Frequently Asked Questions
(Analog on other tab)
Q. What hardware do I need to receive these
Satellite Anime Technical F.A.Q.
Frequently Asked Questions
(an old FAQ, tidied up Oct 2010)
Q. Why watch satellite TV anime?
A:It's an alternative source (the others being retail sales, imports, fansubs, digital downloads, and dodgy cheap DVDs from the far East).
OK, the shows may be dubbed into a foreign language, but there are advantages. It can be very cheap, and you can stumble on some very obscure anime.
Q. What hardware do I need to receive these anime programmes?
A. A receiver and a dish antenna with LNB.
Have you a Sky Digital satellite installation? Yes? Useful for
English pay channels only!
Have you an old Astra (Sky Analog) installation? Yes? Useful! See the Analog FAQ
Have you a free-to-air (digital or analog) enthusiast's system?
Yes? Useful! read the channel list & program listings.
No system at all?
Do you want it in English? This means subscribing to Sky pay satellite TV, and still no guarantee that there will be any progs.
Do you object to paying a sub. and are you willing to watch foreign language TV? If so, do you want to spend:
(a) As little as possible? Yes? Scrounge an unwanted Sky Analog
(Astra) outfit and install it yourself.
(b)-Whatever it takes?
Do you want (1) a TV Service installation or (2) an Enthusiast's
(1) TV. You probably want a two-satellite fixed setup with a free-to-air
Digital receiver (and a card slot). Read the FAQs below.
(2) Enthusiast. You probably want a motorized dish, with Digital
receiver (or digital/analog if you're a complete nerd), with
a bigger dish that will get signal from at least a dozen satellites. Read the FAQs.
Digital Receivers FAQ
Q. Where is the anime?
A On Eutelsat 13 deg. E, 16 deg.E, also Astra 19 deg.E, and 28
deg.E, the latter being the BskyB satellite position. (see Channel
Q. What hardware do I need to receive these anime
A. If you are curious about anime from other countries, you need a European-style reciever, an entirely different ketttle of fish from "Sky".
Which leads to the question of which satellite to point it at. For BSkyB you don't need to know that - it's the installer's problem.
But for Euro anime there are up to three of interest - 13 deg.E, 16 deg.E and 19 deg.E. You can use a fixed dish for one, or two satellites,
but for more it's getting silly and you should go for a DiSeq digital motorised mounting, which won't cost much more.
Q: I don't have a satellite receiving outfit. How much will it cost to buy one?
A. That really depends on what you want to do, and how serious
you are about satellite.
For European anime, you should buy a free-to-air (FTA) digital receiver, capable of receiving digital signals from anywhere. (Not to be confused
with a Sky or On Digital box!!) . Unless you are certain you
will never want to subscribe to anything (e.g. the amazing Mangas channel)
you should choose a receiver with a CAM slot so that a CAM and card can
be purchased and fitted at a later date. You will now (Nov. 2001) miss little or no anime by dropping the analog capability altogether, but though 99% of all channels are duplicated in digital, they may be scrambled on digital, or just don't have enough signal strength, or are on a different satellite, and so it could be foolish to discard any existing analog capability.
With the dish and installation you are looking at (Check magazines or WWW for current pricing).
When deciding what exactly to get, consider the following: you really
want at minimum two feeds on the same fixed dish, so that you can get signals from both Astra 19deg and Eutelsat 13deg E, thus doubling the utility of the setup at a very modest extra cost. Or consider a motorised kit, which now costs little more. You should purchase a dish one
size bigger to allow for this (e.g. 80 cm instead of 60cm). A good dealer will know exactly what is wanted to realize your requirements. You can
retain analog capability if you wish, either by looping in an old analog receiver, or choosing a combined digital/analog reciever. As time goes by, analog is less and less likely to be worth the bother. Be warned though that even with loop-through, the simple idea of having both analog and digital receivers active and able to record turns out in practice to be beset with annoying practical problems, and if the system was already
motorized, it's even worse! (A combined digital/analog receiver sorts out most of these annoyances, but at a cost.) Other useful extras include channel-selecting timed recording (available on very few of the
early receivers but becoming more common), and automatic motorized positioning.
