My Motorhome Satellite system isn’t locking on ?

Posted on by outdoorbits

motorhome satellite wont lock on

If you are having problems with your motorhome satellite system locking on and is instead just swing around and around in a frustrating dance then we have a neat guide on what to check and how to potentially resolve your issue.

The reason why your satellite system may have stopped locking on to the satellite signal can be various but we will tackle the basics.

1. No Clean line of sight to the satellite signal.

The satellite signal you receive on your automatic satellite system is a long, long way away and if watching standard UK TV on Astra 2 Satellite then the signal is roughly from the South direction in the Sky (28.2ºE is the term used to describe the satellite normally but this is a bit misleading as it is referring to the line of longitude where the satellite system is located above the equator.)
You can use a compass to ascertain roughly which direction the satellite signal is coming from and check that there are no buildings/trees etc blocking line of sight to the signal itself. You can also download an app for your phone called DishPointer which is a very good visual indicator of where the signal is in the sky for your location and even includes the skew angle you would need to receive the signal at that gps co-ordinate.

2. Connection Issues.

The signal reflects off the dish face and then is actually received by the small gadget at the end of the arm called an LNB (Low Noise Block). The LNB has a minimum of one cable connection on it (possibly more if you have a multi LNB setup for such uses as connection to a Sky+ box which needs twin inputs or alternatively to 2 different TVs / Receivers in your vehicle) to transfer the reflected signal down to a controller box which listens for the signal and checks frequencies / signal strength etc to ensure it is pointing at the right satellite and then moves the satellite in height (elevation) or direction (azimuth) until it is happy the signal is strong enough and it is the right satellite.

Therefore any issues with cable connections or cable itself will cause the system to not be able to lock on as the signal will not be correctly transferred to the controller.

satellite f connectorCheck all cables down from the satellite to the controller, check for tightness of F Connectors (the Twist on satellite connectors as shown left)

Check the copper core wire is protruding correctly from the end of the connector and no strands of metal braiding are  touching it. Also check for fastness of the connection as some connections are made using twist on connectors which can come loose. SNS SNS F ConnectorConnections are much more sturdy but are not prevalent in the motorhome / caravan industry due to the requirement for a special crimping tool.

 

3. Satellite Frequency Update Required.

Astra SES who administer and own some of the satellites have over the last few years made changes which affect the leisure industry satellite systems. It affects us more than domestic systems as most domestic systems are permanently connected to a power source and are pointed directly at the satellite so can be automatically updated via “Over The Air” updates via the satellite signal.

However Motorhome & Caravan satellite systems are only ever powered up and pointing to the satellite when the owner is using the system and so automatic updates cannot be performed.

Automatic satellite systems use set frequencies to ascertain if they are pointing to the correct satellite, these “lock” frequencies have sometimes been modified during these updates from SES. Some automatic systems have a series of frequencies that they use to lock on to the signal allowing some redundancy should the primary frequency no longer be transmitted. In the case of these systems the search takes much longer as they firstly go through a full scan searching using the primary frequency and if not found then attempt the same full scan again using the next frequency it has. If it locks on the second time most systems then switch that frequency to be the primary saving time the next scan is performed.

However sometimes the frequencies have changed enough that this system fails and in these cases the satellite system will continuously scan the sky looking for none existent frequencies and therefore never lock on. If this is the case then you will need to update the frequencies on the satellite system controller.

One way of narrowing down if a frequency update is the issue you have is to attempt to lock on to either Astra 1 or Hotbird satellite instead if your system supports additional satellites. As these satellite frequencies are different. If your system correctly locks on to these satellites and you can receive television (albeit in a foreign language) then you have proven the cabling and connectors and almost certainly your motorhome / caravan satellite system needs an update.

If your system isn’t locking on due to a satellite frequency change then this doesn’t come under the warranty cover as it is considered an environmental change so you may find you need to either perform the update yourself (if you have the required equipment / cables / know how) or else pay a professional to do the update for you.

There are also some workarounds if you don’t have the time or the confidence to do the update yourself and you cannot get to a professional in the near future.

