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Digital Satellite TV

Arab Sat Nile Sat Satellite TV FAQs

 

 

What is Digital Satellite Television?

 

by Chris Muriel
Rev 4.0, June 21st,2000

 

I've noticed a lot of questions & interest in digital satellite TV lately ,especially in the Usenet Newsgroups that relate to satellite TV (alt.satellite.tv.europe,rec.satellite.tv.europe & alt.satellite.tv.crypt particularly).Please note the correct forum should be rec.satellite.tv.europe -unless the post concerns encryption in which case try alt.satellite.tv.crypt. Also any **binary** files (*.zip, *.hex , *.gif ,*.exe etc.) should NEVER be posted to the above groups ; for binaries relating to satellite television post to alt.binaries.satellite-tv

 

Contents

  1. What is MPEG ?
  2. Modulation Schemes (& is D2MAC digital)?
  3. What is DVB ?
  4. Simple Block Diagram of digital receiver.
  5. What equipment do I need ? & What's "Conditional Access" about ?
  6. What is DiSEqC ?
  7. Info on some digital receivers available in Europe.
  8. Where can I find appropriate channel listings ?
  9. Further information sources & url's.

     

1) MPEG

stands for Moving (or Motion) Picture Experts Group & is an organisation of interested parties.It's run in similar manner to JPEG (Joint Picture Expert Group) -JPEG being for still images;there is also a standard known as M-JPEG (Moving JPEG) but this is intended more for the needs of the security industry.

How about the fact that discservers, and corresponding high-end editing suites are only just moving from Motion Jpeg to MPEG (4:2:2). As an intra coding only system it has been and still is widely used in these types of video applications.

MPEG describes a form of compression for digital data where the data represents moving images of a TV like-nature.The standard also allows for audio datastreams sync'd with the video.MPEG1 is common on IBM PC's (& other platforms) using *.mpg files. Xing, Mediamatics & others supply software players for these and all but the cheapest PC VGA cards seem to have some hardware support for MPEG1 files; normally you need a Pentium PC to have much chance of playing mpeg1 files at reasonable speeds (25 frames per second or more). Anyway,mpeg1 isn't used for satellite TV;the industry needed a faster,more flexible & efficient method. For broadcast use, less tendency to pixellation or "blockiness" was desired with fewer "artefacts" -technical/marketing term for unwanted material on the screen (that's a bit like calling a software bug an "anomaly" !!). Now what the satellite industry wanted was to squeeze more channels into the bandwidth taken up by a satellite transponder. Analogue satellite TV uses around 27-36 MHz of bandwidth for its FM video + audio FM subcarriers; this is for each channel. So the operators want to put 5,10 or more separate channels, via a digital datastream into a similar bandwidth. This allows many more channels or needs fewer transponders to transmit a given number of channels. To give flexibility,the actual compression ratio can be varied between "Studio Quality" and "Video recorder quality". Studio needs 12 MBits/second data,broadcast needs 8 MBits, VHS needs 2 MBits/s.I don't want this faq to become too technical but read DVBFAQ.TXT from Markus Kuhn for technical info. Just remember that the compression ratio can be varied to cope with the needs of the supplier of the video information. The digital data from several channels can be multiplexed into an MPEG Transport Stream,along with various (compressed) audio channels (which can include digital surround sound & multiple languages). A package with several channels modulated onto 1 carrier is often referred to as a "bouquet" which is, I guess, a marketing term for such a multiplex or package. The compression ratio used can be different for different channels within the multiplex and can vary over time. The lowest compression ratio will occupy the highest bandwidth but will be needed when the video content requires much detail with lots of changes & movement occurring. A good example might be an athletics event ; you would have people running around the track , people throwing javelins and others just walking slowly or sitting down. Consequently there will not be a lot of redundancy in the whole scene so if too much compression is applied, some movement could easily be displayed jerkily. A studio news broadcast, when they are simply showing the newsreader and his desk, will compress very efficiently & occupy a relatively small bandwidth. So the newscast will be allocated a lower bit-rate & compressed more. The whole process of dynamically allocating bandwidth per channel in a multiplex is known as Statistical Multiplexing & uses quite advanced mathematical algorithms to do its allocation processing.

Incidentally MPEG1.5 is a hybrid (falling between 1 & 2) but any mpeg2 receiver SHOULD be backwards compatible with older MPEG revisions. Actually MPEG1.5 isn't a real (ratified) standard but covers several proprietary systems which tend to improve on MPEG1 . Examples include "System2000" from NTL & "Orbit" from Scientific Atlanta.

1 interesting point is that you can't compress "noise" with current MPEG schemes.Imagine watching a film via digital (mpeg) satellite TV where,within the plot of the film,the camera zooms in to show a TV screen switched on but with no antenna connected. You expect to see nothing but noise ("snow)" on the picture.This signal is entirely random & so can't be compressed -there's no repeating pattern/redundancy in the signal. Apparently a future MPEG version (mpeg4 ?) will have some kind of algorithm built in to get around this problem. It looks like the next "official" (ratified) standard will be MPEG4.

Mpeg2 is also used for DVD (digital video disk or digital versatile disc) & other digital video delivery systems including cable, fiber & digital terrestrial TV.

MPEG4, when it comes, is a scalable encoding/compression system so that mini versions could output to the tiny screens on mobile phones and PDAs whilst higher resolutions & larger object sizes would output to televisions. It's more flexible than MPEG2 to allow this object-based scalability as well as interactivity where desired. It introduces its own new acronyms like AVO (Audio/Visual Object) & DMIF (Delivery Multimedia Integration Framework). MPEG4 allows for 2D & 3D images & user selection (or ungrouping) of parts of the whole scene - where the originator has permitted this. It will require more powerful processors to implement these procedures in satellite receivers. The picture below attempts to illustrate the concept.

MPEG4OBJ

 

 

Modulation & Error Coding

The real world is analogue so we have to find a way of transmitting our mpeg2 transport stream as information on a (non-digital) carrier wave.A traditional analogue satellite transmission varies a carrier FREQUENCY in sympathy with the video signal -"frequency modulation" or FM. Similar to this ,one can vary the PHASE instead of the frequency - "Phase Modulation".Now we could code our digital signal (which consists of simply binary or "ones & zeros") directly as phase modulation in which case 0 degrees (our carrier reference frequency) could represent a binary 0,whilst 180 degrees phase shift=binary 1; there would be a practical difficulty in keeping track & always changing 180 degrees as there will be natural phase variations over the transmission path. To solve this we can instead make the phase changes cumulative -i.e. make the phase changes refer to the previously signalled state rather than 0/180 degrees absolute. This is known as DPSK -differential phase shift keying. Now those of you who know of schemes used for digital transmission, in modems for example,will know that DPSK is somewhat inefficient. There are various schemes that allow the data rate to be doubled,quadrupled (or more) whilst maintaining the original signalling rate.Thus Quaternary (or Quadrature) phase shift keying uses a 2-bit symbol (instead of previously described 1-bit) based on 4 possible phases. At the same time,0 degrees is avoided to prevent long periods of unmodulated carrier which could cause problems in part of the circuitry -too complex to discuss here. So we use typically 45,135,225 & 315 degrees.We now have a greater data rate in bits per second than our actual baud (signalling) rate. This can ,in fact be further extended by using a constellation of 8 or 16 phases & beyond -although tolerance to noise (required signal to noise ratio for a suitably low bit error rate) & to interference increases as the data rate rises. [This is one reason why computer modems have trouble at high data rates on a poor line & your 56K modem ends up communicating at 31,200 or less]. Other digital transmission media can still use mpeg2 but change from qpsk to a different modulation scheme.Normally this is QAM for cable (although qpsk can be used for the return path back to the operator) whilst digital terrestrial TV uses CODFM -coded orthoganal digital frequency modulation -with either 2048 or 8192 individual carriers each seperately modulated.The choice of type of modulation is made based on the sort of problems most prevalent for the medium,e.g.terrestrial is more subject to multipath interference ("ghosting" in analogue TV) & CODFM is fairly resistant to this.The same type of modulation is also used for DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast). The main figure of merit for a qpsk demodulator is the minimum Eb/No that the receiver can tolerate to deliver a specified BER (Bit Error Rate) to the MPEG section. Eb/No is the ratio of energy per bit to the noise available at the demodulator. So since satellite signals are inherently noisy,a low order modulation scheme is used with lots of error correction. In fact the DVB adopted what is known as a "concatenated FEC" scheme which means that multiple error correction types are used together - in this case "convolutional" & "block" coding are both used. Viterbi coding is a form of convolutional coding (also used in modems) & the "code rate" refers to the ratio of the number of bits coming out for a given number of bits going in. So 3/4 means 3 bits come out for every 4 bits going into the decoder. The DVB uses 1/2 code rate for channels with lots of noise (low Eb/No). The error correction comes from the redundant coding data that is transmitted. The constraint length (k) is the number of bits over which the code is computed ; for DVB K=7. The operator decides which code rate to use & the receiver must either scan for the right rate or be told by the user (manual entry). The block coding scheme used is called Reed-Solomon usually abbreviated to R/S, with additional coding by interleaving blocks of bytes. 204/188 code is used which means 188 bytes come out for 204 in - the remainder being parity bytes. For a good,more technical description of qpsk etc. try the following URL :- http://www.coolstf.com/mpeg

D2MAC :- I am sometimes asked whether D2MAC transmissions (still used by Nordic countries)are digital. In fact the "A" in MAC stands for "Analogue" - MAC = Multiplexed Analogue Component. The (analogue) video luminance & chrominance signals are sent at separate times which avoids the interference seen when they are all sent at the same time in PAL. So the 2 signals cannot mix with each other to generate false alias signals which can show up in PAL - like flashes or stripes of colour often seen on a newsreader's (plain grey or checked) suit or tie. Howebver, there IS a digital part to D2MAC - the sound & the video synchronisation information is sent in digital packets. For the audiophiles, note that the audio is only 14 bit so it isn't quite CD-quality. So a D2MAC signal is a "hybrid", part digital & partly analogue.

