I need help!

D

dbruce

Guest
#1
I am very new with this satellite stuff, so please bear with me....I have just recently bought a PALCOM digital satellite reciever with Irdeto FreeCAM 2-017..............this means nothing to me! Anyway, the reciever says that it has all of the Astra 1 and Hotbird channels "preprogrammed" on it....what does this mean?? When I view the "channel list", I can scroll through all of the channels, but I can recieve only about 150 of them, and most of those are German channels. How do I recieve others?? There are functions called "add a plainkey" and "delete a plainkey"...does this have anything to do with recieving channels? If so, how does this work? If there is a certain channel on my "preprogrammed" list, but I'm not recieving it, do I just find a "plainkey" for that channel, type it in, and then it works?? Another thing, if I wanted to recieve FOX Sports Europe for example, but it isn't on my "preprogrammed" channel list, is it possible for me to add it to the list and recieve it? I know that the info for FOX Sports Europe is: Astra 19 East, freq- 11.914, sym bit rate- 27.500, 3/4 FEC...so what do I have to do to recieve this (where do I enter this info)
Thanks for your help, and I'm really sorry if some of these questions are stupid, but I really have no idea what to do, and I need to start somewhere.

dbruce
 

rolfw

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#2
Welcome to the forum,

What would help as a start is to tell us in more detail what your system is, not just what the receiver is, ie: do you have a motorised dish or multi LNB setup. If you have a motorised setup did the installer demonstrate it etc?

Rolf
 
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dbruce

Guest
#3
Rolf,

I am so new to this that I'm not really sure what a "motorised setup" is, but on the box that my reciever came in, it says something about it having "DISEqC 1.0" and "motor" is in brackets, but like I said, I'm not quite sure what you mean by that, can you explain (sorry!)? I do know that I only have one LNB set up. The installer didn't demonstrate anything as he was Dutch and didn't know any English (I'm a Canadian living here in Holland), so that is why I am so "lost" with this whole thing. Does this give you enough info to be able to help me?? Thanks for your time and patience.

dbruce
 

rolfw

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#4
[updated:LAST EDITED ON 01-Oct-01 AT 08:35 PM (GMT)]From the sound of it you have a fixed dish with single LNB. This being the case you will only be able to pick up one satellite, if the dish is motorised you will have the ability to pick up many.

If you let us know some of the channels you are receiving, we can at least pinpoint which satellite you are pointing at.

Rolf

PS. A Nederlander who doesn't speak any English? Very rare :)
 
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dbruce

Guest
#5
Rolf,

First of all, I really appreciate you taking the time to help me, I know it must be frustrating for you cause I don't know anything!! Anyway, yes, it is very rare to find a Dutch person that doesn't speak English!!! Well, I know that I am on the Astra satellite, and if you see my original post, my reciever has Astra and Hotbird channels already "pre-programmed" on it. I also mentioned that I have been told that Fox Sports Europe is on Astra, but why wouldn't this be on my channel list??
Again Rolf, I really appreciate your help!

Cheers,
dbruce
 

2old4this

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#6
First, I strongly advise you to do some basic research into the nature and terminology of satellite TV. The British monthly magazine "What Satellite" is available in larger Dutch newsagents (Bruna, etc.) and includes a glossary and "beginners" guide. If you can read Dutch there are some excellent Dutch-language periodicals too - Veronica Satelliet/FSW (twice monthly) includes programme listings as well as articles, and the bi-monthly "Hopper Guide" includes probably the best (most complete and easiest to read) printed transponder and channel list anywhere.

I'll try here to give a very quick outline of some basics. There's no real point in answering your specific questions yet since you need first some basic concepts. After reading this, you should use the search function on this board to search for specific information, and continue research elsewhere on the internet (or your local library!).


The basic basics
----------------
Satellite channels are carried on microwave signals beamed down from a string of geostationary satellites orbiting above the equator. That orbit is called the Clarke Belt. From the earth's surface they appear to be aligned along an arc which is the bit of the Clarke belt visible above the horizon from wherever you happen to be. If you were at the equator, this arc would stretch from horizon to horizon and pass directly overhead. At N.European latitudes, it is "lower" in the sky (and a bit smaller).

