Dreamcatcher 3.03 up and running


#1

Received the Dreamcatcher kit on Saturday, and got everything running, but no signal was detected inside the house. Tested outside this morning and was only able to get a SNR of about -13 or -14 which didn’t provide a consistent lock. We are located in far southeastern Arizona and on the southern fringe of the 48 dBW contour for SES2.

So the next step was to build a horn based on the recommendtion for fringe areas in the User Guide and am now seeing an SNR in the -9 to -10 range with Rssi of -81. Lock is very good and packet error is low.

I added a small cardboard frame to the horn I built (cardboard and aluminum foil) to help maintain stability.

The evolution since the days when I was using a CHIP and airgap on L-band are impressive. Am listening to the VOA as I write this - never anticipated audio would become available.

Glad I decided to try this new Dreamcatcher to see the progress achieved in the past couple of years.

Richard
KE7KRF


#2

Sounds great! What sort of RSSI were you getting with the bare LNB? -81dBm sounds pretty good with the addition of the horn. Wondering if you saw RSSI improve with the horn. When I dug through past posts, it seemed that usually RSSI stayed the same, with only SNR improving.

I put together a document which is the in Wiki section, of the various horns people have made and their performance. If you’re able to post a picture and some rough dimensions, I will add yours to the list.


#3

Unfortunately I didn’t record the Rssi running the bare LNB but recall there was no significant change just as you had noticed in some postings.

I will run without the horn for a couple of hours later today or tomorrow and report the results. Also will send you a photo of the horn including dimensions. My design is not original but based on one of the suggestions in the User Guide with slight modifications.

I just spent a couple of hours installing an old Dish Network dish, a smaller one used before 2000 which points at a single satellite. Results were what I anticipated – the original circular Dish Network LNB produced no dectable signal. Next step is to buy a linear LNB to install on the dish.


#4

I was mis-remembering on the RSSI. -81dBm is about what I see with a bare LNB. For some reason for a moment I thought -81 was a really good number. In my head I was 10dB off, and read it as -71dBm. Sorry.

I am running an 18" dish right now with a linear LNB with good results (dish is actually indoors!) Someone commented that a circular should work with just a few dB of loss. I haven’t swapped in the circular that came with the dish to verify myself. I will bump the priority on that experiment and report back.


#5

When I ran a circularly polarized LNB, I saw a 6 dB loss in SNR. 3 dB is attributed to the polarization mismatch (linear to circular) and the other 3 dB hit is from twice the number of interferers in the channel (coming from the other [V/H] pole).


#6

Now I remember ! It was your post “18” Dish indoors" that led me to try out my Dish Network dish. I don’t want to break down the horn assembly at the moment, so will buy another Maverick or similar. My Dish Network LNB may be dead as it has been sitting in outdoor storage for many many years.

Didn’t get to test the LNB bare today due to approaching storms and my setup isn’t weather protected.

Have an old Winegard CarryOut model 1518 RV satellite dish I’d like to get working for Othernet but cannot get any tech data from Winegard - proprietary info they claim. Would be perfect because of the weatherproof dome.


#7

That looks like a really fun antenna to try and utilitize. It seems have worked with the
Dish 101 or DirectTV signals and others listed as ‘super’
The lnbf is rather unusual for KU … It looks more like concentric feed used by C band. So you may have a challenge to try and replace… I would definitely try and use it ‘stock’ and deal with circular settings. The specs seem to say it wants 12 to 15 vdc into the coaxial . This should be fine using the dreamcatcher.

I can’t tell if the ‘dip’ switches in the ‘electronics box’ are to change frequency of the offset, or the left/right polarization.

Bottom line… looks like fun…


#8

Removed the cone and ran the LNB bare this morning for a couple of hours. Lock is marginal and the best SNR has been around -14. Note that RSSI is still about 81, no significant change from using the horn. Just shut down temporrily due to high winds. Will replace horn and post those results when back in service.


#9

The Winegard antenna would be perfect but I have a lot to learn to be able to modify or configure this for Othernet.

You are correct - the LNB is unusual in design and don’t know if it will be possible to modify or replace. Also don’t know how to calculate offset, even if I could compensate for it.

Really just getting started with this Ku stuff and a ways to go before I can accomplish much more.

I tested the Winegard a couple of days ago. As you mention, the power to the LNB from the dreamcatcher is in range and the logviewer diagnostics showed that all the parameters were o.k. - power was getting to the LNB. But that’s as far as I got and really don’t know if we were getting anything based on a blank Dreamcatcher Status Screen.