 

 

3) DVB

Like MPEG groups there is a DVB group -Digital Video Broadcast, made up of interested parties, sharing information & setting the standards.It's somewhat like the VESA group for PC graphics. DVB was set up by the EBU (European Broadcast Union) to set the standards for digital video transmission.They have published these via ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) who also set standards for devices such as GSM telephones. In fact there are several DVB standards for different transmission media.Some of these are : DVB-S Satellite DVB-C Cable DVB-T Terrestrial DVB-SI Specification for Service Information DVB-CI Common Interface for conditional access

They've settled on using a subset of MPEG2 for their compression of the video & audio. I've pasted in below a definition of the requirements to be met to claim that your IRD (Integrated Receiver Decoder i.e. satellite box) is DVB compatible :-

 


To be DVB compliant a Satellite or a Cable receiver must, according to DVB Document A001-revision 1, at least fulfill the following key features:

 

  • Systems
    • MPEG-2 Transport Stream is used
    • Service information is based on MPEG-2 Program Specific Information
    • Scrambling is as defined by CA Technical Group
    • Conditional Access uses the MPEG-2 CA_descriptor
  • Video
    • MPEG-2 Main Profile at Main Level is used (1.5-15 Mbits/s)
    • The frame rate is 25 Hz
    • Encoded pictures may have either 4:3, 16:9 or 2.21:1 aspect ratio (4:3 is the normal TV format, 16:9 is the widescreen format and 2.21:1 is the cinemascope format that is use in the movie theaters)
    • IRDs will support 4:3 and 16:9 and optionally 2.21:1 aspect ratios
    • IRDs must support the use of pan and scan vectors to allow a 4:3 monitor to give a full-screen display of a 16:9 coded picture
    • IRDs must support a full screen display of 720 x 576 pixels (and a nominal full-screen display of 704 x 576)
    • IRDs must provide appropriate up conversion to produce a full-screen display of 544 x 576 and 480 x 576 and a nominal full-screen display of 352 x 576 and 352 x 288 pixels.
  • Audio
    • MPEG-2 Layer I and Layer II must be supported by the IRD
    • The use of Layer II is recommended for the encoded bitstream
    • IRDs must support single channel, dual channel, joint stereo and the extraction of at least a stereo pair from MPEG-2 compatible multichannel audio
    • IRDs must support sampling rates of 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz
    • The encoded bitstream will not use emphasis
Note that American DSS,DirecTV etc. systems are NOT DVB-compliant & won't work in Europe.I do know of an attempt by someone in the USA to modify a European Nokia digital receiver to decode DigiiCypher2 transmissions -but,at the time of writing,this has not been successful.

EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) :- A feature of most digital satellite receivers. Essentially a programmable guide to what's on each channel with further program information when supplied by the channel. Many include some quite useful information like what's on next in addition to what's on now and a brief description of the programme content. There's specific provision within the Mpeg2 structure for this information to be transmitted ; however not all operators make use of it.

 

 

4) Block Diagram (simplified)

Skiz2

Some observations on the afforementioned diagram : DAC = Digital-to-analogue converter ADC = Analogue-to-digital converter The video encoder typically contains 4 or more DACs which run at video rates & quality. This infers 8 bit video DAC's (not cheap). 3 are needed for RGB; another is needed for composite video out (PAL or SECAM). Some use 10 bit DAC's & the difference *may* be visible by viewing sharp transitions like black to white -hint : have a look at the On Screen Display if you want to try to spot this effect. I have not included the conditional access module for simplicity. See section 5 for more detail on this (including a digram). Complex IC's are needed for many of these blocks. A qpsk demodulator/ADC/Viterbi decoder can easily cost around $7-$13 in manufacturers volumes! The mpeg transport demultiplexer & decoders cost even more!I haven't included the CPU & memory (usually around 1-3Meg. is needed & some of this may be fast,expensive SRAM). Perhaps you can now see why the digital receivers cost a lot more than the analogue ones!!! It's worth noting that on Astra,a Network Information Table (NIT) is transmitted every 10 seconds on every DVB/mpeg transponder. The information sent includes the FEC,S/R,frequencies etc.

 

 

5) Equipment Needed

First of all, a universal lnb is recommended as digital receivers for Europe are optimised for these. A universal lnb will have low phase noise (required so as not to confuse the qpsk modulator) & 2 local oscillators,1 at 9.75 GHz & 1 at 10.6 GHz. The default is to enable the 9.75 GHz oscillator whilst a 22KHz tone generated by the receiver enables 10.6 GHz. Any receiver made for European digital reception may work up to a point **BUT** (big problem) many receivers are sold for use on a particular operator's "bouquet" (multiplex) of channels & often have internal software that prevents you receiving anything else!!!! All Pace receivers up to late 1997 seem to suffer from this and,according to a recent French magazine report,so do Sagem boxes sold for the French TPS (Television Par Satellit) bouquet. You also need the relevant Conditional Access Module (CAM) for any subscription channel along with appropriate smartcard (which could include a pirate card -these started to appear in summer 1997 although many were knocked out via ECM's from the operators). There are several different conditional access schemes in use by the different operators & each system needs the relevant CAM (as well as the smartcard for subscription channels). IRDETO was the commonest in Europe but now SECA seems to have overtaken it.

(See diagram of a generic CA (conditional access) system as used in an IRD)

CARCVR2

Just to explain a some of the acronyms used in the diagram :-
ACS = Access Control System
ECM = Entitlement Control Message
EMM = Entitlement Management Message
CW = Control Word
MMI = Man-Machine Interface (smartcard reader in this case).

DVB-CI was a "cop-out" in that they could have specified that all DVB receivers used the same form of conditional access. Instead they paralled the situation that occurs in analogue satellite transmissions i.e. many different systems co-exist. This kept the status quo with the operators (& Hollywood) but runs totally against EU open market policy.Only the CAM interface is covered by the DVB spec. -so they can use their own proprietary encryption system. In Spain the 3 digital satellite operators were each going to use different encryption methods. However,the Spanish authorities stepped in tried to force them all to use compatible systems. This promotes healthy competition ,allowing the Spanish consumer to buy one digital receiver & choose to take 1 ,2 or 3 subscriptions (involving 1,2 or 3 smartcards) but they will all work on the one receiver & CAM. If you want to complain,I suggest those in Europe write to their Euro MP (officially known as "MEP") !

IRDETO - used by Kirch/DF1,Nethold/Multichoice,Telepiu, M-Net (C-band)

SECA - French.Used by Canal Plus/CSN (Canal Satellite Numerique) Also known as "MediaGuard".Additionally used by the German Premiere bouquet.I believe SECA (Societe Europeene de Controle d'Acces) is a partnership between Canal Plus & Bertelsmann.

VIACCESS -Used by TPS (Television Par Satellit),French Bouquet which can be found on Hotbird 2 (13 degrees east). Also AB-Sat on the same satellite.I believe rights are owned by France Telecomm as it was developed in their CCETT research centre.

CRYPTOWORKS -Used by RTL (Austria/Switzerland).Cryptoworks is a trademark of Philips.

CONAX -Used by Canal Plus for Scandinavian packages. Conax is a Telenor company.

VIDEOGUARD (NDC) - To be used by Sky Digital in UK. Proprietary encryption system with no CAM used -the CAM function is on the motherboard and so is non-removeable.

NagraVision - Used by the Spanish Via Digital multiplex.

Normal CAM modules use PCMCIA connections -a technology borrowed from laptop computers. This should allow you to unplug one module & insert another to switch from, for example, IRDETO to Viaccess.However this isn't a simple 5-minute task & the internal software isn't guaranteed to support the change!!Add to that the difficulty in easily obtaining CAM modules other than the one supplied within the IRD ,so this isn't going to be an easy option for many people. Of course,it gets easier with receivers that have 2 CI CAM slots. There is a group known as OKAPI trying to cut through the Conditional Access mess! OKAPI = Open Kernel for Access to Protected Interoperable interactive services). They consider : a)Simulcrypt -proprietary systems & common scrambling algorithm = interoperabilty.

b) Multicrypt -proprietary systems,common scrambling algorithm & DVB CI = openness & equitabilty

c) Equicrypt (from OKAPI) -TTP (Trusted Third Party),Public Key Cryptography,common smartcard DVB CI = openness, equitability AND interoperabilty.

Multicrypt and Simulcrypt
Multicrypt transmissions allow two different encryption systems to co-exist in the same receiver.The MPEG transport stream is sent sequentially through different modules that are inserted into the CI & each CAM will receive its entitlement messages.

Simulcrypt,on the other hand,allows different decoders with different CAMs (not necessarily CI compatible) to decrypt valid entitled channels (i.e. channels for which a valid smartcard is present in the CAM). This adds complexity to the service provider's equipment but allows the use of existing receivers without modification.Any individual IRD selects the entitlement information it requires whilst ignoring entitlement messages that are destined for other IRDs that use a different decryption system.Therefore,a CI compatible IRD is NOT required.However,global security is necessarily weaker.

At this time of writing (January 1999) CI CAMs are available for Conax,Nagravision,Seca, Viacess and Cryptoworks. The long overdue CI version of Irdeto CAMs is expected in spring 1999.

 

 

6) DiSEqC

This stands for DIgital Satellite EQuipment Controller. DiSEqC was an idea dreamed up by the Eutelsat satellite team in order to make it easier for users in Europe to watch multiple satellites. In particular, they wanted more people to watch the Hotbird group of satellites at 13 degrees east whilst, at that time, Astra at 19.2 degrees east had the largest audience. Many people used 1 dish & 2 LNBs carefully positioned at the dish feed ; this worked and required some form of LNB switch at the dish end but controlled from indoors. Otherwise 2 separate lengths of IF cable were needed to run from the dish to the indoor receiver. So Eutelsat, based in Paris, successfully demonstrated the DiSEqc system. Normally the receiver acts as the DiSEqC controller sending commands to switches or even intelligent LNBs via the same coaxial cable that provides LNB power and acts as the IF downlead. It was a logical progression as Universal LNBs using the absence or presence of a 22KHz tone to select between 2 local oscillators were already proving a great commercial success. DiSeqC modulates the (existing) 22KHz tone with digital code words ; in other words, the coaxial feed is used as a digital communication bus with DiSEqC commands superimposed on the tone. The idea was presented by Eutelsat in 1996 & test units shipped to interested manufacturers that year. A low cost microcontroller was used and a UK firm built the original evaluation boards as well as providing technical support to triallists. The hardware cost of designing DiSEqC into a receiver turned out to be minimal - about 1 US dollar. Simple Master/Slave implementation does not even need full 2-way communication as this uses a simple "receive only" LNB or switcher at the dish end. Some flavours of DiSEqC are:
  • Mini DiSEqC - for simple control of block LNBs.
  • DiSEqC V1.0 - One-way signal only, no detection/acknowledgment normally used.
  • DiSEqC V1.2 - Allows positioner/motor control of a DiSEqC-compatible motor. For these rotators, the settings are stored within the motor unit - the receiver is just the means for setting up the motor in the first place by sending the right DiSEqc information to the (outdoor) motor unit.
  • DiSEqC V2.0 - This will allow full 2-way communication which will allow auto setup, diagnostics & other switching functions to be implemented.
Eventually, the self-installing intelligent LNB could become a reality using DiSEqC 2.x. There's more information and specifications on Eutelsat's website (www.eutelsat.org) as well as some on Philips Semiconductor website concerning compatible ICs.

