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r.v.s.tvro FAQ -- Contents

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Old August 30th 04, 06:46 AM
TVRO Hobbyists
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Default r.v.s.tvro FAQ -- Contents

Archive-name: Satellite-TV/TVRO/intro
Posting-Frequency: 15 Days
Disclaimer: Approval for *.answers is based on form, not content.

Author: J. Trees
Contributors: F. Tilley, D. Levingston, F. Miata

The control file for rec.video.satellite.tvro can be found at

For your newsgroups file:
rec.video.satellite.tvro "Large Dish" ("BUD") systems and technologies.

The charter, culled from the call for votes:

Rec.video.satellite.tvro will be for the discussion of TVRO (an acronym for TeleVision
Receive Only) ... or "Large Dish" satellite reception, generally by non-commercial
home-dish owners and hobbiests. This group will continue to cover C/Ku band
reception worldwide, including programming, technical, legal issues and other matters
relating to home-dish usage, in the same way that the existing group, rec.video.satellite
has done since its inception. The existing HOMESAT mailinglist will be gatewayed
to this group, if this proposal is successful.

This FAQ will be posted in 10 parts (Not including this Intro)


1. What is TVRO?

1.1 How did satellite TV begin?
1.2 How exactly are satellite signals transmitted?
1.3 What frequencies and/or bands are used for TVRO satellite transmissions?
1.4 Who is likely to be a prospective big dish system owner?
1.5 Okay, now I know a bit about BUD systems. But those minidish satellite
systems are fairly cheap and simple. What about DBS?

2. How do I get started assembling a home TVRO satellite system?

2.1 About how much might it cost to put a system together?
2.2 Exactly what equipment do I need?
2.3 Okay, I have my equipment. How do I get my TVRO satellite system installed?
2.4 Okay, I now have my satellite system working. How do I connect more than one
TV and receiver to it?
2.5 All the hype these days is about HDTV. Can I view HDTV signals with my BUD

3. Programming

3.1 What Programming is Available on BUDs?
3.2 What about the broadcast networks? Can I get them with my big dish system?
3.3 What are the requirements for subscribing to the networks?
3.4 What are these "raw feeds" and backhauls that I always hear about?
3.5 How do I access all this programming?
3.6 Are ALL channels freely available for watching? What is encryption?
3.7 How do I tune audio?
3.8 There is so much programming! How do I keep track of it all? Are there program
guides available?
3.9 Who provides subscription programming and about how much might it cost me?

4. Compression, Encryption and Encoding Methods

4.1 What Television Broadcast Standards are compatible with BUDs?
4.2 What Compression Schemes are used with BUDs?
4.3 What Encryption Methods are used with BUDs?

5. Are there any hobbies related to owning a big dish system?

5.1 DVB/MPEG-2
5.2 Non-standard Audio (analog SCPC and FM Squared)
5.3 International Satellite Tracking
5.4 Inclined Orbit Satellite Tracking

6. How does the environment affect my big dish system?

6.1 Stormy Weather
6.2 Winter Weather
6.3 The Sun
6.4 Wildlife

7. Can Zoning Ordinances or Homeowner Associations prevent me from Installing a
TVRO System?

7.1 Zoning Ordinances
7.2 Homeowner Associations

8. What is the Future for TVRO?

9. Where Can I get More Information or Help with my TVRO System?

10. Glossary and Sources Cited

Old August 30th 04, 06:46 AM
TVRO Hobbyists
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Posts: n/a

Archive-name: Satellite-TV/TVRO/part1
Posting-Frequency: 15 Days
Disclaimer: Approval for *.answers is based on form, not content.

PART ONE - What is TVRO?

TVRO is an acronym that stands for TeleVision Receive Only. Generally speaking,
TVRO is the satellite distribution system for delivering programming to cable TV
headends and systems. Of course, anyone with a home TVRO satellite system can
potentially receive programming for their enjoyment. To receive TVRO satellite
signals, at least a modern C-Band only or Ku-Band only capable receiver and an
appropriate satellite dish antenna is necessary. Usually with TVRO, the bigger the
dish, the better. In fact, TVRO is often referred to as big dish satellite television.
Unlike direct broadcast satellite (DBS), TVRO uses mostly open standards
technology so equipment and dish sizes can vary greatly (More on this later in the

* How did satellite TV begin?

In 1945, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke envisioned the positioning of
objects 22,300 miles in orbit above the Earth that could send and receive
information. This would cause these artificial satellites of the Earth to seemingly
"hover" above the ground without moving. The orbital "belt" around the Earth
containing communications satellites would later be named the Clarke Belt in honor
of Arthur C. Clarke's original vision. By 1957, the former Soviet Union created
the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, which sent out electronic beeps of Morse Code
extolling Soviet technological-superiority propaganda. Sputnik, however, did not
orbit the Earth at the exact distance of 22,300 miles needed to seem stationary from
the ground; this orbit is known as geosynchronous orbit. In 1962, the first satellite-
relayed television program was broadcast over the Telstar 1 satellite from France to
the United States. By 1973, Canada's Anik A1 satellite became the first domestic
satellite to be placed into geosynchronous orbit over North America.

In 1976, Home Box Office (HBO) became the first non-terrestrial television network
to relay its signal via satellite. Soon, Ted Turner, owner of Atlanta, Georgia UHF
station WTBS also decided to uplink its station via satellite, creating the first
"superstation". Pat Robertson created the Christian Broadcasting Network (now
ABC Family Channel) and uplinked it also. The foundation for modern cable
programming and the modern cable television industry had begun.

But even as this was all happening, an industrious Stanford University graduate
named Dr. H. Taylor Howard had a vision of his own. He knew about the potential
of being able to receive satellite programming and decided to build a homemade
parabolic satellite receiving antenna and receiver unit. In 1977, the first home satellite
system was built and the home satellite industry was born. He even attempted to pay
HBO for its programming but HBO refused, saying that it only accepted subscription
fees from cable companies!

By 1980, several companies were manufacturing home satellite equipment and
anyone simply having a satellite dish, back then usually 12 to 16 feet in diameter,
was bound to draw attention from neighbors and friends. The early satellite industry
was somewhat chaotic; standards and legal clarification were needed to set guidelines
for the usage of satellite receiving equipment and the reception of satellite signals. This
occurred in 1984, when then President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Cable
Communication Policy Act. Among other things, the new law established the legal
status of owning home satellite equipment. It also permitted program providers to
encrypt, or "scramble", their signals and allow home satellite viewers the option of
paying for subscription programming for a nominal fee.

In 1986, HBO, the first cable-type service available via satellite, became the first
programming service to encrypt its signals. Long gone were the days of Taylor
Howard being denied the ability to pay for his programming! Many people became a
fraid that encryption was the end of home satellite reception and this view caused
many satellite dealers to get out of the satellite system retail business. By the late
1980's, satellite TV became well established as the best method of program
reception available.

* How exactly are satellite signals transmitted?

Satellite transmissions start with the uplink signal, which are transmitted by very large
fixed satellite dishes up to the satellite in orbit above the earth. The satellite then
retransmits the signal on a lower frequency down to a general geographic area of the
earth with what is called the downlink signal. On the ground, home satellite receiving
equipment converts the downlink frequencies to the even lower 950-1450 MHz
standard frequency block. The signal then travels to the satellite receiver for
modulation to TV channel 3 and is then sent to the television itself.

* What frequencies and/or bands are used for TVRO satellite transmissions?

Satellite transmissions can be received from two different bands: C-Band and Ku-
Band C-Band was the original band of frequencies used for the transmission of
communications satellite signals and is still the most commonly used band for TVRO
use. In fact, the term C-Band is often used interchangeably with TVRO; unfortunately,
this usage is actually incorrect since Ku-Band TVRO also exists. C-Band frequencies
fall within a range of 3.7 to 4.2 GHz.

Ku-Band is a newer satellite band for TVRO transmissions. Ku-Band frequencies fall
within a range of 10.9 to 12.75 GHz. Unlike C-Band, Ku-Band has no accepted
standard for reception, at least in terms of channel number assignments. As far as
reception, any satellite receiving system capable of receiving C-Band can receive Ku-
Band with only minimal need for additional equipment. In fact, Ku-Band can be
received with smaller satellite dishes than those needed for C-Band reception! (More
on this later in the FAQ) Ku-Band is also the satellite band used for DBS systems
(more on DBS later).

* Who is likely to be a prospective big dish system owner?

The prospective big dish system owner is primarily the person who wants choice.
The big dish offers the most variety of programming of any direct-to-home television
distribution method. Whether its standard "cable-type" programming, audio (music
and radio networks), or non-standard fare, the "BUD", or "big ugly dish" as it is
affectionately called, offers a little bit of everything. Big dish offers the flexibility of
more than a few satellites worth of programming, all the advantages of modern
digital technologies, and technological superiority over other TV reception methods.
The prospective big dish owner actually *enjoys* searching for hard to find
programming, such as "wild" feeds and unknown free-to-air channels (more on this
later). The prospective big dish owner likely has a technical bent and likes to
experiment with the technology itself and takes pride in his/her investment. He/she
likely even *enjoys* having a large satellite dish right in their backyard for all to see!
The prospective big dish system owner is clearly looking for something extraordinary
in their quest for programming excellence.

