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Tough installation - Location - Help PLease

81871 Views 314 Replies 43 Participants Last post by  P2B

I'm contemplating ShawDirect for a tough location at a Cabin on Paul Lake (think close to a Mountain) near Kamloops, B.C. I want to take as much risk out of the setup so I won't end up with useless (and expensive) gear like my Brother did with FTA.

One of the neighbors (4 lots away ~ 300 feet?) has ShawDirect so I know it's somewhat possible. He's got his Dish on a 12 foot pole across the road from his house to avoid the mountain / trees. I'm told without it he can't "see" anything. Rumor has it that that's the closest location to our Cabin with a decent "window", but I haven't anything documented.

A couple questions spring to mind. How long a cable run can be done (in case I need to go to the same spot) and when does it need in line amplifiers and/or power up the cable from the House? I'm an Electrician so adding power won't be an issue if needed.

One of my Brothers has gone with ShawDirect and gave me his FTA gear. The gear is ~24 inch eliptical (24" X 18") dish with a 4 position yoke => 91°, 101°, 110°, 119°. The first 3 locations are filled with a Cal Amp Ku LNBFs (part number 150517). These are dual output LNBs, but only one side has a cable connected to it on each LNB going to the Switch. The Switch is a SonicView4X1 DISEqC Switch with 4 inputs (one open) and a single output to the Receiver. The other side of the LNB is not terminated and left open (?). Could this setup be used with a different yoke to get Anik F1 & F2 (107° &111°) ? Is there a better dish than the standard ShawDirect one? I'd like the install (if I go ahead with it) to be rock solid for my Mom.

(The Receiver is a SonicView SV-360 Premier and I don't think it's useful for this application as I'll have to get a ShawDirect account and receiver.)

Now that I look at what I've written it's probably better to just get a total ShawDirect system than muck about trying to get a new yoke fitted to that dish. I see them quite cheap on Craigslist anyway.

Answers to the questions on the Cable run and any alternate (better) dishes would be helpful. Thanks for the assist.;)
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Your best bet would be to share your neighbor's dish. Most of them have 4 outputs and if its for a cabin, there is probably at least one left. If you use some RG-6 quad shield with solid copper, you shouldn't need a booster. I ran a 800ft line for the same situation with only one in-slope booster. On most systems (non-stacked) you can't use a power inserter has the receiver needs to switch from 13 to 18 volts depending on the selected channel. If you decide to go with your own dish, it will be supplied for free as well as the installation as a new customer. The installer WILL NOT supply quad shield and probably no SCC RG-6 either however. He should at least be able to align the dish for you. If you need a hand PM me, I'm not too far from you and work in Kamloops here and there.
The dish size "Might" be OK, but a proper SD 60e or even better a 75e is what you want.
In addition, the FTA LNB's are CIRCULAR polarized for the 12.2 - 12.7 GHz Ku band.
You need LINEAR polarized LNB's for the 11.7 to 12.2 Band.
And finally the Switch uses a complex protocol to switch that a SD receiver can't communicate with.

The aforementioned 60e/75e have the correct dish, the proper LNB's and a built in multiswitch.

As for distance, you will not have success with conventional RG-6 satellite cable.
For that distance, you should upgrade to the larger RG-11.
It has the same impedance, but MUCH better loss characteristics over a long run.

I successfully ran such a run from the 8th floor to the 4th floor of a commercial building and down a long hallway with several splitters in line for a total distance of ~ 400 feet and had good signals.
BTW, these were also STACKED signals that operate up to the more lossy 2GHz spectrum rather than the usual 1.5GHz space.

If you DO require a booster, insert it around midpoint so as not to amplify noise, but overcome line losses.
These are power by the 13/18VDC that the receiver uses to operate the lnb, so NO external power is required.

You will want to find a pro sat installer that has both the tool and connectors for the RG-11.
I doubt a lot of the proclaimed sat installers will have them, but a good shop should.
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Thanks for the guidance. The more I look at it the less I think using any of the FTA Gear makes sense. It seems ShawDirect bundles their gear to make it relatively painless for the user so why muck about with other stuff.

I was originally going to go with a Bell system here. A Sister and some friends have Bell and I've toyed around with it, and so I read up on it in more detail. I discounted it when I checked the elevation and direction the Dish would need last winter. (I walked on the lake in early February, and with a crude transit figured we'd need a pole 124 feet high to clear the mountain behind the Cabin to get a shot at Bell's Birds :rolleyes:) The nearest neighbor with a Bell dish is over a Km away where the terrain is far less challenging.

