Upgrading Your Satellite Dish
How can I pick up TV channels from other satellites on my
Simple. You have two alternatives, either you move the dish,
so that it points at other satellites, or you leave the dish where it is, and
mount a second LNB, or a moveable LNB, that will pick up ‘side-lobe’
transmissions, from satellites next to the Astra ‘birds’. A moveable or streerable dish can be quite
expensive, but it will give you the greatest coverage. Incidentally, a 60 cm
Astra dish is really big enough for most other satellites. To do the job
properly you will need a dish that’s at least 1 to 1.5 metres in diameter, plus
somewhere to put it, that has a clear and unobstructed view of the Southern
How much is that little lot likely to cost?
Motorised dish packages start at around £500, but you can up
grade your present system by adding a large dish, polar mount and positioner
for around £250, the control box for the dish will set you back another £100 or
so, thought some receivers have them built-in.
How about upgrading my existing dish?
That’s a lot simpler, and cheaper, though you will only be
able to pick up two or three extra satellites. If you’re only interested in
specific channels from one satellite then the easiest option is to bolt on an extension
arm for a second LNB, positioned to the right or left of the existing one. It
may be necessary to re-align the dish onto the weaker satellite, so that the stronger
Astra channels are on the side-lobe. You will also need to run a second cable,
from the LNB to your set-top receiver. If it has twin LNB inputs you’re home
and dry, if not you’ll have to buy a switch box, or manually swap the cables
every time you want to change satellites. Extension arms and brackets, like the
popular ‘Little Extra’ start at around £15, extra LNBs cost from about £30
What’s the other alternative?
Move the LNB. There’s several gadgets on the market, that
bolt to the LNB bracket on your dish. The LNB is then attached to a moveable
arm, that shifts it from side to side. This will enable you to pick up several
extra satellites, and you won’t need to buy an extra LNB. At least one of these widgets doesn’t require any
extra wiring. The motor derives its power from the LNB feeder cable, which also
carries the control signals to move the arm.
How much do they cost, and are they difficult to fit?
The most popular LNB positioner is the IRTE Multisat, which
retails for between £120 to £150. You might also need to upgrade your LNB if it’s
an old type, in order to pick up some of the extra channels, if so add another
£30 or so to the cost, and check your receiver has enough spare channel
capacity to cope. How easy or difficult they are to install depends to a large
extent on how comfortable you are working up a ladder. It involves a fair amount
of fiddling around, though it shouldn’t be beyond the skills of an average
handyperson, but if you’re in any doubt have it fitted by an expert. A job like
this will typically cost between £25 to £40, depending on the amount of work
What is there to watch on these other satellites?
The three most interesting satellites that you can pick up
from a fixed dish -- in addition to the five Astra satellites -- are Eutelsat
II F3 at 16 degrees East of South, Eutelsat II F1, and Eutelsat ‘Hot Bird, at
13 degrees East of South. Between them they carry around 60 television
channels, and a similar number of audio-only ‘radio’ channels. Currently around
one third of the TV broadcasts are scrambled, that includes the handful of
porno channels, most of which are now unavailable in the UK due to restrictions
on the sale of viewing cards and unscramblers. There’s a sprinkling of news, sports
and general entertainment channels with English language soundtracks, the rest
are foreign stations, many of them aimed at ex-patriot communities spread
across Europe; they broadcast a mixture of news and general entertainment.
R. Maybury 1996 1903