* Okay, now I know a bit about BUD systems. But those minidish satellite systems
are fairly cheap and simple. What about DBS?

DBS, or direct broadcast satellite, is a relatively recent development in the world of
television distribution, with Hughes's DirecTV, the first high powered DBS system,
going online in 1994. DBS uses high powered Ku-Band satellites that send digitally
compressed television and audio signals to 18 to 24 inch fixed satellite dishes.
DirecTV's introduction was the most successful consumer electronics debut in history.
In 1996, Echostar's DISH Network went online and has gone on to similar success.

So why all the fuss about DBS? To oversimplify somewhat, it's easy. It takes little
technical know-how to purchase and install DBS hardware. Since they use smaller
satellite dishes than TVRO, people are more willing to have them installed since they
aren't extremely noticeable with their 18 to 24 inch diameter sizes. Consumer
electronics and discount stores can easily stock them in their stores, making them a
more visible product to non-technical consumers. DBS systems also don't have any
moving parts, such as a dish mover. Channel surfing is almost the same to the viewer
as broadcast TV or cable with video quality that is quite a bit better (but lesser than
TVRO). And, of course, advertisements can't wait to tell the consumer about how
good "digital quality" is. Realistically, DBS is "cable via satellite". The customer makes
a one-time purchase between $50 and $150 and pays monthly subscription fees for
ALL the programming; none of it is free.

In the modern era of programming choice, DBS certainly has its place, along with
other methods of television reception, such as over-the-air broadcasting (analog and
digital HDTV), analog and digital cable, MMDS (microwave "wireless cable"), and,
of course, big dish satellite. Compared to even ten years ago, let alone twenty or thirty
years ago, television distribution has come a long way. But DBS is just what it is: an
alternative to entrenched cable television's dominance and poor track record of
picture quality and service. DBS doesn't offer any wide variety of programming
options or much hobbyist value. Also, like other consumer products, is a reflection of
the efforts of a single company's vision of what you get to watch and how they want
you to get it. DBS is a great option for many people, particularly those in rural areas
not served by cable who want no-hassle, out of the box television reception that
doesn't show up as snowy pictures on the TV set.

For more about DBS, read the rec.video.satellite.dbs DBS FAQ by Brian Trosko. A
copy of the FAQ is located at Robert Smathers's WWW Pages at:


Old August 30th 04, 06:46 AM
TVRO Hobbyists
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

Archive-name: Satellite-TV/TVRO/part2
Posting-Frequency: 15 Days
Disclaimer: Approval for *.answers is based on form, not content.

PART TWO - How do I get started assembling a home TVRO satellite

* About how much might it cost to put a system together?

A home TVRO system once cost as much as $100,000 in 1980! Prices
have dropped substantially since then, of course; a "typical"
retail price home system (dish included) with professional
installation could cost from $1500-$2500 depending on the setup.
The good approach these days is to find a decent used system, as
many of these are around; many people will actually thank you for
"ridding them" of their "antiquated" TVRO system! TVRO systems
are NOT antiquated, of course. Reasonably priced used systems can
range from free to $250-$300 or so.

* Exactly what equipment do I need?

There are six basic components to a big dish system: the
satellite dish, the feed assembly, the low-noise block
downconverter (LNB), the positioner/controller, the cable, and
the receiver or IRD. The first component is the satellite dish.
The satellite dish is unquestionably the most visible component
of a home satellite system, and can range from five feet upwards
to twelve feet or larger. The "average" size for a TVRO satellite
dish is ten feet, but can be smaller in stronger signal areas.
Most IRDs have a built in controller for moving the dish. Some
receivers require an separate controller, sometimes called a dish
mover, to control the position.

Satellite dishes are also made of a variety of materials.
Aluminum mesh dishes are the most common type, but solid aluminum
and fiberglass dishes are not unusual. Each type has its
advantages and disadvantages. Mesh dishes are usually less
expensive than solid dishes, and easier to transport from the
manufacturer and vendor to the installation site. Solid aluminum
and fiberglass dishes generally have one primary advantage over
mesh dishes. Although usually more expensive, solid dishes are
usually better for overall reception quality, particularly with
Ku-Band signals. Whatever type of satellite dish, a properly
peaked antenna with a dish of the appropriate size should have no
problem receiving both C-Band and Ku-Band signals. For locations
subject to extreme weather, such as hurricane-force winds,
extreme heat, or extremely heavy winter snow, Paraclipse made
specially designed satellite dishes (the Classic series) ranging
from 12 to 16 feet; these are quite pricey if you can find one,
however, ranging from around $1000 to a whopping $7000 for the

In terms of size, bigger is usually better for a TVRO system.
Satellite signal strengths are almost always stronger in the
center of the signal footprint, where an eight foot dish should
have no problem receiving both C-Band and Ku-Band signals. The
farther from the center of the footprint, the larger the size of
the dish needs to be for quality C-Band reception. A twelve foot
or larger dish may be needed in fringe areas such as Alaska,
Maine, south Florida, Hawaii, and remote areas in Canada. For
Ku-Band, size is much less critical and for Ku- Band only
systems, a dish as small as 30 *inches* may work. However, it is
usually not advantageous to have a Ku-Band only TVRO setup unless
it is a fixed installation for reception of a specialty
satellite, such as one with a large amount of international
programming, for example.

The second component is the feed assembly, which is where the
real antenna is located. The feed assembly is used to "funnel"
the satellite signal from the parabolic dish reflector to the
antenna probe, which relays the signal to the LNB antenna for
subsequent frequency conversion and amplification.

The term feedhorn is often used interchangeably with feed
assembly; this is not entirely accurate, as the feedhorn itself
is just part of the overall feed assembly. The scalar ring is
used for precision in focal point adjustment in conjunction with
the dish reflector.

Some feed assemblies are designed to mount two or more LNBs. Such
feeds come in two basic types, those that mount one LNB each for
each band, C and Ku, and those that mount one LNB for each
polarity, vertical and horizontal for most satellites aimed at
North America, or right hand and left hand circular for most of
those aimed elsewhere. Hybrid types provide some combination of
dual polarity and dual band.

Multi LNB feeds usually have a separate antenna probe for each
LNB. For dual band, polarity is controlled in the same manner as
done for a standard single LNB feed, usually with a servo motor
to mechanically move the antenna probe to match the desired
polarity. Dual polarity feeds (orthomode) have no moving parts,
and are used primarily in multi receiver installations to provide
all receivers simultaneous access to channels on both polarities,
something impossible with a servo actuated antenna probe. A
disadvantage to using an orthomode feed is that, without the fine
control of the servo motor, signals that deviate from true
horizontal or vertical polarity cannot be optimally received
unless the dish is fixed upon one satellite, and the feed
assembly adjusted accordingly.

Another type of feed, called an LNBF, is similar to that used on
the little DBS dishes. An LNBF integrates feed, antenna, and LNB
into a single electronically controlled unit.

The third component is the low-noise block downconverter, or LNB.
The LNB is the component that amplifies the very weak signal
reaching the antenna from the satellite 22,247 miles above the
equator, and converts the downlink frequencies to a lower block
of frequencies more suitable for transmission through the cable
to the receiver. The standard block of frequencies is 950-1450
MHz. Some early block downconversion systems used a 900-1400 or
lower block of frequencies, and receivers designed specially for
those frequencies.

Older systems used separate components for signal amplification
(low-noise amplifier, or LNA) and downconversion (block
downconverter). Really old systems didn't downconvert a frequency
block for transmission to the receiver, instead sending in only
one specific frequency requested by the receiver.

C-Band LNBs are rated in degrees Kelvin; Ku-Band LNBs are
measured in decibels (dB) instead of degrees Kelvin. For C-Band
LNBs, up to 30 degrees K is usually suggested, but this is simply
to maximize picture quality. For C-band and a large dish
reflector, anything up to 100 degrees is adequate for 99% of the
video signals out there, and should give equal or better results
to a sub 30 degree LNB on a smaller dish. Only for very weak
signals is a sub 30 degree LNB important on C-band. For Ku-Band
LNBs, a range up to around 1.5 dB should provide acceptable
picture quality.

Note that these numbers only apply to analog-only reception or
larger dish reflectors; for quality digital reception or smaller
dish reflectors, LNBs rated around 20 degrees K or lower for
C-Band and 0.7 dB for Ku-Band should be optimal. Make sure that
you do some research before buying LNBs for your system,
especially if you desire good digital reception; LNB noise
ratings alone will not tell you if you have a good LNB or not.
For digital reception, just as important or maybe more so is the
frequency stability of the LNB. In general, the best bet is to
try your LNB(s) and see if the picture quality is acceptable to

The LNB has an F-type coaxial cable connection for the signal to
travel, usually from the feed, underground, and then inside the
system owner's home, to the satellite receiver.

