FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A self-test simply involves checking your receiver to confirm that you are receiving a usable signal off of the satellite (Galaxy 17). [Some receivers will indicate Galaxy 11. This is embedded information. Galaxy 17 was moved into the same orbital position formerly occupied by Galaxy 11. Either indication is appropriate.]
The process is simple: Essentially, you either capture a new set of channels (if the channels haven’t already been defined on your receiver) or simply go to one of the previously defined channels on Galaxy 17 and then note your signal strength and quality to confirm that you are a) looking at the correct satellite and b) receiving a good quality signal.
You can find complete instructions for doing a self-test at
www.willowsatellite.com/downloads.aspx under the “Tutorials and Diagrams”
The self-test instructions are contained in the document for your receiver. The instructions in “Part 2” of that document describe how to capture the channel information for the Willow Creek feed during a live transmission.
You should expect to find very few full time video channels when searching Galaxy 17: There are a number of occasional use channels that news organizations use for location feeds, and other special events
Starting this past January, ABC News began a full time news backhaul feed on Galaxy 17. It is located at Transponder Frequency 12010, Polarity Vertical (V), Symbol Rate 11574. If you scan on this transponder frequency, you should find two ABC News feeds – ABC NewsOne Live and ABC NAC 2. If they are not transmitting live news reports, they have a graphic on the screen with the ABC logo, transmission information, and sometimes test tone for audio. If you participated in prior summits, you should see a WILLOW LIVE and/or WILLOW WEST channel on your system, but most likely both will be dark (no signal) until our Full Path test in June. If you have any question about whether you are on the correct satellite or seeing what you should, please call Fresh Air Media at 530 888-7676.
3. How do I determine the signal quality on my receiver?
SonicView 360 Elite or Premier Receivers:
- • While viewing the channel you want to measure, press the button at the top left of the remote control (the button has a small satellite dish on it) . This will bring up a signal level / signal quality display on your screen.
On a Topfield 3200 or Topfield 5000PVR receiver:
- • For a general indication of relative signal quality (not a specific numeric value), press the blue INFO button on your remote control. The ON SCREEN DISPLAY appears, and in the lower right hand corner of the display there is a yellow bar and a green bar. The green bar represents signal level and the yellow bar represents signal quality. You can guesstimate a relative value based on a complete bar left to right representing 100%.
- • For a numeric value readout of signal quality, press the MENU key on your remote to bring up the receiver's main menu. Press the INSTALLATION menu item, then the CHANNEL SEARCH menu item. Set the search mode to MANUAL, then enter the Frequency, Symbol Rate and Polarization values for the signal you want to measure the strength of. (For a self test, these values should be 11969 MHz, 10851 MS/s and Horizontal; for the Willow West transmission, these values should be 11951 MHz, 10851 MS/s and Horizontal for the Willow Live Channel). Once the values are entered, you should see a numeric representation for signal quality and level in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
- • Note that on a Topfield 5000PVR (only), once your search values have been set, you can also see a larger signal level / signal quality display on your screen by pressing the RED BUTTON on your remote control.
For a Fortec Star Mercury II receiver:
- • While viewing the channel you want to measure, press the SIG button in the lower section of your remote control. This will bring up a signal level / signal quality display on your screen.
PANSAT 4500 receiver:
- • While viewing the channel you want to measure, press the GREEN button (also says SIG above it) located in the middle of the remote control. This will bring up a signal level / signal quality display on your screen.
4. What is the difference between signal level and signal quality?
In very general terms, "signal level" represents the strength of the connection between the receiver and the LNB and satellite antenna (and thus the satellite signal itself). A very low or non-existent signal level indicates that there is something wrong with the basic connection to the satellite -- perhaps the cable has been severed or the LNB has failed, for example.
Signal quality, on the other hand, represents the strength and robustness of the actual satellite signal you are viewing. Therefore, the signal quality value can change when you switch to another channel (whereas the signal level remains relatively constant as long as you are connected properly to the satellite dish / LNB).
The signal quality value is based on the manufacturer's algorithm to calculate how much error correction is necessary to display a usable signal. This algorithm is software-based and can change from manufacturer to manufacturer and from one firmware version to another. Therefore, even the same exact signal can read differently from one receiver to the next.
5. What is the channel number for the Willow Channel on my receiver?
The channel number for the Willow Creek channel is variable and depends on when the channel was captured and how it was named when it was first captured (or renamed after it was captured).
Here’s some additional background:
When the satellite receiver captures a channel, it typically adds it sequentially to the existing list of channels. So, if you already had channels defined on your receiver when the Willow channel was set up for the first time, the Willow channel will be put at the end of your channel list.
