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Here, we look at DIY options in more detail, starting with Sky. Not decided on Sky or non-Sky yet? Check out our Which system page.
You buy a new, refurbished or secondhand Sky digibox and fit a dish and cable yourself. If you're in a flat and have satellite available from a wall socket, then simply plug in a receiver.
Getting and using a secondhand Sky digibox has its pitfalls so be sure to read the section below entitled Tips on using Second-hand equipment if you are considering this option.
Melksham Satellites Ltd sell complete DIY Satellite Packages: For instance a Pace DS440n, with cable and dish (with wall bracket and LNB) for £128.95 including UK mainland delivery.
Dish installation guidance can be found on other websites listed in Fitting a satellite dish below. A 45cm sky dish with LNB and fixing bracket costs £25 from Brymar. Find out more about buying a receiver on our Buying a receiver page.
You'll have no contract or subscription, just a one-off cost. Remember, Freesat-from-Sky is only £150, so DIY is for those who want to be in control or like the satisfaction of doing it themselves. Maybe your installation is classed by Sky as 'non-standard' so DIY might be cheaper.
You will get all the Free-to-Air channels on the Sky EPG, including all the Christian, BBC and ITV channels. If you want Ch4 and Ch5, you can buy a 5 year viewing card for £20 from Freesat-from-Sky by calling 0870 240 5651. This card will also give you the Sky Parental Control facility.
No contract with Sky.
A one-off cost, which will be even cheaper if using a refurbished or second-hand digibox.
Very easy to use. No manual tuning required.
Receive all 300 Free-to-Air channels on the Sky EPG including all the Christian, BBC and ITV channels.
An ideal choice if you only want satellite radio as no TV or technical knowledge needed for tuning.
No need to connect the digibox to a phone line.
Cost varies. New digibox from £100. Second-hand £?. Christian TV sell second-hand for £45 + P&P |
If you want Parental Control you will need a TV viewing card from 'Freesat-from-Sky' costing £20. Call 0870 240 5651.
Some unwholesome free channels on the Sky EPG.
No Parental Control wiytout a 'Freesat-from-Sky' card.
The challenge of fitting and aiming the dish accurately.
With this option you'll have to tune in your own choice of channels. You can receive all the Christian, BBC and ITV channels if you aim your dish at the Astra satellite. You may decide to choose the Hotbird satellite. This has many International channels and covers all of Europe.
You buy a Free-to-Air non-Sky receiver, dish and cable and fit it yourself. You can buy via mail order, a local satellite supplier, from a Lidl or Aldi supermarket, a local classified advert or from local installer if they have a receiver to dispose of.
Christian-Sat www.christian-sat.co.uk (no connection with this site) offer an extensive range of good value Self Install DIY systems by mail order, complete with fitting instructions, for either Astra or Hotbird.
Maplin sell a DIY Satellite system for £90.
No Sky contract.
One-off cost from about £120 with a new receiver.
Includes all Christian, BBC and ITV channels.
Some systems come with a pre-tuned receiver.
Some of the new satellite receivers will scan and tune themselves to all available Free-to-Air channels.
The challenge of fitting and aiming the dish accurately.|
You have to buy the dish and cable.
With some receivers, you will need to tune in all channels yourself which requires becoming familiar with GHz, polarisation etc.
No Ch4 or Ch5, but you can still receive these using your existing aerial until digital switchover.
Without the convenience of the Sky EPG.
Hiu-Pak sent this message: I bought a mini satellite system from Aldi, which cost me £59.99. It is small and portable.
I spent an afternoon to set it up and managed to get all the Christian channels. It is not difficult to setup.
However, the box has been pre-tuned to 4000 stations, and more than half are subscription only, a fourth are porn and the remaining eighth are foreign,
so essentially, you only have a handful to watch. Also, it doesn't pick up SKY and premiership football.
But for Christian viewing, it is more than enough. Because of the porn channels, caution is needed when trying to find the stations. Of course, I later found out that I could have used the 'find' function to locate the stations if I knew their names, then I could just group them into the 'favourites'. I hope this is helpful. BTW, I think the satellite my dish is pointing at is 'Hotbird'.
Fitting a satellite dish
I can't advise on DIY fitting but there are plenty of experts who can! There is no shortage of advice on the internet already, so take a look at these sites:-
A dish can be placed at ground level
- Sam Radford - Installing a Sky dish at http://sam-radford.me.uk/install.htm for comprehensive advice on DIY installation.
