How to fix Wildblue Exede satellite internet

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM

If you are in remote area where it's hard to get a technician out to check on you or you just don't want to pay for a service call, you may troubleshoot Wildblue system yourself.

The nature of this technology will limit you, as technicians use specialized tools for the job, such as satellite signal meter, inclinometers, crimpers, strippers etc.

Still, you may check on number of things.


Let's start the troubleshooting by determining if your system is getting the signal from satellite and locked on it.
On the picture below is the typical Wildblue IDU (Modem). Front panel has 4 lights. Hover + icons for explanations.
If Rx light stays lit (does not blink), modem is locked in on the satellite.

wildblue_modem_power_light

Power Light

This light is always on as long as power cord is pluged in.

wildblue_modem_rx_light

Rx Light

This is a receive light. If the light is solid and not blinking, modem is locked on the satellite. During boot process, Rx light goes from 2 flashes per second when searching for signal. 3 flashes per second while acquiring IP address from satellite and then it stays on.

wildblue_modem_tx_light

Tx Light

Transmit light comes on only when modem is sending signal to satellite.

wildblue_modem_lan_light

LAN

This is a network connection light. It will blink if RJ-45 LAN cable is connected to PC or router.

wildblue modem
wildblue_modem_power_light
Power Light

This light is always on as long as power cord is pluged in.

wildblue_modem_rx_light
Rx Light

This is a receive light. If the light is solid and not blinking, modem is locked on the satellite. During boot process, Rx light goes from 2 flashes per second when searching for signal. 3 flashes per second while acquiring IP address from satellite and then it stays on.

wildblue_modem_tx_light
Tx Light

Transmit light comes on only when modem is sending signal to satellite.

wildblue_modem_lan_light
LAN

This is a network connection light. It will blink if RJ-45 LAN cable is connected to PC or router.

If your system is not working at all and Rx light is blinking all the time - you have a 'receive' problem and modem is not getting the signal from satellite.

2 most common reason for this symptom are: dish misalignment and cable issues.

First, you need to check on the cable run from the modem prefferably all the way to the dish.

Step 1
Power off

Power off the modem by disconnecting it from the power.

Step 2
Check connectors

Locate the grounding block (usually placed close to main power lines or electrical meter).
Disconnect all 4 cable ends and make sure there is no any water damage to center conductor.

Both cables from the dish should get to grounding block in one peace, and then to the modem, no barrels or other connections should be in the line. There should not be any other slices in cable.

Step 3
Corrosion

Using 7/16" wrench or plyers unscrew the fitting and look inside.
If water was introduced inside, it will corrode center conductor badly.
Check one connector at the time and if passed plug it back in BEFORE checking next to avoid confusion.
If you see signs of corrosion, both connector and grounding block should be replaced (with >2.2 GHz rated).

Step 4
Cabling

Make sure cable is solid copper center conductor. Use any magnet you may have handy.
If cable is CCS (copper clad steel), all of it MUST be replaced with solid copper center conductor.

grounding_block

Locate grounding block

Typically located near main power lines.

corroded_connector

Corroded connector

If grounding block is located outside the house, water may damage the center conductor causing poor connectivity if any.

low_freq_block

Low frequency rated grounding block

Notice white inner plastic ring of ground block. This is a cheap low frequency block used in cable television. Satellite systems require high frequency rated blocks (>2.2 GHz rated) and their inner color is usually blue.

ccs_cable

Copper clad steel cable

Use any magnet to check if cable reacts and sticks to it. Cable may also have 'CCS' or 'CS' marks on it.

More on CCS cable


CHECK YOUR DISH

Going further, check your dish LOS (line of sight).

If you have trees on the way or trees are close to dish location, you need to make sure signal goes over and not through the obstacle.
In order to do that you need to know your satellite dish elevation or angle. Use an online calculator for that.

Once you figured the elevation, get right behind the antenna and use inclinometer or you sharp eye.
The horizon will be at 0° and the highest point in the skies will be 90°.
Stretch your arm and aim in the middle, you should be looking at 45° elevation.
Of course, inclinometer will provide you with much more accurate results as your vision will only give you an estimate.
Verify, the reflector surface has no dents. Even small dent can change or affect signal beam.

Next, check if your dish antenna mounting is solid.
With dish being mounted on the roof or the side of your home, grab the mounting leg between the base and the dish and do a push-and-pull test.

Dish should not move, if it moves (usually) up and goes down after pressure release, most likely mounting bolts got loose over time and your satellite antenna is not aligned with satellite properly.
If your satellite antenna is mounted on fascia board, attached to deck or 4x4’ wooden post - that's the main source of your problems.
Satellite internet antenna should NEVER be installed on surfaces mentioned above!

I would personally recommend having a technician to come out, secure the dish and realign it at this point. If you have no options to have someone out there, you may proceed with extreme caution. Remember, that if you do, you will be responsible for any injuries or equipment damages. Information given here is for educational use only.

Old Wildblue dishes (not Exede) could be aligned only with analog signal meters. Birddogs and others will not work. Channel Master (or simular) with analog scale and tone is the one you need for the job.

Wildblue certified installers use this meter as well as a tool called Aiming aid. This tool will isolate unwanted beams and only let the signal of your beam to go through. You could be located in the middle of the beam or you could be in the area where 3 satellites spot beams overlap each over. Nevertheless, personal testing results show that dish can be perfectly aligned with just a signal meter alone.

HOW TO FINE TUNE WILDBLUE DISH

Using Channel Master Signal meter, disconnect Rx cable from the TRIA which is located on the right side (if you are standing behind the antenna) and has a red tape on it.

Plug it into the signal meter barrel marked SAT Rx. This will power the meter from the modem.
With short jumper cable connect meter port called LNB with the TRIA Rx port.
Basically, you just want the signal meter be in the signal path.
Leave green cable, Tx line connected to TRIA. By now, your signal meter is powered on and you should see the pointer somewhere on the scale. Push the button for the sound (if any present) and adjust the gain to be at roughly 80% on the scale.

Get behind the dish and perform (very light) push and pull test by using your fingers. Go left-to-right and notice the sound pitch. The higher the pitch, the better. Next, repeat the test and push and pull for up and down direction. If during the test you could get even slight gain in signal, dish should be realigned to get 100% alignment.

Wildblue satellite dish fine tuning is done with fine adjustments bolts.

For elevation fine tuning, loosen up 2 bolts on each side and let the dish rest on a black plastic rod. This is your fine elevation adjustment rod. Turn the bolt either way and get it to the point where the pitch is at highest. Secure the side bolts.

For azimuth fine tuning, loosen up 4 bolts located under the plate, than use fine adjustment bolt to fine tune the azimuth. Secure the plate bolts.

Repeat push and pull test after all the bolts are secured. You should hear the pitch to go down when you pull on the dish reflector in any direction. If you don't and pitch goes up while you pulling on the dish, you need to repeat alignment process.

Once finished, connect the Rx cable back to TRIA. Go back inside and test your satellite internet connection.
Receive light will blink 2 and then 3 times per second and then it should stay on.

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