I have looked at the neighbor's ShawDirect dish (in envy.... actually it is an older Starchoice Dish as I remember) but as he lives there year round, he's away working in Kamloops most days, and not about much to chat with. I'll look him up again on my next trip in a week or two. I don't know if he'd be interested in sharing his dish, or even if it's HD capable. (If I'm going to all this effort we want to be able to get HD. I've read posts where folks say the picture quality of ShawDirect in HD is better than Cable & Bell. Is this true?)

I've looked at the rear connections for the DSR505 and DVR530 (on the photos on the spec sheet), and noticed the DVDR530 has two F connections for the dish feed whereas the DSR505 has one. I assume the 2 feeds are so you can watch one stream while recording another. If this true I'd need to use 2 feeds from my neighbor's dish? That's probably unreasonable to expect. Maybe we'll supply a replacement dish with a quad LNB to put on his pole and then it would be more palatable.

One of my other neighbors has told me that no local (Kamloops) installers would bother with his install unless they gave them a blank check with no guarantees on results. I'm trying to do this as frugally as possible, and have time (and some relatives for labor) to get it done. (2 other Brothers are Electricians, and another has his PHD in Electrical Engineering => but we don't let him do any of the real work...:D)

I did look up the Anik F1 & F2 footprints and it seems if we can see these Birds (around the mountains and trees) not much would be gained with the 75e as the Kamloops area is still in the strongest signal geography. Do you agree?

Moose, I also looked up the RG-11 cable. (Wow - a 14 AWG center conductor!) Not that I wouldn't love to have this type but I'd like to avoid this if at all possible, not only because of the costs, but it's very stiff and I don't have the termination tools like for RG-6. Doesn't inserting a booster midpoint introduce an extra connection / possible failure point? I was hopeful to run a continuous cable run (no joints) from the Dish to the Cabin Wall. From an amplification standpoint does the location make any difference? I'd think the output of the LNBs before any cable would be the cleanest signal to amplify (before any noise is introduced by connections / adjacent power lines /etc.). Comments?

I'm thinking of direct buried cable especially if we are using the neighbor's Dish /Pole. Anyone know of any tables suggesting cable type versus run length for Sattelite feeds? Does Shaw have any installer specs to work from?

Thanks again for helping me out with this.;)
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Too bad as the FTA gear, except for the switch IS compliant with Bell and Telus Sat TV.
Bell wouldn't be a problem, but TELUS MUST install their gear, so nothing to be gained.
BC is always tough for Bell as the look angles, mountains and tress are tricky.
I think the consensus is the Shaw Direct has a superb HD signal.

If your neighbor has a good shot then with a single look dish, getting HD on the other shouldn't be a problem as the signals are just a few degrees apart, unlike the 9 degrees for the other guys.
The 75e is helful up north and in very heavy rain areas, like the Wet coast.

If you do run the RG-11, don't put in a booster UNLESS you really need it.

Putting an amp in at the LNB amps the noise as much as the signal.
Farther down, the noise is attenuated the same as the signal, but you don't want it so far from the lnb, that there is no signal to amp, so it's a balance.

Either way for a 530 you need 2 runs, so whether its' RG6 or RG11, it's not cheap at that distance.

I'd get a tripod, take it out in the field with a long spool of cable and see if you and OKsat can find a usable signal, then plant it.
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Thanks for the info. I've been reading a bunch of Posts about the HDPVR 530. Is it as bad as folks make it out? Is the HDDSR 505 okay?

I find it odd no HDMI output on either of these units.

The TV we got for the Cabin is a Toshiba 55ZV650U, so I was really hoping for an HDMI connection. My family insisted I not block the view of the Lake out the front window so we got a lift kit and I made a box for it in my garage. (It's only about 1 1/2" above the window sill.)

The link below shows it in the frame to check clearances before a "skin" was put on. Eventually we plan to install a cedar paneling skin to match the livingroom walls.

A single HDMI connection is much easier to handle than the 5 RCA cables component connections require. Oh well I guess I'll have to deal with it.

I'd make the cable run to the dish from the TV and test the system before adding any booster. Thanks for the reminder though.
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I've been reading a bunch of Posts about the HDPVR 530. Is it as bad as folks make it out? Is the HDDSR 505 okay?
Early 530's had problems. Recent ones are decent. The 505 has been a solid receiver for a while.

