SATELLITE TV BASICS

With so many technical terms in regards to Satellite TV one feels somewhat vunerable to making an error through lack of understanding and knowledge for the purchase of the best Satellite system, equipment and programs. When you have taken a few minutes to read this section you will be well informed like an expert to make an intelligent decision towards giving you the very best Satellite TV viewing experience.

 

The Satellite Geosynchronous Orbit Advantage. (back to top)

With Satellite Television the problem with radio interference, distance and the circumference of the earth is overcome because the signal to the home television is received from a satellite in outer space that is far enough up to cover a full half area circumference of the earth just like a flash light shining from one direction can cover the full half of a ball. A Satellite is an object orbiting another object such as the moon orbiting the earth or in other words any object repeatedly moving around another object in a circular fashion. TV Satellites are placed in outer space at a great distance from the earth of 22,200 miles (35,700 km) up as compared to the space shuttle which orbits at 200 to 350 miles up or the moon at 238,238 miles up. They are rocketed into a position and a speed that orbits at the same speed as the spin of the earth (7,000 mph or 11,000 kph) so they remain stationery in the same place above the earth. This is called a geosynchronous orbit which obviously means that signals can be engaged by receiver and sender satellite dishes on the earth without having to continually move their aim towards the orbiting satellite. In other words, you only have to direct the aim of your TV satellite dish once in a stationery position and from then on it will be able to pick up the stationery signal hitting it from space.

 


The Satellite Microwave Signal Advantage. (back to top)

Satellite Television like broadcast television is a wireless system that uses radio signals to transmit television programming directly to the viewer’s house. With regular broadcast television there is a large powerful antenna which transmits the signals to the home television antennas which are in the direct line of the TV broadcasting stations sight. These signals can go around and through small objects like trees and buildings but they are limited in distance they can travel by the circumference of the earth which no radio signal can penetrate. In other words, if your television antenna is on the other side of the earth or hidden by the curvature of the earth you will not be able to receive the signal. If the earth was perfectly flat you could receive the signal from thousands of miles away. The other problem with direct broadcast television is that the signal gets distorted even in the viewing area because of large objects interfering with the radio signal and other reasons so that one has to be close to the broadcast area to get a clear signal that is equivalent to cable TV. Also, signals transmitted by Satellite are very different than television or radio signals broadcast over the air. They are transmitted by microwaves that do not behave like the lower frequency radio waves of off air television or radio which can bounce off obstructions, clouds, and the ground. Micro waves are direct according to line of sight and therefore it is important that you do a survey to make sure there are no obstructions that will block you from receiving your signal or getting a full good signal.

 

The Two Types of Satellite Systems. (back to top)

Once satellites were put up into space there was the need for a new type of antenna to receive the signals and thus satellite dishes were innovated to receive these new signals. The first satellite dishes were large dishes of 6 to 12 feet in diameter and started popping up in the back yards all over the US in the late 70’s and early 80’s. This first satellite system came to be known as TVRO (TeleVision Receive Only) and is still alive and well today and one of 2 different kinds of satellite systems. TRVO is known by other words such as C Band Satellite TV, Big Dish TV, Full View and BUD (Big Ugly Dish). TRVO or C-Band satellite has a large dish which must be able to move its aim towards different satellites. In the continental United States it can receive up to 20 C-band satellites They also now can be upgraded to receive free or unscrambled programming from the more modern and superior Ku band frequency Satellites. TRVO systems are more expensive and difficult to install and require regular maintenance but have the greatest variety of programming available in satellite television. With a TRVO satellite system cable TV programming is available, foreign stations, live unedited television feeds between broadcast stations of things like news, sports, and NASA activities. For more detailed information on TRVO click on TRVO basics.

 

The Superior Technology of Todays DBS Satellite Systems. (back to top)

More recently the second type Satellite TV system is DBS, Direct Broadcast Satellite, which is by far the most popular and widely used. DBS is broadcast by high powered satellites in the microwave high Ku frequency range of 12GHz to 14GHz compared to the lower C band frequency in the 3.4-gigahertz (GHz) to 7-GHz frequency range. This frequency makes it possible for signals to be compressed into 30:1 MPEG-2 compressed video signals which allows far more channels to be squeezed through without damaging digital clarity so that there is a large number of up to 200 channels from one satellite. Further, because there can be a number of satellites received by one dish, DBS providers, like Dish Network, can offer 500 or more channels to your satellite dish. This Ku frequency microwave also made it possible to have High Definition Television (HDTV). HDTV gives viewers crystal clear pictures that are equivalent to theater quality sights and sound with special Dolby Digital 5.1 channel surround sound. Your DBS programming is transmitted and received with the same quality that a DVD player can reproduce movies with big screen quality effects. You need a HDTV receiver to receive these channels and companies like VMC Satellite offer these an all their equipment free with a life time warranty. These Ku frequency waves also made it possible to use a very small satellite TV dish of only 18 inches across. Also, the dish can be stationery without the need to move or aim at the satellites because the satellites for DBS systems have a geosynchronous (stationery) orbit and are also close enough together in outer space for the signals to be sent from a number of satellites towards the stationery aim of one small dish with good reception. It is all of these extra features like small dishes, the offer of large numbers of channels in packages and the ability to have high quality digital television and sound that has caused Satellite TV to be exploding in growth and converting many cable users to satellite TV.

