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SIRIUS S50 You asked for it, now you got it! A forum all about the SIRIUS S50.

 
 
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Old 03-08-2006, 07:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Signal fades in and out

I'm using an S50 car unit in my apartment. I placed the antenna outside of the window on the ledge. I live in an apartment and placing it on the roof is not an option. I live in midwest georgia and my antenna is placed on the western side of the building. Due to logistics of my apartment, I have no other option as to window placement. Usually, I get great reception, however, I loose sound sometimes. The sound will fade out and go away, however, the signal strength doesn't change, the receiver continues to show the channel number as well as the song title, and I get no "antenna not found" announcement.

I have changed the FM frequency 3 times and I use 3 different FM radios in my home to access the broadcast. I don't experience this when the unit is in the car.

The unit is just a couple weeks old. I've read in another thread (which I can't find now) that the satellite drifts around in its orbit and can put the antenna temporarily out of range if it is on the side of a building. If this is causing my problem, why do I maintain signal strength during a sound dropout? Has anybody experienced this? Is there a solution other than relocating the antenna? The fact that the signal strength doesn't drop during the fade outs indicates to me that it's not an antenna problem, but I'm no expert. Any suggestions?
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Old 03-08-2006, 08:14 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I had this happen last night with my home dock. I know you have the car dock but your issue was the same as mine. Basically it is a problem with the reception signal strenght. I live in New hampshire. At about 10:30 pm last night the show I was listening to started to fade then it disappeared but the channel number and display stayed on. When I switched channels the display changed and the voice prompt was working. I then went to the antenna aiming screen and it was showing about 25% which is the same as what it had been showing prior to the problem. My take on the whole thing is that when you look at the bar showing the signal strength it is NOT an exact representation of your actual signal. Thus small variations in the signal are not displayed or represented in the bar. I think anytime you are operating at a 25% bar an slight loss in signal will result in a sound quality loss. The signal loss is too small to be reflected on the signal bar display in the antenna aiming screen. I suspect any time the signal drops below 25% that basically you wont hear any content. I don't think there is a problem with the unit. You do need to experiment with antenna placement. I noticed that moving my antenna just two feet left or right at the same elevation will give me a different signal strenght. Don't rule out trying indoor locations. I got my antenna to work inside the house mounted up by the ceiling but the same location down by the floor got nothing. If I moved it six inches to the right or left of this location the signal disappeared. You are basically searching for a hidden sweet spot. Time of day also plays a factor and weather may as well.
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Old 03-08-2006, 08:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Signal fades in and out

Quote:
Originally Posted by billyga
I'm using an S50 car unit in my apartment. I placed the antenna outside of the window on the ledge. I live in an apartment and placing it on the roof is not an option. I live in midwest georgia and my antenna is placed on the western side of the building. Due to logistics of my apartment, I have no other option as to window placement. Usually, I get great reception, however, I loose sound sometimes. The sound will fade out and go away, however, the signal strength doesn't change, the receiver continues to show the channel number as well as the song title, and I get no "antenna not found" announcement.

I have changed the FM frequency 3 times and I use 3 different FM radios in my home to access the broadcast. I don't experience this when the unit is in the car.

The unit is just a couple weeks old. I've read in another thread (which I can't find now) that the satellite drifts around in its orbit and can put the antenna temporarily out of range if it is on the side of a building. If this is causing my problem, why do I maintain signal strength during a sound dropout? Has anybody experienced this? Is there a solution other than relocating the antenna? The fact that the signal strength doesn't drop during the fade outs indicates to me that it's not an antenna problem, but I'm no expert. Any suggestions?
If the sound is fading in and out, this is definitely your FM signal, not the satellite. The satellite signal is digital - you either have it or you don't. This means the sound will either be there in full or you will get a signal lost message. This is why you maintain signal strength even when the sound "fades".

You can try repositioning your receiving radio when the sound fades to see if it improves. You can try a clearer FM frequency. You can try the small FM antenna "tail" that came with the S50 to improve the FM signal. You can also try an external antenna on your FM radio. My home stereo got no signal until I attached an external FM antenna. Now it sounds great.

