The excellent video I described in the main article is partly because of my use of the S-video signals throughout. I have drawn a diagram (16k) of my system hookup which shows this (get the high res (88k) version here) . Apparently the signals are uplinked to the satellite in 'Y-C' component format, which is also known as S-video. The 'Y' stands for the luminance or 'black and white' portion of the signal, and the 'C' stands for chrominance or 'color' part. By keeping these components separate, the best possible picture is obtained, because the process of mixing or 'encoding' them to form composite video (which is the standard video signal) causes the two components to interact, creating artifacts in the final signal such as 'dot crawl,' in addition to decreased resolution due to losses in the encoding circuits. If the video signal is then modulated onto an RF (Radio Frequency) carrier signal, further degradation is experienced.
So if you hook up your DSS receiver using the RF only to feed your TV and VCR, you are cheating yourself out of the best signal you could have. Even if you do not have S-video components, you should at least use the separate video and audio connections to your equipment. I know many people use the RF cable to hook their VCR to the TV, even though they have separate video and audio jacks, because it is easier to run a single coax cable, and the switching from VCR to tuner is just a change of channel away. But you will not get the best results with this arrangement.
The only problem with the connection I have shown here is that the VCR must be on when viewing the DSS programming, and you can't use the VCR to record a CATV channel while you watch DSS. I get around this by having a second VCR which is not S-VHS which I use for this purpose. If you only have one VCR, you can use the diagram in the manual, but you are not using the S-VHS capability of the VCR, as it shows the DSS hooked to the VCR, and the VCR to the TV with the composite video jacks. This was no good for me, since my JVC TV has a switch built in to the S-video jack which disables the composite input when an S-V cable is inserted. So the TV stays in S-V mode. The other inconvenience associated with this hookup is that in order to use the one-touch programmed recording function, I've got to remember to turn off the VCR. As I said in the main article, the DSS sends out the 'power' signal, then the 'record' signal to the VCR. If the VCR is on when this happens, it gets turned off.
On the other hand, sometimes RF is the best way to go, particularly if you want to run signals to other rooms in the house. The reason I bought the 7430 instead of the 4430 is so I could do just that. The RCA 7430 receiver has a feature called "channel output" which is really a simplified name for an agile (tunable) RF output modulator. The lower priced unit has an output which is switchable to either channel 3 or 4, similar to most VCRs and Cable converters. The agile modulator can be tuned to any cable channel between 65-94 and 100-125, or any broadcast channel from 14 to 69. The result of this is that you can set the unit to output on a channel not used in your area cable system, and combine the two together. But it took some fiddling to get this to work like I wanted.
The manual for the unit shows two scenarios, one for output to a single set, and one for use with a 'whole house distribution system.' For hookup to a single set, RCA recommends hooking your antenna or cable system to the RF input on the DSS receiver, (not to be confused with the input for the satellite LNB, though they are both 'RF' and both use 'F' type connectors), and then from the RF output to the TV. I expected they had built a channel combiner circuit into the DSS unit, but I found that in order to view channels from the cable system, I had to operate the 'ant' (for "antenna") button on the remote. Then to view the DSS output on channel 65, I had to hit the button to toggle the output back. This is a pain. I didn't want to have another switch to remember, besides, since I wanted to send this remote signal back to the bedroom, where I couldn't see the receiver, I wouldn't know if the unit were off, or if I had the switch in the wrong position without fiddling with several buttons.
I should make a note here. In order to control the unit from the bedroom, I'm using an RCA remote control extender, which costs around $45. Other companies make these as well. It consists of a pair of little cone-shaped units. One is an IR receiver/RF transmitter (I'll call this one the remote), and the other is an RF receiver/IR transmitter (which I'll call the local unit). The pair convert IR signals from the remote to RF signals for transmission through the walls, and back to IR for controlling the DSS receiver. It works pretty well. The IR output of the local unit is strong enough that I put it beside the DSS unit, and it sends enough signal to bounce off the opposite wall. It came with a little IR emitter on a cable you can mount in front of the DSS unit, but I didn't need it.
Back to signal mixing. I decided to use the instructions in the manual for a multiple TV arrangement. Except the 'whole house distribution system' they showed was not available locally. What is needed is essentially a distribution amplifier (DA) with multiple inputs. Lacking one of these, I made my own using a single input DA and a handful of parts. The result is shown on the hookup diagram.
I fed both the DSS output (set to the default channel of 65) and my incoming CATV line into a hybrid (goes both ways) splitter, running each line through a dc blocker and a 6 dB attenuator. I came upon this combination through "informed trial and error." There may be better ways to do it with fewer parts, but this setup worked best for me. The DC blockers and the attenuators are there to provide isolation and to prevent overdriving the input to the DA. I then took the output of the DA to the existing cable going into the bedroom, which I had disconnected from the CATV line in the attic. I chose channel 65, as part of the cable to my remote TV is RG-59, and I got maximum signal clarity on the lower frequency. Now, in the bedroom I can tune the CATV channels 2-16 (basic cable) and tune the DSS output on 65. I just used the auto progam feature on the bedroom TV to set the active channels, so 65 is the next one after 16 and just before 2 using the channel up/down buttons.
The resulting signal from the DSS is still better than that from the CATV. I programmed a universal remote to handle the DSS, as well as the TV and VCR in the bedroom. The only downfall is that If one of us is watching a program off the satellite in either place, the other is limited to that channel or any CATV channel. But it has not been a problem so far. I went ahead and pulled two pieces of RG-6 from the LNB into the house, so I can always add a second DSS receiver if it becomes necessary (the 7430 comes with a dual LNB dish).
The reason I felt I should document this installation is that I had a hard time finding information and parts in my area. I even went to a local satellite TV installer, but they said they had not put in any of these new units with agile modulators, and did not know how best to do it the way I wanted. I hope this helps someone out there. If you have questions, send me some email, I'll try to help.
I am building a page of information specific to the second generation RCA receivers. If you own one of these, you may find an answer, tip, etc. there, or you may have an item to add...
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