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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A lot of posts lately about sat tv, here is an excellent guide from Roadpro:

The basics
Satellite television has three main attractions for anyone who wants to watch TV on a boat, in a caravan, motorhome or truck. Firstly, you can forget ghosting, crackly sound, fading and all the other problems associated with watching TV when out and about. In theory, a perfect picture is available just about anywhere where a dish has a clear view of the satellite. Secondly, the choice of channels is huge and you can pick up radio stations as well as TV. Thirdly, and most importantly to many people, many English language TV channels are available over a large area of Europe so that, even as far away as Portugal or Greece, you can still watch some of the programmes you would be watching at home. However, receiving satellite TV is not just a simple matter of connecting a dish to a TV and pointing it at the sky, not in the U.K. anyway. There are several reasons for this and they are mostly to do with the way satellite TV transmissions are controlled in this country.

All over Europe hundreds of satellite TV transmissions are available which can be picked up free of charge by anyone with a dish and a decoder. Many of these channels are broadcast using analogue technology; this means that they are fairly easy to locate and only require the use of an analogue receiver which can be purchased for under £100. This same equipment can be used in the U.K. but, unfortunately, of all the channels available, only a very few broadcast in English.

In the U.K., analogue TV has been phased out and all U.K. satellite transmissions intended for this country are only broadcast in digital form. This means that a digital receiver is required as well as a digital compatible dish. Furthermore, most digital transmissions are encrypted. They cannot be received unless the signal is decrypted and this can only be done by using a SKY "digibox" in conjunction with a "viewing card". There's no way round this: if you want to receive all U.K. TV programmes via satellite, you must have a SKY digibox and a SKY viewing card. However, since July, 2003, the BBC has broadcast all their digital programmes - both TV & radio - without encryption. This means that their programmes can be received with any digital satellite receiver.

If you have satellite TV at home you may already have a "digibox" and a SKY card. However, if your satellite TV system was installed by SKY and you were given the "digibox" free of charge, you will probably have signed a contract obliging you to keep the "digibox" connected to a 'phone line for 12 months. After 12 months, there is nothing to stop you moving the unit anywhere you wish. The "digibox" is given away for nothing in the hope that you will then take advantage of the interactive facilities available over the 'phone line. You do not have to subscribe to SKY to receive a free "digibox" but, if you do not, you may have to pay an installation fee.

If you do not wish to subscribe to Sky or to have your digital receiver connected to the 'phone for 12 months, it is possible to buy a "digibox" outright. You are then free to do what you want with it and, with the appropriate dish and ancillary equipment can receive dozens of TV and radio stations absolutely free of charge. These include all BBC TV & radio stations, SKY News, CNN and many others. If you want to watch ITV, Channel 4 & Channel 5 you will have to get a viewing card.

At the end of October 2004, SKY introduced a new service - FREESAT - which offers viewers almost 200 TV & radio channels with no subscription to pay. A one-off payment of £150 will buy a digibox, a viewing card, a dish and installation. It won't be necessary to connect the digibox to a fixed phone line and, apparently, there are no restrictions.

Better still for many people, it's also possible to buy a FREESAT viewing card for £20.00, again with no subscription charges. The card can then be used in any SKY digibox - after it's been activated by SKY - and enables the viewer to receive the same channels as someone buying the £150 package.

Channels available will include all those from the BBC, ITV and Channels 4 & 5. In addition dozens of other channels will be accessible such as: Extreme Sport, Motors TV, Classic FM TV, Performance Channel, Bonanza, CNN, SKY News, Classics TV, Information TV & Al Jazeera. Lots of free radio channels are also on offer - many of them only available in digital format. Programmes which require a SKY subscription such as SKY One, E4 & ITV 2 will not be available on the FREESAT service.

To get FREESAT, phone SKY on 08706 061111.

What you need
For anyone wanting a satellite set-up in their vehicle or boat, RoadPro has come up with a number of options to make installation and use as simple and economical as possible. Let's look firstly at the equipment which is required.