 

 

7) Some receiver information

Some of this info I have collected from others , info on the Pace DVR500 ,D-Box, Nokia 9200, Seleco & RSD is from my own personal experience. The latest receivers do now have teletext -although not all operators or channels send teletext data. Also look out for receivers with a "MacroVision" video encoder fitted. MacroVision is a form of copy protection which prevents recording on a VCR.Macrovison Corporation have managed to get this implemented for DVD (Digital Video Disc) & it's also likely to appear on Digital IRD's. It will help protect PPV screenings of films possibly screened before they appear in the video hire shops!! As usual ,Hollywood is again exerting its influence. Most manufacturers now have Macrovision licences. Successive versions of Macrovision have each added more complexity (and so are harder to hack). Macrovision V 7 uses 3 processes that exploit differences between TV and VCR architectures ...

AGC (Automatic Gain Control) pulses in the VBI (Vertical Blanking Interval)

Back Porch pulses (to upset synchronisation) -i.e. pseudo-sync and agc pulses are inserted onto the video output.

Colour Striping using phase reversal of the colourburst signal.

The Pace DVR 500 & 501:- poor for dx-ing.They only work on symbol rates of 15-30 Megasymbols/second (i.e. R/S of 15000 to 30000) due to the current Pace implementation of the qpsk demodulator.The chipset (LSI Logic + Plessey ADC) is capable of 1-45 MS/sec as NTL use the same IC's in their (professional broadcast) mpeg receivers which cover almost the full range.I wasn't able to receive any clear MPEG channels with this IRD other than the Multichoice ones for which I had the card & Irdeto CAM module.It would recognise Kirch DF1 & other IRDETO-based packages but wouldn't decode even the clear channels within the Irdeto bouquets. There is a fast serial port capable of receiving MPEG data directly-basically a V35 interface. The Pace DGT400 (Australia) is in fact the same receiver -the Aussies had digital TV before us. Note: for most SCPC (single channel per carrier) transmissions,a symbol rate well below 15,000 is used (e.g. 5,632).The actual menu was quite easy to use (even before I acquired an English version of the original -Dutch- handbook).There are no scart sockets -just phono's.Future generations will use scart & wider symbol rate ranges are planned -but much of this is in the hands of the operators for whom Pace build the boxes under contract.

Pace DVR600/DVR601 :- These are updated receivers using a later series of chips.Teletext will be provided on some of them. Still limited symbol rates -no SCPC. Scart sockets at last (on the European version only). Some variants will include a full V32bis modem.

Pace DSR200 :- Pace's first receiver sold as officially FTA (Free To Air). It supports teletext but not SCPC or C-Band reception.No CAM as it's only intended for FTA channels.Good instruction manual but not a receiver for the dedicated or "techie" dx-er.It does have 2 scarts as well as phono outputs. Future variants will include a true FTA box using a different qpsk chipset which will enable Pace to make a box with SCPC capabilities fairly soon.

Pace "WorldBox" - this is a proprietary box with operator-approved software i.e. it's designed with the satellite operator in mind with the features that various News Corp (Rupert Murdoch's conglomerates) sponsored systems require. As such it has limited symbol rate coverage & may ,in some cases, only receive the one multiplex for which its internal software has been written. It's been rolled out in South America & could appear anywhere that uses News Corp's CA system. Therefore, it's totally unsuitable for the enthusiast -but probably ideal for the right Murdoch-subscribing non-techie viewer. Obviously the internal software varies depending on which operator's multiplexes the receiver is intended for.

ADI Mediamate DVS-820 :- An FTA box with 2-30 MS/Second symbol rate range and 90-264 Volts mains input. Power consumption is only 21 watts maximum and there's a favourite channel menu. This receiver does display EPG information (when the operator transmits it).

Amstrad SRDA 5101 :- This combined analogue/digital receiver seems to be the same unit as the Radix Epsilon 2AD which is described later in this FAQ. I suspect Amstrad have done a rebadging deal with Radix. Even the menus look identical.It is nevertheless a good competitive receiver. The front panel design is different from the Radix box.

Amstrad SRD 6101 CI :- Very similar to the 5101 above, this box adds a CI CAM interface.

The Sagem box sold for French TPS multiplex :- comes with modem & 6-pin RJ11 phone socket, 9-pin serial port & 2 scart sockets (for TV & VCR).PAL/SECAM & RGB are all supported as is S-VHS (Y/C).It's easy to set up on TPS & will recognise AB Sat which uses the same Viaccess encryption standard.On AB-Sat it comes up with the French equivalent of the following message "This chain is not part of your subscription, contact TPS". I would have expected it to advise contacting AB-Sat myself -but I didn't write the message!This is like asking you to contact Sky when your MultiChoice card stops working!!It will receive other clear channels if they're MPEG2/DVB ones.I'm not sure about SCPC newsfeeds etc. though.There was a review of this IRD in February 1997 French "Tele Satellite" magazine.

Benjamin DB-6000 :- Of Taiwanese origin, this box stands out for its silver colour ; the remote control is also silver. There's 1,000 channel storage, 2 SCARTs ,serial port,A/V phonos and 2 LNB sockets. Symbol rate range is 3-35 MS/s & DiSEqC 1.0 is installed. There's both LNB and SCART loopthrough and a good menu system. SCPC is no problem & mains input is 90-260 Volts. This is one of only 6 boxes I've seen with a mains on/off switch fitted (at the rear).

Digiskan KR888 :-I had some info on this from someone outside Europe. It appears to only cover Symbol Rates of 20-30 MSymbols/second;this makes it of no use for SCPC.I believe this is based on a Thomson design -it uses a lot of SGS-Thomson chips.The KR777 seems to be similar. I've only heard of them being supplied in Australia.

DigiQuest P1000 & P100 & :- This are rebadged Humax receivers. The P1000 is a Humax F1-CI and the P100 is the FTA version (Humax F1).

PanasatIRD520 :- from Panasonic. These were the original boxes sold for use in South Africa. Symbol Rate only 18-28 MS/Second so no use for SCPC.There's a version for the middle-East bouquets in C-band also.The Panasats have 2 scarts & a switchable 12 volt output connector + a duplex modem. The Grundig DTR1100 is a rebadged version of the same box. The Panasat IRD630 seems to be similar but adds teletext.

Echostar DSB9800 :-This is the first digital receiver I came across from Echostar in Europe; they're a major supplier of digital IRD's in the USA already. Symbol rates covered from 18.5-30MS/sec but no SCPC nor PowerVu. Works ok in C-Band also. A useful feature is automatic FEC rate i.e. you don't have to input this manually in a search.Handles NTSC & inverted video. The auto-FEC is down to their qpsk demodulator implementation whilst the video-encoder control circuitry enables choice of PAL or NTSC (for SECAM,they would have to use a different video encoder IC). No teletext yet but this is planned soon.In the FTA version there's no modem (but an IRDETO CAM socket is still there) and there is a PID entry menu.

Echostar DSB-9000 :-A more interesting receiver.This one has embedded Nagra CA (as used by Spanish digital channels) plus a CI CAM interface in the same box. There's a 9-pin serial port & a V22bis modem on an RJ11 connector. Symbol rate again is 18-30 MS/sec. so no SCPC reception is possible.Teletext VBI insertion is included.

Echostar DSB-2000 :- at last ,true FTA from Echostar -this one does 1-45 MS/second.It uses an SGS ST20 CPU & has manual PID entry.Like the 9800 & 9000,there are TV & VCR scarts.The mains power supply allows AC input from 100-220 Volts.

Echostar AD-2000 IP :- this is Echostar's first combined analogue/digital receiver. Channel storage is 1500 digital TV channels + 400 radio as well as 700 analogue stations.It's an FTA box i.e. no CAM. There's a mechanical polariser controller and a built in positioner which will store up to 50 satellite positions.There are 4 F connectors , 3 being inputs ; if only 1 LNB is used you must connect the LNB output to the second input which then interconnects the LNB to both analogue & digital tuners.There are 3 SCARTS , separate S-VHS & a serial port as well as video/audio output phono sockets. The Praxis Digimaster 9800AD + P seems to be an identical receiver except for the front panel.

Echostar D-2500IP :- released in autumn 1999, this capable receiver/positioner has storage for 2000 TV channels + 900 for digital radio; it has 2 slots for CI CAMs & 3 SCART sockets. There's also an interface for magnetic or servo polarisers - the first I'v seen on a digital receiver. It's fairly easy to set up & symbol rates are fine for SCPC. It can store 50 separate satellite positions. Memory consists of 16KB EEPROM, 2MB DRAM & 1MB of FLASH.

Echostar D-2510IP :- this seems to be an upgraded version of the D-2500IP for the year 2000. It has an SP/DIF audio output and can store 4000 TV + 1000 digital radio channels.

Echostar AD-3000IP :- Popular amongst enthusiasts at the moment, this analogue/digital receiver has 5000 channel storage, embedded Viaccess + 2 CI CAM slots, a built in positioner controlller & magnetic/ servo polariser control. It includes VBI teletext insertion & useful search modes, either by network, transponder or using its own database - with the useful option of an "FTA only" search. It also has an SP/DIF output & 3 F-type sockets - analogue and digital LNB inputs + loopthrough. After some initial software bugs, upgrades seem to be giving this IRD a reputation as best all-rounder. Storage copes with up to 50 satellites & 999 transponders. Usefully, the remote control is a universal type with a comprehensive list of codes in the maual covering most models of VCR and TV.

Eurostar Eurobox 9700F :- I assume the "F" means FTA (Free To Air) as this low-priced but capable receiver has no CAM slot. Symbol rate range is 2,000-35,000 MS/s and so it works for SCPC as well as MCPC. There's 1000 channel storage,serial port,2 SCARTS and LNB loopthrough + a 12 Volt switch. There could be some number confusion with Nokia who also have a "Eurobox" but theirs is the 9740C & is a digital cable receiver. Although a low cost box,there is DiSEqC V 1.0 and the menus are selectable in 1 of 5 languages including French English,German and Arabic. Seems reasonable value for money & a CI version is expected as the box has a space on the case & board for a CAM.

Thomson box :- ( Mediasat for Canal Plus).I've read some reviews from summer 1996 (in French) & this receiver doesn't seem easily capable of receiving non-Mediaguard/SECA channels.It has serial & parallel ports,scarts for VCR & TV + PAL,SECAM & RGB outputs (includes Y/C), integral modem + a second F-type antenna connector.As well as the card socket for a Mediaguard card, there's a socket for a French smart bank-card -presumably for PPV.

