You turn on the TV and get nothing but static or the dreaded “Searching for satellite signal…” message. Don’t fret, the problem has to be somewhere and the first step is figuring out where it lies.
For best results you’ll need some sort of signal meter. If you’re diagnosing an antenna problem, a simple signal finder will work, but you can step up to a serious meter if you want. Problems with a round satellite dish are easy to diagnose with an inexpensive meter but for HD dishes, you’ll need something serious there too.
Once you’re ready with your meter, here’s what you do: test the signal at several points to see where it stops working.
Measure the signal level AT THE DISH OR ANTENNA.
Measure the signal level AT THE MULTISWITCH (if there is one) by disconnecting the cable that goes into the multiswitch and testing from there.
Measure the signal level AT THE MULTISWITCH OUTPUT (if there is one) by disconnecting the output cable and connecting the meter to the multiswitch output.
Measure the signal level AFTER THE SPLITTER (if there is one) by disconnecting one of the splitter outputs and connecting the meter to the splitter.
Measure the signal level AT THE RECEIVER OR TV by disconnecting the receiver and testing the actual cable to the receiver or TV.
At some point your signal level will go from very good to almost nothing. The problem is between those points, and it will tell you if it’s likely that you have an aiming problem (like if you’re getting no signal from the dish), if you have a multiswitch or splitter problem (like if you are getting signal into the multiswitch but not out of it) or a cabling problem (pretty much anything else.)
At least if you know where the problem is, you’ll know what to replace first! It could just be a loose wire or bad connection, and you could be watching TV in no time.