Free To Air Satellite TV FAQs

So if you’ve seen this post (click here) here are some answers to a few questions I’ve had regarding a DIY installed satellite system.

  • what is FTA?

Free to air channels are channels broadcast by satellite unencrypted.

  • OK what don’t I get?

All the sky channels are encrypted so you can’t get them. You also only get a now and next programme information – no seven day electronic programme guide (EPG.)

  • What is FreeSat?

Free sat is a group of free to air channels that pay to be part of freesat and get put on the freesat seven day (EPG).

  • Are all the freesat channels available on free to air?

Yes they all are broadcast unencrypted so yes, but you still don’t get the seven day EPG.

  • How is FTA different from sky?

You can only view the unencrypted channels, the sky channels can be added to the box but once selected it will just show as a blank screen and encrypted with a $ sign on the screen.

  • Is it legal?

Yes, its just receiving unencrypted free to air channels

  • What else can you get?

Well all the region channels, so if you want to watch Channel Islands news that’s easy, perhaps you live in London and want to be reminded of home in Yorkshire, you can watch local TV. You also get more HD channels and just more of everything.

  • How many channels and what are they?

Take a look at Lynsat or King of sat and search 28.2 and show free to air only to see the whole list of channels. At the time of writing there were 524 channels on Astra 28.2.

  • How can i get more channels?

Well either add an extra dish or add an extra LNB to the satellite dish and then pick up free to air channels from different satellites. For example you can also watch the formula 1 which is broadcast free to air on sport 1 and RTL as well as a multitude of other European channels (at 19.2 degrees – there are 813 FTA channels on Atra 19.2 at the time of writing).

  • Whats an LNB?

Low-noise block down converter is what receives the signal from the satellites, see wikipedia article here

  • How many lnbs can be added to the dish?

well it depends on the dish and the satellites you want to receive, its certainly achievable to receive lots of channels on 19.2 and 28.2 on a zone 2 sky dish (a zone 2 dish is bigger than the standard issued sky dish and is generally used in northern England and Scotland – bigger dishes required as they are further from the equator where the satellites orbit. Bigger the dish the better for reception, but none of them are very pretty. The sky dish is actually quite good for multi LNB as its a 74cm wide rather than a standard zone 1 dish at 53cm see also here.

  • How are channels loaded into the satellite receiver
  1. you can go to a website such as and download a list for your specific satellite box, copy it to a usb stick and upload it to the box.

  2. go to lynsat or kingofsat to get the details of the channels you wish to receive – eg: position and transponders and then using some software enter this information create a channel list.

  3.  I choose to take the AJSat list, use the software to update the channel list as I wanted it, eg: regional channels, delete/move any other channels, then save and upload it to the box.

  4. You can do a blind scan and then edit via the box – this would take ages and would assume the dish is correctly aligned to the right satellite. You could also do a blind scan, dump the channel list to usb then edit on a PC.

  • Can I change the channel order?

Yes either using the remote (very slow) or edit on a PC

  • Do the channels move?

Yes they do, if a channel is no longer being received, then check king of sat and check on the latest updates to channels. You will need to update the channel list on a PC.

  • Is a TV licence still required?


  • Can I get sky channels?

No, you need to pay sky to get sky channels.

Anything else I should know?

  • Does it matter where I am?

Well the further north you are the bigger the dish you need, especially to add extra LNBs to a dish. With a small dish the signal may break up in poor weather.

  • How did you get into this?

I saw this post on AV forums [link] and thought, I’ve never had satellite TV, why not get some bits together and learn. So a few ebay orders later I had everything I needed and set about the install. It took a little while but was rewarding when we finally saw a crisp TV picture. Its great for F1 and there is a good thread on similar things that others have done on digital spy [link]. Ironically I don’t watch much TV, but its a fun project.

  • Is the Skybox any good and has it got anything to do with Sky?

Yes the box is good, mines has been running over a year without any problems. Its a cheap box and it does fine. There are better boxes available and the box has nothing to do with Sky TV.

  • Kit needed?

See this post [link]

  • Satellite receiver box – such as skybox f5(f5s) – be careful not to buy a cloned box (and hdmi cable)
  • Coax cable and cable clips
  • F plugs
  • Satellite dish – i used a sky zone 2 mini dish
  • LNB – quad with the satellite dish
  • Extra LNB if you want to receive additional satellites
  • Multi LNB bracket (as above)
  • Satellite signal meter
  • Tools to fit the dish
  • Self amalgamating tape
  • Cable ties
  • Silicone grease
  • Rust protection spray
  • PC to edit channel list
  • USB stick to load channels and if needed firmware
  • Obviously a TV too