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r.v.s.tvro FAQ - Part 5/10

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Archive-name: Satellite-TV/TVRO/part5
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PART FIVE - Are there any hobbies related to owning a big dish system?

Absolutely! Having a big dish system means more than just standard TV watching and 
satellite audio listening. Probably the largest hobby element to big dish ownership 
today involves having a DVB/MPEG-2 free-to-air receiver. Unlike standard big dish 
viewing, DVB/MPEG-2 programming has a higher tendency of being here today and 
gone tomorrow. DVB/MPEG-2 is also great for its abundance of non-"cable type" 
programming, particularly international programming. With the right receiver, 
DVB/MPEG-2 has the added bonus of allowing industrious (and patient) big dish 
aficionados to possibly find a channel that has never been found before. 

Another "alternative" form of enjoying TVRO is listening to "non-standard" audio. 
Besides standard subcarrier audio, there is a fair amount of DVB/MPEG-2 audio 
for the big dish owner's listening enjoyment. There are also two other forms of 
non-standard audio that, with a little effort and investment, can be tuned.

Although having long been abandoned by commercial radio networks for digital 
transmission methods (DAT/SEDAT and, more recently, Starguide-III systems), 
analog single channel per carrier (SCPC) audio is still an interesting diversion from 
standard satellite radio listening. There was once a large amount of audio carried using 
analog SCPC; the amount today is limited to roughly 20 feeds on two satellites. In 
order to receive analog SCPC, you will need either a dedicated analog SCPC receiver, 
such as those made by Universal Electronics, or use the "poor man's" method by 
splitting the 70 MHz loop signal output from an older TVRO receiver, with one of the 
split outputs going to a broadcast TV audio tuner and the other returning to the 70 
MHz loop input. Having a phase-lock loop LNB as part of your system will help 
dramatically for those seriously intent on more than casual analog SCPC listening as 
the audio will tend to drift with a standard LNB, forcing the listener to have to constantly 
re-tune the signal. 

Another form of non-standard satellite audio is FM Squared, often written as FM2, 
FM^2, or even FM/FM. FM Squared is another older method of analog satellite 
audio delivery; interestingly enough, it occupies the space on a transponder signal 
normally used for video. The amount of FM Squared audio available is even less than 
that of analog SCPC, limited mainly to some in-store audio networks, AP Network 
News, and some remaining Muzak "environmental music" feeds. Unfortunately, the 
best method of receiving FM Squared isn't cheap; a wideband radio scanner that tunes 
between 0 and 5 MHz is needed and few (like the ICOM R100) scanners have this 
capability. Not only that, such capable scanners are VERY expensive and the benefit 
of listening to such few remaining audio services probably doesn't justify the cost unless 
the scanner is going to be used for actual radio scanning as well. The scanner connects 
to your satellite receiver's baseband output connection. 

For information on remaining analog SCPC and FM Squared programming locations, 
checkout out Monitoring Times Satellite Services Guide web page at:

Audio isn't the only big dish hobby possibility. With a good horizon-to-horizon, or 
H-to-H, mount, you can track some international satellites with your big dish system. 
This is especially true of satellite systems located on the east coast of the United States 
and Canada. The H-to-H mount allows for more dish movement (a full 180 degrees) 
than a standard non-motorized mount with an actuator. A good H-to-H mount is fairly 
expensive at around $400. For the big-time dish hobbyist, the cost is probably well 
worth it.

With special tracking equipment, your TVRO system can also track inclined orbit 
satellites. Satellites usually go into an inclined orbit once most of their onboard fuel 
supply is gone. By allowing a satellite to fall into a natural north-south drift when its fuel 
supply is low allows the life of the satellite to be extended without much cost or added 
control by the company that owns the satellite. Tracking an inclined orbit satellite 
requires the use of a special dual axis mount that covers both horizontal and vertical 
tracking. Most inclined communications satellites are over Europe but there are a few 
over the Western Hemisphere as well.

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM