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Ask Slashdot: Experiences With Free To Air Satellite TV? 219

Dishwasha (125561) writes "Just a few days ago I incidentally discovered a little known secret called free-to-air. Amazingly enough even in the depths of Slashdot, there appear to have been no postings or discussions about it. Just like over-the-air programming, there is free programming available via various satellite systems that only requires a one-time cost of getting a dish and receiver. Both Amazon and Ebay appear to have a plethora of hardware out there. I personally settled on the Geosatpro MicroHD system with a 90cm 26lbs light-weight dish (queue lots of comments about my describing 26 lbs as being light-weight) and I should be receiving that in just a few days. I'm curious, who else is using satellite FTA? What are your setups? Has anyone hacked on any of the DVR/PVR devices available? Besides greater access to international programming, what are your channel experiences?"
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Ask Slashdot: Experiences With Free To Air Satellite TV?

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  • Big Ugly Dishes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @10:52AM (#46630333)

    C and KU band is a big investment, and I think most places encrypt these transmissions now, so you might want to check around a little more to make absolutely sure you're going to get anything worthwhile.

    • by Change ( 101897 )
      C-band requires a large dish (10-12 feet in diameter), Ku is much smaller (around 3 feet).
      • I don't believe that is true. You typically want the dish diameter to be 20x the wavelength. A 90cm dish can receive 3.33Ghz signals and above which is right at the C-band [] frequency range.

      • Re:Big Ugly Dishes (Score:5, Informative)

        by schnell ( 163007 ) <me.schnell@net> on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @04:09PM (#46633383) Homepage

        I think people here (and throughout this thread) are conflating a few different things when they say "free TV." The following explanation is an oversimplification, but anyway...

        In the US, back in the '70s and '80s, there was "free" satellite TV. The reason that it was free, though, is that you weren't supposed to have it. Big TV networks, HBO, ESPN, all those guys used analog C-band satellite transmissions to distribute their content to local TV affiliates and early cable TV providers. People discovered that if you bought your own analog C-band dish (the big 6+ footers) you could tap into those transmissions and watch them for free, and a cottage industry sprung up around getting people hooked into this feed. Note that it wasn't like "pay" satellite TV today where you point your dish at one satellite that gives you all the channels you subscribe to - you actually had to point your dish at different satellites to get different content feeds.

        The content providers got upset about this and migrated to digital delivery, which could be encrypted. You could still buy de-scrambler gear for your home dish (not so legally) but for most people it was enough of a PITA that they just moved over to a paid cable TV service (whose reaches were growing in leaps and bounds then) or to one of the emerging paid satellite TV services, which sprang up to meet precisely this need. You still have DISH and DirecTV as the two main US paid satellite TV providers today, and they use higher frequencies than C-band (Ku or Ka) which enable those nice little .75m dishes you see everywhere today.

        Elsewhere in the world, "Free To Air" TV has always had much more content. In my very limited experience, it's either state-funded TV like the BBC, or it's some other party that buys transponder space on a satellite and says "Okay, here it is for whoever wants to watch it." When travelling internationally I occasionally see ads for FTA TV, but it always seems to be creepy Phillipine megachurches or Al Jazeera wannabes that just can't get their content distributed any other way. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

  • Its pretty good! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by w-wright ( 3525625 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @10:53AM (#46630347) Homepage
    My Nana and Grandad goes on Holiday a lot in their Caravan, they used to use Sky Satellite in the Caravan which they found to be very expensive. However, my Grandad then switched over to using a simple freesat system which suits their needs. It recieves BBC, ITV etc which is what they want! I did see on ebay a Satellite Box running Linux (I think it was called Dream Box) and I heard you could load decryption keys onto it for the Sky Channels. However, that is illegal!
    • Re:Its pretty good! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @10:57AM (#46630381)

      Or in other words, the poster forgot there are readers that are NOT in the US when posting, and there are commenters who didn't realise this guy was talking about the US. In the UK you call a dish installer, get a Freesat box and Elizabeth's your Queen. In the US? You bend over for the monopoly du jour and whatever they managed to lobby this time.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Except it is not free. Just to have that dish or that TV you have to pay a tax. We have no such tax requirements.