The D-Box :-

This is the Nokia DVB9500S modified slightly for use with the Kirch/ DF1 multiplex.It comes with Irdeto CAM & (normally) basic DF1 smartcard & was the best box in 1997 for Satellite enthusiasts or dx-ers. With the original version of internal software it wouldn't receive SCPC but could receive the Dutch Multichoice transmissions with the right smartcard. Then an over-the-air software upgrade appeared which made 2 very interesting changes - SCPC was enabled whilst ,on MCPC,it wouldn't decode MultiChoice anymore (it also improved the Electronic Programme Guide or EPG at the same time). Who knows what future upgrades will bring ?? Apparently,the reason that SCPC became possible was that the new software enabled the PSI (Program Specific Information) part of the SI (service information) data stream. Now SI can have 2 parts; 1 is the DVB-SI which helps the box find the channels & set up the EPG (Electronic Program Guide).The other is the PSI which the D-Box had been ignoring. Since most SCPC transmissions don't contain the DVB-SI (not needed for SNG feeds) the channels weren't recognised. The new software decoded the PSI & so allowed reception of the SCPC feeds. Now a number of hackers have been finding ways of protecting the D-Box from future upgrades as well as re-enabling it for BOTH SCPC & all MCPC functions.One of the most interesting finds was the (now well known) "secret menu". Pressing the right buttons on the remote control accesses sorts of configurable parameters.The relevant sequence is "Menu,9,9,radio,menu" .One can then enter frequencies (either L-Band or KU-band),R/S rates,enable BER display on front panel & much much more.To find out more,visit some of the D-Box WWW sites which have sprung up in the last month or so. Of course this "secret menu" was originally meant just for Nokia engineers & authorised repair outlets for debugging and setup. This receiver uses a TV/Com (now part of C-Cube) qpsk demodulator, a Rockwell 2400 baud modem chipset & Philips 8-bit video encoder. It covers the full symbol rates needed for all known SCPC & MCPC reception as well as working with some other standards used for SNG links etc. like PowerVu; used correctly,it also handles the inversion that occurs due to low side mixing with C-Band reception.It has a scsi-2 port,serial port,RJ11 socket for the modem,3 scarts AND phono sockets for video & audio; finally it has a phono which can produce 12 volts (enabled/disabled via the "secret menu") to power external equipment.Although setting up channels in the secret menu is arduous (each channel will overwrite the previous one),there is another solution if you don't mind using a PC with it -connected via the serial port : You can then either use your PC keyboard directly or,more useful, run macros containing the relevant FEC,Symbol Rate,frequency etc. with a different macro for each channel (or a nested macros scheme if you prefer).This more or less automates your channel-hopping -at the expense of tying up a PC.Again some D-Box sites have ready written macros that you can download. It is possible to write this information over a previously stored channel,so in theory you could store 200 of your own channels. Use the WWW to find various sources of modified D-Boxes & more information.Also watch the relevant Usenet Newsgroups for info, adverts,hints and so on. Some of these sites also explain how to enter audio & video PID's (Program Information Data) which are needed to decode some channels. Referring to my points on the System Information (SI) stream above, I assume that the channels needing manual entry of PID via the secret menu are not already sending the correct SI information with their signal. I expect to see a variant with more memory -hopefully enough to store several scpc channels & several that can only be decoded using PID info.

Mascom 9500 receiver :- has been mentioned in Doctor Dish questions & answers (I have never seen the actual receiver). It is billed as a "digital free-to-air" receiver. This is a professionally modified Nokia9500 with lots of features for Satellite dx-ers.It was reviewed on a 1997 show by Doctor Dish. There is a Mascom Internet website (see list below). I believe this was the forerunner to the Nokia 9200.

Nokia 9200S:- In 1998 this + the 9600 was the only Nokia digital receiver officially available in UK - i.e. with support/guarantee from Nokia in UK. There's no CAM supplied but otherwise it looks like the D-Box/ 9500.1MByte Ram memory,2MByte expansion memory & 1MB flash.

Nokia 9300S :- This appears to be a 9200 but with proper pcmcia CAM interface conforming to the DVB Common Interface Standard.As such,it should accept any CAM (Conax,Seca,Cryptoworks & others) & relevant valid smartcard.The preliminary spec. which I saw at April 1997 CabSat Show indicates that it does not have a scsi port.It has 1Mbyte RAM memory + 1MByte flash. The same remote control is used for all the Nokia receivers. They're all manufactured under license from TV/Com - which is a company that Hyundai bought last year.

Nokia 9600 :- Sold as a free-to-air box but with a CI compliant CAM socket & with software upgrade,fully CI compliant.

Nokia 9602 :- I have seen this advertised in German satellite magazines. It appears to be very similar indeed to the 9600 but with a modem fitted.

Nokia 9610 :- Version produced for Scandinavian market.Supposedly (according to Nokia's website info) "top of the range" ; has DiSEqC ,scsi & serial ports & a V32bis modem. There are also boxes called 9500C & D-Box-C but these are digital CABLE receivers though using the same basic chassis & back end.

Nokia 9800 S Multiaccess :- (3rd generation Nokia Box). This has a lot in common with their 9850 T (terrestrial) receiver.The remote control has a new shape -it's more curvy.An SP/DIF output is provided on an RCA (phono) socket.A new 32 bit RISC CPU is used. Does anyone know which processor ???? It's supposedly faster than previous Nokias. Memory is 2 MBytes Ram + 4MBytes of SDram & 2 Mbytes of flash.An RF modulator has been added with loop-through (full UHF band,both PAL B/G & PAL I). power consumption is reduced to 35 Watts (with 3 watts on standby). Worth noting is the embedded (built-in) Viaccess decoder which is in addition to the CI CAM interface, 2000 channel storage & there may be a version with built-in positioner. However, this receiver was eagerly awaited by satellite enthusiasts but turned out to be unpopular due to software bugs . Furthermore no-one has come forward with (unofficial) 3rd party software & Nokia's own software updates don't yet (June 2000) seem to have made this into a "must have" for enthusiasts.

Philips MediaBox / "Canalsatellite" IRD :- Available for hire in Germany for the Premiere multiplex as well as for Canal Plus/CSN in France.Unfortunately not currently sold directly for cash.It has 3 scart sockets,scsi port, rs232 & telephone socket for its modem.There is capacity to store 500 channels.The CAM supplied is the Seca/Mediaguard one but it will also receive clear mpeg channels; I don't think it will receive scpc transmissions - but maybe a later version or software upgrade might allow this (the original D-Box began as a MCPC box only). For a review of this box see Tele-Satellite magazine 3/4,1997.Very quick at searching/finding Ku-band bouquets. It automatically finds the correct FEC & symbol rates. The official model number is 96514D.

Force Duomaster 1030S :- This is an unusual receiver in that it combines an analogue (PAL) receiver, D2MAC decoder and digital receiver in 1 unit. Designed & built in Denmark, it seems to be intended for the Scandinavian market because menu languages available besides English are Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Norwegian. It has 3, SCART sockets & 2 LNB inputs. According to the specification sheet, it has 4MB each of FLASH, DRAM & SDRAM memory. It has DiSEqC 1.2 and Force offer a mating DiSEqC positioner called the SkyWalker. There's also a special version that's fully compatible with Bang & Olufsen video equipment. Favourite channels options are there & the EPG gives up to 4 days worth of information; there's a useful VCR timer - 20 events over 30 days can be handled. 4000 channels can be stored. This is a convenient receiver if you want PAL,D2MAC & DVB digital in one unit & even a positioner suitable for small to medium size dishes.

Galaxis Sat 500 :- Galaxis are the European marketing organisation for receivers made by Samsung. Another free-to-air box with common air interface.From the info on their website (http://www.galaxis.com) it has 2 pcmcia CAM slots; this would allow the user to have, for example, both an Irdeto & a Seca CAM in the box at the same time -assuming you could actually purchase the CAMs & smartcards.Launched at Cable & Sat Show April 1997 & taken up by Telenor according to press release.Only capable of 15-30MS/sec. so no SCPC or PowerVu. It has an RF loopthrough for use with an analogue receiver as well as an S-Vhs socket + 2 scarts. Samsung's first European DVB box. It has DiSEqC and a good instruction manual.

This is the irdeto version available in europe and now also for showtime (Arabia). Has only one Irdeto slot. In What Satellite Magazine there was a test of this with the FTA software.

Galaxis 500CI :- As above but with 2 true CI-compatible CAM slots.

Also tested in What Satellite (before the Irdeto slot, FTA version). Used to have only One CI slot.

Galaxis 600CI :- Same again but adds SCPC with SR from 2000-45000.

Galaxis FTA2 :- Like the 600 but no CAM slots i.e. FTA only & the internal design seems to be related to the Strong SRT4000 (different case but only slightly different feartures).There are the usual twin scart + RS-232 & stereo sockets as well as lnb input & output ports for loopthrough purposes.Although the S/R rates are fine for all purposes (2000-36,000),there is no PID entry -although I expect this to appear in a future upgrade. There is proper VBI teletext insertion so you can use your normal TV remote for this.

Galaxis IQG.1 :- An unusual receiver in that it supports the Open-TV platform and has other multimedia "bells & whistles". There's an IEEE1394 (firewire) port & a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port along with 2 CI CAM slots. There's 2 SCARTs & a full rate (115Kbits/s) serial port. SR range is 2-31 MS/s so SCPC works ok. The Open-TV interface makes the EPG, channel lists, setup menus and so on very easy for the non-techie to understand with all its on-screen pictorial diagrams - a sensible use of the GUI (Graphical User Interface). DiSeqC v1.1 is fitted and there's a full 3MByte of flash memory along with 2MBytes of DRAM and a 40MIPS CPU.

Grundig DTR2000 :- Flexible design with plug-in modules to allow upgrades.Grundig have already announced 2 versions,one for digital cable & one for Dig-TV ; cable needs a QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) demodulator whereas TV needs QPSK.If they produce a version for terrestrial digital TV this would use a COFDM demodulator (Coded Orthoganal Frequency Division Multiplex). A future version will be CI compliant & so will work with any CI encryption system.The cable version will eventually allow internet access. This is a case of "watch this space" as the modular design will allow Grundig to come up with different versions & hardware as well as software upgrades. The channel list menu neatly shows a quarter size actual picture of the selected channel ; this disappears when additional information is requested (channel name, encryption system , channel ID etc.).Most SCPC channels are receiveable within the specified SR range which is 3-30 MS/S and 999 each of radio & TV channels can be stored. There are 3 SCARTs, DiSEqC and a useful 8 event timer.

