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Ask Slashdot: Experiences With Free To Air Satellite TV?

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the old-hobbies-are-best-hobbies dept.

Television 219

Dishwasha (125561) writes "Just a few days ago I incidentally discovered a little known secret called free-to-air. Amazingly enough even in the depths of Slashdot, there appear to have been no postings or discussions about it. Just like over-the-air programming, there is free programming available via various satellite systems that only requires a one-time cost of getting a dish and receiver. Both Amazon and Ebay appear to have a plethora of hardware out there. I personally settled on the Geosatpro MicroHD system with a 90cm 26lbs light-weight dish (queue lots of comments about my describing 26 lbs as being light-weight) and I should be receiving that in just a few days. I'm curious, who else is using satellite FTA? What are your setups? Has anyone hacked on any of the DVR/PVR devices available? Besides greater access to international programming, what are your channel experiences?"

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majority of Americans ... have seen their premiums (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630317)

"CLEVELAND (CBS Cleveland/AP) — The CEO of the Cleveland Clinic says that a majority of Americans who signed up for Obamacare have seen their premiums rise.

“About three-quarters of them find that their premiums are higher than they had been previously with other insurance,” Toby Cosgrove told Fox News.

Cosgrove explained that the Affordable Care Act is having a “major effect” upon health care providers.

“We know for example that we’re going to get paid less for what we do,” Cosgrove stated. “Hospitals are going to be paid less for what they do. We also know that insurers are paying less for what we do.”

---Hey sooper geniuses, how do you expect it to work out for you AT the hospital that gets paid less?

YOU GET LESS.

Got that? You get less. Oh and by the way, those in our country that actually voted this piece of shit into law? They get all the healthcare they want, on your dime.

Pretty much how we on the conservative side, predicted now huh?"

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630397)

Ah, astroturfing. Unfortunately, the GOP operatives are trying to astroturf a basketball court. I guess you get what you pay for when you outsource to the cheapest labor.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630403)

The only people you hear bitching about their rates rising are people who had bare-bones policies before. These policies wouldn't have covered them in serious illnesses and the insurance company likely would have terminated the policy if there was any sign of a catastrophic event. Anyone who had a policy like that was basically paying money for a fake policy.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630485)

Looks like you read the talking points. Unfortunately they are BS.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1, Offtopic)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 months ago | (#46630669)

You beat me to it man.

The problem with "Cadillac" plans is that there is no free lunch. You aren't getting anything for free even if that's what you've deluded yourself into thinking. You still have to pay, or alternately I have to pay for your sorry *ss. Going through an intermediary insures that everything will cost more because the insurance company wants it's cut and it needs to keep it's lights on.

What I save on the difference between "good" plans and "bad" allows me to save for an emergency. It allows me to be a proper responsible adult rather than a ward of the state.

Things like being independent, responsible, and somewhat self-reliant are things neither party really wants to enable.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (0)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 6 months ago | (#46631155)

The con man *always* says the other guy's stuff is crap. How's that easy access going for people with OC? Hospital access? Doctor access? Not, is the answer. Replacing presumed junk with actual empirical junk.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630421)

Yawn. My premiums rose every year for the 10 years preceding Obama's election as President.

As for hospital employees and careworkers, they've had their wages frozen, their hours manipulated, and their orders to cut costs in every way possible.

Including taking "clinically acceptable" actions.

Meanwhile, millions of people didn't have healthcare insurance, but did need health care.

So what is your conservative side planning to do about any of that?

You had fifteen years to come up with another plan, before yours got implemented, and then you bitch about it.

Now all we have is endless repeal votes. Why not come up with something? Or do you need to bitch some more about imaginary "death panels" while due to a refusal to implement a Medicaid expansion, people are actually dying in Republican states?

Tell you what, next time you want us to believe you have something to offer that's different, try nominating somebody other than Mitt Romney for your presidential candidate.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630505)

"Meanwhile, millions of people didn't have healthcare insurance, but did need health care."

Nope.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/modest-obamacare-reforms-insured-more-people-than-massive-system-overhaul/article/2546551

"

Assume all the numbers are correct, or at least close to correct. By far the largest part of Obamacare's health coverage expansion has come from a) expanding Medicaid, and b) allowing young people to stay on their parents' coverage. The part where Democrats essentially blew up the health care markets, imposed the individual mandate, and caused premiums to rise and deductibles to skyrocket? That hasn't been such a success. If the Times number are correct, all of that -- placing new burdens of higher costs and narrower choices on millions of Americans, in addition to setting the stage for coming changes in employer-based coverage -- has resulted in two million of the previously uninsured gaining coverage.

The bottom line is that Democrats could have enacted two relatively small changes (small relative to the entirety of Obamacare, that is) in the health care system and achieved most of what Obamacare has achieved so far. Would Republicans have supported such changes back in 2009 and 2010? Who knows? Maybe a few would have -- certainly the until-26 change -- but the point is in the brief period when Obamacare was enacted, Democrats had about 255 votes in the House and 60 in the Senate. They could do what they wanted, which included pursuing more modest reforms that would have helped millions. Or they could blow things up and impose burdens on millions even as they helped others. Acting on decades of pent-up demand to take control of the health care system, they chose to blow things up. And that is the context for today's new numbers."