There are many satellites positioned along the arc. They each appear staionary. For many markets, only one satelllite (or cluster of co-located satellites) is typically in use. For example, the Sky-digital market in UK use the cluster of "Astra2" satellites positioned at 28.2 degrees east. Most continental European markets use the Astra1 cluster at 19.2east, or the Hotbird cluster at 13east.

In contrast to a typical terrestrial tv arial, a satellite dish is highly directional. And perhaps paradoxically, the bigger the dish the more precisely it needs to be aimed (analogous to a higher powered telescope having a smaller field of view). If a dish is just a few centimeters too far right or left or up or down of the target position then you will miss that satellite altogether.

For the typical average viewer of satellite TV, a single dish aimed permanently at one of the mentioned positions will suffice.
That is referred to as a "fixed dish" arrangement. That dish collects the incoming signals and reflects them back to its focal point, where a clever device called an LNB (Low Noise Block down-converter) is situated. That device converts the frequency of the signal to something that can efficiently be propogated along high-grade co-axial cable to the satellite tuner/receiver.


Multi-satellite reception
-------------------------
Then there are a number of ways of being able to receive from more than just one position.

The most obvious is to have more than one fixed dish, each pointing in a different direction.

The most popular (avoiding the "one dish only" planning restrictions many regions have in force) is to use a single dish but to augment it with additional LNBs, each angled slightly differently so they pick up signals which are arriving at the dish from the different satellites and being bounced left or right of the dish centre. A switching device controls which of those multiple LNBs is in use at any given moment. The satellite receiver sends control signals to the switch as you zap between channels on the various satellites (those control signals most commmonly follow a protocol called DiSEqC)

The most flexible but also the most complicated and often most expensive solution is to use a "motorised" ("steerable") system. Basically this is just a dish mounted on a motor that spins left or right by a given amount according to instructions it receives from a "positioner". The positioner can be a stand-alone box, or integrated into the receiver.
A motorised dish is mounted at such an angle that when it is moved left or right by the motor, it actually traces out the arc along which the satellites appear to lie. Same principle as an equatorial telescope mount if you've ever been into amateur astronomy.

In fact, there are two main types of mototised system. The "traditional" type is a setup whereby a positioner powers a motor directly and sends (and counts) pulses to move it left or right. Several cables are involved, stretching from the positioner (or integrated positioner/receiver) to the motor.
Becoming more popular these days is the DiSEqC motor. This type of motor is operated entirely on power and control pulses fed up the same single coaxial cable that is already running between receiver and LNB. It is popular with manufacturers because their receivers no longer need to include a specific positioner - they just need software which generates the right control signals. The protocol of control signals used is called DiSEqC v1.2
It is popular with consumers since the cost is lower and no extra cables are required - although a specific "DiSEqC" motor is needed, or else a conversion box for operating with a traditional motor.

Signal types and encryption
---------------------------
A basic receiver without bells and whistles will typically be able to receive either "analogue" or "digital" signals. Analogue is being phased out in Europe since many more channels can be squeezed into the available bandwidth using digital techniques. Analogue systems are typically PAL or SECAM. Digital transmissions use MPEG compression, and the satellite standard is called DVB.

But a basic receiver (analogue OR digital) will only typically be able to cope with unencrypted, or Free-To-Air (FTA) signals. Most newer stuff is actually encrypted these days. So a FTA receiver will not, for example, be able to receive most of the stuff in the Sky Digital package, or Holland's "Canal Digitaal"/Canal+ package. Encryption is used to limit the reception to a paying subscriber base. A subscriber typically receives a smartcard which is activated with some "keys" to open up the channels paid for. The smartcard is inserted into a decoder (decryption) module of some description, and it is the combination of decoder module and smartcard which allows the channel(s) to be viewed.

Some decoders are external boxes that plug into the receiver. Example: D2MAC decoders for certain anlaogue channels.
Some are "embedded" in the receiver.
Example: the mebedded Irdeto of a Humax5400 digital receiver.
Some are modular, and removable.
Example: the irdeto CA modules of early Nokia boxes.

The most modern type are modular, but also receiver-independent - ie interchangeable with any "Common Interface" enabled receiver. These are called CI modules. Example: the Astoncrypt CAMs (for emulated decryption of SECA's "mediaguard" system).

