Starter FTA system

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Kyledoo

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Jul 15, 2008
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Hello, I have started becoming interested in FTA. I am currently into ham radio and it seems as if this is somewhat down the same alley, more experimental and as a hobby than anything else. I would be interested, however, in using the system as entertainment.
I do have a few questions. I live in a single story duplex sorta out in the country, I have a very clear view of the western sky in my backyard. I would like to keep the dish low to the ground if possible so that my landlord will not complain. It seems to me that as a non-ethnic person, Galaxy 10R would be the bird of most intrest to me. Where is this bird in relation to me, I know the degree measurement, but I am a total NOOB so if someone could explain to me how to figure out where the sats are? I want to mount a low profile outdoor VHF/UHF antenna as well for HDTV and locals reception, and i want to run this into the house and use my internal wiring(RG58) to distribute the signals. I have 3 OTA recievers. If i combine the sat. signal with the OTA signal outside, would this mess with either my OTA or FTA recievers? Also, I want to keep this setup pretty low cost to start off, I know I can get a reciever real cheap, so what is the cheapest I can get a dish, LNB, and switch. Also, I know that satellite uses some other type of cable like RG59, but can I use my existing RG58? this would save me so much hassle. If there is anything else I need to know being new at this please let me know. I really need to keep this low cost to start, so i don't need a motor or anything.
 
Tron

Tron

SatelliteGuys Master
May 6, 2005
6,599
33
Metro New Orleans, LA
For satellite signals, which are at a higher frequency, you really want to use RG-6 that's sweep-tested to at least 2.2 ghz. RG-58 and RG-59 won't work well for this signal. Down frequencies can go up to around 1400 mhz for a standard LNB, and as high as 2.1 ghz for a stacked LNB. For comparison, modern cable TV goes up to around 900 mhz or so.

For the dish, you'll want at least a 30" dish (36" preferred), and a linear Ku-Band LNB.

How is your view to the south? If you are in the eastern 3/4 of the country, G-10R (now G-18) will be southwest from your location. Toward the west coast, it will be closer to south.
 
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mastermesh

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 18, 2006
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Cheapest dish you can get will be an old primestar that you ask for on freecycle. There are some still out there... just got to ask around. That having been said, if you plan on buying a motor, primestar's mounts are way too heavy without modification. Do some searches for how to do that. I personally like the winegard line of dishes for motors. As for LNB, don't skimp on quality. Go ahead and get the invacom quad. You will thank yourself later when you have a motorized setup and find that some of the engineers at dish network forgot to turn on the encryption on some channel you love for a while. Reciever wise, get something that has s2 if you can since a lot of signals on 123w are headed that way in the not too distant future. Pansat 9200 is one that can do that. Pansat 3500s is what I got, and I'm kicking myself in the butt for skimping on the costs for a 9200 since I'm going to lose all those rtn stations at some point in the future since 3500s won't do s2.
 
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Kyledoo

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Jul 15, 2008
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Thank you for the help so far. My view to the south is pretty good as long as it isn't southeast. More questions: Still wondering about my existing OTA setup and using the antenna, dish, switch, and the 2 different kinds of receivers. If I did this would I have to run 3 different leads of coax into the house (3 Tv's, all OTA 1 FTA) or what? Could I use the coax splitters( the high end ones that go up to 2.1-2.2 ghz) I would also like it to be fairly easy to add FTA recievers whenever I want if possible. What are some birds you guys log in to? I just saw a lot of english programming on G10-R ( now G18) but is it really the best? Like I said, I am non-ethnic. How easy is it to turn the dish manually if you wanted to try a different sat? How many are there sweeping from ssw to nnw that I would have to try with this method?
Also, what are these "feeds" i keep hearing about and which sats are they normally on? Do you have to rescan and just get lucky to find these or does your reciever update in real time. Oh and I saw something about how you have to update some sort of file on the receiver, what is this and how time consuming is it with the different receivers.
Forgive my not really knowing much, but i really just got the bug about a week ago.
 
