New house with Astra 2 dish, how to get free channels

Discussion in 'Phones, DVDs, TVs, Audio/Visual' started by Drakon, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. Drakon

    Drakon Frequent Poster

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    Hi, I need some advice on the Astra 2 satellite dish.

    Forewarning: I am a TV Luddite. When I moved into my own place in 2006 I did not have get a TV. I bought my first TV at the tender age of 44, only because I’d small children and I didn’t want them being deprived. However, this 48 inch Samsung was used for SaorView only.

    I’ve just moved house and there’s a satellite dish left behind by the previous occupants. I’ve yet to hook up my SaorView aerial but plugged in the two cables from the satellite dish. I have tuned it in and it’s coming up as Astra 2. Hundreds of channels are registering, but only Channel 4 and C4-relatives are coming thru with a picture. On the TV guide I can see that BBC, ITV, etc are listed but there is no programme information and no sound/vision.

    I’ve done a bit of googling and am none the wiser. My questions:
    Should I be seeing more working channels on Astra 2, or has it been whittled down to C4s for everybody?

    I’ve read users elsewhere describe “signal strength” and “signal quality”, where can I find this info in the Samsung menu?

    Any other advice appreciate.

    BTW, I’m not interested in Sky/Eir/etc packages, just SaorView and a few English channels if they are free.

    Thanks,
    D.
     
  2. SparkRite

    SparkRite Frequent Poster

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    Yes you should be able to get all on what is known as "FreeSat"

    See if there is an option within the Sat menu just to scan for FreeSat and if so then it will most likely look for a British location for regional channels.
    I use Northern Ireland, Belfast to be precise.
     
  3. dub_nerd

    dub_nerd Frequent Poster

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    You should be able to see dozens or even hundreds of FreeSat satellite channels. 99% of them are total junk, and loads of them are regional variants of the BBC/ITV channels. Eventually you will need to set up your TV's "favourites" facility so that you can surf the subset you want instead of all the junk.

    Off the top of my head, you should be able to get: HD versions of BBC1, BBC2, BBC4 (decide if you want the London or Northern Ireland versions), Channel 4, C4+1, Film4, Film4+1, ITV1... , E4, More4, a few movies channels showing permanent rubbish (unless you like old cheezy seasonal movies at Christmas), BBC News, Sky News, CNN, Bloomberg, TV5 Monde (France), C5 (USA), PBS, EWTN and a bunch of religious channels, various music channels, and lots of radio stations including RTE and BBC.

    You probably don't have to worry about signal strength. If you can receive any channels clearly then your dish is probably clear of obstructions and oriented correctly. Sky boxes have a signal strength meter but your TV may or may not have one. There are lots of reasons you might see some blank channels, the most obvious being time of day for lots of channels which don't broadcast for 24 hours, plus encrypted channels such as the Sky subscription ones.

    Obviously for Saorview you will have to plug in your Saorview aerial as the Irish TV channels are not broadcast on satellite. Your TV may or may not allow you to mix "favourites" across the satellite and terrestrial tuners, or you may have to use some other clunky function to switch between them.
     
  4. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    Full listing of Astra 2 channels and frequencies here. As above, the TV should have an auto-tune facility that will pick up all available channels, or you can manually tune in the ones of interest.
     
  5. Drakon

    Drakon Frequent Poster

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    Thanks for the replies. I decided to retune and after I’d done so, as well as Channel Four and its sister channels I had ITV and its sister channels.
    Last night I decided to retune again but before I started I’d acquick flick.
    Hey Presto!!!!
    All the free channels had magically appeared without me taking any further action. The guide is slow though, it only really shows the current programme on each channel, not what’s on for the remainder of the night.
    And after all that, I can say that the BBC and Channel Four have gone downhill in the last dozen years. The later is like a reality TV Channel with crappy game shows thrown in. Ah well...
     
  6. dub_nerd

    dub_nerd Frequent Poster

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    You should be able to get "now and next" information which is broadcast with some (most?) channels. Unfortunately the full TV guide (EPG) is in a proprietary format that requires a specific tuner. Sky's EPG is on a separate encrypted data stream, and they charge some broadcasters to get on it. They also annoyingly omit some free channels such as BBC News from its EPG for competitive reasons. FreeSat also has an EPG for the UK FreeSat channels, but you would need a FreeSat-specific tuner. You are probably stuck with "now and next". There are some decent internet sites with programme guides if you need them.

    Yes, TV has gone sharply down hill which is why you're right -- in my opinion -- to stick to free satellite channels. Can you imagine paying for this schlock?
     
  7. Drakon

    Drakon Frequent Poster

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    Thanks
     
  8. Buddyboy

    Buddyboy Frequent Poster

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    If you really want the EPG guide, then you can buy a freesat box which will have it. Richer Sounds (also on Boards) can supply them. You can also get ones with record facility (including series link) which I find very handy.
    This is what we have
    http://www.google.ie/url?sa=t&rct=j...-314441.aspx&usg=AOvVaw2ghKNpcsUkWnly4c-7NpWw

    Cost is €200, but it's a once-off and the recording and epg guide is worth it, in my opinion.
     
