2001, 02:06 PM
Morphius- ADSL is standard for home use (heck, even for business use). The 'A' stands for Asynchronous... the d/l speed is typically between 384Kbps - 1.45Mbps. Depends on the package you pay for. Of course, the more bandwidth, the more they charge (bastids!). Theorhetically, <i>everyone</i> could receive T1 speeds and greater over their existing DSL lines - the ISP is the problem (hence, the bandwidth throttling & higher pay for more). The 'asynchronous' part = upload speeds are greatly reduced (usually to 128Kbps range)
The good news: most major ISPs are upgrading their infrastructure to OC3(155.52 <i>million</i> bits per second); some go as high as to OC256(13+ <i>billion</i> bits per second - roughly equivalent to 7200 T1s... or 256 T3s!). To put that into perspective, you could download the entire contents of most user hard-drives in just under two seconds.
The bad news: the companies that have enough $$ to invest in this = mega conglomos... which equates to gouging us-the consumer. What <i>really</i> stinks: the majority of the upgrades took place some time ago - the profits were reflected by stock prices, so if you were lucky enough to hold shares, you could make a tasty profit. The market has evened out a bit since then...
07-09-2001, 02:16 PM
Clint - I think your dimwit assessment is accurate. If the sgnal came to the box in analog form, then was converted to digital, it would have to be converted back to analog as televisions (the present ones) are analog devices.If you want to know which channels of digital cable are actually digital, unhook the coax (from the wall) from the digital box and hook it straight to the tv. The channels that are still there are analog. Whatever disappeared is digital.
07-09-2001, 06:32 PM
Bob Dole's digital cable is only digital for the "premium" and music channels. And while researching the appropriate cable to purchase for the Sony/Philips Digital Interface, discovered that the SPDIF audio is not yet implemented.
At least the S-video out to the receiver made a noticable difference...
07-09-2001, 08:45 PM
Is there any minimum package that local cable companies are required to offer by the FCC or any other governmental body?
If I don't want anymore that just the local stations, shouldn't the local cable be required to offer only those local stations without all the other national cable networks?
07-09-2001, 11:43 PM
Yes there is a "basic cable" which is required by...possibly the PUC? I have DirecTV and have channels 2 thru 13 (all the network feeds) thru the cable company. It is only $8.95 a month from Cox Cable here in Northern Cal. I bet you have the same option in SoCal. It works great for me...you get the local news that way as well.
I have dish network, and have all sorts of problems with it. I guess God loves me though, because the picture was completely gone for weeks, and I was always on hold at the 800 # for the company. Than the picture came back just hours before the NFL draft. Then Monday, the picture proptly went away again. It also, is slow to change channels, slow to give me the menu, and offers NO FOOTBALL. Just a bunch of Brittish crap like criquit (sp) and soccer. Great picture, but would rather have cable, and since I live at home, convincing my dad to switch to D TV after he bought all the Dish Network stuff, is like pulling teeth. He just doesn't understand my unquenchable lust for football.
07-10-2001, 02:59 AM
I looked rather thoroughly and didn’t see this mentioned, I apologize if I asking you to repeat yourself but…
Do you have a surround sound system hooked up to your satellite setup? If so, did the digital signal make a big difference in the surround sound as well as the picture?
I was considering satellite in the past but considering my viewing habits, I pushed it aside. After reading your posts I’m reconsidering. Sounds like the picture beats cable hands down. How about the audio?
07-10-2001, 04:33 AM
mmccann - You must have the patience of a saint to tolerate your satellie system acting that way. Is Dish Network still billing you while you have no service? When the picture goes "out" what does your screen look like? Black? White? Is any message displayed on the screen? Have you checked your signal strength on the on-screen signal meter? If you will get me some hints, we will get your system going again. But you will still have NO FOOTBALL. That's just Dish Network. Waiting to hear from you.
Thanks for the concern. It has been fine for quite awhile now. Last time it acted up was when the MTV movie awards were on. we saw the first half and then... Black screen for about a week. I'm pretty sure we were billed. When it does come back it is slow. While it is down, occasionally we will see the titles of the shows accross the top of the screen, or a prompt. "Attempting to accuire sat signal" but then, of course there would never be one. I would check the signal strength and there would be none. When it comes back on, the signal strength is strong. It just seems slow to change channels. We used to have two TVs and two receivers, now we just use one TV so I think we tried switching out the recievers and it hasn't acted up since. But no matter how hard I try I still can't get football. :D
I don't really watch TV anyway. Just X files and football. All those are local. But during the draft, I was freakin' out.
07-10-2001, 06:04 AM
DirecTV is definitely the way ta' go....
