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Does anyone else have a similar problem or any suggestions, please?

We have a HUMAX freesat box and a satellite dish and live just outside Carcassonne. During the day we can get all the UK TV channels no problem, but in the evening (about 1800 ish) quite a few of them say "no or bad signal". It's not a broken up picture, the screen is just blank. This applies to BBC1, (which we can get still from one of the regional variations, like BBC NI), but also ITV3, 4, ITV2 and ITV2+1. At first we thought it was atmospherics, but it doesn't appear to be weather dependent. And until about a week ago this didn't happen at all. Does anyone know if they change the frequency at night, or does anyone have any other ideas?


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Well they certainly don't change frequency!   However,   power levels do go up and down slightly on the sats on a daily basis,  and it's a problem noted often in southern Spain.

How big is your dish?   Where you are 80 cms is a good idea if reception is to be properly stable,  although 60 cms would doubtless work a lot of the time.

My guess is that your dish will have budged very slightly,  weren't there storms around a few days ago in the Med?

There will be a signal meter display somewhere on the Humax,  maybe MENU - Add Non-Freesat service - Manual  (that's how you get at it on a Grundig).

Tune in one of the problem channels and see what quality readings you get at different times during the day.  See if the readings confirm what you're finding as a viewer

As you may know there's something called "the digital cliff".   The channels work fine as the signal drops,   until suddenly you get pixellation,  and then only with a tiny further drop you "go over the edge" and the receiver simply stops completely.

Check also the connections to the dish.

If you do go up and tweak the dish,   mark its present orientation very carefully so that you can get back.   Check also the skew of the LNB;   BBC and ITV reception is enhanced by giving the LNB a clockwise twist (as viewed from in front of the dish,  and after loosening its collar) so that it's about 15 - 30 deg twisted away from its natural position.

It's also worth checking your box on someone else's dish and soneone else's box on your dish before doing too much,  it helps to narrow down the list of culprits.

Keep asking if you still have problems.

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Hi Rowan,

                 I also have a Humax PVR and had a similar problem when I first installed it , perhaps you need to do a manual retune via the humax menu. If this does not do the trick then check your signal strength it should be at least 70 percent, if it is not then you need to re align your dish , which is not such an onerous task, all I did was move the dish fractionally left and right and up and down until I got the best signal, once I set it on the strongest signal I had no problem at all, occassionally I will now do an automatic retune just incase some channels have changed frequencies , but I am fairly sure that the frequecies of channels do not change at night, incidentally I live in the very south of the Indre dept 36



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Yes,  because of the digital cliff you can end up with a situation where all the channels have similar signal levels but some are just strong enough to keep the receiver working (with a lot of error correction,  but with no noticeable defects) and others are "dead".

The LNB is the actual "antenna" perched on the end of the arm in front of the dish,  and facing back towards the dish,  which acts as a parabolic reflector.  So the signals coming down from the sky hit the dish,  bounce back and are carefully focused onto the LNB  (low noise block,   a really stupid acronym in my view).

Dishes have two settings,   azimuth  (direction they point on a horizontal axis),  elevation  (how far they are tipped upwards) and then there is skew  (the amount the LNB is twisted inside its collar).   All are important,  and all can cause a drop in signal if not properly set.   Which is why you should mark the current position as accurately as you can before you fiddle as any one mismatch will stop the dish working.  The adjustments are VERY small,   if you've already got some channels then the LNB will not need to move (as held by the dish) by more than a centimetre or so,  either sideways or up and down.   So it's a subtle adjustment.

Sometimes you can (gently!) push on the dish with your hands (sideways,  up down) and watch the meters,   if the signal improves with gentle pressure it tells you you've got a problem and in which direction to adjust.   You of course need to keep your body out of the path of the downcoming signals otherwise you'll get false readings!   And don't force anything,   if you push hard enough the dish will deform.....

It's hard to describe skew on paper,   but the LNB has a cable coming out of it,  normally downwards.   In this case for BBC/ITV it needs to be twisted,   which the illustration below may or may not show.