    • there are a ton of **free** streaming sites that just host links...

      I watch all shows the day they are released

      many others

      • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

        Nothing like watching shows on illegitimate, foreign-hosted websites laden with pr0n ads and drive-by zero-day flash exploits... Sorry, no. I, for one, have a detectable amount of self respect.

      • Free, and illegal.

  • April First????? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @10:54AM (#46630361) Homepage

    Where's the flood of April First stories? Do I have the date wrong? Is the lack of them the joke? Am I not getting the jokes?

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 )

      Where's the flood of April First stories? Do I have the date wrong? Is the lack of them the joke? Am I not getting the jokes?

      Maybe that's the prank.

      • No the prank is beta. Jk, jk, it's not that bad.

      • No, unfortunately, it seems about 2-3 years ago, for some unknown reason, they did away with all the April Fools stories.

        I dunno why..I used to LOVE to see what would come up each year.

        Sadly, slashdot lost its sense of humor for some reason.

        OMG Ponies, R.I.P.


        • It iss probably because of the story about Mel Brooks finally getting around to mAking history of the world part two.

          A lot of people were pissed to find it was a prank.

    • by PIBM ( 588930 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:06AM (#46630453) Homepage

      In case that`s no prank; depending on where you live, the required operations to obtain the feed might be illegal. Where I live, there`s 3 months of summers where trees block a lot of the signal and rain just cut it, and 6 WINTER MONTHS (sorry had to vent about this weekend extra feet of snow) where the antenna won`t pickup anything because of the snow. So yeah, we didn`t use that much before just selling all of it back.

      • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

        You do know that you can get heaters for satellite dishes that fix the snow issue? Try your favourite internet search engine.

        Note the issues with rain suggest that you needed a bigger dish. That might also apply to trees, though you could also try pruning the trees is possible.

        • Re:April First????? (Score:4, Informative)

          by PIBM ( 588930 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:41AM (#46630767) Homepage

          Snow in trees was problematic too. It`s like permanent rain. I live in the middle of a forest and I even took the extra work of bringing electricity, cable and phone through ground entrances, so I wasn`t about to cut trees for my satellite, which I wasn`t using that much at my previous location. And heating trees wasn`t a part of the solution :)

          The gear came as a free goodie with a television purchase years before, with free to air access and 3 years of free subscription to a service. I`ve used the service a bit, but the FTA wasn`t worth investing in a bigger or better dish and I didn`t want a large ugly one somewhere either.

          Oh well, that was for me. At this time, I get all I want from my internet connection and rented blurays at 1$ a pop in those auto-dispensers.

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:14PM (#46631639) Homepage

          Anyone with a modern install dont even need heaters. the new eastern arc is so steep on the dish that a coat of car wax will keep it snow and ice free even when I got 6 feet of snow overnight this past winter.

          99% of the people bitching about Sat TV are clueless people that haven't touched it on 3 decades.

          • by PIBM ( 588930 )

            Which means it`s perfectly aligned toward the trees! YAY!

            • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

              The dish yes. the focal point in the sky it's aimed at? no it is much higher in the sky than the western birds. You do understand that Dishes dont point at what they a re receiving anymore right? they do a 60 to 90 degree bounce to the feedhorn so they are easier to mount and dont have anything in the way of the dish.

    • by cusco ( 717999 )

      Well, Dice Holdings has never been known for its sense of humor (just look at Beta).

    • Last year there were a zillion April 1st stories, and so much so there was backlash. They may be taking it easy this year.

      • It's funny. I first registered a ./ account back around 2001 to complain about the lame April Fool's Day stories. If they are taking it easy, it's about time.


    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      Dyce is not into joking, as witnessed by this: [] :)
    • OMG! Pwnies!

      Happy now?

    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:29AM (#46630657)

      Last year was terrible, with most of the stories being along the lines of "lulz, windows announces it's using windows kernel". I don't mind a clever joke, but most of it was just plain stupid.

      There was a lot of complaining about it, so I'm assuming they've decided to take it easy this year. Personally I'm grateful.

      • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

        * using linux kernel

        .. sigh

        • ObiWan, the need for entertainment is strong with this one.....

          • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

            I actually have fond memories of some good April fools jokes.

            A internet "radio" station I used to listen to had a great DJ who was known for being a little edgy but had a huge fan following. The day before April fools he went a bit further than usual, so that on April 1'st he could make a heartfelt statement about how he'd gone to far and after discussion with management it had been decided that he would be leaving. I _totally_ bought it (as did la tonne of other people). He played a song while the forums a

    • I'm hoping this "audio stories" thing is the joke. I'm getting audio versions of the Slashdot stories. This wouldn't be too bad, but they auto-play. I don't want to come to Slashdot and have audio blast from my speakers! Luckily, I keep my volume muted at work unless I decide to put on some headphones. Still, auto-play is bad policy for all sites except ones where the person expects audio/video to play (e.g. YouTube or NetFlix).

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Where's the flood of April First stories? Do I have the date wrong? Is the lack of them the joke? Am I not getting the jokes?

      That is the prank.

  • Helpful Website (Score:5, Informative)

    by Huntr ( 951770 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:00AM (#46630399)
    Try Satellite Guys []. There are a bunch of ppl there who are way into satellite tv stuff and who are eager to help.
  • by Teun ( 17872 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:02AM (#46630415) Homepage
    I haven't played with North American satellite for years so I can only comment on the European situation.

    Over here there is an absolute plethora of FTA satellite channels.

    Many, if not most, are junk. Porn previews and selling crappy stuff.
    But there are still many dozens quality channels like the BBC and the various German stations.BR> Just about every country has one or more FTA channels and as most people (outside of France and the UK) speak or at least understand several languages there is for people like me sufficient on offer.

  • Free to air statellite has been big in Europe since the 1980s, and digital (DVD-S) since the 1990s.

    Hacked Linux-based receivers have pretty much dominated the European DVB-S market for the last decade, and especialy in FTA.

    It's a shame that it has had little attention from Slashdot and other mainstream open source media over the years, because that has left the field free for some pretty unsavoury people in the TV encryption cracking market.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that cracked satellite recei

    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

      <old man voice activated>

      The satellite cracking scene was actually a frequent topic here back around ~2000, back when DirectTV and others went on the war path.

      There was also a story on Christopher Tarnovsky more recently, and actually one of the more interesting things to come out of wired ( .. unfortunately the link to the wired article is 404, in case someone actually wanted to RTFA).

  • It does work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SlickNic ( 1097097 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:11AM (#46630509)
    I grew up with this as my only source of TV in the 80s and 90s (we were too far from town and lived in the mountains to use local over the air tv). We had an 8' dish though and it must have weighed well in excess of 26lbs so yes your dish is quite light. We never seemed to have issues finding channels with something to watch and were able to pickup news, cartoons (very important), shows, and movies. The main issue was that the channels had to be scanned manually then. There were two sets of numbers, the first number if I remember correctly would physically rotate the dish outside then the second number would scan the channel options available available at that dish angle. This took a lot of time and ended up with us writing down the common locations for shows that we wanted to watch. Today I would hope there is an auto-scan feature that would allow you to just scan the channels to see what you're able to receive and store those. Unfortunately I haven't used this system in more than 10 years so I'm not very knowledgeable on what the system is like to use today. Hopefully something in my post was useful to you or someone else reading through.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:15AM (#46630537)

    Interestingly (perhaps) the UK has a lot of free-to-air content, and satellite in particular is popular because lots of people have mini-dishes on their houses from their own or a previous Sky TV installation. Freesat doesn't get as much coverage as Freeview but you can still walk into your local electronics retailer and find a big-brand satellite PVR next to the other TV hardware.

    • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

      Indeed. The USA in contrast does seem strangely backwards in a lot of ways with regards to TV & Radio broadcasting.

