I'm totally green on the tech. aspect of things & wouldn't have a clue how to identify which satellite I will need.
I have been through your site & it's been helpful, but I'm still not up to speed on the whole thing. What I'm trying to achieve is to catch primarily French speaking channels, French, Swiss, Belge, maybe Dutch & German, TV stations.
Would you be able to recommend a complete package, minus the TV set of course, with which I could get this?
No. It would take me too long. You must do the research yourself. It's simple but time-consuming. The simplest minimum package would be a FTA digital receiver, 80 cm dish and universal LNB (plus cable, connectors etc.) Align the dish on the satellite of most interest.
So how do I decide what I want to watch and what equipment to buy?
Well, unfortunately I can't decide for you.
I have briefly looked at the various receivers on your on-line catalogue,but the different tech. specs. are complete Chinese to me. Can one system be used to get access to the UK Sky as well as the foreign channels, or do I need a different system/ receiver?
A Sky Digibox is required for Sky/UK programmes except BBC and other FTA ones.
Also, what is involved with the installation of this system?
We provide eBooks that will educate you in the installation. Simply decide whether you want a fixed or motorised dish.
Do I have to find a local installer?
No, DIY is perfectly feasible. We sell systems every day.
Do you have a list of teams that will install?
What is the financial arrangement to get access to these satellites? Do I have to subscribe to a foreign company, and do you know what the cost would be?
You need to decide precisely what you want to watch. Or you could make a decision to watch *only* FTA (Free To Air) programmes, in which case subscriptions are avoided and virtually any FTA receiver will do.
I will appreciate if you could let me have a breakdown of the total cost for such a system.
Your question is a bit like "I've decided to be a farmer. Please tell me what size field I need, what seeds, what fertilisers and how much will it cost."
It's quite impossible. You must look at what programmes are available from which satellites and decide what you want to watch. Then look again because your expectations are probably unrealistic and way beyond your budget. Some transmissions are very strong (e.g.. 28.2'E) and require a very small dish. Some are very weak and require a large dish which could cost thousands of pounds.
Will you settle for programmes from just one (e.g.. Astra-1 at 19.2'E) or will you want to watch programmes from several satellites? (e.g.. Astra-1, Astra-2 at 28.2'E, Hotbird at 13'E, Eutelsat at 16'E and 10'E etc.) You'll find listings in magazines such as "Tele-Satellit" and "What Satellite TV". You'll also find satellite and programme listings on web sites such as:
http://www.smw.se has a PC programme "SMWLink" that calculates dish elevation etc.
http://www.geo-orbit.org shows dish sizes required for each satellite at your location.
http://www.satmania.com/eng/satchannels/search works OK for some channels. A simple EIRP-to-dish-size conversion table is shown alongside the footprint.
Or you can use kingofsat.net and see what various users have reported from different satellites, e.g. http://www.kingofsat.net/beams.php?s=52
I have seen a Digital receiver advertised as "FTA".
Any ideas what channels I will be able to view with such a receiver?
With a single 80 cm fixed dish and 3 LNBs in the UK you can get all the BBC and about 600+ FREE TV and 500+ Free Radio, all legally. This includes some stuff that Sky charges for. Much of it is not English but read on:
Some useful FTA for English speakers on Non-Sky satellites:
News / Documentary (part time English):
BBC World TV
Nile TV International
EbS (Europe By Satellite)
Small english news time:
Drama/ Entertainment etc:
US Sitcom in English with Arab Subtitles some Arab Ch.
Polish Channels sometimes have English Subtitles.
DSF (Sport German)
Many Channels have "Newsagent upper shelf stuff" FTA (some all day).
Just a few more examples of FTA.
Fox News 43W
Religious channels like BYU
Ch 5 on 16E
CNBCe on 42E (different from CNBC).
Premier League on 42"E
Music Box ( actually dozens of music video channels )
Some channels only show certain things, at certain times, news, movies in English.
Loads of radio stations which play British and American music.
I've read some people can watch British teams play football on a foreign station.They turn the sound down and get the commentary from a British radio station, although sometimes there are problems with the sound sync.
Quite a few of the channels Sky charge for, you can find for free if you hunt around.
I have seen a Digital receiver advertised with "embedded Viaccess and 2 ci slots".
Any ideas what channels I will be able to view with such a receiver?