All modular decoding devices are generically referred to as CAMs (Conditional Access Modules)

CAMs are like mini-computers. They internally consist of a bunch of chips including a chip at the heart which contains the 'firmware'. In some CAMs, that firmware can be replaced. Usually that process is referred to as "flashing". Most CAMs can only be flashed by the manufacturer or satellite service provider (for example, to enable slight improvements in security of the system from time to time). But a few CAMs can be flashed by the hobbyist, to enable other interesting features. One example of a flashable (reprogrammable) CAM is the original series of Irdeto CI CAMs. Some clever person once created some new firmware for that CAM that is called "FreeCAM". A CAM with FreeCAM firmware loaded can decrypt Irdeto transmissions with or without a card. Some other clever person later even tweaked the FreeCAM firmware to allow command signals from not just Irdeto but also Viaccess ad Mediaguard systems to be passed to any inserted card. That tweak was originally FreeCAM2 v0.15, and later v0.16 and most recently 0.17. So your "FreeCAM2 0.17" is an original series Irdeto CAM reflashed with firmware that - used in conjunction with a suitably programmed pirate card - can give access to channels encrypted under Irdeto, Mediaguard ("seca") and Viaccess as well as being able still to decrypt the Irdeto ones without any card at all.

The "ADD PLAINKEY" etc that you mentioned are functions not of the receiver but of the FreeCAM module. A plainkey is a particular kind of Irdeto decryption key. The FreeCAM firmware contains decryption algorithms and a set of known plainkeys for certain channels. But those keys can change, and the "enter plainkey" function allows you to update them when hey do (although you need much more knowledge on what to enter and why, before you start experimenting with that...)


Channel settings in the receiver:
---------------------------------
Most receivers allow the customer to "scan" (sometimes called "searching") for new channels or changes in the channel line up. The method of doing this varies from receiver to receiver, and most receivers allow different degrees of scanning (eg fuill scan, or scanning just on one particular frequency).
It may come as a surprise to learn that there are such changes happening daily up there. Often a satellite dealer selling a receiver will kick things off by loading a then up-to-date list of channels into the receiver. But this is just a snapshot in time. Within a few weeks, there will typically have been several changes - even on a single satellite. It's also possible that the dealer gets it wrong and introduces channels with the "wrong" parameters, so that when you actually try to tune to that channel you won't see anything. So there are all kinds of reasons that you may be "missing" channels.

Having said that, you will never of course be able to receive channels that are beyind the reach of your dish/LNB or outside the technical/decryption capabilities of your equipment. If you have a fixed dish and Fox Sports is not on the satellite you have fixed it towards, then you will never receive it without repositioning the dish. If it is transmitted on "your" satellite but under an encryption system you do not have a module and card for then you will "see" the signal but get no picture/sound.

There are many parameters that define the channels. For digital transmissions, the most essential are the frequency, the polarisation (eg, horizontal or vertical), and the symbol-rate (SR). Others include Forward-Error-Correction (FEC) but a receiver can usually determine that automatically if you command it to scan a particular freq/pol/SR. There is also a bunch of "packet identifiers" (PIDs) which the receiver uses to separate out from the huge amount of incoming digital info those bits which belong together for a particular channel. But all receivers will find PIDs automatically during scanning.
Often people refer to the combination of frequency and polarisation (and sometimes SR) as "transponder". So a receiver might have a "transponder scan" in its menu, for example. A transponder is actually an electronic device that transmits the signal, but that's another story...

2old
 

rolfw

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#7
Just had a look at http://www.lyngsat.com/dig/pw.shtml which shows the channels on Astra 19.2 and it would appear that Fox Sport Europe is not, or at least no longer in the bouquet. If you are positioned for Astra 19.2 there should be a lot of available channels 600 plus I believe.

Rolf
 
D

dbruce

Guest
#8
2Old,

First of all I would like to thank you for taking the time to help me. I have tried to do a lot of research about this stuff, but really found it hard to just get the basics...that is why I had to "break down" and post these questions.
Anyway, your post has just taught me more than I have learned in the 2 weeks I have been searching for information!!! Thanks, I feel like I at least have the bsics down....the part about the "freeCAM" module really helped me understand what is going on.
Based on the info that you gave me, I have a few questions for you...

