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Windows MCE 2005 and Dish Network

May 22, 2005

Here are some quick notes about using Windows MCE 2005 with Dish Network satelite receivers.

In general, MCE can work with Dish as well as any other signal source. Guide data is available for Dish, usually both localized (if you’re in a city with satellite locals) and USA (if you’re not).

Perusing notes around the ‘net, MCE and Dish users have noticed a few issues, although none insurmountable.

Here’s the run-down:

First, most of the higher-end Dish receivers use UHF based remotes instead of IR remotes, which makes them difficult to control with MCE’s IR Blaster.

The best solution for this is to use the low-end receivers, such as the 101, 301 and 311. These receivers use IR based remotes instead of UHF, and let’s face it — if you’re using it as a signal source for MCE, you’re not going to use any of the receiver’s “advanced features” anyway.

Low end receivers can be bought fairly inexpensively on EBay, although watch to be sure you don’t get one with a smart card that has a balance due on it.

If you just have to use a higher end receiver, you might try this trick that was posted on TheGreenButton for making a Dish 811 receiver respond to IR.

Another issue that many have run into is that the higher-end Dish receivers have a “screen saver” feature that kicks on after 6 – 8 hours of inactivity. Once this screen saver comes up, you have to press Select on the Dish remote before it will respond to the MCE’s IR Blaster again.

Once again, this can be avoided by using the low-end receivers (which don’t have this “feature”).

Some people have worked around this issue by adding a “dummy” recording event often enough that the screen saver won’t kick on.

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