Satellite system frequency updates

Each system on the market has a different procedure for updates and also some might need SD Memory Cards or a Laptop with Cable to do the update. Below are a list of some common systems and how to do the updates. Obviously check with the manufacturer / distributor / Retailer for up to date information before proceeding with an update yourself.

KVH Tracvision Dome Updates
Equipment required: Laptop with preferably a serial port connection / serial lead or otherwise a USB connection with a serial to USB Adaptor lead.
CaClase who are the Tracvision importers have a support website at https://caclase.wordpress.com/category/kvh-tracvision-r-series-land/

Connect  PC  via  serial  lead  to  switch  panel.
Use  a terminal  programme  such  as  Hyperterminal  /  TerminalLite  at  9600,8,n,1,n
First  confirm  the  current  configuration,Sky  &  Freesat  Installations will be UK configuration
Power  TracVision  on  and  watch  data  on  screen,  once  searching  for satellite is shown type the following commands:-
HALT<ENTER>
SATINSTALL<ENTER>
It will respond with which satellites are installed, use the below commands to change the necessary settings based upon the configuration:
Example responses:
>satconfig,astra2s,none = Astra 2 is Sat A(UK configuration)
>satconfig,astra2s,hotbird = Astra 2 is Sat A
>satconfig,astra1,hotbird,astra2s = Astra 2 is Sat C(Trisat configuration)
>satconfig,astra2n,astra2s = Astra 2 is Sat B

 