The fourth component is the dish positioning assembly. This is
the physical part that precisely positions the dish when
commanded to by the satellite receiver or dish mover. The most
common type of positioning assembly is the linear actuator, which
connects near its middle to the fixed part of the dish mount, and
at its end to the movable portion of the mount or to the
reflector. If the satellite system is located in roughly the
eastern part of North America, the actuator needs to be aligned
with the moving end oriented west; if the satellite system is
located in roughly the western part of North America, the
actuator needs to be aligned with the moving end oriented east.
Refer to your actuator's manual for a visual of these positions
or have someone with installation experience help you (not a bad
idea, anyway!). Because of the geometry of the polar dish mount,
a linear actuator cannot physically move the reflector all the
way from one horizon to the other. So, the other type of
positioner is known as the horizon to horizon mount, usually some
form or worm and sector gear arrangement, which as the name
indicates, can track the entire arc between the eastern and
western horizons.

The fifth component is the cabling. Most installations use a flat
ribbon cable comprised of separable sections for each of the
necessary functions: 1-two heavy wires for running the actuator
motor; 2-two or three small wires to provide dish position
feedback to the receiver; 3-two RG-6 coaxial cables for the LNBs;
and 4-three small wires to control a servo motor. For
installations that use more than two LNBs, a separate RG-6 cable
is usually run alongside the ribbon cable for each additional

The sixth component is the satellite receiver. The satellite
receiver is arguably the most critical component of any satellite
system. The receiver is used to send a picture and sound to your
TV or VCR. Some receivers do not contain a dish mover, but many
receivers are of the integrated receiver decoder (IRD) variety.
Most IRDs contain a built in dish mover to correctly position the
satellite dish for view of the satellite arc, tune subcarrier
audio (more on this later), and other critical system functions.
IRDs are able to not only receive and tune satellite signals, but
also either contain an interface for connecting an internal
decrypting module for decoding encrypted analog subscription
programming, or incorporate a similar apparatus for decoding
encrypted digital subscription programming, or both. Most modern
IRDs also have at least one remote control to facilitate
operation. Many IRD models have a UHF remote and antenna instead
of the "standard" infrared remote which allows the IRD to be
controlled without even being in the same room as the TV. Some
remotes are both infrared and UHF, which allows the UHF portion
to be left in another room after using the infrared portion to
program a programmable remote for use in the main entertainment
area. TVRO receivers are renowned for being quality components
for home theater systems. All modern models have composite (RCA)
connections to allow connection to devices such as audio/video
receivers and external monitors. Some also provide S-VHS
connections for convenience with use of other components that
have them, even though the composite video connection is capable
of providing all the analog signal quality that NTSC video is
capable of providing.

* Okay, I have my equipment. How do I get my TVRO satellite
system installed?

Easy. Have someone else do it. Pay them lots of money, sit back
and when the job is done, watch lots of TV! All kidding aside,
many people DO choose to have a professional installation done to
avoid the hassle of the installation job. But if you DO do it
yourself, you can save a considerable amount of money in parts
and labor.

http://www.geo-orbit.org/sizepgs/tuningp2.html is a valuable
resource discussing polar mount installation.

The first step in the installation is to do a site survey. You
need to have a clear view to the south in order to properly track
the satellite arc. If you are in a thick cover of trees, this
will likely affect your reception in some manner. Deciduous
(leafy) trees are more problematic in the spring and summer
months; conifers (evergreen) can be a problem year round. Even if
you plan to do the actual installation yourself, a professional
site survey is still recommended. In some instances, a roof mount
of some type may be required to get a clear view of the required
portion of the satellite arc above any stand of trees.

If an acceptable location for dish installation is found, it's
time to really get those hands dirty! A simple list of
installation hardware and supplies will include a schedule 40
steel pole, several bags of quick-dry concrete (or you can mix
some of the regular stuff yourself, if you REALLY want to...), a
stepladder, tie wraps, a good set of screwdrivers, wrenches, and
other such tools. It is also HIGHLY recommended that you have
*something* for testing signal strength of the satellite signal,
such as a dedicated signal strength meter or even an
oscilloscope. You should also have an inclinometer when setting
declination and offset angles.

The most commonly required pole size is 3.5 inches in diameter on
the outside. Before you buy one, read the instructions or measure
the mount to be sure to get the right diameter. A good rule of
thumb is for every foot in diameter of the dish, there should be
a corresponding foot in length of the pole. For example, a ten
foot dish should have a ten foot pole. Note that part of the pole
needs to *actually be in the concrete*; three feet of pole in the
concrete base should work great. Before putting the pipe into the
concrete, something needs to be affixed to the bottom of the pipe
so that it cannot be twisted by wind load on the dish. Either
weld some kind of protrusion to the pipe, or drill a hole through
it and stick a bolt or piece of steel rod through.

It is highly recommended that PVC pipe be used for cable conduit
so that the cabling is protected from the elements, gophers,
moles, and any other "varmints" living below the ground. The PVC
in the concrete needs to be angled at 90 degrees and only needs
to be just inches into the concrete base as the conduit ditch to
the system owner's home will only be a few inches deep. 1 inch
diameter PVC pipe will suffice, but 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" will make
life easier to run long ribbons through. Some hobbyists have an
aversion to the PVC technique unless holes are drilled into in
the PVC to allow water to drain out. Otherwise, the PVC will fill
up with water, and it also makes it more likely that water will
seep into the cable at some nick.

Before any serious installing can occur, a good *hole* in the
ground needs to be dug for the concrete base. Once dug, it's time
to set the metal pole into it. Next, pour the concrete mix into
the hole. While the concrete is still wet, insert the PVC pipe to
be used for cable conduit, and use a level to make sure the pole
is plumb on at least three sides. It will take at least 24 hours
for the concrete to completely dry and harden, so don't get into
a hurry to finish the dish part of the installation!

While the concrete is hardening, unless you did it at the same
time you dug the hole for the pole, a shallow trench needs to be
dug for the underground cabling; this includes the PVC conduit
pipe if used. Lay the cable until it enters the house; make sure
to seal entry holes with caulk or other sealer to keep creepy
pests and water out. It may be best to adhere to the requirements
of your local electrical code when choosing a grounding

After the concrete base is good and hard the dish is ready to be
mounted onto the pole. If the dish reflector hasn't been
assembled, now might be a good time to do this; refer to the
dish's instruction manual (if there is one) for assembly
instructions. Some designs provide for the mount to be installed
on the pole before the reflector is assembled. This is also a
good time to connect the feed assembly and LNB(s) to the feed
mount. Gently set the mount and/or dish/mount assembly onto the
pole. Depending on the size and weight of the dish, and the
height of the pole protruding from the ground, this might require
three or more people. Point it as close to directly south as
possible. After this is done, connect the coaxial portion(s) of
your satellite ribbon cable to the LNB(s), connect the servo
wires if your feed has a servo motor, and secure the cabling to
the dish itself using tie wraps. Connect the actuator arm to the
dish and make sure its in the proper orientation.

The "hard labor" part of the installation is now done and the
system is almost ready to be calibrated to track the satellite
arc. But first, the receiver needs to be connected to the proper
cables and wires so it can communicate with the dish. No two
satellite receivers are exactly alike, but there are some
connections that are required by all modern receivers for proper
connection to the rest of the satellite system. Here is a list of

1. C-Band/Horizontal LNB coaxial input - C-Band or horizontal
LNB coaxial cable connects here
2. Ku-Band/Vertical LNB coaxial input - Ku-Band or vertical
LNB coaxial connects here
3. Actuator: (red) - Connects to actuator (large red) wire
4. Actuator: (black or white) - Connects to actuator (large
white or black) wire
5. Actuator [Sensor]: +5V DC (yellow) (optional, probably not
6. Actuator [Sensor]: Sensor (blue) Connects to actuator
(small green or blue) wire
7. Actuator [Sensor]: Shield (gray) Connects to actuator
(small brown, tan, or gray) wire
8. Ground: (black) - Connects to polarizer (small black) wire
9. Pulse: (white) - Connects to polarizer (small white or
gray) wire
10. +5V, 150mA (red) - Connects to polarizer (small red) wire
11. RF OUT (coaxial) - Coaxial cable out to TV connects here

Note that each receiver is different and color-coding may vary.
The actuator and polarizer wiring colors also may vary somewhat.