I find it odd no HDMI output on either of these units.
They use DVI so you'll need a DVI-HDMI conversion cable (usually supplied by Shaw Direct when you buy the receiver from them).

A single HDMI connection is much easier to handle than the 5 RCA cables component connections require. Oh well I guess I'll have to deal with it.
An HDCP issue exists with HD Shaw Direct receivers and some HDMI gear. I personally use component cables and the picture quality is great.
You'll be able to use a single HDMI and L-R audio. The receiver will come with a 6' DVI-HDMI cable; you can go on ebay or online and get a longer one if needed. But it won't carry your audio for you.

Or if there is a stereo in the cabin you could use it for your sound.

Good luck with everything. My buddy has a cabin up in the hills in the east, and all he gets is fuzzy cbc. It makes you appreciate the stanley cup playoffs though!

Maybe I should give you a better idea of the Cabin. My Grandfather (with my help when I was little) built a 20' x 20' Cabin at Paul Lake in 1962. In the beginning the convieniences were toast on the wood cookstove, water in a bucket from the lake, and an outhouse "up the hill". Later on he installed an electric pump driven cold only water system and a "party line" telephone (I still have the phone). After he passed away my Mom inherited it (after compensating her sisters). She was allowed to purchase the Leased Lot from the government, and then 1979 I tore down the Cabin as we had a 3 bedroom (2 up, one down - basement entry) 2 bathroom Mar West Cedar Home built on concrete foundations. (The first Cabin was actually built on tree stumps with the live trees leveled with a chalk line and then cut down!) The new Cabin had electric heat, real insulation, a garage, and hot showers! However it is still called the Cabin.

We mostly used it the way it was built the last 30 years, but it did get totally rebuilt in the last year after a fire. We added a new Master Suite (~500 square feet on a new 1/2 upper floor) with a great view for my Mom along with other improvements (new Dishwasher, Fridge, Convection Microwave, etc.). It did have community cable tv which was eventually taken over by Lakeshore Cable. I wired the Cabin for Satellite / Cable TV. Currently we have Cable, but are looking to move to Satellite (ShawDirect) if I can make it rock solid. We may keep both if Lakeshore ever gets High Speed Internet as no other provider has stepped up (Rogers or Telus wireless don't get past the Mountains) even though Telus mistakenly ran optical fiber to a pole about a KM from the Cabin.

I've already got a DVI to HDMI converter, and somewhere a cable that does the same. For me it's just easier to have a single (and light) HDMI cable carry both Audio and Video (with the TV going up and down). I tested component vs HDMI ages ago at home on my first HDTV and couldn't see any difference at all. IMHO, HDMI isn't about better quality => it's all about copywright protection politics. I do like the sinlge cable convienience though.

I don't know about any HDCP issue (please advise). I'm thinking we probably don't need the PVR function and maybe the 505 would be a good fit. We could always add the new 630? if it proves to be a good one.

We do have a small Samsung HT1250 Home theater (a steal from Costco) for BlueRay & DVDs. It has an auxillary optical input for the Sat box, (I made sure before purchase) but most family aren't geeky enough to turn it on; nor do they want 5.1 sound with their cornflakes. So I need both types of sound available.
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I find it odd no HDMI output on either of these units.
Think back what TV's had HDMI either when the DSR5XX was released and now look back another couple of years.

7-10 years ago DVI was state of the art with HDMI just emerging.
What makes it seem so bad these days is the unit hasn't had a hardware refresh since inception.

New units are on the horizon, if you can see that far. ;)
SD still thinks the world is flat and the planets all revolve around the earth.

I have too much history with 530 to comment objectively one way or the other.
The 505 should be fine.

The HDCP issue was initially caused by an incorrect component value on the DVI interface. I think a crude s/w workaround was created.
Because it affect signal timing, some compatability issues still exist.

I'd say start with a 505 and if signal is good, see how the 630 is after a few months reading about it here.
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For that distance, you should upgrade to the larger RG-11.
I don't think so. As mentioned before, I got a 800ft run with Quad shield SCC RG-6. Just talked to my supplier and its exactly half as much as RG-11. We are only talking about 300ft here. Good quality RG-6 is all you need.

