NEWS AND VIEWS
          October 1, 2008

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



October 1, 2008

Would you believe? (Starting a conversation like Maxwell Smart used to??)  I actually got started on an updated News & Views segment before the middle of September, but got interrupted, and have been extremely busy with lots of distractions besides what's going wrong in the world and on television.  Last chapter we were in the middle of the Beijing Olympics.  It was a very exciting event, with some spectacular performances, and most of us were probably wrung out by the time they ended on August 24th.  We hardly got to breathe, and the political season started immediately.  Not just here, but even Canada called an election, with their results due about 3 weeks before Americans get to cast their ballots.  And we're already tired of listening to both.  But September brought the beginning of the new TV season, and now there is even less free time to deal with, if you are a conspicuous consumer of things coming from the "devil's eyeball".

Wow, I haven't heard that word used since it was uttered by some Jehovah's Witnesses about 20 years ago, and it just entered my mind.    And the output of those TV sets has gotten much better and much worse since that all extremes.  Perhaps the past few days of headlines give one to thoughts of the apocalypse.  We are now sitting in the middle of a contentious election and a meltdown of the stock market and possibly our financial system.  Tensions are escalating around the world, with reactions from the events in outlying areas of Russia and Georgia from mid-August.  Politicians are saying stupid things, and some unbelievable alliances are taking place.  If you have high speed Internet and a satellite system, it doesn't get much better than this!  The world is at your fingertips, and though you might want to run away from the headlines after a while, most have to admit that it is compelling television...and we're not talking scripted network series TV.

Let's start and re-cap the news of the past two months.  We have been sitting under the radar awaiting news of a court decision involving DISH Network and companies manufacturing Free To Air satellite receivers.  Three cases have been building between DISH and the makers of Viewsat, Coolsat, and Pansat receivers.  DISH Network's lawyers used court issued subpoenas to force many satellite dealers to turn over names of retail customers of MPEG-2 satellite receivers.  Coolsat's parent company (Freetech) managed to contact the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in California's Bay Area, who challenged the necessity of DISH Network getting such information.  This request was first heard on September 15th, and a decision was made public yesterday.  The judge determined that DISH Network had over-reached in their request for information, on the basis of many privacy issues, outlined in intricate detail in an eight page argument by EFF.  While it does not end litigation, it does set a precedent for the first time, that there are limits in what companies can do in an attempt to fight piracy of their signals.  Hopefully this decision will point things in the right direction to preserve the ability of honest law-abiding citizens to use satellite equipment for legitimate reception of non-subscription digital signals.  What they were asking, in thinly veiled attempts to harass innocent consumers with no connection to the piracy of DISH Network signals, could be likened to someone suing the makers of Betty Crocker Brownie Mix and demanding its sale be outlawed, because some people might add hashish to their brownies.  Betty Crocker would take a dim view of the rest of their customers having to go without their excellent food product because there are people out there adding illegal substances to their baking mix.  Satellite technology is a broad area, with multitudes of legitimate consumer uses that do not involve a subscription.  DISH Network had better get used to the idea that they have a flawed security system that needs to be fixed.  DirecTV was successful in dealing with similar issues, and now no longer has the piracy problem that plagued them for years.  Signals simply need to be properly secured, people need to pay for subscription television when it is delivered, and the court system should not be used as a hammer to involve innocent bystanders that happen to be using a similar (but not modified) product to legitimately receive other signals.  Go after the criminals, but leave the rest of us alone!  While it may be common legal practice to sacrifice a few dolphins when dragging the oceans with a large net, that does not make it right.  I encourage anyone that is concerned with the abuse of the legal system to contact Charlie Ergen (the man at the top of the DISH Network totem pole) and let him know that his lawyers need to be reigned in.  Pissing off innocent consumers is no way to attract positive public relations.  DISH is having a bad year with legal and financial issues, and it would behoove them to take a serious look at their overall public image before any other negative news becomes the center of headlines.

