WINTER 2022 EDITION: Can you still get a DIRECTV SWM-8 or SWM-16?

The beat goes on. At least, that’s what that old song tried to tell us, back when it was a new song. The point here is that technology keeps marching. The things that were hailed as amazing 15 years ago are so obsolete today that they’re not even talked about. And, for many DIRECTV users, those things are multiswitches. It seemed to me a good time to talk about what multiswitches are still available and which ones you should use.

For the most part, people with DIRECTV multiswitches don’t think about them. They’re just one of the grey boxes that make the system work. They don’t think about features or whether one is better than another. And when one breaks, it’s instinctive to want to replace it with the exact same thing, so that the system keeps working the way it always has.

So, let’s go through the multiswitches you’ve been able to use with DIRECTV products to see what’s still available here in the winter of 2022.

Legacy multiswitches

If you needed a multiswitch back in the ’00s, this was the one you reached for. This is DIRECTV’s WB68 multiswitch, and it supported 8 tuners from up to six incoming lines. It worked passively, drawing power from the receiver when needed. Surprisingly, this multiswitch is still available from Solid Signal. We bought a lot of them just as they were ending their manufacturing run and we still have quite a few left. If you want to replace an old one, we have them. But, there are going to be reasons to want to upgrade, because it’s getting harder and harder to find DIRECTV hardware that will work with this old switch.

You might recognize this multiswitch. It’s one of a family of multiswitches from Spaun, which made satellite equipment in the ’00s. This multiswitch was powered and had more adjustability. It was popular with marine customers who wanted one multiswitch that would work worldwide.

Unfortunately, Spaun went out of business and you can’t get any of these blue-tinted multiswitches anymore. For those people looking for a direct replacement, we recommend the Nevoswitch line from Televes, which we have in good supply at Solid Signal. However, just like the WB68 you should probably be looking at rewiring, upgrading, and futureproofing your systems at this point.

Single-Wire (SWM) multiswitches

Single-wire technology was introduced to DIRECTV users in the late ’00s and it has been standard for DIRECTV for over a decade. There has not been a non-SWM receiver or DVR made in the last 11 years and there probably will not ever be one again.

SWM technology lets you use a simpler wiring plan that allows for splitters when you need them. With older wiring, you needed to run wires from each receiver back to the multiswitch. Now you can use splitters and one wire can support all the tuners your equipment needs.

SWM-8

The first commonly available SWM multiswitch was this SWM-8. It supported 8 tuners on a single line, which was pretty cool back in those days. It was quickly superseded by an LNB with the same capabilities, so that residential users didn’t need an external multiswitch at all. However commercial users continued to use it for some time.

The SWM-8 is still available at Solid Signal, but it won’t be for very much longer. It’s been out of production for many years and we have the last available stock. Luckily, this multiswitch can easily be replaced with the SWM-30, which works with all current receivers and DVRs. You will need the SWM-8 if you still have standard-definition receivers in your system, but really it’s a better idea to replace those now as they will become obsolete at some point.

SWM-16

The familiar SWM-16 has been the workforce of the DIRECTV commercial equipment fleet for years. It provides 16 tuners as needed and it has proven to be a critical part of many installs. However, it tends to run hot and that means that it could fail prematurely.

SWM-16s have been discontinued and Solid Signal has the last available stock of them. You can replace a SWM-16 with a SWM-30, but it might take some rewiring. The SWM-16 allows programs to be shared between the two outputs, but the SWM-30 does not. The SWM-16 allows 8 tuners per output, while the SWM-30 allows 13 per output. With a little work, most people will be able to use the SWM-30, but if you don’t think you can, you should pick up a replacement SWM-16 now while you can.

SWM-32

This big old beast is a SWM-32, which was common in commercial installs a decade ago. It proved to be very reliable and many are still in service today. However, it hasn’t been made in a very long time and supplies are completely exhausted.

The SWM-32 can be replaced with a SWM-30 with some rewiring. The SWM-32 supported four banks of 8 tuners, while the SWM-30 supports two banks of 13 tuners. That’s four fewer tuners. You can cascade the SWM-32s, connecting one to another, but you can’t do that with the SWM-30. However, you can use a SWM Expander to provide up to 8 banks of 13 tuners (total of 104) in a much more compact space.

The multiswitch you use today

DIRECTV’s SWM-30 is the jack of all trades, capable of covering practically any need you have today. Four of them can be combined in a SWM Expander, giving a compact way to supply 104 tuners, feeding up to 16 apartments or one very large and complex system. Multiple SWM Expanders can be used for a virtually limitless system. This product is in good supply at Solid Signal, but I should point out that demand is extremely strong right now with people upgrading their existing systems. If you need one, shop at Solid Signal now and get what you need while you can.

 

 

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.