I'd get a tripod, take it out in the field with a long spool of cable and see if you and OKsat can find a usable signal, then plant it.
Thx but I'll pass lol. After 5 000+ installations, I still rely on my good old compass and inclinometer. A tripod and a temporary line is just a waste of everybobody's time and mostly money. It doesn't matter to me but someone will have to pay for it and it sounds like Jim wants to do it as cheap as possible.

Putting an amp in at the LNB amps the noise as much as the signal.
Thats exactly the point. By amplifying both, technically, you get the same ratio down the line. On that 800ft line mentioned earlier, I used one booster by the dish. The receivers are designed to work between X ebnos and Y ebnos so that is why sometimes a signal "too strong" might not work. There is in-line boosters, slope ones, taps etc. but that is a story for an other time. For 300 ft, quad shield SCC will work for sure. While you're at it, you should run as many lines as you can, up to 4. It will save you digging over and over again.
From 4 lines you can have as many receivers as you want. Just finished a 357 receiver job from one 60cm quad LNB dish. Worst case scenario, you could go to a 60 or75 cm dual-stacked LNB. That eliminates the 13-18 volts switching which could get tricky on longer runs. You'll be fine at 300-400 tho
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I defer to our esteemed member oksat with a lot more practical experience than myself.

My knowledge base is more engineering/design/theortical.

My suggestions WILL work, but at greater expense and complexity than appears necessary.

Best of luck on your 'tough' install.

Thanks for the info. I'm now well armed the next time I go to Paul Lake. I plan to try the RG-6 first, then add a booster if needed. If that doesn't work I'll move up to RG-11 and it's booster if required.

Of course I've got to find the neighbor at home to see if he'll share his dish, or at least his conduit under the road. If I end up with a separate dish I'll pull multiple cables before I backfill the first test cable.

In the meantime I guess I'm on the hunt for a deal on some Quad shield solid copper core direct bury RG-6...;)
Hey there, if you really want to do this on the cheap and don't mind waiting a little longer, it might be worth doing your own site survey. You are going on what you've been told that the neighbor's dish only gets a signal 12' up on a pole.

If it were a mountain interfering with things, wouldn't make much of a difference.

I calculated your approximate look angles:
163 degrees azimuth and 31.3 degrees elevation for sat at 107.
168 degrees azimuth and 32 degrees elevation for sat at 111.

If you take the look angle and calculate the ratio of height of object vs. distance from object (TAN 31.3 degrees) = 0.608, that means that for every 1 meter (or 1 foot) away from an object, you'll clear an object 0.608 meters (or 0.608 feet) in height.

You say that the mountain is high and you are close to it. Lets pick some arbitrary numbers here (I don't know your actual situation) and say you are 2km from the mountain. (2000 * 0.608) means that you can clear the mountain if it is under 1216 meters tall. Adding a 12 foot pole to that dish, means that you'll clear the mountain if it is a little under 1220 meters tall.

The 12 foot pole would only help out for very close and relatively short objects, like trees or buildings.

What might help is making a sight gauge that you can take with you - plywood and strings with a level, or even a carpenters square and a level. Calculate a ratio of 0.608" high per 1" distance and align a string along this trajectory. This will be 31.3 degrees. Level the bottom, and point it between 160 and 170 degrees azimuth (true, not magnetic) and look up the string. Do this from your neighbor's dish too, and you'll see if it's actually a tree in his way (or maybe he had a clear shot all along, and just never tried). You might just be surprised.

*Edit* - also misleading is the way the dish appears to be "looking". They are offset dishes, which means that the signal comes from several degrees above the plane of the face of the dish, bounces off the dish and then down to the LNB. You can visualize the approximate angle of this offset by looking at the way the LNB faces the dish, imagine a beam coming straight out of the LNB and bouncing UP off the dish... the 31 degrees real elevation and the 20 (or so) "apparent" elevation of the dish is quite significant...
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Thanks for the suggestions.

I did the calculations for a (now abandoned) Bell system last winter after using a homemade sextant => a level and trianglular piece of cardboard cut to 22.5° which was "sighted along" to see above the peak of the mountain. The actual angle of elevation required was 23.7° but I figured my error was easily more than +/- one degree. (It was simple to make a triangle with a 22.5° angle at the cabin without a protractor:rolleyes:) I paced out from the shoreline when the lake was frozen and sighted towards 120° (magnetic - which is a very high "bump" on Harper mountain). I abandoned going to a Bell system when the tower for the dish would be ~125 feet high. Even if I was 50% off => it was still too high! I figured I wouldn't stick a pole higher than about 20 feet.