SUnday ticket, History channel, DYI channel, ESPN channels, Discovery, PBS, and HBO(6 FEET UNDER ROCKS!)
What else does a fella' need? :D
07-10-2001, 06:50 AM
I have a quick question that I hope you might have an answer for.
I bought a Direct TV System back in December. I purchased it during a promotion. I got the system and instalation for $19 or $29, I can't remember. Anyway, recently the remote control has stopped working. I put in new batteries, etc. etc. I have found that sometimes if you mess with the sensor or batteries, it will work again for a couple of clicks.
So, to get to the point. Is there some type of warranty for this? My concern is that if I buy the same remote that I have, it would be more $$ than what I paid for the system itself. I have been trying to call the place that I purchased it at for over a week and I get a recording everytime. I am beginning to wonder if it went out of business.
07-10-2001, 07:05 AM
mmccann - If you had no signal strength with the first receiver, but did have it with the 2nd, the first receiver is bad. Since it works intermittently, it sounds like a bad solder joint. Try hitting it up side the head. NO, wait, seriously if you gently tap it & it responds, it should be an easy fix by an electronics repair guy. It is easy to spend more onrepair costs than th unit is worth so be careful there.
07-10-2001, 07:10 AM
47 mack - I need to know which brand of receiver you have. It shoul be a Hughes, RCA, Phillips or Sony. I can maybe help you if I knew that.
07-10-2001, 07:16 AM
I have a Kenwood home theater system and a Dolby-capable Hughes satellite receiver. With a digital coax cable [THOSE PUPPIES ARE EXPENSIVE!], I get digital sound on the channels that broadcast in Dolby. Not all channels are Dolby, but I bought the Platinum satellite receiver in the expectation that more and more programs will be broadcast in Dolby.
Even on the channels without a Dolby signal, the audio via the digital coax cable is "fuller" than that from the RCA cables. I realize this is a subjective point, but I can switch quickly from VIDEO1 [RCA] to VIDEO2 [digital coax] and hear a huge difference.
Once you swallow the initial hardware cost, the monthly costs are very similar and the quality of video and audio is incomparable. I realize I sound like a DirecTV hack, but I am simply amazed at the difference.
Waiting patiently for his kickback from DirecTV.
07-10-2001, 07:36 AM
47 mack. Those RCA remotes are notoriously cheap,bot in quality and in price. Sounds like something loose inside what with the intermittent. Make SURE that the batteries are fresh. I have a friend who rents out his lake cabin & I have sent him an unending supply of remoes to replace the onesthe guests have destroyed. One place I work for sells those for around $12. Wal-mart has them, too. They are a universal remote. Jst another reason to buy a Hughes in the first place!!
07-10-2001, 07:41 AM
So, basically I am $hit out of luck?
Will any universal remote work? Thanks for the info.
07-10-2001, 07:41 AM
Never going back to.... shudder...cable.
07-10-2001, 08:06 AM
47 mack - Pretty much SOL. I don't know about ANY universal remote working with the RCA. The one I know will work are black with pink & blue buttons. The bubble pack shouldsay RCA on it somewhere. You might try a directv dealer in your area fora used remote. Many dealers are also cell phone dealers, TV sales &service or something else.
07-10-2001, 08:13 AM
As Bob Dole was researching the SPDIF connection that uses the digital coaxial cable, Bob Dole came to the conclusion from reading the SPDIF specifications that any cable that exceeded the standard 75ohm cable was "overkill."
Bob Dole's conclusion was that the $5.95 cable with plastic RCA-looking ends would be just as effective as the $39.95 Monster Cable.
Did you receive information that refuted that conclusion?
I did not buy a Monster® cable. I bought a Radio Shack® digital coax cable to hook the Dolby-capable satellite receiver to the Dolby-capable audio receiver. There is a considerable difference in sound quality between the two [VIDEO1 Vs VIDEO2]. More bass and a fuller sound, IMO.
Knows nothin' 'bout no SPDIF.
Perhaps I should hook a plain old RCA cable to the digital OUT on the Hughes and into the digital IN on the Kenwood? Would I get the same quality of sound?
Almost afraid to find out.
07-10-2001, 09:20 AM
Gaz - yes you overpaid for coax, but no the RCA plug won't give you as good a sound. Your best bet is to buy some decent RCA ends and crimp them onto a quality R6. Look for bare copper center and shield and a teflon insulator and jacket [avoid rubber, polyethylene or PVC]. Belden makes several versions [#89259 is probably the best] that can be bought relatively cheaply [.50-1.00 @ foot].
