How to Wire a DirecTV Multiswitch

by David Lipscomb Google

    DirecTV satellite systems provide hundreds of high-quality digital channels, piped directly into your home. However, like all satellite systems DirecTV requires use of a multiswitch to feed multiple decoders. Depending on the size, shape and number of low-noise blockers, or LNBs, on the front of the dish, a standard multiswitch combined a single-wire multiswitch will get the job done.

    Standard Devices

    Regular multiswitches used prior to the advent of the five LNB DirecTV dish required the use of a large device mounted to the back of the dish. Each output from the LNBs routes to the different inputs assigned to the satellites these inputs monitor. From there, multiple leads needed to be wired into the structure. The most commonly used models are the three by eight and three by four units. Many of these systems are still in use today, serving those that have not upgraded to the five-LNB system.

    SWM Modules

    Single-wire multiswitches work in tandem with a traditional multiswitch mounted to the back of the dish. The advantages of SWM modules are twofold. The output of the switch mounted to the rear of the dish runs inside the structure to the SWM unit, using only one cable. This allows for a more discrete wiring solution and smaller holes in the structure. From there, the output of the SWM module can simply be split to various rooms using a high-bandwdth splitter. If you need to add a box, you connect a piece of coax to the splitter. This is in contrast to older systems, where a completely new coaxial run had to come from the back of the dish, possibly necessitating swapping of the multiswitch at the back of the dish. SWM units come in SWM-8 and SWM-16 versions, depending on the number of SWM-compatible boxes that require feeds. SWM modules also supply legacy outputs for older boxes made prior to the advent of single wire technology.

    Connecting Multiswitches

    Each LNB on a satellite dish corresponds to transponder signals sent by orbiting satellites. As a result, each LNB must be correctly connected to the right input on the LNB using RG-6 quad-shielded coaxial cable. Waterproof boots slide over the coaxial connections to prevent moisture intrusion. Depending on the configuration, one or multiple leads are routed to the structure, penetrating the wall or access point using a weatherproof grommet. A drip loop -- a small curve -- is bent into the cable as it leaves the back of the satellite and before it enters the structure, preventing rain from running down the wire into the connections.

    Checking the Installation

    Entering the "Settings and Help" section of your DirecTV decoder allows you to check the reception of each transponder. Click on "Settings" then "Satellite." Scroll to "View Signal Strength" and click "OK" on the remote. You will note transponders 1 though 32 on satellite inputs at101, 99(c), 99(s), 103(s), 103(ca) and 103(cb) degrees and the SWM output all report their signal strength onscreen. It is normal for many to report strengths of "0" or "N/A" even if all channels are received. However, if you notice banks of channels are out, it may be a result of improper wiring, severe weather or moisture intrusion into one or more of the LNB units on the satellite.

    About the Author

    David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.

    Photo Credits

    • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images