A satellite dish:
The dish is the aerial which collects the signal from the satellite. A dish is not always a dish however; it may be squarish, flattish or even hidden away inside a dome. Furthermore, dishes come in a wide range of sizes. Portable models vary from 30cm diameter to 85cm. Larger ones - 1M and more - are used in areas where the satellite signal is weak but are usually not practical unless you intend to stay in one place for a reasonable period of time. Although the size of a satellite dish greatly affects the geographical area in which it will operate, it is not simply a matter of "bigger is better". The design of the dish and the L.N.B. (see below) also affect reception. Different channels are broadcast in different ways and may not be available where you are.
In order to work out exactly what size dish you would require to receive a signal in a particular area, it's necessary to look at a "footprint" map such as those provided by Astra. However, perhaps not surprisingly, even this is not as straightforward as it seems.

Note: These maps are provided by the satellite owners ASTRA - SES. Officially, the inner band is the area covered by a 50cm dish and the outer band the area covered by a 120cm dish. However, the maps seem to be a little pessimistic and, in reality, a 50cm dish will work well into the green band and an 85cm dish will usually reach the outer edge of the orange band. A 120cm + dish will pick up channels well outside the footprint.
For example, according to the footprint maps, even a 120cm dish would be unable to pick up ITV in Barcelona. In reality, a Globesat (85cm) will probably work and a 120cm dish will pick up ITV even further south. But, always bear in mind that weather and other factors can influence reception.

Map 1 shows the "footprint" of the satellite transponder which transmits Channel 5, Sky News, CNN and many more channels.
The satellite is Astra 2A - south beam.

Map 2 shows the area in which it is possible to receive Channel 4, Sky One, Sky Sports, Sky Films and much more.
The satellite is Astra 2A - north beam.

Map 3 shows the area to which ITV and all BBC TV & radio programmes are broadcast. It is very restricted but, with the correct equipment, stations can be received over a much wider area than would appear to be the case. The satellite is Astra 2D.

Every satellite dish has a L.N.B. (Low Noise Block). This is the part of the dish which receives the signal from the satellite. In the case of all domestic and some mobile satellite dishes, it's the mushroom-like object mounted on an arm and pointing towards the dish's centre. The quality of the L.N.B. is vital for the reception of a strong, clear signal and a good L.N.B. attached to a small dish can be just as effective as a large dish with a less efficient L.N.B.

For the sake of convenience both in use and when stowed away, the smaller the dish the better. That's why some of our dishes have their L.N.B.s located behind the dish and are therefore very compact. This technology also results in comparatively small dishes having the reception characteristics of much larger ones. Our Multimo, Globesat and Arcon Multi models are all designed to be very efficient indeed and can be used in locations where a similar sized dish with a standard L.N.B. would not give good results.

Our Multimo model for example, although measuring only 40cm in diameter, has the equivalent performance of a conventional 55cm-60cm dish and enables reception of some U.K. stations as far south as the Algarve in Portugal and as far north as the Highlands of Scotland. Ireland would be covered and eastwards, Warsaw in Poland is within range. Outside this area, a larger dish such as the Arcon Multi would be necessary. This will allow reception as far away as North Africa, the far north of Scotland and eastwards into Russia. BBC & ITV programmes can be received over all of France and into Spain.

Our smallest dish, the Kerstan only measures 30cm in diameter and is the smallest dish that we know of. Because of its design however, it will pick up most programmes within the innermost blue areas on the maps.

The Globesat & some Kathrein models offer the convenience of a permanently mounted system but without the price tag of a fully automatic model. These systems are permanently installed on the roof of a vehicle but are raised manually from inside. They are very easy to install and to use and will work well right down to the Algarve.
Setting these systems up is just a matter of a few minutes or less but, for the ultimate in convenience, we also offer a fully automatic system which is ideal for motorhomes, caravans and other vehicles.
This unit is made by Kathrein, a German company which is one of the oldest and largest specialist antenna manufacturers in the world. The range includes what we consider to be one of the best fully automatic mobile satellite systems and we will be happy to send you more info. upon request.