However, with a smallish dish, usable digital signals may be obtained from only three or four satellite positions, including of course Astra 19E and Eutelsat 13E.
Getting ambitious? The ultimate motorised multi-satellite outfit with enough sensitivity
for the more difficult satellites will leave little change from £1000,
professionally installed. However nobody is going to consider this unless they see multi-satellite reception as a hobby in itself. A typical price for a top
of the range combined digital & analog receiver is about £??? (cheaper than in the past).
In the past, such systems have used dishes well in excess of 1 metre in diameter. With so many digital channels at 13degE and 19 deg.E (Astra and Eutelsat) it may be that the extra cost and complication of
a motorized system is less of an attraction, (unless you positively require the channels from the outlying satellites, of course).
Q: But I'm sure I've seen them much cheaper than £xxx!
A: Read the small print. You're confusing the sign-now, pay lots
££ later offers for digital subscription services, with the
one-off cost of a free to air outfit. You only get digital for a token fee
if you subscribe to Sky, which costs several hundred pounds a year - many sat. users do, of course. You may also have to pay for installation; it depends on the terms of the offer. The £x lead price is a minimum; you may
also be stung for poles, brackets and replacement cabling.
If cost is a problem for you, you may find receivers
for as little as £100, though most still cost twice as much. Note
that a digital satellite computer card may cost less than a conventional receiver, and could also have use for downloading computer data.
Q. What size dish will I need?
This depends on several factors: your location, the satellites of interest, and the quality of your receiving equipment. As a guide, in south-east England a 60 cm dish is good for anything from Astra 19 deg E, and a 80 cm is the minimum for digital from Eutelsat 13 deg.E. An 80 cm dish
(which costs only about £20 more than a 60 cm) is a popular size
for twin-satellite or multi-satellite in SE England. In short, you need
a dish either the same size as an old Sky Astra dish, or 20cm bigger. If in doubt, err on the large side as this will compensate for a multitude of problems such as rain, long cable runs, dual feed operation, ageing
LNB's, and misalignment. Remember that if the dish is too small you will get no digital picture ar all!
For multi-satellite digital, consider a 1 metre dish or whatever size
will get the signals of interest, or use a high-performance LNB (much more expensive) but check for planning permission if you exceed 90cm.dish size. With a smallish dish, usable digital signals may be obtained from
only three or four satellite positions, including of course Astra 19E and Eutelsat 13E.
Q: What are Common Interface & CAM's? Do I need one?
Digital receiver terminology: A free-to air receiver cannot receive any subscription channels. A receiver with a Common Interface can be upgraded to decode subscription services (Iredeto, Viaccess, or whatever) by plugging
in the appropiate CAM (Common Access Module). The CAM can be either built-in (on certain models) or a plug-in optional extra resembling a computer PCMCIA card. A subscription card must also be obtained and plugged into
the CAM. Hence if you have a Common Interface you have an upgrade path to any subscription service without buying another receiver. To receive the amazing Mangas channel you need a Viaccess CAM (about £50) and
a subscription card for AB Sat (from £120) - and it's legal!
Q: How much does installation cost?
A: About £50 for an Astra dish, from £150-£250
Q: Can I install it myself then and save £50?
A: No! Expert handymen only! This sort of technical task is simple
if you have the knowledge, and a van full of cable, clips, bolts, ladder, power tools, satellite meters, etc etc. But if you haven't, leave well alone! Just buying the cable and supplies will eat up half of your £50,
and you could make a bad installation, cause thousands of pounds worth of property damage, infringe planning regulations, and even severely injure yourself. Anyway, it could take you so long to get it right that you could
have earned the money to pay the man. Digital alignment is almost impossible without special signal strength meters (or a pre-existing analog installation).