Tron

Tron

SatelliteGuys Master
May 6, 2005
6,599
33
Metro New Orleans, LA
The satellite arc (belt in space where the communications satellites we aim at are) is above the equator, so it runs generally from the southeast to the southwest. There is nothing due west or toward the north. Picture a rainbow in the sky which goes from the southeast to the southwest. The highest point of this rainbow is due south of your location. The satellites are parked above terrestrial longitudinal lines. For example, G-10R (G-18) is parked at the equator above longitude 123 degrees west. Galaxy 11, which is my true south satellite (satellite closest to due south of my location in New Orleans) is parked at the equator above longitude 91 degrees west (New Orleans is at 90 degrees west). The closer to the west coast you live, the more the North American satellites will be to your southeast. The closer to the east coast you live, the more the North American satellites will be to your southwest. If you are near the center of the country (like me), they'll be from your southeast to your southwest. What is your longitude? You can do a Google search of your nearest city or town to get this information. From there, you can see where the satellites you want are in the sky, and how high they are (elevation) from the horizon.

You can't normally split incoming satellite cable, unless you use a stacked LNB. The reason for this is that the receiver selects polarity (either horizontal or vertical, transponders on the satellites can be either) by sending a change in the injected power voltage to the LNB (13v for vertical, 18v for horizontal) to change polarities. Channels can be on either H or V polarity, so it is important to be able to change polarities. Stacked LNBs send down both polarities at the same time, "stacking" the horizontal transponders above the vertical ones at a higher frequency (up to 2100 mhz down frequency). Since both polarities come down at the same time (no voltage switching necessary), you can split cables coming from a stacked LNB using a high frequency (2100 mhz) splitter with one port power pass (connected to your master receiver, which would always have to be on to power the LNB). Otherwise, if you don't use a stacked LNB, you'll need a dual-output LNB for two receivers, and a multiswitch (2 x 4 or 3 x 4) if you plan to use 3 or 4 receivers. Your OTA antenna leads can always be split once inside the house without problems.

Feeds are usually news or sports programs that are being sent back to a studio from a remote location via a satellite truck. These are the trucks you see with dishes on them at news and sporting events. These feeds are spread across many satellites, but the most active ones are at 74w, 79w, 91w, and 93w. There are more, but these always seem to have something nice on. These feeds are temporary, and are active for as long as the program is being televised. Some news feeds only last a few minutes. They can be much longer, however. To find feeds, you'll want a receiver with BLIND SEARCH or BLIND SCAN capabilities. Three receivers that do this well are the Visionsat IV-200, the Fortec Mercury II, and the Pansat 3500.

I hope I didn't cram too much information in this post, but you seem to want to know as much as possible about the hobby, so I thought I'd go into some detail. Let us know where you are (longitude and latitude) and we'll be able to help you get an idea of where you need to aim your dish.

EDIT: But wait, there's more ;) Just read a couple of more points in your last post, and wanted to add that G-18 (formerly G-10R) is, in my opinion, by far the best satellite up there for full time, English-language programming. There are many local channels from around the country uplinked by Equity Broadcasting. Their RTN (Retro TV Network) is like TVLand on cable, showing classic TV programming. To answer your other question about combining your OTA signal onto the satellite cable, this can be done with diplexers if your cable run isn't too long (diplexers introduce signal loss, and two are needed--one to combine the signal outside, and one to split the OTA from the satellite signal inside).
 
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K

Kyledoo

Thread Starter
Active SatelliteGuys Member
Jul 15, 2008
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Thank you and no that wasn't too much information. Like I said, I am into ham radio as well and I have heard FTA described as the shortwave radio of the TV world. I am really into the technical stuff and actually understood most of the stuff in that post. my lat lon is 41.133062,-81.712317 South east is going to be pretty hard for me unless the sats over that way are at high elevations(I could mount on a post behind my house and probably get about 20-30 degrees I am guessing. I will have to go outside tomorrow(today) and find a little better place to put the dish possibly.
 
