How a complete beginner got French TV
(
Simon Watkins)



A Beginner’s Guide to Receiving French Television

Inspired by the articles on analoguesat.co.uk, I thought I would try my hand at setting up my own satellite system so that I could watch French television. I should point out that I am an absolute beginner at this and have never had satellite televison of any description before.

The Equipment:

Firstly, I visited my local television shop and they had, gathering dust on the shelves, an old analogue satellite receiver (Pace MSS 300). They also had an 80cm dish sitting in the corner. The receiver didn’t have a remote control but I managed to get one from ebay for the grand sum of 2.70. I don’t think you could programme the receiver without a remote control. I didn’t get the instruction manual for the receiver either but it is so easy to programme that it really isn’t necessary. I also, on the advice of the television shop, bought a patio stand for the dish.

In the end, I bought the receiver, the dish, 20m of satellite cable, 2 ‘f’ connectors (which you need to connect the cable to the receiver and the lnb) and some cable clips for 60.

When I got the dish home, I noticed that the lnb that was attached was not universal and, according to the instructions elsewhere on the site, would not be suitable for receiving French tv. The next morning (Saturday), I was keen to get on with setting everything up so I bought a universal lnb from my local Maplins. This cost me 39 – I am aware that you can get them for half this price online but I was keen to get on with it and they had one in stock.

 

Setting up the Receiver:

Following the instructions elsewhere on the website, I managed to set up the receiver in approx 2 mins. The ‘menu’ programme on the remote control took me quickly to lnb setup and I changed the settings to dual band/tone. The LNB low settings automatically changed to 9.750 and the high settings to 10.750 (this was slightly different to the 9.750/10.60 mentioned on the website but this was the closest I could get). I then tried to programme in the France 3 frequency 12732 V and it seemed to be ok. To double-check, I changed the lnb settings back to single/low and I got an ‘error’ instead of the frequency number.

 

Attaching the lnb/receiver/television:

This was easy – I unscrewed the collar and removed the old lnb and put the new one in its place. There are degree markings on both lnbs and I aligned the new one to match the alignment of the one I removed.

I attached the ‘f’ connectors to the cable, using the instructions listed at Martin Pickering's Satcure site and screwed one end to the lnb. I put our television and receiver on a bench in the garden. I connected the cable to the receiver, connected the receiver to the television via a scart lead and powered up.

 

Positioning the Satellite Dish:

The Easy Bits:

Using a compass, I pointed the dish at approx 20 degrees east of south. The dish was pretty much vertical - I easily picked up various stations using the frequency search up and down function on the receiver. The various orbital positions and how to work your way around them are on the tuning tips page.

I then moved the dish slowly towards the south and picked up 13E easily.

Again, I moved the dish towards the south and picked up 0.8W although the signal appeared weak.

 

The Hard Bits:

Feeling pleased with myself, I programmed in the frequencies for the French channels and moved the dish to 5W (again using only my compass for guidance) – NOTHING! I spent 20 frustrating minutes moving the dish very slightly left to right and up and down but found nothing.

I went back to 0.8W and found that easily enough, moved to 5W and still nothing. I moved on to 8W and set the receiver to frequency search – after a little toing and froing I caught a very weak signal. I thought it was Canal + because it was encoded but there was so much interference that I couldn’t hear anything. I then realised that the tuning frequencies mentioned on the wesbite also include audio frequencies. I checked the ones programmed into the receiver and they were way out. I retuned the audio frequencies to those listed and French came through loud and clear! The picture was still terrible (although encoded) and no matter how I moved the dish I couldn’t get it any better.

I had a cup of tea and scratched my head a bit.

Then in a moment of genius, I loosened the screws holding the lnb in place and rotated it first to the right and then to the left – bingo! A perfect picture (still encoded obviously)!

I screwed the lnb in tight and moved the dish slightly to the left (from behind) to what I felt was 5W. Still nothing! This time, I didn’t use the frequencies I had preset but pressed search. I very quickly caught FR3, adjusted the dish slightly and there it was loud and clear. By using the programme search up and down function, I quickly found all of the other channels.

All in all, about 4 hours work (including teabreaks and time for headscratching).

 

 

What I learned/how I would do it easier in the future.

My 4 hours in the garden taught me four things

1    It’s really easy to do

2    Sounds obvious but make sure your dish has an unobstructed view of the sky! (No plants in the way etc). If in doubt, get down behind the dish and follow its ‘line of sight’. (*1)

3    When I caught the Swedish channel at 0.8W I should have rotated the lnb at this stage to improve reception (Ross may want to add something here about how/why this works) (*2)

4    The tuning frequencies I found are approx 150 MHz different to the ones listed elsewhere on the website. I have no idea why this is but it doesn’t really matter as I can receive all the channels really well. I would recommend using ‘search’ to find the channels rather than pre-programming the frequencies. (*3)

 

(*1)    You need to be clear line of site from the dish up to about 25 - 30 degrees above the horizon.

(*2)    Rotating the LNB to improve the signal is known as "adjusting the LNB skew" The exact amount will vary according to your location, and the satellite you are looking at. It's really just a matter of trial and error to get the strongest signal once the dish is pointing in the right direction.

(*3)    That figure is out because the high LNB frequency is set at 10750 on Simon's receiver, whilst the LNB frequency will actually be 10600. Hence the 150 MHz difference. There will be a way of altering it in the LNB menu, but as long as it works for Simon, and he remembers it for later use if he ever has to set the equipment up again, it doesnt really matter.

 

Simon has proved that there is not any black art to setting up an analogue receiver. It really is very easy indeed if you are methodical, and follow the instructions on this site - and maybe ask for a little help if you do get stuck.

 

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