(Yes, some receivers have a built-in signal strength meter, but be aware that the receiver may not show a picture until it has stored the data for the channels, which it won't do unless it has been aimed at a good signal for some considerable time)
A professional can attach a fixed ASTRA dish to a brick wall in as little as half an hour, but if you have to install a 1.2 metre dish (required for some worst-case British Eutelsat installations) in a gale-lashed location, it will be more like civil engineering with steel and concrete.
Q: It still seems expensive.Can't I get something cheaper?
A: Not everybody has £xxx+ to throw around. OK, forget the
digital for a while and pick up one of the junked analog
kits. There is some seriously cheap kit around, especially now
that analog installations have been long ago replaced by Digital. There are now several hundred thousand redundant analog Sky systems in
the UK, so if you ask nicely there is no need to pay for one at all.
Q: All this seems too complicated. I'm not technically minded. Do
I have to be?
A: Hopefully not. Find a shop that sells free-to-air digital receivers intended for expats. (not the ubiquitous Sky subscription kit). And feign deafness when they try to sell you a Sky subscription with it.
Q: Can I adapt my fixed dish to get more than one satellite?
A: There are various answers:
a) If you really want a decent watch-the-world multisatellite outfit, given that such a system and a fixed system have almost no components in common, the best thing to do is to dispose of your fixed outfit and start anew. The components for an analog multisatellite system used to
be quite expensive.
However, with satellite parts being mass produced , much
cheaper components such as 80cm pressed metal dishes, 40mm neck Universal LNBs, and digital receivers incorporating positioner software, can be had at ever-decreasing prices. Systems put together with these components perform quite well and cost far less than a smartphone (excluding
installation, which is not a trivial task). Some industry commentators
think that with satellite powers increasing, such 80cm. systems (with digital or digital/analog) will be the multisatellite receivers of the future. b) If you want two, or maybe 3 satellites very close in the sky, you can get away with having extra LNB's attached to your fixed dish. (The dish
size may need to be uprated, though with the new "birds" installed Nov
1998 this is less likely). For anime, a twin-sat setup for 19.2deg.E/13deg.
E offers the most anime per pound spent. More than two fixed feeds isn't very clever as a more versatile motorized dish may cost no more. Bearing in mind that the dish may need to be sized up for the weaker signals, the extra cost is from about £75.
c) Many dealers will offer you motorized upgrades for a fixed dish, for about £100 - £150+, but be sure to ask exactly what they are offering. What you want is a DiSeq motor head, but you may have some trouble sourcing one that will definitely work properly with your digital receiver.
d) Install a second fixed dish. This seems a popular option, mass-produced dishes being cheap; and a second receiver is unlikely to be required. You may need planning permission for two dishes, or one dish over 90cm, on the same property (or just mount them somewhere out of sight). (One
of my neighbours has three dishes and nobody seems concerned).
e) If the neighbours have dish phobia, note that soon, with satellite powers increasing, a movable 80cm dish in the south-east UK will (from Nov 1998) suffice to receive the majority of digital transmissions from
ASTRA and EUTELSAT as well as the SKY digital satellite at 28.5 deg. E.
Even smaller dishes may give good results, if you pay a large premium
for a precision engineered product.
Q. Is it worth getting a motorised (multisatellite) system?
Depends how keen you are. In any case a digital/DiSeq multisatellite system is much cheaper than the analog multisatellite systems with mass-produced parts used to be (and a fraction of the cost of the old centre feed and bolt-on feed horn antennas).
95% of the digital channels of interest are on just two satellite
positions! However, you may want to access other positions; for instance at one time, MTV Italia with its popular anime was available in clear at 16 deg. E,
which is not a popular fixed-dish
position. I've suggested that a twin-fixed system is a good compromise, but in fact the difference in cost between twin-fixed and DiSeq motorised
is not much. The Diseq motor heads cost about £ (check current pricing). So it's your choice.
