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January 2009

Q.1 : What is this Computer Digital TV stuff? I want to get satellite channels through computer? (Khalid Mehmood, Karachi)

Ans: In this modern world where you can get the news on your cell phone or the latest movies on your ipod, you should be able to access thousands of TV channels where and when you want. What you're looking for is one of the software packages that allows you to access TV on your computer at home.


Q.2 : What do I need to receive Satellite TV? I am watching TV channels through cable these days? (Abid Ansari, Peshawar)

Ans: This is the most visible component, a parabolic reflector which may consist of Solid Aluminum, Perforated Aluminum or WIRE MESH. Dish sizes vary from small (3-4 feet KU BAND, EUROPE) all the way to 16-20 Ft (USA Commercial C-BAND) with the average falling between 7-12 ft, 10 ft being most common. This device focuses the microwave signals coming from the satellites much as the mirror in a reflecting telescope concentrates the light from distant galaxies.


Q.3 : What types of things can I see with a satellite system that I might not find on Cable or Broadcast TV? (Ahmed Khan, via e-mail)

Ans: Live uncensored coverage of news feeds, with no anchor man or reporter, just see the news as it happens before live cameras. Major events like the WACO debacle and the L.A. riots from multiple feed points, YOU select the angle and shot you want to watch. Teleconferences and meetings of various businesses and organizations, while many of these are scrambled, quite a few are not. Specialty and narrowcast shows, some examples include a 24 hour gold prospecting channel, a channel for long haul truckers, etc.


Q.4 : Can you watch more than one TV at the same time? Which receive should be used for it? (Pervez Iqbal, Islamabad)

Ans: In a single LNB, single receiver system, you can watch a single channel on multiple TV's, if you have cabled from your receiver to each TV. It is not possible to watch different channels with this system. To watch different channels you need DUAL LNB's for C and DUAL LNB's for KU. You will also need a separate receiver for each location, and a fairly complex means of splitting and distributing the incoming cables. It can be done, cable companies do it all the time, but it is probably not worth the effort, especially if you want to view subscription channels because the bad news is you will need to pay another subscription for EACH LOCATION. That can be expensive. However, having at least two receivers is not a bad idea, and fairly easy to do.


Q.5 : Can I receive international satellites on my dish? What should be the size of dish antenna? (Sami Ahmed, Dubai)

Ans: This depends on where you live, what size dish you have, and how low you can "aim" your dish to the horizon. Playing with the Intelsats, Panamsat, and the Russian Statsionar birds is something that folks on the East coast of the USA do all the time. You should have a LARGE dish though, 16 to 20 feet to really do the job, though people HAVE picked up signals with dishes as small as 7 1/2 feet from as far west as Minnesota. With the average 10 to 12 foot dish you may do just fine. To receive the signals, you will need a few modifications to your system. You will need a circular feed, as unlike Domestic USA birds that are Horizontally or Vertically polarized, International satellites use Right Hand, or Left Hand Circular Polarization. If you have a monster dish, you can get by without the proper feed, but you will loose at least 3 to 5 db of signal. Chaparral makes a special feed for international satellites, at a cost of around $325.


Q.6 : What does it cost to add Ku to my system? ( Amjad, Quetta)

Ans: If your dish is KU compatible (some mesh dishes are not) all you need to add OUTSIDE is a DUAL BAND FEED, such as the COROTOR II, and an additional KU LNB. The cost for this will be between $188 and $300 depending on where you buy, and how sensitive your KU LNB will be. To tell if your mesh dish will work on KU measure the size of the holes or openings in the mesh. If they are greater than 1/4 inch, you won't get good KU reception. KU LNB's are measured in DB, rather than degrees Kelvin (as C band LNB's are measured).


Q.7 : How long does a satellite "last" and why do they get regularly replaced? (Aftab Alam, Hyderabad)

Ans: The average lifespan for a communications satellite is about 10 years. While the electronics inside the satellite can last many years, the determining factor is the "station keeping fuel". Satellites only "appear to be stationary because of their location in the Clarke Belt, in reality they are whirring about the planet, and their orbits become eccentric if left alone. So each satellite has small rockets on board to regularly adjust the orbit of the bird. After 10 years this fuel runs out, and the satellite can no longer be adjusted with respect to its position. This causes the satellite to start to appear to "wobble" up and down in the orbital plane, and eventually become unusable. Before this happens, a replacement bird is launched, and the old satellite is unceremoniously "kicked" up into a higher "parking" orbit.


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