- You mentioned about "scanning" for channels...I do have "options" in my menu to "scan channels", and "professional scan", by choosing one of these will the reciever "automatically" add new channels that it finds?? If so, I am assuming that even if it does find and add new channels, I will still have to enter a "plainkey" for the new channels, or buy a "card" which "decrypts" them?

- About "parameters" that define a channel....I have been given the parameters for Fox Sports Europe, and I entered them using the "edit channel" option....is this the correct way to do this?? It didn't seem to work, but I am guessing that that channel doesn't exist on Astra1 or that I can't "decrypt" it with the "module" that I have....Also, by entering the parameters (frequency, etc.) does this automatically chose the correct "transponder" to use for that channel?? Just curious because there is also an option to "add transponders", "edit transponers", etc, etc...

- I used to get a channel when I first bought my equipment, but now I don't recieve it any more...is this because the "codes" changed for this channel, and I have to enter an updated "plainkey"??

- You have brought to my attention that I don't have a card (to put into my Ird "module"), if I do get one, I guess that I will "unlock" other channels that I have in my "channel list"?? Will a card provide me with other channels that aren't on my list, or will it only "decrypt" ones that I do have on my list??

- Finally, can you point me to a good (easy to understand) place where I can learn how to enter and edit "plainkeys"??

2Old, I greatly appreciate you time and effort in helping me, like I said before, you have already given me a real "boost" in understanding this stuff!! Thanks again...

Cheers,
dbruce

-
 
D

dbruce

Guest
#9
Rolf,

Thanks for the URL to the channel listings for Astra......I assume that this list is ALL of the available channels offered, and that when the channels "change" (as explained in 2Old's info above) this list on the site changes?? I gather then, that this is a good site to look at periodically, to see if I can get new channels??

Also, is Astra 19.2 the same as Astra 19??? Just curious because I've been given info that FOX Sports Europe is available on : Astra 19 East, freq- 11.914, sym bit rate- 27.500, 3/4 FEC......but you say that it isn't available?? Is it becasue there is indeed a difference between Astra 19 and Astra 19.2??

Thanks again for your help...

dbruce
 

2old4this

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#10
Get ready. This is another long post...

The precise functionality of the scan options varies from machine to machine. For example, The new Echostar 7000 receivers about to hit the market offer many different ways of scanning. These include options like: scan only for transmissions flagged as being FTA, scan only on a single transponder, scan a particular 'network' (=provider effectively, like Canal+ or like Sky), scan all transponders on the current satellite, scan all satellites, scan only for changes, etc. Each scan option behaves differently. The "all" options typically replace (completely overwrite) the existing list of channels in your receiver (or at least, the list for the particular satellite being scanned). The single transponder or network scan options typically will simply append the channels found to the existing list. The "update" option when present (it is by no means common) will replace individual channels with their new settings (or delete any that have disappeared altogether since the last scan), and add new ones to the existing list. All of this should be described in the manual for your receiver.

The key(s) required to acutually decrypt a particular channel are independant of the channel parameters that scan/search works with. Scan functions can not test the decryption process itself during scanning. Even the "FTA-only" options actually only look at the status of a flag that the provider sets manually for its channels. Half the time, the provider doesn't bother to use that consistently and encrypted channels will be flagged as FTA/clear, or vice versa.
For those channels that are really encrypted, the timeframe in which the keys change is dependent on the policy of the provider. Some providers never change the keys. Some change them hourly, to keep ahead of the pirates. Official subscribers never notice key changes since their cards are "autoupdating". And indeed some pirate cards can be made auto-updating too, although that requires having a "masterkey". Important here to note that there are different kinds of keys, usually a heirarchy of them. Keys at the bottom of the heirarchy give access for the moment, but those keys can change frequently as I said. Keys at the next level up will control the auto-update of the lower keys. And the details vary too for the different encryption systems. The working of Irdeto keys at the detailed level are different from, for example, that of Mediaguard keys.

