Troubleshooting. Tech types know this verb well. It refers to the logical, systematic search that must be conducted to make a product or system operational again.
How do you proceed in a logical, systematic way when exploring problems at your audio or video uplink? For either, the troubleshooting is basically the same. Here are our best suggestions for getting to the root of the problem.
CHECK FOR POWER
At the equipment rack. Start at the encoder and make sure the power is on. Don’t laugh – some folks have been known to skip this step! Take a look at the front panel and make a note of what lights are on.
Now check your modulator or modem. Is it on? What lights are illuminated on the front panel?
Before your network is in hot water, do this: Make a complete record today of all of the correct settings in your encoder and modulator/modem. When you have a problem you can then easily compare the original parameters to the settings during any troubleshooting episode.
At the uplink antenna. Double-checking the operational health of an amplifier or BUC is a little different, as there are multiple ways to detect whether or not the equipment has power. Some amplifiers have small LED lights that indicate power while others have fans, so if either of these are off you can infer that there is no power. Of course, some amplifiers have nothing that readily indicates power, so you may be required to use a volt meter to make sure there is not a blown circuit at the BUC or amplifier at the dish.
CHECK THE ALARMS
Only with a computer or terminal do you have the ability to check your amplifier or BUC for alarms. Checking for alarms is easier with encoders and modulators. Lacking a computer or terminal, you can go through the front panel to find answers. Are any alarms lit? If so, go through them one by one. With any luck, an indicator will steer you towards the issue, which could be resolved in the next step:
CHECK YOUR CABLE CONNECTIONS, CONNECTORS, ATTENUATORS, AND COMBINERS
Yep. We’ve seen entire networks go down due to a single loose connector. Start with your cable connectors and work your way through each, making sure each connection is tight.
CHECK THE ANTENNA ALIGNMENT
You know there’s trouble if that sucker has moved. If you have a Sat Buddy or an SM120, you should be able to plug it in and tell if the dish is out of alignment. If you find there is no lock on the orbital satellite that you are assigned to, then congratulations – you’ve found your issue.
CHECK IN WITH LINK UP
We can help. If equipment has failed and you do not have backup, check with us. We can expedite the delivery of any replacement gear that you may need.
If your uplink has moved, we’ll contact satellite operations and assist you in successfully completing cross pole.
When your network is down, no one – least of all, your audience, is happy. If you’ve gone through all the steps above and have yet to locate the problem, we need to know this, as well. Let us add our troubleshooting skills to yours and locate the issue.