Lies upon lies from the top to the bottom. You can choose to remain ignorant, I can't help you with that.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630581)

If 2 million people were insured under their parents' plans are allowed to stay insured by their parents, doesn't that mean they weren't actually uninsured in the first place?

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630745)

Lies upon lies from the top to the bottom. You can choose to remain ignorant, I can't help you with that.

Sure you can, just ask the Koch Brothers, who keep putting forward more and more lies about the ACA and its reforms. They love helping with people's ignorance, and feed it daily.

You're right, the individual mandate hasn't been a success. Yet. Because it's not been fully effectuated. It's a slow implementation, not a rapid and immediate one. Go figure, apparently they're letting it settle in for people instead of going for a drastic solution.

Besides, my premiums were rising for over a decade prior to Obama being elected into office, so obviously you cannot by default assert an increase in premiums as necessarily meaning anything related to the ACA. If you wanted health care costs to immediately drop across the board, certainly you could advocate for that, but I've not seen you doing so. Is that what you wanted?

BTW, there was no blowing up of the health care market, there never was a free market health care system.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630831)

Lies?

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/31/Obamacare-Real-Enrollment-Just-1-7-of-Uninsured-Covered

Sorry, facts are inconvienient things.

"Moreover, McKinsey says these individuals have an unusually high rate of failing to pay their first month's premium. "Only 53 percent of them had paid their first premium, compared with 86 percent of the previously insured," reports CNBC.

Even conceding the White House its alleged six million enrollment figure (which, again, includes duplicates and incomplete applications), that would mean that just 810,000 of paying Obamacare customers were previously uninsured, a figure that represents 1.7% of America's 48.6 million uninsured people.

Indeed, most of those the White House counts as Obamacare enrollees are among the five million who had their health insurance plans canceled due to Obamacare. "

Oh and by the way;

"Obamacare has taken a severe toll on President Obama's approval rating. The latest Associated Press poll reveals that his disapproval rating has now hit an all-time high of 59%. As one Democratic member of Congress told The New York Times, Obama is "poisonous" to Democrats running in the November 4th midterm elections.

Americans head to the polls in 218 days."

Sucks to be you.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46631009)

brietbart is your source? lmfao

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46631039)

Hey sooper genuis, first of all you have nothing whatsoever to use against Breitbart save for the fact that they report things you do not like. That you do not like it does not make it false. Please try again and this time do try and respond with substance. If you can that is.

Oh and second of all, please re-read the above for content, you will note both CNBC and The New York Times referenced.

It's like shooting fish in a barrel here, really, this is the best you have got?

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46631271)

Oh come on. No sane person is going to read past breitbart.com, nor should they. They're like Fox News on stupid steroids.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630607)

And remember: All of this was to make sure those 42 million uninsured--who were going to die any day if we didn't act now!--could get insured.

After 4 years of implementing, they got . . . 2 million?

And let us not forget: We are some 10 months away from the biggest disruption--the cancellation of group and large employer plans.

We started with 42 million.
6 million+ self-insured lost their plans.
____ million employer-insured will lose their plans.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630639)

All this for $2 trillion and counting!

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46631045)

Oh did you want the ACA to immediately provide for everybody to pay for their health insurance?

Goodness me.

You should have told Joe Lieberman about that.

Maybe you can tell Mitch McConnell and John Boehner today. All they want is another repeal vote.

Do see if you can help them with the details, I'm sure they need it.

Re:majority of Americans ... have seen their premi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630681)

People who've been cut-back to 30 hours per week have yet to comment on this wonderfulness.

There are also those who have dropped their Health Insurance because of the cost increases...

My guess is that there are Less people who have health insurance now... than before it passed.

Big Ugly Dishes (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630333)

C and KU band is a big investment, and I think most places encrypt these transmissions now, so you might want to check around a little more to make absolutely sure you're going to get anything worthwhile.

Re:Big Ugly Dishes (2)

Change (101897) | about 6 months ago | (#46631325)

C-band requires a large dish (10-12 feet in diameter), Ku is much smaller (around 3 feet).

Its pretty good! (5, Interesting)

w-wright (3525625) | about 6 months ago | (#46630347)

My Nana and Grandad goes on Holiday a lot in their Caravan, they used to use Sky Satellite in the Caravan which they found to be very expensive. However, my Grandad then switched over to using a simple freesat system which suits their needs. It recieves BBC, ITV etc which is what they want! I did see on ebay a Satellite Box running Linux (I think it was called Dream Box) and I heard you could load decryption keys onto it for the Sky Channels. However, that is illegal!

Re:Its pretty good! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630381)

Or in other words, the poster forgot there are readers that are NOT in the US when posting, and there are commenters who didn't realise this guy was talking about the US. In the UK you call a dish installer, get a Freesat box and Elizabeth's your Queen. In the US? You bend over for the monopoly du jour and whatever they managed to lobby this time.

Re:Its pretty good! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630837)

Except it is not free. Just to have that dish or that TV you have to pay a tax. We have no such tax requirements.

Re:Its pretty good! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46631137)

For those of us NOT in the US, the freesat FTA service is pretty good. Channel linup etc is at http://www.freesat.co.uk/

Re:Its pretty good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630851)

Rock on with the CCCAM servers ;-)

FTA information (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630353)

Google wants to be your friend!