      • On the other hand, the US doesn't have any kind of TV licence fee for receiving broadcasts. Terrestrial OTA broadcasts are free but relatively limited in channel selection. I receive broadcasts from LA and can receive perhaps 20 stations. Satellites are more expensive than terrestrial towers though (and provide a much, much larger range of programming), so it makes sense to me that they would have associated subscription costs.
  • by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:16AM (#46630557)

    The satellite providers should provide some free basic tv with no monthly fees and just charge the full cost of equipment or allow people to use their own equipment and then make the additional revenue on the advertising side. Other paid cable channels could be an up sell with monthly subscriptions or pay per view. If the satellite providers presented a sufficiently attractive mix of advertising supported channels for cord cutters, then it would be a no brainer for people just to add satellite to their household mix of entertainment options for a couple hundred bucks worth of equipment. The number of viewers would go up by many millions. It really would be an opportunity for a win for the public and a big win for the satellite companies.

    A better selection of free over the air advertising supported broadcasts are something that is really missing from the current market.

    • That is a good idea - especially if they include access to pay per view. A lot of people can't afford $100/month but can afford $10 for a special occasion.
      • by bigpat ( 158134 )

        Yes I think the pay per view would be pretty key for the satellite company to make money also. I could see the pay per view rental model itself being an interesting stand alone business model. But I think you have to throw in some advertising supported channels for it to make sense from a customer standpoint of plunking down a couple hundred bucks for equipment and maybe more for an install.

        But if literally almost every household and bar in the country had satellite hooked up because the only cost was an

        • by kesuki ( 321456 )

          this will never happen. directv was the company that found out people were hacking their hardware to get everything and sent updates to fry the chips inside countless dishes because they were only paying for a small package and getting everything else including ppv for free.

          • by bigpat ( 158134 )

            I am not suggesting that people hack their way to free premium content. I am suggesting that the advertising model could provide valuable content to viewers in order to entice them to connect their tvs to a satellite dish and still be a profitable part of the business and that for the satellite companies they would be in the living rooms of millions more households so they would have greater opportunities to sell additional content and services in addition to making money off the advertising. Heck try it

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      I think one reason they don't is because it's not trivial to set up a dish properly, there is some math involved. The average /. reader could do it, but not the average Wal-Mart customer. Nothing like pissing off thousands of "free" customers because they can't their equipment to work and they want a refund for the stuff they bought used at a flea market somewhere. In fact, they don't even want you opening up a new account with used equipment, to discourage theft of equipment from actual paying customers.
      • by kcitren ( 72383 )

        there is some math involved.

        Behind the scenes, yes, but in reality, no. To set up a dish, you get yourself a compass (most smartphones have this built in) and a protractor. Then go to a site like [] or your providers site, put in your zip code and point. Turn the TV where you can see or hear it, and start moving it around til the signal comes in clear.

      • by bigpat ( 158134 )

        The issues you have raised all seem pretty minor and manageable compared with the upside of the satellite companies having access to another 50 to 70 million households for advertising or for selling additional products and services.

        Honestly these issues sound like trivial or even silly concerns. Pointing a dish is no different than pointing an antenna and somehow millions of people over a couple of generations of people managed to work that out and get OTA TV broadcasts. Dishes for existing paying custom

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        "I think one reason they don't is because it's not trivial to set up a dish properly, there is some math involved. "

        No math involved, and in fact if you actually do a little bit of research plus reading first and have a $19.00 tool you can zero in a dish in 15 minutes. All without a calculator.

        • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

          not even that. I live not many miles from the Prime meridian, and to align my satellite dish (done it several times, most notably after I had to replace it after my south wall fell off the back of the house), all I did was point the thing South and elevate it about 20 degrees. 65% average signal strength on the Astra constellation - enough to actually decode - a full channel list on my 5K receiver (Fortec Star 4400). I'm pretty sure if I used a satfinder I'd get better than 90% signal strength, but that doe

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Actually, you just enter your zip code in the setup menu and it gives you alt and azimuth. It could take some fiddling back in the '90s to get close enough that the signal meter would help you, but the newer hardware is much less touchy. Meanwhile, back then it was all self-install only. These days it's easy to find someone who can do it for you.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        Why not a motorized dish that will automatically scan the sky and find the satellite(s) you're looking for? Maybe this is overkill for programming on one satellite, but the FTA listing in wikipedia shows them appearing on multiple satellites meaning if you cared about content on multiple satellites you'd be re-aiming anyway.

