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Buying motorised from scratch... HELP!

S

stef

Guest
#1
Hi to you all. I am looking for advice and criticism on my plans to buy digital motorised system.

My knowledge of satellite systems is limited but I am eager to learn. So far my only sources of information are personal and commercial web sites and news groups.

But, like the subject says I am just about ready to buy a system. I have recently moved from a house that only had a fixed astra system. So really this is a whole new ball game to me. Having been so restricted in the past I am determined that my new system will be far more flexible and interesting.

The cost of the system is not the most important factor to me (within reason), put this together with my limited knowledge and I am a sales assistants wet dream. My main concerns are reliability and functionality. I still have my old analogue receiver, a Pace MSS 290, no positioner. So should I jump into a new analogue/digital or just a digital and hook up my still in good condition analogue receiver. As this is something I hope to make a hobby of, I am interested in the receiver being updateable and configurable using my PC. This is why I have been looking into the echostar and nokia models. Echostar AD-3000ip Viaccess, Nokia 9800, or something completely different. I am interested in your views on all models please, how do these and the cheaper receivers compare? Although I have no plans to subscribe to any foreign bouquets just yet, I wonder if it would be a good idea to get a receiver with a built in cam, Viaccess for example.

Now, although it is probably possible to put together a system cheaper by buying the parts separately, I don't feel confident enough to do this, nor would I try to install the dish. For these reasons I would prefer to buy a ready-made kit for my friendly local installer to erect. I live in a conservation area just North of Edinburgh (technically North UK), and have got permission for an 80cm dish. However, the made up systems I have looked at which include the receivers I mentioned usually come with 1m dishes. To give you an idea, I notice that some of my well-positioned neighbours have the 40cm minidish instead of the usual 60cm. From what I can tell I think I have a great line of sight. Should I just give the shops a call and get them to put together a system for me. If so, any recommendations as to who I should buy from and what should I ask for?

Anyway, to sum up I am new to all of this but don’t want the most basic set-up. Restricted to a 80cm dish how do I avoid over paying for something more advanced than I can take advantage of.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and feel free to post/email back to me with ANYTHING you think I might find interesting. I look forward to any replies
 

2old4this

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#2
Well first of all, welcome to the hobby!
Pheww, where to start...??

I'll deal with trhe easy thing first: signal strength.
The "line of sight" to the satellite is only part of the story when it comes to determining what size dish you need. Fact is, although you are quite far North, so all sats will be fairly low in the sky from your point of view, the signal strength will be much more dependent on (a) whether the beam transmitted by the satellite is aimed at your location (ie whether you are within its footprint) and (:cool: whether the transponders are transmitting a strong beam or a weak beam (they vary). A 40cm dish is ok for Astra2 since the beams are aimed at UK/Western-Europe and are VERY strong. But a dish that size will be next to useless for anything else.

If you want to get the most out of your hobby, then the bigger the dish the better. There will always be more signals you can receive with a bigger dish than a smaller one. And in any case, a large dish provides a better "margin" against poor reception in bad weather, etc. The downside of a large dish is (a) planning permission is required in UK (:cool: it is much more costly and (c) it is much more susceptible to high winds, requiring a very strong mounting. Also, a large STEERABLE dish will require a more powerful motor.
Note also that there are different kinds of dish, each with its own characteristics. The highest gain widely available dish is a solid (ie not mesh) "Gregorian" type (which has a secondary reflector in front of the main dish). If you get deeper into your hobby and require access to the lower "C" band signals then you need a prime-focus dish and special C-band LNB. For normal ku-band (higher frequencies) an offset dish and "universal LNB" are better. In fact, some digital receivers (including the Sky digi9box) can ONLY work with ku-band universal LNBs.
An offset dish has the LNB mounted on an arm "at the bottom" of the dish rather than in the middle. This avoids the LNB/mount obscuring the view the dish has of the satellite - hence providing better reception.

If you go for a steerable system, then there are basically two systems to choose from: a "proper" motor such as would be used in conjunction with the ad3000's internal positioner. Or a DiSEqC motor. The latter can be driven by commands passed up the single co-ax cable from a receiver which is running DiSEqC v1.2 or higher (that being an increasingly popular software feature in digital receivers). But as a DiSEqC motror has no independent power supply (getting its power also from the receiver) there are limits to how much it can draw - and in practise the low power can not drive dishes of more than 1m or 1.2m max. These types of drives also tend to be slower.

But before deciding which dish/receiver/etc you want, you need to decide which channels you want to watch.
For Sky digital you have no choice: it must be a digibox since only a digibox has the right (videoguard) decoder.
For other channels, you will have choices. FTA stuff of course can be received with almost any receiver but encrypted signals require the appropriate decryption modules (CAMs) and associated cards. If you want access to such signals and are looking to purchase or program one or more "pirate" cards then check out the other fgorums in this board (esepcially the smartcards & CAMs forums). My advice would be to go for a receiver with at least two CAMs - preferably one with 2 Common Interface slots (for the CI CAMs) and also one or two built-in modules. The ad3000 viaccess is one of the few that does this - and it also offers a built-in positioner as well as analogue - and even the ability to connect external analogue decoders (eg D2MAC). So it's a real all-rounder. Probably the best.

