What you need
- A satellite dish, 85cm or larger depending on your location (see below)
- A second hand, used, ex-rental Sky Digibox
- A Freeview Card or expired Sky viewing card
- A TV
- Sky contract (UK address is required)
- A satellite finder meter or an accurate compass
The best place to buy a Sky Digibox is from ebay.co.uk. At the moment most people are upgrading to Sky+ and Sky aren't bothering to collect their old boxes, so people are selling them on ebay, where they are going cheap.
Ideally a Grundig GRD310/2 or Panasonic TU-DSB30 (not a 31) box is the best choice or look for old Pace and Grundig boxes which work superbly with low signals.
Buying a viewing card Once again ebay.co.uk is the best place to get a card if you did not get one with the box. There is no difference in the channels you can get on Freeview card compared to an expired Sky viewing card. If you want to watch subscription channels like Sky One then you will need a Sky contract, this requires a UK address and a UK bank account. One very easy way to do this is to get a friend, who has a Sky contract, to order a second box for ‘use in their caravan’ and then pay them your subscription.
Personally I have never felt the urge to have any Sky channels. Freeview gives you all the BBC TV and radio channels, plus all ITV channels, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
Choosing a satellite dish The only important thing about a dish is the size, other than that, just pop down your local DIY store and you should find a suitable dish. Note that quite often, the shop will assume that you want to watch satellite TV from that country where a small 60/70cm dish will do, this is not the case here.
Look at the Astra 2D footprint map on astra2d.com and determine the size of dish you need. The bigger the better, but as a guide you will need at least an 85cm dish for central France, 1.8m for Southern Spain, 3m for Mainland Greece and 3.5m for Turkey and Cyprus. I use an 85cm dish in the Southern French Alps and it does struggle on the digital only channels like ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4.
The detector is called a Low noise block downconverter ( LNB ) It is the device on the front of a satellite dish that receives the very low level microwave signal from the satellite, amplifies it, changes the signals to a lower frequency band and sends them down the cable to the indoor receiver.
There is nothing special about these and the one that comes with the dish should be fine.
It is possible to buy multi headed LNBs, the popular one being the Quad LNB which has four output cables that can independently feed 4 boxes.
Setting it all up There are usually local companies who will set up your system for you, especially in the ‘ex pat hotspots’ such as The French Riviera, but with a little patience and a compass you can do it yourself, I'll cover this in a later article.
Rick Lomas lives in Serre Chevalier in the Southern French Alps.
There is a good source of information about satellite TV and mobile phones on his website http://www.ricklomas.com as well as ideas on how to make money online. Rick is currently working on various websites selling mortgage payment protection insurance , as an affiliate for British Insurance.