Satellite vs. Cable TV question

The way I understand satellite TV, if you want to connect all your TV’s to the dish, you have to have a different dish for each set. If not, each set can only watch the same channel.

This doesn’t make sense to me…with cable I could use a cable splitter and run cables to other TV’s, right? And if it’s a cable ready TV, each TV can watch different channels, can’t it? Why can this not be done with satellite TV? Or is it just the way that the satellite co’s have it set up $$-wise?

Not true, although the dish has be made to work with more than one receiver. You have to have a receiver for every tv, but they are almost free. The main problem I had with mine was that it was constantly having technical problems which the local repairers couldn’t fix. I finally went back to cable even though its a little higher.

each dish can have up to 3 LNB’s (the part that picks up the reflection from the dish.) Yes, they are very cheap, just check local pawn shops. If you don’t mind a little footwork, you could split the line from the reciever to 2 or more tvs.

Of course, if you’re good with circuitry(sp?) and can program, cost isn’t an issue :wink:

Not quite… You need one satellite dish, this provides the signal carrying every one of the channels that are available. Then you need a receiver for each TV that you wish to be able to independently select a channel.

Basically, a single satellite receiver selects one channel from the signal that comes from the dish. This signal can be sent to any number of TVs (within reason), and each of those TVs may watch that channel at the same time. If you instead want each TV to be able to watch a different channel, then you need a separate receiver for each TV.

Still not quite… A satellite receiver sends a signal to the LNB (the little fist-sized receiver thing at the focal point of the dish) which tells the LNB which of two sets of channels (referred to as “horizontal” and “vertical”, due to the polarity of the signal each set of channels is sent on). So at any given time, the signal coming down the wire from the dish/LNB to the receiver is either H or V, and you can only get half the channels. At best, if you split the signal to a second receiver, that second box will be able to watch a seperate channel, but only if that channel has the same polarity as the channel being watched by the other box. At worst, it just doesn’t work, because the way the receiver sends the signal to the LNB is by putting either 13 or 18 volts DC on the line, and if both receivers do that, the voltage will be wrong*.

The way you get around this problem is by having two LNB’s on the dish, and running two cables down from the dish. One way this could work is to plug one cable into each receiver, and each receiver can select H or V channels, and they operate completely independently. But this means that if you want a 3rd receiver, you’d need a 3rd cable and LNB. But…

There’s a much more clever solution which still only requires you to run 2 cables for as many receivers as you want: the active dish splitter. You run both lines from the dish into this little silver box which resembles a large cable splitter. The splitter sends the “send me H” signal up one line, and “send me V” signal up the other. So one of these cables always carries H, and the other always carries V. On the other side of the box are some number (i.e. 4 or 8) of lines which can each go to a seperate receiver. If the receiver sends the “send me H” signal up the line, the magic silver box connects that receiver to the H line that comes from the dish, and likewise with V.

And I’m not going to try to go into the concept of the “multi-dish switch” because I don’t actually know how those work.

*you can avoid the problem of both boxes putting a voltage on the line by adding what’s called a “DC block” between one of the receivers and the dish, so it’s prevented from sending the H/V selection signal.

Lots of detail here