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Organization: TVRO Hobbyists
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Subject: rec.video.satellite.tvro FAQ - Part 1/3
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Archive-name: Satellite-TV/TVRO/part1
Disclaimer: Approval for *.answers is based on form, not content.

Bud is an acronym for "Big Ugly Dish". The term usually refers to satellite

The first satellite television systems for the consumer were TVRO
(TeleVision Receive Only) satellite systems. TVRO started sprouting
up all over the U.S. in the late 1970s and early 1980s. TVRO satellite
TVRO systems receive television signals from C-Band satellites. A C-Band
A TVRO satellite system must have a movable dish in order to access the
the advertising that you now see involves the small dish DBS systems, TVRO
s still alive and well.

The components of a TVRO system include the dish, the mount, the actuator,
LNB(s), cables, receiver(s) and usually a descrambler.

This is the most recognizable component, a parabolic reflector which may
consist of Solid Aluminum, Perforated Aluminum or wire mesh. The dish
concentrates and reflects the incoming signal from the satellite to the

The most common type of dish mount is called a polar mount, which is
oriented to coincide with the earth's axis, enabling it to "track" the

The mount usually is installed on a 3 inch pipe, which is sunk in concrete.

The actuator is device used to move the satellite dish to allow it to aim at
ndividual satellites. Actuator arms are most commonly found in 18 and
arc in the sky;

Also a more expensive positioner called a "horizon-to-horizon" actuator
s capable of more precise aiming and as the name implies it can cover
a 180 degree range between the Eastern and Western horizons.

The LNB  is a component that amplifies the signals from the dish and
also converts them to frequencies more favorable for transmission through
COAX cable. The common frequency range used today for transmission
through the COAX is 950 to 1450 Mhz. Both C and KU band output in
the 950 to 1450 Mhz range.

When a LNB is used in conjunction with a step motor. This motor rotates
a probe within the feedhorn to adjust the polarity for the incoming signal.
A device called an LNBF can be used instead. The LNBF does not require a
level from the receiver.

The feedhorn acts as a microwave "funnel" way. It also  places the LNB
at the focus of the dish. There are a few types of feedhorns commonly
used in North American BUD.

-- Single C band feed: Contains ONE C band LNB.

-- Dual C band feed: Allows the use of Two C band LNB's one for horizontal
   polarization and one for vertical.

-- Dual Band Feed (C and KU): Has two separate LNB's, one for C band
   and one for KU band.

-- DUAL C band and single KU band feed: (Available. but not commonly in

This is a bundle of various wires and cables that run from the dish to the
the LNB (Usually sent over the same COAXIAL CABLE) as well as power
for the positioner arm, return signals for position readout, and control
for the polarotor.

the cabling.

The receiver takes the signal from the LNB and produces a TV picture from
the signal sent from the LNB via the COAX. Many receivers also allow you
to tune subcarrier audio. Newer receivers work with the standard 950-1450
mhz block that comes out of a standard LNB.

The receiver may also have a descrambler interface for built in decoding pay

Receivers also are available for reception of digital signals. Some of these
consumer level digital receivers are compatible with only one digital

The best known North American consumer descrambler is the VideoCipher

VCII (or VideoCipher II) was the original VideoCipher technology, which was
compromised very early on. Many people modified the VCII module in order to
longer manufactured after 1989, and was completely replaced by the VCII+
technology in 1993. VCII modules were black. VCII modules are not compatible

VCII+ (or VideoCipher II Plus) was a more secure technology mainly because
GI integrated a bunch of separate chips into a single secure chip. The VCII+
boards also supported more scrambled channels than the VCII (256 tier bits
nstead of only 56). VCII+ modules were originally the lighter color blue,
and then changed to pink to denote that they were covered by the Consumer
Security Protection Plan (CSPP), which guaranteed a free upgrade to VCRS
f the VCII+ security was compromised within the first three years of
ownership. These began shipping in 1990 and stopped shipping in 1992.

VCRS (or VideoCipher Renewable Security) was an enhancement to the basic
VCII+ technology, but added the security card (known as TVPassCard), which
s the replaceable security. The VCRS is shipped without a TVPassCard, but
s designed to accept a card if the base module becomes compromised. In that
event, all base modules without a card would no longer be able to decrypt
the signals. VCRS boards are navy blue or purple to denote that they can be
exported out of the US. The purple modules were known as VCRSi, but were
functionally the same. All VCRS boards were covered by the three year CSPP.
They began shipping in 1992, and stopped being manufactured in 1998.

Other types of analog encryption include B-Mac, OAK-ORION, and Leitch.
Consumer  descramblers for these encryption formats are not readily
OAK was used on some Anik Canadian channels before StarChoice began using
Digicipher and Bell ExpressVu became a DBS offering.

on BUD, so a short description of the types of programming available will
be given accompanied with links to more information.

The Lyngsat web site and SatCoDX contains contributor provided satellite
feed information.

Subscription channels are available though more than one provider. These
channels usually are Premium Movie Channels, Super Stations, or channels

NPS (And NPS affiliates)

SuperStar/Netlink/TurnerVision.HBO Direct

StarChoice Canadian is available in Digicipher II format,
but only Canadian Digicipher receivers can be authorized to receive
these channels.

Wildfeeds is a term given to network feeds transmitted to
affiliates. These channels can often be received on BUD. A
trend seems to be developing towards digital transmission of

Backhauls are uplinks of live events such as baseball games, news links,
occur and most always are delivered without commercial breaks. Quite often
these feeds are on Ku analog.

SCPC, or Single Channel Per Carrier,  carriers could transmit a single
channel of audio n a relatively small amount of satellite bandwidth
many uplink locations to share a single satellite resource without
nterfering with each other's transmissions.

A description of SCPC audio can be found at

MPEG/DVB is a digital format that is becoming popular among hobbyists.
There is a fairly wide range of programming available in MPEG/DVB that
s not encrypted. In general not many subscriptions are available in
North American DVB, however there are companies that sell receivers
and subscriptions for their own receivers. Most of these are ethnic

Digicipher II is another form of MPEG-2 transmission used by General

Other digital formats exist. Digicipher I was a format
used by PrimeStar. There are very few Digicipher I feeds
MPEG 1.5 also are uplinked, but there is not an abundant
consumer market for these receivers either.

Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999 (the "SHVIA")

On November 19, 1999, Congress passed the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement
Act of 1999 (the "SHVIA"). The SHVIA was signed by the President and became
law on November 29, 1999.

One of the key elements of the SHVIA is that it permits satellite carriers
to offer their subscribers local TV broadcast signals through the option of

This law generally seeks to place satellite carriers on an equal footing
broadcast programming, and thus gives consumers more and better choices in

Local stations provided to local markets:
SHVIA gives satellite companies the option of providing local broadcast
channels a choice, not a requirement, for the satellite company.

"Local-into-local" means that if a satellite customer lives in an area where
the satellite company has decided to provide the service, the customer can
local broadcast stations in an area, the consumer may still receive local
broadcast stations by using an antenna or basic cable service. SHVIA defines
the "local market" as the designated market area ("DMA") established by
Nielsen Media Research.

Distant stations provided to some subscribers:
The new SHVIA also addresses the satellite retransmission of distant
television stations to subscribers. This applies to television broadcast
cannot receive an over-the-air signal of Grade B intensity using a

be eligible to receive distant signals provided they cannot receive
these provisions, it is still up to the satellite carrier to decide whether