Note: When choosing a dish, it's worth bearing in mind that the smaller it is, the easier it will be to locate the satellite. This sounds unlikely but it really is true! A smaller dish is also much less susceptible to movement: a Multimo or Kerstan can even be successfully used on a moored boat - within reason!

A mount for the dish:
A dish can be mounted in many ways. Permanent mounting - such as with the Globesat or the Kathrein - is most convenient but, in some cases, not desirable or possible. Temporary mounting can be achieved using a tripod fixed to the ground, a suction mount attached to a flat surface such as a roof, for example, or a bracket attached to a pole or ladder. These methods are very simple to use but even permanent mounting is well within the capabilities of any competent handyman.
The Multimo has a flat base and can simply sit on the ground or on a table. One useful feature of satellite transmissions is that the signal can pass through certain materials, including plain window glass and the kind of plastic that caravan windows are made of. Therefore, in areas where the signal is strong, a Multimo can even sit on a table inside a vehicle or an awning. The base can be removed if required and the dish attached to a tripod or pole using the clamp supplied.
The Kerstan comes with a suction mount and ball joint making it very versatile indeed. It can be mounted on a roof, bonnet or a side panel or window but it also comes with an adjustable mounting bracket for attaching the unit to a tripod or pole. Like the Multimo, it can also be used inside if convenient.
The Arcon Multi is designed to be mounted to a tripod or pole and comes with a mounting bracket.
The tripod we supply is purpose-made by Winegard in the U.S.A. We consider it to be by far the best available and certainly the easiest to use once the dish is attached. It comes with its own compass and spirit level and can be used with any of our portable dishes.
All our dishes are completely weatherproof and can be used outside come rain or shine.

A receiver:
In order to watch satellite TV transmissions you must have a receiver. The SKY digibox is the best known in the U.K. and, if you want to receive ITV and Channels 4 & 5 or if you want to watch SKY's subscription channels, you must use one, along with a viewing card. There are several different makes but they all have essentially the same features and they all perform the same task: taking the signal from the dish, unscrambling it if necessary and then translating it into a form which a television can recognise. It's connected by a co-axial cable to the dish and to the TV via a SCART or R.F. lead, both of which are usually supplied. Most domestic models run on 230V but can be run without problem from a 150-watt inverter. Other receivers are available which operate on 12V but they cannot be used with a SKY viewing card and so will not receive certain channels.

A Viewing Card:
As explained above, without a viewing card many channels are simply unavailable via satellite. The viewing card slots into the digibox and gives it permission to decrypt some or all of the channels being transmitted by the satellite. Without a viewing card, many channels are still available: you'll get all BBC TV & radio programmes, CNN, SKY News, Performance, ITN News, lots of shopping & travel channels and more.

If you decide that you have to have ITV, Channel 4 & Channel 5, SKY will send you a viewing card - after you've paid them of course. It must then be activated before it can be used. This is done by inserting the card into the digibox - which must be connected to a dish and receiving satellite transmissions - and leaving it for up to 48 hours. When that's been done, the card should have been programmed by SKY and be ready for use. The people at SKY will explain exactly what to do and how to do it.
Note: As explained previously, every viewing card is electronically matched to the digibox in which it is to be used. Cards can be moved from digibox to digibox but subscription channels will not be available and there is a chance that the card may be de-activated under certain circumstances.

An Inverter (possibly):
If you want to use your regular digibox from home, you will need to run it from 230V: because it will use very little power - approx. 36W - a low-cost 150W inverter is all that is necessary for powering it from 12V in a vehicle. The inverter can be simply plugged into a standard lighter socket.

A Compass:
A compass is useful for checking the direction in which the dish must be pointed. We supply a chart with every dish which gives the correct angles of azimuth (the horizontal angle) and elevation in major towns and cities all over Europe.

