NEWS AND VIEWS October 08, 2011
Mike and Laurel Kohl
S-9141 State Road 23
Plain, Wisconsin 53577-9612
October 8, 2011
Summer's over (although it is still approaching 80 above here in the Upper Midwest). Very little can surprise me, with the wide swings in weather during the past season.
It would appear that my commuting will become quite limited for the immediate future. Several circumstances have combined together to put me back in Wisconsin for most of the time. A lot of it can be blamed on the economy, and those that panic too much after hearing the latest headlines. I took a temporary layoff earlier in the summer, and until business picks up, my fulltime position is on ice. I am doing limited technical services on the telephone, as well as outside sales on an as-needed basis for my Minnesota employer. At the same time, Global Communications is back, with me at the phones trying to encourage some sales. A number of my loyal longtime customers have been kind enough to give me some new business, and it is much appreciated. Laurel is trying to heal after breast cancer surgery, and is going through a painful and unsure recovery. We are heartened by all of the support from our longtime customers and friends, and thank you for your support. Our house is still on the market, but the way things look, we may be here until at least Spring. A full move to Minnesota cannot happen until Laurel can travel, and the house is sold. In the meantime we are here for our customers, new and old, and are also tinkering behind the scenes to bring in some new products and offer other innovations.
Tune in to my Wednesday night radio show with Ralf Black on Sat Talk Live from New Orleans, via satellite from the Ku-band side of 97 West / Galaxy 19, and on the internet. (see links on main webpage)
The Manhattan RS-1933 receiver is now in full stride, after waiting much longer than expected to get on the market. It did not appear until early July, owing to delays caused by mechanical improvements that we felt needed doing, which included adding a much larger (4 Mb) processor and a heavy duty power supply. These forced a re-work of the main circuit board assembly, but all of this was for a good cause. Nothing mechanical has since been needed to be replaced. There were some software and firmware issues that were unforeseen, but Jeff Schumann at Manhattan Digital has done some amazing things getting them corrected in a rather quick period of time, and the results now show great promise from those efforts. All of us involved with the receiver thank the small army of beta testers that have been working at speeding up these improvements. The Manhattan RS-1933 has now become a standard to compare with its much weaker competition. We were concerned early about price competition from various versions of the similar but not equal Openbox line of receivers; many being dumped onto the market at great discounts. I feel vindicated now that many early users of those receivers have abandoned them in frustration over the lack of a U.S. factory service center, and no real central clearinghouse for the brand. Just a loose collection of independent dealers and importers with no plans to support the product after it has been sold. And many of them desperately trying to unload their inventories once the high drama of the Internet chat forums has finally concluded that the Manhattan is a really good product. A few of our plusses include a very cool operating environment that avoids any heat buildup in the receiver, a beefy power supply that does not have a history of premature failures, automatic processing of MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 High Definition signals, seamless processing of Dolby and other audio streams, and the almost accidental discovery of undocumented features as more people dig deeper into its workings. "Iceberg" from the Satellite Guys forums was playing with his receiver's recording abilities, and accidentally found that on certain transponders with multiple channels, one could watch one program live, record another with the DVR function onto a memory stick or external hard drive, and by pressing record again, record a second program. Very useful when looking at things such as PBS on Ku-band AMC-21, or the newly minted CBC signals on the C-band side of Anik F1R. They now have 5 time zones of HD programming that looks absolutely wonderful with this receiver. Hopefully it's a long term thing that more than coincides with the introduction of digital off-air TV to Canada's airwaves. Another enthusiast from North Carolina just found working video in the 16APSK format---something that I had never heard of, which the RS-1933 plays quite well with. There was the major concern about whether or not this receiver could produce 4:2:2 video live. It doesn't, but use the DVR function and play it back, and you will not be disappointed. Within one of the three updates since the receiver was released is now the ability to upload as well as download satellite, transponder and channel information with a USB stick. This has made it possible for me to develop some after-market software for the receiver that makes it easier to set up a new system. The factory supplied software uses over 90 of the 100 satellite positions to give you satellite choices from 128 East (JC Sat 3) to Intelsat 10-02 at 1 West longitude. Just a few transponders on each satellite so that you can do a blind scan as needed, to provide channel lists. The 4 Mb processor (as compared to the 2 Mb found on Openbox units) gives us these extra satellite positions, allowing one program to be put into the receiver, which takes care of users from Hawaii to Newfoundland and Labrador. Just use the satellites that you need, wherever you are in North America. Our first option is to offer a deluxe setup with ALL known transponders on every satellite already loaded into memory, for a nominal fee. This avoids the time consuming chore of waiting for blind scan or auto scan as it is called...and use what is called Preset scan, to go through frequencies in numerical order down horizontal polarity and then vertical. Those wanting to explore can then go to auto scan and find any new unknown signals much quicker. In a short time, we will also offer a full preloaded option that includes channels, but this takes a lot of time to set up and maintain. Any questions on either, please just ask with a phone call or an Email.
I took the trouble of new updates on all MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 channel charts this past week. It's really getting busy out there, with dozens of new choices appearing monthly, with an ever-growing number of audio and video channels free of charge.
Some news to all of you fine people with Star Choice subscription systems. Things are improving for the better, technology-wise and in program selection. Change sometimes involves buying new hardware, and now may be the time to think about your situation. In just over a year, the Anik G1 satellite will be launched, giving more channel capacity that will be used to greatly boost the number of HD offerings. Since the beginning of September, local television stations in major urban areas of Canada have been required to start transmitting their off-air signals strictly in digital. Smaller markets will be converting in the next year or so, although there may be some rural locations now served by analog translators that will never get digital. It's another drama waiting to unfold, and may take months if not years to fully play out. Shaw Direct (the name that the company formerly called Star Choice has been using for over a year) has been ordered to add up to 40 new local broadcast stations to their lineup between now and the end of 2012. 14 new channels were added on August 22, and the rest are coming. This forced the issue of a conversion from existing technology to MPEG-4 8PSK formatted transmissions. No existing channels will have their "legacy" formatted signal turned off until after the end of 2010, but almost all new channels coming on line (such as these 40 some broadcast stations and a few others) will transmit exclusively in MPEG-4. The only way to get them is with one of three Shaw Direct receiver models: DSR-600, DSR-605 or the DVR-630. You will also need access to both the 107.3 and 111.1 West satellites. It should also be noted that these MPEG-4 signals are down in power level anywhere between 2 and 4 dB from previous channels, so existing dishes need to be tuned perfectly, and those with marginal systems need to consider upgrading to larger dishes. For most of Canada, the U.S. Lower 48 and the majority of Mexico locations, we suggest a pair of 90 cm (36 inch) offset dishes, each with its own separate LNBF, tied into a multiswitch. Those in Mexico with former huge 4 to 8 foot antennas once picking up DirecTV or DISH Network, we can reduce your conversion costs for changing to Shaw Direct with a 2-LNBF bracket system that replaces previous electronics and allows you to use one (huge) dish for both Anik F1R at 107.3 West and Anik F2 at 111.1 West. Call or write ASAP if you need any hardware or suggestions.
Until next time,