Beware of these used Eagle Aspen branded Ku-band LNB’s being sold on eBay!!!

This is a warning about a Canadian seller on eBay that is selling Eagle Aspen dual output Ku-band LNB’s as pictured below:

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His eBay ad describes these as:

Condition: Used :
Seller Notes: “IN GOOD CONDITION”

Because the shipping charges on these are somewhat high when you order from Canada, we ordered three of them at once to get a break on the shipping. And right after we ordered them we has a spell of pretty lousy weather, and then other events that took precedence over messing with dishes, so it took us about a month and a half to actually getting around to try using one of them. The original plan had been to use one now on an old oval Primestar dish, and use the other two later or save them for spares, in case of a lightning strike or something. So last weekend we finally got around to trying to install one, and we could not get a signal no matter what we did. After fooling around with it for way too long we found the old LNB that originally came with the Primestar dish and hooked that up. Then we were able to get a signal and properly position the dish.

Once we had the dish locked onto the satellite we then tried swapping out the old LNB for the new one, and it did not work at all, which seemed weird. So we tried another one of the three, and STILL nothing. We were beginning to think maybe we were doing something wrong, but since it wasn’t a huge effort to try changing out the LNB yet one more time, we then tried the third one. And the moment we connected the third one, that one worked!

So OUT OF THREE IDENTICAL LNB’S, ONLY ONE WORKED!!!

And even the one that worked gave us a signal quality reading that was six or seven counts lower than what I got with the old original LNB that came with the dish, and that was even after we had peaked the skew setting. So the performance certainly wasn’t spectacular. We only purchased these because we thought they might yield better performance than a generic Ku-band LNB that’s not designed specifically for that type of oval-shaped dish, but even the one that worked was a disappointment.

The real kicker, though, was we notified the seller of this problem. This was his response:

Hello [eBay buyer] Please read the auction…once you have received the items, you had 14 days to return them and you are way, way past that. Sorry you are unhappy with our products, but we do not Guarantee anything past the return date.

Best regards
KenCo23

Now I realize that there was a bit of an unanticipated delay before we got around to installing them, but a month and a half is not a totally unreasonable delay in my opinion, and a seller that wanted to do the right thing might have at least offered some type of compromise instead of giving us the big kiss off. But then, his eBay ad did say,

Returns: 14 days money back, buyer pays return shipping

Since it’s rather costly to ship items across international borders, I suppose a lot of buyers who get a bad one don’t bother returning it. BUT – I find it very suspicious that two out of three units were bad! I mean after all, everyone gets hold of a dud product every now and then, but come on – it doesn’t concern him at all that out of three units sold, only one worked?

And what if just by chance we had tried the good one first (within the two week period), and then stuck to the original plan of saving the other two to use as spares or at a later date? We might not have realized that the other two were “duds” until much later.

Personally, my own opinion (and it is just my opinion) is that this guy probably knows what he’s doing. He probably just hopes that when someone purchases his LNB’s, they don’t get around to actually trying them within two weeks (and I wonder if he includes the shipping time from Canada, including the time it takes to clear customs, when calculating that two weeks?) so he can pocket their money. I suspect the only reason he doesn’t have a lower feedback rating (currently at 98%) is probably because the majority of the items he sells are not electronic, and therefore any problems or damage would be immediately apparent to a purchaser as soon as they open the box. Sadly, that’s not the case with something like a LNB.

So I just wanted to warn everyone about this seller and these LNB’s. As I write this, his user name on eBay is kenco23. And actually, I would not recommend buying these “Eagle Aspen” branded LNB’s from any source, given the less that great performance of the one that actually did work. A few people seem to think these are better than a generic dual output Ku-band LNB for use with an oval Primestar dish, but I have my doubts about that. Anyway, I guess we just bought one very expensive, poor quality LNB – at least ONE of them worked, or I would have thought we were doing something wrong!

Caveat Emptor!!!

(General comment in closing: More and more I am coming to believe that eBay is a haven for scam artists of all kinds, so it might be wise not to buy anything electronic there if it’s not from a reputable seller that has 100% positive feedback!)

Who makes the LNB’s that are sold by companies in the USA and Canada?

