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Satellite for Beginners Newbie to satellite? Don't be scared... you're in the right place

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Old 07-01-06, 12:01 AM   #1 (permalink)
SatelliteHelp
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Default So, where do I start then?

Welcome to the Beginners section, and to Satellite Help!

A bit daunting, this satellite lark isn't it? You just know that as interesting as it may seem, something that sounds this good is just going to be really hard work for a newcomer.

Well, if this isn't the first forum you've stumbled across, you might be forgiven for being a little cautious or even intimidated. Like most technical hobbies there are some seriously large egos out there, and newbies can get a real rough ride. It's tough enough starting from scratch without being insulted and patronised by some egg-head with all the social graces of Attila the Hun.

You'll be glad to hear then, that we're exactly the opposite!

One of our stated objectives at Satellite Help is to encourage and support those just starting out.

Refreshing? We thought so!

We've spent a very long time writing guides to get you started. We believe that they are the clearest and most comprehensive on the Internet. If you don't agree, please tell us why and we'll improve them further.

Whether you read them or not is entirely up to you however. We're not one of those forums that insist that you read everything before asking a question. Everyone is different and likes to learn in a different way. We also understand that people learn at different rates. If you ask something that we know is answered clearly in another place, we might direct you to it. We know where the relevant stuff is, but we don't expect you to.

Sometimes, you just need an answer fast, so just ask!

You can also avail yourselves of the excellent Search facility. Search from the main index page if you want to cover every section though.

I can clearly remember what it felt like being confronted with heaps of conflicting and bewildering information. Every time I thought I'd sussed one topic so another entire layer of complexity revealed itself to me.

I thought I'd never have enough information or confidence to actually get anything worthwhile up and running. It took endless ‘reading between the lines’ and deciphering cryptic comments to even work out what was possible in terms of channel reception.

We promise to try and cut through all that nonsense. Simple answers to simple questions. We'll help everyone that asks for help, and support them through their first satellite experiences all the way, via this free forum.

One of the main things we will always bear in mind when making such suggestions is price. Some people just want 'the best' without even knowing what that means, whilst others just want to have a play without committing any significant funds. Guess what? We can support you all!

We will also try to be open-minded about how seriously you want to take this. Some people will just want a system ‘off the shelf’ and others may be looking for a hobby. Some will want to have a system installed professionally and some may want to DIY.

All fine by us.

One final thing I’d like to mention before we get stuck in. We don’t sell stuff. Any kind of stuff. We don’t have any commercial ties to anyone. We can and will recommend certain equipment and certain suppliers if we think they are offering good value for money or above average service. We serve only one customer - you. We are independent and proud of it. We don't limit our recommendations to those that advertise with us, and we even have a great eBay section.

For those of you who aren't fans of reading and researching, we have some shortcuts. If you're happy to skip all the preliminaries and just want a working system up and running ASAP, there now follows an accelerated path to satellite Nirvana. I'm even happy to give you some advice on what to buy as long as you know a little about where you want to go with this.

That may sound crazy, but there are some obvious choices in terms of hardware out there, and with a little consumer-level contemplation you could have your purchases made before you get your first sat-headache!

Right, enough chit-chat. If this fits your criteria then why not give it a go? The following is directed at UK residents, but don’t let that put you off if you live elsewhere. Just substitute the name of your local satellite broadcaster when you see ‘Sky’.

_________________________________________________

Is this you?

You are smart enough to realise that you are not going to get all the channels that you can get on Sky for nothing. You know that you cannot replace Sky or c@ble with a coat-hanger, a 9v battery and some chewing gum. It’s obvious that TV streamed over the Internet from far-flung places is not going to let you watch the Premiership football in glorious Technicolor every weekend.

You may or may not have a Sky subscription. It may be you just have ‘the free satellite channels’. You may or may not have Freeview digital terrestrial TV, but you want more. Either more Channels, more of a challenge or more boxes under your TV (are you mad? ).

Not sure about all the technicalities? Not even sure you want to get involved in all that? Maybe you’ve heard that there are other satellites in the sky. More channels to watch, some in English, but many others too. Some football? Porn, radio, movies?

