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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

FTA Satellite, Part 3: The Equipment

In the third installment of our Free To Air (FTA) satellite series, we'll cover the equipment needed to set up a simple, one satellite system that will get you started. We'll assume that you are going to set up your system for Galaxy 19 at 97 degrees. While there is lots of programming on other satellites, Galaxy 19 has over 200 unencrypted channels available (although most are foreign language and/or religious) and it is the logical place to start.

While you can add a motor drive or use multiple LNBs to get more than one satellite, at this point we'll be focused on just a single satellite. For this, you need just 4 things: A dish, 30" or larger with mount, an "LNB" (a Low-Noise Block down converter), a receiver, and some coax cable. I would also suggest an inexpensive satellite finder to make setup much easier. 

Here's the low-down on all that you need:

Our first item to consider is the dish itself.

Let me get this out of the way: No, you can't simply use your old DirecTV or Dish Network dish. These dishes are just too small and use a different type of LNB. Although some hobbyists have adapted the larger sizes of these dishes for FTA (notably the DirecTV "Slimline" dish), they just aren't big enough for dependable reception. What you need is a dish from 30" or larger, with an appropriate mounting. For your setup, I'll suggest a 30" dish. Make sure the mount is included. Some dishes will also come with an LNB included - this is not a big deal, since you can buy an LNB for under $10. If you want to view on more than one TV, you'll need a "twin" or "quad" LNB, and additional cable and receiver for each TV. 

Some choices for your dish:
Winegard DS2076 76 cm Dish Antenna, $44.97 + $19.30 shipping
30" FTA Satellite Dish 76cm with Ku Linear LNB, $42.95 + $12.00 shipping

You could also search eBay for a dish: I got my 36"x39" dish, with mount and LNB, for about $80 on eBay.

If your dish does not come with an LNB, you'll need that, too: Linear Ku Band LNB

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