I bought a 6-foot digital coax cable from Radio Shack for $12.
Factoring in the crimping tool I would have to buy and the emergency room visit to remove my finger from the crimping tool I had just purchased, I am fairly content with where I am right now.
Did I mention that I am accident-prone [ie: clumsy]?
Leaving well enough alone.
07-10-2001, 10:17 AM
Maybe you can help me with this...
I used to be a dealer for both DirecTV and Dish Network. While setting up DTV systems, once I got my signal locked in, I would flip through the transponders to find the highest signal. With Dish Network, while I'm doing this, it wont save the transponder I've chosen, instead, it reverts to the original transponder. Any ideas???
thinking about scrapping Dish and going to DTV...
Did I mention that I am accident-prone [ie: clumsy]?
Guess that explains your career choice! ;)
don't have enough time to bake potatoes on the couch to justify the $$
07-10-2001, 10:21 AM
My bad Gaz - I misread the posts and thought you'd bought one of those $40 jobbies. What I was suggesting would be useful if you had multiple coax media [Satellite, DVD, CD, SACD, etc.] or already had a crimper. What's really nice is you can customize the length and avoid some of the mess of wires behind the entertainment center.
Here is the major kicker with DirecTV. Mrs. Gaz and I do not watch live TV, with the sole exception of the Chiefs and an occasional glimpse at one of the multitude of news stations. We tape everything and watch it at our convenience, sans commercials. As a result, there are often two watchable shows broadcast at the same time [Dharma & Greg Vs Buffy the Vampire Slayer comes to mind]. Our solution to this problem is a second TV and VCR in the Family Room. With satellite, that means another receiver.
Forced to concede that satellite is not perfect.
Use the words “Gaz” and “crimper” in the same sentence and watch the blood drain from Mrs. Gaz’s face…
Has a personalized parking spot at the Minor Emergency Center.
I should show Mrs. Gaz that I saved some money during the satellite conversion. She was very supportive of the DirecTV idea, tolerant of the Platinum receiver and grudgingly accepting of the SVHS VCR. The enthusiasm level dropped perceptively as I kept upgrading the equipment.
“Yes, Hon, I did spend over $200 for the satellite system, and almost another $200 for the SVHS VCR that we did not really need, but I saved $20 on the coax!”
Yeah, that should do the trick…
Rethinking that strategy.
07-10-2001, 10:44 AM
Bob Dole didn't mean to imply that an RCA cable would work as well as a digital coaxial cable, but that the ends on the less expensive cables resemble the male RCA end. The cable itself is different.
The R6 comment leads Bob Dole to believe that the conclusion was correct: anything exceeding a shielded 75ohm cable is excessive.
As for SPDIF (or IEC958): It was developed in conjunction with the compact disc, but seems to be emerging as the most popular digital audio in/out format. In addition to handling the standard digital audio, it can carry multichannel datastreams. Reading the EBU specs is what led Bob Dole to believe that an inexpensive 75ohm cable would be adequate.
Bear in mind that Bob Dole is not a technical expert on this sort of thing. Bob Dole just looked around after visiting the local Radio Shack, asking for a digital coaxial cable and having the Radio Shack employee respond, "Huh?"
You can find more technical SPDIF info than you'd ever want <a href="http://www.epanorama.net/documents/audio/spdif.html">here</a>.
07-10-2001, 10:49 AM
The R6 comment leads Bob Dole to believe that the conclusion was correct: anything exceeding a shielded 75ohm cable is excessive.
Absolutely, but the key is to have good carriers and good insulators for a flawless feed. Solid copper and teflon are best, but aluminum, braided copper, etc., as well as PVC, rubber, etc. will adversely affect your signal. Further, they won't save any money.
07-10-2001, 10:53 AM
I thought I was doing someone a favor by deleting their duplicate post. Apparently, they already went in and removed the other one simultaneous to my action. I don't remember who you were, but here is the content:
Gaz - you think its bad now, wait until you fall in love with a monstrous set of speakers and are then faced with the task of convincing Ms. Gaz that they will blend in with the decor. And if the SVHS and satellite are tough to get by, don't even walk into the HDTV room.
Home Theater fever is a SICKNESS. It and computer upgrades keep me spending like a crackhead.
07-10-2001, 10:55 AM
KPhobia - That was me. Thanx for bringing it back
07-10-2001, 10:59 AM
Well, it's a good thing I'm an ultra-conservative computer geek. I ALWAYS back things up before whacking 'em - in this case, it paid off....