Good luck.
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Old 03-08-2006, 08:42 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Signal fades in and out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jgatie
Quote:
Originally Posted by billyga
I'm using an S50 car unit in my apartment. I placed the antenna outside of the window on the ledge. I live in an apartment and placing it on the roof is not an option. I live in midwest georgia and my antenna is placed on the western side of the building. Due to logistics of my apartment, I have no other option as to window placement. Usually, I get great reception, however, I loose sound sometimes. The sound will fade out and go away, however, the signal strength doesn't change, the receiver continues to show the channel number as well as the song title, and I get no "antenna not found" announcement.

I have changed the FM frequency 3 times and I use 3 different FM radios in my home to access the broadcast. I don't experience this when the unit is in the car.

The unit is just a couple weeks old. I've read in another thread (which I can't find now) that the satellite drifts around in its orbit and can put the antenna temporarily out of range if it is on the side of a building. If this is causing my problem, why do I maintain signal strength during a sound dropout? Has anybody experienced this? Is there a solution other than relocating the antenna? The fact that the signal strength doesn't drop during the fade outs indicates to me that it's not an antenna problem, but I'm no expert. Any suggestions?
If the sound is fading in and out, this is definitely your FM signal, not the satellite. The satellite signal is digital - you either have it or you don't. This means the sound will either be there in full or you will get a signal lost message. This is why you maintain signal strength even when the sound "fades".

You can try repositioning your receiving radio when the sound fades to see if it improves. You can try a clearer FM frequency. You can try the small FM antenna "tail" that came with the S50 to improve the FM signal. You can also try an external antenna on your FM radio. My home stereo got no signal until I attached an external FM antenna. Now it sounds great.

Good luck.
When I have the outage, it happens on all 3 of my radios in the home which do have external antenna. I have checked this. One of the radios is 4 feet away from the sirius unit. I have also experimented with changing FM frequencies. I also am using the external tail on the receiver. This helped to boost the FM signal quality. Your point about digital signal is what I'm thinking also.

I also tried the sirius antenna in my apartment, but I am on the ground floor of a 3 story building so the only option is by the window or outside of the apartment. I will try moving it around outside when I get the next outage. The outage happens after 10:30 at night and around 7 AM. After 9 AM I can get several hours of uninterrupted sound. Thanks for your replies!
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Old 03-08-2006, 08:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Signal fades in and out

Quote:
If the sound is fading in and out, this is definitely your FM signal, not the satellite.
I don't think you are completely right on this. My home dock is connected to my receiver with hard wiring (rca cable). I get fade in and out of and on when my signal reduces to 25% or below yet the display and voice prompt are working. Specifically what happens is the voices or music starts to sound like it's underwater then I lose it all together then is will come back. I get the same occurance on my car dock sometimes.. which does operate on the fm modulator.
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Old 03-08-2006, 08:56 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Signal fades in and out