  9. dub_nerd

    dub_nerd Frequent Poster

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    But I'm right in thinking that Freesat box doesn't have a terrestrial tuner for Saorview?

    There still doesn't seem to be a single box that does both (which us understandable as, officially at least, they cater for different regional markets). There's a good page on the options here, but basically there is no really good solution.

    A number of TVs have built-in satellite and terrestrial tuners. If I was to change my current setup (a combi box handling both) it would probably be for a Freesat box with EPG and watch/record (requires dual LNB input from sat dish), and use the TV tuner for Saorview. Ok, it means switching inputs to watch Saorview channels, and there'd be no EPG or record on those channels, but in my case I wouldn't care as I only ever watch the very odd news program on Irish TV. (Actually, I'd much prefer to be able to ditch them altogether and not pay a license fee -- if only!)
     
  10. Buddyboy

    Buddyboy Frequent Poster

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    This setup is exactly what I have. A freesat box with EPG and record functions. And a terrestrial aerial with which I get Saorview via the TV internal tuner. This does have an EPG built in (I presume it comes down with the saorview channels). As you said, you cannot record these channels, but I don't need to as I can plug in the chromebook and use the RTE/TV3 players. Also, as you said, you have to change the input between saorview and freesat, but it's a one button press, so I can live with it.

    The OP has said that their telly was already used for Saorview, so they just have to put up an aerial and job done for the terrestrial channels. They then just have to decide if they want an EPG and record for the Freesat channels (and buy a freesat box).

    When I hear what my colleagues pay for sky etc. I am amazed. I suppose that is the price you pay for liking football. :)

    As an aside, I bought a chromecast and use that to stream Netflix etc. via the phone to the telly. Chromecast is around €35, and Netflix is the only service I pay for (apart from the tv licence fee of course). We tend to watch Netflix more than anything else these days, other than Strictly and First Dates.
     
  11. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    What are the combo boxes missing? The one I have (mentioned here) has dual satellite tuners bringing in all the Freesat channels and a single DVB-T tuner that receives all the Saorview channels, with up to three simultaneous recordings possible.
     
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  12. dub_nerd

    dub_nerd Frequent Poster

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    Thanks Leo, I missed that one. What's it got in terms of EPG? My current combo box is limited to now/next, and recordings must be set "manually" by channel/time/duration.
     
  13. Buddyboy

    Buddyboy Frequent Poster

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    Hi dub_nerd, that was going to be my question as well, and the reason I wouldn't go with the combo box. I rely on setting future recordings and series link to much. And with the box I have, and the EPG, it is a doddle (on the EPG select "record" and select "program" or "series". That's it

    And since the OP is a self confessed TV luddite, I would suggest that is the way to go if they wish EPG/Recording functionality.
     
  14. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    It has full 7 days EPG, with full live pause & multiple recordings if you connect a USB drive. It has series link and more advanced settings in that it'll search across different days, times and all channels for programs matching the description you enter, it will maintain those settings so that 9 months later when a new series kicks-off, it'll start recording it again.

    Like almost all the android based boxes, you can flash it with other UIs also, but I haven't played too much with that. I'm using the OpenXiX interface at the moment, so you can see what that looks like on that site. It has one quirk in that the satellite and terrestrial listings are two separate listings, but I believe it's possible to combine them with some tweaking if the settings.
     
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  15. dub_nerd

    dub_nerd Frequent Poster

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    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
    That sounds pretty close to the holy grail of combo boxes. I'll definitely take a closer look. :)

    Make my day and tell me it's got a programmable remote so I can control my HDMI switcher 'n' stuff too.

    EDIT1: On browsing around it looks like it might be better to replace the Formuler remote with a programmable IR air mouse like this (or various others), which could control my Kodi box too.

    EDIT2: I see the Formuler has old-style video and audio outs as well as HDMI and optical SP/DIF (specs and manuals here). Cool. My current TV, combo box and theatre system don't have a single headphone socket or analogue audio between them, for use with my bluetooth headphones.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  16. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    Most of the Android combo boxes will offer similar functionality, that one may be aging a little now, and there are quite a few 4k options now if you have the TV to support it. This one for example has two built in satellite tuners and the additional tuner slot will support another dual satellite tuner or a dual terrestrial tuner (not that there are likely to be too many clashes on terrestrial).

    Remote isn't great, but I use a Logitech Harmony (£75 on Amazon), and that box is among the vast list supported by that. Hit the TV mode button on the Harmony remote and it powers on the TV and combo box, and selects the appropriate input on the TV. I've another mode set up for watching movies where it'll mute the TV and turn on my surround system to the correct input. Another for Netflix where it launches the app on the TV and turns on the surround sound. One of those will likely control all your AV needs and add the ability to use the Android/ iOs app to control them with your phone too. There are more advanced remotes in the Harmony range too, but that one does all I need.

    One more thing to note on the Formuler box, and I believe a few of the other Android boxes, along with adding a drive for recordings, they recommend a separate usb stick to store the EPG information to facilitate faster access.
     
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