The Winegard dish can be manually oriented, which I did, and of course not powered up so that once oriented the dish stays pointed properly. It would be perfect if it could be auto controlled to stay on a given satellite, which is possible with DISH or Directv receivers but probably out of the question here.

I’ve seen nothing on the internet that has helped - very little info except from RVers who want to just to use it for Directv or Dish Network. Dish receivers are no longer compatible with this older unit, but a couple of Directv ones are.

The only dip switches I’ve used are ones to set whether Directv or Dish. I haven’t torn anything apart yet to see if there are any other switches. I think most is done through software and interaction with the satellite receiver it’s connected to…


#10

Richard, To replace your LNB on the “CarryOut” you could build a support structure from the rim of the dish to hold a Maverick 1 at the focal position of the exsisting LNB. It is obviously a round parabolic, so your focus would be at the same point, measured from the base/center to the reflector on the original. If you place the white end of the Maverick where the existing receive reflector is on that center column, it should be close enough to be able to find the satellite. This would also be relatively easy to point directly at SES-2 using direct angle measurements.


#11

Excellent!

I will try that in the next few days. The elev and az I used from dishpointer.com required only minor adjustments. From our location the elevation to SES2 is 45.6 degrees which makes it very easy


#12

wbrown,

Here is the photo of the horn I built, based on recommendations in the User Guide.

Each of the four section is 2" at the bottom and 4" at the top and 8" on the perpendicular top to bottom. Used heavy corrugated cardboard, covered each section with heavy duty aluminum foil and used thin metalic duct tape to join the 4 sections. Towards the smaller end, I left a couple of inches unattached all around allowing enough flexibility to slip over the LNB.

I added the cardboard frame to provide rigidity and help maintain the 90 degree angles.

In calm weather the horn stays in place with just friction, but we have a fair amount of breeze so secured the horn to the LNB with long ties wraps.

This horn is providing about 5 dB improvement in SNR which is the difference between a high rate of valid packets and poor results without it.

Here are some stats with the horn in place. Refer to my earlier post showing results with a bare LNB.


#13

Maxboysdad,

After my reply to your excellent recommendation, I got to thinking that the addition of an LNB support structure might be too high to clear the dome. I created a mockup out of cardboard, attaching it in the approx position and it looks like it’s worth proceeding.


#14

If my info is correct… the stock Dish lnbf uses a 11,250MHz for a local oscillator. (This is what my 18" dish from 2013 used). Most of the othernet info assumes the user is using a ‘maverick’ lnbf with 10,750MHz local oscillator. There were older (timeframe 2002) lnbf’s that use 9.75GHz or 10.6GHz but I haven’t seen one of these.

So the ‘easy’ thing is to try your stock lnbf and assume 11,250MHz L.O. The quick change in skylark for the tuner to custom frequency of 11.4024 beam type 228. then apply and do a full shutdown/off/restart.

The way we selected 11.4024 is by seeing that difference between the maverick at 10.750 and dish 11.250 is 500MHz. So the standard america othernet SES-2 11.9024 minus 500MHz = 11.4024


#15

My Dish is set up and rough aligned so will try this tomorrow. Thanks!


#16

ac8dg,

The settings you provided worked perfectly and my rough alignment was very close so saw immediate results.

I now have SNR’s in the 0 to +1 dB range although the RSSI is lower at around -87 (see status screenshot). Could lower RSSI be related to the circular DISH LNB?

I mounted our old DISH NETWORK dish on a support that was installed on a concrete retaining wall for their wider dish. It provides a lot of stability for strong winds we experience on our hillside. We’ve cut the cord so no longer needed. Also may experiment with FTA tv since it would be relatively easy to move over to Galaxy at 97W. Will be ordering another Maverick soon and will report any improvement to SNR when that’s in place.

Thanks for helping me get this going.


#17

dschre,

Thanks - good looking horn there. I updated the document with your build, pic and stats. It’s linked in the wiki.

I also added my satellite dish setup, a commentary about using circular LNBs, and a table with Frequency/offset information gleaned from another thread that @ac8dg pointed me to, with some minor instructions about how to configure the DreamCatcher.


#18

I just tried my LNB 18 (circular) using 11.4024 and it just worked.

Thanks


#19

I decided to test the Winegard CarryOut antenna using the same custom LO frequency that works for the DISH circular LNB.

It is receiving the signal, but the RSSI is less than -90 and virtually no lock as you can see in the screenshot.

Since both the horn and DISH setups work I will probably not experiment with it further at this time.

Anything on the stat screen providing a clue?

Winegard