    • I've long thought the government should buy out/launch their own free-to-use satellite tv service and treat broadcasting on it like OTA broadcasts. Disallow any two channels to be owned by the same company and poof: the era of crappy tv funded by annoying commercials returns.

    • by nomad63 ( 686331 )
      As a former employee of one of the Satellite Broadcasting companies, I know how costly to put one channel onto the airwaves and in no way they can recoup their money from advertising or equipment costs. The only thing they can do is to change the device requirements every couple of years and upcharge you for those cheap Chinese plastic things, which will drive the customers away.

      I am not even going to go into opening the doors for legality of stealing signal with the argument "if it is free to receive from
      • by bigpat ( 158134 )

        It appears that there are quite a few free satellite channels [] and the number of choices has been growing. So, if Montana PBS can afford to broadcast from a satellite, then I don't think the limiting factor is cost.

        The question isn't whether it is economical to support a satellite tv channel with just advertising. I think the answer to that is yes it is possible. The question is about quality and profitability, since most of the free satellite tv channels seem to be less profitable and carry more niche p

  • Maybe it's fun to play with, nothing wrong with that, but ultimately it's not a good way to watch TV. If you just want basic TV, an antenna will get you a good amount of channels. My $5 Radio Shack antenna gets me like 50 channels including weird shit like the Dog channel. If you want to watch extended channels like HBO, go to Piratebay or Playon or Torrentstream or Hulu.

    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      I use my analogue antenna as part of my HF radio array now since there's no analogue TV in England anymore.

  • by Controlio ( 78666 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:30AM (#46630675)

    As someone who puts those shows up in the air, I'll tell you it all depends on what you're looking for.

    If you're looking for sports backhauls, you'll most likely be disappointed. Almost every professional sports venue in the country uses fiber as a backhaul, not satellite. The only places that use birds are places that do small numbers of broadcasts infrequently (think college campuses). And even then, a lot of networks have policies that require them to use BISS encryption. So unless you're friends with someone in the uplink world (because yes, they do share downlink info and BISS codes with each other so they can watch live events while on the road) you'll find the content to be sparse.

    If you're looking for TV networks, look at it this way. If there's any value to the network (i.e. if it's on anything but the base tier of your cable or satellite operator), it's encrypted. Because why would they give away for free what they're getting $1.60/subscriber to sell? You'll find some foreign networks and stuff you most likely don't care about, but that's about it. If you know the timing you might find syndicated shows being fed to your local TV stations (think Ellen or Judge Judy) or something mildly useful like that, but even more of those shows are now being BISS encrypted. The only reason more syndicated shows don't encrypt is because they get sick of having to pay to re-feed shows because of inept downlink ops.

    The holy grail for FTA is finding "wild feeds" - temporary uplinks from site to a network (think breaking news). You can find some serious hilarity here sometimes. But the feeds come and go in a matter of quarter hours, so they're tougher to find.

    The feeds are out there, but there's not a lot of FTA ones in North America. Further complicating things is the myriad of encoding specs (bitrate, constellation, FEC, encoder model, etc etc etc). It ends up being a total crapshoot trying to find things. So I guess what I'm saying is it depends on what you're looking for. If you're doing this as a hobby to see what you can find, it can be a lot of fun and even rewarding at times. If you're looking to replace cable, you're going to wish you'd spent your money on a Roku or a Slingbox at your friend's house instead.

    • The holy grail for FTA is finding "wild feeds" - temporary uplinks from site to a network (think breaking news). You can find some serious hilarity here sometimes. But the feeds come and go in a matter of quarter hours, so they're tougher to find.

      I watched the Columbine shooting news coverage live on one of these wild feeds. They showed things that did not air on TV (victims trying to escape and leaving blood trails, etc). Not exactly what I wanted to see, but the ability to watch these things was interesting. The news anchor bloopers and such can be interesting too. I've caught a rare sports feed (15+ years ago) and its always interesting to see what the camera men are up to when the commercials are airing. Overall, though, I agree that it is

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Basically, we are better off with the over the air (OTA) local TV stations (100+ channels in Los Angeles (L.A.) areas!) than satellite TV for local broadcast stations and Internet assuming viewers have access to both. I read [] and nothing really good interest me. :/ Adjusting dishes can be a pain and annoying. It is already bad enough for my antenna(s/e). :)

    • I remember the film Spin [] which was made of out takes from wild feeds of politicians and church leaders appealing to their constituents for money. It showed them making outrageous remarks not realizing they were on the air at the time.

