Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

This is the place for any magazine-related discussions that don't fit in any of the column discussion boards below.
ShutterDown
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2005 1:01 am
Contact:

Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by ShutterDown » Wed Sep 07, 2005 3:06 pm

I can't remember how many years ago it was, but
there was a time when all the electronic hobby
magazines (all gone now, except for Nuts & Volts)
devoted many of their covers to building or buying
your own satellite dish.<p>I remember feeling very excited by this new
electronic wonder! An economy system might cost
as little as one thousand dollars. One with all
the bells and whistles would cost double that.<p>So what stopped most of us from building our own
systems? In my case the shear size of the thing
was intimidating. Also, the cable company I
subscribed to at the time was local. They
provided basic service for twelve dollars a
month!<p>We all know what happened. There were hundreds
of local cable providers way back then. Companies
like Comcast gobbled them all up. Basic service
went up four and five fold in price. Comcast is
my provider and they stink. A couple of years ago
their service guys climbed up every pole in my
neighborhood. They dumped a ton of old cable and
connector junk on the ground. Each individual
homeowner had to cleanup the mess. Incredibly,
they didn't change the decrepit 35-to-40 year
old cable connected to my house. (Several pets
and children were injured by the razor sharp
cable cuttings they didn't care to cleanup.)
I didn't want these guys near my house ever again,
so I replaced the cable myself.<p>Anyway, so much for the history lesson. What I'm
really wondering about is the state of those
backyard dishes today. I think I've spotted two
or three around my neighborhood. They may have
been installed many years ago, when the craze was
hot.<p>Many folks have switched from cable service to
those small microwave dishes. (My dog thinks they
are large frisbees!) From what my neighbors tell
me, you end up spending more money if you hookup
multiple TVs, and the picture quality is worse.<p>Are there companies around that still sell those
big dishes? If so, what would a complete system
cost these days?<p>ShutterDown<p>[ September 07, 2005: Message edited by: ShutterDown ]</p>

User avatar
Chris Smith
Posts: 4325
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Bieber Ca.

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by Chris Smith » Wed Sep 07, 2005 3:44 pm

They are still around, and one of the dishes is still in my back yard. Sky Vision is a big dealer. <p>One of the secretes to getting free scrambled TV is to buy two receivers, and de tune one slightly off set to the right to receive the video, and while you do this the sound disappears.
[high tek scrambling?] <p>Then use the other receiver to detune to the left for sound, and run that through your stereo instead of the TV. <p>Presto, Free and scrambled TV. <p>And there is still plenty of Free TV out there also, However The FBI workshop channel went high tek and digitally scrambled their station. I used to enjoy it the most. They don’t want to give away the fact that they break the law more than you, or how they do it, so they blanked us out.

User avatar
jollyrgr
Posts: 1289
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Northern Illinois
Contact:

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by jollyrgr » Wed Sep 07, 2005 5:25 pm

