Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Satellite or Freeview?

I have talked previously about the problems associated with travelling narrowboats and digital TV reception. I had decided on Digital satellite reception, initially using the free to air stations, then latterly, using the Sky freeview stations, through an old Sky digi-box I already had, using their freeview card, (which has to be purchased). This weekend that decision has had to be changed.....

The reason I chose satellite reception as opposed to Freeview digital reception via a normal TV aerial, was that in the early days of terrestrial digital transmissions, when both analogue and digital transmissions were running side by side, the digital signal was less strong than it is now that the analogue transmissions, (from Winter Hill), have been turned off. This had resulted in poor quality reception when using portable TV aerial equipment on the boat.

In order to do this, I chose a Multimo mobile satellite dish, which is the tried and tested favourite of truckers and those with mobile homes. I have used this successfully for the last two years, until this weekend!

Everything seems to be failing at the same time at the moment, and the next on the list was to be the satellite dish. I have previously had experience of LNB, (the electronic gizmo in the centre of the dish that receives the signals), failure due to them being constantly exposed to the elements. This is what happened to mine. During Friday evening, we noticed some breaking up of the picture, (which can usually be rectified by a minor adjustment in the direction of the dish). On Saturday, the thing just stopped working, and my satellite signal meter showed it had died, with no signal at all being received. As a temporary measure, I rigged the mobile Maxview TV aerial and tuned the Freeview in, which to my surprise, instantly brought in most of the channels. I presume that this is due now to a full power digital signal being transmitted, where in the past it had to be a reduced power signal when the analogue transmissions were still on. I have chosen not to replace the LNB in the Multimo, but instead buy a compact digital TV aerial which could be mounted permanently at the mooring. I chose one that was on offer at Maplin, a digidome with amplifier, reduced to £19.95. This was mounted on a post, and works fine, bringing in all available Freeview channels reliably and of good quality.

It is also much less obtrusive than a standard metal TV aerial. When we are cruising we will continue to use the Maxview mobile TV aerial with its amplifier. Job done.

On Sunday, I noticed a damp patch at the bottom of the Alde 2928 comfort gas central heating boiler. Closer inspection revealed that the header tank was empty. It appears that this is my next problem, so here we go again. More on this in the future. It will probably, (hopefully), be just a loose connection on an outlet / inlet pipe. Unfortunately all of these are at the rear of the unit, which will have to be removed to gain access. I am beginning to wonder what will be next.


  1. Many so-called LNB failures are actually just a bad connection, caused by NOT filling the screw connection plug with silicone grease on assembly. Sometimes the connection can be cleaned up and new cable fitted (with grease). If there's evidence of corrosion, discard the old cable and use new. The connector can be further waterproofed by wadding Blu-Tack around it.

    1. As a retired TV and electronics technician I have experience of post failure testing. In this case, the connector was initially fitted using silicone grease, and after failure, was cleaned and re-tried without success. The dish was taken home, fitted with a new LNB and is now in use once again by a friend at his caravan. My own opinion about using satellite dishes on boats is that unless an expensive self-tracking dome is used, then the movement of the boat renders any dish such as this useless, or at least, too much trouble to be worthwhile. Thanks for the additional info though, it will be of value to someone who might be suffering a simple poor connection, and worth a try before scrapping their equipment.


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