Public Television (PBS) is taking steps this week to move their primary Ku-band delivery system over to a new satellite at 125 West, AMC-21.  Signals will continue to be simulcast on 87 West, AMC-3, until the latter part of November.  We expect stronger signal levels over a wider geographical range, and there is the promise of a second PBS-HD feed, for the Pacific time zone.  Audio will be in Dolby Digital AC-3  5.1 format, so you will either need to consider an HD receiver such as the Pansat 9200-HD with built-in AC-3 audio decoding and HD reception, or get a component stereo audio receiver with a Dolby digital processor, which can accept digital outputs from certain standard definition MPEG-2 digital receivers (we suggest the Traxis DBS-3500 and Pansat 2700, 3500SD, and 250SM).  The Traxis unit uses both a "coaxial" output using a single RCA audio cable, as well as an Optical cable connection.  The Pansat receivers use the optical method.  Global Communications is putting together packages with appropriate satellite receivers (some preprogrammed, such as the Traxis DBS-3500) and an audio receiver with speakers.  Those that have not updated their home audio system in decades, and are fortunate enough to not be into hard financial times yet, might consider such as system.  It would give you the ability to process digital audio from such diverse sources as DVD players, satellite receivers as mentioned above, XM and Sirius satellite receivers, as well as local FM radio reception.  Not to mention the ability to connect audio from cable television and subscription satellite television receivers.  Audio has never sounded better, and there has never been as many sources of sound at your disposal.  Need we also mention the resources of the Internet, and streaming audio?

There is beginning to be a shortage of DSR-920 and DSR-922 "4DTV" receivers;  Motorola has not made any new units for some time, and is not supporting the product as in the past.  If you have a working unit of either type, and would like to sell it, please drop us an Email.   A major U.S. supplier would like to acquire and renew such units so that they can be sold again in the consumer retail marketplace at a reasonable price.

We have been looking at the packaging of multiple satellite reception systems, primarily for Free To Air use.  Our time-tested Multifeed system is getting a new look.  Tests on a 180 cm (6 foot) offset antenna and a heavier LNBF support bracket using 3/4 inch EMT electrical tubing have had very good results from the test farm here in southern Wisconsin.  Two of these antennas should be able to cover the entire domestic Ku-band arc, and give the ability to simultaneously and independently receive all Ku-band satellites at the same time from those two antennas.  A source of used Prodelin offset dishes has made itself known to us, and we are now offering custom systems for pickup at our Plain, Wisconsin, location, as well as installed in the Upper Midwest.   These antennas come in two versions;  first come, first served.  Some use a 6 inch schedule 40 steel pipe (6-5/8 inches outside diameter), while others use a 4 inch pipe.  Super stability would recommend the larger heavier pipe, if you have it available, want to do it properly, and have funds for the materials.  Please let us know if you are interested in this concept, hopefully before the snow gets too deep, and temperatures drop too much.  It is truly amazing at the improvement in weather reliability when your primary satellites near the center of the antenna have carrier-to-noise (C/N) readings in the +10 to +14 dB region.  Star Choice does incredibly well, as well as our one-way satellite service now delivered by Skyway USA, with telephone dialup.  No reasonably priced system using a 30 inch dish is going to come close to the signal margins that can be had with a larger antenna such as this.  And if you want to use the same reflector to beef up your existing DBS reception, LNBFs can be parked on 101, 110 and 119 West and routed to your switching network.  Two large (6 foot) antennas for the whole arc, and no motors to deal with.

A supply of 50 x 50 inch Non-Penetrating Roof Mount bases has also got our attention, and is being paired with some low cost 36-inch offset dish inventory that we have.  Imagine centering a 90 cm dish, and having the ability to attach 2, 3 or 4 more antennas to the same common platform for installation on a deck or other flat ground location, without having to permanently attach to the building, or pour any cement.  You just add lumber, and bolt it or sheet-metal screw the wood to the 50 x 50 inch metal grid, and build upon it.  One can add a few cement cinder blocks or half blocks for more ballast, but it is often not necessary.  Our starter system (for pickup only) involves one 90 cm antenna with T-mount base and a 50 x 50 inch NPRM grid and single output JSC-321 Ku-band LNBF.  129.00...pickup here.  We could ship these, but it would take some serious strapping and possibly excessive freight charges due to the size of these items.  There is a way, but unless you ordered more than one unit, it might not be economical sensible to freight across the country.

Please study these suggestions, and drop me an Email with any comments or requests.  Between some satellite problems on 97 West and a road trip during the next few days, I will not be doing my Sunday night show during the first two weeks of October.  But please stay in touch!

Until next time,