    • by pjwhite ( 18503 )

      I had a FTA receiver connected to a small dish that was mounted on the roof of the house when I bought it a few years ago. After some fiddling with the receiver settings, I was able to detect several dozen channels, only a few of which were unencrypted. The best one was the NASA TV channel, which I watched quite a lot until one day it went encrypted like the others. I tried re-aiming the dish a few times, to see if I could pick up other satellites, with no luck. Without proper equipment, aiming is very

  • I got into IKS for a bit, but Netflix and Hulu aren't that much more expensive. Plus they aren't illegal and they don't get cut off in heavy snow or rain.
  • Not so amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:31AM (#46630691)

    Amazingly enough even in the depths of Slashdot

    It was old news before this site started so that's probably why it hasn't been discussed.

  • by Isao ( 153092 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:32AM (#46630695)
    I've been running FTA receiver setups in the US for about a decade, so my data comes from that. My own setup uses 3 dishes (one with multiple satellites), and I operate two others at different locations. I have relatives in Europe who've been doing this for longer, and it's very easy and common over there. It's pretty rare in the US. I started because some family members wanted to receive ethnic programming in their own languages and I love to experiment. It requires some practice to set up and aim, but is very doable and doesn't have to be expensive. You can get started under $300US. Take a look at Sadoun [] in Texas. He also has a lot of information [] for beginners.

    You'll need a dish (typically 90cm), somewhere with a view of your selected satellites to plant it, an LNB to go on the dish (Low Noise Block Amplifier, the actual "antenna"; the dish is just a reflector), a bunch of RG6 cable leading to your TV, and a receiver.

    Before buying all this, take a look at the various satellites and channels available to you, and pick a starting satellite. You'll need to be sure that you have a clear line of sight to the "bird". A great site for this is lyngsat []. In the US I suggest starting with Galaxy 19 [], which has several hundred channels on it.

    Summarizing the rest, plant the dish, aim, and scan with your receiver to program the channels. You can get all sorts of things regularly, and occasional "wild feeds" that aren't intended for public consumption. There's also encrypted video, which is either pay TV, private company channels (like Ford, etc.) or network backhauls.

    Later on you can get into multiple satellites, either with multiple LNB's on one dish, multiple dishes and a switch, or a motorized (!) dish. They're all fun.

    It's a lot of fun, and can be a great intro for kids to electronics, radio reception, satellites, orbital mechanics, space, etc.

  • Years ago I used to be infatuated with the BUD, so much so that when I visited my uncle, he'd save me the program guides and channel lists he used to get in the mail. Then along came Lyngsat, which tells you all of that. []

    But more importantly for you, they will tell you if a channel is encrypted or not on whatever satellite. So the *best* way to tell if FTA TV is going to be worth it to you. It's largely a joke in the US, but a slightly more serious deal in other countries. Lyngsat also
  • I did some research into this when I was first transitioning to a LCD HDTV. At the time there wasn't quite enough to make the transition worth it. Now between Hulu, Netflix, FTA antenna tv, and a few other streaming sources I'm looking at this again to fill the gaps. DVB-S is supported by WMC and would offer you a descent way to combine Antenna and FTA Satellite services. Take a look into this if you find the DVR included with your kit lacking. I am not sure if you could set this up with MythTV and XBM
  • Satellite TV (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    My wife and I live on a boat in Europe and have used satellite tv - free to air - for around 15 years. Receive about 340 channels from Astra 2 of which around 100 are worth having - news, drama, documentary, film, old show re-runs etc. Our dish is 85cm and receiver an (now) old Technomate which can pick up any satellite available so we have cover of thousands of programmes from Korea to Brazil. As we cruise rivers and canals we have to retune daily by rotating dish and varying up-angle for different satelli

