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Wannabe Geek

#271864 29-May-2020 20:45
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Good evening all,


I have found myself with access to an unused satellite dish which I presume was originally used for Sky. I'd like to experiment and see what I can pickup with it.


From what I can work out, any off the shelf 'free-view' boxes would be limited to the built in EPG. I'm wanting something that will let me receive and experiment with anything/everything the dish can pick up.


Whether that be TV signals, radio signals...I just want something open that I can play with.


I found this old posting that suggests compatibility issues with NZ non universal LNBs. 


Researching online I cannot find many USB based satellite tuners, so am looking for recommendations for a suitable tuner and some software to use.
I'm more than happy to go down the Linux/open source route if best and have both a PC and a raspberry pi standing by.


I'm aware of European dedicated set top boxes that run custom Linux builds, but I'm looking for something USB based that is open so I can just tinker and see what signals I can tune in to.


Many thanks to anyone that can help.

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1961 posts

Uber Geek

  #2494681 29-May-2020 21:35
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I got one of these a few years ago.


Not USB but fun to play with.,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_




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Uber Geek

  #2494735 30-May-2020 00:38
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The easiest thing to do would be to buy a DVB-S2 tuner and attach it to a PC.  If you have a spare one, you could put Xubuntu + MythTV on it.  That is what I use for recording Freeview DVB-T and Sky DVB-S2.  It does not need to be much of a PC to run that - 4 Gbytes of RAM is fine for a starter MythTV system.  Another option is Linux + TVHeadend which can provide streaming service on your local network.  A laptop is fine with USB tuners - if you have one with enough disk space spare you can set it up as dual boot, as a way of trying things out.  However, DVB-S2 tuners are difficult to find in NZ now.  They used to be all over the shops and TradeMe, but not any more.  And they are not particularly cheap either, as they need an 18 volt power supply in order to power the LNB on the satellite dish.  So it is probably cheaper to buy a whole Linux based DVB-S2 capable recording box - there are still some of those available at reasonable prices, such as this which I found on TradeMe:


I have no idea if that box is a good or bad one.  It looks like it may be able to record to a USB hard drive, but you would need to find its manual to be sure, and it is probably only USB 2.  It does not have a card slot so it will not work with a Sky card if you have one.  Cheap boxes like that are often very nasty to use - the user interface is badly designed and has you cursing it all the time.  I had one way back, with a slot for my Sky card, and quickly decided there had to be a better way of doing it.  Which for me was MythTV and a USB external card reader.


If you want good quality tuners, try TBS:


If you find one you like there, do a net search for the part number to find out where to buy one at the best price.  I have found that they (TBS themselves) often have a discount price web site somewhere.  I have three TBS tuners, an old TBS5922 DVB-S2 USB (long out of production), and my current PCIe x1 cards, TBS-6909 DVB-S2 8 tuners and TBS6209 DVB-T2 8 tuners.  They all require that you compile the TBS provided drivers into the Linux kernel to use them, which is a nuisance as you have to do it every time the kernel is updated, but they work very well.  There are Windows drivers as well, of course, and there is a range of good freeware TV software available for Windows as well, such as MediaPortal or NextPVR.


With regards to LNB compatibility, that is a software problem, nothing to do with the DVB-S2 hardware.  Our Sky dishes typically have an LNB that is half of one of the dual frequency LNBs used elsewhere.  They have only one local oscillator on 11750, but if you send the LNB the signal used overseas to switch to the second local oscillator (22 kHz tone), the LNB does the switch but since the second LO is not actually there, that causes a complete loss of signal.  So to get a Sky dish to work with most software, you set it up for a "Ku-band" or "Universal" LNB, and set up the first local oscillator frequency to 11750 (or whatever your dish actually uses, as there are some older dishes on different frequencies).  You set up the switch frequency to be the largest number the software allows you to fit in the field, say 99999, so that 22 kHz tone is never sent and the LNB never gets switched to the second LO.  And you can then fill in any number you like for the frequency for the second LO.


See here for an explanation of LNBs:


The Universal LNB is the closest one to a Sky dish, except that the second LO is missing and the first LO frequency is different.


The current Sky dishes actually have a dual LNB - there are two LNBs mounted together in the dish, and they have a dual cable coming into the house.  Each LNB is completely separate, so you can operate two Sky boxes at once, or as I do, the Sky decoder and my MythTV DVB-S2 tuners.

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