The FreeCAM firmware incorporates an Irdeto v1 emulator, and a set of the lowest-level Irdeto keys, called plainkeys. These are fine for watching the German Premiere World package and the part of the Dutch Canal+ package that is still encrypted in Irdeto - since those two providers rarely change even that lowest level of keys. But it's next to useless for packages such as Nova/Hellas which changed keys every day or so (and incidentally had now stopped using Irdeto v1 altogether). There is no auto-update functionality in a FreeCAM when used in emulator mode (ie when used without a card and with the EMU option set to "ON" in the "goodies" menu). When those low-level plainkeys do change, you need to hunt down the new ones from the internet (or indeed by logging them yourself as they are transmitted by the provider by satellite - if you have the right equipment) - and then convert them into the form that FreeCAM understands, before entering them using your remote control from the FreeCAM menu.
Details of how to do the conversion have been posted here before (use our search function). It's not difficult. I could describe the mnechanics in a few lines, but I tyink it's better to first understand the underlying concepts.
In a nutshell: the "plainkeys" you can enter into a FreeCAM are actually concatenations of a 1-byte provider sequence number, a 1-byte key-sequence number and an actual 8-byte plainkey. Those ten hexadecimal bytes are converted into ten 3-digit decimal numbers simply so that they can be entered via the remote-control (which only has decimal digits available).

Sites which carry such keys are included in the links posted from time to time in our keys forum. Some sites even carry the converted 10x3 digit freeCAM codes so you don't need to do the conversion yourself.

If you want to watch channels encrypted under any other system than Irdeto v1 (and the variant called Betacrypt used by Premiere World) then you will in any case definitely need a card. The FreeCAM will accept a range of cards. They include official subscriber Irdeto cards, as well as pirate Irdeto cards or pirate "multi-encryption" cards. By "pirate" I mean cards such as the ubiquitous goldwafer or funcard. Please refer to many other posts on this board for full details on that. There is also a beginners how to/FAQ on porogramming goldwafers, under our smartcards forum (locate using the search function).

On your question about entering channel parameters - again, this is something that is receiver dependent. You need to realise that there are dozens of different receivers on the market and they each have their own unique software & functionality. Check your manual. If you had followed the recommended procedure and still didn't see the expected channel, there could be a load of reasons why. Here are a few:
- channel parameters entered were simply wrong
- channel parameters entered were out of date (eg channel now using different PIDs)
- channel no longer exists at all, or has moved to a different transponder or even satellite.
- channel is transmitting in a format your equipment can not proces. EG it is carried ona low "C-band" frequency whereas your Dish, LNB and receiver are only suitable for the higher "ku-band" frequencies.
- channel is correctly specified and receivable but you can not decrypt it (eg no smartcard, invalid smartcard, not the correct CI module/CAM, keys have changed and your card was not auto-updating...)

There are a few reliable sources of channel/transponder/satellite lists - such as lyngsat, or satcodx (both online). But you need to be aware that these can never be completely 100% up to date. They are maintained by hobbyists or provider-independent professionals, who can do no more than collate their own discoveries or those reported by other enthusiasts. It is not the case that all of the dozens of different providers dutifully keep such sites informed of changes. They only have an obligation to keeyp their own particular customer base informed, and often that customer base may not even be a consumer. It may be the manager of a cable distribution network or a studio news network (many satellite broadcasts are not intended for the general public at all).

A further note of clarification on tranponders: like I said in my earlier post, the term "transponder' has become misused in the satellite world. People and receivers often refer to a particular combination of frequency/polarisation and sometimes symbol-rate as being a "transponder". So the "add transponder" option really means "enter into my receiver's database another different unique combination of frequency, polarisation and symbol rate that can be scanned for channels". Here too an additional word of clarification is needed: you may think that a receiver auutomatically scans for any and every signal that might be up there, but that is not usually possible. Only a tiny number of receivers offer such a fully automatic scan option (I know of only one in the consumer market). All others scan whatever particular set/database of pre-defined "transponders" you have defined (or that someone else loaded before you purchased it). This is for the sake of speed. A full scan, actively hunting out whatever frequencies happen to be carrying signals, could take 24 hours or more.
In fact, some receivers - particularly those aimed at the non-specialist - use an even quicker method of setting up channels. They simply download a table that has been set up by the provider and is part of the constant stream of info being beamed down from a particular "default" transponder. The Sky Digibox uses that method. When you access the "new installation" option in a digibox's installer menu, it doesn't really re-scan the satellite or even a set of pre-defined tranponders. It simply downloads a table of channel settings held in Sky's default transponder.