  • The best part of TVRO/FTA systems was finding wild feeds: syndicated programming being delivered to locals (many times a whole season at a time for re-run tv shows), news & sports remotes (loved hearing reporters and PBP announcers when they weren't "on-air"), corporate video distribution, teleconferences, etc... Sadly it has been 20 years since I've been able to play with such...MMDS systems were also fun to hack (the service no longer exists, I believe -or at least all the operators went out of busin
    • Should point there were THOUSANDS of audio feeds available on each satellite, both as sub-carriers of video channels (could be tuned by most consumer receivers), and SCPC (required a little more than the standard TVRO receiver)...Now that everything is a digital stream, unsure how many of those still exist
  • > Amazingly enough even in the depths of Slashdot,
    > there appear to have been no postings or
    > discussions about it.

    Because it was old news when the site was founded? []

    The Scroungers Guide to Satellite TV
    By Gary Bourgois
    Copyright 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, The Birdwatcher's Report

  • Well gee, I don't know, my big motorized dish is pretty useless since all the birds are ciphered and there's just no way on Earth to even crack the codes.

    So, I just modded mine to TX instead of just RX and beamed out some Welcome to Earth messages to the alien planets we've discovered.

    Yep. That's all it's for. Total coincidence if Gliese 581 just happened to be around the same declination and right ascension as ECHOSTAR 7 was when I last listened for a reply.

    The Internet has got a lot more content on deman

    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      get two of them and weld them together, make a hang drum. They make a wonderful noise. :)

  • by k6mfw ( 1182893 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:45PM (#46631845)

    I dabbled a little few years ago but there really not much interests me. Taking a look at Galaxy 19 as suggested by Isao has stations of little interest to me. However, it was interesting to get some hands-on experience receiving signals from a satellite, ironically the day I first locked on to bird in the Clarke Belt was the same day Arthur died.

    Also back then there were websites that you can download software and load this into one of those sat receivers and be able to watch DishTV, Direct, and other encrypted sites for free. However, these didn't offer much (I have no interest in football, soccer, hockey which all have 200 channels each). There were some premimun channels like TCM that I already have on cable, but then I may also dump cable because even TCM shows same movies over and over again (occasionally they will show something different i.e. a series of Mamie Van Doren movies). There were "local" TV stations from various towns like Bakersfield on these dish tv stations. But then almost all I have no interest so why bother.

    Getting back to when I setup my satellite receiver. Someone at DeAnza Electronics flea market was selling DishTV Ku-band dishes and oddball sat receiver boxes for dirt cheap, had a whole stack of these and didn't want to crate them all to the dump. Living in a condo reduced my opportunities (all the birds were aligned away from my windows), I was not interested in mounting the dish on a awning of sorts (I was experimenting and had no long term deployment interest). I was able to just fit the dish into my skylight, borrowed a sat finder meter to help lock onto the bird, and it was exciting to see the bars all light up on the satellite receiver box (Comet I think was the brand). Go through the motions to select the frequencies and download the channels. It seemed it was more interesting technically than watching entertainment (again almost all channels were of no interest). I also referred to these sites, [] and []. There were some channels that were non-encrypted including NASA-TV Public channel (and this was back when Shuttle was flying). However these stations were able to do encryption far more difficult to hack, and they also encrypted all channels including "FTA" like NASA-TV.

    Now there is C-band birds which NASA-TV provides non-encrypted including the Media channel but the antennas are big and hard to find. However, NASA-TV mostly has usual drivel repeated over and over. There was a time when everyone was dumping C-band dishes for free and great opportunity for experimentalists including those wanting a dish to do EME.

  • From TFS:

    queue lots of comments

    You mean "cue".

  • Fortec Star receiver with a handy USB port for channel programming and the facility for adding a hard drive (or SSD, flash, whatever) off a standard Sky 90cm dish.

    Outlay: £50 for the receiver, £0 for the dish. 5,000 channels and nothing on.

  • First, you're going to want a motor to point the dish at various satellites in the clarke belt. There's some free programming available on each sat, but not a single sat you're likely to want to use all the time. Info on the sats and where to point your dish is here: []
    You'll also want to make sure you at least have a Ka and Ku band capable LNB device on your dish. If you ever upgrade to a fullsize dish you can also pull in channels broadcasting in C band.

    I eventually upgraded

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