Monday, 20 March 2017

The Sat-Dome

The ‘LOCK’ led on the sat-dome controller box hasn’t been illuminating for several months.  It hasn’t affected our ability to find the ‘dot in the sky’ but I did want to know if the LED had ‘blown’ or if there was something more serious.  I have been corresponding with ‘Olly’ from Roadpro who thought there might be a fault with the main circuit board.  According to Olly it would be cheaper to replace the board at approx £300.  As Roadpro are based in Daventry I decided to take the controller box to them.  I could have taken the bus but the walk would do me good.  I’ve walked from Braunston to Daventry twice before but have used the rural footpaths.  This time I decided to use the A45 which also has a footpath.

roadproRoadpro is on the Braunston side of Daventry and Is about a 4km walk. This was going very well until the 2km point where I received a stabbing pain in my left foot. Every time I put my foot down the sole of my foot got injected!  Eventually I took off the shoe and examined the sole. An innocuous tiny twig was lodged in one of the small grooves in the tread. I was able to get a grip on it with my fingernails by flexing the sole.  And out came….


a thorn long enough to penetrate the sole and insole of the shoe.  The shoe now leaks…… but the pain has gone!

I had to do a little hunting to find the Roadpro premises, but got there eventually.

IMG_20170320_111407Olly was delayed by 10 minutes so I got to walk around their showroom and drool over all the lovely electronics.

IMG_20170320_104253Olly examined the controller box and before I realised it he had re-flashed the firmware.  We then went upstairs to the workshop where he connected the box to a sat-dome and ‘behold’ the LOCK led then worked.  At this point I hadn’t realised Olly had already updated the box firmware and I wanted to know what he had done.  Olly explained that the role of the controller box is to find the satellite and that it’s actually possible to eliminate the controller box by manually aligning the sat-dome to the satellite and directly collect the set top box to the dome.  But of course that would entail taking the cover off the dome on the cabin roof every time we moved to a new mooring. 

According to Olly the satellite companies change their satellite configuration settings every 3-4 years.  As a result Roadpro need to reverse engineer what the satellite companies have done and modify the firmware in the controller box.  The upgraded firmware then enables the box to lock onto the satellite.  Roadpro charge £30 to update the controller box firmware.  Olly pointed out that the bulk of the time taken in upgrading the firmware was in receiving, unpacking, repacking and despatching back the box.

If you have a sat-dome and are not getting a lock onto the satellite you might just need a firmware update.

P1030817I’ve now re-installed our controller box and we have the LOCK led. 

I have to say the walk back to Braunston wasn’t nearly a pleasant as the walk in.  It started raining,  But what really drenched me was the road spray from the passing semi’s (articulated lorries).  I had to strip off al my wet clothes in the shelter of the pram cover to avoid soaking the cabin.  And I wasn’t the only one trying to get into the warmth of the cabin.

P1030818Snowy Owl I do have a usb keyboard but it’s a little awkward using it as I tend to use the laptop on my lap whilst seated in the captain’s chair.  Eventually the laptop will become a remote computer doing some type of secondary task.   

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