One of the problems with buying satellite equipment in the United States and Canada is that there are so few distributors, and you may have found that a few of those distributors are not people you’d care to do business with in the future, for any of a number of possible reasons. Let’s just say there may be a seller or two out there who thought that “The Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld was an instructional video on how to treat potential customers.

Another problem is that satellite equipment sellers tend to exit the business without much notice. So you buy an LNB from a company and it works well for you, and then a year later you get a new dish, or maybe your original LNB got hit by lightning, and you want a replacement. Sadly, the seller is nowhere to be found. In one case a web site still exists for a distributor that apparently left the business years ago. None of the phone numbers appear to still be working, but that site is out there. But interestingly, it has some pictures of its “Factory & Offices in China” that give us a clue as to who their supplier was. That’s because some of the same photos appear at the bottom of this page.

The Chinese company that seems to make a lot of the LNB’s that are sold in North America under private labels is Anhui Bowei Electronics Technology Co., Ltd., and as best I can determine their main web site (in English) is at http://www.chinabrave.com/en/ but most people wanting to buy their products retail would likely go through their store on AliExpress.

You do have to be a bit careful when buying this way because the shipping charges from China are a bit high, and you may or may not have the same level of buyer protection that you would have with a USA or Canadian seller. Also you have to be careful that what you buy will work with your equipment. For example, when buying a C-band LNB, most equipment sold in the USA and Canada expects to use voltage switching to switch between vertical and horizontal polarization. But there are LNB’s being sold now, including some by this company, that do dual local oscillator frequencies, where the local oscillator frequency for the vertical channels is the usual 5150 MHz but for the horizontal channels it is 5750 MHz (here’s a page in PDF format from a New Zealand supplier that explains the advantages of this scheme). Not all receivers, tuner cards, or software may be able to deal with that, so if you are not sure, it’s safer to stick with the older models that show only a single L.O. frequency of 5150 MHz in the specifications.

And if you happen to be looking at a product that plugs into a wall outlet for power, make sure you can get it with a USA/Canada type plug, or that it at least comes with an adapter, and that it will work with 110/120 volts AC at 60 Hz. Remember that much of the rest of the world (including much of North America outside the USA and Canada) uses 220/240 volts AC at 50 Hz, and while some devices can deal with either type of power, not all can, plus plug styles vary from country to country.

If you have never used AliExpress before, one tip is that when you are on a seller’s main page, look at the (usually blue or green) bar at the top of the page and mouse over the “Products” link; it will show a dropdown of product categories offered. Even then there may still be products offered by a seller that for some reason don’t appear in their store listings, but that can be found if you do a general search in AliExpress for a particular type of product (such as “C band LNB”). AliExpress isn’t eBay, and their site doesn’t appear to be quite as well indexed.

Of course, Anhui Bowei Electronics Technology Co., Ltd. is not the only maker of LNB’s in China, it’s just that their product line seems to include some models that looks suspiciously like models currently being sold in North America under a different brand name. I have no idea if they are the same or not, and obviously the USA importers are probably not going to disclose who they purchase their products from. But the point is that when a North American supplier appears to either drop off the face of the earth, or angers you to the point that you wouldn’t buy a bottle of water from them if you were dying of thirst in the desert, then it may at least be possible to go “upstream” and buy from their supplier.

In the course of looking for this information I did find a couple of other sellers of LNB’s and other satellite equipment on AliExpress:

SatMaximum (AliExpress Store (retail), AliExpress Store (wholesale))
Yian Technology Limited (AliExpress Store)

SatMaximum in particular seems to carry about as extensive a line of LNB’s as Anhui Bowei Electronics Technology, but again you have to be careful about the local oscillator frequencies, to make sure you don’t get a dual L.O. unit if your receiver or tuner can only handle voltage switching of polarity. I have never dealt with any of these companies personally – I am probably like most Americans, a bit reluctant to order direct from overseas due to the higher possibility of disappointment, and the inability to return a defective item without paying more in shipping than what the item is worth (in many cases). So when you buy like this it is a bit like buying a pig in a poke, although AliExpress attempts to mitigate these concerns with their Buyer Protection. If anyone has purchased a LNB, or any other satellite equipment for that matter, from one of these Chinese companies using AliExpress you’re welcome to share your experience (good or bad) in the comments.