Is this the 90s? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630357)

Now that the bandwidth is available, there are a lot easier ways of getting free programming...

Re:Is this the 90s? (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 6 months ago | (#46630727)

Now that the bandwidth is available, there are a lot easier ways of getting free programming...

But in general less free legal ways

April First????? (4, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | about 6 months ago | (#46630361)

Where's the flood of April First stories? Do I have the date wrong? Is the lack of them the joke? Am I not getting the jokes?

Re:April First????? (1, Offtopic)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#46630393)

Where's the flood of April First stories? Do I have the date wrong? Is the lack of them the joke? Am I not getting the jokes?

Maybe that's the prank.

Re:April First????? (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46630469)

No the prank is beta. Jk, jk, it's not that bad.

Re:April First????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46631023)

Steve Jobs came to me and told me that beta is the future. Embrace beta.

Re:April First????? (4, Insightful)

PIBM (588930) | about 6 months ago | (#46630453)

In case that`s no prank; depending on where you live, the required operations to obtain the feed might be illegal. Where I live, there`s 3 months of summers where trees block a lot of the signal and rain just cut it, and 6 WINTER MONTHS (sorry had to vent about this weekend extra feet of snow) where the antenna won`t pickup anything because of the snow. So yeah, we didn`t use that much before just selling all of it back.

Re:April First????? (2)

jabuzz (182671) | about 6 months ago | (#46630575)

You do know that you can get heaters for satellite dishes that fix the snow issue? Try your favourite internet search engine.

Note the issues with rain suggest that you needed a bigger dish. That might also apply to trees, though you could also try pruning the trees is possible.

Re:April First????? (3, Informative)

PIBM (588930) | about 6 months ago | (#46630767)

Snow in trees was problematic too. It`s like permanent rain. I live in the middle of a forest and I even took the extra work of bringing electricity, cable and phone through ground entrances, so I wasn`t about to cut trees for my satellite, which I wasn`t using that much at my previous location. And heating trees wasn`t a part of the solution :)

The gear came as a free goodie with a television purchase years before, with free to air access and 3 years of free subscription to a service. I`ve used the service a bit, but the FTA wasn`t worth investing in a bigger or better dish and I didn`t want a large ugly one somewhere either.

Oh well, that was for me. At this time, I get all I want from my internet connection and rented blurays at 1$ a pop in those auto-dispensers.

Re:April First????? (1)

cusco (717999) | about 6 months ago | (#46630475)

Well, Dice Holdings has never been known for its sense of humor (just look at Beta).

Re:April First????? (1)

Dracolytch (714699) | about 6 months ago | (#46630483)

Last year there were a zillion April 1st stories, and so much so there was backlash. They may be taking it easy this year.

Re:April First????? (1)

Teun (17872) | about 6 months ago | (#46630511)

Dyce is not into joking, as witnessed by this: http://beta.slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] :)

Re:April First????? (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | about 6 months ago | (#46630589)

OMG! Pwnies!

Happy now?

Re:April First????? (5, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | about 6 months ago | (#46630657)

Last year was terrible, with most of the stories being along the lines of "lulz, windows announces it's using windows kernel". I don't mind a clever joke, but most of it was just plain stupid.

There was a lot of complaining about it, so I'm assuming they've decided to take it easy this year. Personally I'm grateful.

Re:April First????? (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 6 months ago | (#46630671)

* using linux kernel

.. sigh

Re:April First????? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about 6 months ago | (#46630905)

ObiWan, the need for entertainment is strong with this one.....

Re:April First????? (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 6 months ago | (#46631117)

I actually have fond memories of some good April fools jokes.

A internet "radio" station I used to listen to had a great DJ who was known for being a little edgy but had a huge fan following. The day before April fools he went a bit further than usual, so that on April 1'st he could make a heartfelt statement about how he'd gone to far and after discussion with management it had been decided that he would be leaving. I _totally_ bought it (as did la tonne of other people). He played a song while the forums and IRC channel exploded.. then came on a few minutes later with "haha, I'm not going anywhere!". No one even suggested it might be a joke the whole time, he totally sold it... was brilliant.

And the infamous pink ponies (before ponies were cool.. if only we'd known..).

Pages and pages of onion-esq "SCO buys IBM" and "RMS buys a mac" is just tedious.

Re:April First????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630731)

Here, have an April Fool's article:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sci... [dailymail.co.uk]

The best are the ones that are almost believable. I've seen a lot crazier ideas from people who were serious.

Re:April First????? (2)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 months ago | (#46630827)

I'm hoping this "audio stories" thing is the joke. I'm getting audio versions of the Slashdot stories. This wouldn't be too bad, but they auto-play. I don't want to come to Slashdot and have audio blast from my speakers! Luckily, I keep my volume muted at work unless I decide to put on some headphones. Still, auto-play is bad policy for all sites except ones where the person expects audio/video to play (e.g. YouTube or NetFlix).

Re:April First????? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 6 months ago | (#46631065)

Where's the flood of April First stories? Do I have the date wrong? Is the lack of them the joke? Am I not getting the jokes?

That is the prank.

