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Barely twelve years go, when Channel 4 first went on the air, there was considerable and often heated public debate about whether or not we actually needed four television channels in this country...



Multi channel TV has been quickly absorbed into our culture and hardly anyone bats an eyelid at 48-channel satellite TV anymore. However, for some TV addicts even that is not enough, and the prospect of a further 16 channels next year, when Astra 1D is launched, does little to satisfy their craving. Help is at hand, and now it is possible to pick up another 60 or so extra channels without changing to a large motorised dish. It's all thanks to a simple bolt-on gadget, called the IRTE Multisat. It works on the principle that although a dish is aimed at just one satellite, it actually picks up signals from satellites a few degrees either side of the one it's pointing at.


Over the past couple of years several companies have marketed bolt-on extension brackets to exploit this feature, these have a second LNB, positioned a few centimetres to one side of the main LNB, to intercept the extra signals. They work well but in addition to a second LNB, which can be expensive, they require a second cable between the dish and receiver, and unless the tuner has two inputs, lead swapping can be a chore.


Multisat gets around this problem by replacing the original LNB mounting bracket with a small motorised arm. It physically moves the LNB from side to side in front of the dish so it can 'see' up to four extra satellites (Eutelsats F1, F2, F3 and Kopernicus). There are no additional cables, the existing cable carries both power and control signals to the arm, and it will work with just about any satellite system on the market.


Providing you don't mind working up a ladder and are reasonably familiar with satellite TV hardware installation needn't take longer than half an hour; the three Multisat kits cover most popular makes and sizes of dish, including one specifically for Maspro systems. A small control and IR receiver module connects between the receiver and LNB cable (extra leads are supplied) and after entering the set-up routine it automatically sets the LNB off on its travels, seeking out and memorising the positions of all receivable satellites. Satellites are subsequently selected using the remote control handset; spare channel memories on the receiver can be allocated to the new channels.


Picture quality largely depends on dish and LNB performance, and the fact that the other satellites transmit less powerful signals than Astra. In London and the home counties the picture quality on channels broadcast from Eutelsat's F1 and F3, using a 60cm dish, are generally acceptable, there's bound to be a few sparklies but not enough to spoil the picture too much. Transmissions from Eutelsat F2 and Kopernicus are quite noisy but viewable. Further North sparklies will almost certainly make the pictures on some channels unwatchable, and it may be advisable to get a larger dish (80cm), and/or a higher-performance LNB.


Multisat is a quick and reasonably simple upgrade for Astra dish owners living South of Watford, those living in more northerly latitudes might have to resort to more costly solutions. It's a useful halfway-house fix STV addicts who, for one reason or another cannot install a steerable dish, but we suspect it'll prove most popular with ex-pats living in this country, who will find an interesting selection of European and North African TV and radio channels to sift through.





The simplest and currently the most efficient means of increasing the number of channels on older Astra fixed dish systems. Very well designed and sturdily built, it's a boon for satellite TV addicts and homesick ex-pats from various European and Arabic countries, who are well catered for on Eutelsat and Intelsat satellites.



It's not a straightforward DIY job, and should not be tackled by anyone unfamiliar with satellite equipment, or uncomfortable working up a ladder.

Picture quality on the extra satellites may be poor, especially on older systems or smaller dishes (60cm), and on sites North of Watford.


Build quality               ****

Value for money:       ****

Ease of use:                *****

Facilities                     ****


MASPRO UK/ELECTROTECH, Unit 6, Drury Way Industrial Estate,

Laxcon Close, Neasden, London NW10 OTG

Telephone 081-451 6766



1994 0703


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