07-10-2001, 12:21 PM
Gaz greatly exaggerates his ineptitude with electronic equipment. He absolutely STUDIES this stuff. I can attest to his prowess with a crowbar as well. - Extreme Chief - I use a Channelmaster meter with built in ni-cad battery to lock in the highest possible signal strength. Therefore, I do not use the screen that shows the individual signal strength of each transpomder. That screen has other uses, however. As far as I know, Dish does not have a screen such as this. Are you talking about scrapping Dish Network as a dealer? I wouldn't scrap them for that reason. I only use that screen to troubleshoot for missing channels. With Dish, you ca still do this just not allon one screen like Direct.
07-10-2001, 01:09 PM
Has Big Daddy taught you how to hack the DSS yet?
Home theater is a slippery, slippery slope.
It started with the big screen TV. I did extensive research and zeroed in on the 61” Hitachi UltraVision. We loved the big screen and the faux surround option was pretty cool, giving a new depth to the sound. We were thrilled.
Well, it seemed a shame to waste that big, sharp picture on VHS, so we bought a DVD player. Amazing picture and very nice sound. Mrs. Gaz was ecstatic.
Of course, that sound would be better with a home theater sound system. Mrs. Gaz actually drove this purchase. I was shopping for some cheap surround speakers. She asked me why I was cheaping out on speakers [Mrs. Gaz is a nut for good speakers]. I told her that I figured a home theater sound system was in our future, so I would rather buy cheaper speakers now and replace them then. She said we might as well get the home theater system now [I LOVE that woman!].
All was bliss until I started investigating TiVo. A PVR is the perfect choice for what we do [timeshifting TV]. I began my research. During my TiVo investigation, I found a DirecTiVo unit that combines a DirecTV receiver with a TiVo unit. It records the raw digital satellite signal. No compression. Kewl! Bad news: the DirecTiVo unit can only record the satellite signal; it cannot record an outside signal [No Buffy? No WAY!]. And decided that TiVo is not ready yet. When they come up the ability to record  programs simultaneously, they can have me. By this time, Mrs. Gaz was perhaps secretly relieved.
However, in researching DirecTiVo, I discovered that I could have satellite for the same price I was paying for cable. I was hooked. After copious research, I picked DirecTV and the Hughes receivers. I connected with Skip Towne via this BB and he installed my dish.
But then the home theater virus struck again. After all, here I was with a crisp, sharp 400-line satellite picture, but I was recording on a miserable 230-line VHS VCR [Mrs. Gaz began to actively cringe at this point]. I investigated digital VHS, but I do not buy electronics until at least the 3rd or 4th generation, so DVHS was right out. SVHS, on the other hand, is enjoying a renaissance with the emergence of satellite. 400 lines of resolution and the ability to record on regular VHS tapes instead of the pricy SVHS tapes.
UPS should deliver my SVHS VCR today.
For the moment, I am content. But I know Mrs. Gaz is living in fear of those dreaded words:
“You know, Hon, I’ve been thinking…”
Slipping down that slope.
As corny as it sounds, I would not do that. We had a big debate on Napster on the BB and hacking DirecTV seems like a similar proposition.
Victim of conscience.
07-11-2001, 05:50 PM
Thanks for the input.
Here's my dilemma: The majority of TV I watch these days consists of DVD movies and sports. And the only sports I really watch are the Chiefs and Flyers (Philadelphia Hockey that is) with the occasional Hitler’s Henchmen type History and Discovery Channel type shows.
In other words, do I really need a satellite system just to watch the Chiefs? Now don’t get me wrong, that’s a BIG reason to get satellite here at otter’s bachelor pad but there is a compliment to the Chiefs factor in that equation.
About 1.5 blocks down the road there is a little pub called Zembies where everybody knows my name and I get together with all the Redskin and Eagles fans and drink beer eat wings and watch football every Sunday. They bring the Chiefs in on one of their satellite TVs especially for yours truly.
What I need to do is factor in the cost to keep the cable I have and get only the NFL package. I think that would be the ideal way to go at this point.
Just thought I’d share my situation since you gave such a thorough answer.
I’m honored to be the recipient of your wisdom.
07-11-2001, 06:00 PM
Trust Bob Dole on this one, Otter. Continue to do the bar thing...
At some point, you'll find some woman who won't understand your high decibel screaming, and you'll need that Out-of-House experience. It only took 2 weeks for Bob Dole to hear, "But what will the neighbors think?" (Ignoring the fact that Bob Dole's response was, "I don't give a flying ****.")
As a bonus, you get to ya-ya all the fans of other teams. (Though admittedly, the ya-yas were few and far between last seaon...)
07-11-2001, 06:05 PM
Well at least you won't have to worry about your system blowing up. You ever watch any of that Ultimate Fighting?