I posted a sort of update about this subject some time ago. I, too, have a 10' dish in my back yard and it is fully functional. I also have a 7.5' dish at my parent's house. There are fewer and fewer analog channels out there but there still some. The big hobby now is something called "Free To Air" or FTA. These are digital receivers that tune in FREE digital signals. No, I am not referring to pirating of the subscription services like Dish and DirecTV. These are digital signals sent in the clear for anyone to receive. I shall try and explain.<p>In the good old days one analog signal fit on a standard C-Band or Ku-Band transponder. You could get a few audio sub carriers for radio stations on these transponders but that was about it. On C-Band there were 24 analog transponders. On Ku it varied widely from satellite to satellite. As computing power became cheaper and digital compression became more efficient the switch to digital was made. Ten or more TV signals can be compressed and sent digitally in the same space as ONE analog signal! Thus you can see the reason to go digital is so popular. Transponder space is not cheap. But if ten TV stations can share the same transponder, it gets much cheaper.<p>There are a number of digital systems out there but the two most common are Digicipher II and DVB. I am only somewhat familiar with Digicipher II. It is a proprietary system by General Instruments and Motorola. (Exactly how their partnership works, I don't know.) Then there is the DVB or Digital Video Broadcasting. This is one of the biggest among hobbyist and the one I play with.<p>DVB can use smaller dishes such as a 30" dish or can use the bigger dishes like the 10' ones. In my case I have my DVB receiver "slaved" to my C/Ku Analog receiver. This means my analog receiver moves the dish to the selected satellite and changes the polarizer (a polarity device to change the signal coming in at the dish). To receive a digital signal is MUCH harder than an analog signal. In the case of an analog signal you can see a picture and "tweak" the dish as needed. A number of people use old Primestar dishes and the older style Dish and DirecTV LNBs (the actual antenna part of a satellite system) to receive DVB signals. There are also plenty of purpose made dishes for these systems. Now to explain a bit about DVB signals and the ability to receive them. Of course the smaller dishes can only receive things off the Ku side of satellites. While not as popular, there are some DVB feeds on C-Band. Most DVB signals will be found using a Ku dish.<p>Being digital, the DVB signals CAN easily be encrypted. There are a number of encryption schemes such as PowerVu and Videoguard to name two. In some cases you can subscribe to the scrambled services. For a number of others, you cannot. To subscribe requires a system with a descrambler built-in with an access card. But what really makes these systems popular is something called Free To Air or "FTA".<p>There are a number of broadcasters that WANT you to receive their signal so they purposely DO NOT scramble their feeds. No, this is not PIRACY! Stations like NASA TV publish how to receive their signal right on their own web pages. PBS used to do have this on their page but I cannot confirm this now. <p>Then there are stations that either do not care if you receive the signal or have cable systems in a wide area that would not be willing to pick up their signal if it were scrambled. These can become a bit harder to find (more later). In any case people put up a modest dish, setup a receiver, and receive free TV. Much of the time this could be someone "in the middle of no where" (not near a big city, way up north in Canada, etc.) or someone like me that just wants to play for the challenge of it all.<p>I mentioned earlier that these systems are not nearly as easy to setup as an analog system. They are also very touchy. Setting up one of these systems is not plug and play like cable TV and It requires time and patience to keep things running. As I mentioned some stations don't care if you watch their signal. This DOES NOT mean they are going to make it easy for you to do so. While their signal remains unscrambled, they could switch transponders without warning. They will switch depending on channel capacity and who is selling them the uplink the cheapest. <p>To get one of these working requires several steps. The first is getting the dish aligned and set. Next you must locate the parameters for each transponder and then sometimes for each of the individual feeds on that transponder. These parameters must then be programmed into the receiver and the transponder/satellite is scanned. Once the receiver locks into the signal it will find a number of the feeds and program them into memory. TA DA! You are receiving FREE digital satellite!<p>I know what you are asking "How could something this good be Free?" Well, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. You won't be getting HBO, Cinemax, and other big players like that. You will get a number of UPN, WB, and some affiliates of other networks. There are MANY religious stations. Plus lots of non-English programming. Are you familiar with TV Land? There are a couple stations on DVB for free that are a scaled back version of TV Land. There is a music video station called The TUBE. This is a music video station that ACTUALLY PLAYS MUSIC VIDEOS! Don't think that by simply installing one of these you will get the big packages you see provided by Dish and DirecTV. But you will get many channels that neither of those services will provide.<p>Here is an example of what needs to be done to program the receiver to be ready to receive a digital signal.<p>1. Locate the channel packages and the parameters from an online source like http://www.lyngsat.com
(NOTE: Feeds change often and you will want to consult more than just one source)
2. For instance, go to the above link and click on the FREQUENCY > AMERICA selection in the table. Locate Galaxy 10R and follow that link.
3. Scroll down until you see 11720 V tp1.
There is a LOT of information in this selection. First you will see the 11700 V. This means the frequency of this transponder is 11700 MHz and the polarity is Vertical. The Video Encryption column reveals that the digital system being used is DVB. The F means this is a FREE or NO ENCRYPTION station. The Equity Broadcasting is the "uplink provider" for the lack of a better term for the signals on this transponder. You will then see a SR-FEC SID and VPID. What does all this mean? <p>In the example above you would program the receiver to look at the satellite "frequency" of 11700. You set the polarity on the satellite to Vertical. Now comes the fun part. You must tell the receiver that the SR or Symbol Rate is 27692 (sometimes indicated as 27.692) and the FEC or Forward Error Correction ratio is 3/4. On many receivers the FEC can be detected and is not always needed. The SID and VPID can also be scanned for on many receivers. In a simple manner of speaking these are the "virtual" channel numbers of the video feeds on this one digital signal.<p>So now you put in all these parameter into your receiver. In my case I have multiple satellites programmed. So I put in a ID of G10R for the satellite. Under that I store a "CHANNEL" For that channel I program the TP frequency, the SR, and the FEC. Now the receiver has a starting point to work from. Next I start scanning this channel until the receiver finds the data that defines where everything is at. In most cases a SIGNAL meter and a QUALITY meter is brought up on screen. You peak the dish until you get a strong signal and hopefully you will also get a suitable QUALITY reading. Again this is a digital signal and you won't see the static and what not on the screen like you would with analog. Once the quality reading is good enough, the scan process loads the virtual channels into memory and stores them. If all goes well you are now able to watch free digital TV!<p>So what are the cost? I had the big dish for a number of years for the analog system so it was not a big deal. (I think all total I was into the analog system for less than $500 but I scrounged my system together from used parts and installed it myself.) To add the DVB receiver cost me less than $40 (including shipping) off eBay. But this was some time ago and now receivers are quite expensive. Plus my receiver is several years old and does not have all the fancy scanning features that make the task of finding signals a bit easier. <p>You can still get brand new receivers for under $150, if you don't mind going a generation older. There is a current (former?) N&V advertiser that sells these. Go to <p>http://www.daveswebshop.com<p>If you go to eBay there are people selling New Old Stock (i.e. new receivers that were previously owned but never used) for under $50.<p>As far as buying a dish.... If you don't mind cleaning up rusty bolts, are handy with most hand tools, can free rusty metal parts, and don't mind some lifting, you can probably find a dish for free. Simply knock on your neighbor's door and say "Are you still using that dish?" If not they may be willing to GIVE it to you for free, just to get it out of the back yard. If you do this, try to talk them into selling the receiver(s) to you as well. I know many people are afraid to do this so you might check the local ad papers or call an antenna/satellite store to see if they are willing to part with one. When I first got into the hobby of satellite over a decade ago getting one from a satellite store was next to impossible unless you let them install it. Now I pass by a couple of stores that have piles of these out back; pulled down when the mini Dish or DirecTV systems were installed. <p>
ASIDE:
I have two spare dishes just in case high winds destroy my existing system; both of the spares were FREE as long as I took them down myself or took them apart and hauled them away. I was also given the receivers just because I was nice enough to haul away the dishes. Again you get what you pay for. In my case the receivers had electronic problems. But since I can also troubleshoot problems such as these what would have been for most people an expensive repair at a shop was really a simple diode replacement. So this also goes back to your skill level and abilities to work on things. I mess with satellite systems more for the fun of playing with them as the TV shows I get from them. I also subscribe to a satellite service for the reliability those systems provide to simply work when they should.
No trees were harmed in the creation of this message. But billions of electrons, photons, and electromagnetic waves were terribly inconvenienced!