The Cabin is at the base of Mount Harper (Harper Mountain) which has an altitude of ~1,524 Meters = 5,000 Feet. Paul Lake is at 900 Meters = 3,000 Feet. The Cabin is on the south side of lake near the west end. It's only about 2 Km (1.25 miles) from the Cabin to the top of the Ski Hill (as the Crow flies) so the grade is quite steep. That's what makes getting a Sat signal hard.


The closest neighbor with a Sat Dish (ShawDirect) seems to have in aimed up to a low point or "saddle" of the ridge. I've checked things out using but it doesn't help with obstructions. I'll check all of this out in more detail on my next trip there.
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Well, the closer the sat's longitude to yours, the higher up in the sky it is. For you, that makes quite a difference between Bell and Shaw (22 degrees for 91 and 32 degrees for 107).

I understand that you were sighting for bell's azimuth - and came up about 125' short by rough sextant - but shaw direct will be much higher than bell, if the mountain is comparable in height along the azimuth required. Either way, when I calculate based on your numbers, you clear the mountain with both bell and shaw (albeit barely with Bell):

Tan(radians(22.5)) = 0.414 Bell @91
Tan(radians(31.3)) = 0.608 Shaw @ 107

You are 2000 meters away, and already 900meters high:

900 + (0.414 * 2000) =1730 meters (Bell)
900 + (0.608 * 2000) = 2116 meters (Shaw)

Mountain is about 1524 meters high - should give you 200 meters room on Bell (not much) and about 600 meters on Shaw (enough to play with?).

Good luck, let us know how it turns out.
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I thought a picture says 1,000 words so here's a couple thousand...

The first one shows the west half of Paul Lake from the top of Gibraltar Rock. The dotted Blue Arrow indicates where the Cabin is located relative to the lake. Notice how steep Harper Mountain is. The green arrow shows the "saddle" where I think the neighbor gets his window to ShawDirect's Birds.


This photo displays the Cabin from across the lake. The Red Arrow points towards it, and also where I wanted to put the Dish on the shoreline. The curved Orange Arrow shows the Dock of the Neighbor with the ShawDirect Dish. The dish is just out of the photo beside the dock. (The lots are about 50 feet wide and 150 long (all uphill!:eek:).
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Get some grease filled coax and put the dish out on the tin boat in the second picture!
Excellent photos. I still think you've got a shot at it. Like you already mentioned, the dishes are free (or at least cheap) and can even be scrounged on "free garbage day" in any reasonably sized municipality -- and 50 or 100' of RG6 quad shield is going to be easier than burying RG11 from your neighbor's place.

Your neighbor is perhaps shooting through that saddle, but you are only 300' or so from your neighbor, hard to imagine that you couldn't take advantage of the same saddle. Looking at some of those trees by his dock, I'm inclined to believe that his 12' is for the trees, not the mountain.

Make an accurate - large - sextant, say a 2X4 36" long, with a post 21 7/8" high on one end and scout away.
I wasn't going to post this idea until I read the one about putting the dish on the boat......:eek:

I'll check all of this out in more detail on my next trip there.
When is this "next trip" going to be?

You may be aware that there are 2 times each year when the sun tracks the approximate path of the arc in which the satellites are parked. (This is called "sun transit" and sometimes causes brief outages of your satellite signal, but that's a story for another time...) Unfortunately those times are not in June, but in early March and early October. If your "next trip" were to be in early October, you could calculate the time that the sun passes "behind" the Anik Satellites, and then by viewing the position sun at that exact hour, you would effectively be looking at the satellites needed for Shaw Direct. If you can see the sun at that hour, you can lock onto the satellites with a dish. If the sun were to be in the trees, it would be marginal. If the sun were behind the mountain, you're outta luck.
You may even be able to make an estimation right now....calculate the hour of the sun transit and ask yourself if the cabin is in the shade at that hour at that time of the year.......

You can calculate the days/hours of the sun transit on Shaw Broadcast site (www-dot-cancombroadcast-dot-com) then click on "Canadian Customers English" and follow the links for "sun transit calculator" . You would need to know an approximate lat/long for your cabin. You have about a 10 day window in each of the 2 times of the year when the sun could be used in this way.

Hey...laugh if you want to, but I used this method in a very similar situation to determine I could not see the satellites from my cabin in Quebec......

Good luck, anyway....
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