Whew! That was a bit tricky! Now connect the receiver to the
television and..don't forget to plug in the receiver's power

The receiver should now be powered on. Now it's time to calibrate
the dish for tracking the satellite arc. This often is the
trickiest part of the entire installation. Make sure your
satellite dish mount is pointed *exactly* to the south. Next you
must check to see that the west button drives the dish west, and
the east button drives the dish east. If the direction is
backwards, you'll need to swap the two heavy motor wires, either
on the receiver, or on your actuator motor. Next, if your
receiver will let you, use your receiver controls to then find
the satellite nearest to due south at your location. More
commonly the receiver will require you to first set east and west

There should be some sort of programming mode on the receiver;
this will show up on the television screen as text. If the
receiver is brand new, this will probably come up automatically
when you first turn it on. If your receiver is used, you'll want
to note the satellite name showing when first turned on. If it is
the same as the one due south of your location, reprogramming
might be very simple. Also if used, the mount might be pointing
considerably away from due south, but if that deviance appears to
be the same location as the satellite that came up when you
powered up the receiver, then also you might have most of your
work done already (after ever so slightly loosening the mount on
the pole, simply rotating the dish a bit east or west might pop
up a picture). If not, most likely you should clear all memory on
the receiver before attempting anything else. The following
sequence will vary slightly depending on the
receiver make and model:

1. Selecting LNB types - Select C/Ku-Band and proper LNB voltage.

2. Setting East/West limits - This tells the receiver the extreme
limits of how far the actuator is to move the dish. These MUST be
set properly or your dish or mover can be damaged! East limit
might be required to be set first, then west. Refer to the
receiver manual on the exact procedure for finding the satellite

3. Satellite Programming - Once the arc has been tracked,
satellites can be programmed in. In most cases this must be done
manually. With some receivers, you need find only two, and then
the receiver can find the rest automatically.

It may take several hours or more to fine tune the satellite
system, particularly for Ku-Band. Just be patient and eventually
you will be the proud new owner of a working TVRO satellite
system! Congratulations!

* Okay, I now have my satellite system working. How do I connect
more than one TV and receiver to it?

There are two main options for a multiple TV setup. You can slave
a second TV to the main receiver by splitting the coaxial cable
from the "RF OUT to TV" connection so that one cable goes to the
primary TV and one goes to the second TV. You can then change
channels using your UHF remote. Of course, everyone in the house
will have to watch the same channel on both TVs. This setup is
not recommended with a IF-only remote system.

The other option is to get a second receiver and slave it to the
master (main) receiver. The master receiver will have all the
connections for positioning the dish, and polarization, if your
feed uses a servo motor. DO NOT attempt to dual wire the actuator
and/or the servo motor to *both* receivers as they are NOT
designed for this!! This setup allows for viewing different
channels on different TVs; however, it is limited to viewing on
the same satellite and channels with the same polarity (more on
polarity later). For long cable runs you may want to use RG-6
coaxial cable from the splitters to the slave receiver. For
shorter runs standard RG-59 cables work fine.

* All the hype these days is about HDTV. Can I view HDTV signals
with my BUD system?

Absolutely, yes! For those that haven't yet heard, High
Definition Television, or HDTV, is the next generation television
broadcasting standard meant to replace the 60 year old NTSC
low-definition standard in North America. HDTV has a higher
screen resolution than NTSC and uses a wide-screen format with a
16:9 aspect ratio instead of NTSC's 4:3 aspect ratio.

The big push for HDTV adoption has been by the National
Association of Broadcasters, while only a few cable-type
services, mainly HBO and Showtime, have been early adopters of

The HDD200 is the U.S. model of the 4DTV HDTV add-on. The HDD201
is the Canadian model. They are exactly the same box, they just
have different model numbers. The HDD only works with 4DTV or
Digicipher equipment (as opposed to VideoCipher II+) as only
digital signals can handle the higher data rates needed for HDTV.
Besides, HDTV is inherently a digital technology and cannot exist
as an analog signal.

Old August 30th 04, 06:46 AM
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PART FOUR - Compression, Encryption and Encoding Methods

* What Television Broadcast Standards are compatible with BUDs?

All television distribution uses some set of technological standards
incorporated to allow specific types of reception. This is mainly important in
terms of the type of TV set you use and what part of the world you are in.
Satellite television, generally speaking, is compatible with all standards of
television broadcasting; the only necessary information needed is whether or not
a particular model/type of receiver will work with your television set and what
country a satellite transmission is intended to be viewed in.

(This FAQ is not meant to be a comprehensive technical guide to how television
itself works. It is only meant to distinguish between different technological
standards so that they can be recognized and differentiated as simply as

1. NTSC - NTSC, which stands for National Television System Committee, was
established in 1941 as the original standard for television broadcasting. It
primarily exists in North America and Japan. In the simplest terms, NTSC has a
525-line screen image delivered at 60 half-frames per second. Your television
(if you live in North America or Japan) is probably an NTSC compliant

2. PAL and SECAM - These are standards that are not used in North America. PAL,
or Phase Alternating Line, is the standard for television in most of Europe and,
for that matter, is the most used television standard in the world. Unlike NTSC,
PAL has 625-line screen image delivery delivered at 50 half-frames per second.
The primary difference between NTSC and PAL is that the phase of the color
components is reversed from line to line and the color difference signals are of
a different type. SECAM is a third standard used in France, Russia, and a few
other places in the world. Both PAL and SECAM are considered to have superior
horizontal resolution than NTSC.

NTSC, PAL, and SECAM refer to general low-definition television viewing
standards and do not address the issue of compression of broadcast bandwidth.

* What Compression Schemes are used with BUDs?

Digital compression allows for more than one video and/or audio channel per
satellite transponder.

1. DigiCipher II - DigiCipher II (DC2) is a digital encoding and encryption
format developed by General Instruments (now part of Motorola) that is used for
many American digital TVRO transmissions. In order to view DC2 channels, a
special receiver called 4DTV is required. DC2 is a proprietary standard based
upon MPEG-2. DC2 technology can be licensed to other companies, but no other
companies have requested a license. Only Motorola manufactures 4DTV receivers.
Those made for consumer BUD use cost around $400-$800 suggested retail, but are
typically available at discounts that at times can be quite deep.

2. DVB/MPEG-2 - MPEG-2 is a general encoding scheme used for many differing
digital technologies; DVB, which stands for Digital Video Broadcasting, is the
satellite television-specific variety of the MPEG-2 standard. This is not so
much a competing digital standard as it is an OPEN standard. This standard is
used in most of the world outside of the U.S. for digital TVRO broadcasts. Many
international and non-traditional programming is found using DVB/MPEG-2. Many
U.S. DVB feeds are free to air and are receivable with a DVB/MPEG-2 FTA digital
satellite receiver. Channels using this standard may or may not choose to stay
free-to-air indefinitely; once a network disappears, it may or may not be gone
forever to consumer TVRO viewers.

For more complete information about DVB/MPEG-2, see the MPEG-2/DVB (Satellite)
FAQ written by the Delphi DVB Hobbyists. It is located at:


And Rod Hewitt's "North American MPEG-2 Information" at:


* What Encryption Methods are used with BUDs?

The type of encryption depends on whether the transmission is analog or digital.
In North America, there are still encrypted analog channels, although more and
more channels are switching to digital compression and the encryption methods
used with digital channels.

The only important remaining analog encryption method is VideoCipher II+
Renewable Security, or VC-II RS for short. VC-II RS was developed by General
Instruments. The original VideoCipher I was developed in the mid-1980's by
M/A-Com (who was later bought out by GI) when satellite encryption was just
beginning. VideoCipher I was short-lived and was replaced by VideoCipher II, and
later VideoCipher II+. VC-II RS is the last version of this encryption scheme
that will probably ever be developed as more and more channels use digital
encryption methods. All modern IRDs have VC-II RS decoding capability.

Besides VC-II RS, the other common form of analog encryption still used is
Leitch. This is used primarily by networks such as ABC and ESPN. The other
notable types of analog encryption are Oak Orion and BMAC. Oak Orion was a
standard used by Canadian satellite transmissions until most Canadian
subscription channels moved to Bell ExpressVu (DBS) and StarChoice (DigiCipher
II). Oak Orion is no longer used. BMAC was a third analog encryption scheme but
is no longer used much anymore.

More importantly these days are digital encryption methods. Here is a
description of these methods:

1. DigiCipher II - DigiCipher II (DC2) is the defacto American standard for
digital TVRO encryption. The only hybrid digital/analog IRD is Motorola/GI's
4DTV receiver. With the introduction of the Motorola/GI 4DTV sidecar receiver in
2001, you no longer need to replace your older analog IRD to enable DC2
reception. There are no third-party DC2 receivers, unlike analog TVRO IRD's. No
third-party companies have requested a license, so Motorola/GI never has
licensed the technology. Canadian StarChoice is transmitted in DC2, and
StarChoice receivers are manufactured by Motorola/GI.

(The following are DVB/MPEG-2 encryption methods.)

2. PowerVu - used by AFRTS, NBA TV, RDS - Roseau des Sports, Musique Plus,
MusiMax, Le Canal Nouvelles TVA; others

This is a standard developed by Scientific Atlanta. You need either the
Scientific Atlanta PowerVu 9223 receiver, which runs about $1600, or
the Scientific Atlanta PowerVu 9234 receiver, which runs about $750.
The 9223 is designed for cable companies to allow them to receive
MPEG-2 signals that are uplinked for their benefit. Consequently, its
user interface is very complex and is not designed for channel surfing.
The 9234 "Business Satellite Receiver" is a little more user friendly.

3. Irdeto - used by ABS-CBN International, Lakbay TV, Channel D; others

This is a standard developed by Irdeto Access.

4. Nagravision - used by Caliber Learning Network, other private networks

This is a standard developed by Kudelski.

5. Viaccess - used by some programming on Telstar 5 satellite

This is a standard developed by France Telecom.