User avatar
cheapNdisgusting
Posts: 79
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 1:01 am
Location: On the bank of, and sometimes in the Castor river
Contact:

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by cheapNdisgusting » Wed Sep 07, 2005 5:34 pm

I've still got one but haven't used it for probably 10 years. Since then I've been spoiled by DTV and DISH. Sorta miss it though because it seemed like a real accomplishment tuning in.<p>Just might dig out all the boxes and give it another chance to totally frustrate me.
cNd

Dean Huster
Posts: 1263
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Harviell, MO (Poplar Bluff area)
Contact:

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by Dean Huster » Wed Sep 07, 2005 8:00 pm

I remember sitting nearby during a training session on installing the big dishes. They'd mentioned that the solid (vs. mesh) dishes could sometimes cause you some problems. Seems that one pair of guys were installing the LNA on the dish while keeping a keen eye on the young lady several houses down who was in the back yard sunbathing in a bikini. The fools were making all kinds of rude and off-color remarks about her while all the time the dish was pointing right at her. If you're talking in the vicinity of the LNA mount, you're at the focus of the dish and the girl was hearing every word those guys were saying clear as a bell.<p>So, new use for old 10' solid dishes? Set them up as a science fair exhibit across the corners of a room and have folks stand facing their respective dish and whisper to the person across the auditorium and communicate with perfect clarity even with a high ambient crown noise.<p>Dean
Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

R.I.P.

User avatar
Chris Smith
Posts: 4325
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Bieber Ca.

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by Chris Smith » Wed Sep 07, 2005 8:45 pm

My favorite use is to glue one inch square mirror tiles to the entire surface for a Death Ray, or just to cook the BBQ. <p>Dishes are great for all sorts of all sorts of other uses, as noted earlier here at the forum.

Robert Reed
Posts: 2276
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2004 1:01 am
Location: ASHTABULA,OHIO
Contact:

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by Robert Reed » Wed Sep 07, 2005 9:46 pm

All that work and monkey bussiness for free TV ? And you still end up with pure crap. I'll stick with "free" network TV for what little I watch. ;)

User avatar
Chris Smith
Posts: 4325
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Bieber Ca.

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by Chris Smith » Wed Sep 07, 2005 11:41 pm

These days there is nothing to watch, on free or otherwise TV. <p>All the news is 24/7, same subject, week after week, month after month.<p>If not for the hurricane, we would still be watching “one girl missing in Aruba, week 12".