If, however, you received a receiver that was pre-configured by Fresh Air Media, the Willow Channel would typically be listed as Channel 1.
Of course, you always have the freedom to add / delete channels at your pleasure, so depending on how you might have altered your channel setup the order or sequence of channels will be affected.
So, you can see it’s possible for the Willow channel to be located just about anywhere in your channel list. The current channel NAMES are Willow 10 Live and Willow 10 West.
6. What is horizontal and vertical polarity and why does this matter?
Horizontal and vertical polarity are terms used to describe the orientation of the signal being transmitted by the satellite. The signal can be transmitted in a horizontal or a vertical polarity on the same frequency, thereby doubling the effective number of transmissions available on the satellite at the given frequency.
Some LNBs are designed to only receive at a single polarity; others can receive at both vertical and horizontal polarity but need to be told which polarity to align themselves too. The LNBs installed on almost all Willow Creek satellite dishes fall into this latter category.
The way the receiver tells the LNB which polarity to align itself to is by sending a DC voltage of either 13 volts (V) or 18 volts (H) via the coax cable that connects the receiver to the LNB.
7. Why is the output on my Mercury II receiver black and white?
Check the VIDEO OUTPUT setting of your receiver (SYSTEM SETUP --> TV SETUP --> VIDEO OUTPUT).
This setting controls whether the RGB (YPrPb) or S-VIDEO output is active at the rear of the receiver. The video on the output that is not selected will be black and white. (For example, if you are viewing the signal off of the S-Video output and S-VIDEO is the selected position, then the output off of the RGB outputs will be in black and white). This is a limitation of the receiver.
8. Is it possible to add a channel for the Willow Creek feed to my receiver
during times when the Willow signal is not being transmitted?
This is possible on a SonicView 360 Elite or the Fortec Star Mercury II
receivers, but not on the Topfield receivers.
If you would like to do this, please send an email to
we will send you an email with the instructions.
9. What are the Willow Creek transmission parameters?
To confirm the transmission parameters, please send an email to
requesting them. We will send back an email with the transmission
10. What does it mean if I get an "E48 - No Signal" error message (Topfield)
or a "No Signal" (Fortec Star Mercury II) error message?
These error messages indicate that there is no signal being received at your satellite receiver. Typically this means there is either some sort of problem with the physical connection between your receiver and your LNB (a compromised cable for example) or that the LNB has malfunctioned.
11. What does it mean if I get an "E04 - Please insert Smart Card" (Topfield)
or "Scrambled signal" (Fortec Star Mercury II) error message
These error messages indicate that the channel you are trying to view is an encrypted channel. Channels that are encrypted are usually a restricted feed that is not available to the general public and require either advance authorization or a paid subscription.
An example of this kind of this kind of channel is the LETN (Law Enforcement Training Network) that is on Galaxy 11, transponder 18 and is one of the standard channels found during a self-test scan. The Willow Creek transmission is NOT encrypted.
12. Is the Willow Creek audio feed Mono or Stereo?
The audio portion of the Willow Creek signal is a full stereo audio (Left / Right) program.
13. What if I can see video on the Willow feed but can’t hear the audio?
There are at least a couple of potential causes for this. Use the
following procedure to troubleshoot:
- First, make sure that the lack of audio isn’t a result of your
sound system configuration. Check the signal path of your audio system.
- If everything checks out OK, try bypassing your sound system and feeding the receiver’s Audio Out (RCA Connector on the back) signal directly into an amplifier or some other device where you can monitor the signal directly.
- If you have audio directly off the receiver, go back and check
your sound system signal path.
- If you have a Fortec Star Mercury II and have audio off of the
RCA Audio Out connector(s) but don’t have audio off the SPDIF output, double
check your Berhringer SRC2496 settings.
- 4. If you don’t have an audio signal off of the RCA Audio Out connectors, try deleting the existing Willow Channel then do a transponder scan (TP SCAN on a Fortec Star Mercury II, MANUAL Channel Search on a Topfield receiver). This will recapture the embedded PID information for the signal.
- If this is not successful, call Fresh Air Media at
530-888-7676 for further assistance.
14. What can I do if my audio is out of sync with the video signal?
If the sync issue is one which has *always* been present in your system and which stays at a consistent value, you may want to review your signal path and determine if there is a system-induced sync issue in your setup.
However, if this symptom is something which “came on all of a sudden without warning”, there are factors that can create this situation in a receiver and which are generally outside of your control. In this case, you can momentarily switch off the current receiver channel to another channel and then quickly return. This typically re-synchronizes the signal and fixes the problem.