One final note in case it wasn't entirely clear in all of the above:
as I said, the decryption and the scanning processes are entirely independent. That means, for example, that a smartcard will never give access to channels that hadn't already been scanned in. In fact, the receiver only passes control to the card & CAM once it has already locked onto a particular channel. So if the channel is not in your receiver's memory/list in the first place, no card - however up to date the keys are - will give access to it.

2old
PS
There is no satellite currently positioned at 19.0 degrees east. Any reference to 19east is actually a less accurate reference to the Astra1 cluster of satellites at 19.2east.
 

Channel Hopper

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#11
Since the freecam is a system that requires no card, what you have is all you need to receive almost any Irdeto channel

The Palcom should have (at least with the present software) a Transponder search facility, that is the most accurate that I have used.

Assuming that it is the 2200 CI with the CAM slot in the back, the install menu (last on the list) will allow you to selelct this option, simply press OK twice and the updated channels are presented to you on a window to the right that you confirm to be added to the main list on the left

Assuming that Fox is indeed a free or an Irdeto channel, I could not tell you at the moment, then your receiver has the capability to give you picture and sound, though you may have to find the appropriate freecam code if its encrypted.
 
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dbruce

Guest
#12
2old,

I must say, I have really learned a lot here....suddenly everything makes sense. Things that were confusing to me for the past week are now totally clear because you have explained things in "laymen's terms", I really want to thank you for your patience. Now I think I can at least post logical questions and not sound like a moron!!! Again, thanks for everything, and I'm sure I'll talk to you more on the board!!

Cheers,
dbruce
 
D

dbruce

Guest
#13
Channel Hopper,

Hey there, yes my reciever is the 2200 CI with the CAM slot in the back. So, I can use the "Transponder search" facility to search for new channels instead of the "search for new channels" facility?? When the updated channels are presented to you on a window to the right (when using the "Transponder search" facility you mentioned), do these overwrite (delete) the old channels (if they aren't available anymore)?? One more thing, will the "Transponder search" present updated channels that aren't Ird or free (even though I know I wouldn't be able to un-encrypt them)?? I am wondering because if any channels are found, and they sound interesting to me, I could find out how they are encrypted, and buy the appropriate card for them. Thanks for you help Channel Hopper, it's greatly appreciated!

Cheers,
dbruce
 
D

dbruce

Guest
#14
Channel Hopper,

Well, after I checked, I can't seem to find an "install menu". I do have a "main menu", and on that menu I chose "channel list", then "search channels"......it started searching and the at the end I had a list of channels on the right (similar to what you were describing), I then clicked "exit" and it brought me to a screen that asked if I wanted to "save changes", "exit without saving", and one other one I can't remember. I clicked "save changes", and then checked my channel list. None of the channels that were found by the search appeared in the list, in fact now I my favorite channel, Premiere Sport 3 isn't even in the list, but Premiere Sport 1 and Premiere Sport 2 are still there...does this make any sense?? How can I get Premiere Sport 3 back (I have to have it!!!!)? I tried turning my reciever off then on again hoping the list would be restored, but no luck.

Cheers,
dbruce
 

2old4this

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#15
These sports channels do not tranmsit continually. Maybe you scanned at a time that PW sport3 was not transmitting?
See here for the actual settings.
http://www.gieseler.de/tips_tricks/premiere_freq.htm
Set them up "by hand" and then you're not dependent on them transmitting at the moment you do the scan.

2old
 
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dbruce

Guest
#16
2Old,

You were exactly right, I figured that might the reason, but since this is new to me, I didn't trust myself!! Thanks again...

dbruce
 
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#17
hi, all.
i am interested in buying digital satellite reciever. can any body provide me information about cam & cards and programming of cards. which satellite reciever is best for all cam, how to install cam. pl. do not hasitate in providing as much information in this regard.
take care
majeed
 

jimbo

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#18
Welcome majeedanwar

Have you read through this thread and some others on the site? Lots of info there. You should let us know your location and what channels interest you. What is your budget and are you PC literate.
 
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