6. Wegener - used by Empire Sports Network, Televisa, XEW - Canal 2, XHGC -
Canal 5; XEQ - Canal 9; others

This is a standard developed by Wegener Communications.

Note: There is no consumer receiver that can receive both DigiCipher II/VC-II RS
*and* DVB/MPEG-2 programming and there probably won't be one available anytime
soon. General Instruments produces a commercial grade receiver (DSR-4800) that
will receive both Digicipher II and DVB/MPEG-2.


Most DVB/MPEG-2 receivers receive what is called 4:2:0 screen ratio for picture
resolution. But certain DVB/MPEG-2 channels, usually network and/or studio
feeds, use what is called 4:2:2 screen ratio. This involves the ratio of video
data to vertical pixel and horizontal pixel color. 4:2:2 is NOT part of the
standard DVB specifications but is used mainly by studios that need better
picture quality than standard DVB offers. This is the standard currently used
for in-the-clear reception of NBC, as well as Warner Brothers and Fox network
feeds. Most consumer FTA receivers cannot receive signals with the 4:2:2 ratio;
a more expensive receiver is required. Note that 4:2:2 is NOT a type of
encryption; however, like certain types of encryption, it does force the TVRO
viewer to make certain considerations when purchasing receiving equipment.

Old August 30th 04, 06:46 AM
TVRO Hobbyists
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PART FIVE - Are there any hobbies related to owning a big dish system?

Absolutely! Having a big dish system means more than just standard TV watching and
satellite audio listening. Probably the largest hobby element to big dish ownership
today involves having a DVB/MPEG-2 free-to-air receiver. Unlike standard big dish
viewing, DVB/MPEG-2 programming has a higher tendency of being here today and
gone tomorrow. DVB/MPEG-2 is also great for its abundance of non-"cable type"
programming, particularly international programming. With the right receiver,
DVB/MPEG-2 has the added bonus of allowing industrious (and patient) big dish
aficionados to possibly find a channel that has never been found before.

Another "alternative" form of enjoying TVRO is listening to "non-standard" audio.
Besides standard subcarrier audio, there is a fair amount of DVB/MPEG-2 audio
for the big dish owner's listening enjoyment. There are also two other forms of
non-standard audio that, with a little effort and investment, can be tuned.

Although having long been abandoned by commercial radio networks for digital
transmission methods (DAT/SEDAT and, more recently, Starguide-III systems),
analog single channel per carrier (SCPC) audio is still an interesting diversion from
standard satellite radio listening. There was once a large amount of audio carried using
analog SCPC; the amount today is limited to roughly 20 feeds on two satellites. In
order to receive analog SCPC, you will need either a dedicated analog SCPC receiver,
such as those made by Universal Electronics, or use the "poor man's" method by
splitting the 70 MHz loop signal output from an older TVRO receiver, with one of the
split outputs going to a broadcast TV audio tuner and the other returning to the 70
MHz loop input. Having a phase-lock loop LNB as part of your system will help
dramatically for those seriously intent on more than casual analog SCPC listening as
the audio will tend to drift with a standard LNB, forcing the listener to have to constantly
re-tune the signal.

Another form of non-standard satellite audio is FM Squared, often written as FM2,
FM^2, or even FM/FM. FM Squared is another older method of analog satellite
audio delivery; interestingly enough, it occupies the space on a transponder signal
normally used for video. The amount of FM Squared audio available is even less than
that of analog SCPC, limited mainly to some in-store audio networks, AP Network
News, and some remaining Muzak "environmental music" feeds. Unfortunately, the
best method of receiving FM Squared isn't cheap; a wideband radio scanner that tunes
between 0 and 5 MHz is needed and few (like the ICOM R100) scanners have this
capability. Not only that, such capable scanners are VERY expensive and the benefit
of listening to such few remaining audio services probably doesn't justify the cost unless
the scanner is going to be used for actual radio scanning as well. The scanner connects
to your satellite receiver's baseband output connection.

For information on remaining analog SCPC and FM Squared programming locations,
checkout out Monitoring Times Satellite Services Guide web page at:


Audio isn't the only big dish hobby possibility. With a good horizon-to-horizon, or
H-to-H, mount, you can track some international satellites with your big dish system.
This is especially true of satellite systems located on the east coast of the United States
and Canada. The H-to-H mount allows for more dish movement (a full 180 degrees)
than a standard non-motorized mount with an actuator. A good H-to-H mount is fairly
expensive at around $400. For the big-time dish hobbyist, the cost is probably well
worth it.

With special tracking equipment, your TVRO system can also track inclined orbit
satellites. Satellites usually go into an inclined orbit once most of their onboard fuel
supply is gone. By allowing a satellite to fall into a natural north-south drift when its fuel
supply is low allows the life of the satellite to be extended without much cost or added
control by the company that owns the satellite. Tracking an inclined orbit satellite
requires the use of a special dual axis mount that covers both horizontal and vertical
tracking. Most inclined communications satellites are over Europe but there are a few
over the Western Hemisphere as well.

Old August 30th 04, 06:46 AM
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PART THREE - Programming

* What Programming is Available on BUDs?

In a single word, LOTS! More than any DBS system can shake a stick at. And
better picture quality, too. Much better. Since TVRO is the primary distribution
system of programming to cable TV head ends, this is where you are going to find
virtually all "cable-type" subscription programming. These days, however, the
true BUD aficionado probably wants more than just typical cable stuff. Here is a
short summary of what TVRO has to offer:

* News - Not only regular CNN and Headline News stuff, but wild network
news feeds from ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as international news and
regional news networks. Don't forget financial news and the weather.

* Sports - Probably the most sports available for your dollar. ESPN, as
well as the regional Fox Sports Net networks and specialty sports
programming. Most professional sports backhauls are encrypted but not
necessarily *all* of them, not to mention a large amount of college
sports backhauls are in-the-clear. Football, basketball, baseball,
hockey, you name it, it's on BUD.

* Movies - This is where TVRO really shines! Not just one measly HBO
and Showtime, but all the premium movie channel multiplex packages: all
the Cinemax, The Movie Channel, Encore, Flix, and Starz! you can
*possibly* imagine! There are also sources of independent movies such
as the premium Sundance Channel and the non-premium Independent Film
Channel. Older movies also abound with American Movie Classics,
B-Mania, Fox Movie Channel, and Turner Classic Movies. HBO and Showtime
are also the first subscription networks to have HDTV channels for
those with high-definition televisions. You may need a lifetime supply
of popcorn for all the movies to be watched!

* Music - Not just MTV and VH1, but Country Music Television and Great
American Country for those country and western lovers, MTV Jams & MTV2
for rockers, and VH1 Classic Rock & VH1 Mega Hits for those who like to
rock with the volume a *bit* lower! Don't forget the audio of Digital
Music Express (DMX) and MusicChoice as well as radio "superstations"
like jazz station KLON Long Beach, a long time favorite of BUD

* Religion - TVRO wins hands down over DBS here! Whether of the
Protestant, Catholic, or any other Christian persuasion, it's here on
channels like Trinity Broadcasting and Eternal Word TV Network. Muslim
programming is also available, especially with a digital FTA receiver
(more on this later).

* Foreign Language and International - TVRO wins again! Tons of Spanish
language programming is available, much of it not found anywhere else.
You can also find programming in French, German, Italian, Arabic,
Farsi, Japanese, and other languages for the internationally inclined.
International programming abounds for those truly interested in
television from a different cultural viewpoint. Lots of international
and foreign language audio, too.

* Kids - Whether for learning or just for fun, big dish offers lots of
programming for the little ones. Not just Nickelodeon but Discovery
Kids, Nick Too, Nick Games and Sports, PBS Kids, and Noggin. Kids'
programming in the morning on The Learning Channel. Not to
mention...cartoons! Cartoon Network and Toon Disney should satisfy your
kids' animated cravings.

* Family - Big dish is truly a bastion of family-oriented programming
served as an safer alternative to much of the not-so-family oriented
programming on TV today. ABC Family Channel and the PAX Network are
good for starters, but also less well known networks such as America
One Television and others provide good, wholesome entertainment for the
entire family.

* Adult - Need I say more? More here than anywhere else....

* Educational - This is another area where big dish dominates. Not only
do you get PBS, but Discovery Channel and its specialty multiplex
channels, TLC, and others. Not to mention university channels from
institutions such as BYU and the University of Southern California.

* Lottery Drawings - Big dish owners have the privilege of being able
to view state and interstate lottery drawings from all over the United
States. Time to check those lucky numbers!

* Dr. Gene Scott - A longtime big dish institution by himself. Love him
or hate him, he probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon...

This is just a small listing of the programming available. Enjoy!

* What about the broadcast networks? Can I get them with my big dish system?

Yes. But keep in mind that they are probably going to be distant network
affiliates to you, and availability is subject to the quality of your
over-the-air network reception quality.