Having said that, this is not an easy choice if the program content is in the middle of a session and you have 500+ people who will view the switch back and forth. Use your judgment as to whether the channel switch is worth it or not. If the sync issue is not too severe, it may not be worth the interruption. Also, if you are close to the end of a session, you may be able refrain from doing the switch until during the break.
Another option is to switch to the streaming video feed. Again, use your
best judgment here.
Whatever the choice, make sure that you consult
with your Producer before doing anything! Any action should only be
initiated with their full approval.
15. Why can't I see anything on the Willow channel when doing my self-test or
when viewing the channel on my receiver inbetween satellite tests?
The Willow signal is only available during schedule transmission times. Therefore, if you select the Willow channel during a time when there is no transmission, most likely you will not see anything.
However, if you select the Willow Live or Willow West channel during a time when there *is* a transmission (like during a satellite test or the event itself) and you cannot see a signal, call Fresh Air Media for assistance (530) 888-7676.
16. I have signal quality that is lower than 70% on my Fortec Star Mercury II
receiver. Is this OK?
The short answer is "maybe".
The longer answer to this question depends on two factors: a) what version of firmware is on your receiver and b) what the signal quality value is.
Comparing apples to apples, firmware versions 1.45 and earlier display higher signal quality values than firmware version 1.53. This means that for the exact same satellite signal, version 1.45 (for example) may display a signal quality of 70%, whereas firmware version 1.53 may display 55%-60%. This happens because the manufacturer changed the algorithm they use to determine the display value.
So, it is possible to have a signal quality level in the mid-50's using firmware version 1.53 and still be "good to go". In fact, the manufacturer indicates that you should be able to successfully view signals even when the signal quality value is down in to the 40% range.
However, even with this in mind, if your signal quality indicates less than 50%, we request that you contact Fresh Air Media at 530-888-7676 so that we can help determine whether this may indicate a dish that is not properly peaked.
To view the firmware version on your Fortec Star Mercury II receiver, highlight the PRODUCT INFORMATION button on the SYSTEM SETUP menu and click OK; the receiver will display a screen that shows, among other things, what version of software your receiver has installed.
17. I have multiple receivers. How do I set them up?
There is a document with diagrams showing some possible setup combinations at
www.willowsatellite.com/downloads/PVRSetup.pdf. This document is
specifically geared toward using a Topfield 5000 PVR in combination with a
non-PVR receiver, but the general setup concepts apply to other situations as
Here are some of the main points to keep in mind when using multiple receivers:
- The satellite dish's LNB is powered by the receiver, with the power running down the cable that connects the receiver to the LNB. If more than one receiver is used, make sure that only one receiver's LNB POWER setting is set to ON, since the LNB will be "confused" if multiple receivers are "requesting" different polarities.
- The receiver that is "first in line" (that is, the receiver that the cable from the satellite dish plugs into) should have its LNB POWER setting set to ON, and any additional receivers should have their LNB POWER setting set to OFF. If a receiver other than the first receiver is set to be the unit providing power, the receivers in the chain prior to that receiver will not properly receive the satellite signal.
- All receivers must be set to view a a signal off the same transponder and at the
same polarity in order to correctly display a picture.
18. I have a Topfield 5000 receiver that is set up properly but will not lock onto the signal using the published downlink frequency. What else can I do to try to scan for the signal?
In just a few instances, we have seen cases where a Topfield 5000 did not appear to resolve the downlink frequency correctly. For example, if the stated downlink frequency was 11960, the Topfield 5000 would not correctly scan for the signal even though this parameter was correctly set (along with the other parameters such as symbol rate and polarity). In this case, we have found that altering the value slightly can sometimes achieve proper reception of the signal.
In order to try this, enter a value that is 1 digit higher or lower than the original value. For example, if the stated downlink frequency was 11960, try entering 11961 or 11959 and see if this allows the signal to be captured.
19. I can't see a picture and I'm not sure I've got the cable from the satellite dish
plugged into the right input on the receiver. Which input should the cable
be plugged in to?
One problem that can easily occur is to plug the cable from the satellite dish into the "ANT IN" (Fortec Star Mercury II) or "RF IN" (Topfield) connector on the receiver. This would seem logical since the cable is coming from the antenna, but it is actually the wrong input.
On a Topfield receiver, the correct input is the LNB IN connector. This connector is located at the top left of the receiver's rear panel as you face the rear panel.
On a Fortec Star Mercury II receiver, the correct input is the "LNB IN" input. This connector is located in the DIGITAL section at the top left of the receiver's rear panel as you face the rear panel.
On a SonicView 360 receiver it is the “LNB IN” input.