But some people find that finding obscure satellite channels is a fascinating hobby in itself. If you do go for it, make sure you end up with a fully automatic system, ie one that can wake up via timer, find a channel, find the satellite, record, and shut off. There is some question over whether the current digital receivers are as reliable for these automated tasks as an analog receiver and 36 volt actuator setup.
The 36 volt power actuators (jacks or geared heads) as used for many years swing the dish a lot quicker than those DiSeq motor heads powered by the LNB cable, and can support bigger dishes. [The DiSeq positioning power is about 9 watts, wheras a 36 volt positioner can deliver as much as 180 watts!] On the other hand they are more
expensive and require a multicore cable feed capable of supplying several amps. 36 volt systems use either an inbuilt or a separate positioner.
The cheaper digital receivers generally support DiSeq positioning only, not the 36 volt positioner system.
FTA Digital receivers now nearly all support the DiSeq standards, but
watch out that you get one that supports multi-satellite operation, not just 4 fixed feeds. And get one that can log thousands of channels. If you're D.I.Y. upgrading, I strongly advise that you visit a dealer and buy a mount over the counter after discussing your requirement. Even if it costs more, you are more likely to get the mount & adapters that mate with your dish, and install without problems. Mail order of other
parts should not be a problem.
Q: I heard that French channels appear in black and white. What's
A: The French colour system is incompatible with British PAL TV's.
I've not had any trouble with French digital, but note that this problem,
if it occurs, should go away if you use a digital receiver and cable the
RGB signals direct to a suitable TV.
Q: DiSeq or built-in positioner?
With multisatellite analog receivers, the positioning system for the dish involved either a telescopic actuator (for a total range of 90deg) or a geared head, (with a total range of 180deg [H-H]), and separate power
and signal cables up to the dish position. These systems performed pretty well, and could swing a big dish around the sky in a few seconds.
(By the way, the restricted 90 deg. swing of the telescopic acutator is not a disadvantage in practice, as in British skies almost all the satellites of interest lie within an arc of only 35 degrees.)
More typical for digital receivers is a DiSeq system in which the inside box (receiver) contains only software, and the dish mount contains intelligence,
a motor and gearing, and receives power and signals up the sole signal cable also used for the picture signal. This makes for a cheaper and neater
installation, but with only a few hundred milliamps at 15 volts available, the performance is slower, and the mounts are rated for dishes only up to 1 metre. Also, since the technology is not so well sorted, you should order a DiSeq 1.2 receiver and the mount at the same time and specify that they are to work together. Only the more expensive digital receivers
e.g. Echostar (with integrated positioners) can use the earlier discrete positioner systems. [This discussion assumes that automatic positioning
is required - you can also attach a digital receiver to a manually positioned
or analog-positioned system].
Q. Any disadvantages to motorised systems?
A.Contrary to the impression given by all the satellite magazines, there are disadvantages other than the cost. Compared with the silent and instantaneous selection of a 2-sat. setup, the motorised system
is slower, noisy, less reliable, and prone to unwanted dish movements. For instance, if you have programmed a daily time recording, the dish will move at the weekend unless you figure out a way to disable it. Also, the dish movement trips up the AFC on some receivers so that the picture on the first channel selected for that
satellite may be severely affected. Some receivers (e.g. Strong 4300)
don't like a 'no signal' on active channels and may lock out a group of channels until reset.
Do I need a timer in the satellite receiver?
A: You do if you want to record from more than one satellite channel (or indeed more than one satellite) while you are out. You'll find that for following a series a collection of kit that will record every day without any attention, other than remembering to insert fresh tape, will be a great convenience. Now (Jan 2002) it is possible to buy a digital receiver with DiSeq positioning and hard-disk video recorder integrated in one box, which give greatly improved convenience at a cost of £400 upwards.
many digital receivers don't have event timers , though they are becoming more common now. A One For All URC-5550 timed universal remote will get around this problem at a cost of £40 but is rather fiddly to use. So just leave the receiver on and rely on the VCR timer.
