When I wrote about tips for trading in an RV after spending the first night in our new fifth wheel at the dealer’s parking lot, I mentioned how our MotoSat D3 control cable was damaged when transferring the F2 satellite internet dish mount from our old rig. Instead of ranting about what happened, I figured I would just provide some technical details about how I fixed the 9-pin socket for anyone who might have to repair the control cable for a D3 Controller.
Suffice it to say that moving the F2 .9 meter dish mount from one RV roof to another is a two person job! I highly recommend overseeing the job and assisting if you have to do it an RV shop. Better yet, do it yourself with help, or visit a qualified satellite internet installer. Oregon RV Satellite Service owner Don Marr installed our original system back in 2007, and he was a huge help from the time I called him in a panic at the RV dealer, to when he sent me the parts I needed to fix our D3 control cable 9-pin plug.
Overview Of D3 Wiring Problem
Challenges. Never problems! What’s wrong with this picture?
Or this one?
The way I see it, someone who thought they could lift the F2 satellite internet dish mount by himself, disconnected the bolts, grasped it firmly and shrugged upward…without disconnecting the cables first!
Long story short, we ended up with a MotoSat D3 control cable outlet (the male 9-pin socket) disconnected from the cable on the dish side of the mounting plate. In addition, the Receive (Rx) cable had also been snapped. When I called Don to inquire about the cost of such a repair, he said, “It’s not the cost…it’s just really tricky.” Boy, was he right!
What Wires Go Where?
The immediate challenge I noticed when looking in dismay at my damaged cables, was determining which of the nine wires in the D3 control cable attached to what pins in the connector. Once I got into the job, I stripped the wiring harness back to get a better look at all the wires, and started taking copious notes.
If it wasn’t for one tiny bit of blue wire insulation remaining in the socket, I may have never determined which wires went where. (See pinout diagram below.)
The mounting plate for the control cable outlet still had all the pins intact. Every wire had been pulled out, but luckily at least one had snapped. This allowed me to determine the location of the blue wire within the plug. Before pulling everything apart I marked the mounting plate to indicate the position of the socket.
The plug only connects one way, but I took meticulous care to ensure everything was the way it was before. After all, we couldn’t just run down to pick up parts at Radio Shack. FYI: They don’t carry what I needed anyway!
How To Raise MotoSat Dish Without Controller
Since our dish was mounted to the roof, that’s where the work needed to be done.
One of the best tips in the Datastorm Installation Guide details how to easily raise or lower the dish when no controller is connected. Use the control cable that is connected to the mount. You’ll notice two wire leads (Red & Orange) sticking out from the Control Cable.
To raise the dish, connect the Red lead to a positive 12-volt or 9 volt lead, and the Orange lead to the negative. I recommend using a cordless drill battery, but a 9v battery may also work. Reverse the leads to lower the dish. In our case, since the plug was broken, I connected jumpers to the wires I had exposed when stripping the damages socket wiring harness.
Receive Cable Soldering Finesse
First, I’ll quickly talk about that Rx cable repair. It actually turned out to be more challenging than rewiring the 9-pin control cable connector.
I have installed enough cable TV equipment in my previous life that I figured replacing the RF connector to the Receive cable would be a simple task. Not so.
The RG316 cable is extremely thin and flexible. Adding a connector was not just a matter of stripping shielding and twisting one on. Soldering the tip to the center wires seemed like working with a few strands of hair. That’s why I’m glad I purchased a few extra connectors. The last one finally worked!
When I thought I would need more, I discovered Grainger didn’t even have them. The clerk at a local hobby store “specializing in radio control” parts didn’t even know what RG316 meant! But you can find sets of RG316 RF Adapter Male Connectors on Amazon.
Tips for Fixing The D3 Control Cable
Working on a rubber roof, I thought it would be smart to place a board under my work area. This protected the roof from any hot solder that may have dripped while connecting the control cable wires to the pins, which it did.
Without Helping Hands to hold the wires in place while I soldered the pins on, I used an alligator clip stuck into a wad of Plumber’s Putty.
Other tools and parts I needed to complete this repair included:
An important tip to remember is to slide the threaded connector sleeve onto the control cable before connecting the pins to each individual wire. This shroud will slide back down the wire and screw onto the socket after all the pins are inserted. It will then shrink when heated to create a weather-tight seal. The same goes true for any shrink tubing necessary—like on the Receive Cable I repaired or other wires I had to join, which I’ll explain in a bit.
To make the best pin connections, tin the wires first. This means applying a thin coat of solder to each wire before inserting it into the pin. Heat the wire, and touch the solder to it. Dripping hot solder on a cold wire does not make a good connection.
Once tinned, insert the wire into the pin. Add a bit of solder by heating the pin and wire where they connect, and this will also heat the solder inside the pin making a solid connection.
Next, crimp the joint lightly at the base of the pin. Do not bend the flanges that will retain each pin in the socket.
Where Do All Those Pins Go Again?
Note in this next picture, how the two wires shown are actually formed from four separate wires—each pair, joined with solder and covered in shrink tubing. Figuring this out may have been the most challenging mental task during this job.
When I purchased the control cable socket kit from Don, he sent along this very helpful pinout diagram which confirmed the positioning of the pins inside the socket which I had determined by dissecting my damaged cable.
My challenge was that I had two black wires in the connection! (See photo above.) My system also had a second smaller cable entering the old wiring harness. In addition to the 9-wire control cable, a second cable with two wires somehow connected into the same socket. Eleven wires, nine pins, you do the math.
By carefully carving apart the old socket connection and tracing all the wires, I found out which ones joined together. Since my notes are nearly illegible, I created this wiring diagram for our MotoSat F2 satellite internet dish control cable socket…
Don’t ask me what those extra two wires do. All I know is I must have done something right! After seating all the pinned wires into the 9-pin connection, and hoping they were all in the right holes, I secured the socket to the mount and connected the new control cable. Before sealing everything up tight and wiring the system back into the rig, I connected the D3 controller and was able to do a complete calibration and search.
If it wasn’t for some unrelated D3 Controller software issues that I will get into at a later date, my rewiring job would have had us online that day. But enough for now, I hope this information is useful to anyone else out there searching for help when trying to repair the Datastorm control cable connection on a MotoSat F2 mount. Any questions?
You may also find these links helpful.
- Datastorm Users Discussion Forums
- Oregon RV Satellite Internet Service and Parts
- Datastorm Installation Guide
- Motosat D3 Controller Manual
- How to Solder Wires Tips Video
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