 

DIRECTV DBS Systems. (back to top)

The major DBS systems available in the US are DIRECTV and Dish Network which both offer a small 18 inch dishes. DIRECTV picks up signals transmitted by 3 satellites made by Hughes Electronics Corporation which make up the primary orbital location or slot at 101° degrees for channel reception in space. These 3 satellites in this primary slot are so close to each other that the small 18 inch receptor dishes for television viewing do not have to move to pick up all three satellites. DIRECTV has 2 more orbital slots with additional satellites at 110° and 119° degrees over the equator which provide additional TV channels to those available on the primary orbital slots including Spanish and HDTV (High Definition TV) channels.

 

DISH Network DBS Systems. (back to top)

DISH Network through its parent company EchoStar Communications has 2 EchoStar satellites that make up its primary orbital slot or location in space for signal reception by its 18 inch dishes for television viewing. These satellites are at 119°W over the equator and send most of the programming choices with DISH Network. Again these satellite dishes also do not have to move because the 2 satellites are so close together. DISH Network has additional satellites at 61.5°W, 110°W and 148°W that provide HDTV (High Definition TV) channels, local network programming, International channels, Spanish and data services.

 

The Overall Processing TV Signal Path To TV Viewing. (back to top)

Direct broadcast satellite providers (DBS) such as Dish Network and DIRECTV buy television programs like HBO or ESPN from the broadcasters who charge them a fee for these rights. In other words DBS providers buy wholesale from the broadcasters and resell them for a profit. Because of this arrangement the basic path of the radio signals containing television programming starts from programming source (broadcaster) to the satellites, then back to the DBS broadcast center, then back to the satellites, then to the viewers satellite dish and LBN filter, to the receiver and finally the television set.

 

Details on How A Satellite Dish Operates. (back to top)

The sending satellite dish and the viewers receiving satellite dish consists of a bowl shaped dish and a central feed horn known as a “low noise block down converter” (LBN) aimed just in front of the dish at the dish. Both sending and receiving dishes work in the same way except in the opposite direction. The viewers dish catches the waves from one or more closely placed satellites in space and these waves deflect off the dish at an angle that focuses them on the feed horn (LBN) just like light focused through a concave glass focuses on a particular point. One LBN can pick up waves from 2 or 3 satellites if they are placed close to each other in space in a stationery (geosynchronous) orbit. This allows for a great number of channels. However, the quality of signals is somewhat compromised in this set up because the horns are not aimed as directly as they can be at any particular satellite. There are now some newer dish systems that use 2 or more horns to pick up a more direct aim from each satellite to increase the signal strength and quality. The LBN amplifies the TV radio signals and filters out all the radio waves or noise not carrying television programming. This then travels down the cable attached to the LBN to the Satellite TV receiver.

 

Details on How a Satellite TV Receiver Works. (back to top)


The Satellite TV receiver is the last processing mechanism before coming to the viewing television. Its first function is to de-scramble encrypted digital signal from the Satellite TV provider. The receiver unlocks the signal by a special decoder chip for a particular programming package which can be updated to another package because the provider can communicate with the chip through satellite signals to make any adjustments and can also send special signals known as electronic counter measurer (ECM) to disrupt viewers using illegal descramblers. This is why you cannot get free DIRECTV through piracy. Secondly it takes the digital MPEG-2 signal and converts it into an analog NTSC format that a standard television can recognize or into a HDTV signal for High Definition Television. Thirdly, it takes from the satellite signal and splits out just the channel you have selected which is why you cannot have 2 Televisions viewing different programs from the same receiver like you can with Cable TV and also why you cannot tape one program while watching another at the same time. However, DISH Network provides up to four receivers free with life time warranty and free installation when you sign up for one year. A Satellite TV receiver is far more complex than the cable TV receiver because it has many more functions beyond just descrambling. They can continually up date programming information so that you have a fully interactive TV guide the comes up from any channel that shows you what has been on and what will be on every channel up to 2 weeks in advance. They also keep track of what you have watched like pay per view movies and automatically signal to the satellite this information plus automatically phone a computer at the providers headquarters to pass on billing information. They include digital video recorders (DVRs), which have the ability to pause and record up to 100 hours of live television onto a hard disk. Some even give you TRVO functions and HDTV accessibility. Now that you have read this you have all the basic satellite TV knowledge in order to make an intelligent choice that you will be thankful you made.


The Author :
David J. Thomson is the author and publisher of http://www.Satelliite-Tv.info - a one stop information source for Satellite Internet, DSL Internet and Free Satellite Tv systems.

 
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