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Blog Articles > Which channels and where? A How to Guide.
Fri, Jun 7th 2013
Knowing which mobile satellite TV system to choose and the performance to expect abroad presents a minefield of questions. With all the changes that have been happening to the Astra 2 transponders, we are also being asked by existing motorhome and caravan customers the same things. Basically “which channels will I receive when I am on holiday?”
Online forums such as motorhomefacts or motorhomefun (amongst many more) are another great way of finding out what other campers are experiencing with their TV setup (and anything else you can think of to do with roaming in your caravan or motorhome!). You can usually read posts without having to create a login, and you can have a free login for a limited number of posts, it can be quite fun to become part of the online community. Most of these forums also arrange rallies so that you can meet each other face to face as well as online. There are also trade members like us who can offer ‘expert’ advice in a non-sales way.
There are some useful online resources to check out that are being regularly updated with real time information. We have compiled a guide on how to use them below.
There are 4 main websites that we use to check on Satellite transponder news and channel updates, these are Satbeams, King of sat, Lyngsat & apps.SES. Of these Satbeams and apps.ses are the most user-friendly and will be the ones we will look at now.
There are two screens within Satbeams that will be of the most use, they are the Footprints section and Charts. Footprints shows you where the satellite beam will reach according to dish size, charts will tell you which channels you will receive. We recommend having two windows open at the same time so you that can easily compare the two.
This is what you will see when you click on the footprints tab – or you could go directly to www.satbeams.com/footprints
I have zoomed in on the map using the slider on the left hand side, and selected 28° along the top, it’s in red font. The beam shown is on Astra 1N, UK as this is the current location of most of the British channels. According to latest news, UK channels will eventually all be migrated to Astra 2F.
The footprints are based on the satellite operator’s official publications, these are generally conservative and so you may well receive those channels beyond the footprint shown. This can also depend on the noise rating (0.3 or 0.2 db is ideal) and the age of the LNB.
Clicking in the different zones of the footprint or on a specific location shown will tell you what size dish you need and the EIRP value it needs to work. Of the systems we sell Tracvision has EIRP of 50dBW and Oyster85 is 46dBW.
In case you are wondering what on earth (or indeed in Space…) is EIRP, it is proportional to dish size see the link for a full list:
Another interesting definition:
The next thing to do is open a second window and type in www.satbeams.com/charts. This is what you will see:
Scrolling through will tell you the channels available and whether they are encrypted or free to air, you can however filter the list by clicking on the funnel shaped icon next to the word encryption at the top of the spreadsheet, then selecting FTA and apply. You can also look at the other beam lists such as Astra 2F or Eutelsat to see what else you can get.
On the charts page look at the information above each transponder block for the name of the satellite – this tells you which satellite the channel is broadcast from. Then look at the footprint to see where you will receive that channel from. This will tell you which channels have been moved to Astra 2F already and any changes in the future will reflect it.
There are some channels on 19° (Astra 1) that may be interesting, mostly they are in other languages, but there are news channels and German versions of channels we get at home such as DMAX and Comedy Central. Some programmes will be dubbed but others will have German subtitles but the speech in English. There is German Eurosport on Astra 1 which has German commentary but shows big football matches and lots of motorsport for you petrol heads.
There are some channels in English on Hotbird 13° this footprint covers a wide area of Europe, its mostly news channels in English though, but you may find something of interest.
If you have an Oyster 85 Digital or Internet system and are in Southern Spain scroll through your satellite lists on the Oyster display until you reach Arabsat 26E° AKA - Badr 4, you should get some free movie & sports channels. If you have an Oyster 85 Vision, Arabsat is not pre-programmed in to the menu but should be relatively easy to find manually. If you have a free to air control box, set this to Arabsat or Badr4, then on your Oyster controller make sure you are on Astra 2. From here you’ll need to manually search by going 2 – 3 clicks to the right and then up 1. If you are inland then the signal for Astra 2 and 3 will probably mask the Arabsat signal but around the coast from Valencia to the Algarve should give you pictures on this setting. It is possible that this will also work on a 65cm dish, such as a Vision 65, SaMy 65/64 or SaMY Solar+ but only when there are clear skies. We’d be very interested to hear if this work on a Tracvision R4 or R5 or Oyster Caro!
If the lists and flat maps of satbeams doesn’t compute for you head to http://apps.ses.com. This gives you a super cool visual look at where the satellites are in the sky and the coverage you should expect where you are going. This works using the google earth platform so should be perfectly safe to use. You will probably need to download a plugin to view it properly, just follow the onscreen prompts.
Once you have the plugin you will see this:
You can zoom in, pan the Earth around and choose different satellites and the different beams within the list.
Be aware that satellite reception can be affected by weather (specifically moisture in the air - rain/humidity) and atmospheric temperature. Also people who receive UK channels in Spain may have found that some channels are viewable until about 7pm but then reception disappears, this is also linked to atmospheric pressure changes.
We’d love to hear how you get on with the information in this blog post, partly so that we know someone is reading… but also to let others know in the field. If you can tell us which satellite you receive and which channels you get we can add it to a google map that we will publish and continue to add to.