Huth 500 Digital :- An FTA receiver with 2 SCARTs, serial & parallel ports,PAL I/G/B RF modulator,5 language menu but only works over symbol rates between 18-30 MS/Second. It does have DiSEqC and displays any transmitted EPG information. I believe they'll soon have a more flexible Huth 2000 model & a Huth 2060DA with combined digital and analogue.

Huth 2060 DAP V :- And here it is (January 2000), an FTA digital box with built in analogue receiver complete with polariser interface & position controller. It can store 500 analogue + more than 3000 digital. SCPC reception is no problem, even at low symbol rates & it switches faster than most ana-digi combos from analogue to digital reception or vice-versa. If you're interested in the origin of this design, it looks like a Sat Cruiser DSR-201IP manufactured by AMT of South Korea but Huth seem to have commisioned their own front panel & are providing support via their website. The NextWave DX-3000P appears to be another badging of the same receiver but with a different front panel again plus a slightly different look to its software and menus.

[Humax are,I believe,Korean but have set up a factory in Northern Ireleand recently.]

Humax HSR550F - Humax's first european market entry.Has a scsi port as well as 9-pin serial. Also has S-Vhs output & SCART.Install menu not very user-friendly & no scpc as S/R range is only 18,000-30,000. Similar to the RSD ODM300 & similarly priced for fewer features (e.g. no PID entry).

The Humax F1 FOX -: 1000 channel storage,SCPC & MCPC DVB box. Has PID insertion & DiSEqC LNB control. The CPU is a MIPS RISC processor. Memory consists of 1MByte flash,2MByte RAM & 16KByte EEPROM. There's the usual 9 pin serial port & 2 scarts + an RF modulator (PAL B/G/I). Strangely,only 10 PID values can be stored -they need to overcome this for any real enthusiasts!It does have VBI teletext insertion & a facility to skip encrypted channels. It also displays "now & next" information from the EPG (where the operator chooses to transmit it).

The Humax F1-CI -: This is similar, has an extra 1MByte of flash memory & sports two CI CAM sockets. It also has a mains on/off switch at the rear.

Humax F1-VACI :- this one has an embedded Viaccess CAM + also a CI CAM. The user/owner of ANY of the Humax F1 series of receivers should ensure he has the latest software (downloadable from their websites & installable via the RS-232 port). Recent software upgrades add new functions & also speed up many operations.

Humax IRCI-5400 :- A totally new design for the Millennium, this IRD has embedded IRDETO as well as 2 CI CAM slots. There's 4MB of program & 2 MB of FLASH memory. The menus seem easy to use and the EPG display (showing two days worth of programmes) is excellent. Channel storage is 4000 and up to 1000 PIDs can be manually entered. Along with the 2 SCARTs and video/audio phono outputs, there's a digital audio (SP/DIF) optical output. Software upgrades are available via satellite - currently (06/2000) on Hotbird, 13 Degrees east, 12.699V,22000, 5/6; downloading is automatic when tuned to this channel. There's a useful scan mode for DX-ers - you can scan the whole frequency range in 6MHz steps with both polarities & all FEC & symbol rates tried; this takes time but may find you channels (especially links & newsfeeds) that you would never have known about. A hint for European owners with multi satellite capability - try this overnight on Eutelsat W2 (16 east) or NSS-K (21 west).

Hyundai DBS3001 :- I have an Italian report about this receiver ;I have only come across it in Italy.It has 3 scarts,uses a Motorola processor & should work for SCPC since it uses the same TV/Com front-end module as the Nokia 9xxx series.There is a 14K4 modem, serial port & fast 25-way sevice port.

Hyundai HSS-100c :- This receiver is made for the USA & Australian market.It can be powered from either 110/220 volts & is a FTA box only (no CAM).However,it will do scpc & handles symbol rates down below 4000. This is no surprise as earlier versions of this box used the same TV/Com tuner as the Nokia 9xxx series.Later versions (V5 onwards) use a Sanyo tuner & the internal software is not interchangeable between the 2 variants.Although the receiver powers up in PAL,it will receive NTSC signals,staying in NTSC until switched off once an initial NTSC channel has been found. The menus are basic compared with Nokia's "red menu". Versions with firmware from V 2.25 onwards have teletext.It uses a Motorola CPU with C-Cube's MPEGdecoder/demultiplexer chips. Later software now allows manual PID entry & speeds up most operations. The Pansat 100A (USA) & 100M (Europe) are rebadged versions of the HSS-100C. This is a product designed manufactured and marketed by Hyundai International, not by Hyundai Electronics of America (Parent of TV/COM). According to my (limited) info this machine is not based on the TV/Com module or chipset.

Thanks to Eric Cottrell for the info on this receiver. A description of this receiver was at "Steve's Wall" website : (http://home.earthlink.net/~skittelsen/).

Hyundai HSS-700 :- Another combined analogue/digital receiver.It has 1000 channel storage, DiSEqC V 2.0 and is both SCPC/MCPC capable. It covers 2-45 MS/Sec symbol rates, has teletext and a full rate (115 KBits/s) serial port. Favourite channels are included amongst the menus. Memory is 2MB SDRam, 1MB flash,1MB Ram & 2KByte of EEProm.There is LNB loopthrough.As the analogue receiver is shown as an option, there may be some around that only have the digital receiver. It's a shame that it doesn't have a polariser interface.

Kathrein UFD 501 :-The first digital receiver from this German company.In fact it's actually a combined digital AND analogue receiver -to give some more competition to the Lemon & Xcom combined analogue/digital boxes. Unfortunately the symbol rates covered are only 20-30.5 MS/s.It has 2 scarts + an S-Vhs output socket and a "worldwide" AC mains input (90-245 Volts). OSD can be in German, French,English,Italian or Spanish.It also has teletext insertion into the VBI. It is fairly slow in switching time between channels & can only store 600 of them. The serial port uses a mini-DIN instead of the usual 9 pin D-type socket. PID data can be entered manually.There's a mains on/off switch at the rear. This receiver has a similar design to the XSAT CDTV350 but it's certainly not identical.An impressive entry for Kathrein's first digital receiver.

Lemon Volksbox :- A German combined analogue AND digital receiver. Has DiSEqC, tone & voltage switching with 2000 channel memory.Also 3 scarts & RS232.Clever 3 lnb socket with loopthrough allows you to connect a separate lnb to the analogue input.The RS232 port can handle the full official EIA spec of 115KBits/s duplex. Has an optical digital audio output for lossless connection to suitable hi-fi equipment.PID codes can be entered in hex or decimal (saves using a converter or calculator).This unit,in addition, receives ADR (Astra Digital Radio) transmissions. This receiver sounds very interesting ,particularly for those who want analogue AND digital without losing out on features or taking up too much space.Latest version will do SCPC.

Lemon Volksbox Alpha :- Finally becoming available in early 1999 this upgraded version adds SCPC (does 1-32 Ms/S symbol rates) & teletext with 1000 text page storage.The DiSEqC is Version 1.2 which adds extra control features versus V 1.0. There are 2 digital audio outputs optical & coaxial (SP/DIF) for the hi-fi buffs and this receiver also handles ADR (Astra Digital Radio). It's having reasonable success with enthusiasts & there's a non-commercial Volksbox website with lots of extra information as well as PC software including a settings editor (VBEdit). See http://www.satellite-tv.org/volksbox/ for some detailed information. They're also working on a "Volksbox Beta" series ;I believe there will be a digital only receiver as well as a "twin" receiver -probably FTA only.

Footnote : June 2000 - Lemon recently hit financial problems & appear to be in the hands of a company receiver. However, at least 2 German companies are providing service support and honouring the original Lemon guarantee. There's more information on Lemon enthusiasts websites such as http://www.volksbox.de.

Manhattan ST-1000 :- is being marketed by the distributor Eurosat in Europe & the parts of Africa that Eurosat reach.Elsewhere in the world it may appear with a different model number. From my own observations, some digital receivers from Huth as well as the Fortec Star are very similar. It was designed in UK & production is in Korea.It covers 2-45 MS/s symbol rate range & uses a 3rd generation LSI Logic demodulator. It seems to lock signals that Nokias have difficulty with.There is teletext insertion in the VBI & the software features some clever ideas.As an example,it will store multiple EPG information from different bouquets which makes for easy channel-surfing. There's both an express & a custom (or enthusiast's) setup mode. At the back are 2 F-sockets with IF loopthrough,2 scarts,S-VHS socket,9 pin serial port,4 phonos (audio mono,audio L/R,composite video),an IEEE1284 (enhanced parallel) port & UHF/VHF TV output with loopthrough. Very similar receivers are appearing badged as Engel - a trade name owned by Nikko Electronica of Spain. Like the analogue Manhattan range,the retail price is competitive.

Manhattan ST-2000CI :- Similar to the above but with 2 CI CAMs ,both at the rear of the receiver. If you have 2 CAMs fitted (with viewing cards),the receiver automatically finds the correct one.

Manhattan DSR-2500 APCI :- This is a totally different design than previous Manhattan digital receivers. Their previous boxes were designed by a UK firm & manufactured in the Far East. I know that this IRD does not have the same origins. Here we have a combined low-threshold analogue + digital receiver complete with positioner & polariser controllers, 2 CI CAM slots & 4 F-connectors (one dedicated for C-band). There's 3 SCARTs + S-VHS socket. With the original internal software, I wouldn't have pitted this unit against the Echostar AD-3000IP ; however, with Version 2.x software, this is a worthy Echostar competitor. We now have a favourite channels menu, separate positioner/LNB settings for analogue & digital and better positioner control. V2 software also adds a signal stength bar, better EPG information access and faster channel downloading. Channel storage is 4500 digital & 600 analogue. It seems that Eurosat, the distributors behind this receiver, have listened to crticism & delivered most of the features that users really want.

Mikronik TV BOX 1000-S :- A German FTA receiver with storage of 1000 TV & 200 radio channels. It claims to implement DiSEqC 2.0 & has 3 SCARTs , an S-Vhs socket,9pin serial port & LNB loopthrough.Unusually there a mains on/off switch on the rear -good idea.The menu is available in 10 languages & SCPC reception is possible. There is a favourite channels list and PIDs can be entered manually.

Morgan's FTA-1 :- This Far-Eastern import is a capable enough receiver with 1000 channel storage & SCPC capability, LNB loopthrough , 3 SCARTs ,DiSEqC etc. There is also a version with built in analogue receiver the Morgan DA-1 ; it does not have a polariser interface. The Schwaiger SSR-8200 is almost the same as the FTA-1 unit but adds 2 CI CAM slots.