Loves all the free porn. <IMG SRC="http://www.dirtbike.com/freshdirt/BBS/icon_smile_tongue.gif";
07-11-2001, 08:24 PM
Hey - otter You haVE teased me once before with your 23 yr. old girlfriends. Wasn't that you with the shampoo idea? Oh, well, never mind. I don't understand why you want to keep cable. Are you a masochist? Do you like grainy pictures? Do you like being ignored? Of course not!!!Yes, you can keep your cable and add the NFL Sunday ticket to it. All you have to do is put up a dish, diplex the dish signal with the present cable then split it back out behind the TV and you will get grainy cable TV & crystal clear NFL Sunday ticket. Why not just subscribe to directv + the Nfl Sunday ticket and not hassle with cable? Ask Gaz. He kept basic cable ($9.95) only to protect his roadrunner & to get the local channels. CABLE SUCKS. If you can get away from them, DO IT. I can get you a FREE Directv system if you will pay for your first three months programming in advance. Let me know if I can be of service to you.
For me, it boiled down to more channels and a digital signal for the same money. If satellite had cost more than cable, I might not have made the change [although the unexpected clarity of the signal makes me glad I did].
Part of my economic equation is Road Runner. Dropping cable TV would cost me $10 a month, so that factored in to the relative cost. Here is the URL for DirecTV. You can see what the programming you might want would set you back each month. Then you can compare it to what you are paying for cable.
I decided against Dish Network, but here is the URL. You might have a different opinion concerning the relative value.
If cable and satellite are equivalent in price on a monthly basis, then you have to consider the hardware [dish and receiver] and installation costs. After all, it costs nothing out of pocket to keep cable.
Unless you want  receivers or the Dolby-digital receiver, you can get a very good deal on the receiver [see Skip Towne's post] and DirecTV is offering free professional installation until July 25. Dish Network offers a free dish and receiver if you commit to a year of programming.
I am very impressed with the Hughes receivers. They control my VCRs, so I have one-touch recording via the satellite receiver and the remote controls all my audio-video equipment. I am not qualified to give an opinion on RCA; you should talk to Skip Towne about that. During my research, the Sony units received universally bad reviews [which shocked me, since I am generally a Sonyphile].
Truly is not paid for DirecTV endorsements.
07-12-2001, 08:18 AM
I for one am highly envious of Gaz (not that he's an engineer, heaven forbid ;) ), but because his house is satellite friendly. I was going to get satellite because I got tired of a) watching Redskin football because the local team overrides the real games and b) the local bars only catering to the Redskin/Raven/Steeler/Eagles crowds.
However, when the installer came out to the place and basically told me I'd need to spend about $1500 to top the trees around my house so we could get the signal... well, looks like cable is in my house to stay.
Believe me, I'd much rather get only basic cable, and that only because we're getting ready to go to a cable modem for the desktop, and get everything else satellite. However, my wife is NOT quite ready to justify a $1500 expenditure to satisfy my football habit. (sigh)
07-12-2001, 09:17 AM
For a big family (more than two TVs), cable would be a better deal (just split out the cable signal and voila, you are on your own.)
07-12-2001, 09:29 AM
Misplaced - Sorry to hear that you are treed. Though chances are - you're not.I have only failed to find an open shot at the satellite once in over 800 installs.Sometimes you can shoot between the trees, sometimes over them and sometimes you just outflank them.You can as far as 200' out from your house to find a place to put the dish. Planting a chain link fence post works well. ( a lne post, not a corner post). Don't pay that guy $1500!!!!! I will come to your house & set the dish for $1000!!. Big Savings. Seriously, if you could send a pic, maybe I could help you locate a spot. Also, how tall are the trees? Going over usually works.
07-12-2001, 11:24 AM
Trees are between 35' - 40' tall in the back yard (southwest/west facing) and there are about 9 of them in back (.17 acre lot). The installer wasn't going to charge me $1500, the tree maintenance people were :( . The installer was trying to work with me best he could. He said he could get me reception, but I'd have to install about a 15' pole on top of my house. Housing Association about blew a gasket when I put in the application. :mad: (Obviously Redskin/Raven fans, don't understand real football.)
If Direct TV had an eastern satellite I could bounce off of, I'd be set, but south and west at my house is pretty blocked.
07-12-2001, 12:09 PM
Misplaced - You need to get one foot back away from the tree for every foot of it's height.Are you able to back off 40 feet from the trees? How about going up to 200 feet to the east? Or to the south to get on the sout side of the trees? Putting them on a tall pole is inadvisable because you need them accessible for snow removal and adjustment.