 ONLY FOLLOW THE UPDATE PROCESS FOR THE CORRECT

CONFIGURATION,
Astra2S  is  satellite  C
@DEBUGON
<ENTER>
@SATCONFIG
<ENTER>
Expected response:
>RF: SATCONFIG
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,B,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,B,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,B,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,B,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,C,12207,27500,23,0XFFFE,V,H,3
RF: F,C,10788,22000,56,0X0020,V,L,3
RF: F,C,12110,27500,23,0XFFFE,H,H,3
RF: F,C,10964,22000,56,0X0020,H,L,3
Ignore the data lines 1-8as these relate to Satellites A & B
The red lines are the ones affected by this change, but check lines 2 & 4 as well to ensure these are also correct.
To change the settings type:
@SATCONFIG,C,04,12207,27500,56,0X0020,V,H,3<ENTER>
@SATCONFIG,C,04,12110,27500,56,0X0020,H,H,3<ENTER>
@SAVE,C<ENTER>
Confirm response:
RF: F,C,12207,27500,56,0X0020,V,H,3
RF: F,C,10788,22000,56,0X0020,V,L,3
RF: F,C,12110,27500,56,0X0020,H,H,3
RF: F,C,10964,22000,56,0X0020,H,L,3
Only if you need to update either of the other frequencies:
@SATCONFIG,C,04,10788,22000,56,0X0020,V,L,3<ENTER>
@SATCONFIG,C,04,10964,22000,56,0X0020,H,L,3<ENTER>
@SAVE,C<ENTER>
Confirm response:
RF:F,C,12207,27500,56,0X0020,V,H,3
RF: F,C,10788,22000,56,0X0020,V,L,3
RF: F,C,12110,27500,56,0X0020,H,H,3
RF: F,C,10964,22000,56,0X0020,H,L,3
@ZAP
<ENTER>
ZAP
<ENTER>
If all ok then go down to the Validation section below.
Astra2S  is  satellite  B  
@DEBUGON<ENTER>
@SATCONFIG<ENTER>
Expected response:
>RF: SATCONFIG
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,B,12207,27500,23,0XFFFE,V,H,3
RF: F,B,10788,22000,56,0X0020,V,L,3
RF: F,B,12110,27500,23,0XFFFE,H,H,3
RF: F,B,10964,22000,56,0X0020,H,L,3
Ignore the data lines 1-4 as these relate to Satellite A
The red lines are the ones affected by this change, but check lines 2 & 4 as well to ensure these are also correct.
To change the settings type:
@SATCONFIG,B,04,12207,27500,56,0X0020,V,H,3<ENTER>
@SATCONFIG,B,04,12110,27500,56,0X0020,H,H,3<ENTER>
@SAVE,B<ENTER>
Confirm response:
RF: F,B,12207,27500,56,0X0020,V,H,3
RF: F,B,10788,22000,56,0X0020,V,L,3
RF: F,B,12110,27500,56,0X0020,H,H,3
RF: F,B,10964,22000,56,0X0020,H,L,3
Only if you need to update either of the other frequencies:
@SATCONFIG,B,04,10788,22000,56,0X0020,V,L,3<ENTER>
@SATCONFIG,B,04,10964,22000,56,0X0020,H,L,3<ENTER>
@SAVE,B<ENTER>
@ZAP<ENTER>
ZAP<ENTER>
Proceed  to  Validation Section Below
Astra2S  is  satellite  C  
@DEBUGON<ENTER>
@SATCONFIG<ENTER>
Expected response:
>RF: SATCONFIG
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,A,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,B,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,B,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,B,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,B,00000,20000,56,0xFFFF,I,I,3
RF: F,C,12207,27500,23,0XFFFE,V,H,3
RF: F,C,10788,22000,56,0X0020,V,L,3
RF: F,C,12110,27500,23,0XFFFE,H,H,3
RF: F,C,10964,22000,56,0X0020,H,L,3
Ignore the data lines 1-8 as these relate to Satellites A & B
The red lines are the ones affected by this change, but check lines 2 & 4 as well to ensure these are also correct.
To change the settings type:
@SATCONFIG,C,04,12207,27500,56,0X0020,V,H,3<ENTER>
@SATCONFIG,C,04,12110,27500,56,0X0020,H,H,3<ENTER>
@SAVE,C<ENTER>
Confirm response:
RF: F,C,12207,27500,56,0X0020,V,H,3
RF: F,C,10788,22000,56,0X0020,V,L,3
RF: F,C,12110,27500,56,0X0020,H,H,3
RF: F,C,10964,22000,56,0X0020,H,L,3
Only if you need to update either of the other frequencies:
@SATCONFIG,C,04,10788,22000,56,0X0020,V,L,3<ENTER>
@SATCONFIG,C,04,10964,22000,56,0X0020,H,L,3<ENTER>
@SAVE,C<ENTER>
Confirm response:
RF:F,C,12207,27500,56,0X0020,V,H,3
RF: F,C,10788,22000,56,0X0020,V,L,3
RF: F,C,12110,27500,56,0X0020,H,H,3
RF: F,C,10964,22000,56,0X0020,H,L,3
@ZAP<ENTER>
ZAP<ENTER>
Proceed  to  Validation Section below:
Validation:
Following  the  update  process  confirm  correct  operation:
Power  down  the  antenna  for  30sec,  then  power  up  and  allow  time  to  locate
satellite  (assuming  line  of  sight  to  satellite).
Then  use  the  satellite  receiver  to  check  the  following  channels  for
1 – 2 mins  on  each:
BBC1  London
BBC2  England
Sky  News
QVC
Check  the  PC,  each  time  you  change  channel  the  datafile  will  show  the  band/polarisation  being  tracked
Change  to  Sky  News  and  it  should respond;
>RF:  S,A,V,H,V
indicating  Sat  A,  Vertical,  High,  Valid
Provided the antenna  remains  locked  for  all  Band/Pol  combinations  invoked  by  the  channels  above  the  system  update  is  complete

Glomex Satellite Dome Updates
2GB SD Card formatted with FAT32 file system and no volume label
Download the relevant update file from http://www.glomexmobile.com/eng/supporto_mobile_download_software.php and then copy  file  DATA.NID  (if you have the S460S  Glomex Discovery Dome system)  or  the two  files  S460M.DAT  and  EXPLORER.DAT if you have a S460M Glomex Explorer Dome)  provided  onto  the SD  card.

Turn off your Glomex system
Insert the SD Card into the slot on the side of the controller
Switch the system back on
The Controller LED should change to Orange if the SD Card is recognised.
The update will then automatically start
Once complete the Led should change to Green colour.
Turn off the system, remove SD Card.
Re-assemble Controller.

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