Pacsat DSR2000 MediaStar D7 :- A capable receiver covering SCPC/MCPC with its 2-36 MS/Second symbol rate range. Both NTSC & PAL signals can be received & sent to your TV. Channel change takes under a second.There is 90-260 volt mains operation & phonos as well as S-Vhs socket for the outputs. Channel storage is limited to 200 TV plus 99 audio. PIDs can be both entered and modified.

Palcom DVB-1000R :- The interesting thing about this receiver is that there's a matching positioner to mate with it (DVB-1000P). It's an FTA MCPC/SCPC box with 1000 channel storage and DiSEqC. RF output can be PAL I/G/B/D/K/M or N. It uses a Motorola 68306 CPU & has 3 MBytes Dram,512K of Flash memory,64K of Sram & a 512K Eprom.There's a polariser,2 SCARTs, 2 LNB inputs plus A/V phonos along with the usual 9-pin RS-232 port. Mains voltage is 198-264 Volts. I believe there's an optional modem & CA slot.

Panarex, Pansat 100A (USA) & 100M (Europe) :- these appear to be nothing to do with Panasonic who produce receivers with names like "IRD500". The Pansat covers symbol rates from 2-45 MS/s so should be SCPC comaptible.It has no scart sockets which shows its USA origins (Panarex are fron Sun Valley,California). It does automatically (says the spec) switch from NTSC to PAL & runs off any mains supply from 90 to 260 volts.The back sports 9-pin RS-232,mini S-VHS connector,phonos for video & L/R audio & a modulated RF output with loopthrough socket.The mains socket takes a standard IEC lead (as used on PC's).

Panasat :- This seems to be a range of receivers by various manufacturers to a specification produced by operator MultiChoice for the South African market.There's Panasat 642,635,630 and others. All seem to include the useful Open TV graphical user interface and all that I've seen any information on have limited symbol rate range (15-30 or 18-28 MS/Sec).Many of the alleged manufacturers appear to be oriental (e.g. UEC and Sun Moon Star). None of these are suitable for SCPC operation & some have embdded CAMs rather than a pcmcia CAM slot.

Pansat 100A :- This seems to be a rebadged Hyundai HSS-100C which has appeared on the American market.The European version is the 100M with PAL B/G RF modulator.

Pansat 200 :- This will be a later Hyundai model rebadged for the USA -perhaps based on the HSS-700.

Pantech PSR-2002 :- A digital FTA receiver with an option for an analogue one within the same unit. Symbol rate range is 2-45 MS/Sec & manual PID entry is possible. It has teletext & EPG information is displayed.Mnains power is 84-260 Volts & there's a 9-pin serial port,3 SCARTs, 4 A/V phonos & 2 LNB sockets. DiSEqC is included as is a favourite channel menu. Channel storage is 1000TV plus 500 radio.

Pantech PSR-2000 :- Similarly styled to the PSR-2002 this FAT unit has 2 SCARTs & 500 channel storage with a different remote control.It's probably an earlier design but should still manage most SCPC channels ; symbol rate range is 4-30 MS/Second. Pantech is a Korean company.

Philips DST-5816 :- This is designed for the French CSN multiplex but,unlike the original Philips 96514D,it can be bought i.e. it's not for rental only. It's designed for use with its SECA (MediaGuard) CAM. Symbol rates are from 18-30 MS/Sec and it will pick up FTA channels within this range. There are 2 SCARTs, serial & IEE1284 parallel ports & LNB loopthrough is possible. It uses a 32 bit, 45 MIPS RISC CPU with 2MByte each of Dram,SDram and Flash memory. Certainly not a DX-er's receiver.

Phoenix 222 :- This is a low-cost box but can store up to 2870 channels & is quite fast in operation - about 1 second channel-change time.Mains input is 86-260 Volts and there are 2 sets of A/V phonos as well as an S-Vhs socket. The modulator outputs PAL D/K/B/G/I but ,as this isn't made for the European market,there are no SCART sockets.

Praxis DigiMaster 9600 :- Yet another combined digital & analogue receiver from German-based company Praxis.On the analogue side,there's no true Panda Wegener decompression (which will have saved Praxis paying royalty fees to Panda for the facility). Nevertheless the analogue audio sounds ok. This box supports mechanical polarisers as well as the usual voltage-switched ones;unfortunately,only the analogue part of the receiver can be used for this.On the digital side there is a 1500 channel memory + a further 1400 radio channels can be stored.There isn't any manual PID insertion facility but both SCPC & MCPC reception is covered (symbol rates of 2-45 Megasymbols/second).At the back are 2 scart sockets + a separate S-Vhs socket & a serial port.There are 3 lnb sockets,2 for analogue & 1 for digital.VBI teletext insertion is included as is DiSEqC 1.0. The mains power supply works from 90-260 volts.This receiver looks like a rebadged ProDX3300A/Vortec VS-9700/Strong SRT4200. The rear panels look identical,the specifications are similar or identical & the front panel looks very like the ProDX3300.

Praxis DigiMaster 9800AD+P :- Similar to the 9600 but this time there's a built in positioner and SCART sockets.Manual PID insertion is included & a "favourite channel" list can be set up for both analogue & digital stations. A version without the "P" suffix omits the positioner. Except for the front panel,this receiver seems the same as the Echostar AD-2000IP.

ProDX 3300A :- This is almost identical to the Vortec/Samsung VS-9700,Strong SRT4200 & Praxis Digimaster 9600 although the front panel is slightly differently laid out in each of the 4 receivers.

Prosat P-2002S :- Another Taiwanese box - this time from EFA Corporation. This low cost receiver seems to be good value. It covers 1-45 MS/s symbol rates with no difficulty in SCPC mode. There are 3 SCARTs and (oddly) 2 RS-232 ports (one high & 1 low speed). There is LNB loopthrough & a 0/12Volt switch output + mains operation form 90-260 Volts. The tuner seems to be quite sensitive i.e. good on weak signals. On power up from standby this receiver goes to the last viewed channel ; there is 1 nuisance factor however in that if ,perhaps due to a mains glitch,the stored channel list is lost the box proceeds to restore its original channel list from scratch.This could take up to 10 minutes. Hopefully a future version will add proper memory backup routine to avoid this. Software upgrades should be available on the German Prosat website of http://www.prosat.de

Prosat P-3500 :- I haven't yet come across this receiver in Europe but enthusiasts in USA, Japan & Australia have given it good reports.It covers 1-45 MS/Sec symbol rates (SCPC/MCPC) and is very fast at changing between channels (about 0.5 seconds).The RF modulator can output PAL B/D/K/G/I and there's 1 SCART,S-Vhs socket + A/V & 12 Volt phonos.There's also both low & high speed serial ports,LNB loopthrough & a CI CAM socket.It runs cool & uses an SGS-Thomson chipset.Later versions upgraded the EEPROM to 16K from 8K and this,with V3.0 software adds both signal-to-noise & BER display menus. Like the P-2002,it does have to remap its channel list if the mains is switched off ; also there is no channel name edit function or manual PID entry.However,owners who ,have previously had other receivers seem to like it very much.

Radix Epsilon2AD :- Another analogue/digital receiver with SCPC capability, 3 SCARTs and 3 LNB connectors, 9 pin serial port and DiSEqC.The CPU is a Motorola 68340 with 512K of Flash memory & 2MByte of DRAM.It uses the C-Cube MPEG chipset which has a good reputation.Channel storage is 1000 digital + 400 analogue. Although there appears to be no manual PID insertion SCPC channels seem to be found with no shortcomings. The remote control can be programmed to also operate your TV and VCR. Radix is owned by the Korean company DaeRyung which has a factory in Northern Ireland. The Amstrad SRDA 5101 is an almost identical receiver.

Radix Epsilon2 CI :- As you might guess from the model number, this digital only receiver has 2 CI CAM slots; it can store 1400 TV & 600 radio channels, has 3 SCARTs & LNB loopthrough. Memory is $MB DRAM + 1MB FLASH. The internal software features a Favourite Channels List & useful facility to view the datastream information (taken from the PSI) for a selected channel with a single push of the relevant remote control button. It's SCPC compatible & can display the "now & next" information from the EPG.

Radix Epsilon3 CI :- Another digital receiver from Radix with 2400 TV & 1000 radio channel storage. Usefully for the audio buff, there is an SP/DIF (Sony-Philips Digital InterFace) optical audio output; it has 3 SCARTs and 2 CI CAM slots.

RSD ODM300 :- A British (Scottish) designed FTA receiver (at last). Has 999 channel memory & SCPC with naming of the channels.Initially English menus with other languages to follow.Uses a fast Motorola Coldfire 33MHz processor which results in fast response to user instructions.The qpsk demodulator & the MPEG decoder use Hyundai "Odeum" chips -from a totally separate design group than the TV/Com qpsk chips used by Nokia -although Hyundai own both concerns.Symbol rates covered from 2-45 MS/s.I found the menu fairly intuitive & far better than Nokia's -although this will in part be a matter of personal taste. Has DiSeCq ,RS232,manual PID support,tone or voltage lnb control & 2 scarts. This receiver is FTA only i.e. no CAM or pcmcia socket & was launched at Cabsat 1998.Later software additions, which can be downloaded from their Website (http://www.rsd-communications.co.uk) have added DiSEqC V1.2,teletext,channel sorting by satellite or encryption and other new features. An optional addition that arrived at the end of 1998 is RSDEdit ;this is a Windows program that allows channel lists to be downloaded/uploaded from the receiver to a PC via the serial port. Channel lists & parameters can be edited on a PC & transferred to the receiver. DX-ers with this receiver could share channel lists quite easily using email or their Internet homepages to make their listings available to all who are interested. In some ways this is like what already happens with Nokia 9xxx owners -but in this case it's offically sanctioned (or even encouraged) by the manufacturer. I must congratulate RSD for this idea which add to its appeal as a good dx-er's receiver.

RSD ODM300 CI :- Released in March 1999. As above but with CI CAM. It uses a new (latest generation) qpsk front-end which uses hardware rather then software based functions for Symbol rate autoscanning & so performs a very fast channel scan. The LNB sockets (2 this time) have loopthrough.The software for both ODM300 & 300-CI has already been upgraded to Version 1.6. The menus are in more pleasing higher resolution graphics and the "Organise Channels" now has more sort options (by satellite,name,access or any/all of these in user-specified priority). It was amazing to download all the Astra channels (19.2E) in just a few seconds. Even more goodies are expected in further software revisons.

