NEWS AND VIEWS December 4, 2008
Mike and Laurel Kohl
S-9141 State Road 23
Plain, Wisconsin 53577-9612
December 4, 2008
I guess that 64 days is long enough between editions of News & Views, in fact it sets a record for time between updates. Must be busy and - or having fun. Where to start without it appearing that I am throwing darts to select subject material?
Early October found me in Cabo San Lucas, on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, which is about 900 road miles south of San Diego. I spent an enjoyable week chronicling the local satellite scene, getting lots of pictures and experimenting with multiple feeds in quite different ways that previously. There is a huge crop of unused or underused six and eight foot offset dishes throughout Mexico, which can be quite easily re-purposed away from their original task of getting DirecTV or DISH Network. My experiments going to 3/4 inch conduit for multifeed brackets on 1.8 meter antennas here in Wisconsin were quite useful in forming the basis to build even larger contraptions that might combine not only C and Ku-band free to air signals, but also subscription channels from Canada's Star Choice. Lots of Snowbirds in the winter, so it's all useful technology to explore. One thing that comes noticable right away at latitudes between the equator and the Tropic Of Cancer is the huge variation in elevation between satellites, with much smaller shifts in actual direction, except for a rapid change within about 20 degrees of due south. This limits the number of satellites that can be physically picked up on a single antenna, so multiple antennas are often joined together to fulfill a wide variety of requirements. Some of these photos will be soon incorporated into our Multifeed area for educational purposes.
During October, a call came in from Ralf at Access America in New Orleans. His facility puts together a number of brokered audio services on the 97 West Ku-band satellite (now known as GALAXY 19), including a group of satellite and other technical talk shows. Ralf is a satellite engineer from way back, so the two of us get together on a segment known as THE SATELLITE TALK SHOW most Friday evenings now, starting at 8pm Central time until we run out of ideas or the calls quit coming in. Listenership is growing, both on the live satellite feed found on 12115 MHz vertical (22.425 symbol rate), at Audio PID 1794. Live Internet streams are also available through www.access-america.net If you wish to contribute suggestions on topics for us to cover, drop me an Email in advance of our Friday night airing at the address listed next to my picture above. If you like what you hear, go into the Access America website for instructions on making a contribution to satellite transponder costs. While we are not back in the days of Friday Night Live with Gary Bourgois and constantly begging for listeners to help defray our costs, there is no "sugar daddy" left that can be talked into giving such a network a free berth. Ralf actually has to personally pay a substantial monthly bill for uplink and internet access every month, so anything that you can contribute to his operation would be immensely appreciated.
Pansat has discontinued two of their more basic MPEG-2 receivers; models 2700 and 2800, which were replaced by their 150 and 250 series units. They received some bad news last month when an appeal that would have paralleled Coolsat's successful challenge of DISH Network's demand for customer names was rejected. If you have purchased a Pansat receiver in the last five years, do not be surprised if DISH Network lawyers contact you to do a survey about what channels you are using that equipment to receive. We trust that the vast majority of our customers bought equipment strictly for legitimate reception of non subscription signals. But DISH Network is trying to collect information in order to build a case that suggests that the majority of MPEG-2 free to air receivers on the market have been compromised for illegal use. If you are like one of our typical customers, we strongly urge you to explain to them that there are lots of other channels in the sky that do not involve their subscription service, and list them. I prefer PBS from 125 West, international news from Al-Jazeera and Russia Today on 97 West, and a host of services from Equity Broadcasting on 123---all Ku-band satellites; not even using DBS frequencies. The whole legal process appears to be very over-reaching, but some corrupt or easily manipulated judges were convinced by DISH Network's legal team that the majority of independent satellite users were involved in illegal activity, and signed off on subpoenas demanding the release of customer names of persons that purchased MPEG-2 gear. If you are asked in such a survey, please set these people straight. DISH Network needs to replace their encryption system like DirecTV did several years ago, and this problem would go away.
Star Choice in Canada has been adding some interesting channels to their programming packages this fall. Channel 601 has now become HBO Canada, with a west coast feed on channel 606. A real surprise is that BIG 10 SPORTS is now arriving on channel 410; I had no idea that Canada had a significant market for U.S. college sports. LoneStar has completely dropped its previous western theme, and gone to a classic movie format under the name MovieTime. Just in time for the Christmas season you can find mindless distraction on channels 326, 329 and 330. FRAME shows scenery. There is the perpetual burning Yule Log. And a Christmas Tree channel. Talk about narrowcasting!
In test equipment, we are now selling the brand new TRIMAX SM-2500 Digital Satellite Meter, which includes a Spectrum Analyzer section. 549.00 plus shipping. An interesting piece of gear for the serious hobbyist or professional installer that maybe does not have the funds for a traditional analyzer such as the Avcom or Promax.
Need an 8-input DiSEqC switch? Now in stock from Pansat and DMS...if your receiver handles that many inputs! Should be a good companion to anyone with a lot of multiple feeds or antennas and minimal wires.
If you have not visited our TRANSMITTING DEVICES section, a lot of new gear, primarily from Astrotel, has been added to the mix. A number of wireless video senders in all sorts of configurations, a wider variety of covert camera-transmitter devices, and even a 2.4 GHz wireless DVR with four camera set, for security recording. Also a line of Video Senders and Receivers in the 5.8 GHz band, which while being slightly limited in range, has much less interference from competing devices common in the 2.4 GHz band.
Skyvision's warehouse is still loaded with many DSR-410 Digicipher 2 subscription receivers looking for a home. All it takes is one of these inexpensive boxes, a C-band LNBF, and a six foot C-band dish to get access to a number of American cable channels that can be purchased on a month to month basis, without having a long subscription requirement, as found with many new DISH Network and DirecTV contracts.
Give our new satellite talk show a listen on Friday nights, or check on the Access America website for a schedule of repeat broadcasts. Visit our website and look through the large amount of updated information that is constantly being revised. If we don't hear from you before then---enjoy a Happy Holiday Season.