What Is a DirecTV Multiswitch?
By Diane Dilov-Schultheis
A DirecTV system requires a multiswitch in certain circumstances. It is a very versatile element of your satellite setup. A multiswitch is used on a dual LNB satellite dish to add more than two receivers or to add a DVR and other receivers. It is also needed to include cable or antenna signals to your television, along with the DirecTV broadcast. A DirecTV multiswitch might be needed to add more satellite dishes or satellite signals to your setup to access additional programming options such as international channels or HD ones.
A DirecTV receiver requires a direct line carrying signals from the satellite dish (through the LNB) to pick up every broadcasting channel. The channels are divided among 14-volt and 18-volt outputs (odd and even transponders) or sometimes referred to as right (hand) and left (hand) circular polarization. The dual LNB on the dish is only able to receive one or the other at one time, which works fine with one or two receivers. Adding a multiswitch makes it possible to add many more.
A multiswitch consists of A/B switches and splitters. A line is fed from each of the two LNB outputs to the two (A and B) inputs on the multiswitch. The multiswitch devotes one to always be odd transponders and the other to always be even transponders. The LNB no longer has to switch back and forth because the switch now takes place inside of the multiswitch. This makes it possible to switch the channels on any of the DirecTV receivers connected.
There are various types of DirecTV multiswitches. It depends on the amount of receivers you have or the number of outputs needed. DVR receivers require two satellite feeds to work properly and standard receivers need one. The most frequently used multiswitches are the three four (3 by 4) and the three eight (3 by 8) ones. The "3" is the inputs--two from the satellite LNB and one from either the cable or antenna. The third is not always used. The second number is the amount of outputs it has.
The multiswitch described so far is known as a basic one. There are other types of multiswitches used for certain circumstances. This includes the multisatellite multiswitch that has four or five inputs and eight outputs (4 by 8 or 5 by 8). It is used for DirecTV's Phase III TripleSat Dish Antenna that picks up multiple satellites. The multidish multisatellite multiswitch has four inputs and four outputs (4 by 4) that are used for connecting more than one dish and one satellite to a DirecTV system. The Flex-port satellite multiswitch has six inputs and eight outputs (6 by 8) connecting various satellites and dishes.
One of the biggest misconceptions concerning DirecTV satellite television is that it is the same as cable and can be split and used throughout the home. It cannot. Each DirecTV receiver must have a direct line from the satellite dish LNB. This receiver communicates with the LNB to receive the correct signals from the satellite. If a splitter is added to the setup, it confuses this communication. This is why DirecTV multiswitches are used instead.
Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published online at the Travel Channel and Intel.