Just Starting FTA, Equipment Questions...

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Trip

Trip

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Jun 21, 2008
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Hello all:

I've been doing my homework as best I can the last few weeks, and now I feel like I need to talk to some people about it and get some advice, so here I am. =) I'm completely new to satellite; up until now, I've only had OTA television. ('Course if you see my website, it shouldn't surprise you too much. =)

I have a friend who's moving away and he's giving me his old DirecTV satellite dish. My first question is, if I purchase an LNB and FTA box, can I reuse his old dish and cabling? I have poked around and gotten conflicting data. If the answer is no, then I'll very likely not start doing anything with satellite until I'm living somewhere on my own, but I'd still love to hear thoughts on such things. I'm only getting into it now because I'm getting the dish from my friend.

Second, I'm mainly intending to use this setup to receive the PBS feeds on AMC3 due to the fact that my local PBS station is on low-VHF and pretty useless at the moment. This is all well and good, but I'm reading in another thread that it's moving to AMC21 which will be way over at 125 degrees. Can someone in Virginia expect to receive it? (Once my local PBS station boosts power, I'll probably try to receive MHz WorldView instead)

Third, I'm trying to figure out what box to buy. At first I was looking at a standalone HD box of some kind, but that requires a separate AC3 decoder or is otherwise very expensive. Now I'm leaning more toward getting a USB satellite receiver, since the computer should be able to handle all of these tasks. I've only seen one or two out there; are there more? Any recommendations on receivers that won't break the bank?

Finally, an LNB. I saw some for under $10 on eBay but can't imagine they're terribly good. Any specific recommendations?

Thanks so much. =)

- Trip
 
Wescopc

Wescopc

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Sep 11, 2005
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I have a friend who's moving away and he's giving me his old DirecTV satellite dish. My first question is, if I purchase an LNB and FTA box, can I reuse his old dish and cabling? I have poked around and gotten conflicting data. If the answer is no, then I'll very likely not start doing anything with satellite until I'm living somewhere on my own, but I'd still love to hear thoughts on such things. I'm only getting into it now because I'm getting the dish from my friend.
You will need a least a 30" dish (36" preferred) to get AMC3. see this link:
http://www.satelliteguys.us/fta-mpeg2-faqs/34131-what-can-i-get-18-dish-dish-500-a.html

Second, I'm mainly intending to use this setup to receive the PBS feeds on AMC3 due to the fact that my local PBS station is on low-VHF and pretty useless at the moment. This is all well and good, but I'm reading in another thread that it's moving to AMC21 which will be way over at 125 degrees. Can someone in Virginia expect to receive it? (Once my local PBS station boosts power, I'll probably try to receive MHz WorldView instead)
You will need the 36" dish for 125W

Third, I'm trying to figure out what box to buy. At first I was looking at a standalone HD box of some kind, but that requires a separate AC3 decoder or is otherwise very expensive. Now I'm leaning more toward getting a USB satellite receiver, since the computer should be able to handle all of these tasks. I've only seen one or two out there; are there more? Any recommendations on receivers that won't break the bank?
There isn't much available in HD receivers yet, the ones that are available are expensive. Computer driven receivers are harder to setup then a standard receiver.

Finally, an LNB. I saw some for under $10 on eBay but can't imagine they're terribly good. Any specific recommendations?
You can buy good ones for $10 - check SatelliteAV - one of the gold sponsors at the top of the page, he had some universals on sale for ten bucks.
Good Luck,
Bob
 
Trip

Trip

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Jun 21, 2008
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Alexandria, VA, US
You will need a least a 30" dish (36" preferred) to get AMC3. see this link:
http://www.satelliteguys.us/fta-mpeg2-faqs/34131-what-can-i-get-18-dish-dish-500-a.html

You will need the 36" dish for 125W

I see... just out of curiosity, what is the technical reason why the smaller dish will not receive such things? Is it a matter of weaker transponders on the satellite or higher gain on larger dishes or both?

There isn't much available in HD receivers yet, the ones that are available are expensive. Computer driven receivers are harder to setup then a standard receiver.
How hard is hard? I'm a computer tech who runs Linux on my primary machine, so "hard" for me is "impossible" for others. =) I'm looking for a sensitive receiver that will allow me to handle HD (MPEG-4 would be nice, to future-proof myself, but not necessary) and AC3 without spending an arm and a leg. I've been generally using TSReader to watch TV with my ATSC receivers, and my understanding is that it will handle satellite as well. Any recommendations?

You can buy good ones for $10 - check SatelliteAV - one of the gold sponsors at the top of the page, he had some universals on sale for ten bucks.
Good Luck,
Bob
Thanks for the good luck wishes.