RSD ODM302 CI :- A new receiver design from RSD using a Fujitsu MPEG chipset & an improved (Analog Devices) video encoder. Channel storage is now 4000 & the rather neat remote control is a "universal" type that can also operate your TV, VCR & 2 other auxiliary items. It's similar in operation to the ODM300 but a few new functions/options have been added. There are 2 SCARTs, a 57.6Kbps serial port. SCPC works with no problems. If you're interested in this receiver, you can download the complete User Manual from the RSD website as a (large/2.5 Mbyte) PDF-file. As with other RSD boxes, there is RSD-Edit software which allows the user to change settings & edit channels via a PC. There's also a version called ODM302CI+ which includes an analogue receiver in the same unit.

Sagem ISD 3400 :- ALthough most Sagem receivers are for closed French markets, this one is somewhat different. ALthough it can receive SCPC down to 3 MS/second, there is no manual PID entry; it does have an SP/DIF optical audio output - great for the family home cinema buff. There's a favourite channel menu and, unusually, the EPG info not only gives "now & next" programme details but gives a daily and weekly summary! There's a CI CAM slot & embedded Viaccess. Not for the feed & links enthusiast but a good family receiver.

Sat Cruiser DSR-101 :- A well specified receiver available in USA & Australia. Works off mains from 85-265 Volts and has on/off switches both on the front AND the rear.Uses a Hitachi CPU (SH7021). It has 800 channel storage plus a favourite channels menu and is SCPC/MCPC/PoweVu compatible. The rear has 2 SCARTs, RS-232 port,A/V phonos & a 0/12Volt phono output. Teletext is included and the PAL modulator can output in PAL B/G/K or I. Symbol rates covered from 2-45 MS/sec. It's reported to have a very sensitive demodulator (useful for weak/marginal signals). There's also a DSR-101 CI with 2 CI CAM slots. Some Australian Sat Crusiser info can be found at : http://www.senet.au/~ftass

Schwaiger SSR-8200 :- See Morgan FTA-1 above.

Seleco SMB1900 /Emme Esse DRX900 :- These are the both same unit,apparently produced by Italtel (which is 50% owned by Telecom Italy & 50% Siemens). This receiver has the usual scarts & also a modem but only works with signals that have Symbol rates between 18.5-30MS/s.Thus it's no good for SCPC reception. It's auto download is quite fast (10 seconds for Telepiu bouquet).The menus are available in English , Italian & German.This receiver seems to be related to the Echostar DSB9800 as used in Holland.

Strong SRT4000 :- Up to 1000 channel storage,DiSEqC & quite a nice menu on this one.It is capable of SCPC reception & has LNB loopthrough for use with an analogue receiver.It has 2 SCART connectors + phonos.Handles C-Band reception OK.May not cope with SR of less than 5000.

New version -seen at Cabsat '98 :- This version now covers symbol rates from 2-32 MS/s so should now be ok for both MCPC and SCPC.It has 1000 channel storage capacity.

There's also a most confusing range of variants of Strong "2nd generation" models :-

The 4100 is a digital FTA receiver with dual IF bandwidths of 25/55 MHz.There are 3 scarts & the OSD covers English,French,German,Spanish,Italian and RUSSIAN (to my surprise). Symbol rates cover 2-45 MS/s so good for SCPC too. 1000 channel storage. I understand Strong have a contract to supply these to a Russian TV operator. June 2000 update : it now has 2000 channel storage & DiSEqC. THe channel list can be downl;oaded to a PC, edited & uploaded back to the box & there's a favourite channels facility.

The 4200 is a combined analogue/digital receiver with storage of 400 analogue channels plus 1500 digital TV channels & 1400 digital radio channels.The digital section works over 2-45 MS/second so is fine for SCPC reception.There are 2 SCART connectors + separate S-Vhs & 2 sets of phono sockets for video + stereo audio.This is an FTA box so no CAM socket exists.There's 3 F connectors,2 for analogue (1 can be dedicated to C-band) + 1 for digital with C/Ku band selectable via a 12 volt switch. Mains power is anywhere from 85-260 volts.VBI teletext insertion is included along with 16:9 aspect ratio & DiSEqC 1.0. The PID info can be entered manually & edited.Channel search works fast.There is a mechanical polariser - unfortunately only working with the analogue section of the receiver. There's 1MByte each of DRAM & flash memory & the usual 9-pin serial port.The Vortec VS-9700,Praxis Digimaster 9600 and ProDX 3300A are certainly very close relatives to this receiver although their front panels are different.

SRT 4250 :- Appears to be an upgraded SRT 4100 (it has the same styling) but with added analogue receiver (with threshold extension).

The SRT 4300 is a digital box with CI compatible CAM sockets,1000 channel storage, RJ11 modem socket & full speed serial ports; unusually there's both a 9 pin male AND a 9 pin female serial port -downloads from PC use the female, the male can be used with a modem. The menus include a favourite channels list which also shows the frequency, SR & PID information for the selected channel.Channel search is quite fast & SCPC operation is no problem.

SRT 4350 :- An expanded version of the 4300, now 1400 channel storage & an incredible choice of 16 languages for the OSD/menus as well as a favourite channels mode.

SRT 4375 :- Digital & analogue combo with 2 CI CAM slots, 3000 digital & 5000 analogue channel storage and built in positioner.

SRT 4400 :- Digital receiver with embedded Viaccess as well as 2 CI CAM slots. There is 1400 channel storage, favourite channel modes, 2 SCARTs & an S-VHS output. Like all Strong's year 2000 range except the 4475, 8000 & 8500, symbol rates are 2-45 MS/Second so SCPC will work.

SRT 4475 :- This one has embedded Viacccess & uses the Open TV operating system; it has 1000 channel storage but symbol rates covered are only from 15-30 MS/S. Output can be SECAM as well as the usual PAL & RGB & there is VBI teletext insertion.

SRT 4500 :-an IRDETO (rather than CI compatible) version of the 4300 without the 2nd serial port or the RJ11 connector & (optional) modem.

SRT 4700 -this is (confusingly) a CABLE receiver with QAM16/64 demodulator,2 smart card slots,9 pin serial port & an IEEE 1294 (consumer "firewire") 25 way. It has 2 scarts and,according to my spec. leaflet, a qpsk demodulator also. There's an RJ11 socketed V22 modem with V34 as an option.

SRT 5000 -another FTA receiver from Strong.This one adds SECAM outputs (the others do PAL & NTSC). Other features are much like the 4100.

SRT 7400 -a confusingly numbered box (easily mistaken for the 4700 which is in the same style case). Again does SCPC & MCPC but comes with a 925-2175 MHz tuner (the other DVB receivers are 950-2150 MHz).It has 2 scarts & optional Viaccess CAM.

SRT 8000 :- This is a SECA only IRD with versions for Canal Plus in France, Italy, Holland, Poland and Spain i.e. targetted specifically at Canal Plus users. It has 2 embedded SECA slots conveniently accessible from the front. Symbol rates are restricted to 18-30 MS/S.

SRT 8500 :- A Canal Plus Scandinavia variant of the SRT 8000 with embedded Conax on 2 front panel slots; additionally there's a CI slot at the rear. Like the 8000, the MediaHighway operating system is used.

I now declare the Strong range more confusing & fragmented than Nokia's !! However,they're rumoured to cost less than the Nokia receivers.

Visionetics VIStar 2000 :- This is from the Taiwanese Visionetics company who also make MPEG encoders & other multimedia related products. There are a series of VIStar boxes as follows ... VIStar 2000 - FTA digital satellite receiver. VIStar 2000Pro - FTA with a couple of added minor features. VIStar 2000CI - Adds a CI CAM. VIStar 2020CI - A digital cable receiver with CAM. VIStar 2020NV - Satellite with embedded NagraVision CAM. VIStar2020 - Basic digital cable receiver. The satellite versions use only 25 Watts of power (20 for the FTA version).Symbol rates are from 2-45 MS/Sec so fine for SCPC.There are phono & S-Vhs A/V outputs (no SCART). There is an IEEE-1284 output which,according to the manufacturer's data can output the transport stream at TTL or LVDS levels - but it's listed as an option. EPG information is displayed and there are optional modulators (PAL/NTSC) and modem. I have only noticed this receiver in the USA and Australia (not Europe) so far; I would expect the addition of SCART sockets if they wish to sell it in Europe.

Vortec VS-9600 PLUS :- This is an FTA receiver (no CAM slots) with polariser control & 4000 channel storage. It's basically a cut down of the VS-9800 PLUS described below & fine for SCPC work including C-band.

Vortec (Samsung)VS-9700 :- This receiver appears identical to the Strong SRT 4200/ProDX 3300/ Praxis DigiMaster 9600 and each has the same specification but differently styled fronts. Their specs are the same. Yet another combined analogue/digital receiver.It has 1500 digital TV + 1400 digital radio + 400 analogue TV channel storage capability.The mechanical polariser only works with the analogue section. It's an FTA receiver so no CAM but 2 SCART sockets + S-Vhs,serial port and twin A/V phonos are included as is operation from 90-260 Volt mains. It lacks manual PID entry but seems to find the right PIDs ok during a transponder search. Symbol rates are 2-45 MSPS so SCPC reception is no problem.

Vortec VS-9800CI PLUS :- Looking very similar to the old Vortec 9600CI receiver, this IRD has 3000 channel storage plus a further 2000 for radio channels. The rear immediately looks different due to the addition of a polariser interface. There are 2 CI CAM slots & DiSEqC V1.2 is supported. SCPC is no problem with this receiver. Manual PID entry works fine & it scans new channels fairly swiftly.

XSat CDTV200 :- Interesting IRD made for simple reception of Pay-TV channels from Arabesque, AB-sat & TPS. Has Viaccess CAM and RS232,2 scarts + an S-VHS port. The remote control is subject to user mis-keying due to its use of 40 identical- looking keys,equally spaced.Slow in response to user commands but robust in terms of being very hard to crash.Although not mentioned in the manual this IS an SCPC capable box (2-30.5 MS/S symbol rates);you just have to remember to add 10MHz to the nominal receive frequency,key in Symbol & FEC rates & away you go.There's a PID menu -although again not covered in the manual. The OSD can be set for English,French,German,Italian,Spanish & Arabic.It also runs cool.A good alternative to the various Nokia boxes for the FTA dx-er. Extra info (courtesy of Dr.Dish) :- The ORIGINAL CDTV200,which had a display in French language only,do scpc with the "add 10MHz" trick. Later versions,with multi-lingual menus,did not support this. Later still,with software version 1.38,some bugs were fixed but still no scpc.XSat in France commented that scpc was for "professional use only".They can add an extra filter to enable scpc at a cost of 1000 French francs to enable scpc.

