Satellite TV: Sky Digital FAQ


 Why have I no BBC? and other Issues.

This FAQ is for the Republic of Ireland ONLY.

An Excellent UK orientated FAQ is at:

 Media UK (Post comments to the Television | Sky Digital Forum)

and also SatCure.

1) Why have I no BBC?

(Before 25th March 2001)

Because Sky / BBC / CH4 / CH5 won't give it to anyone without a UK post code. BBC1, BBC2, BBC Choice, BBC Knowledge, BBC News24, C4, Ch5 and 5 Live (radio) are all Free To View (FTV), that is no subscription is charged, but unlike Free To Air (FTA), a viewing card is required. On a UK viewing card they are enabled. On an ROI card they are disabled. BBC Parliament, R1, R2, R3, R4, Ulster, Wales, Scotland, Asian BBC Radio are all FTA, but removed from the ROI version of the Program Guide (EPG). They can be added using "Other Channels" The FTV channels will not work if added by "Other Channels".

(After 30th April 2001)

You need to have the "Family" Package. BBC1 and BBC2 are on 214 and 215

2) How do I add "Other Channels"

 In the Services Menu. See a separate page on Adding Digibox Channels. You need to know the Symbol Rate, Polarity, FEC and Frequency.

3) Can I get a FTV card for BBC etc?

You need an address with a UK postcode. This address is where the FTV card is sent. Absolutely DO NOT buy one in a Pub or elsewhere. It may be "keyed" to a particular Digibox. According to Sky and the BBC you should not have one in Ireland. According to contract conditions on the cardboard carrier it is not valid outside of ROI, Isle Of Man, UK and Channel Islands. According to EU, any service or product originated in EU must be able to be moved without restriction to any other EU member. Duh!

4) How do I change the RF channel the digibox sends to my TV on.

Using the "Hidden" Installer menu. Press "Services | 4 | 0 | 1 | Select " sequence to get in. The RF channel can be set. The 2nd RF o/p power on -off switches on or off a 9V dc on the cable. Leave it off if not using the "remote eye". See next topic. *WARNING* Don't change the default Transponder Settings or the LNB settings or your Digibox may not operate.

5) Why are there two TV out sockets on the Digibox.

To save the cost of a distribution amplifier or splitter to feed two TVs. One socket has a 9V dc supply switchable on/off and feeds incomming remote signals on the coax to the remote control receiver. A remote "eye" on the coax. cable near the distant TV can pick up the Digibox Remote signal.

6) Can I put a viewing card in the second (higher) slot.

NO! The upper slot is for a Mondex Smart Card. Never seen one. Mostly likely use is paying for interactive shopping

7) Why does the Email / Interactive ordering etc not work?

It uses a UK free phone number so is not available in Ireland at present. In the UK you must connect the Digibox to the phone to have the subsidized price. In Ireland very few Digiboxes are connected to the phone.

8) What are the connectors at the back?

9) Does the 9 pin RS232 work?

Probabily! But not for anything like hooking up to your home PC at the moment.

10) What is behind the cover plate at the back?

It's a full size PCMCIA or PC -Card slot. I wouldn't plug anything from my notebook into it though. It's for future expansion. RAM? Hard Disk? Who knows?

11) Can a Digibox produce Disq signals or control a Rotator / Positioner?

In theory yes. At the minute, no. The only extra user controllable signal I can find at present is the SCART on/off in Services | Picture Settings. It can be used to "remote control" an LNB change over relay that uses a control wire.

12) Some channels ask for subscription.

Allegedly if a Card or Digibox is not used, on and pointing at Sky Digital's signals, the channels can "fade" off the card.

13) My VCR PDC won't work. Where are the timer features?

Timer features are promised, but not available yet. A later automatic software update may give them. PDC information seems to be unavialable on Digibox reception. If using a SCART ensure the VCR is selected to AV on its timer. Ensure the Digibox is on the correct channel.

14) Can I record while watching a different channel?

The short answer is NO! The long answer is that you would need either a Tivo Sky box or two Digiboxes and a Twin o/p LNB with two coax cables. The Tivo needs a Twin LNB with two coax cables from the dish. The only reason the VCR can record RTE1 while you watch TG4 is that both the TV and the TV have their own Analog Terrestial VHF/UHF PAL-I Tuners built in. A Sky Digibox is a "Ku Band Digital Video Broadcasting Tuner with integral Sky Digital Videcrypt Decoder" to give it its full description. All radio or TV signals need some kind of tuner. Just like on Radio in the 1950's early radios could not tune the new VHF-FM-Stereo and in the 1970's old 405 Line TVs could not tune 625Line or PAL colour, so older designs can not tune newer signals. Types of Signals

15) Why have I got letterboxed pictures (regular TV) OR

Why have not got widescreen (Wide Screen TV)

There is a lot of confusion about Widescreen. Regular TV is a 4:3 ratio, (16" wide, 12" tall) Widescreen TV is 16:9 ratio (21" wide for 12" tall)

TV sets are measure across the diagonal so a 32" widescreen gives the same size "regular" picture as a 21" standard TV.

a) Older VCRs and original NTSC, PAL or SECAM Colour TV is only 4:3. To show all of the width at 16:9 you will have a black bar top and bottom. This means if you fill the screen on a Widescreen TV the picture is very "grainy" because there are not enough lines for the height. You have "lost" picture detail as if you had simply blanked of the top and bottom.

b) Most 'Widescreen" VHS tapes are not! They are regular 4:3 recordings showing all of the original cinema picture. Since the Cinema format can be 2:1 ( 24" wide for 12" tall) or even more, you see a very narrow band of picture with less detail.

c) The Terrestial system in Europe now has Pal Plus. It is an enhanced version on PAL even for a regular 4:3 picture. On a true "Widescreen TV" transmission the Pal Plus signal 'hides" the extra detail in the "black bars" for a Widescreen TV, which is ignored by regular Pal sets, and even some poor designs of widescreen TV. The PalPlus helper detail is used by the Widescreen TV to add lines to the picture. But of course some Widescreen transmissions may contain old 4:3 material, so on a Wide screen TV you get black bands at the side. On a regular TV you get a shrunk picture with black all around.

d) The broadcast might not be "widescreen" but letterbox format, like the VHS tapes in (a). A regular TV can't tell this apart from PalPlus, but the Widescreen TV may show a shrunk picture as the info to fill the screen isn't there.

e) Digital Video Broadcasting (Sky Digital). This is NOT Pal. Like a computer graphic it can in theory be any shape or resolution! You must go into the Services menu to select either 4:3 or 16:9 TV set. Then if it is a Widescreen TV it may only work properly via the SCART. The SCART control may need to be OFF, or ON. Which ever automatically switches your Widescreen TV between std and widescreen is correct!

For a regular 4:3 TV if you like seeing the whole width of a widescreen transmission, select Letterbox, or else the sides are chopped off the picture during widescreen transmissions. Only some transmissions are Widescreen. BBC and CH4 do most. Einstein TV often do WideScreen Transmission with 4:3 content. Which is no different to a 4:3 transmission to a Widescreen TV, but if you have letterbox ON on a regular 4:3 TV you get a shrunk picture! Unlike analog transmissions, you can manually turn off the "letterbox mode"

f) VHS. Some VCRs have a 16:9 / 4:3 mode changeover. I don't know what it does, but with 16:9 on, the Widescreen TV set correctly switches between Widescreen and 4:3 modes. Without it the TV may stay in 4:3 mode even with a widescreen program.

You deserve a cup of tea or Java now. It IS confusing even for experts!

16) How do I add Other Channels?

Ask me a new Question


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