- Satalogue. Try www.satalogue.com for free technical advice and instructions on DIY installation.
- Satcure Produce a downloadable eBook called Installing Sky Digital TV. See it at http://www.satcure.co.uk/installing_sky_digital. But before reading that, you should read SatCure's FREE eBook Understanding Sky Digital and Freesat
- SES-ASTRA has an online assistant to help you aim a dish. Check out SES-ASTRA online dish aiming assistant
- Christian TV Guide. Comprehensive instructions are given at www.ChristianTVguide.co.uk
Dish placement restrictions
You may find that your home has a restriction that prevents the fitting of a satellite dish. If you live in a flat, listed building or conservation area, contact your landlord or seek advice from the planning department of your local council.
- Look at other properties in your area. You may find that dish placement restrictions have been overcome by discreet placement.
- Ask a local satellite installer how they have complied with the local restrictions.
Government Guidelines for satellite dishes
A Householder's Planning Guide for the Installation of Antennas, including Satellite Dishes can be downloaded from the Communities and Local Government website.
The Governments Planning Regulations were changed on 27 October 2005, making the rules the same for any type of antenna. Here is a press release introducing the new regulations.
(The following tips were written by Martin T. Pickering, Technical Director, SatCure Distribution, and are shown in dark green text. Many thanks Martin).
You can minimise the cost of a DIY system by getting a second-hand Sky Digibox for as little as NOTHING. Yes, you can get one for nothing. First ask your neighbours. Many people have upgraded to Sky-Plus or Sky+HD and their old Digibox is lying around doing nothing. If that route fails, put a notice in your local shop or supermarket and/or join your local "Freecycle" email group and ask for a Sky Digibox. If all else fails, look in your local newspapers. Sky Digiboxes usually sell for less than £25.
Note: a second-hand Sky Digibox will often have out of date firmware, rendering it useless if it can't be updated. Usually updating this is as simple as connecting it to a working dish system, holding the "backup" button on the front panel and continuing to hold it for fifteen seconds after switching on power at the wall socket. Release the "backup" button once all the front panel lights are on and wait ten minutes.
Warning: a second-hand Sky Digibox will often have faults which weren't obvious to the owner while the unit was warm. Most equipment shows problems only after it has cooled down. Some common faults are listed on the Sam Radford website.
A second-hand Sky card may also be useless because it has missed its regular "stay alive" signal. However, leaving it in the Digibox slot will usually revive it in three days or less. Digibox must be on or in Standby and connected to a working dish system. (This may be incorrect after April 2009).
A second-hand dish may be OK but check it extremely carefully for dents or distortion. The slightest distortion in the dish face can render it useless. The usual symptom of a damaged dish is "some channels missing".
Second-hand cable may be tried but the typical life of cable outdoors is 5 years before signal loss begins to increase. Cable which shows the slightest sign of a kink or crushing or water inside should be discarded. The usual symptom of a damaged cable is "some channels missing".
A second-hand LNB (the signal collector on the dish arm) should be fine, provided that it has no sign of corrosion around the threaded connector.
The dish, brackets, LNB and cable may be painted for disguise and protection. Use an ordinary oil-based outdoor paint (no metal flakes).
Sky-Plus the Second-hand way
As more people upgrade to Sky+HD (High Definition) there are lots of Sky-plus Digiboxes appearing for sale at low prices. £50 should get you a good one. They have an internal Hard Drive that is used for recording programmes. HOWEVER it will NOT record or play back unless you have a current Sky subscription card. The cheapest subscription is now about £18 a month (please check this figure). To get a subscription card you have to ask Sky for a "second-hand contract". Complete and return it and your card will arrive after a few days. Put the card in the Sky Digibox then phone sky and give them the details from the menu screen (Version number etc.) and be sure to ask them to enable the recording facility.
However, you can keep the recording facility for just £10 per month if you cancel your subscription during the initial "cooling off" period but insist on retaining the recording facility. You have to be rather cheeky to do this but it's possible. I recommend doing it by Recorded Delivery letter. Of course £10 a month is still £120 per year and some might argue that you might as well pay a little extra and subscribe to the minimum "package" to get some additional programmes. Others might argue that it's better to splash out £300 for a Freesat "Humax Foxsat HDR" instead and have NO subscription.