How To Split A Satellite Signal

by Jeff Fisher

With all the dual-tuner satellite DVRs being installed these days, this question gets asked a lot. The answer depends on the type of signal on the coax. And you can tell that from the type of dish you have:

DishTechnologyTo Add A ReceiverTo Use A Dual-Tuner DVR Over A Single Coax
18Dish.jpg 1 Coax ConnectionSingle LNBNot supportedNot supported

The short answer is: "If you have a SWM dish, maybe. If not; no, you need a multiswitch".

The first DirecTV dish had a single LNB. Since the coax had all the signals on it all the time, you could split it (with a high-frequency splitter) and go to multiple receivers. The single-LNB dish is no longer supported.

The next DirecTV setup used a Dual-LNB dish and the satellite receiver selected one or the other LNBs by changing the voltage on the coax. This means that the coax cable only has SOME of the signals on it at any one time. So if you split the coax cable and went to two receivers, they would, at times, fight for control of the LNB they were connecting to. Some channels wouldn't come it at some times. The solution is to run both LNB signals (two coaxes) to a two (or three) input multiswitch, then separately from the multiswitch to each tuner. This setup is still supported although not all channels (like many HD and local channels) will not be available.

The next DirecTV setup used a 5-LNB dish. The problems and solutions are similar to the Dual-LNB dish described above. Except that there are now 4 coaxes coming from the dish and it's a four (or five) input multiswitch to go to multiple receivers. This setup is common today and supports all current channels including HD and local channels.

The latest DirecTV setup is "Single Wire Multiswitch" (SWM). Although it still uses a 5-LNB dish, the four coaxes can be merged onto a single coax with a special SWM multiswitch. The SWM output of the multiswitch can be split with special splitters to go to up to 8 tuners. (I.E: 4 dual-tuner DVRs.) There is also an SWM dish that integrates the SWM multiswtich into the LNBs to simplify installation.

pic of dish, to add another receiver, to run over one coax to a dual-tuner DVR


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