A "Satfinder":
With digital transmissions the satellite dish must be positioned absolutely precisely and, if it isn't, you simply won't get a picture. Some people claim that they can find the satellite without a satfinder in just a few minutes. This is undoubtedly true but, with a satfinder, the job takes only a few seconds. A satfinder is a device which, using some form of indicator, makes locating a satellite easy, reliable and quick. An additional advantage is that it's not necessary to be able to see the screeen or have an assistant who can. The satfinder is connected between the dish and the receiver and should be disconnected when the satellite has been found. Some models are easier to use than others and we believe that our Zehnder Satfinder, which uses a combination of audible tones and L.E.D.s is one of the easiest and most reliable.

A Television:
You do not need a special TV to receive satellite transmissions. If you're using a SKY digibox, any television of any size or type will do. For other receivers, you will probably need a TV with a SCART socket or Audio / Video inputs.

A word of caution:
If you go a Sky dealer and buy a satellite system for your home, you can get not only the "digibox" but also a dish and have the entire system installed and up and running for less than the price of a good night out. The "digibox" is heavily subsidised in the hope that you will use it for interactive services.
On the other hand, if you want to watch satellite TV only in your boat, caravan, motor home or truck and you don't have a "digibox" which you can use, you will have to buy one at the market price. This is currently between approx. £200.00 - £300.00 depending on the model.
Some unscrupulous and dishonest companies advertise complete satellite TV systems for less than this including dish and "digibox". These systems may have been designed for domestic installation and connection to a 'phone line and may be being sold illegally. Because the distribution of "digiboxes" is carefully controlled - you must give your unit's serial number when requesting a viewing card - you could encounter problems if your "digibox" ever failed to work correctly or if you needed to seek advice from the satellite programme provider. Furthermore, being intended for domestic use, the dishes supplied with these systems are designed for installation on a building, not a vehicle or boat.


How difficult is it to use satellite TV?
Many people will tell you that setting up digital satellite TV is difficult. If you have the right equipment, the correct information and a little bit of patience for the first time you set your system up, it's easy. After a bit of practice, setting up a Multimo, for example, lining it up with the satellite and settling back to watch TV need take no more than 5 minutes.

What channels can I get with satellite TV?
The fact of the matter is that, if you want to watch U.K. TV via satellite, you have to go digital and, for ITV, Channels 4 & 5 and all SKY subscription programmes, you must have a SKY "digibox" and a SKY viewing card. You can get a card which will enable you to receive ITV, Channel 4 & Channel 5 for a one-off fee of £23.50. Subscriptions, which will enable you to receive other channels such as Sky 1, ITV 2, etc start at approx. £12.50 per month. If you can make do with BBC programmes and all the other free-to-view (not ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5) you can use a SKY "digibox" without a viewing card. However, if you're not subscribing, you can also use any digital satellite receiver, of which there are hundreds of different models.

What channels can I get without a subscription?
Free to view channels change all the time: they come, they go! However some of the channels which are broadcast on SKY and are available without a subscription are: BBC 1, 2, 3 & 4, BBC News 24, SKY News, CNN, ITN News, Motors, Extreme Sport, You, Performance and Classic FM TV. Then there are numerous religious, shopping, travel and music channels and, of course, dozens and dozens of radio stations including all the BBC ones.
There are other English-speaking channels on other satellites and, if you have one of our automatic Kathrein systems, you will be able to watch BBC World, Fox News, Bloomberg and lots more channels which are broadcast on the Hotbird and Astra 19 satellites. These channels are available to anyone with a receiver capable of picking them up.

How do I decide which type of dish to buy?
There are many factors to take into consideration when choosing which dish to get. Most importantly: do you want automatic, through-the-roof or free-standing? Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

For maximum convenience, a fully automatic unit is unbeatable. However, remember that you will always have to park your vehicle so that the dish can align with the satellite. On occasion - at a crowded campsite for example - this may simply not be possible and many people who have an automatic system take a free-standing set-up with them as well - just in case! After all, moving a dish and a tripod a few feet to avoid a tree is a lot easier than moving a motorhome backwards, forwards and sideways until the dish can "see" the satellite

For a low-cost set-up with maximum flexibility, a manual, free-standing dish will do the job.