Are you in the USA? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630379)

Then there's no allot you can watch, everything is encrypted. Dish Network was popular with these systems, you could run software on the FTA receiver and pirate the signal. That's gone, so unless you live in a country with UN-encrypted programming it's a waste of money. You can use these systems, but the dish would need to be motorized. It's just not worth the money, there is no free TV in the USA anymore (Beyond an antenna).

Re:Are you in the USA? (2)

rgbscan (321794) | about 6 months ago | (#46630473)

There's a lot of random free stuff out there. This list is pretty up to date usually. You'll need something motorized though...

http://www.lyngsat.com/freetv/United-States.html

Re:Are you in the USA? (1)

DewDude (537374) | about 6 months ago | (#46630789)

That list constantly shows satellites you cannot get in the US. I see European birds showing up, last I knew you couldn't get any of the birds on the other side of the prime meridian very well, if at all. I mean, from DC the birds at .8 W come in at an elevation of 1.8 degrees. At that point you'd need something bigger than a 1m dish to even get the signal. I also have to question the inclusion of OTA channels in that list; as they have pretty tight distribution per FCC rules.

Re:Are you in the USA? (2)

Megane (129182) | about 6 months ago | (#46630791)

Motorized? Not really, look up toroidal antennas. You can hang up to 16 LNBs off of those babies to cover 40 degrees of sky.

Re:Are you in the USA? (0)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46630489)

Agreed, there's no free tv in the us anymore (beyond the two a dozen free OTA HD channels, including all major networks).

Looking at the North American list (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630389)

I recognize them as the channels I skip over on cable.

FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630395)

FTA in the USA anyways typically means pirated. Pretty much all that's up there on true FTA is religious or ethnic programming. You can find some in the clear wild feeds from time to time, there's even a website for finding them, google FTA wild feeds, and the first link will help you out.

You do need some decently expensive gear though. Something that'll do DVB-S2, 4:2:2, sometimes even one with a CAM slot if you decide to subscribe, etc. The Ku band has a bunch of stuff, but the more fun stuff to find is still on C band, meaning 6-8 foot dish. (Ku is still a 3.5 foot dish)

Helpful Website (4, Informative)

Huntr (951770) | about 6 months ago | (#46630399)

Try Satellite Guys [satelliteguys.us] . There are a bunch of ppl there who are way into satellite tv stuff and who are eager to help.

You were living under what stone? (5, Informative)

Teun (17872) | about 6 months ago | (#46630415)

I haven't played with North American satellite for years so I can only comment on the European situation.

Over here there is an absolute plethora of FTA satellite channels.

Many, if not most, are junk. Porn previews and selling crappy stuff.
But there are still many dozens quality channels like the BBC and the various German stations.BR> Just about every country has one or more FTA channels and as most people (outside of France and the UK) speak or at least understand several languages there is for people like me sufficient on offer.

Old news, but new to Slashdot? (2)

podmf (736634) | about 6 months ago | (#46630449)

Free to air statellite has been big in Europe since the 1980s, and digital (DVD-S) since the 1990s.

Hacked Linux-based receivers have pretty much dominated the European DVB-S market for the last decade, and especialy in FTA.

It's a shame that it has had little attention from Slashdot and other mainstream open source media over the years, because that has left the field free for some pretty unsavoury people in the TV encryption cracking market.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that cracked satellite receivers were up there with cracked routers as a major source of Linux malware.

Re:Old news, but new to Slashdot? (2)

Anrego (830717) | about 6 months ago | (#46630753)

<old man voice activated>

The satellite cracking scene was actually a frequent topic here back around ~2000, back when DirectTV and others went on the war path.

There was also a story on Christopher Tarnovsky more recently, and actually one of the more interesting things to come out of wired (http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/08/05/31/0013220/satellite-tv-hacker-tells-his-story .. unfortunately the link to the wired article is 404, in case someone actually wanted to RTFA).

Enjoy the endless hours of UniVision! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630459)

They way I see it, the issue with FTA is the fact that you have to put up with a motorized dish and endure the wait for this dish to move around and lock onto whichever satellite you are looking for, or you need to fill your yard with several dishes and it gets more complex and expensive (Head End in the Yard). If you live in many places, you can't fill your yard with those larger dishes.

Besides, there is pretty good HD quality 8VSB content available OTA from local TV stations thanks to the digital TV conversion.

If you want to nerd on something, it's far cheaper to get a nice Winegard HD8200U antenna and a HDHomeRun tuner, unless you live out in the middle of nowhere.
You can also experiment with amplifying the signal off the antenna. The problem is you raise the noise floor along with the signal (lowering the effective SNR), so it is sometimes required to pad down the input a little depending on where you put the amplifier.

Re:Enjoy the endless hours of UniVision! (1)

Megane (129182) | about 6 months ago | (#46630841)

you have to put up with a motorized dish, or you need to fill your yard with several dishes

Look, ma, no motor! [google.com]

Anyhow, ATSC OTA is plenty enough for me. Good thing I'm not a sports fan.

cm and lbs? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630497)

uh.. someone put centimeters and pounds in the same sentence? Author should put either centimeters and kilograms instead.