Anole

Anole

SatelliteGuys Master
Sep 22, 2005
11,819
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L.A., Calif.
I think you got all of your questions answered above, but I didn't read every word.
Couple of msc. things to consider. . .

Here's our own list of satellites: TheList
... and it has a dandy aiming calculator, but if you want more, we can recommend several more good ones!
Here is a very simplistic list on FTA-List

And here is an FAQ on switches to allow you to connect several receivers, or more likely, several LNBs/dishes to your receiver.

Reception needs a FTA receiver with blind scan.
Here are three standard models I'd recommend:
- Traxis 3500
- Fortec Star Mercury II
- Visionsat IV-200
They don't do hi def, S2, nor a lot of advanced modes, that most of us didn't think about until recently.
IMO, the advanced mode receiver market is still shaking out.
So purchasing one today for $250-450 is no guarantee it'll be the one, come next year.
I'd suggest you get your feet wet with one of the receivers above, and grow with the hobby.
You can see what I have listed in my signature. ;)

I'd recommend a 36" dish (not smaller) if you are buying one.
Yes, a surplus Primestar or similar would be excellent.
Some other dishes can be used, but we get a lot of people asking if they can use a left-over Dish Network or DirecTV dish.
Most aren't reallly suitable for serious use , as they don't meet the 36" size.

I think that's it. Carry on! And welcome aboard the FTA train. - :up
 
Tron

Tron

SatelliteGuys Master
May 6, 2005
6,599
33
Metro New Orleans, LA
South east is going to be pretty hard for me unless the sats over that way are at high elevations(I could mount on a post behind my house and probably get about 20-30 degrees I am guessing. I will have to go outside tomorrow(today) and find a little better place to put the dish possibly.

The good news is that you live to the east of most of the North American satellites of interest (which would place them to your south-southwest), and the ones that are east of you aren't that far east. As I mentioned before, the ones at 74w and 79w have lots of feed interest, and they're not too far east of due south to you. Being close to due south, they will also be quite high in the sky, especially compared to G-18, which will be somewhat low to the horizon for you. Make sure you have a good, unobstructed view to the southwest.

More good news is that you seem to be less than 100 miles away from Columbus, OH, home of one of our sponsors, Sadoun Satellite. They have a good line of systems and a showroom where you can check out equipment before you buy. After you do your site survey tomorrow (today), let us know what you find. Enter your location on Google Maps (exact latitude and longitude). You can check south and (perhaps) even see your house to make sure you have a good line of sight to the satellites:

http://maps.google.com/maps
 
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delta_charlie

delta_charlie

SatelliteGuys Pro
May 12, 2008
716
152
Hello, I have started becoming interested in FTA. I am currently into ham radio and it seems as if this is somewhat down the same alley, more experimental and as a hobby than anything else. I would be interested, however, in using the system as entertainment.
I do have a few questions. I live in a single story duplex sorta out in the country, I have a very clear view of the western sky in my backyard. I would like to keep the dish low to the ground if possible so that my landlord will not complain.
---cut---

Hi Kyle, welcome to FTA from a fellow ham (KF4SIR).

Yes I would agree that ham radio does have quite a lot in common with FTA.

I just wanted to mention that I have had very good success with the 80 CM Fortec Star and the cheap KUL1 LNB. If you peak the dish to perfection you should be able to get good signals even in the rain. Last night I still had video with no breakup even with a thunderstorm in the area and medium rain. Heavy rain or a thunderstorm direct in the path of the satellite will take down the video but I was amazed to have any picture at all in the rain with the small dish.

You said you want to try and keep it low profile so I say give the 80 CM a try.

