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  • Stuart Sweet

    by Published on 01-22-2018 05:08 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite
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    It's an essential part of your receiver... but it just looks like a credit card with a gold patch. So what's the deal? The access card forms one-third of the system used to decrypt your satellite signal. By putting one part on your hard drive, one part on a ...
    by Published on 01-22-2018 04:55 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite


    Image credit: Signal Labs member Steve

    This hot. DIRECTV's SWM16 multiswitch is a miracle of modern technology, but it's not a miracle of thermal engineering. It runs hot, too hot to touch in some cases, and that's perfectly normal. It can run 10-15 degrees hotter than a SWM8, and that leads some people to think their SWMs are failing when they're not.

    There's a lot going on inside a SWM16 multiswitch and DIRECTV didn't want to make it twice the size, so it relies on those cooling fins on the front to keep the heat moving away from the electronics.

    If you're concerned about the heat, do what many other Solid Signal customers have done: take four blank compression connectors and use them as "standoffs," mounting them behind the screw holes at the corners of the SWM. Thread a long screw through them and you'll have a SWM16 that has more surface area dedicated to cooling. That ought to help keep things running longer.
    by Published on 01-22-2018 12:43 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite
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    DIRECTV's H25 receiver is tiny. But with small size comes a tradeoff. Older DIRECTV boxes were just flush with outputs: S-Video, composite, component, HDMI... it was a veritable smorgasbord of output possibilities with a DIRECTV box at one ...
    by Published on 01-21-2018 02:11 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite
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    It's not something you see every day... at least not any more. Many a DIRECTV veteran has a dozen of these B-Band converters in a box in the garage, but if you've been with DIRECTV fewer than eight years you might never have seen one. It's a B-Band ...
    by Published on 01-21-2018 01:07 PM
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    This week, our Communications Pioneers series focuses on people, animals and robots that advanced communications technology.

    Nothing touched by a human has ever traveled this far. Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 to study Jupiter ...
    by Published on 01-20-2018 06:26 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. TV Antennas
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    In Wrong Tool/Right Tool we'll show you the tools you should be using when working on antenna or satellite installations.

    WRONG TOOL: Coat Hanger and 2x4.


    We said it before: Yes, you can use a coat hanger as an antenna. But given the makeup of ...
    by Published on 01-19-2018 05:45 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. TV Antennas


    As high as possible. Why? It's not the overall height, it's the ability to see over other things. The biggest enemy of good reception is the "obstruction." An obstruction is anything between you and the towers. TV broadcasts can go through almost anything but they tend to get weaker as they pass through things. It's sort of like if you walk a mile through the air, it's not so hard. But walk a mile through a lake or pond and it's very hard, and you get weaker as you push to make it through the water.

    Putting an antenna on a high mast means that it has a clearer view of the sky and of the broadcast towers it's trying to reach. That doesn't mean the antenna wouldn't work well down on ground level, but if you're trying to reach those distant stations, you'll want to get the antenna up nice and high. Often times strapping it to the chimney will do the trick but sometimes extreme measures are needed. Luckily Solid Signal has you covered with a wide variety of mounting supplies that can help you get a clear signal from as far as 100 miles away for TV, even further for radio. We even stock custom tower equipment for when you're really, really serious.
    by Published on 01-19-2018 04:59 PM



    Remember these? Maybe you don't. Even in the 1970s, a home 8-track player was pretty rare. Most people had one in their cars, if they had one at all, and the 8-track format really only lasted about a decade before cassettes took over.

    On the other hand, if that image makes you feel nostalgic for burnt-orange shag carpet and polyester shirts, you might want to take a scroll through DigitalTrends' History of Home Audio. Starting with the hand-cranked phonograph and going all the way to Google Home, it's a pretty comprehensive visual and written dictionary of home audio. Sure, they miss a few of the more oddball '80s and '90s formats (DAT? DCC? SACD?) and they ignore early streaming pioneers like Rhapsody, but no matter what it's a comfort-food-style trip down memory lane for the kind of people who read this blog. Whether your first experience with home audio was a CD player or a wall of LPs, you'll enjoy wasting a few minutes looking.

    I know I did, and I'm a little ashamed to say I miss some of that old gear. Don't you?
    by Published on 01-19-2018 01:03 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite


    Image credit: Earl Bonovich; Image courtesy DBSTalk.com

    You hear the hard drive in your DVR make funny noises. You might have gotten a message on the screen. What to do? Maybe you've replaced hard drives on computers before, and you just know that it would be easy to replace this hard drive -- you might not even care that you'll lose all your programming.

    Hold on, kemo sabe. Don't open up that receiver. Just don't do it. That receiver is leased, and opening it up is against your customer agreement. They'll be able to tell... there's a security sticker on the back. It's just not worth it.

    If the drive is functioning, you can get an eSATA drive and connect it to the back which will replace the internal drive quite easily. If it's totally dead, you'll have to send that DVR back. There's really just no way around it. This trick works with every DVR except one of the models of Genie 2. Just look for the eSATA port on the back of the DVR and when you find it, you'll know you're ok.

    By the way, if you do decided to go to an external drive, there's practically no limit to the drive size, so if you want thousands of hours of recording space, go for it!
    by Published on 01-19-2018 09:36 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite



    Get those DVRs ready because it's another Starz Free Preview Weekend! Starting now and going through Monday, January 22, it's your chance to check out Counterpart, the new show with the excellent J.K Simmons as a bureaucrat who learns a big secret. I'm anxious to try that one.

    Starz doesn't have breakout hits on the level of Game of Thrones but they have a really strong stable of original programs coupled with the largest number of movies, something the other premium services have pretty much given up on. When you look at the selection available on demand, it's a really exceptional value.

    Of course all the movies you DVR this weekend are going to be available to you as long as you keep them on your hard drive so fire up that Genie and get yourself about 15 days of entertainment for free! Then, if you're feeling so inclined, call Solid Signal at 877.312.4547 to add all the Starz channels to your DIRECTV package.
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