Can you get a SWM signal 500 feet without using fiber?

If you have a mansion and somehow you’re still a DIYer and I’m thinking there are maybe 5 of you out there, you’ve probably already read this article about extending your DIRECTV signal. But what about a 500-foot run? Is there any way you can extend one receiver out 500 feet from the SWM?

Simple question, simple answer

Sorry folks, you can’t do it, not with coax anyway. You could spend a lot of money on fiber and do it that way, but you can’t do it with coax because of a special characteristic of SWM transmission. With other signals that travel down a coaxial cable, you can keep adding amplifiers as you go along because the signal travels only one way. (After all, you can’t send a signal up to the sky using your satellite dish.) SWM signals travel two ways. There’s a separate control signal at 2.3MHz that controls which content travels back down the wire. The 2.3MHz frequency means that the signal is much less likely to get signal loss than a higher-frequency one, but eventually it does peter out.

When you’re sharing programming from another source like a DVR, you also have to worry about latency. I’ve told you before that latency is really the most important thing to worry about in any network scenario. You wouldn’t think an extra 100 feet of cable would really create a problem, but in real world testing it does. I’ve gone back and forth with other DIYers in the past talking about this, but the real-world evidence is clear. Once you get more than about 150 cable-feet from a program source, it takes a lot longer for button presses to register. This isn’t just because of a weaker signal, either, because I’ve tried it with RG11 cable as well. The truth is that latency really is a factor and that’s something no amplifier is going to fix.

Speaking of amplifiers

You can get an amplifier that covers satellite frequencies. But, there isn’t a satellite-approved amplifier that works with the signals used for program sharing. What I’m saying is there’s no two-way amp that handles the 475-625Mhz frequencies used in whole-home and so therefore when that signal fades, you lose the ability to do those whole-home tricks. If you have a Genie, you really only care about those lower frequencies, not the traditional satellite ones.

What can you do?

The easiest solution is just to put another dish up. There’s no limit to the number of dishes you can use. If you have a Genie 2 system, this isn’t an option because with Genie 2 you can’t have extra receivers. Also, receivers connected to one dish won’t be able to share programs with receivers connected to the other. But, in many cases, that 500-foot run is for a guest house or other outbuilding. You’re just trying to give people live TV in that location. So the best option for you there would be an HR54 DVR and some clients on one dish, and a plain old receiver on the other.

Of course, no matter what you need in the world of DIRECTV accessories, you’ll find the best selection and the best support when you shop at Solid Signal.

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 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.