User avatar
jollyrgr
Posts: 1289
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Northern Illinois
Contact:

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by jollyrgr » Thu Sep 08, 2005 4:47 pm

Chris,<p>Man did you hit one on the head! Can't stand watching CNN Headline News as all I'd ever see is Nancy Grace whining about the Aruba girl.<p>As to the "Free" TV....<p>I like Smallville. The tower for my "local" WB station (which was some 40 miles away) was poorly located as it was. When it blew down because of a tornado over a year ago they relocated to a different temporary site. Then, if they rebuilded, the tower must be shorter as I still can't get WB. Dish Network wants $5.99 per UPN/WB station as I live in an area where there is no "real" local UPN/WB station and live too close to a city with locals on satellite so I can't get a different market with these stations.<p>With the big dish and a DVB I can get half a dozen of each of the UPN/WB stations as well as numerous other network feeds. Plus all the wild feeds. Until I lost track of where they sent it, this was the ONLY way I could watch Star Trek Enterprise. Does not matter as I didn't see the last season and those that did said it sucked.
No trees were harmed in the creation of this message. But billions of electrons, photons, and electromagnetic waves were terribly inconvenienced!

User avatar
Chris Smith
Posts: 4325
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Bieber Ca.

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by Chris Smith » Thu Sep 08, 2005 5:34 pm

Jolly....<p>Your lucky. <p>Where I am we have NO TV free signals, and Radio is at best, drifting in and out all day and night. <p>The Small dish and the Big one are the only way to see anything at all, and they have the nerve to charge a buck fifty for every channel we cant get [nationally] , but they insist we can get them over the air waves? <p>The nearest tower is in the next state over, Oregon. And the Repeater? What repeater? <p> My only “home grown news” that doesn’t stink of... “Colin Powell’s’ son’s work over at the FCC” [ 80% owned by one political party,..... fair and balanced my ass] is out of Chicago, almost 3000 miles away. <p>I just happen to get WGN? <p>All the other programs are spoon fed grain including ABC, CBS, NBC, and MSNBC, CNN and all of 13 news channels I can get. <p>24/7 same BS, same this week, same story next year. <p>1,000,000 children go missing or are exploited each and every year, but one girl in Aruba? <p>How many months does it take to tell that story?

Dean Huster
Posts: 1263
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Harviell, MO (Poplar Bluff area)
Contact:

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by Dean Huster » Sun Sep 11, 2005 2:17 pm

Ah, yes, AM radio broadcasting and nighttime skip with the clear-channel stations! What a wonderful time I had as a kid listening to KOA, WWL, WLW, KAAY, WGN, WSB, WSM, KDKA and all the rest from Mexico to Canada inclusive, all while laying in my bed in little St. Peters, Missouri at 11pm. And they want to digitize the AM band.<p>I can't count the number of people who leave the TV on all day, tuned to either FOX News or CNN .... or worse yet THE WEATHER CHANNEL!!!!! I don't care to watch the weather in my area for more than five minutes, let alone for hours over the rest of the country! Aaagggggghhhh!!!!!<p>Dean
Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

R.I.P.

User avatar
jollyrgr
Posts: 1289
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Northern Illinois
Contact:

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by jollyrgr » Wed Sep 14, 2005 5:37 pm

One of the best things I ever found for AM reception is the "select a tenna" or its equivalent. As a kid who knew just enough to be dangerous, and then a little more, I saw these devices that magically would improve your AM reception without batteries, without wires, no plugging in; just set it next to the radio and turn the knob. I "thought" I knew you could not get anything for free. Even into adulthood I thought these were about as useful as the sticker you put on cell phones to improve reception and transmission. Then a friend bought one (Radio Shack version) and it REALLY worked! <p>I have two of these now and what a difference it makes. One is at my house, the other I leave at my parents or brothers when I'm there. Some day I plan on trying both of these at once, just to see what happens. But with one of these fading is still there to some degree but you hardly lose a station completely.
No trees were harmed in the creation of this message. But billions of electrons, photons, and electromagnetic waves were terribly inconvenienced!

User avatar
Chris Smith
Posts: 4325
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Bieber Ca.

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by Chris Smith » Wed Sep 14, 2005 6:11 pm

My favorite antenna booster is the five miles of barbed wire surrounding the property. <p>Hook this up to the input on the back of my set, and wait till night fall. <p>Florida and Maine comes in better here in California than 40 miles away at our only local radio station.

User avatar
jollyrgr
Posts: 1289
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Northern Illinois
Contact:

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by jollyrgr » Thu Sep 15, 2005 2:47 pm

<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Chris Smith:
My favorite antenna booster is the five miles of barbed wire surrounding the property. <p>Hook this up to the input on the back of my set, and wait till night fall. <p>Florida and Maine comes in better here in California than 40 miles away at our only local radio station.<hr></blockquote><p>You win. Five miles of barbed wire? Neat!
No trees were harmed in the creation of this message. But billions of electrons, photons, and electromagnetic waves were terribly inconvenienced!

User avatar
Chris Smith
Posts: 4325
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Bieber Ca.

Re: Anyone remember those 8-to-12 ft. backyard satellite dis

Post by Chris Smith » Thu Sep 15, 2005 3:29 pm

It makes a great antenna but only at night. <p>The skip can go 3000 miles or better, crystal clear. Some times the signal is so loud, you think its next door.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 42 guests