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ABC guide to... Step-by-step guides to understanding digital TV

Advanced satellite receiver setup Want to see more?

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Advanced satellite receiver setup When your receiver has been set up – the channels scanned and stored – you can explore further menus to help you get the most from everyday operation Most users come with pre-named channel lists like news, or you can create your own (far left)


How to set up favourite channels

01 lists

A receiver connected to a reasonably comprehensive antenna system is going to have a huge channel list, and even after you have deleted channels that are unwatched – unavailable due to encryption, or incomprehensible because of the language – and re-ordered the remainder, finding the channels that you, and the rest of the family each want to watch is still a daunting task. Favourite channels lists are an easy way around the problem – a separate smaller list, close at hand, with you in charge of the contents. A single favourites list can contain channels from different satellites or even from both satellite and terrestrial reception in a dual-source receiver. A favourite channel can be easily located in the (short) onscreen list, or you can step through just the channels in that list with channel up/down buttons. Just about every satellite receiver has one favourites list and many have several – up to 20 – so you can group channels either according to content or give one list to each member of the family, or even both. Channels can appear in more than one favourites list and there’s usually no limit to the number in each list (but it makes no sense to include too many – that makes using the favourites list 2  What Satellite & Digital TV

unwieldy and you’re back to square one). Favourites lists are either numbered or named with the likes of ‘news’, ‘sport’, ‘movies’, and so on, or you can sometimes name each list to suit its contents. The lists are populated by browsing through the main channel list, flagging the channels you want to include. How to use the EPG

02 The EPG displays the programmes to be shown on different channels broadcast and usually takes the form of a grid showing either the programmes for a couple of hours on a few channels, or for a longer period on one channel – or you can switch between either format as necessary. You can scroll through the channels and time period displayed and often jump forward or back a day at a time. Highlighting a programme name (and sometimes pressing a further button) will display more details about the show. The EPG schedule data is transmitted by each broadcaster alongside the TV signal but unfortunately, although the DVB specification allows for seven days of programme info to be transmitted, few channels provide more than just the now-and-next information (which is usually also shown on the information banner displayed when a channel is first

selected) outside of the proprietary systems (such as Sky and Freesat) that independent receivers cannot use. How to use timers

03 Most satellite receivers are equipped with event timers to operate by themselves, so connected equipment can record a programme unattended. The event timer can be programmed to switch on the receiver (if it’s in standby) and change to a specified channel at a preset time. If the receiver is a PVR, then the timer will also start recording the broadcast on the hard disc drive.


German channels support the full DVB EPG with seven days of data, but few others are as good as this

ABC guide to... Manual timers may be preferable for certain events to recording direct from the EPG



DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting)

International standards for digital TV transmission and reception including video, audio and EPG data transmission formats. DVB-S is first-generation digital satellite TV (e.g. Sky Digital, Freesat), DVB-T digital terrestrial TV (Freeview), and DVB-S2 is HD satellite TV (Sky HD).


Electronic Programme Guide. Onscreen graphical user interface and list of the programmes broadcast on one or more channels, derived from data broadcast with the channel but interpreted and presented in a style specific to the receiver.

Event timer

The receiver’s timer is programmed in much the same way as a DVD recorder or VCR timers and can usually also be set to repeat the event each day or week, and can be programmed ahead for several events over a period (sometimes up to a year or more). Many receivers also allow the timer to be set directly from the EPG, so highlighting a show in the EPG grid and pressing a certain button will automatically programme the event timer with the time and channel for that show. This function is only of real use when full seven-day schedule data is transmitted. Some receivers also feature a separate ‘sleep’ timer to turn off the receiver after a preset interval (usually set in 10-minute increments up to a couple of hours) so you can be lulled to sleep by Newsnight without the receiver staying on all night.

database used for scans is usually updated by the manufacturer (over the air or by download from the internet), the updates are not always available when you want – or even at all, if the receiver is no longer made. In these situations you need to change the database yourself to keep your receiver updated for the transmission changes so that a scan will find the transmission and add the channels broadcasting to the channel list. Each transponder on each satellite in the database is detailed with the frequency, polarity, and symbol rate used (the FEC is usually determined automatically when the satellite is scanned). On some receivers the database can be browsed and entries altered, deleted, or a new transponder added to the satellite.

04 database

How to edit the transponder

05 When a new satellite is launched,

While the channel list or the transponder

then the receiver’s transponder database


How to receive a new satellite


Programmable timer built into a receiver to select a channel and/or record a broadcast at a preset date and time without intervention from the user.

needs to be updated to include the new transponders, so it can scan the new satellite. For new satellites replacing old ones, the database can simply be edited, replacing the old satellite entries with new ones as necessary (the frequencies often remain unaltered). For new satellites co-positioned with existing birds, again, it is often easier to add transponders to the existing satellite position in the database (most receivers treat multiple satellites at one location as a single group of transponders). New satellites at new orbital positions require a complete new database group entry, and the database-editing menu copes with that with a ‘Create new satellite’ or similar selection. This allows you to name the new satellite, give its orbital position (essential for USALS receivers, to calculate the movement of the motor) and to start to enter the new transponder details n Geoff Bains

You may have to manually edit transponder details to keep up with changes (far left) or add new satellites when they arrive (near left) What Satellite & Digital TV  3

Advanced satellite receiver setup  

When your receiver has been set up – the channels scanned and stored – you can explore further menus to help you get the most from everyday...

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