Question Moving to FreeSat from Sky - Recommendations?

JustMefornow

Active Member
Hi all

I'm sure this is a common theme in the FreeSat Forum. After 21 years we've had enough of paying so much to Sky, especially after the realisation over the past year of how little we use any of their services, and how much we rely on Streaming from Netflix, Amazon Prime, iPlayer, etc.

We've cancelled and are looking to move to either FreeSat or Freeview. This is where I need recommendations.

Our current setup has the Sky HD+ box in the living room with the dish on the wall directly outside the room. We have a "media room" where we have an LG C9 and actually do most of our watching. Unfortunately it's 25m around the house from the living room. For the past 11 years we've been supplying Sky HD via Cat 5 over Ethernet, which has worked flawlessly throughout. We don't have an aerial good enough to get a decent Freeview reception, so to get Freeview we would need either to change the aerial or get a booster. Also the aerial socket in the media room has never really worked for some reason.

For all these reasons the simplest way of moving to a Free service would seem to be FreeSat. In theory we could just replace the Sky box with a FreeSat box and that's it, much as I'd love to get rid to the satellite dish (the Sky installer installed in a terrible place originally).

Does anyone know if FreeSat boxes can be remote controlled via an of the inputs on the back of the box. Currently we have a Magic Eye controlling our Sky box and it's essential.

Now our C9 can take direct inputs from the Satellite dish and FreeSat, and it can record. However the dish is 25m+ away and that would involve 1 or 2 very long coaxial cable runs and a decent amount of work. Is that a viable option? It would certainly be cheaper and nicer to get it all working directly on the TV?

Is I need to go for a recordable FreeSat box, is my only choice the new Arris 4K one? I've read a little about custom firmware on Foxsat boxes. Are they still available and worth considering?

All advice is VERY gratefully received. It's all new to me after so long on Sky (and I can't wait to leave!).
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
25m or so of decent, all copper WF100 or similar satellite cable is not excessively long and so the TV can be direct connected if you get some installed.
The best coaxial Cable for Sky, Freesat, Freeview suggests up to 40 metres will be OK. (But the thin WF65 $ky used to use would be a max of 20 m).

DSO has happened since you last used Freeview? Power transmitted increased often by a factor of 10.
Location?: a postcode within 100m or so of your own, would allow prediction tools from Freeview and Wolfbane to be used and protect your privacy.

An installer could do the LNB cable install work and advise on UHF TV reception and correction of any distribution cable faults in one job? If not able to install yourself?
Or check over the cables and connectors yourself Wiring up plugs, aerials and wall plates - A.T.V. Poles, Brackets, Clamps & Aerials

Arris is the only new freesat box.
Alternatives are generic Linux based satellite boxes with disk drives and a 'simulated' freesat epg type offering updated via the internet. (Enigma boxes) See other threads here? Not for the faint-hearted I think? {But it will provide Channel 4 in HD.}

Custom Firmware is only for the Humax Foxsat-HDR which is only second user. My -HDR dates from early 2011 and is probably almost on 'borrowed time' now. Other Humax boxes cannot run the CF.

IR extenders could replace magic eye functionality?
Answered - Freeview with a HD distribution system may be useful?
Hdmi over Cat 5/6 can include IR return?
Digital Modulators include that function, often.
Precise solution may depend on how many locations need to be fed pictures and sound and control the recorder?
 

JustMefornow

Active Member
Hi. Thanks, lots to think about there, and you're 100% right, the digital switch over has happened since I last used Freeview. I'm unsure what you meant by "a postcode within 100m or so of your own, would allow prediction tools from Freeview and Wolfbane to be used and protect your privacy." Would you mind explaining?

I tried the Freeview coverage checker and it returns "Your predicted transmitter is Crystal Palace" an gives the impression we should be ok.

In theory my LNB on my Sky dish should be ok I think? It's a Sky HD+ 2TB box being run from it now and it's 100% fine.

Is Freeview generally better supported than FreeSat? I believe I can get both on my TV.

I do have HDMI over Cat 5 right now and that's currently powering the Magic Eye (I forgot to mention that part), but your comments reminded me I can just use the IR Blaster on the extender to change channels if needed. Thanks!