90 centimeters = 35.4 inches.

queue = to arrange (a number of programs) in a predetermined order for accessing by a computer

Re:cm and lbs? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 months ago | (#46630715)

Ah, welcome to the US, where we have 2 liter and half-gallon bottles next to each other on the grocery shelves. In engineering school, I had to learn about units called "slugs". I hate slugs.

Re:cm and lbs? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 6 months ago | (#46630769)

It's the same thing in Canada. Even flyers have mixed units. I saw a tile cutter on sale at Canadian Tire, which had the following specifications: can cut tiles up to 12" wide, 12 mm thick.

It does work (5, Interesting)

SlickNic (1097097) | about 6 months ago | (#46630509)

I grew up with this as my only source of TV in the 80s and 90s (we were too far from town and lived in the mountains to use local over the air tv). We had an 8' dish though and it must have weighed well in excess of 26lbs so yes your dish is quite light. We never seemed to have issues finding channels with something to watch and were able to pickup news, cartoons (very important), shows, and movies. The main issue was that the channels had to be scanned manually then. There were two sets of numbers, the first number if I remember correctly would physically rotate the dish outside then the second number would scan the channel options available available at that dish angle. This took a lot of time and ended up with us writing down the common locations for shows that we wanted to watch. Today I would hope there is an auto-scan feature that would allow you to just scan the channels to see what you're able to receive and store those. Unfortunately I haven't used this system in more than 10 years so I'm not very knowledgeable on what the system is like to use today. Hopefully something in my post was useful to you or someone else reading through.

Re:It does work (1)

DewDude (537374) | about 6 months ago | (#46630583)

You're not describing a free-to-air service; you're describing the old TVRO system that existed in the 80s and 90s, before DTH satellite and digital killed the BUD business. These weren't free, you had to pay for them. There's a BIG difference between FTA sat channels and pay sat channels.

Re:It does work (1)

Megane (129182) | about 6 months ago | (#46630921)

I dunno, it sounds more like C-band [wikipedia.org] to me. At one time the joke was that the C-band dish was the state flower of Oklahoma.

But from what I've been able to tell, what really killed off FTA satellite was that digital made it so easy to encrypt content. The size of C-band dishes at 2-3 meters didn't help much either, which is why pay satellite went with the Ku/Ka bands that only need a half-meter dish.

Re:It does work (3, Interesting)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 6 months ago | (#46631097)

I had a friend whose family had a house in the mountains. They had TVRO and a BUD, I think there were two boxes one was some kind of amplifier or power injector and the other was the actual tuner.

Every so often they had to have the dish realigned to the satellites or something like that. They would pay a satellite technician something like one hundred dollars to come in and perform the alignment. He would actually chase everyone out of the room to perform his magical feat of calibration. My friend hid a video camera to see what the guy was doing (back then it was a tough ordeal as they used VHS tapes and were enormous). Turns out they guy simply went into a menu and punched in some numbers that were available in the monthly guide. My friends father ripped the guy a new asshole after he found out he was taken for a ride.

The fun part about BUD TV was you could receive uplinks from reporters/camera crews in the field. So you see a reporter standing there playing with his tie, conversing, picking his nose etc. Then suddenly he would stiffen up and a few seconds later make his report, go silent, ask if he was finished and then walk off camera. The feed would either continue for some time or go blank.

us fta worth it? (1)

claytron5000 (3535043) | about 6 months ago | (#46630533)

I'm always intrigued by free over-the-air broadcasting. If I didn't live in a valley 50 miles from the closest broadcaster I would definitely have a TV antenna. No cable for me! That said, I looked at the list of US FTA broadcasters and they don't look that great to me. Maybe I'd check out eh Pentagon Channel a couple times.

Re:us fta worth it? (1)

garrettg84 (1826802) | about 6 months ago | (#46630723)

Free to air is satellite TV. You may still be able to get it if you've got a view of the southern sky if you are in the northern hemisphere, north if you are in the southern hemisphere. Free to air is not the same a terrestrial TV.

Re:us fta worth it? (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | about 6 months ago | (#46631307)

Sounds like an opportunity to install an antenna tower!

UK perspective (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#46630537)

Interestingly (perhaps) the UK has a lot of free-to-air content, and satellite in particular is popular because lots of people have mini-dishes on their houses from their own or a previous Sky TV installation. Freesat doesn't get as much coverage as Freeview but you can still walk into your local electronics retailer and find a big-brand satellite PVR next to the other TV hardware.

Re:UK perspective (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 6 months ago | (#46630641)

Indeed. The USA in contrast does seem strangely backwards in a lot of ways with regards to TV & Radio broadcasting.

Re:UK perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46631127)

Copyright laws, corporate lobbying, and an absurd belief that anything free is the same as communism.

America doesn't believe you should be able to get something for free, and the lobbyists have convinced government that it's a good idea.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630545)

Satelliteguys.us forums [satelliteguys.us] are hands-down one of the best sources of information and experience on the net when it comes to FTA.

Dish/Direct TV should offer free basic channels (4, Interesting)

bigpat (158134) | about 6 months ago | (#46630557)

The satellite providers should provide some free basic tv with no monthly fees and just charge the full cost of equipment or allow people to use their own equipment and then make the additional revenue on the advertising side. Other paid cable channels could be an up sell with monthly subscriptions or pay per view. If the satellite providers presented a sufficiently attractive mix of advertising supported channels for cord cutters, then it would be a no brainer for people just to add satellite to their household mix of entertainment options for a couple hundred bucks worth of equipment. The number of viewers would go up by many millions. It really would be an opportunity for a win for the public and a big win for the satellite companies.