I thought you might like to see a picture of a low mounted dish.

dishfarm2.jpg


Is that low enough for you ;-)

BTW - it's on 123W used to be G10 now G18

Got to run, DC
 
R

red2grass

SatelliteGuys Family
Feb 3, 2005
65
0
SF Bay Area
Let's give my 2 cents on your cable question since I have been rewiring my house a lot recently.
In my opinion and experience, RG59 (I don't even know RG58) and splitters are usually the trouble makers unless you have very strong signals to start with. I doubt you can get very strong signal from G18. Avoid them as much as you can.
So if possible, use RG6 or even RG6 quad for signal distribution.
You said you have 3 FTA receivers but there is only one of you. Do you watch different channels on these 3 receivers at the SAME time? If not, you can daisy chain the 3 receivers. Each receiver should have a LOOP OUt which can be connected to the LNB in of the next receiver. I found this connection does not introduce any noticeable signal losses. I have two of my receivers chained like this. You still can watch different channels from these 3 receivers at the same time provided these channels are on the same polarity. The receiver closest to the Dish LNB controls the polarity.


Hello, I have started becoming interested in FTA. I am currently into ham radio and it seems as if this is somewhat down the same alley, more experimental and as a hobby than anything else. I would be interested, however, in using the system as entertainment.
I do have a few questions. I live in a single story duplex sorta out in the country, I have a very clear view of the western sky in my backyard. I would like to keep the dish low to the ground if possible so that my landlord will not complain. It seems to me that as a non-ethnic person, Galaxy 10R would be the bird of most intrest to me. Where is this bird in relation to me, I know the degree measurement, but I am a total NOOB so if someone could explain to me how to figure out where the sats are? I want to mount a low profile outdoor VHF/UHF antenna as well for HDTV and locals reception, and i want to run this into the house and use my internal wiring(RG58) to distribute the signals. I have 3 OTA recievers. If i combine the sat. signal with the OTA signal outside, would this mess with either my OTA or FTA recievers? Also, I want to keep this setup pretty low cost to start off, I know I can get a reciever real cheap, so what is the cheapest I can get a dish, LNB, and switch. Also, I know that satellite uses some other type of cable like RG59, but can I use my existing RG58? this would save me so much hassle. If there is anything else I need to know being new at this please let me know. I really need to keep this low cost to start, so i don't need a motor or anything.
 
K

Kyledoo

Thread Starter
Active SatelliteGuys Member
Jul 15, 2008
16
0
Let's give my 2 cents on your cable question since I have been rewiring my house a lot recently.
In my opinion and experience, RG59 (I don't even know RG58) and splitters are usually the trouble makers unless you have very strong signals to start with. I doubt you can get very strong signal from G18. Avoid them as much as you can.
So if possible, use RG6 or even RG6 quad for signal distribution.
You said you have 3 FTA receivers but there is only one of you. Do you watch different channels on these 3 receivers at the SAME time? If not, you can daisy chain the 3 receivers. Each receiver should have a LOOP OUt which can be connected to the LNB in of the next receiver. I found this connection does not introduce any noticeable signal losses. I have two of my receivers chained like this. You still can watch different channels from these 3 receivers at the same time provided these channels are on the same polarity. The receiver closest to the Dish LNB controls the polarity.
Thank you, and usually there are 2 recievers active, but these are terrestrial OTA recievers, although when I get the FTA set up i will likely have at least 2 recievers, as there is me and my mom living here.
I did a site survey and from my ideal mounting location right beside my house I have a very clear view sweeping due south and maybe a LITTLE southeast if the angle is high enough, I do not know what obsticals mean to sat. signals, if one tree kills it, then southeast is shot, the tree is about 50 yards away. Due south to due west I have a very clear view with trees maybe100-200 yards away, although they are fairly tall trees. Guestimating the angle I came up with about 15-20 degrees or so to the top of the nearest tree, although maybe i'm wrong in thinking that even the slightest blockage by a tree means no signal? I looked around for a better spot to put the dish, and there really is no spot that would keep my system generally hidden. Southeast may end up being a problem if I cannot get the dish to clear my roofline.
I saw the comment about people asking if they can use a DBS dish. I do have one of those laying around, could I pick up ANYTHING with it that would be worth watching? What about the LNB, could I at least use that from the direcTV dish or would I need a new one.
 
