Tag Archives: gadgets


A quad LNBF (left) and xKu LNBF (right).
A quad LNBF (left) and xKu LNBF (right).

Shaw Direct satellite dishes are equipped with LNBFs that allow up to four lines to be run into your home. Most of our receivers require just one line to function, but our PVRs (both our original DVR 530 HD and newest Advanced HDPVR 630) need two lines. If you want to enjoy service to multiple rooms in your home, you may find that you’ll wind up needing more than four lines. If this sounds like you, then you’ll be happy to learn that we can offer a device known as a “multiswitch” in order to have more lines installed for more receivers!

But just what is a multiswitch?

A multiswitch is a device that consists of A/B switches (which switch back and forth between horizontal and vertical polarities, depending on what channel you’re trying to watch) and splitters that turn each LNBF port from one into two (or more depending on the type of multiswitch you have).

4x8_multiswitch_largeAlthough they may sound a bit like a simple splitter, a multiswitch cannot be replaced by a splitter. Without the help of the A/B switch, splitting a single line into two will cause issues with receiving signal. If one receiver connected to a split line is viewing a channel on the horizontal polarity, then the second receiver on the split line will only be able to view another horizontal channel; it will not be able to access a channel on the vertical polarity). For more information on the two different signal polarities that we use, please see our article on LNBFs.

A 5×8 multiswitch.

Shaw Direct generally uses a “4×8” multiswitch, which just means that it needs the four lines running from your LNBF connected to the four inputs, and then it can output signal for up to eight distinct lines. We also use a “5×8” multiswitch; the difference between this and the 4×8 is that there is an extra input that can be used to connect cable services.

For commercial applications where more than eight lines may need to be run, we also offer a “4×16” multiswitch, which will allow up to 16 lines to be run from the dish.

Multiswitches can be either “passive” (non-powered) or “active” (powered by an external AC source); our multiswitches are all powered to ensure strong signal strength in any system. Longer cable runs can result in lower signal strengths, but using an active multiswitch will help mitigate this.

A multiswitch can be installed either outside near the dish (it’s waterproof and works well in any weather condition), or inside your home (in a utilities room, for example). There must be a connection from each port on the LNBF to each of the four inputs on the multiswitch. From there, the lines would be run from the outputs to wherever in your home you require service. Remember that each account has a six-receiver limit, and if you wanted more than six receivers, you would have to open a second account.

If you’re thinking of adding a new receiver, but need a multiswitch in order to do so, don’t hesitate to contact us through here, on Facebook, Twitter, or by calling our toll-free number – 1.888.554.7827.

Using an External Hard Drive with your HDPVR 630

header_HDDShaw Direct’s Advanced HDPVR 630 has an integrated hard drive which allows you to record up to 175 hours of standard definition content, or about 45 hours of high definition content. Not enough space for all of the great shows you want to record? Not to worry – if you need more space, you can use an external hard drive to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Wondering what kind of external hard drive will work with your HDPVR 630? Here are the required features to ensure compatibility:

  • Make sure the external hard drive has an eSATA connection, which is up to six times faster than even USB 2.0. This makes the external hard drive ideal for HD video. What’s more is that you can record two HD programs while watching previously recorded HD programming without any performance issues.
  • The external hard drive must be externally powered. Some may only be USB powered, but this will need to have its own power supply that plugs into an AC outlet.
  • The largest external hard drive that will work is 2.0 TB, which will give you an incredible amount of additional storage space. 500 GB will give you about 340 hours of standard definition or 90 hours of high definition; 1.0 TB will provide about 680 hours of standard definition or 180 hours of high definition; 2.0 TB gives you a staggering 1,360 hours of standard definition or 360 hours of high definition. If you were to fill a 2.0 TB external hard drive and the hard drive of your PVR with standard definition programming, you could watch shows from today (March 7) non-stop until May 10!
  • Look for an external hard drive that is rated for PVR or DVR usage. These are designed to be cooler, quieter, and support multiple HD streams being recorded or played at the same time. They’re also able to run all-day, everyday, which makes them the most reliable choice.

So, how do you go about hooking up the external hard drive to your PVR? There are just a few steps to get it ready:

  1. Connect the eSATA cable (it should be provided with the drive you purchased) from the external hard drive to the port labeled “eSATA” on the back of your HDPVR 630.
  2. Connect the power cable from your external hard drive to a power bar or wall outlet.
  3. If your external hard drive has a power switch, turn it on now. Ensure the power or status light illuminates.
  4. Restart your HDPVR 630 by holding down the power button on the front panel for 10 seconds.
  5. When the receiver comes back on, a setup wizard will guide you through the process of formatting the external hard drive for use with this satellite receiver. This will remove ALL data and partitions on the external hard drive.
  6. Formatting will complete within a few seconds and you will be alerted that your drive is ready for use.

There are some other things to bear in mind about using an external hard drive with your HDPVR 630. For example, you can only use one external hard drive with your PVR at any given time, and you can only use the external hard drive with one specific PVR. Additionally, the external hard drive won’t be able to be used with any other device while it’s “married” to your PVR.

If you decide to stop using your external hard drive with your PVR, or want to switch to a new one, you just need to disconnect it and reboot your PVR. The setup wizard will then alert you that your external hard drive is missing, and then will provide some prompts to delete it from your PVR. This will remove any associated recordings from the PVR list that were stored on the external hard drive, allowing you to connect a new one by following the setup instructions.

Having any problems using an external hard drive with your HDPVR 630? Check out Tech Central to read over some helpful tips, or let us know that you need a hand!