A better selection of free over the air advertising supported broadcasts are something that is really missing from the current market.

Re:Dish/Direct TV should offer free basic channels (2)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 months ago | (#46630931)

That is a good idea - especially if they include access to pay per view. A lot of people can't afford $100/month but can afford $10 for a special occasion.

Re:Dish/Direct TV should offer free basic channels (1)

Megane (129182) | about 6 months ago | (#46630977)

I think one reason they don't is because it's not trivial to set up a dish properly, there is some math involved. The average /. reader could do it, but not the average Wal-Mart customer. Nothing like pissing off thousands of "free" customers because they can't their equipment to work and they want a refund for the stuff they bought used at a flea market somewhere. In fact, they don't even want you opening up a new account with used equipment, to discourage theft of equipment from actual paying customers.

Not in the 90s (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 6 months ago | (#46630571)

Maybe it's fun to play with, nothing wrong with that, but ultimately it's not a good way to watch TV. If you just want basic TV, an antenna will get you a good amount of channels. My $5 Radio Shack antenna gets me like 50 channels including weird shit like the Dog channel. If you want to watch extended channels like HBO, go to Piratebay or Playon or Torrentstream or Hulu.

Re:Not in the 90s (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 6 months ago | (#46630673)

Do baluns cost that much at Radio Shack? Ouch.

http://www.current.org/wp-cont... [current.org]

Re:Not in the 90s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630761)

Where do you even find wire hangars any more, an antique store? LOL. Cool link but it's another 90s relic.

Re:Not in the 90s (1)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 6 months ago | (#46630985)

Where do you even find wire hangars any more, an antique store? LOL. Cool link but it's another 90s relic.

Wire hangers are not obsolete. You can buy high quality ones at the store still but that's not how most people get them.
All of the cheap wire hangers I have I got from and still get from places like dry cleaning and uniform cleaning shops.

MythTV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630603)

Myth TV works out of the box with a DVB-S(2) card and gives you access to FTA sat TV. In the UK we have FreeSat ( on 28.3E) which I use with my Myth Box and a DVB-S2 card, it provides me with both Standard Def and HD channels. Myths EPG also updates of the on-air data provided by Free Sat.

I also have a Linux based Techosat box that access as a DVR in another room.

Don't expect it to be Cable (4, Informative)

Controlio (78666) | about 6 months ago | (#46630675)

As someone who puts those shows up in the air, I'll tell you it all depends on what you're looking for.

If you're looking for sports backhauls, you'll most likely be disappointed. Almost every professional sports venue in the country uses fiber as a backhaul, not satellite. The only places that use birds are places that do small numbers of broadcasts infrequently (think college campuses). And even then, a lot of networks have policies that require them to use BISS encryption. So unless you're friends with someone in the uplink world (because yes, they do share downlink info and BISS codes with each other so they can watch live events while on the road) you'll find the content to be sparse.

If you're looking for TV networks, look at it this way. If there's any value to the network (i.e. if it's on anything but the base tier of your cable or satellite operator), it's encrypted. Because why would they give away for free what they're getting $1.60/subscriber to sell? You'll find some foreign networks and stuff you most likely don't care about, but that's about it. If you know the timing you might find syndicated shows being fed to your local TV stations (think Ellen or Judge Judy) or something mildly useful like that, but even more of those shows are now being BISS encrypted. The only reason more syndicated shows don't encrypt is because they get sick of having to pay to re-feed shows because of inept downlink ops.

The holy grail for FTA is finding "wild feeds" - temporary uplinks from site to a network (think breaking news). You can find some serious hilarity here sometimes. But the feeds come and go in a matter of quarter hours, so they're tougher to find.

The feeds are out there, but there's not a lot of FTA ones in North America. Further complicating things is the myriad of encoding specs (bitrate, constellation, FEC, encoder model, etc etc etc). It ends up being a total crapshoot trying to find things. So I guess what I'm saying is it depends on what you're looking for. If you're doing this as a hobby to see what you can find, it can be a lot of fun and even rewarding at times. If you're looking to replace cable, you're going to wish you'd spent your money on a Roku or a Slingbox at your friend's house instead.

Re:Don't expect it to be Cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46631057)

I'd say at minimum, grabbing the available NASA feeds would be rewarding enough. I'd rather watch the ISS feed, than 90% of the crap that passes for modern TV programming.

Re:Don't expect it to be Cable (1)

jittles (1613415) | about 6 months ago | (#46631273)

The holy grail for FTA is finding "wild feeds" - temporary uplinks from site to a network (think breaking news). You can find some serious hilarity here sometimes. But the feeds come and go in a matter of quarter hours, so they're tougher to find.

I watched the Columbine shooting news coverage live on one of these wild feeds. They showed things that did not air on TV (victims trying to escape and leaving blood trails, etc). Not exactly what I wanted to see, but the ability to watch these things was interesting. The news anchor bloopers and such can be interesting too. I've caught a rare sports feed (15+ years ago) and its always interesting to see what the camera men are up to when the commercials are airing. Overall, though, I agree that it is too much work to actually use this to watch TV. It's not like the golden days when you could watch network shows the night before they aired for the rest of the country.

