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Satellite TV - A Window on the World


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Ever wondered what the viewers in the rest of Europe are watching? With so many people from European countries like Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and others on the move throughout the continent, satellite TV is an ideal way to keep in touch with your home country news, entertainment and sport. Satellite TV is also a fantastic tool if you are trying to learn a new language?

Satellite TV here in the UK is booming business and no longer do its citizens just think of Sky TV whose rather expensive services have been without much competition for a long time, but now think of TV from all of Europe and the Middle East. Above our heads are over 55 satellites orbiting at about 36000 kilometres and at least 20 of them can be received with quite modest domestic receivers. Even a motorised satellite dish and receiver is now an affordable option.

Have a look in your area, at the new satellite dishes appearing all over the place and pointing in different directions to the usual small sky dish. More and more pubs are opting to show live sports for their clients entertainment including football and boxing.

Installing one is not as difficult as it may seem, the choice of equipment depends on what you hope to receive. A good size dish to receive the common European channels would be 80cm. If you are new to satellite TV you might want a motorized dish to maximize the number of countries and channels you can receive. Those who have had foreign satellite before may opt for equipment which can receive only a few different satellites from their countries of interest, so a fixed dish with two or more LNBs ( signal pickups ) might be a better option. A motorized dish will take time to turn from one satellite to another, so channel hoppers will have to be patient!

Having decided on your dish, how do you get it set up to receive the channels you want. The family will not be impressed if all you can see is a Brazilian Soap Opera! First you need some information, which can be obtained either on the internet at or in a magazine called “What Satellite" you may have to order it, not many newsagents have it on show, although my local Meadowhall WHSmiths does have it every month. In the blue section marked “channel check" all the broadcasting satellites are listed with their transponders (just a term for transmitters) their frequencies and other tuning information and most important their receiving angle. For example TVP a Polish main channel, is found at 19 degrees East, on frequency 10.862 GHz Symbol Rate 22000 and FEC 5/6. Don't worry about the last two, even if you have to enter it manually into the receiver its not difficult and most receivers have automatic tuning.

Choose a suitable south facing wall, using a compass, ensure there is no obstruction in the direction of your satellite. To take the above example of 19 degrees. Face South, turn to the Left until your compass reads 19. Follow the instructions for mounting the dish on the wall, take your time, use at least 10mm wall plugs, drilled into the middle of the brick not into the mortar, remember that when the wind blows, the dish will behave like a large sail and so must be very secure. Use the ladder sensibly, get someone to “foot" it at the base and never work alone in case of accident. To ease installation a fixed dish should have its mounting pole as near vertical as possible.

After having securely fitted the dish to the wall, connect up the LNB and receiver using good quality satellite cable, inserting at the dish end, a meter, to enable exact positioning. These can be purchased very cheaply on eBay, or a more sophisticated model hired from the larger satellite shops. All that is left to do is to roughly align the 19 degree angle and the elevation or latitude which is the angle of the dish to the vertical or to the ground respectively and is shown on the scale marked on the dish mounting bracket. This angle can be found for your geographical location on a website or on Google maps. Slowly rotate the dish from this starting point until you have a signal indicated by a beep, then peak the signal by smaller movements sideways and up or down. Voila you are done!

Most modern receivers can be set to auto tune at this point and you may save the most used channels into a list of “favourites" to avoid having an enormous list of channels to deal with. The Astra satellites at 19 degrees broadcast over 1200 channels currently! The instructions for aligning a motorised dish are more complex since the dish has to follow the arc in the sky which the satellites make as they orbit the Earth. The motor is angled to achieve this arc and the dish mount angle will be shown in the motor installation guide. Provided you have done the initial pole mounting perfectly vertical, once the first satellite is found and the dish firmly tightened up, a system known as USALS (Universal Satellite Automatic Location System) can now be activated to find all the available satellites in the arc.

I hope I've whetted your appetite for new viewing experiences, TV can indeed be a window on the world. Happy Viewing.

Andrew Baber is an enthusiast and professional installer of Satellite systems to receive channels from Europe and the Middle East. He has worked on TV and Satellite for over 30 years. For more information please go to


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