Is there anything in particular I should be looking for, besides the lowest possible noise figures?

Thanks again. =)

- Trip
 
starman345

starman345

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Nov 25, 2004
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New Brunswick, Canada
A larger dish will gather more signal, the fta birds are lower power than the dbs ones, get a 36" or bigger dish if you have room. If you already have Tsreader and are familiar with it a dvb-s or dvb-s2 card is what I would get, it is a little more versatile than a stb, the downside to most people is getting the software setup to use, that shouldn't be an issue for you. The big drawback for me regarding the satellite cards is lack of blind scan but if you only want a few select channels then it shouldn't matter, however playing around with this stuff can be addicting and you might find yourself looking for more and more channels....blind scan satisfies that need.....you could always add a blind scan capable stb later if you are bitten by the fta bug:)
 
M

Mr Tony

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Nov 17, 2003
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Mankato, MN
Third, I'm trying to figure out what box to buy. At first I was looking at a standalone HD box of some kind, but that requires a separate AC3 decoder or is otherwise very expensive. Now I'm leaning more toward getting a USB satellite receiver, since the computer should be able to handle all of these tasks. I've only seen one or two out there; are there more? Any recommendations on receivers that won't break the bank?
all HD receivers decode AC-3 through the box so you dont need extra equipment. The 4 HD boxes I have owned (Neusat 9000, Coolsat 8000, Pansat 9200 and the Quali-TV) all output AC-3 through the rca cables just fine

Neusat HD boxes are under $150 shipped (that was a few weeks ago) and work great for HD
 
satcom1

satcom1

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Oct 7, 2007
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Near Chicago
ProfDVB has blind scan (search) as well as DVB-S2 when you upgrade to the Pro version. Stabdard version is free and soon will have working DTV, that is both DVB-S and DVB-T.
 
brentb636

brentb636

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Jun 24, 2006
4,278
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5 miles N of Saugatuck, Mi
"How hard is hard? I'm a computer tech who runs Linux on my primary machine, so "hard" for me is "impossible" for others. =) I'm looking for a sensitive receiver that will allow me to handle HD (MPEG-4 would be nice, to future-proof myself, but not necessary) and AC3 without spending an arm and a leg. I've been generally using TSReader to watch TV with my ATSC receivers, and my understanding is that it will handle satellite as well. Any recommendations?"

You sound like a candidate for a skywalker-1, usb connected DVB card. The only problem is that doesn't support DVB-S2, which I think should be factored into your decision. I've had a skywalker-1 for over a year, and learned a lot from using it. It is made by Genpix electronics , if you want to Google it. I think you'd be happier with it, though, if you had "real" stb, like a Mercury II , for driving the motor, tuning in satellites, etc.
:)
 
Trip

Trip

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RabbitEars Webmaster
Staff member
HERE TO HELP YOU!
Jun 21, 2008
1,371
837
Alexandria, VA, US
That Skywalker-1 looks really tempting, with its DCII capability, but it's not just going to break the bank, it's going to shatter it into a million pieces. =(

Any other recommendations on USB FTA receivers? I'd go PCI but I have one desktop and three laptops, and the desktop machine kinda sucks next to any of the laptops (dates to 2002).

I'm looking on eBay because I'm cheap, and there's a Twinhan Starbox USB receiver. Is that any good?

As far as boxes (I'm still undecided), you're saying that all the HD ones decode AC3? Is that all HD boxes, or just the latest ones? If I get a box, it must handle AC3 internally, because I don't have a decoder and don't know where to even start looking for one (and don't want to spend the money on it).

Thanks all, this is quite educational. =)

- Trip
 
Tron

Tron

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May 6, 2005
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Metro New Orleans, LA
I see... just out of curiosity, what is the technical reason why the smaller dish will not receive such things? Is it a matter of weaker transponders on the satellite or higher gain on larger dishes or both?

The pay services (DirecTV, Dish Notwork, and Bell ExpressVu Canada) use higher powered Ku DBS (direct broadcast satellites) that send their signal down in a circular spiral, enabling their customers to receive programming on "tiny" 18-20 inch dishes that look aesthetically acceptable on residential homes. Most of the free stuff up there that we in the FTA hobby receive comes from standard Ku FSS (fixed service satellites) that send the signal down in a linear beam. The LNB for FSS linear Ku differs from the LNB for DBS circular Ku, and that is one problem with using a DirecTV dish. The other is that FSS Ku satellites are much weaker (too weak for a 20 inch dish), as their programming is destined for commercial clients with much larger dishes (such as cable companies and broadcasters).
 
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