Not so much FTA, but I do have a satellite setup. (1)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | about 6 months ago | (#46630683)

I got into IKS for a bit, but Netflix and Hulu aren't that much more expensive. Plus they aren't illegal and they don't get cut off in heavy snow or rain.

Oh my shock, Europe has been doing it for DECADES (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630689)

Seriously, I've come to think the USA is technological and cultural wasteland.

Not so amazing (4, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | about 6 months ago | (#46630691)

Amazingly enough even in the depths of Slashdot

It was old news before this site started so that's probably why it hasn't been discussed.

Great hobby, essential to get ethnic programming (5, Informative)

Isao (153092) | about 6 months ago | (#46630695)

I've been running FTA receiver setups in the US for about a decade, so my data comes from that. My own setup uses 3 dishes (one with multiple satellites), and I operate two others at different locations. I have relatives in Europe who've been doing this for longer, and it's very easy and common over there. It's pretty rare in the US. I started because some family members wanted to receive ethnic programming in their own languages and I love to experiment. It requires some practice to set up and aim, but is very doable and doesn't have to be expensive. You can get started under $300US. Take a look at Sadoun [sadoun.com] in Texas. He also has a lot of information [sadoun.com] for beginners.

You'll need a dish (typically 90cm), somewhere with a view of your selected satellites to plant it, an LNB to go on the dish (Low Noise Block Amplifier, the actual "antenna"; the dish is just a reflector), a bunch of RG6 cable leading to your TV, and a receiver.

Before buying all this, take a look at the various satellites and channels available to you, and pick a starting satellite. You'll need to be sure that you have a clear line of sight to the "bird". A great site for this is lyngsat [lyngsat.com] . In the US I suggest starting with Galaxy 19 [lyngsat.com] , which has several hundred channels on it.

Summarizing the rest, plant the dish, aim, and scan with your receiver to program the channels. You can get all sorts of things regularly, and occasional "wild feeds" that aren't intended for public consumption. There's also encrypted video, which is either pay TV, private company channels (like Ford, etc.) or network backhauls.

Later on you can get into multiple satellites, either with multiple LNB's on one dish, multiple dishes and a switch, or a motorized (!) dish. They're all fun.

It's a lot of fun, and can be a great intro for kids to electronics, radio reception, satellites, orbital mechanics, space, etc.

Free-To-Air like OTA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630707)

I just learned about free to air myself a few months ago when I was researching on how to improve my OTA reception. My house has a substantial multi-antenna rooftop installation that was installed in the 1980s. When we got our first TV with digital tuner, we were thrilled to find we had well over 40 channels (including 30+ digital). After the shutoff, and over the last few years we've lost most of them save for the major networks which are now intermittent (My bandwidth usage has gone up steadily as I've lost channels). In researching fixes, I've found lots of conflicting info (75 or 300ohm coax or twin lead... lighting protection or not/ where to place amp, how/not to pull cable/you should/n't need an amp, you can/can't combine multiple antenna signals, you need a rotator/rotators suck). So free-to-air got my tail wagging. But like OTA, reliable consistent info is difficult. I asked Radio Shack about free-to-air but they assumed (no matter how many times I tried to explain) that it was illegal and a big pain because "you have to chase codes down on the internet." (I know it was dumb to ask them, but sometimes you get lucky and meet an enthusiast). That said, I'm very interested in your experience, I hope you're documenting it.

You need to consult Lyngsat (2)

DewDude (537374) | about 6 months ago | (#46630735)

Years ago I used to be infatuated with the BUD, so much so that when I visited my uncle, he'd save me the program guides and channel lists he used to get in the mail. Then along came Lyngsat, which tells you all of that. http://lyngsat.com/ [lyngsat.com]

But more importantly for you, they will tell you if a channel is encrypted or not on whatever satellite. So the *best* way to tell if FTA TV is going to be worth it to you. It's largely a joke in the US, but a slightly more serious deal in other countries. Lyngsat also has a precompiled list of Free TV in the "US", although it still shows satellites you can't see over here. Still, it's a good way of having some idea of what you'd get. TL;DR: if you're not an immigrant that speaks a foreign language or a very religious person, there's next to nothing worth watching on FTA satellite in the US; I do not know for sure if the "local" channels that are uplinked to satellites are actually FTA or not; since they control the distribution of them I'd have to say the list is incorrect. Maybe it's not.

Windows Media Center / Myth TV? (2)

DarkKaplah (861495) | about 6 months ago | (#46630749)

I did some research into this when I was first transitioning to a LCD HDTV. At the time there wasn't quite enough to make the transition worth it. Now between Hulu, Netflix, FTA antenna tv, and a few other streaming sources I'm looking at this again to fill the gaps. DVB-S is supported by WMC and would offer you a descent way to combine Antenna and FTA Satellite services. Take a look into this if you find the DVR included with your kit lacking. I am not sure if you could set this up with MythTV and XBMC. You can add a motorized mount to this kit if you find you need it. If you are doing a roof mount you may want to order it now. The extra cost now may be worth not having to scale your home twice. If you're doing a deck mount then no worries! ;)

Satellite TV (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630793)

My wife and I live on a boat in Europe and have used satellite tv - free to air - for around 15 years. Receive about 340 channels from Astra 2 of which around 100 are worth having - news, drama, documentary, film, old show re-runs etc. Our dish is 85cm and receiver an (now) old Technomate which can pick up any satellite available so we have cover of thousands of programmes from Korea to Brazil. As we cruise rivers and canals we have to retune daily by rotating dish and varying up-angle for different satellites.