The two sets of major network channels are part of the Denver 5 package and the
former Prime Time 24 package of affiliates. The actual affiliates are subject to
change at any given time. Currently, they a

Denver 5 PT 24

ABC KMGH Denver WKRN Nashville
CBS KCNC Denver WSEE Erie, Penn.
NBC KUSA Denver WNBC New York
Fox - - -
WB KWGN Denver -

KDVR, Denver's Fox affiliate, as well as a national Fox feed, are also available
separately. These network channels are available via subscription. These
networks are also only available if you live outside your locals' Grade A or
Grade B signal coverage areas. This is done at the discretion of your
subscription provider usually. Since TVRO is *not* a closed system like cable
television or DBS, it is NOT subject to network affiliate must-carry rules
mandated by the FCC in the U.S.

Note that other network channels sometimes show up in-the-clear, particularly
ABC. NBC is still in the clear, but you need special equipment to receive it
(more on this later). CBS is usually encrypted, as well as Fox. WGN Chicago, a
popular subscription channel and one of the superstations that still remain, as
well as WPIX and KTLA.

If getting the networks via satellite doesn't sound like an option, your
over-the-air antenna will work fine with your satellite system and over-the-air
signals will pass through the receiver just fine. Of course, the signal quality
will be inferior if it isn't an HDTV digital signal.

* What are the requirements for subscribing to the networks?

Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999 (the "SHVIA")

On November 19, 1999, Congress passed the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act
of 1999 (the "SHVIA"). The SHVIA was signed by the President and became law on
November 29, 1999.

One of the key elements of the SHVIA is that it permits satellite carriers to
offer their subscribers local TV broadcast signals through the option of
providing "local-into-local." This act also authorizes satellite carriers to
provide distant or national broadcast programming to subscribers.

This law generally seeks to place satellite carriers on an equal footing with
local cable television operators when it comes to the availability of broadcast
programming, and thus gives consumers more and better choices in selecting a
multichannel video program distributor (MVPD), such as cable or satellite

Distant stations provided to some subscribers:

The new SHVIA also addresses the satellite retransmission of distant television
stations to subscribers. This applies to television broadcast stations that are
not from the subscriber's local market. Subscribers who cannot receive an
over-the-air signal of Grade B intensity using a conventional, stationary
rooftop antenna are eligible to receive these distant signals.

In addition, subscribers who were receiving distant signals as of October 31,
1999, or had distant signals terminated after July 11, 1998, may still be
eligible to receive distant signals provided they cannot receive over-the-air
signals of Grade A intensity. Both Grade A and Grade B signal intensity are
defined by FCC rules. If a consumer is eligible to receive distant signals under
these provisions, it is still up to the satellite carrier to decide whether to
provide the distant signals to eligible subscribers.

The SHVIA Fact Sheet: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/shviafac.html

Persons who subscribe to C-band service may continue to receive distant network
television signals if such signals were being received on October 31, 1999 or if
the signals were terminated before October 31, 1999. Persons who first
subscribed to C-band services after October 31, 1999 are not covered by this

The FCC created a computer model for satellite companies and television stations
to use to predict whether a given household is served or unserved. If you are
"unserved", you are eligible to receive distant network signals. If you are
"served", you are not eligible to receive such signals.

If you disagree with the model's prediction, you may request a "waiver" from
each local network TV station that you are predicted to be able to receive. If
the waiver is granted, you will be eligible to receive the distant signals.
SHVIA outlines a specific process for requesting a waiver. SHVIA requires that
the satellite subscriber submit the request for a waiver, through the satellite
company, to the local network TV station. The local network TV station has 30
days from the date that it receives the waiver request to either grant or deny
the request. If the local network TV station does not issue a decision within 30
days, the request for a waiver is considered to be granted and the satellite
company may provide the distant signals.

The SHVIA provides that if the local network TV station(s) denies the request
for a waiver, the subscriber may submit a request to the satellite company to
have a signal strength test performed at the subscriber's location to determine
whether the subscriber's signal is at least Grade B intensity. The satellite
company and the local network TV station(s) that denied the waiver will then
select a qualified and independent person to conduct the signal test. SHVIA
requires that the test be performed no more than 30 days after the subscriber
submits the request to the satellite provider. If the test reveals that the
subscriber does not receive at least a Grade B signal of the local network TV
station, the subscriber may receive the signal of a distant TV station that is
affiliated with that network.

http://bsexton.com/cgi-bin/tv.cgi can help you determine the service contour
prediction for your location.

* What are these "raw feeds" and backhauls that I always hear about?

"Raw feeds", or more accurately, recurring feeds, are programs being distributed
in their unedited form at a specific scheduled time to a network of television
stations. These programs are often syndicated programs but can also be those
intended for broadcast networks. Recurring feeds are unedited, so they often
don't contain commercials where the commercial breaks are scheduled. Recurring
news feeds also often show the "uninteresting" activity that happens during
these commercial breaks, such as private conversations and equipment
adjustments. Recurring feeds are often referred to as "wild" feeds because, at
least to the TVRO viewer, they often do not follow a regular broadcast schedule.

In regards to satellite communications, a backhaul is the distribution of a
program from a live event at a specific location being sent back to the
programmer's network center so it can be processed and distributed in its edited
form over the programmer's primary network. Backhauls can also be used for
sending recorded programming to a programmer's network center, such as a major
news organization, for broadcast later in the day. Perhaps the backhauls that
most interest big dish viewers are sports backhauls, but backhauls can be of any
type of programming.

Recurring feeds and backhauls are perhaps one of the most interesting types of
viewing available to big dish owners. These feeds are a definite departure from
the standard edited programming fare TV viewers are used to with over-the-air
broadcasts, cable television, and DBS.

* How do I access all this programming?

Simple. Turn on your television set, get the remote control, and...enjoy!
Seriously, for those accustomed to watching over-the-air broadcasts, cable TV,
and DBS, TVRO viewing will take a little time getting used to. Fortunately, as
long as your satellite system is installed properly and in good working order,
accessing big dish programming isn't all that difficult. The main things to
understand are that like other forms of television, each network or feed has its
own channel. Without going into a detailed technical discussion, an analog
channel is a simplified form of what actually is an electromagnetic frequency.
For example, over-the-air broadcast channel 2 is actually a frequency of 55.25
MHz; cable TV channel 25 is actually a frequency of 229.25 MHz (Note that
digital channels are a bit different; more on this later). But most people find
channel number assignments easier to remember than frequencies. In regards to
satellite TV channels, it works almost the same except the frequencies that the
channel numbers represent are MUCH higher than those of most other forms of
television. Another difference between analog TVRO and other TV channels is that
C-Band and Ku-Band channel numbers cross-reference to downlink frequencies that
are sent from a satellite's transponders. A transponder is a device on board a
communications satellite that receives an uplink frequency and automatically
sends a different downlink frequency. For C-Band, the channel number essentially
is the same as the satellite transponder number. Ku-Band channels can be
assigned to transponders in a vast variety of different numbering schemes,
making Ku-Band tuning more difficult. There are a maximum of 24 C-Band channels
per satellite and as many as 60 on a Ku-Band satellite, although the number
varies. Also note that satellites can contain *both* C-Band and Ku-Band

Besides channel numbers, a *requirement* of TVRO viewing is being familiar with
the satellite arc. For example, Galaxy 5 is just one of many satellites that
your satellite dish can point to for program reception. This is why your
receiver must be programmed correctly for tracking the satellite arc, since one
channel of programming can be on one satellite and another channel of
programming can be on another. Most satellite receivers use a custom
two-character abbreviation for the name of a satellite. For example, Galaxy 5
might be G5 or something else on a particular receiver. These abbreviations are
completely arbitrary, in spite of the overuse of shorthand abbreviations in
published satellite programming guides. The complete notation of a particular
channel includes the satellite name and the channel assignment. For example,
ESPN is currently on Galaxy 5, channel 9 and is an analog C-Band channel.

Tuning digital channels (4DTV, that is) is just as easy as tuning analog
counterparts. Digital channels are usually a three-digit number and, unlike
analog channel numbers, digital channel numbers do NOT represent a satellite
transponder and are instead completely arbitrary. In fact, channel numbers on
4DTV and DBS systems are often referred to as virtual channel numbers. An
example of a digital channel is The Food Network at Galaxy 1R, channel 600.

One more important aspect of TVRO channel surfing is polarity. TVRO satellite
transponders aimed at North America use what is called linear polarization. A
channel is either vertical or horizontal in polarity (sometimes referred to as
odd or even). Usually, transponders alternate between vertical and horizontal
polarity as each channel is selected.

* Are ALL channels freely available for watching? What is encryption?

Not all channels are available for home viewing. Channels that are not
"in-the-clear" are encrypted. Encryption, often referred to as scrambling, keeps
viewers that are not intended to view a particular channel from viewing it. The
most common use of encryption is to keep non-paying viewers from accessing
subscription or pay per view programming. Encryption will be discussed in more
detail later in this FAQ.

* How do I tune audio?

Audio tuning is not too difficult. The audio portion of a satellite channel is
separate from the video portion, so audio-only transmissions can be on the same
transponder as audio/video television programming. Audio frequencies range from
5.0 to 8.5 MHz. Make sure you also select whether the transmission is either
wide, normal, or narrow audio. Audio tuning is usually done via the receiver's
on-screen menu; refer to your receiver's manual for information specific to your
particular model of receiver.

