Return to Amusing Stories page

Satellite Workshop

This is tenth in a series of articles which will help you to save money.


Our local post office is under new management. The new owners moved here from the far south (Reading, near France, I think). They employed a local satellite expert to refit their system and everything seemed all right. However, they accosted me one morning as I was posting my mail orders for the day. Apparently Sky News and other channels were much more sparkly than they had been in Reading. Was this to be expected here, near Crewe, and did they need a bigger dish?
Now, I'm no installation expert but everyone else here is using a 60cm dish so why should the Post Office need a larger one? I had a quick look outside. The installer had made a neat job of fitting it but it was immediately obvious that the old dish was bent out of true by at least an inch!
I arranged for a new dish to be fitted and all was well. My question is: why did a "professional" installer fail to notice that this dish was bent?


In a previous article, I mentioned that CPC now handle Amstrad spares. It seems that now they also handle Grundig spares, including warranty claims. In the long term this is certain to improve the service but, at the time of writing, some spares are not in stock. I had to hand back a GRD300 to the customer because I simply could not obtain a new microcontroller chip.
In this respect I prefer to deal with Pace receivers. They may not be as reliable as some others but at least I can get the parts and, in the rare event that I can't repair a receiver, Pace will do it for me with a rapid turnaround.
Last week I had a call from the owner of an MSS1000-IP receiver. He was rather distraught because the shop where he bought it had quoted a rather high sum for its repair and three to four weeks to do the job. It was less than six months old but he could not find the invoice. I advised the customer to contact Pace Returns department and to quote the serial number. He phoned me four days later to say that Pace had collected the receiver, repaired and returned it free of charge and it was now back on the shelf working better than ever. OK, I didn't make any profit on this one but the gentleman is spending every evening in the club telling his friends what a splendid service I (and Pace) gave him. And we did!
Another point which I find refreshing is that Pace seem to be totally open about faults which occur through design or manufacturing problems. A lot of resources are committed to the technical help line and, whereas most companies put the emphasis on marketing the product, Pace also look at the technical side. For example, in each of the major countries where they will be selling digital receivers, Pace have set up a service department to handle faults and problems which inevitably occur with any new technology.


While we are on the subject of Digital Receivers, a lot of people ask me how they should connect their D2Mac decoders to receive digital MPEG-2 signals. The answer, of course, is that the two technologies are quite different so you can't use D2Mac equipment to receive digital signals. You will need a separate digital receiver which has the conditional access unit, internal software and the smart card for the particular programs that you want to watch. If you want to use both analogue (including D2Mac) and digital systems then the best way is to fit a twin output "Universal" LNB to your dish. Be sure to use high quality cable and do not kink or join it along its length. You can even have a motorised system with a twin output Universal LNB. (Skew adjustment with a polariser is really not necessary unless you are looking for very weak signals.) This way you get the best possible compromise with two systems working together.

Pace PRD power supply repairs.

As most of you who do repairs will know, I have designed power supply kits for over twenty different receivers including the PRD range. Pace supply their own design kit in a black antistatic bag and, generously, they include R2, a 100k/2W resistor, which I don't supply in my kits. Unfortunately, this has led to some confusion in two respects. Firstly, because R1 and R2 look physically similar, a lot of "engineers" are fitting the 10 Ohm R1 in place of the 100k R2 with disastrous and spectacular results! Secondly, the PRD "plus" range uses two 47k resistors in place of a single 100k. Some clever repairers fit the 100k in place of the 47k R2 which results in a total resistance of 147k. The receiver will then tick like a clock but it will not work. My simple advice is: do not replace R2 unless it is definitely open-circuit!
During April, several power supplies failed immediately after repair. The problem was traced to some BUT11A transistors which were marked "C 932" so if you had similar problems, look closely at the transistor.