07-12-2001, 12:14 PM
Like I said, my whole lot is only .17 acre. I doubt there's 200 ft side to side on my lot. If I put the antenna at the edge of the street, I might be able to shoot over the house and the trees, but somehow, I think an antenna that close to the street/sidewalk would just be an invitation for disaster.
07-12-2001, 01:24 PM
“What would the neighbors think?”
Unless the neighbors found out I was running a drug cartel from my apartment, I doubt they would look at me as any more of an odd ball than they already do. I have been affectionately (so I like to think) been nicknamed Kramer by my neighbors. My first night there I locked myself out on my balcony and had to crawl over to the next one at 1:00am and knock on their sliding doors.
Keep in mind I live 14 floors in the air. Knocks from the balcony side are not very common.
Locking myself out in my boxers, taking the garbage out in a bathrobe that has the crew from “Welcome Back Kotter” on the back... Its gonna take quiet a spectacle to surprise the neighbors at this point.
Could that and being single be somehow related?!??! I didn’t think so either.
You have to be the drunkest and loudest guy there at the sports bar. Then, and only then, will they recognize the Chiefs!
Thanks again for the input Gaz and SkipTown. I’m going to stick with the cable for now. I just don’t watch enough TV at the moment to go through the trouble of change. When things slow down I’ll switch I’m sure.
On an interesting little side note…
I met Bwana yesterday in York. He was in on business. I was expecting to meet a fellow computer guy and he turned out to be a lumberjack looking fellow form Montana. Really cool guy.
If your reading this Bwana, your black and tan gets shipped on Monday.
07-12-2001, 01:30 PM
With 17 acres, it seems there would be a way.It is one of those deals where I just need to see it myself. One other option, go to the rental place and rent a chain saw and take matters into your own hands.You coud take out just one tree & do it most likely. Some firewood cutters will do it for the wood.
07-12-2001, 02:06 PM
I see what we have here is a failure to communicate.
Not 17 acres.... zero point one seven acres is what my house sets on. Under a fifth of an acre. AKA, it takes 15 minutes to mow the grass.
Sorry if I didn't make myself clear.
07-12-2001, 02:13 PM
Sorry, I didn''t seethe decimal point. Near the sidewalk is not good.Do you have a fax machine? I do. Maybe if you could draw a picture of the situation and fax it to me it would help.
I have a similar problem at my house. I have 35-40 foot tall trees about 10 feet away from my house that block the south and southwest. My house is about 26 feet wide, and about 12 feet high on the north side of the house. My dish is attached at the edge of the roof line on the NORTH side, and shoots across the top of my house. Check this arangement out. It might give you that 1foot -to- 1 foot ratio that Skip was telling you about. At the very worst, you might only have to trim a couple of branches off every so often!
LMT (formerly known as Coogs)
07-12-2001, 04:20 PM
LMT - Your idea could very well work. The tough part would be trimming the branches of a 40 foot tall tree. I have a bucket truck but it only goes up 25 feet. If I had a drawing I would be more help.
07-12-2001, 05:39 PM
Skip. I've had Direct TV, two recievers with no problems, except the last couple of weeks. Reciever upstairs no phone line, until recently....you know why. Receiver downstairs in the Chiefs room has always had phone hookup. I'm losing my signal for all my HBO's and local channels...Check my signal...90%...Wierd thing, reciever upstairs doesn't experience this satellite speed bump....
07-12-2001, 06:11 PM
I t sounds like the upstairs receiver went bye - bye for awhile. While it was gone, Directv saw there was no phone line and took action against the only receiver they could get at. Hook phone lines (must be same phone line) to both receivers (even if temporary) and call 800 730 4742 and tell them you have lost certain channels. They will check for phone lines,see them, and turn you back on. They don't want you taking that 2nd receiver to your bar & showing HBO programs (like prize fights) to your customers. Likewise they don't want the local channels to get un-local.
07-12-2001, 09:42 PM
Gaz - Gotta disagree with you on the Sony - Hughes comparison. My Sony is 1 year older than my Hughes and has the same remote functionanilties. The feature the Sony has that the Hughes doesn't is this cool "Surf" function. You can watch 1 show w/ the sound and scroll through other channells in a window to see if there is a better option out there. The Hughes has something close but without show descriptions. The Sony has much better software functionalities throughout the system.
