Due to the recent implementation of Nagra 3 encryption, more and more FTA hobbyists will consider pointing at true FTA satellites.
If you really look into it you can find a lot of channels for true FTA receivers. What is really important when thinking of hitting a true FTA satellite is what the type of band the signal is.
FTA and satellites broadcast in two types of bands. One is C Band which will require a very large dish. This would typically be a 6 foot dish and an LNB that is capable of receiving a C Band signal.
The other band which is the most popular with FTA enthusiasts is the KU Band. The KU Band is more popular due to the fact that the dish is smaller and easier to install.
To receive most FTA birds like Galaxy 97 or Galaxy 18 you will need a dish that is a minimum of 30 inches. It is better to have a larger dish such as a 33 inch or a 36 inch dish. It is also possible to receive some FTA satellites using the epiliptical dish such as a SuperDish like the 500 series dish.
Now we have to look at the signal we are receiving from the KU band. Satellite networks such as DirecTV, Dish Network, and Bell use a circular LNB. What we need though for most FTA satellites is a linear LNB. Since most linear signals are weaker than the circular signals we need a larger dish than an 18 inch or 22 inch dish.
So what true FTA channels can I get? Well, this depends on your location. Since I live in the United States, here is a list of true FTA channels you can receive in the U.S..
If you live elsewhere in the world start here. Just click on your country or what area of the world you are from.
If we look at the list of channels and sats we see that no one satellite has a lot of channels. One with the most would be Galaxy 18, my favorite. In all these cases I am looking at true FTA satellites with KU band channels. Now we have a problem dont we? What do I do if I want to catch more than one satellite?
There is a solution. You can use a dish motor. There are a number of different motor brands. I only know about using a Motek SG2100 since that is what I use.
The installation of the motor is not that hard. The most important thing to remember is that the pole you install the motor and dish to has to be perfectly level and plumb. The biggest problem people have when installing is that they can hit a few satellites and think they got it, only to find out they are not receiving all of the satellites they are capable of receiving. All of the FTA satllites you can receive are along what is known as the Clarke belt. So if you are off just a fraction you will not pull in some satellites or you will not have the optimal signal possible.
For instuctions in setting up a motor you can go here.
If you read the installation guide you will see that you need to find your True South location. So, do I just get a compass and point south? No. True South is not the same as magnetic south. That is what magnetic declination is all about. This will be different depending on your location.
Now don't get all confused about installing that motor. I am here to save the day. All this longitude and latitude,motor latitude,dish elevation,motor latitude,true south azimuth sounds confusing. It might but thanks to the wonderful internet we can just enter our street address,city or town,state or province,and zip code or postal code and magically find all the setting for the motorized dish. Just go over here and enter your information. You will also have to select what motor model you are using from the drop down menu. You can also use this for individual satellites or multi-LNB setups.
So good luck and happy viewing. Nothing is more satisfying when you something yourself and it works perfectly.