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02.27.2009
Dawnco Starlook-D Makes Sat Work Easy
Alex Hexham and his Dawnco Starlook-D
AUGUSTA, GA.
Being an engineer in a mid-size market always has its challenges, but one of the most frustrating is often a lack of field and test equipment. You are often challenged in your capital budgets to take on important projects, but there's little to nothing left over for such luxuries as test gear.

That's how I found the Starlook-D from Dawnco. After years of searching the skies for satellites with nothing more than my dish controller, analog receiver and a lot of luck, I came across this handy item in one of their brochures. Frankly, the first thing that caught my eye was the price, and then I noticed the features. So, I added it to one of my projects for last year and I've been very pleased with the results.

EASY TO USE

The Starlook-D has a very straightforward interface and is easy to use right out of the box. It arrived with almost a full charge on its battery and I learned that it also can function while being charged, which is something the good 'ole Bird Dog sat finder won't do. The function controls are located on a convenient side panel that doesn't obstruct your view of the display when you're using the instrument to peak a dish. Also, the bright LCD view screen includes the function menu, so you don't have to keep referring back to the equipment manual to make operating parameter changes or adjustments. This unit also can tune and display analog video directly from the feed horn, which saves a lot of guess work when you're trying to locate that elusive channel.

All the basic functionality of a spectrum analyzer is built into the Starlook-D, but what I've found most helpful are all the integrated digital features. The unit gives you a constellation view of QPSK and Viterbi signals, along with real-time signal to noise ratio and bit error rate indications.

EARNS ITS KEEP IN A SINGLE DAY

When Galaxy-25 malfunctioned last year I found myself in a tight spot, as it affected our Pathfire, PMI and GDMX feeds in one blow. Since we're a Fox affiliate, we need our 22 hours a day of syndication to keep viewers tuned in. The Starlook-D was the handiest tool in my arsenal that day, as I had to reposition two separate fixed dishes—one of which is adjusted by a "come-a-long." The polarization is also manually adjusted. In the past, we would have missed at least a day's feeds, but since I was able to correctly identify the satellites by using the Starlook-D's built-in digital frequency scanning and DSS i.d. information, I was home in time for lunch.

Considering the low cost—slightly more than $1,000—and all the useful features built into this unit, I'd have to say that I'm very pleased with it. In my opinion, the only improvement would be the ability to decode and view digital along with the analog. It gets a solid nine out of 10 signal bars from me.

Alex Hexham is chief engineer of WFXG television, which is owned by Southeastern Media Holdings. He has been with the station for nearly 18 years and in his current position for the past five years. He may be contacted at ahexham@wfgx.com.

For additional information, contact Dawnco at 248-391-9200 or visit www.dawnco.com.



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