07-12-2001, 10:23 PM
Hey - Mojo - I think Gaz is right and so do all the rest of us DSS techs. Since your Sony receiver is older than your Hughes I'm assuming you have a Sony dish (White in color). If so, are you aware that the pole is not the same size as ALL OTHER brands. Are you aware that the Sony LNB costs twice what the others do? And is half as reliable. WhenI do a service call on Sony stuff, if it is the LNB, I change the whole dish, pole & all. It is cheaper than a $140 Sony dual LNB. And, you are now free to use conventional parts and not Sony overpriced crap. The Sony remote is incomprehensible (even to techs). Why have two "TV" buttons? Older people are overwhelmed by it. I had one older gentleman call a few days after install to tell me both his son and daughter (both subscribers) came over & neither could work the Sony remote. One had a Hughes and the other a RCA. Your point of Sony ability to show program information in the "single channel guide" is very minor. Where is Sony's "Turbotune"feature that your Hughes has? Bet you didn't know it was there!! You can set a Hughes to change channels all day long and you never have to do a thing. Your favorite program "just comes on". Not with Sony!! I could go on & on. Find a search engine and type Directv in the search bar. The scroll down to "receiver comparisons". Hughes wins hands down. The only good thing about the Sony, according to this site, is the name. If you would like to hear more bad things about the Sony system please contact me. Your Sony receiver will take its place next to that "Beta VCR you have in your attic". Sony screwed that up too!!!!!
I have no first hand knowledge of the Sony or RCA satellite receivers. I searched beaucoup product review sites, both professional and consumer, before making my decision [as I do with any major purchase]. I was surprised to find the Sony receivers held in such low esteem, as I am generally a Sony kinda guy. Both the pro and amateur reviews dogged Sony pretty hard, while everyone loved Hughes. RCA was generally considered okay, but not as good as the Hughes. I am glad that you are not experiencing the disappointment lots of folks expressed over the Sony receivers.
I cannot comment on the Sony receiver, as I only saw them on display and hooked up for demonstration. I am, however, quite pleased with the Hughes.
Blissfully free of buyers remorse this time.
Skip and MCF,
There may not be any trees to trim. Think about this. If the house is say only 10 feet high on the north side, the dish would be mounted the equivalent of 10 feet up the tree, which makes the 40 foot tree a 30 foot tree so to speak. Then if the back side of the roof line is a bit over 30 feet from the tree line (mine is about 35 feet from the tree line), you can shoot right over the top of the trees with no trimming at all as you have more than your 1 to 1 ratio. Just a thought!
LMT, cringing at the thought of MCF being saddled with the stooges 16 times a season.
You can check this yourself with just a ladder. If you get to the edge of your roofline, and hold your arm straight out in front of you, you have a 90 degree angle between straigt up and your arm. Raise your arm to where it is halfway between straight out and straight up, and you have a 45 degree angle which is what you need to be pointed at the satellite. If your arm is pointed above the treeline, you are in business.
07-13-2001, 12:51 PM
That is the way it works alright. Very well put. The reason I didn't menton this is that it is way too obvious. This site has been looked at by a professional who determined "No Go". Therefore I am assuming that all conventional solutions have been exhausted. If I am in doubt, I usually just mount the dish and put the signal strength meter to it.
Why not mount the dish up in the tree?
Probably not helping as much as he thinks.
07-13-2001, 04:05 PM
Gaz - that can work, if the tree is very, very solid. However, most trees have too much sway to keep the dish as still as it needs to be to lock on.
07-13-2001, 05:00 PM
Mount the dish up in a tree? You're not from Arkansas are you Gaz? Seriously, it could work but you will be flirting with branches at all times.Remember, the signal comes down at a 45 degree angle.
Note to self: wit a bit too dry...
Cursed with the Engineer sense of humor.
07-13-2001, 09:14 PM
I need some help...I left for a vacation on Saturday. A real bad storm came through on Sunday...Bad enough to knock the electricity out for 4 days, which is unheard of around here. My satellite now says "Searching for signal"....It is beautiful weather and I normally get about a 95 signal. I am currently getting zero. I unplugged the receiver, checked all of the wiring and still zero signal...Went out with my level and tools to check my mount, and set up...Zero signal. BTW, I have installed about 5 or 6 of these with ease for friends and mine a couple of times when I moved. My guess is that the receiver got whacked during the lightening storm...Would that be your guess? Is there anything that I am overlooking?
Help badly needed...No dish is already killing me and it has only been a couple hours...
07-13-2001, 09:54 PM
We are getting satellite so i was just wondering......what channel has the best Chiefs coverage? I've seen certain channels that are of one single team, do the Chiefs have one of these?
07-13-2001, 10:06 PM
I don't think so...With the Sunday ticket you can pick up a lot of the coach's pregame shows but Gun didn't have one to my knowledge...DV might however...
07-13-2001, 11:22 PM
Can I puchase other local city channels without purchasing a basic DSS package?