XSAT CDTV300 :- This receiver has an embedded Viacess CAM ,teletext via the VBI and will cope with FTA SCPC signals.

XSAT CDTV 300 VIA :- as the CDTV300 but with Viaccess CAM.

XCom CDTV350 -the latest variant of combined analogue/digital box.The symbol rates covered still rule out SCPC reception but the spec. leaflet mentioned 2-30.5 MS/s as an "option". It seems that most dealers are stocking the SCPC version - but check with your dealer before you buy.There's 2 SCARTs + S-Vhs socket & a further mini-DIN socket for the serial port. Teletext insertion via VBI is included as is an embedded Viacess CAM & DiSEqC V1.1. There's a mains on/off switch at the rear.

XCOM CDTV115 - this is described as a "Professional satellite digital IRD".It appears to cover 2 symbol rate ranges ;1 is 20-30.5 MS/sec whilst the other is 4-6 MS/second.I'm not sure whether this receiver would accept,for example,BET on Orion1 which uses 6116 MS/s. This box is designed for professional use (probably at professional prices) so video outputs are on BNC sockets.

Yuri YDR-200 :- This is either rebadged or very similar to the Hyundai HSS-100c

Yuri YDR-100 :- Similar to YDR-200 but with a CAM.

The BSkyB Digital IRD's :- Sky awarded 4 manufacturers with a contract for this receiver to a common specification supplied by Sky. They are Pace,Panasonic,Amstrad and Grundig. The specification ia as follows : Proprietary built-in (non replaceable/hardwired) CAM with Sky's own encryption system ; this is from another Murdoch subsidiary (NDC). Two SCART sockets, fast modem & it is able to receive some non-Sky FTA transmissions - those with Symbol Rates of 22,000 & 27,500 only. The contracts were awarded to Pace,Amstrad,Panasonic & a Grundig consortium (with TV/Com). These are only sold/rented to those within Sky's subscriber area (just like existing BSkyB analogue) along with a smartcard.The price is subsidised to kick-off interest in BSB Digital. There's a description of the Pace Sky receiver in the May 1998 Cable & Satellite Europe magazine.This confirmed that the video encoder includes Macrovision 7.01 for all composite & RGB output signals.Also included is 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio support,RS-232 interface a V32 (with V42bis) modem and 2 scart sockets -although Sky's own specification only calls for one. 1 intended use of the RS-232 port is to download games to a PC directly from BSkyB.An IEEE 1394 (firewire) port could allow connection to DVD players.There are 2 RF outputs & 4 MBytes each of flash RAM & SDram. Examples now appearing (January 1999) of the Amstrad,Grundig (GDS200) & Panasonic (TU-DSB20) show identical features & sockets/connectors etc. Only the physical layout and styling of the individual receivers seems to differentiate them. From user reports it seems that the Panasonic & Grundig run cooler than the Pace & Amstrad. The Panasonic has a huge amount of heatsinking which no doubt helps.Its menus also seem to function more quickly than the others. Another annoying missing feature with these receivers is that there was supposed to be an S-Vhs output but it doesn't work -the hardware exists but not the software to enable it. It's not very user-friendly when used on satellites other than Astra at 28 dgress east & can only store a limited number of "non-Sky-approved" channels. For its intended purpose of receiving BSkyB Digital channels from Astra 2A at 28 degrees east it represents resonable value at its subsidised price. Without the BIB subsidy,which means the owner does not agree to have the modem port permanently connected to a phone line,the price of around 350 UKP doesn't seem particularly competitive in my opinion; however,there isn't any other way (via satellite) to receive the BBC & Channel 4 programs that Astra 2A transmits with NDC VideoGuard encryption.Suitable viewing cards for the BBC channels are available free but will only work with the 4 variants of official BSkyB receiver.

June 2000 update : later Pace BSkyB receivers have a newer,faster CPU & email facilities are now available using their "Open" service. An infra-red keyboard is available to make entering text practical (costs about 30 UK pounds) & the modem is used as the transmission medium.This allows email without a PC or a dedicated "thin client" Net-box. There will be a further generation of BSkyB receivers with added features ; a built in hard disk drive is rumoured for recording. The Sky viewing cards now are "personalised" so the smartcard only functions in the receiver for which it was supplied. Sony for BSkyB Digital :- rumours surfaced several months ago that Sony would supply an IRD for this service. Sony promised added features like a digital audio output & timer facilities for video recording ; they would have charged about 50 UK pounds extra for their superior box. Currently they are trying to reach an agreement with BSkyB but do not seem to be making much progress. In my personal opinion, Sky are working against the interest of consumers' choice by not granting Sony permission - which illustrates the power of the satellite program providers/operators.

SCT Monterey Classic -add in digital card - If you've invested over 2000 UK Pounds on one of these "all-singing,all dancing" receivers & bought all the add-in options,you'll be pleased to find that it's also getting a digital add-in card.It's basically the RSD ODM300 with some parts removed as they would be unecessary when used with the SCT.The software has been rewritten & parts of the hardware linked to the right areas in the SCT such that the SCT's original analogue portion controls the LNB,the polarity & the position.Suddenly you don't need to worry about priority switches or twin LNB's.You use the original SCT controller as well.All the normal ODM features & menus are there;so now you can have 1 box with analogue,D2MAC & Videocrypt decoders & digital receiver -with only 1 remote control to lose !!!

A professional 4:2:2 receiver - Alteia PSR942 :- this box has been reviewed by a couple of satellite magazines recently, even though it costs about 2000 UK Pounds. It shows the BER (Bit Error rate) on the front panel display & is designed for professional/broadcast monitoring - hence there are composite & digital video outputs on BNC connectors with audio on XLR connectors (can be Musicam, AES/EBU or Dolby AC3). It will, of course, also cope with standard 4:2:0 signals but has only a 20 channel memory ; this is normal for a studio type receiver. See reviews in Tele Satellite International magazine 02/00 & the June 2000 UK What Satellite magazine.

 

 

8) Channel Listings

Good complete listings are published in Tele-Satellite Magazine published every 2 months. A useful Internet site to check is


http://www.satcodx.com
and another can be found at
http://www.lyngsat.com

 

 

9) Further Info

DVB faq (from Markus Kuhn)
ftp://ftp.informatik.uni-erlangen.de/pub/multimedia/tv-crypt/dvb.txt

MPEG FAQ & links (technical)

mpeg/qpsk technical description
http://www.coolstf.com/mpeg

Berkeley Multimedia Research Center MPEG Info (very thorough technical treatment here). http://bmrc.berkeley.edu/projects/mpeg/faq/MPEG-2-FAQ.html

Miralite Communications - good, simple glossary of satellite terms & acronyms
http://www.bitcentral.com/bcweb/glossary.asp

Irdeto (Mindport) website :
http://www.irdeto.com
http://www.irdeto.nl (mirror site).

Nokia Website -Mediamaster 9500, 9800 etc.
http://www.nokia.com/products/multimedia/index.html

RSD Website -
http://www.rsd-communications.co.uk

Volksbox Corner (Volksbox enthusiasts site)
http://members.xoom.com/volksbox

Mascom Website -
http://www.mascom.de
http://www.satshop.com/dvbcompa.htm

Pace Website
http://www.pace.co.uk

Doctor Dish -General satellite TV questions; Dr. Dish has quite a lot of knowledge about digital satellite TV.
http://www.drdish.com
He also hosted a useful program every month covering satellite TV topics.Recent programmes have contained a lot of info about digital TV & D-Boxes in particular. It could be found on DFS2 Kopernikus,28.5 degrees East 11.548 GHz.V. Audio subcarrier: 6.65 MHz, 300KHz bandwidth ,50uSecs de-emphasis. It is hoped that this service will resume sometime in 2000, as a digital MPEG service. See website url below which archives the questions & answers & will give the time/date of next Doctor Dish TV Show.

Mueller Communications :
http://subnet.virtual-pc.com/~mu449890/mpegeq.html

Another D-Box site :
http://www.rehtec.com

Defiant Digital (June 2000 -currently down for update) :
http://www.eurosat.com/eurosat/index.html

Swiss Digital Site :
http://satswiss.com

CNJ Electronics :
http://www.cnj-electronics.com/infobase (comparison of several Nokia digital boxes & good DiSEqC information))

TurboSat's digital area (Satmonitor) :
http://www.turbo.demon.co.uk/

German Satellite TV Newsletter :
http://www.set-top-box.de

Doctor Dish :
http://www.drdish.com

Recommended reading : Tele-Satellite International,published with joint German & English text every 2 months.Available in most European countries (but you will probably have to order it specially if you're in UK).

 

History -

  • V1.0 of FAQ ,March 6th,1997.
  • V1.2 -added Nokia9200/9300,Philips Mediabox,new Pace models. Galaxis.Some url's updated.
  • V1.3 -added several new receivers, a little on DTTV,updated url list.
  • V2.0 -cleaned up a little, removed ascii block diagram as it looked terrible when viewed with some modern software (wordpad etc screwed it up!). Referred reader to separate "skiz2.gif" picture instead. Added some info on BSkyB Digital forthcoming receivers.
  • V2.1 Added Hyundai HSS100,Strong SRT4000,new/forthcoming Galaxis models + some small additions & corrections (thanks Donald!!).
  • V2.2 Added many more receivers.Much more about encryption systems,Simulcrypt & Multicrypt. more info on Sky (UK) digital box.
  • V2.3 More receivers & a couple of corrections.
  • V3.0 Added many more receivers,much longer section on the receivers for BSkyB Digital, more on conditional access. Added brief description of EPG.The receiver descriptions now includes my comments where I suspect more than 1 receiver uses the same design -i.e. suspected rebadging is revealed. Extended modulation section to add some detail of error correction schemes used (FEC & R/S).
  • V4.0 (June 2000) Added short D2MAC explanation + many more receiver briefs. Updated BSkyB section.Added a brief explanation of DiSEqC & paragraph/picture about forthcoming MPEG4. Short description of statistical multiplexing. URL's checked & updated.

Note : Readers of this FAQ are free to post this on their websites - either as is or converted to a Web-format (HTML etc.) without charge. They may also make the file DIGFAQ4.zip available as a downloadable file provided this text & the 3 included graphics files are all present in the zip-file. I have no problem with anyone converting the graphics files into other picture formats either. TSI (Tele Satellite International Magazine) will be publishing portions of this FAQ in future issues of their magazine ; they alone have my permission to edit this FAQ or parts of it. TSI Magazine URL is http://www.tele-satellite.com

Chris Muriel
(chris.muriel@analog.com),G3ZDM,
June 9th , 2000.

 

 

 

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