You’ve heard rumours down the pub. Your friend’s friend has some cool exotic TV, or maybe you've stumbled over something on the Internet. You want a piece of the action.

You want a nice looking Set Top Box. You're not a geek (not yet! ). You may want to take this further later, but you’d like to sample what’s available without breaking the bank.

Putting a dish up (or a second dish if you already have a Sky minidish) is not a show-stopper. It’ll need to be at least 60cm diameter, but the bigger the better. 90cm will do all but the most exotic if you live in the UK.

OK, I’ve done all the talking. Now make some decisions. Break out the http://www.techwatch.co.uk/glossary/ in a new window so I don’t lose you.

Not sure if you want to direct your dish towards loads of satellites? Then get a 'fixed' dish like the Sky minidish in principle, one that points at a single satellite (possibly three or four if you go for multiple LNB’s). Want more than that and have an extra 50 - 80 to spend? Get a DiSEqC motor as well, or you can always add a motor later as long as you use the correct wall brackets now (see below).

There are lots of pros and cons, but this is not the place. This is! Confused about this? Ask in the forum. Please do.

Now, go forth and source/research/price some of this kit on the Internet. It’s suitable for your needs, reliable and good quality (we won’t advise short-sighted corner-cutting to save a few quid). Read some reviews, check some specs. Compare and contrast the sometimes subtle differences in models etc. Check back onto our forum if you get lost or dazed.

Technomate TM-1000D if you are on a tight budget.
Technomate TM-1500CI+ if you have a little more cash and want to 'expand' later.

Both of these receivers can be ‘patched’ easily and cheaply at home to extend the native capability beyond FTA and they have first class support.

Check out the whole Technomate range here: Technomate UK - Your digital partner for life
Moteck SG2100A DiSEqC motor (if you're going to motorise).

Triax TD88 88cm steel dish with folding LNB arm. The larger Triax dish (TD110) doesn’t fold, and is the largest you should consider on a DiSEqC motor. The smaller ones are also good (TD64, TD78), but like most things in life, bigger is better.

MTI Blue Line 0.3db single-output universal LNB (the business-end of the dish).
Any decent 0.3-0.6db LNB will do, but the MTI blue is excellent and cheap.

Some good quality WF100 or equivalent double screened satellite c@ble. Don’t cut corners here. It must be digital satellite c@ble, not dodgy TV c@ble.

Four ‘F’ connectors (or two for a fixed dish system). There is only one type or gender of ‘F’ connector.

Self-amalgamating tape (to waterproof and seal the external connections). You can live without this, but it’s a good investment if you want to avoid the recurring ladder nightmare.

Wall brackets & fixings (assuming wall mount). Choose T&K type brackets with a 2” steel mounting pole if going motorised, as it’s easier to adjust correctly. A simple wall mount will do if just using a fixed dish, but don’t forget that you get what you pay for in terms of quality. Use decent fixing bolts if doing it yourself.

That’s far from comprehensive, but it’ll give you something to think about and that equipment will give some impressive results.

_________________________________________________

Some high quality how-to’s and installation guides are available in our aptly named Utilities, FAQs, How-to's section.

Please also consider reading the other 'stickies' at the top of our Beginners and General Help sections.

Finally, when shopping around, please have a look at our advertisers products and prices. We get very few donations and advertising is our only real form of income. We carry ads from the biggest and best suppliers, so please support them and in turn support us.

Regards, SH

Last edited by robbo71 : 01-04-08 at 10:41 AM. Reason: updated link to glossary
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Old 11-11-07, 10:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
robbo71
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Default Re: So, where do I start then?

Since this was written, Technomate have released improved versions of the TM1000D and TM 1500CI+ receivers, they are:-
TM5200D USB ( improved TM1000D)
TM5400CI+ USB (improved TM1500CI+)

Both have 10,000 channel capacity instead of the original 5,000.
Also they are 'PVR ready' by attaching an external hard drive to the USB port. Prices for the TM5400CI+ are approx 25-30 more than the TM5200D, at the time or writing, and are at a similar price to the former models.
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TM1000D.110cm Triax.STABHH-90 motor. DigitAlb movie package. Virgin Media Cable TV, Phone & Broadband subs.
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