A Buying Guide for Satellite TV Receiver Accessories

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A Buying Guide for Satellite TV Receiver Accessories

Satellite TV viewers can find a wide range of accessories for their systems on both the new and used markets, whether those accessories are needed for installation, maintenance or general viewing. The majority of satellite TV users in the UK receive their equipment, along with installation and maintenance services, from a sole provider, which also supplies the majority of the programming in the country. This provider dominates the market to such an extent that their brand name has almost fallen into generic use as a term for satellite broadcasting, in the same way that Hoover has become a ubiquitous term for a vacuum cleaner. However, despite this dominance, and even though the majority of this provider's services are provided on a subscription basis, viewers can still take advantage of the free-to-air channels provided from the same satellite group, and may wish to perform their own installation or maintenance. Since this primary provider only supplies equipment for use in the home, those who wish to assemble a portable system, for use on a camping or caravanning holiday, for example, will have no choice but to assemble it themselves. Other viewers may wish to assemble a system suitable for the reception of satellite broadcasts from outwith the UK. In some cases, satellites which are primarily broadcasting to European countries can be picked up in some regions of the UK with the use of oversized dishes and other specialised equipment. In broad categories by type, therefore, here's an overview of the type of accessories that can be found by the UK satellite viewer.

Dish Mounting Equipment

Satellite dish alignment is more critical than that required for terrestrial TV aerials, and satellite dishes must be mounted externally, since the microwave signal transmitted from the satellite will not penetrate the walls of a house. A number of products are, therefore, available in terms of installation - wall mounting brackets, cable clips, and access plates, large-format wall drills, ground-based mountings, and the like.

Dishes

Satellite dishes can be found in a number of styles, and generally speaking, the smallest of these are suitable for use with the UK's dominant provider, and for reception of all channels that share the same satellite group as this provider. Again, in general terms, larger dishes will usually be required by any viewer looking to receive programming from Europe. Since the satellites providing programming to mainland Europe are largely centred on those territories, viewers in the UK are naturally picking up a signal at the fringes of their coverage, and a larger dish is required to pick up the weaker signal in this circumstance. It should be noted that many suppliers provide dishes as a 'bare bones' item - the dish assembly and boom arm only. A satellite dish requires an electrical component - the LNB - to work with a receiver, and these LNBs are often supplied separately from the metalwork of the dish.

LNBs

The electrical component which needs to be partnered with the satellite dish - the LNB, or Low Noise Block converter - is often supplied separately from the dish, and can therefore be chosen according to individual requirements, or can be upgraded later according to any change in requirements. They can come in single form, for feeding one receiver, in twin form, for feeding two receivers or a twin-tuner receiver or PVR, and in other multiples for specialist applications.

Alignment Equipment

As previously mentioned, the alignment of a satellite dish is far more critical than that required for terrestrial TV aerials. Terrestrial antennae can usually be aligned to a satisfactory level with the aid of a map showing the transmitter location and a compass, but satellite dishes must not only be aligned laterally, to a specific compass heading, but to a set elevation above the horizon. While this can be done to an approximate degree by eye, precise setting requires a satellite signal finder, which is temporarily connected to the LNB, and which shows when the optimum signal is being received.

Cabling

The cabling for connection between LNB and satellite receiver is of a specific kind, and differs from the coaxial type used for conventional terrestrial TV antennae. The use of multiple LNBs, twin-tuner receivers or PVRs also requires a twin-feed style of cable.

Portable Dishes and Systems

Holidaymakers, campers, and caravanners often take portable satellite reception equipment on holiday with them, and there's a popular market for the accessories which make this possible. Tripod assemblies are often used for the erection of freestanding dishes, and there are also mounting brackets which allow dishes to be attached to either a static or touring caravan. The use of a signal finder, as mentioned above, is to all intents and purposes, essential for these semi-permanent installations.

Remote Controls

The remote control is the part of a satellite system that receives the most human contact, and the one with most switches and moving parts. It's natural, therefore, that it's often the first part to fail. Replacement remotes for use with systems from the UK's main provider come in standard form, and are readily available. Those which match with less common receivers may be harder to find.

Viewing Cards

The vast majority of satellite receivers are equipped with card slots for viewing cards, or, as they are sometimes termed, conditional access modules. These work in combination with the receiver to allow the viewer access to subscription channels and programming. However, not all of the programming in the UK is on a subscription basis. A number of channels are available on a free-to-air basis, and these can be received by any viewer with a dish and receiver, and don't require the use of a viewing card. Viewing cards for the subscription channels from the UK's main provider are usually available only from that provider, due to the linkage between card and subscriber information. Many viewers choose to view outwith this standard service, and a number of options can be explored with regard to mainstream and specialist viewing. Cards are available which allow access to standard European channels, and others are available which allow access to specialist broadcasting such as sporting channels. However, mere possession of the viewing card doesn't of itself guarantee access to the channels concerned, as they're likely to be broadcasting from a different satellite or satellite group from that used for the majority of UK programming. European satellites will be found on a certain heading and elevation, and there are many online sources detailing the satellites and where to find them, along with guidance on the programming available from each of them, and details of the transponder settings required. The transponder settings are usually accessible from a settings or service menu on the satellite receiver.

General Accessories

A number of generic TV viewing accessories are suitable for both satellite and terrestrial TV viewing and reception. These could include racking or stands for mounting TVs and/or satellite receivers. A wide variety of styles are available, and it should be possible to find something which fits any combination of equipment and decor requirements.

How to Find Satellite TV Receiver Accessories on eBay

Many of the subcategories given to satellite accessories on eBay correspond directly to the paragraph headings used above. From the eBay homepage, select Shop by category, and if Sound & vision appears on the pop-up list, select it. Otherwise, expand the list to showAll Categories,, then selectSound & Vision.. Select TV Reception & Set-Top Boxes,, and many of the subcategories will be listed in a form that closely matches the headings above. For instance, mounting accessories can be found in the Aerial/Dish Mounting Equipment subcategory, and dishes themselves in the Satellite Dishes category. LNBs in theSatellite LNBs subcategory, and alignment tools underSignal Finders.. Generic viewing accessories can sometimes also be found in the TV/Home Audio Accessories category. Since viewing accessories can sometimes be non-specific to satellite or terrestrial TV, it may sometimes be more efficient to merely perform a free text search from the search box on the eBay homepage.

Conclusion

There is an active market in satellite receiver accessories, both from the receiver manufacturers and from aftermarket specialists, along with many generic accessories which are appropriate to both satellite and terrestrial viewing. The guidelines above should provide useful in guiding the viewer to an appropriate selection.

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