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Satellite Workshop

Early Pace PRD receivers used a Sharp tuner but later receivers (PRD-plus and MSS models) use a "PACE" tuner. Recently, I've noticed sparklies on the picture when the receiver is cold. This seems to be normal. If you use the receiver straight from a cold van or workshop, the tuner will take at least half an hour to reach normal operating temperature. Of course, the rule with TVs and Video Recorders has always been to let the unit stand at room temperature for a couple of hours to get rid of condensation before applying power. If the same rule were applied to satellite receivers, this "fault" would not occur. Being a practical sort of chappie (and always in a hurry) I use a hair dryer. One day she'll notice it's missing from the bedroom!

This receiver came in with "not decoding" written on the label. I couldn't insert my Sky card until I removed the small photograph of a child which somebody had put in the slot. Presumably they were desperate to watch "The Children's Channel"?

The picture was marred by faint horizontal lines which "washed" up and down the picture like waves on a beach. They were evident on BOTH polarisations from the TV Scart output and the RF output. Replacing C23 with a high temperature 2200uF/25v electrolytic capacitor removed the lines completely. I've seen identical interference which appears ONLY from the RF output. This is more difficult to clear up, requiring much juggling of capacitors around the tuner and power supply.

Not really a fault, but curious:
An MSS200 came in from a rental company. It announced "Card Invalid" when a card was inserted. Why? Because somebody had used a knife to cut through every track connected to the card reader contacts! Was a rental customer looking for an excuse not to pay? Was he trying to cheat Sky? We'll never know, but the company got a nice big bill for the repair.

Another MSS200 yesterday was "dead"..... except it wasn't. The PSU was fine
but the display did not light and nothing functioned. I replaced the "LCC" 47uF/400v (as a precaution) and the microcontroller. Fixed. Now, if I'd been a typical repairman, I would have ordered a PSU kit, wouldn't I?

I had an Email from an Apollo owner, complaining that the internal 22kHz tone generator didn't work. I explained that early production Apollos had this feature in the menu but the oscillator components were not fitted to the board. I can now supply an upgrade kit, by the way.

I collected a Nokia SAT800 and a 5918 D2Mac decoder from a local TV shop. The owner, unhelpfully, reported "No pictures." A quick check of the SAT800 revealed no fault and the 5918 decoder worked perfectly once I had made up the appropriate Scart connector and set the menu parameters correctly. The units continued to work overnight so I delivered them back the following day.

Interestingly, with most receivers, the 5918 needs a lead with a phono plug connected to pin 20 in the Scart plug at the decoder end. The Scart plug must be connected to the "TV" Scart socket and the phono plug to "Baseband In" on the decoder. In the 5918 Installation menu, set Baseband Input to "Phono." This automatically sets it to "PAL" deemphasis as well. Set "TV switch" to "On."

Now, for each D2Mac channel in the Nokia receiver, set the decoder type to "D3". In the SAT800 you achieve this by pressing "Setup" five times then use the "step" buttons to change the number. Press "Store" three times.

In other Nokia receivers you achieve the same thing in the "Channel Setup" menu, then press store, followed by the 3-digit channel number, followed by the TV/SAT button.

You can find this and other incredibly useful information in my "Repair Manual edition 4."

And now an amusing tale.
I was out with my friend, David Poole, last year when he had a panic call
from the local radio station. It was 9.00am. At 10.00am they were due to broadcast the news, which they did by switching over to a news broadcast on one of the Astra satellite channels. Trouble was, the standby light on the PRD800 satellite receiver was flashing on and off!

Dave drove there at a fast pace (no pun intended) and arrived at 9:20. The cause of the flashing LED was immediately obvious. Somebody had stolen the LNB and, in cutting through the cable, had shorted it out. But, oh dear! No Enhanced LNB on the van! A mad drive to the workshop and back with an LNB got us there at 9:50am. Eight minutes later we had the LNB fitted and a signal coming out of the receiver. Which channel did they want? No idea. Oh, gosh! Quickly scanning a tatty copy of "Wot, satellite?" we found the correct frequency and tuned it in. 30 seconds to go. Which audio frequency? This one? "That's it!" shrieked the gorgeous blonde with the headphones, then, more calmly, (click) "And here is the ten o'clock news..." (click)

And it was :o)

In German... :o0