NEWS AND VIEWS
          September 25, 2007

Mike and Laurel Kohl
S-9141 State Road 23
Plain, Wisconsin   53577-9612



September 25, 2007
A 55-foot Aspen tree took out 2 of our large offset antennas "Satellite Conference Network" antenna missed by maybe 4 inches
150 cm PATRIOT took the first bounce and made unusable 120 cm PATRIOT took a direct hit and was rendered worthless
Sorry for the delays in getting the latest NEWS & VIEWS article out.  We have been dealing with one minor catastrophe after another since mid-August.

15 inches of rain that month, with most of it in a two week period.  Did not do the driveway any good;
four truckloads of gravel and one rolling machine later, we appear to have a stable surface unlike any ever previously experienced.  $2000 later!

The roof in the old section of our house will now need complete re-shingling, as these heavy rains have made it abundantly clear that this job can no longer be put off.
Birds Eye View of Fallen Tree      2-way Internet also unaffected  

The torrential downpour that revealed the condition of our roof shingles also took out our telephone lines.  Service was out for almost a week on the main line, with water problems at the junction boxes down below on the highway adding to a new discovery of internal problems within the wiring in the house.  This gave Mike an excuse to completely re-wire the phone connections, and make provisions for a couple of extra phone lines for some future expansion.  More about that later.

A little over two weeks later, just after 7am on a steamy Monday morning that started with a heavy downpour and thunderstorm, disaster struck the antenna farm.  Saturated ground gave way and a 55-foot Aspen tree fell almost due south, taking out a four foot PATRIOT offset antenna as well as another offset in the 5-foot size.  Above are pictures of the damage.  It missed our 1.8 meter SATELLITE CONFERENCE NETWORK dish that has been retrofitted for multiple satellite reception (gets incredible signals on the Ku-band satellites in view) by little more than four inches, but did a direct hit on the four foot PATRIOT, and even tilted the steel pipe cemented into the ground.  After the four footer, a five foot PTX-150 offset dish felt the effects of a heavy "bounce", which completely distorted the top right side.  A HUGHES DirecWay dish a couple of feet to the east of the 150 cm antenna escaped any injury, although the 87 West downlink we were feeding as a monster strength receive backup from the 150 cm went south with the tree.  Service was restored with an 84 cm PRIMESTAR offset, with amazingly good results.

Once the antenna farm was cleared, tree cut into little pieces, and the telephone service restored, a new project awaited us.  We were asked to test dialup transmit / satellite receive Internet from a national provider, on the Ku-band side of AMC-6 at 72 West.  This was a very revealing exercise.  I have been extremely unhappy with the indifferent as well as arrogant attitude of HUGHES NETWORK in recent months, weighing the few alternatives that could actually provide high speed Internet to our rural location.  Enter a technology that needs to be re-examined as a cost effective as well as reliable alternative to 2-way satellite.  Despite using a dialup speed for transmit that does not exceed 26 kbps, the downlink via satellite is advertised to be up to 512 kbps.  Most of the time, especially during late-night, it is 50 to 100% faster than that.  This company is not oversubscribed, and there are actually some little known advantages over HUGHES and WILD BLUE.  Use of a dialup to transmit information eliminates the satellite delay in that direction, actually speeding up your connection and reducing most latency issues.  Unless you are transmitting or uploading some serious bandwidth from your location, there is little evidence of negative performance there, and IF you are transmitting such heavy traffic to either HUGHES or WILD BLUE over a short period of time, their Fair Access Policy will slow down your speeds to a virtual crawl in short order.  Your required equipment other than a dedicated telephone line when in use is to have a 30 to 36 inch Ku-band satellite antenna and a modem.  No transmit gear to own or maintain.  Buy the equipment, pay by the month, and not have the burden of a long contract as is the case with all 2-way satellite providers.  It's a no brainer to me, and I will be converting to this service very shortly.  And selling it to anyone that might be interested.  Another advantage is for the do-it-yourselfer that may already be proficient with Free To Air and other technologies.  It's just as simple, and since it is receive-only without a transmit component on the satellite antenna, no restrictions about having a licensed or otherwise certified technician are needed.  The satellite part is the easy part, and you will spend more time configuring your computer (but don't we always spend lots of time configuring our computers for new applications?)  More about this service in coming weeks.

Star Choice has thrown the switch and gone to the new 8PSK format for High Definition signals.  This means that anyone using an HDD-200 or HDD-201 HD Decoder along with a Motorola standard definition receiver will need to upgrade to a combination Star Choice receiver such as the DSR-505, which includes HD processing in the same box.  Another issue that has come up is the effective loss of as much as 2 dB of signal margin when comparing a standard definition signal on Anik F2 such as channel 266 with the HD signals on the same bird.  This means that those with undersized antennas will be more prone to outages or dropouts in their HD reception during periods of bad weather, or in fringe area locations on the edge of the signal footprint or coverage area.  The solution will be a pair of 85 or 90 cm (or larger) antennas in places such as Mexico, if the one piece 60 and 75 cm elliptical dishes from Star Choice in Canada are not up to the task.  You know where to find us if you have issues like these!

We will persevere to make sure that it is not 45 days until our next visit in this column.

Until next time,