Das Hammer

Das Hammer

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 16, 2006
545
0
Too close to Ohio
I've heard people claiming they could get KUIL FOX on an 18" dish (you'd still need a linear LNB, NOT the ones that come with the Dish or Direct dishes you are talking about).

You and I are at almost the same latitude, but I'm a few degrees west of you at 84.5. G10R would not be a problem for you based on what you said regarding view to the southwest. It can be tricky to dial-in since Galaxy23/Echo9 is right next door at 121W and is pretty strong.

Personally, I would still recommend a Traxis 3500 for a starter. Sure, as mastermesh pointed out, the channels on G10R will eventually become S2, but a 3500 will still benefit you with blind scan for all the qpsk stuff, and it is cheap! Good starter box. I watch HD all the time, but the Traxis is what finds it for me.

I have a 10 footer motorized as well as a 1.2 meter motorized. If you're ever in the neighborhood (I'm about 20 minutes from the westernmost exit on the Ohio Turnpike) I'll be happy to share.

KB9WVV
 
gabshere

gabshere

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 20, 2006
3,720
21
Rison , Arkansas
lol once you get FTA setup ,you will expand it to the other tv's :D

good luck and enjoy the hobby :)
 
K

Kyledoo

Thread Starter
Active SatelliteGuys Member
Jul 15, 2008
16
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Hey, do you know what the cable company usually installs, because that is what I have.
What are some satellites that you guys watch and which channels are interesting on a few of them? I would be willing to try a few different sats to see what is out there, but it would be nice to not have to try them ALL.
 
eurosport

eurosport

In Dave Grohl We Trust!
Supporting Founder
Mar 31, 2008
6,862
309
North Florida
G10R would not be a problem for you based on what you said regarding view to the southwest. It can be tricky to dial-in since Galaxy23/Echo9 is right next door at 121W and is pretty strong.
That's EXACTLY what happened to me, the first time I tuned my 1 meter Primestar to G10r/18....I had about half of the Equity channels, and the "Congratulations, You have a Super Dish at 121" at the same time! :eek:
 
K

Kyledoo

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Active SatelliteGuys Member
Jul 15, 2008
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Hd

What HD channels are available and on what sats? we do have 1 small HDTV and it would be nice to be able to access them.
 
voomvoom

voomvoom

SatelliteGuys Master
Lifetime Supporter
May 18, 2004
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Lizella, Georgia Republic
FTA HD is mostly on C-Band. Posting locations is prohibited in this Open Forum. There is one Ku-Band regular HD feed on AMC3 ku for PBS (actually 2 HD channels). I could post it, because it's already public knowledge, but I would have to look it up. Won't make time right now, but you can look at the list forum and find it. At least I think it might be in there? There are HD Sports feeds found all over the ARC, most everyday. Some on KU and others on C-Band. You just have to find them, or get in good with someone who does...

Edit: Click on the Link at the top of the page, labeled "The List". It's the 4th one over, Homepage being the 1st.
 
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Lak7

SatelliteGuys Master
Pub Member / Supporter
Feb 28, 2008
5,451
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Near Chicago, Illinois
For HD, you needs an HD Receiver, not necessarly an HD TV. Most HD Receivers can Down Grade the video for a regular TV.
 
K

Kyledoo

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Active SatelliteGuys Member
Jul 15, 2008
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I would like to thank everyone for all the help! I am definitely ready to get my feet wet and start watching free tv. I have found lots of programming on G25 that is also of interest to me, and it should be fairly easy to get that satellite. My question is is there a way to mount another LNB to my single dish to get both G25 and G18?
 
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