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Originally Posted by Roslyn
Quote:
If the sound is fading in and out, this is definitely your FM signal, not the satellite.
I don't think you are completely right on this. My home dock is connected to my receiver with hard wiring (rca cable). I get fade in and out of and on when my signal reduces to 25% or below yet the display and voice prompt are working. Specifically what happens is the voices or music starts to sound like it's underwater then I lose it all together then is will come back. I get the same occurance on my car dock sometimes.. which does operate on the fm modulator.
This is exactly my problem. However, I don't drive my car enough to say that it happens in my car. At home, these outages last for long periods of time. In my car, I seldom get outages which are for a very brief time.. One thing I haven't yet done is check signal strength in my car. At home it is always a little above 25% maybe 30%. And BTW, there has been no cloud cover the last few days.
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Old 03-08-2006, 09:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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We have had no cloud cover hear either but that is not a true reflection of atmospheric conditions which may not be visible to the eye. Time of day may affect it as the satallite location moves throughout the day. I really believe that the satelite antenna is not receiving a strong enough signal and I don't beleive that "it is digital and is either there or it isn't there". If that were true why would it matter if you are at 100% or 1% with regard to antenna aiming?
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Old 03-08-2006, 09:07 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roslyn
We have had no cloud cover hear either but that is not a true reflection of atmospheric conditions which may not be visible to the eye. Time of day may affect it as the satallite location moves throughout the day. I really believe that the satelite antenna is not receiving a strong enough signal and I don't beleive that "it is digital and is either there or it isn't there". If that were true why would it matter if you are at 100% or 1% with regard to antenna aiming?
So, possibly at certain times of the day, the satellite could be off far enough to the east that my building may be partially blocking the signal. Could it be also possible that Sirius may have certain times of the day when the signal uplink is weaker than at other times?
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Old 03-08-2006, 09:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I have no clue. At this point I would only be making a far reaching speculation. Anyone out there who truly understands satalite signals please let us know.
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Old 03-08-2006, 09:39 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
I don't beleive that "it is digital and is either there or it isn't there". If that were true why would it matter if you are at 100% or 1% with regard to antenna aiming?
No, it would matter if you have 100% or 1%. The digital algorithm needs a good signal in order to receive the data necessary to create the stream. Depending on how good the error correction is, this strength can vary (I assure you it is not 1%). However, once the signal strength falls below the threshold needed to recreate the digital data, the digital decoder ceases to operate and you get no sound. This is why I say "it is either there or it isn't there", because at one point you are creating the output stream and as the signal drops, all of a sudden you are not creating the stream. It is at this point you will get an "aquiring signal" or similar message depending on the unit you have. This is very unlike an analog signal that will fade in and out and contain more noise and static as the signal strength fades. Now maybe the OP is experiencing a loss of signal from the satellite, but he explicitly said he maintains signal strength during the dropouts and that he gets no "antenna not found" or "aquiring signal" message, which would suggest he is not going below the threshold for digital reception.
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Old 03-08-2006, 09:44 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Could the "underwater sound" and subsequent loss of music (even though channels on screen and voice prompt for s50 are ok) be a buffering issue within the s50? Now that I think about it I have had a similiar sound when streaming music on my pc.
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Old 03-08-2006, 09:48 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
I get fade in and out of and on when my signal reduces to 25% or below yet the display and voice prompt are working. Specifically what happens is the voices or music starts to sound like it's underwater then I lose it all together then is will come back.
This is a loss of sat signal. The reason you keep the voice prompts is because they are loaded on the S50. The reason the voices sound like they are underwater is the signal is breaking up (you are right on the edge of the signal loss). But this should not be going in and out all the time like a regular FM signal. You should only hear it for a second and then should lose the signal (sounds like that's what's happening). You should not have prolonged periods of "voices sounding like they are underwater. You should also get an "aquiring signal" error on the display.

But, as I said above, the OP said he does not get a loss of signal strength and he does not get an error, so that's why I said it was the FM modulator.
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Old 03-08-2006, 09:51 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Ok...that's kinda what I thought. Thanks for the clarification.
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Old 03-08-2006, 09:57 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jgatie

But, as I said above, the OP said he does not get a loss of signal strength and he does not get an error, so that's why I said it was the FM modulator.
Next time the problem occurs, I'll connect the headphones to the thing and see if I get sound. This will bypass the FM modulator.
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Old 03-08-2006, 10:05 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Just one more thing to clarify. The Sirius satellites do move during the day. They are not geosynchronous because they are higher in the sky than the geosynchronous orbit requires. This is good for mobile reception (they are always seen by an antenna with a clear view of the sky - like on top of a car). But this gives problems with a home install, because unless the antenna is on a roof, there are times when the sat is not in direct line-of-sight. So, the OP may be experiencing a loss of signal due to satellite movement, but he has to double check that he is not losing his signal and he is not receiving an error. Also, if it happens at a particular time of the day, every day, it is a clue to a probable signal loss.

The only solution for this is to reposition the antenna at the time of the dropouts to maximize the signal bars on the antenna aiming menu screen. The Terk outside antenna that mounts on a wall is also a choice, if you have a place to mount it.

One more thing... If the OP is using a Home Dock, the antenna included is notoriously bad. Buying a new antenna (the Dot Mico is also good) and calling customer service for a credit is something other's have done to alleviate this.
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