For the convenience of a permanently mounted dish with a cost nearer to a manual than an automatic system, a through-the-roof type could be just what you need. Bear in mind the advice for the automatic system: the same applies.

In the near future, other types of dish will become available which will make the situation even more confusing. Look out for free-standing, portable, fully automatic models as well as units which track the satellite as the vehicle or boat moves. Keep an eye on our website for up to the minute information.

What size dish will I need?
It depends where you are and what programmes you want to receive but don't be fooled into thinking you need a bigger dish than you actually do. Refer to the footprint charts and work on the following basis: a 30cm dish will work anywhere inside the innermost blue areas; a 55cm dish (including the MULTIMO) will work anywhere inside the outermost orange area; an 85cm dish (including the Globesat) will work even beyond the published limits of the footprint but you can't be sure exactly how far. Be aware that weather and atmospheric conditions can affect reception and also that the satellite operators can change both footprints and transmission power at will.
When choosing a dish, bear in mind that the smaller it is, the easier it will be to locate the satellite. This sounds unlikely but it really is true! A smaller dish is also much less susceptible to movement: a Multimo or Kerstan can even be successfully used on a moored boat. On the other hand, the larger the dish the greater the amount of signal it will be able to receive and the better your chances of picking up programmes in less than perfect conditions: for example at the fringes of, or even outside, the published "footprint".

What can I get in southern Spain - or Italy, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland, etc.?
A nice paella and a bottle of cheap red wine for a start. You can forget (almost)* about watching BBC, ITV & Channel 4 unless you have a dish of at least 1.5 metres and preferably 2 metres in diameter. Some people claim to know people who, in turn, claim that they have picked up ITV in Malaga with a dish measuring less than 1 metre in diameter but the footprint maps and other peoples' experiences suggest that it wouldn't be a good idea to rely on this information.
You can get Channel 5 (if you have a SKY subscription), SKY News, CNN and more by using a dish as small as 30cm. Some SKY subscription channels are available too but, to find out exactly what's available "down south", your best bet is to go to the Astra website and look at their listings. The website address is below.

*There's one BBC channel that you can easily get almost anywhere in Europe including southern Spain and Italy, Greece, Portugal and even Morocco. You don't need a big dish but, here's the catch, you need to pay to receive it. The channel is called BBC Prime and it's a subscription only channel aimed specially at ex-pats and anyone who wants to watch a range of BBC programmes in foreign climes. BBC Prime is transmitted from the Hotbird 6 satellite and, because the channel is encrypted, you'll need a card to access it. You can't use a SKY digibox either - the card won't fit - so you'll need to have a receiver such as the Kathrein UFD-540 which has the appropriate slot. For more information, ask us or go to the BBC Prime website - the address is below.

What about Freeview?
Freeview is a terrestrial digital service which has nothing to do with satellites or SKY. Programmes are delivered to your TV via an aerial in the normal way although, depending on the area, your existing aerial may not be up to receiving the signal and may require replacing. There's no subscription and you can get lots of channels including BBC, ITV, Channel 4 & Channel 5. However, reception is patchy and, if you go to places where the normal analogue TV signal is not too good, it's unlikely that you'll be able to get Freeview at all. Of course, Freeview is not available abroad.

Can I use a "Freeview" receiver instead of a SKY digibox?
In a word: No.

Does RoadPro sell Freeview receivers?
Yes: we have tested several 12V models and by far the best is the Humax FT-100T (our code D1801.)We also stock mobile aerials which are suitable for digital reception.

Is it OK to use satellite TV in a motorhome, caravan, boat, bus or truck?
As far as we are aware SKY have no rules concerning the use of a "digibox" in a vehicle. They may advise against it and some people say they have been told that it's not possible but tens of thousands of people do. The only restriction is on the use of the viewing card: for copyright reasons the use of a viewing card is prohibited outside the U.K. and Ireland. There is, of course, no possible way for SKY or anyone else to know where you are when you are watching satellite TV. Anyway, if you don't subscribe, you don't need a viewing card so the situation doesn't arise.

