Satellite broadcast dropouts

Discussions around the satellite system and video distribution.
ggllbb
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Postby ggllbb » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:29 am

This probably didn't affect most because it is very location dependent, but some might find it interesting. Receiving the satellite broadcast, it dropped out for several minutes and reported no-sig on the receiver right after the end of the Saturday morning broadcast. On Sunday at nearly the identical time, it dropped out again.

I went to look at the dish, since I have had alignment problems in the past. I then noticed that the dish was pointing directly at the sun. This would put the satellite directly between the sun and the dish. If the sun is in a high activity state, this can cause a solar outage. I believe that is what happened to my system. There was a report that the relatively near by Stake Center had a similar outage.

This, of course would not explain an outage later in the day at the priesthood session, unless the location and time had a similar alignment.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:46 am

ggllbb wrote:I went to look at the dish, since I have had alignment problems in the past. I then noticed that the dish was pointing directly at the sun. This would put the satellite directly between the sun and the dish. If the sun is in a high activity state, this can cause a solar outage. I believe that is what happened to my system. There was a report that the relatively near by Stake Center had a similar outage.


This post has links to a calculator you can use to determine if that is truly the issue for your location at that time (and you can also use it proactively for future broadcasts to see if you can expect similar problems).
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Postby techgy » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:51 am

The event that occured near the end of the Sat morning session was due, as you stated, to a solar alignment. It occurs at different times depending upon your location and the alignment between the Sun, Satellite and your satellite dish receiver. According to satellite support this event occurred over a wide area of North America. It generally lasts for about 5 minutes then fades back in almost as quick as it went out.

As to what happened to your priesthood session, I don't believe it was due to the same problem. The sun would have been almost down by the time the PHD session started. So I suspect you had another issue. A member of a local Spanish ward told me that they had a problem with the PHD session in their stake as well in Southern California.

About the only thing that wouldn't be affected by this solar event would be an Internet broadcast.
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JamesAnderson
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Postby JamesAnderson » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:32 pm

The sun problem (the satellite passing directly in front of the sun's disk) also affected DirecTV viewers who were watching on BYUtv.

Known to happen every early March and early October for the US birds, different times of the year for other parts of the world depending on latitude, this is common, all satellites are affected if they are geosynchronous.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:41 pm

I've had many a "sun outage". Depending on the alignment, it could just be a degradation or a complete outage.

Overall, problems fall into two areas: A constant (weak signal) problem and a intermittent problem. Because of the nature of digital, a constant weak signal problem could translate into intermittent problems with normal variations in the signal strength, but you should have a on-going indication of a weak signal to help you troubleshoot.

Going from a good signal to a temporary loss suggestions a different set of problems to look for. So the first step is to see what kind of signal level you have (green or blinking yellow status light).

If you have outages that happen near the top or bottom of the hour, your dish may be a little out of alignment and is picking up a neighboring satellite that's using the same frequency. Not all frequencies on all sats are in use 24/7. Most broadcasts start and end at the top or bottom of the hour. That's why you want to look at the timing. You can have the same problem if your dish warps for any reason.
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Postby lajackson » Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:57 pm

ggllbb wrote:Receiving the satellite broadcast, it dropped out for several minutes and reported no-sig on the receiver right after the end of the Saturday morning broadcast. On Sunday at nearly the identical time, it dropped out again.


The time each day will vary by a minute or two, depending on your location. And as others have stated, this is what radio and television stations call a "sun outage", when the sun lines up directly behind the satellite and overpowers your receiver. Radio and TV stations have to deal with this twice a year as the sun inclines and declines.

If you determine that it may happen during a conference broadcast, and not between sessions, it may be well to have an internet backup ready to go during those few minutes.

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Postby JamesAnderson » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:44 pm

Alan, I'm running from one thing to another today, and I haven't had any time to check the Wiki or the new tech site for STS people, is there anything in either about the sun outage thing? I could write a good description of what it does given that I've followed broadcasting for the last 30 years.

Any cable provider using any feed from a satellite that is passing in front of the sun so everyone receiving programming from that bird are affected, and it will be at a different time of day depending on what bird the particular program source is on.

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Postby aebrown » Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:23 pm

JamesAnderson wrote:Alan, I'm running from one thing to another today, and I haven't had any time to check the Wiki or the new tech site for STS people, is there anything in either about the sun outage thing? I could write a good description of what it does given that I've followed broadcasting for the last 30 years.


There is a section in the Satellite troubleshooting wiki article devoted specifically to this topic: Interference from the sun.

As you know, the technology content on the wiki is being moved to the new https://clerksupport.lds.org site, but it doesn't look like any of the satellite-related content has been moved yet. I assume that will happen at some point, since that wiki article I linked to has the "Content Copied LDS.org" stamp on it.
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russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:21 pm

Somewhere in my photo collection, I have a photo of a large dish experiencing a sun outage.
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Postby MerrillDL » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:45 pm

craiggsmith wrote:Not sure which forum to post this in ...

We have several brief dropouts in the Priesthood session broadcast tonight, and one last week in the Relief Society broadcast. Was it just us or a universal problem?


Question: were you watching the broadcast via satellite or Internet stream?

NOTE: sorry for the long essay, I have a couple of questions too.

Common causes of Loss of Signal in a satellite receiver are dish obstructions. Bird's nest, bees, snow accumulation, etc. Other causes of dropout are when the sun is directly behind the satellite. That is, if you drew a line from your satellite dish to the sun, your line would intersect the satellite (in the sky).

I did experience a few brief pauses on the computer which was streaming the priesthood broadcast.

What's unusual about the pauses is that I wasn't wireless, only 12-15 devices on the Internet above the normal connections (AP's, clerk computers, library copiers, etc...). We are blessed with an abundant bandwidth which averages on any given Sunday at 20-22Mbps Upload, and 18-20Mbps download. Any pauses shouldn't have been the result of inadequate bandwidth.

I think the computer is busy handling other processes and "forgets" it needs to keep the buffer full on the Internet stream. A few years ago in a completely different environment, I had a less-than-powerful computer dedicated to streaming real-time television programs. It frequently paused to buffer in spite of the fact we had a DS3 connection to the Internet.

I opened the task manager (in Windows) and ended a few tasks I could identify were not necessary. I then adjusted the process for the browser or media player by setting the affinity one CPU and setting the priority for the process to High or Real Time. The result was no more buffering issues.

This raised a question in my mind; where can I find documentation that explains or documents the names of services, processes and applications of an Internet packet (of a streaming type) from the moment it enters the computer, all the way to the program that is playing the stream? If I could set the affinity and raise the priority of these processes in the Task Manager, I think it would eliminate buffering problems.

Anyone have any ideas?
Doug


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