Too much junk... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46630819)

I live in Europe. I have a motorized dish that I use daily and depending on the languages you may speak, you might find interesting FTA channels. Nevetheless there is too much junk on FTA (sex-phonelines, shopping channels and low-quality programming). However, on 28.2E, depending on your location you might be able to watch many free, and some decent, UK channels. Also, hundreds of arabic channels from nothern africa and the middle-east are available on Nilesat, 7W, and Badr (somewhere around 30E). Also, on 19.2E (Astra) you will find most German FTA channels, and in 13E there is Hotbird, with many FTA channels from Italy.

Useful projects/sites (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46631035)

VDR: http://linuxtv.org/vdrwiki/index.php/Introduction
Linux based DVR for DVB-x devices

OpenPLI: http://openpli.org/
software for STBoxes below

forum: http://www.i-have-a-dreambox.com/wbb2/

STB Hardware:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vu+
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreambox (deprecated)

Wild Feeds (1)

chipperdog (169552) | about 6 months ago | (#46631041)

The best part of TVRO/FTA systems was finding wild feeds: syndicated programming being delivered to locals (many times a whole season at a time for re-run tv shows), news & sports remotes (loved hearing reporters and PBP announcers when they weren't "on-air"), corporate video distribution, teleconferences, etc... Sadly it has been 20 years since I've been able to play with such...MMDS systems were also fun to hack (the service no longer exists, I believe -or at least all the operators went out of business), my local one was too cheap to scramble everything (didn't want to have to provide a descrambler for each customer if they didn't subscribe to premium programming), so if you had a 2.8 GHz to something your TV could tune (it was transmitted in VSB) downconverter you could get quite a bit, there was also channels in that band used for tele-education, so one could watch some university classes, etc.. Cheap, abundant IP bandwidth has moved many of those off satellite and microwave, so there isn't as much as there used to be...If we could implement IP multicasting effectively internet wide, we would see even less satellite distribution.

Re:Wild Feeds (1)

chipperdog (169552) | about 6 months ago | (#46631169)

Should point there were THOUSANDS of audio feeds available on each satellite, both as sub-carriers of video channels (could be tuned by most consumer receivers), and SCPC (required a little more than the standard TVRO receiver)...Now that everything is a digital stream, unsure how many of those still exist

Mixed feelings as a seattlelite (-1, Offtopic)

zakkudo (2638939) | about 6 months ago | (#46631051)

I don't honestly think this camera will help with the drivers who love to jam their gas to move. I have been hit and almost hit just as many time by the front of ot he car as well as the back.

Example 1:
It's 1pm in downtown. I'm walking to work on crutches. I notice a guy in a sports car passes the crosswalk to stop at a red light. The top is down. He guns it in reverse right when I am behind him to bump me hard. It's bright out. He had great visiblility. He was downtown in the city. But he could not be bothered to look backwards when going in reverse.

Example 2:
On the other side of the coin. People coming out of the parking garages will jet out, cutting you off on the sidewalk, and drive off without even looking at you. It's in those instances I take my fist and ram it into their car. People drive too fast without looking.

Until drivers stop goading each other to drive faster, I don't think the roads will ever be reasonably safe. These are the people who complain about slow drivers on a rainy day, and on the same day complain about a traffic accident backing up the roads without making a mental connection that they are forcing other drivers to drive faster than what is safe for them and it is only penalizinig themselves.

Glad you discovered it, hope you enjoy it. (1)

sootman (158191) | about 6 months ago | (#46631067)

> Amazingly enough even in the depths of Slashdot,
> there appear to have been no postings or
> discussions about it.

Because it was old news when the site was founded? [nmia.com]

The Scroungers Guide to Satellite TV
By Gary Bourgois
Copyright 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, The Birdwatcher's Report

Re:Glad you discovered it, hope you enjoy it. (1)

Dishwasha (125561) | about 6 months ago | (#46631185)

Nifty. Thanks for the reference.

Hack it. Flip it. Update and Rip it. Technologic. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 6 months ago | (#46631103)

Well gee, I don't know, my big motorized dish is pretty useless since all the birds are ciphered and there's just no way on Earth to even crack the codes.

So, I just modded mine to TX instead of just RX and beamed out some Welcome to Earth messages to the alien planets we've discovered.

Yep. That's all it's for. Total coincidence if Gliese 581 just happened to be around the same declination and right ascension as ECHOSTAR 7 was when I last listened for a reply.

The Internet has got a lot more content on demand, or even off demand, I hear. Maybe I'll get tired of maintaining it and cover it in bits of mirror to assume Form Of: Solar Death Ray -- if the squirrels or flying drones keep acting up... I just hate ants.

What else can you do with 'em?

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