* There is so much programming! How do I keep track of it all? Are there program
guides available?

There IS a giant variety of standard programming available to big dish owners!
Fortunately, there are several quality published guides available so that you
can keep up with most of it. Here are the three most popular printed ones:

OnSat http://www.tripled.com/onsat/ Triple D Publishing, Inc.
Satellite Orbit http://www.orbitmagazine.com/ Vogel Communications, Inc.
TV Guide Ultimate Satellite http://www.tvguide.com/ TV Guide.

In addition to these published guides, the Motorola/GI 4DTV receivers have their
own on-screen guide.

* Who provides subscription programming and about how much might it cost me?

It must be noted that there are far fewer providers of C-Band/TVRO subscription
programming since the advent of DBS in the mid-1990's. Currently, there are
about three:

National Programming Service http://www.dsinps.com/ (800) 786-9677
Netlink-Superstar-TurnerVision http://www.superstar.com/ (800) 395-9557
Satellite Receivers, Ltd. (800) 432-8876

The following are secondary programming providers who resell programming from
one of the primary programming providers; they don't necessarily resell at the
same price, so shop around for the best price and service.

Nelson Hill Electronics
Orbit Communications http://www.orbitcommunications.com
Programming Center (none) (800) 432-8876
Rural TV [NRTC] http://www.nrtc.org/sattv/ruraltv/
Sat2000.com http://www.sat2000.com

Subscription package pricing is generally very competitive with DBS package
pricing, and always less expensive than comparable cable TV programming. TVRO
subscription programming has the added benefits of time-zoned feeds, the most
complete premium movie channel packages, no "filler" channels that DBS companies
make you pay for that are in-the-clear with a big dish system, and the best
picture quality available. Each of the packagers have several packages to choose
from, which means you stand an excellent chance of finding one that has mostly
only channels you watch, for less money than you'd have to pay to get on cable
or DBS. Plus, TVRO subscription packagers provide true a-la-carte options for
those who want to be really selective in paying for subscription channels. As
always, shop around for current programming prices.

Old August 30th 04, 06:46 AM
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PART SIX - How does the environment affect my big dish system?

Environmental factors are certainly an issue concerning your big dish satellite system.
Much of your system is, after all, located outdoors, allowing exposure to the elements.

Stormy weather can cause problems with your satellite dish. High winds during
hurricanes, tornadoes, and other storms can cause your dish to be blown out of
alignment. Worse, unusually high winds can, under the worst circumstances, even
knock your dish over. If you live in areas subject to extreme wind conditions,
consider the Paraclipse Classic Series satellite dishes mentioned earlier in the FAQ.
Satellite dishes are also subject to periodic lightning strikes. Equipment such as a
TVRO-specific surge protector (like the one made by Panamax) will help protect your
satellite system from unexpected power surges. As far as rain goes, TVRO satellite
dishes are not subject to rain fade the way DBS dishes are.

Perhaps the worst environmental enemy of your satellite dish involves winter weather.
Cold weather can damage or at least slow down the operation of the servo motor.
Significant build-up of snow or ice can pull your satellite dish out of alignment or even
warp the dish itself. The actuator arm can also freeze, which will prevent you from
being able to move the dish out of its current position. Although there isn't a lot you
can do about severe winter weather, keeping snow and ice from building up inside
your dish will help insure quality signal reception and reduce the likelihood of your dish
become misaligned. Use a broom to *carefully* sweep out your dish. Do not use an
ice scraper on ice and DO NOT use hot water (or water of any temperature) to melt
snow or ice, as this can warp your dish.

The sun can also cause problem with your satellite system. Twice yearly, during the
beginnings of spring and fall, satellite systems are subject to solar outages caused
when the sun, the earth, and satellites over the equator are directly aligned. This can
outages between 5 and 10 minutes per day and can occur for up to two weeks.
Fortunately, solar outages are not a severe problem and only affect daytime reception.

Wildlife can also cause problems. Nesting creatures such as birds, bees, and other
insects can build nests in different areas of your satellite dish. This is especially
problematic if the nest is located around the LNB and feedhorn, as this can cause
reception problems. Carefully remove any nests located on your dish, taking special
care in combating bee, wasp, and hornet nests. Underground animals such as gophers
and moles can chew through unprotected satellite cables, causing outages. It is
recommended that underground cables be protected with PVC pipe conduit.

Old August 30th 04, 06:46 AM
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PART SEVEN - Can Zoning Ordinances or Homeowner Associations prevent me
from Installing a TVRO System?

Whoa, Nellie! We'll tackle each part of this question separately as they require
different answers. A zoning ordinance involves decisions made by local governments
that includes, among other things, what types of structures can be placed on property
of a particular zoning (commercial, residential, industrial; etc.). In the United States, the
issue of the legality of a local government preventing the use of TVRO equipment,
particularly large satellite dishes, was first addressed with the Federal Communications
Commission's 1986 Preemption Order (51 Fed. Reg. 5519) issued on Feb. 14, 1986.
In *extremely* simplified terms, the order states that local governments' zoning
ordinances CANNOT unreasonably discriminate against the installation of satellite
dishes. This FCC regulation has been further revisited with FCC IB Docket No.
95-180 and more recently with the Report And Order Further Notice Of
Proposed Rulemaking (FCC IB Docket No. 96-78), adopted Feb. 29, 1996. Here is
some sample text from the original 1986 Preemption Order (via FCC IB Docket No.

The broad mandate of Section 1 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. § 151, to
make communications services available to all people of the United States and the
numerous powers granted by Title III of the Act with respect to the establishment of a
unified communications system establish the existence of a congressional objective in
this area. More specifically, the recent amendment to the Communications Act, 47
U.S.C. § 705, creates certain rights to receive unscrambled and unmarketed satellite
signals. These statutory provisions establish a federal interest in assuring that the right
to construct and use antennas to receive satellite delivered signals is not unreasonably
restricted by local regulation.4

Here's some more of the text:

State and local zoning or other regulations that differentiate between satellite
receive-only antennas and other types of antenna facilities are preempted unless such

a) have a reasonable and clearly defined health, safety or aesthetic objective; and

b) do not operate to impose unreasonable limitations on, or prevent, reception of
satellite delivered signals by receive-only antennas or to impose costs on
users of such antennas that are excessive in light of the purchase and
installation cost of the equipment.

Regulation of satellite transmitting antennas is preempted in the same manner except
that state and local health and safety regulation is not preempted.7

Subsequent text:

Satellite antenna users who are dissatisfied with the results of any local zoning decision
can use the standard adopted here in pursuing any legal remedies they might have. In
addition, we would entertain requests for further action if it appears that local authorities
are generally failing to abide by our standards. Any party requesting Commission
review of a controversy will be expected to show that other remedies have been

Essentially, if a local government wants to impose strict guidelines in terms of TVRO
systems and zoning ordinances, the TVRO system owner has every right to challenge
the ordinance based on these FCC guidelines; more than likely, the local government
would not win any legal case regarding a U.S. citizen's right to own a TVRO system.

Now on to the second part of the question. Dealing with homeowner associations and
strict covenants is a different matter entirely. Until very recently, the big dish satellite
system owner had little or no legal recourse in terms of dealing with strict homeowner
association contracts; it was felt that, by being part of a homeowners association, you
were dealing with a private contract and agreement and that by agreeing to sign the
contract, you acknowledged the terms of the agreement, and if the agreement was very
strict about satellite dish ownership, well, that was too bad. You could take it or leave

This is no longer entirely true. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 made sweeping
revisions to the original Communications Act of 1934, in effect modernizing it. Section
207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 eases some of the absolute power of
restrictive covenants and homeowner associations over television reception equipment
ownership and placement. Here is the entire text:

Within 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the
Commission shall, pursuant to section 303 of the Communications Act
of 1934, promulgate regulations to prohibit restrictions that
impair a viewer's ability to receive video programming services
through devices designed for over-the-air reception of television
broadcast signals, multichannel multipoint distribution service, or
direct broadcast satellite services.

