Set up the Ultimate C/KU-band Satellite system. Part 1


It is pretty easy to find a used C-band dish in someone's back yard for free to haul away. Usually the LNB on the dish is old and if they still have the receiver and give it to you it won't do a lot more than maybe pick up a handful of channels. They think the system is worthless but it can get way more channels than they think it can, it just needs some updates and someone willing to tinker with it.

The first step is to find a dish. Usually the easiest way is to take some tools and anything you might need to get the dish and post out of the ground with you and go driving around. Look for an old dish in someone's backyard and go up and tell them you will haul it away for free. Usually they will be happy to be rid of it and give it to you and sometimes even the old receivers are still around and you can get them as well. Try and get as much wire as possible so you won't have to buy new wire. Take the stuff all home and set the post up in your yard where you get a good view of the sky. Aiming the dish is not that hard, aim the polar mount that the dish moves back and forth on at the north star. Sight along a corner of the mount and get it lined up dead on the north star. The dish should be right on and it is just a matter of using the motor to drive it from one sat to another.

If you have an old Dish Network receiver and lnb from the little dish you can duct tape the lnb onto the feedhorn of the dish and go to the signal strength screen on the receiver. Move the dish back and forth and you should be able to hit all of the Echostar receivers. You won't have a valid subscription so it will not actually pick anything up though, just the signal strength meter is all that matters.

Now that you have a working dish that can move across the sky you need to get the equipment to make use of it. I used a Twinhan 102G PCI card on my computer but you can use any of the FTA receivers or any other DVB-S PCI card. I also purchased the S-DS41C 4-Way DiSEqC Switch with Weatherproof case, BSC621-2 C/KU Band LNBF, and Moteck V-BOX II DiSEqC POSITIONER. I got them from sadoun but you can get them from any place convenient. SwitchThe DiSEqC switch needs to be modified slightly to make it switch reliably. Get to Radio Shack and pick up 2 4700pF capacitors. Ceramic disk capacitors are probably the easiest to solder into the switch. Cut the glue off the back of the switch and carefully pry the cover off. Once you get it look at this picture and you can see where to attach the capacitors. The black thing with 3 solder connections is a transistor and the side with 2 solder joints is where you want to attach one of the capacitors. The other thing is a resistor and is a lot easier to attach the capacitor to. Make sure the wires on the capacitors don't touch anything else and you didn't accidentally bridge any connections with solder.

With the switch fixed it is time to mount the LNBFs. Take the plastic case off the old Dish Network LNB so it will fit under the feedhorn cover if you need to. You will have to cut a hole in the C/KU LNB to mount the DSS LNB to the side of it. Make sure it is lined up with the motion of the dish so it is in line with the C/KU.

Side View of LNBslnbf view

I used zip ties to hold the DSS LNB switch mountedin place but you can mount it however is convenient. I ran the Three wires down one arm of the feedhorn mount and across the back of the dish to the post where I mounted the DiSEqC switch. From the switch you only have to run one coax back to the receiver/DVB card. You also need the 4 wires running from the actuator back to where you have your receiver. Hook the Vbox II up to the actuator wires and the receiver/DVB card like shown in the manual that came with the Vbox. If you are using a FTA receiver now all you need to do is just point to a sat pick what LNB you are using and do a scan. The DSS LNB will only get you a few channels but since you are going for the ultimate system you should go for every channel that is free in the sky. If you have a DVB card like a Twinhan then The best program I have found is called DVBDream. It lets you assign a sat to a switch port and a stored position on the Vbox II so you can tune to a channel just by selecting it and the software will do everything for you. The list of satellites used in DVBDream is stored in a directory called transponders in the DVBDream install dir. They are in the Technotrend *.INI format. You can look on lyngsat and manually edit the INI files yourself or find a source that has updated lists.

Now once you get all of it set up and working you should be able to get everything in the sky that is not scrambled. A lot of people want to know how to hack the scrambled stuff but I have no interest in hacking the scrambled channels so if you want to do that you are on your own. There is a lot more stuff out there that is free and it is much more fun scanning randomly for wildcat feeds and network backhauls. The program TSReaderLite is good for finding transponders that are not listed on lyngsat. DVBDream is very nice and is probably the best program out to use with your Twinhan card. There is other software out there to experiment with and most of it is free so have fun working with your new setup.

I got my dish for free so the only expense I had was the Twinhan card, DiSEqC switch, LNBF, and the Vbox II. So for a pretty small amount of money and a little bit of elbow grease I now have a very nice setup that can get a huge amount of TV and radio. It is not even required that you purchase all the equipment at the same time, you can start with just parts of it and add to it as you get around to it. You can also subscribe to some of the scrambled content on the C/KU band and it is much cheaper than what Dish Network or DirecTV charges. Skyvision has great prices and package deals on their channels. If you want to save the most money on your pay TV then go with Skyvision. You will need a different receiver if you plan on subscribing though. There is plenty that is free so once you get your ultimate C/KU setup in place you will see there is a lot less reason to subscribe than there used to be.

Part 2 will continue with software configuration and searching for signals.