07-13-2001, 11:27 PM
Can I puchase other local city channels without purchasing a basic DSS package?
I guess I was just a little bit unsure how 'professional' MCF's installer really was. $1500 to trim a couple of trees sounds a bit much, so I was wondering if maybe he is in partnership with a tree trimmer. Just don't want a fellow Chief fan to get taken. Or have to suffer through 16 games of the Stooges!!!
07-14-2001, 11:43 AM
....a little to the side of the main discussion... but....
I just got 3 quotes to remove an old diseased elm from my yard. The tree is about 3 foot in diameter and has fairly easy access to drop limbs all around. The quotes were for....
I do not understand how these quotes can be so disparate. All firms quoted to remove, cleanup, and grind the stump. All were insured, established firms.
After getting these quotes, hearing that someone wants $1500 to "trim" some trees - isn't unbelievable. The trees aren't the only ones getting trimmed.
07-15-2001, 05:38 AM
WackyRuss - Yes, you are allowed to purchase the local channels without a program package. The cost is $5.99 per month. jl80 - Sounds like the storm got something. With the receiver on, go to the dish & take the cable loose from the LNB. Using a voltmeter set to "DC Volts", touch the black lead to the outside of the connector and the red lead to the center conductor. There should be 18 volts there. If there isn't, it is either the wiring has an open or the receiver got zapped. If there is voltage, it s the LNB that got it. Check the receiver by putting a short jumper on the "satellite in" jack. If no voltage, the receiver is bad. If voltage is present, the wiring is at fault.
07-15-2001, 06:09 AM
This has been asked before and there were conflivting answers, so I wanted an answer straight from your mouth. I live in Texas, is there any way to get KC channels on Direct TV so I don't have to get Sunday Ticket?
07-15-2001, 06:15 AM
Not without a "descrambler" setup.....
Tried......If you live in the same state, you can get away with saying you live in a different county though......
I hear that people have done that, and that it works......:D
07-15-2001, 07:45 AM
47 mack - There are a couple of ways to do it. Neither of them "legal". You can have the receiver activated as a second receiver at the home of a KC friend and take ithome and install it in Texas. They may catch you as you won't have the proper phone line connected. You also can go the H-Card route with an emulator. This is more expensive than the NFL Sunday ticket.
07-15-2001, 06:09 PM
Crisis is over...Thanks for you help...Turned out that a splitter/combiner box that I had in the crawl space went bad.(Probably got wet from the heavy rain)...
If I'm ever in KC, your beer is on me...
07-15-2001, 10:40 PM
From what you are saying, it is no way I can get out of town channels (KC, New York, etc...)
I am screwed.
07-15-2001, 10:50 PM
To follow up with your telling the sattelite company you live in a different county but it the same state scenario.
I'm within the 3 hour radius of Oakland so I get screwed on the games they don't sellout (which is just about all of them). I also get screwed on picking up the Sac Kings home games as I live within 90 minutes of their arena. (I subscribe to NBA League Pass)
How do you call up the sattelite company and tell them a different county when your mailing address is still the same and your residence location doesn't change?
Bribe the rep you happen to get on the phone?
Give me the scoop on this.
07-16-2001, 01:50 AM
This is what I've heard....:D
I don't know of anyone, business or residence, that lists the COUNTY on their mailing address. It's useless info....the postal service goes by zip code, but DirecTV goes by County, do determine weather or not you "deserve" local channels.....
The gentleman/woman on the phone asks your address THEN your COUNTY.....Say whatever county DOESN'T have access to local ABC, NBC, CBS, etc in the area you want to recieve local channels(but ONLY If it is in your home state!)....She doesn't, and from what I've heard, can't double check to see if Town X is actually in County X....They get their money, they don't really care...YOU provided false info, and with that legal back door you are "allowed" by them to recieve the channels.....
Or so I've heard.....:D
07-16-2001, 10:15 AM
Wacky Russ - Other than the two "less than legal" ways I posted earlier you can always apply for waivers from the networks you want. It is a long shot but sometimes works. Call Directv ( 800 730 4742) and tell them you have a large power transformer in your back yard that interferes with your reception of the local network channels. For that reason, you would like to apply for a waiver for any one, or all of the network channels. Good luck!!!
07-16-2001, 09:38 PM
Brad - You are correct that the CSR at Directv can't check to see what county a residence is in. This trick doesn't help much in rural Oklahoma but my friends say they use it in metropolitan areas. Apparently some counties have areas that aren't served by the local's because of distance. If you live in an adjacent county, you can lie and they will turn on the networks. Or so I am told.
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