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July 2007

Q.1 : When tuning to an FTA (Free-to-Air) MPEG2 channel, what is needed to view an HDTV channel, for example, Galaxy 11, Fox HD? ( Zahid Kamal, via e-mail)

Ans: Unfortunately, a standard MPEG2 FTA receiver will not decode HDTV signals. In fact if you try to tune to an HDTV signal with a standard receiver, in many cases the receiver will be very unhappy with that and lock up on you. It would be necessary to turn the receiver completely off (unplug it) and turn it back on after waiting a short time (30 seconds or so). If you want to view HDTV signals, you need an HDTV compatible receiver. These receivers are available but come with a rather hefty price tag. Also make sure that the signal you are trying to receive is indeed FTA. If not, then all bets are off.

Q.2 : Next to my apartment building is another building with an exceptionally large attic. The roof is not insulated and is layered with roof tiles. Is it possible to receive satellite signals through these roofing tiles with a large enough antenna? Or are there special roofing tiles that are friendlier to a satellite’s microwave signals and don’t attenuate the signal as much? (Tahir Mehmood, Balochistan)

Ans: There’s not much you can do with the roofing tiles available today. But don’t give up right away, there is a solution with an absolute minimum signal loss. The antenna should be mounted as high as possible inside the roof. The angle of the roof should not deviate more than 45° from that or those satellites that you want to receive. One problem might be the wet snow on the roof in the spring. But there are solutions to this also. A roof heater or forced hot air will provide uninterrupted reception.

Q.3 : On my satellite receiver there are four LNB’s connected via a DiSEqC switch for reception of HOTBIRD, ARABSAT, NILESAT and the C-Band on ASIASAT. I want to receive a fifth satellite but where should the IF connection go? A friend suggested using a 0/12 volt switch but didn’t have much more advice to give. (Alamzeb, Dubai)

Ans: A: First of all you have to reach into your pocket and take out the cash you will need to buy a 0/12 volt switch and a second DiSEqC switch. Since you never really know what you will want to do in the future, I would invest in another 4-way switch so that eventually you can connect up to eight LNB’s. The power wire for the 0/12 volt switch is connected to the programmable switch output. The 0/12 volt switch has one IF output to the receiver and two IF inputs to which the two coaxial cables from the DiSEqC switches are connected. Your four existing LNB’s are programmed to the A, B, C and D inputs with 0 volts in the installation menu while any additional LNB’s would be programmed to 12 volts and A, B, C and D

Q.4 : Can you connect a wideband receiver or a scanner radio to a C-band or Ku-band LNB? If yes, what should we look out for? (Mohammad Waqar, China)

Ans: Another satellite spy is born! Unfortunately, there’s not all that much you can get from analog SCPC anymore. But if you feel comfortable playing in the digital world, you will be rewarded. LNB’s require one or two voltages, something that the scanner radio cannot provide. You can supply the necessary power externally but that would be too involved (you would need a small metal box with “F” connectors, a capacitor and a power supply). We will make it simpler. Your satellite receiver will serve as the control unit for the necessary voltages (with LNBF’s it is 13 and 18 volts).


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