On some receivers (e.g. Nokia) you can add one by loading third party firmware (not recommended).
Q: Why don't I put the dish somewhere accessible and push it a few
degrees horizontally by hand to get Hot Bird etc?
A: Nice idea in theory. In practice, unless you can see the result
of moving the dish as you do it, or set up some accurate scales and pointer, you just won't try it and risk losing your favourite Astra progs. Digital receivers don't like poorly aligned dishes. Unfortunately, unless you are a wizard at home mechanics, there is no way of remotely moving the
dish a few degrees that doesn't cost nearly as much as a proper motorized upgrade.
Q: What are these new digital TV channels?
The BSkyB service is now operational. This is a digital service with around 200 channels, hovever according to some reports it doesn't offer a whole lot you couldn't get on their analogue service. The cost? FREE receiver,
FREE digital dish with £50 installation, + stiff monthly fee depending on what you opt for. + you must leave it powered up and connected to your phone line. (You did want a permanent electric room warmer, didn't you?)
Note the service & equipment is NOT compatible with European digital satellite services or the free-to air receivers already on sale. It only receives the English-language anime on the UK channels, and that from
a satellite mainly used by Sky.
By the way, if you want a Digibox for the free channels it's cheaper to just buy a second-hand one for £150 or less, and then you can do what you want with it.
The terrestial digital service (On Digital, renamed as ITV Digital, now Freeview) has launched in the UK with 30 channels. A set-top box will be required, & a modest subscription. Note the equipment will NOT be compatible with the Sky OR the European digital satellite services.
Many European digital channels are already in operation, and more appear every month. Typically, six digital channels can be transmitted on a satellite transponder, in place of one analogue. Some digital channels are 'free', others require a subscription card. Some channels used for digital services can be tuned by existing LNBs and dishes, but others are above 12.000 GHz, requiring a Universal LNB (hence all the hoo-ha about 'digital ready') or even a new satellite position, such as 28.2 deg.E, which is used by
Sky. As for the receivers, you do need to acquire a digital receiver,
and your choice will depend to some extent on whether you just want a particular service, or want a more general purpose unit. It seems that various subscriptions are legally available in the UK. It is looking as though most analogue channels will be duplicated on digital - many are already - so if you have a working digital receiver you won't necessarily
need an analogue receiver as well. A digital receiver currently costs
about £150 -£450, and you may have to add the cost of subscriptions and dish hardware to that. For further information, get a copy of "What Satellite" (or equivalent for your country), which lists the digital channels in three pages of very small type.
Q. How can I add a digital receiver to my motorized analog outfit
and still get timed recordings?
(or, what you could do if you acquire a mongrel pile of old sat.kit?)
A. With great difficulty! - unless you bought one of the all-in-one
receivers (the AD3000IP +Viaccess, or the Strong 4375, etc, or one of the new receiver/hard disk recorders) that is specified
for the job. Otherwise, here's what you can do. Ignore any loop-thru,
fit a Global SPSI priority switch so that when the analog receiver comes active it shuts out the digital receiver. If you have a Pace receiver, program a +12v output on every analog channel you want to time record,
and use the +12v to work the SPSI switch. Loop a UHF feed from the digital
receiver, through the analog receiver (or vice versa), through the video recorder, to your TV. Set up the TV to display signal from these 3 boxes on 3 spare UHF channels (e.g. 36, 37, 38). Set up the video recorder to record from the two analog & digital receiver output channels, e.g. 37
& 38. (you can use SCART cables instead for some of these links if you wish.) Note which dummy analog settings you need to set, to aim the dish prior to the digital recording times. Test that it all works - remember you can probably only use 1 digital channel for each recording session.
Note that it is now possible to buy a digital receiver and hard-disk video recorder integrated in one box - at a cost that reflects the extra complexity and convenience.
For general satellite FAQ, checkSatcure
For satellite channel info, check Satco DX