HD FTA (C Band) Receiver recommendations? (1 Viewer)

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TNGTony

Thread Starter
Unashamed Bengal Fan
Sep 7, 2003
10,019
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Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Hi folks! My humble community TV station is looking for a programmable HD FTA receiver (Primarily for C Band channels, though we have a KU LNB as well). By programmable I mean being able to tell the receiver to tune to a particular TP frequency at a specific time, not necessarily move the dish.
We are currently an SD Scientific Atlantic that we need to replace. We tune to Classic Arts Showcase, deutsche welle, and a few other channels for some of our programming and need to upgrade.

Any recommendations? We just got a quote for a commercial unit for $5k and we just don't have that kind of scratch. Looking for the absolute cheapest that can do the job.
 

TNGTony

Thread Starter
Unashamed Bengal Fan
Sep 7, 2003
10,019
802
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Any output or dish/switch control requirements? SD or HD service? (remember the DW service is supposed to be going HD only soon).
Yes. That;s what's prompting this purchase. We really only need composite video out. Our cable channels will not be going HD for quite some time. We could convert HDMI if we have to but we'd rather not.
 

ancient

SatelliteGuys Pro
May 12, 2014
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USA
How do you get the output of the receiver to the input of your control board? Are you somehow converting HDMI, or are you taking the old-style analog outputs, or what? Is your station digital? HD capable? Is it over the air (LPTV) or cable-only or what? Those things might make a difference in the recommendation.

Another question is, do you air all programming "live" or do you want to delay certain programs for later broadcast?

And, do you have just one dish that will move (even if the receiver isn't responsible for moving it) or do you have a fixed C-band dish pointed at each C-band satellite you're receiving channels from?

There are probably a lot of possible ways to do this, but it all depends on exactly what you are trying to do, what kind of equipment you currently have available, what kind of budget you have, and how technically astute you are. You can buy cheap receivers for under $50 on eBay but they probably won't do much of what you want.

It's possible that what you really want is not a receiver, but a satellite backend system that can tune in the channels you wish to receive and either stream them live over your local network, or record them for later broadcast. If you have a desktop computer that isn't ancient sitting around, you could put one or more DVB-S2 tuner cards in it and use them to receive the channels. Of course this assumes you control board has some way to receive live digital streams and put them on the air, while still doing any required legal ID's and such.

I would say that as a viewer, I would not want to watch a station that does some kind of crappy digital to analog and back to digital conversion. We have a LPTV station in our area that I'm sure must be doing something like that (although I'm half convinced they are receiving the channels, playing them on a 1970's era color TV, and then pointing a cheap color camera at the TV screen and broadcasting that; the picture is unbelievably bad). I'm guessing that under 5K is not unrealistic PROVIDING you have someone there who is really into technical stuff, and it wouldn't hurt if they know their way around Linux and computer hardware.

I run a backend system in my home using TVHeadEnd and it's taken me over two years to get it working somewhat reliably, and even now and then I still have occasional issues with it (signal breakups, an attack of the purple lines, etc.). If I had used "professional grade" tuner cards from the start I probably wouldn't have had some of the issues I've encountered along the way, but like you I had a limited budget. And the fact that Linux and I don't exactly get along doesn't help. But still, it gives me a lot more versatility than any receiver I have ever owned, and despite the issues I would not go back. Unfortunately such a system is not the cheapest way out; even if you build the computer from parts you are probably going to want a good professional-grade tuner card with multiple tuner inputs (maybe something like this). I don't know if such a system would work for you, or would prove too complicated or give you too many hassles in getting the signal to air, I just throw it out there as another possibility you may want to consider, particularly since a lot of receivers nowadays are cheap foreign-made models that may be fine for home use, since an individual user can deal with occasional freezups and other weirdness. But if you're looking for something that will work reliably (and particularly for remote or unattended operation) then those cheap receivers may not be the way to go, though some are definitely better than others.

P.S. I was still typing this when you posted your previous message. If you're still dealing with analog only, just keep in mind that almost all the signals on satellite are digital now, so you will have a loss in quality. If I were you I'd try to buy equipment that also has digital capability, so you don't need to go out and do all this again when your cable system upgrades. But I thought maybe you had a LPTV station with at least some digital capability.
 

TNGTony

Thread Starter
Unashamed Bengal Fan
Sep 7, 2003
10,019
802
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Thanks for the time you took for the response. I appreciate that.

We are cable/only community TV station. We are on two local cable systems locally and we also live stream two of the 6 channels we program.
The cable systems crush our signal, no matter what we send them to 720x480 SD (at best, I suspect it's less). Programming we record in HD from our production truck and other portable equipment is left HD for the on demand internet channel, but we have to downres to SD for cable playback, mostly because of the limitations of our master control system, but also because cable's gonna crush it anyway.

We are currently using a Scientific-Atlantic SD receiver feeding our master control switch via composite video. The master control switch decides what to do with that signal (live or record for playback later). The recording MUST be MPEG-2 SD because of the limitations of the playback system.

Now... having said all that... What we are looking for want... it's really simple.... is an HD CBand receiver (it can also have KU but it's not necessary), that has the capability to program times to tune in transponders so we can slide in to where our current SD CBand receiver is sitting for as little money as possible. Our budget is minuscule and we want to keep providing the programming we currently have once several channels switch to HD.

Is there such a receiver for less than $5k?
 

Titanium

AI6US
Lifetime Supporter
May 23, 2013
7,196
8,127
Meadow Vista, Northern California
Try less than $200! LOL!

Most consumer DVB S2 receivers have analog composite video and analog audio output with down conversion for any format that you are tuning. Probably any FTA set-top box will do the basic job to meet your requirements as long as someone in playback department regularly checks the signal to make sure the receiver hasn't locked up or the AV (lip sync) hasn't drifted. The receivers can also be programmed to switch between satellite feeds for unattended feed selection and even to cycle off to force the signal to reacquire and resync the AV (lip sync).

I know that GEOSATpro has a few less expensive commercial rack mount models ($400 and up) that are likely overkill for your current needs. https://satelliteav.com/p/shop/?ws_cat=485

A consumer STB like the Manhattan 1997 or 1978 models or the Linkbox 9000i would probably provide the right functions with composite output and licensed Dolby decoding without breaking the piggy bank! I have sold and installed many consumer STBs for public access, community TV and low power broadcast stations.
 
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TNGTony

Thread Starter
Unashamed Bengal Fan
Sep 7, 2003
10,019
802
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Fabulous! Thanks for the info. I'll pass this on to moneybags in the next office to look over. i think he has recovered from the cardiac arrest he suffered after the $5k quote he got this afternoon.
 
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