In 2008 I became dissatisfied with my cable TV provider and switched to a commercial satellite company. I had heard of home satellite systems for many years and had seen the "Big Ugly Dishes" (BUDs as they are known) especially in rural areas.  I learned that there is a thriving hobby of do-it-yourself home satellite dish owners who set up their own "free-to-air" systems to view whatever is being beamed to earth from the "birds"  flying miles above the equator.

For Christmas 2008, I was given a Sadoun M1 FTA Motorized Satellite System (Ku) that included the Fortec Star FC 80 dish and Fortec Star Dynamic receiver (see below). After many hours of setting up and "peaking" the equipment in the frigid Pennsylvania winter, I was so happy with the result that two months later I ordered a similar 1.2 meter dish package for C-band transponders. The latter included a GeoSat CK-1 LNBF for both C- and Ku-band reception and a Sadoun SDS41C four-way DiSEq switch enabling the Fortec Star receiver to access both dishes. A log of channels found was started in 2009 but since transponders and even satellites come and go, it has not been maintained. A Pansat receiver was added to control the C-band dish independently from the Fortec Ku system and a Radio Shack A/V switch was used to share one monitor. A BSC621-2 C/Ku LNBF soon replaced the GeoSat allowing access to both the C and Ku bands through a single cable. Thanks to eBay the system grew rapidly and as more receivers were added a more robust JVC A/V selector replaced the Radio Shack, and a Zinwell multi-switch replaced the SDS41C. Along the way the BSC621-2 C/Ku was replaced by a WS International DMX 242 dual C LNBF allowing any receiver to access C-band channels simultaneously in both horizontal and vertical polarities.  Still more receivers required a second Zinwell switch in tandem with the first and two Radio Shack A/V selectors to supplement the JVC. By 2015 the installation comprised eleven receivers connected to two satellite dishes as shown in the diagram below with room to continue expansion through the remaining Zinwell ports.

The components (2015) were as follows:
Fortec Star FC 80 CM (Ku band) satellite dish with DiSEqC 1.2 HH motor 
LNBF 1: 
Sadoun Kul 1 LNBF
Fortec Star FC 120 CM (C band) with DG-380 motor
LNBF 2: 
WS International DMX 242 LNBF
Sp 1 - 4: 
Four signal splitters
Z1,  Z2: 
2 Zinwell 4 x 8 multi-switches
Fortec Star Dynamic
Pansat 4500 (2009)
Orasat V5.0
Captive Works CW 800S
Neusat I Pro 2000
PowerVu D9835
QQ Box
PowerVu D9234
Mini Sat 2012
AV S: 
JVC JX-S900 A/V selector
RS1,  RS2: 
2 Radio Shack 15-1977 A/V selectors
All eleven receivers connect to both dishes through the Zinwell multi-switches and splitters. The Fortec receiver is connected directly to the Ku band dish motor (D1) and the Pansat receiver is connected directly to the C-band dish motor (D2) so that only those receivers will position their respective dishes. Any receiver may access either dish independently by setting the 22khz signal to the Zinwell multi-switches (on = Ku, off = C). Except for the QQ Box receiver, which is connected directly to the Dell PC, all receivers feed to the JVC or Radio Shack A/V selectors as shown which select the signal going to the TV monitor. (The Radio Shack selectors are necessary since the JVC only has seven A/V ports. Of course, the same viewing options could be accomplished using only one receiver and one 2-way multi-switch but the interest is in comparing the features of the different receivers. 

Pansat 3500SD (spare, not shown)

(Click for larger image)




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