Page 1

Freesat Freeview Euro Tv Sky The best kit, The best programmes

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

Setting up your sat receiver Want to see more?

Visit for daily news, reviews and updates from the world of digital TV, or join our forums.

ABC Guide To

Setting up your sat receiver Most satellite receivers are a long way from ‘plug-and-play’, but installing a new satellite box is still a relatively straightforward task if taken a step at a time Programming a satellite receiver can be a complex process – far more so than, say, tuning in a TV because the receiver is designed to operate with a wide variety of different antenna setups, and the list of possible channels that it can receive (hugely bigger than anything via terrestrial broadcasts) is ever-changing.

pre-loaded list of channels receivable. You still need to tell the receiver what satellites you can receive and how the dishes are connected, but the whole setup process takes just a few seconds. However, such a system is only truly useful if the pre-loaded list is truly up to date.

Different approaches to the setup process

01 setup

Most enthusiasts’ receivers provide a ‘wizard’ to take you through the setup process, starting with the onscreen language, the time, and the UHF output channel number (if appropriate). There are, however, still some receivers that leave you to find the installation menu on your own. Receivers produced especially for Sky, Freesat and most foreign pay-TV broadcasters are fully automatic. There’s almost nothing to do to set them up, short of perhaps entering your postcode. The antenna system is simple and standard and the receiver downloads a list of the channels available broadcast from a default channel and is ready to go almost immediately. Some independent enthusiasts’ receivers emulate this automation with a


How to programme the antenna

The most important task is to tell the receiver about the antenna setup you have connected by defining how each satellite to be received is accessed by the receiver – which means how to select and configure each LNB connected to the receiver. For each LNB you select the satellite it receives, the type of LNB (usually a universal model), the DiSEqC (and sometimes voltage) switching used to select that LNB, along with 22KHz and 13/18V switching for non-universal LNBs. It doesn’t matter if the LNBs are on one dish, on separate dishes, or not on normal dishes at all. The receiver just needs to know how to access each satellite to be received. (With a motorised dish a single LNB is used for access to many satellites, and a separate menu is used to find and store all the satellite positions).

How to scan the satellites

02 When the receiver knows how to access the satellites it needs to find the channels available on each one. It may ‘scan’ a single satellite at a time, your own selection or all the satellites you have programmed. A database of satellite details is held in the receiver with the frequency, polarity and symbol rate for each transponder (occasionally the FEC too, but usually this is found ‘on the fly’). The scan looks at each transponder on a satellite and finds the channels broadcasting, storing their


Some receivers – like this Televés KIT800 – use a simple graphical interface to help you set up multiple or even motorised antennas 2  What Satellite & Digital TV

Elegant menus are just part of the Lyngbox’s charm; many users won’t need to bother searching because the channel list is automatically downloaded

abc guide to... name and details in the channel list. To scan a whole satellite like this takes a few minutes. You can usually restrict the channels stored to omit encrypted channels or those carrying just data, or select a ‘network search’ that uses data carried by one channel as a link to other channels from the same broadcaster. Additional search modes allow an individual transponder to be scanned, and even for the PID codes to be set so you can reveal channels that are otherwise hidden (such as ITV HD). Some enthusiasts’ receivers also offer a ‘blind search’. This eschews the database and scans through all possible frequencies, polarities, and symbol rates on a satellite to find every transmission. This takes much longer than a database scan but is not reliant on an up-to-date database. The time taken can be reduced by restricting the frequency or polarity range, but a blind search of a whole satellite can still take 30 minutes or longer.

No matter what the receiver, the setup process usually runs like this even if the options have different names

Glossary Packet Identifier (PID)

How to modify the channel list

03 With many hundreds of channels stored from just Astra 19.2°E, some reorganisation helps channel access. The channel list itself can be edited, with channels moved in the list, renamed and unwanted channels deleted altogether. You can also set up separate lists of ‘favourite channels’ to be displayed and cycled through independently. Favourite channels lists can usually contain any number of channels, with channels repeated in different lists if required, and named for the channel types they contain or the family member that uses that list.

Codes broadcast along with the channel to identify the video and audio data and to synchronise the two data streams.


Individual transmitter on the satellite broadcasting a signal on a particular frequency and polarity containing the data for several TV and/or radio channels.

Symbol Rate

One of the tuning parameters needed by the receiver to successfully receive the signal from a transponder.

set to 16:9 if it is a widescreen TV. The satellite sound should also be set to match the equipment connected, using the digital audio output if possible and setting that to Dolby compatible for surround sound broadcasts.

How to set up the receiver for your

04 AV equipment

As well as ‘tuning in’ the channels, the receiver will also need setting up to suit the TV and sound system it connects to. While this is sometimes included in the setup wizard, it’s often buried within the installation menus. You should match the TV output to the TV used. With HDMI connections this is automatic but with Scart the output should be set to RGB (if available, and the TV is compatible) and the picture format


Forward Error Correction. One of the tuning parameters needed by the receiver to successfully receive the signal from a transponder.

can update the database and re-scan the satellites. Receivers with blind search can usually update the database themselves according to the blind search findings. Alternatively, most manufacturers publish new databases every so often that can be downloaded to the receiver – either by PC from the internet and transferred to the receiver (via a serial link or a USB memory stick), or as data broadcast ‘over the air’ from the satellites themselves n Geoff Bains

How to update the channel list

05 You can re-scan any satellite to keep on top of changing broadcasts but over time the transponders (and even satellites) change too and the receiver’s database becomes outdated, so subsequent satellite scans do not produce all the available channels. Some enthusiasts’ receivers allow the database to be manually edited so you What Satellite & Digital TV  3

Setting up your sat receiver  

Most satellite receivers are a long way from 'plug-and-play', but installing a new satellite box is still a relatively straightforward task...