Anyway, have a good read of the info on this board and come back with other specific questions.

Oh, and don't worry about stepping outside the standard "kits". All offset dishes work the same way and all work with all receivers. A universal LNB is also standard (with very few exceptions - again Sky's digital LNB being one, matched as it is to the peculiar elliptical geometry of the minidish).
If you get a separate motor, just make sure it will not interfere with the dish as the dish swivels (eg the Jaeger 99 silentgold series can interfere with some dishes).

The best advice I could give would be to agree on all purchases that should there be a mismatch/fit problem they can be returned and replaced with something else. Most (good) satellite dealers will happily help you out.

Good luck!
2old
 
S

stef

Guest
#3
Thanks for your reply 2old

I think I have found a setup that would meet my requirements it is made up of:

80cm High Gain Dish
Echostar AD3000ip via
10in or 12in Motor
Wall Mount/Polar Mount
FREE installation Kit
This setup is priced at £550, which I think sounds like a good deal. I have still to get on the phone and check this out yet but before I do I would like your comments on some changes I have been thinking about.

The 80cm dish would do but I wonder how much of a difference a Gregorian Dish would make. I remember reading somewhere that the difference roughly translates to the next dish size up i.e. 80cm=1m. Is this true?

I like the idea of putting on a twin output LNB on the dish. Are there any problems with this. I realise that the ideal situation is to have two seperate dishes, one dedicated solely to Astra 28.2 The restriction of living in a conservation area mean that there is no way I can have more than one dish.

I have to confess that I can't completely understand the difference between using the "10 or 12 inch Motor" and an H to H Motor. I believe the H to H is better for tracking the orbital track, this I can understand but if this is this case universally then why is the other method still used? I thought it might be related to the size of dish used but I have seen systems for sale in all combinations. Anyway, with the system I am describing would I be better to use the above or an H to H mount.

And finally, can anyone recommend an installer of motorised dishes up here on the East coast of Scotland. Is there pehaps another forum to ask this question in?

Stef
 
S

stef

Guest
#4
Just an update

Being the good lad that I am I have been looking around the other forums. Doing this has raised another question for me... I do want to be able to recieve nature programmes and although I see that Viaccess is a commonly used encryption for these channels I note that many including the wise one 2old4this recommend a seca/mediaguard CAM and then making your own wafer cards.

I have had a quick look at the LyngeSat and SatcoDX web sites to check that an 80cm dish would be adequate for receiving said channels, which I believe are concentrated on Astra19, but I ran out of time so I will have to go back later.

I hope you understand my concern about getting the right equipment at the start. Although I appreciate that any equipment I buy could be rendered useless because of some counter measure. If this was to happen I would not be happy but would not mind this as much as paying for something I did not need or could not use.

I add this not to start getting off topic but only because I am not not so certain anymore that I should go for the AD-3000ip Via. Instead should I maybe go for the AD3000ip with Seca/Mediaguard CAM ? Or should I still go for the AD3000ip Via and buy a Seca/Mediaguard CAM?

Look forward to hearing from you. I am now off to start looking at footprints and at the Wafercards: How to/FAQ. Thanks in advance

Stef
 

2old4this

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#5
Couple of points in answer to some questions you raise in above two posts:

a Gregorian dish is roughly 20% more efficient for a given size than a standard offset. But it is typically a fair bit more expensive. I use a 1.2m x 1.35m Gregorian and it pulls in just about everything in the Ku-band (mind you, I'm in the Netherlands, better placed than the east-coast of Scotland).

H-H means horizon-to-horizon and indicates that the mount can track the Clarke-belt fully. So long as your mount does that and your mount+motor do not interfere with your dish, and your motor is big enough to carry the dish (remember: the weight is not the issue, the wind-resistance is) then you shouldn't worry about whether it's a 10-inch or 12-inch or whatever. But as I said before, seek professional advice in your area.

If you only want your second LNB/output for the Sky stuff, I wouldn't bother. After all, you would never get the independence of operation that two dishes would offer. For example - if your family want to watch Sky while you watch something through the second (Echostar?) receiver then you will still be restricted to watching stuff on the same (Astra2/28.2e) satellite. And believe me there's not much there of interest other than the Sky stuff.
An alternative to consider is this: stick with a single standard universal LNB and feed both receivers off it, switching between them using a so-called Smart Priority Switch such as that made by the company "Global"). This also avoids running two co-ax cables.

The Viaccess hack is now in the public domain and if you get an Echostar ad3000ip-viaccess you would be able to use "DIY" wafer cards for that too. There is a fair adult content on Viaccess these days too, including late-night films on TV1000 & Cinema (both on Sirius), as well as the 24-hr SCT and the 21:00-03:00 Ultra-Blue channels (both on Hotbird) (Ultra-Blue & new SCT keys available as of a few days ago...).

2old
(delighted owner by the way of an ad3000ip-viaccess....)