Can I use my digibox from home?
If, when you signed up with SKY, you were given a subsidised "digibox", you probably signed a contract requiring you to leave the "digibox" connected to a 'phone line for at least 12 months. You are still free to buy a second "digibox" and take it away with you. However, when you've had a "digibox" connected to the 'phone for 12 months, you are free to disconnect it and take it wherever you like.

Are there any disadvantages to satellite TV?
The only real disadvantage is that, in order to receive a signal from the satellite, your dish must be able to "see" it. Buildings, trees or other vehicles which lie directly between your dish and the satellite will prevent the signal from being received; it's as simple as that. This can be a problem if you're parked up in a lorry park for example and surrounded by trucks or on a campsite and obscured by trees. Also, it's worth bearing in mind that the signal from the satellite can be affected by rain and snow. Normally there's no problem but really severe weather can result in a less than perfect TV picture.

How can you tell who to believe about satellite TV?
Certain people may tell you that you must never disconnect your digibox from the mains. They may also tell you that the digibox must remain connected to a telephone, that a Kerstan dish is too small and won't work at all, that a dish can't work on a boat or that certain "digiboxes" can't be used outside the U.K. Others will tell you that all "satfinders" are equally easy to use, that only dishes costing thousands of pounds will work on a boat or even that you need a special inverter to run a digibox from 12 or 24 volts. They may even tell you that the moon is made of blue cheese or that they have a pet unicorn. The fact is that these people either have something to sell or are just genuinely ignorant (or mad). In either case, ignore them and take advice from someone who's already using a mobile satellite system. Or, of course, ask RoadPro!

Why ask RoadPro?
Because we have tried and tested all the products we sell: in Portugal, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Gibraltar, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, England, Wales & Scotland. When we say that a particular piece of equipment does something, we're not guessing or hoping, we're simply giving the facts.
There are all sorts of dishes, satfinders, even tripods on the market and we have made a special effort to test as many of them as we can. As a result, we believe that the products that are now in our range are all the best of their type. They are all purpose-made for mobile use and we have worked closely with the manufacturers to iron out any problems. And, as the market leader in mobile satellite TV equipment, we have thousands of satisfied customers, many of whom keep us informed of their satellite experiences.

Many people see satellite TV as a tricky and complex subject. For this reason, we are happy to offer sensible, straightforward and accurate advice. Let us know where you plan to go, what you want to watch or listen to and what vehicle you're using. We'll advise you on the most suitable equipment and will supply you with all the information necessary to set it up easily and quickly. If you can visit us, we'll even give you a "hands-on" session so that you can see just how easy it is. Don't worry about all the technical jargon and the stories you may have heard of people spending 4 days in a field trying to get the thing to work: we guarantee that you can get your satellite TV system up and running in just a few minutes - every time!

Useful website addresses:

For info. on BBC digital services:

For info. on BBC PRIME:

For general info. on ASTRA satellite services

For specific and up to date info. on which channels are broadcast using which footprint:

For info. on SKY subscriptions:

For info. on SKY "Free2View" viewing cards:

For general info. on Freeview:

For the best range of portable satellite TV equipment as well as technical tips on using satellite TV in vehicles:

Please note that RoadPro does not encourage or condone the use of SKY viewing cards in any way which may be in breach of the terms and conditions which are attached to their use.

3,813 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
johnsandywhite said:
8O Do you have permission to print this? 8O
'Roadpro' advertise on this site, the text shown is a 'printer freindly' version of their help section, freely available to anyone, and everyone who cares to view it.
Regards M&D

Just noticed it's in GPS and not Satellite... :oops:

204 Posts
I might add that I visited Roadpro en route for France, and the guys there were friendly and very helpful indeed. Even gave me a lesson in sattelite finding on my own setup, they got a picture where I'd failed miserably, so now I know how to do it, mind you had problems in France, probably my fault.
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