The XDS satellite receiver

I remember, back in the day, when we all used Scientific Atlanta 7300 satellite receivers. There were two flavors of decoder cards; DATS and SEDAT.  Starting about 1982 or so, satellite distribution of network audio was a quantum leap over the old TELCO circuits used previously.  The use of satellite downlinks allowed radio stations to receive an almost unlimited number of programs from every network under the sun.

The SA 7300 receivers gradually gave way to the SA 3640, which gave way to the Starguide, Starguide II and Starguide III series which finally lead to the XDS and MAX receivers used today.

XDS satellite receivers
XDS satellite receivers

The newest generation satellite receivers are yet another quantum leap over the last, with on board hard drive storage that allows time shifting of entire shows.  Another nice thing is the web interface.  Before you know it, everything in the broadcast plant will have a web interface.

The one issue I have had with nearly every single XDS receiver is the fan going bad.  The manufacture must have laid into a supply of defective fans.  A bad fan is noted with the fault light turns red and the unit will return a “Fan stopped” error message.  The network will send a replacement fan if you let them know.  I have carefully replaced several of these fans without turning the receiver off.

Otherwise, the web interface is pretty intuitive.  Drop down menus allow for programming the audio ports on the receiver and setting up the delayed recording and playback function.

XDS satellite receiver weekly programming grid
XDS satellite receiver weekly programming grid

Any required network closures are configured in the relay screen.  The programming clock provided by the network will specify which relays are used for each show.

XDS relay maping screen
XDS relay maping screen

Each receiver has two DB-37 connectors that have 16 relays each for a total of 32 output closures.  That should be enough to cover almost any programming situation.

Finally, the receiver’s overall operating condition can be monitored via the health screen:

XDS satellite receiver health screen
XDS satellite receiver health screen

Something like this can greatly speed up any remote diagnostic trouble shooting by eliminating (or pinpointing) a satellite system failure as the reason for a station being off the air.  I also make sure that all automation systems have some type of remote access like VNC so that I don’t have to needlessly drive to the studio to fix a silly computer problem.

Then there is one more neat tool, for those XDS receivers that do not have any front panel user controls (one certain network uses these), called the “XDS discovery tool.”  I have found this bit of software to be very helpful from time to time.

4 thoughts on “The XDS satellite receiver”

  1. You’re absolutely right. The XDS receiver is just about perfect. From the user’s perspective, its fantastic.
    In addition, from the provider side, I understand that X-Digital’s program is hard to beat. A friend of mine that works for a Major League Baseball teams’s radio network has been looking at XDS as a replacement for their aging receivers. He said XDS offers a turnkey program, for a reasonable monthly fee. He was very impressed. I’ve noticed that many regional and sports networks are switching to the ‘single channel’ version of XDS. Apparently, X-Digital’s business model is working quite well.
    Art Morris

  2. On WKOK 1040 at 4 pm PLAYED YOUR ANNOUNCEMENT FOR 5 Minutes, And it scared my family. Making me go to the website to possibly doun load for breaking news. Why would you do that.


  4. Is there anyone who can provide the error table for these?
    I have a client with a unit displaying “Error #3” when he tries to test the NOC. Pings are good, and the web gui for his satellite provider show it’s online, but… even though it shows “health status OK”.. it is not updating with call letters or last time it phoned home. I suspect local port blocking or other LAN routing issues, that’s why the meaning of “Error #3” might help.

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