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    What is that ring of LEDs around a security camera used for?

    They're invisible light bulbs. Wait, did I just blow your mind? read on

    Can you take your DIRECTV receiver outside your local area?

    DIRECTV's own customer agreement is very vague when it comes to the read on

    Can the Channel Master CM-7001 be used in place of a cable box?

    The Channel Master CM-7001 is a favorite of videophiles because of read on

    FUN FRIDAY: A history of the Walkman

    These days, the ability to play music is an afterthought. We don't read on

    Are you using Windows 10 RIGHT NOW?

    Geekpocalypse. I haven't seen anything approaching this level of read on

    Can you create a manual recording on a DIRECTV DVR... so it's like a VCR?

    Oh for the simple days of setting your VCR's timer. Of course anyone read on

    Hey baby boomers! Here's some great TV for you... only available with an antenna!

    If you think TV was better in 1975 than it is in 2015... here's some read on

    THROWBACK THURSDAY: Ugliest Phones Ever

    In Throwback Thursday, we're looking back at the articles we're most read on

    NICE AND EASY: What is an ODU?

    It's this. ODU is DIRECTV's acronym for Outdoor Unit. It's a common read on

    Ken Reid is rightfully afraid of Sleestacks

    Note: The Ken Reid TV Guidance Counselor Podcast is rated PG-13 and read on

    What is a cell booster?

    Shop now for Surecall products at SolidSignal.com! It's the answer read on

    What is a balun?

    A balun, if you really want to be precise, is a conversion device read on

    Can you rack mount a SWM multiswitch?

    A couple of weeks ago there was a discussion in our user forums about read on

    NICE AND EASY: Why isn't there a "universal" HD LNB?

    Way back in the 1990s... it looked like it wouldn't matter whose read on

    Now even better shipping at Solid Signal!

    You might have noticed... but our wizards in the IT department at read on

    DIRECTV DVRs have a new screensaver

    Have you seen it yet? Keen-eyed DIRECTV fans have noticed something a read on
    by Published on 07-31-2015 05:26 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Surveillance



    They're invisible light bulbs. Wait, did I just blow your mind?

    When you see a security camera like the one above, there is often a ring of what appear to be light-emitting diodes around it, but they never seem to light up. Or do they? If you've ever wondered how a security camera could see so well in low-light or no-light situations, there's your answer. These LEDs give off infrared light, which you can't see but your security camera can.

    You've seen infrared LEDs plenty of times before, although you probably didn't realize it. They're used in pretty much every remote control to send commands to the device you want to control. They blink in predictable patterns and a sensor on the device sees those patterns and reacts. In a security camera, they cast a large beam to the area just in front of the camera in order to help the camera's low light performance.

    By the way, people sometimes ask if infrared LEDs give off heat. The answer is that they don't give off any more heat than any other LED. People confuse infrared radiation with heat because they are so often part of the same process. One way that heat is generated is when infrared radiation excites something in its path. Infrared is specifically good at exciting things in its path, much better than visible light, so heat is a very common effect of infrared. You don't need to worry about that with infrared LEDs though because the amount of radiation produces is nowhere near enough to heat anything up to any measurable degree.
    by Published on 07-31-2015 05:07 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite



    DIRECTV's own customer agreement is very vague when it comes to the question of moving your receiver from one place to another. It's always been a little confusing. They do definitely say that you can put a satellite receiver in your RV, and it's also very clear that you can't operate the equipment from two different places at the same time. They tell you that you have to inform them of changes to your service address, and that's probably the most telling indication that they really don't want you moving the receiver from place to place.

    But let's leave all that contract stuff behind for a moment and talk about the technical side of the equation. The most obvious problem when you take your receiver far outside your local area is that you'll lose your local channels. DIRECTV puts local channels on what are called "spot beams." That means the satellite signal only reaches a small area. If you leave that area, you will lose reception and you won't have local channels. Unless you tell DIRECTV that your receiver has moved, you won't get local channels where you are; you'll just get that "771-Searching for signal" message.

    One way to deal with this is to bring an antenna with you when you travel, and another way is to let DIRECTV know where you are at any given moment. Personally I prefer the antenna route, but it's up to you.
    by Published on 07-31-2015 02:04 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. TV Antennas
    Article Preview



    The Channel Master CM-7001 is a favorite of videophiles because of its sensitive tuner and HD output. It's one of the preferred ways for people to improve their reception from an antenna and that's more and more important as TV manufacturers put cheaper and cheaper tuners in their new TVs.
    ...
    by Published on 07-31-2015 12:16 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Misc. Gadgets
    Article Preview



    These days, the ability to play music is an afterthought. We don't carry personal music devices anymore; they're built into our phones or tablets or whatever. Forty years ago, however, the Sony Walkman revolutionized music and how we listened to it. Before the Walkman, if you wanted pocket-sized ...
    by Published on 07-30-2015 03:10 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite
    Article Preview



    Oh for the simple days of setting your VCR's timer. Of course anyone who remembers those days knows that it was certainly not simple. Just making it through the menu system was a drag and at most you could record eight things over the course of a week. Today's DVRs that let you schedule 100 recurring recordings and a virtually unlimited number of manual ...
    by Published on 07-30-2015 02:46 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Cell Phones,
    3. Data/Networks
    Article Preview

    In Throwback Thursday, we're looking back at the articles we're most proud of from the first eight years of The Solid Signal Blog, and other stuff from the past that we think is cool.

    The mission of Throwback Thursday may be to show you stuff we think is cool, but this week's installment doesn't really live ...
    by Published on 07-30-2015 12:52 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. TV Antennas
    Article Preview



    If you think TV was better in 1975 than it is in 2015... here's some great news. A lot of the shows you used to love are still on the air. Back in the 70s and 80s these shows would have been on reruns on UHF channels, and back in the 90s you might have found them on Nick at Nite or TV Land. YOu might think that they're gone forever ...
    by Published on 07-30-2015 12:33 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Data/Networks
    Article Preview



    Geekpocalypse. I haven't seen anything approaching this level of excitement since Windows95 rolled out. Oh, how I remember those heady days. Windows 10 is the hotly-anticipated followup to the largely cold-shouldered Windows 8. Windows 8 was the last release from Microsoft's Steve Ballmer-led team which clearly had an agenda for pushing ...
    by Published on 07-29-2015 05:25 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite



    It's this.

    ODU is DIRECTV's acronym for Outdoor Unit. It's a common enough term in the industry, so common that you don't tend to think about why it's ODU and not just OU which you sort of think it ought to be.

    Specifically, an ODU consists of the following items, all assembled so that everything works:

    • Mast and Mount: something to put it all on
    • BAU (Back Adjustment Unit) Connects to the mast and lets you aim the dish)
    • Reflector: The "dishy" part of the dish
    • Arm: The part that sticks out from the reflector
    • LNB (Low Noise (amplifier)/Block (downconverter): The part that receives the signals, out in front.


    Put them all together and you have a working ODU. An ODU can also contain a multiswitch, which lets more than one receiver share the signals.
    by Published on 07-29-2015 05:03 PM
    Article Preview


    Note: The Ken Reid TV Guidance Counselor Podcast is rated PG-13 and may contain mild language.

    I'm Ken Reid, a stand up comedian from Boston, MA and a life long television fan. I've been twice nominated as the Best Stand up in Boston and I have been featured on Comedy Central, NPR, Nerdist, ...

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