I'm happy to do the work myself, I guess I'm just trying to figure out if we do some cabling work on the aerial connections and use the Freeview/FreeSat built in TV tuners, or just get a FreeSat box and swap out Sky HD for FreeSat using the existing setup.
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
Freeview checker has a 'detailed view' button near bottom. That gives numbered prdictions frequency multiplex by multiplex. I can interpret those if I have the postcode... but not your exact one.
A shop, pub, church, school or other place nearby should do near enough.

Exact location can matter - especially in more rural postcodes (which is why Freeview ask for house name/number). That gets the prediction down to a 100 metre x 100 metre square.

Wolfbane give signal (field) strength estimates, which Freeview doesn't) and sometimes also needs a pinch of salt to interpret.

Obviously another thing to try check is the existing aerial into one (or more) TVs and use the built in meters (signal level / quality) on each and every frequency received (7 or 8 from CP). Do go over all the accessible cables and connections to ensure they are clean, firmly inserted and undamaged (no kinks or very sharp bends). If things work then great. If unreliable/breaking up then we can analyse the results you see (although TV metering is a very variable feast and not readily comparable from one set to another - even within the same brand).

Knowledge - A.T.V. Poles, Brackets, Clamps & Aerials has a wealth of information and advice.

Along with the postcode details of the existing aerial, and any splitters to multiple rooms (passive or active/amplified) would be helpful. Together with how many locations will need UHF TV outlets.
NB the same all-copper WF100 satellite grade cable is recommended for UHF TV installations as well as for satellite.
 

JustMefornow

Active Member
Thanks. There certaily is more to it than I expected. A nearby "safe" postcode: RG5 4UX

We had an extension built 10+ years ago and the media room is part of that. When they installed caling into that room they just added a simple splitter in the loft and some cabling to the room, but it never worked properly. As a result we've never used it (it was analogue freeview back then). I know the splitter in the loft is currently disconnected due to some attempts at diagnosing the issue many years ago. I'll nip up to the loft in the morning when it's cooler and reconnect the lounge to the aerial and run the test you mentioned. I'll report the results. Is it a concern that the original cable and loung cable are over 25 years old? The media room cable is just over 10 years old and connected to it via this simple splitter. Should I be looking into boosters instead of s splitter?

Will report back with news tomorrow.
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
That Reading postcode:
CP has pretty excellent predictions for interference from other transmitters (UK and continental). Albeit 57 km, 35 miles away.
Hannington is nearer - 30 km, 18 miles - and quite similar interference predictions.

A splitter loses over half the signal cf the input (actually nearer -4dB when half is -3dB).

Wolfbane has CP at 48 dBuV/m but 'diffracted' off a ridge between the two locations (in the Windsor area, I think). Hannington is 50-53 dBuV/m and clear line of sight. (Both @ 10 metre above the ground and outside).
TVs ideally require between 45 and 65 dBuV to work well. Aerial have 'gain' and cables, connections and splitters introduce losses (as will roofing materials if the aerial is inside the loft). Signal level generally increases with added height and reduces if lower.

Gain/Loss calcs/guesstimations:
CP: 48 + 10 dB aerial gain (say) - 3 dB cable and termination losses = 55 dBuV = middle of the ideal level.
Split two ways = 51 dBuV still OK, but lower than I'd maybe like.

If the aerial is in the loft then it would not be OK (I expect a minimum of 10dB loss through roof tiles/slates and the lower height).

So try with the splitter in place and take measurements with both TVs' metering.
Repeat with a 'joiner' to each outlet in turn (so aerial direct to one TV at a time) if you want completeness or have glitchy reception or some other issues.

Come back with the results if you want more advice.

Old cable is not a big issue, although stuff outside exposed to UV, wind and rain will degrade over time. {Quite often due to poor mechanical installation; being allowed to move/rub causing damage.}

Screening may be less that satellite grade but if it has a close weave copper that'll be adequate in most cases. Suck it and see? Unless it can be replaced fairly easily and you plan to run the 2x 25+ m LNB cables, too when a 100 metre drum of Webro WF100 or Philex (Labgear/SLX) PF100 or Triax TX100 or similar all copper cable can be bought cost-effectively?

FYI
CP went from 20kW erp on digital TV to 200kW at DSO (10x power = + 10dB on signal level). Analogue was 1 MW (1000 kW) but measured differently so not really comparable. CP's post DSO digital service area is better than that covered by analogue.
That 10 dB could make all the difference to your reception. (Fingers crossed).
 

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