Unfortunately, this does little for TVRO system owners. Not having strong political
lobbying backing it such as the broadcast industry and the cable TV industry, there is
no TVRO-specific language in Section 207. Furthermore, in more recent clarification
of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC's Report and Order, Memorandum
Opinion and Order, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (August 5, 1996)
clearly states that Section 207 does NOT include larger C-Band satellite dishes. So for
TVRO dish owners, only Ku-Band dishes "...that [are] designed to receive direct
broadcast satellite service, including direct-to-home satellite services, that is one meter
or less in diameter or is located in Alaska..." are protected under federal regulations.
(Note that one meter is about 39 inches.) Here is the entire excerpt of the specfic
Report and Order in regards to C-Band satellite dishes:

29. Several commenters and petitioners suggest that the statute also applies to
classes of services related to TVBS, MMDS and DBS, and that our rule should
include these related services. These commenters and petitioners contend that the
terms "MMDS" and "DBS" should be interpreted broadly because Congress intended
Section 207 to promote competition among video programming services by
prohibiting restrictions that impair reception of all forms of video programming. For
example, some commenters note that MMDS is really a form of multipoint distribution
service (MDS), which is a general category of services using the same type of
receiving antennas at different frequencies, and recommend that our rule preempt
restrictions on the reception of any form of MDS, including MMDS, instructional
television fixed service (ITFS), and local multipoint distribution service (LMDS).
Other commenters and petitioners suggest that "DBS" also refers to a broad category
of technologies. They recommend that we expand our definition of DBS to include
other forms of satellite services including very small aperture terminals (VSAT) that
transmit information, and medium-power Ku-band DTH satellite services. According
to one commenter, the legislative history indicates that Congress intended Section 207
to apply to most reception of wireless video programming except systems using large

30. We believe that by directing the Commission to prohibit restrictions that impair
viewers' ability to receive over-the-air signals from TVBS, MMDS and DBS services,
Congress did not mean to exclude closely-related services such as MDS, ITFS, and
LMDS. All of these services -- MDS, ITFS, and LMDS -- are similar from a
technological and functional standpoint in that point-to-multipoint subscription video
distribution service can be provided over each of them. We note that MMDS is the
product of MDS technology, the first multipoint distribution service established by the
Commission, and that ITFS is a service whose frequencies are available for
transmission of MMDS. LMDS is a service that has been authorized to provide
services comparable to MMDS as well as other types of services. The origins of all
of these services can be traced to MDS. Thus, all of these related services should be
treated the same for purposes of Section 207, and are properly included in the scope
of Section 207's provision. We also determine, however, that VSAT, a commercial
satellite service that may use satellite antennas less than one meter in diameter, is not
within the purview of the statute because it is not used to provide over-the-air video

31. We also believe that the statute can be construed to include medium-power
satellite services using antennas of one meter or less that are used to receive
over-the-air video programming, even though such services may not be technically
defined as DBS elsewhere in the Commission's rules. Therefore, for purposes of
implementing Section 207, we affirm our conclusion that DBS includes both
high-power and medium-power satellite services using reception devices of one
meter or less in diameter.

32. Because of the unique and peculiar characteristics applicable to reception of such
services outside the continental United States, it is necessary to provide an exception
for Alaska to the general size guidelines in our rule. In contrast with those portions of
the continental United States (as well as Hawaii) that are at lower latitudes, DBS
reception in Alaska requires larger antennas than those used in the lower part of the
United States. The installation, maintenance, and use of these larger antennas in
Alaska will be covered by the rules we adopt in this Report and Order, and
governmental and nongovernmental restrictions impairing the installation, maintenance
and use of these devices will be prohibited, even when the devices exceed one meter
in diameter or diagonal measurement. This exception is limited, however, to antennas
used to receive DBS service as defined by our rule, and will not apply to antennas that
receive signals in the C-band. These larger antennas are subject to the more general
satellite antenna preemption in Section 25.104 of our rules. Our decision to protect
larger DBS antennas in Alaska than in the rest of the country is consistent with
Commission policy to ensure that DBS is available to residents across the United States.
As DBS service providers design their systems to comply with the Commission's
requirement to serve Alaska, it may be possible to use smaller antennas that are closer
to the size used in other parts of the country, and the need for this exemption may be

Here is the source website of this text excerpt:


Old August 30th 04, 06:46 AM
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PART EIGHT - What is the Future for TVRO?

It seems as though consumer TVRO is at a critical crossroads. In the mid-1990's, the
TVRO scene made (for better or for worse) the often uncertain transition into digital
satellite reception. This was also the same time period that direct broadcast satellite
(DBS) was introduced and became wildly popular. Your "average Joe" couch potato
TV viewer saw DBS as the answer to "getting hundreds of channels" with equipment
costs lower than those of TVRO, simpler installation, and better picture quality than
that of cable television. Not to mention, it is "digital", so it HAS to be good, right?

DBS may prove to be a worse adversary to big dish satellite usage than cable television
ever was. Although those who know better know the technological cons of DBS, such
as the perils of the overuse of digital compression, no choice of programming providers,
digital artifacting, rain fade and proprietary technologies, this has little or no meaning to
"average Joe" couch potato TV viewer. He (or she, of course! "Jo" for her..) only cares
that he gets ESPN, Discovery Channel, CNN, and other popular cable/satellite
networks with easy channel surfing. Experimentation, wild feeds, different modes of
broadcasting, and programming found nowhere else are foreign concepts to "Joe".
DBS, by being smaller and newer than TVRO, along with "being digital" as a popular
marketing catch-phrase, works hard to present the image that TVRO is simply "old,
outdated satellite TV". This narrow-minded stereotypical TV viewer is becoming the
majority and therefore speaks the loudest with his dollars. Cable television is an already
entrenched force in influencing what you watch, and the two American DBS
companies are not too far behind. Worse, the DBS companies are buddying up with
some of the fewer remaining TVRO/C-Band subscription programming suppliers to try
to force TVRO viewers to switch to DBS, often using outrageous technological and
financial claims, not to mention outright lies.

It isn't that large strides haven't been made by the U.S. Government to encourage
choice in the source of one's television (and audio) programming, it is simply that big
dish satellite has become the unfortunate victim of unfounded notions of being an
outdated technology simply one the premise that if it isn't new, it must be outdated.
One could argue, using an automotive comparison, that this is like saying that a 2001
Volkswagen Beetle or Chrysler PT Cruiser are "better cars" than a 1966 Ford
Mustang or a 1972 Chevrolet Nova simply because they are more modern. Like the
TVRO versus DBS debate, this type of oversimplistic comparison does not allow for
true analysis of what each is and is not. TVRO is also the victim of being a more
involved and complicated to use product than the mass-produced, smaller DBS
systems such as DirecTV and DISH Network.

Basically, TVRO is becoming more and more for just those with technical and
experimental persuasions, not unlike the early days of TVRO. Someday, traditional
subscription programming will either disappear from TVRO or simply become more
and more expensive like it already is with cable TV programming. More and more
equipment is also becoming necessary to get what is still out there, such as 4DTV
receivers or sidecars, DVB/MPEG-2 free-to-air receivers and the like. In the future,
an investment in even more equipment, such as expensive commercial DVB/MPEG-2
receivers with QPSK, 8PSK, and 16QAM modulation and 4:2:2 screen ratio will be
needed just to maintain the level of programming choice TVRO viewers are used to.
Although these changes in technology don't discourage diehard TVRO enthusiasts, it
has the unfortunate effect of making TVRO an increasingly less attractive consumer

Luckily, diehard TVRO viewers are a hardy lot and a mostly intelligent group overall.
TVRO viewers know the technical advantages of TVRO and the superior choice that
they have over cable and DBS. TVRO home theater aficionados couldn't imagine
settling for the inferior technical quality of cable or DBS in their home theater setups.
Most TVRO owners have been in it for the long haul since the beginning and view
their systems as an investment; and with the right information instead of the anti-TVRO
misinformation and lies, their investment in TVRO will still be viable into the 21st

Old August 30th 04, 06:46 AM
TVRO Hobbyists
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PART NINE - Where Can I get More Information or Help with my TVRO System?

Here are some additional resources for TVRO information:

Usenet Newsgroups-

1. rec.video.satellite.tvro
2. alt.video.satellite.4dtv
3. alt.video.satellite.mpeg-dvb

World Wide Web-

1. Darryl Levingston's Satellite Page - http://home.austin.rr.com/drlev/satellite.htm
2. Global Communications - http://global-cm.net
3. Lyngmark Satellite Chart = http://www.lyngsat.com
4. Mr. Video Productions Wildfeed Satellite Listing - http://mrvideo.vidiot.com/Wildfeed.html
5. Official Motorola 4DTV Website - http://www.4dtv.com
6. Orbit Communications - http://www.orbitcommunications.com
7. Robert Smathers's Satellite TV Page = http://www.nmia.com/~roberts/robert.html
8. Satellite 911 - http://www.satellite911.com
9. Satellite Help - http://www.satellitehelp.com/index.asp
10. SkyReport - http://www.skyreport.com
11. Skyvision - http://www.skyvision.com
12. Wildfeeds On the Web = http://www.hads.net/wildfeeds/
13. California Amplifier = http://www.calamp.com
14. Chapparal Communications - http://www.chapparal.com
15. Kaul-Tronics, Inc. - http://www.ktidish.com
16. Paraclipse Inc. - http://www.paraclipse.com
17. Superior Satellite Engineers - http://www.superiorsatelliteusa.com
18. Ricardo's Adjusting the Polar Mount - http://www.geo-orbit.org/sizepgs/tuningp2.html


1. Digital Satellite TV - Frank Baylin
2. The "How-To" Book of Satellite Communications - Joseph Pectin
3. The Digital Satellite TV Handbook Mark Long
4. The Home Satellite TV Installation & Troubleshooting Manual - Frank Baylin, Brent Gale, and Ron Long
5. The World of Satellite TV - Mark Long
6. Tune to Satellite Radio On Your Satellite System - Thomas P. Harrington
7. World Satellite TV & Scrambling Methods = Frank Baylin, Richard Maddox, and John McCormac


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