Will it only be FTA unless I get a Viaccess viewing card?
and also is this compatible with viaccess 2?
Yes, I think so.
What is a ci slot? Does embedded mean it's a Viaccess CAM already installed that can't be moved?
Embedded means that there is a Viaccess decoder built-in and not removable, with a slot to take a Viaccess card.
CI slots are slots where you can put other CAMs (Conditional Access Modules) for other encryption systems.
Even once a CAM is in place I will still need a viewing card for that cam?
Yes, for the package & encryption system that you want.
Just having viaccess embedded means nothing unless you have a card?
Yes, unless there are "soft encrypted" Viaccess channels. I'm not aware of any.
And a CAM does nothing without a card?
Basically a Digital Receiver will view any "clear" / FTA / un-encrypted channel.
More than the Sky Digibox can, as, although the Digibox can receive FTA with no card, it only does Symbol Rates SR 27,500 and SR22,000
But channels can use nearly any SR from 2,500 to nearly 40,000 (It is kind of like modem baud rates).
Let's look at this in more detail.
CAM = Conditional Access Module
These are like a Notebook PCMCIA/PCCARD module in size, shape and connector with a slot for the ISO viewing card.
An embedded CAM is not really a CAM at all. It just means there is a decoder circuit and a card reader slot, like the bottom slot on a Sky Digibox. The CAM function is done by a mix of Hardware (HW) and Software (SW) or Firmware (Software in flash memory).
A Sky Digibox has thus an Embedded "videoguard" cam, but this as explained above is not a module soldered in some place you can remove (I wish). It is part of the circuitry in the large I.C.s.
The Digibox thus is no use for any card other than a Sky viewing card, and NO other Digital Satellite receiver can use a Sky card as NDS/Sky will neither licence a Real CAM module nor an "embedded" CAM. This means that nobody has the technical information to design one and, even if they did manufacture one, Sky would have their lawyers out in seconds.
The slot for a viewing card is an ISO reader with switch contacts at the rear (to detect card pushed in) and springy contacts to the metal pads. The ones in an old Analogue receiver are just the same. Connected to a PC suitably and by using a "holder" a Phone SIM card can be read (e.g. numbers and addresses) by an ISO Satellite card reader.
The slot for a CAM is bigger and is like the PCMCIA slot in a Laptop/notebook PC. It is called the CI or "common interface"
The Sky digibox has a BIG slot at the back behind a plate that may either be wired as CI or PCMCIA/PCCARD, I don't know. Either way it won't do anything unless Sky load SW via Satellite to tell it to. Pace originally made a prototype digital audio interface to fit in this slot but it quietly disappeared - presumably because Sky were already planning to market the SKY+ Digibox instead.
Traditionally each Encryption needed a separate CAM. This is expensive, for those with LEGAL multiple subscriptions to different operators (typically in Europe and Middle East). Two solutions exist:
1) Patch. This is SW added to the Receiver so the so called "Embedded CAM" is either a different CAM or two different CAMS dependent on which viewing card is put in.
2) Modified CAM. The physical plugin CAM is modified so maybe up to five different kinds of cards work in it.
Neither of these is illegal when used with legitimate viewing cards that only get the services you paid for.
A Soft CAM is an old idea. It is where the service is free but is limited to those who have a CAM. C5 was using this on Analogue Videocrypt as it was assumed Europeans would not bother getting a Sky Analogue Videocrypt receiver.
MTV Germany used it in reverse. They put a videocrypt "flag" on their transmission so UK videocrypt receivers actually scrambled the clear signal in an attempt to "descramble" it. European viewers without videocrypt simply saw the picture as their receiver did not know the videocrypt flag existed.
Both these ideas are silly...
IT isn't hard to buy a receiver or CAM. Less people in Europe can get BBC now it is NOT encrypted, because before people simply got a Sky box and FTV card or even a Sky sub and took it to Greece, Turkey or even Egypt where you can't now pickup BBC without an enormous dish.
While creating a CAM is hard, turning one off is easy. Almost all old Sky analogue boxes could easily turn off the videocrypt (In some there was even a menu!).
If you want pay channels, pay the money and get a subscription.
As for which CAMs etc. are needed, this changes from time to time as the operators/providers play cat 'n mouse with the hackers & freeloaders.
It is certainly advisable to go for an STB with a CI-slot, though. Then things can be done either legally, semi-legally or illegally !