Skew     o       (natural position)


Twisted   o       (how you twist it to favour the BBC and ITV)


All the adjustments need to be done with you or a friend watching the QUALITY meter display.  It's much easier if you can get a portable TV within visual range of the person with the spanners!

You haven't told us how big the dish is.......    (maybe it's not easy to tell from the ground!)

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Rowan can you get access to your dish??

If yes get yourself to Tridome and pick up an audible sat tuner from their satellite area. Its a small blue box about 2" x 1" with an ear phone. About 12 Euro.

If you live anywhere near Olonzac you can borrow mine........

Switch off your sat box, unhook your sat cable from the lnb and connect it to either side of the tuner - you'll need a small (6") length of sat cable with connectors on each end. Switch you box back on and go back to your dish - if when you move the dish slightly the pitch in the earpiece increases, then you'll need to loosen off the clamps just enough to move it, reposition to get the highest pitch from the earpiece and tighten there.

Then you'll be good to go, normal service should be resumed! I've done this so many times for neighbours.......

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  • 2 weeks later...
Hi....I have a satelitte box and dish and until yesterday everything ok.  Yesterday I lost comletely ITV central & border.  I have never had any problems before and the equipment is only 2 years old.  As other ITV (wales/west) are ok and all other channels...BBC,  Channel 4, etc has anyone any ideas?  Would it be anything to do with the digital changeover of antennaes in UK or  am I competely on the wrong track & need to look at respostioning dish.  I cannot believe it is the dish though as everything wlse perfect as usual?

Thanks for ideas.

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We have also had problems with signal. Like the original poster, we lost only some channels (BBC, ITV, ITV2 and a couple or others). After a couple of weeks all channels went.....  checked dish, thought it may have moved with the storms, but no it seemed tight on the brackets. OH climbed the ladder, removed the LNB, opened it up and there was water in there, I assume it was iced up with all the freezing temperatures we have had. Took an LNB from an old dish we had in the garage and hey presto it's working again. Looked in Leroys today and a new LNB costs under 20 euro.

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Louise - you don't say if you have a Sky box or a freesat box or a generic box so I can't be specific

But you need to check - as a first step - your signal strength and more importantly quality.   On a Sky box it's listed under "services",  on a freesat box it's under Menu -> Information.

Check what strength and quality is shown and report back along with what box you have and we'll try and help further.

Incidentally,   any problems you may or may not have are not in any way related to digital switch over (DSO) in Britain.

And -  just for the record - the vast majority of folk in Britain do NOT need an aerial upgrade when DSO happens.  This is a myth put about by certain unscrupulous aerial installers.   Only a small minority of people need to adjust their aerials,   the whole point of the planning is that when DSO is complete the same aerial you have for analogue works for digital too.

(That's not quite true for some areas during the interim period when analogue and digital exist side by side)

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I have a STRONG freesat box bought here.  The signal strength seems ok...as all other channels are absolutely normal. Sorry but our remote control for the strong sat box downstairs has been broken for a long time so we only have the options on the box which are on/off or up/down in channels...so cannot go to menu of sat box!  THe other box upstairs is a STRONG too with remote....ITV central 75% strength, 63 % quality,  which is the same as ITV WAles which we can get..

Thanks for info on not being to do with UK digital stuff I had visions of one by one losing everything as they switched over.


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@ Louise

About the only thing I can suggest is that you temporarily swap the boxes round and test the signal strength on the downstairs feed using the upstairs box.  Tune in the "missing" ITV channels and then look at strength and quality (this should work on a Strong box,  on a Sky box it doesn't tell one much because without a lot of fiddling a Sky box only reads the strength on one particular frequency,  whereas most other boxes actually bother to tell you the quality and strength on the particular channel you have tuned).

It sounds as though the problems are border line for you at the moment;  as you may or may not know with digital reception a borderline problem translates into a working/not working at all split (with a tiny area of picture pixellation between the two states) so it may be that your dish has shifted marginally and caused some transponders to fall below the "digital cliff"  and stop working.   Some receivers (even of the same make) cope better than others with borderline signals so you may find the other box copes.

Anyway,  if it doesn't cause you actual problems I'd leave it alone until it recovers (possible) or gets worse (also possible).   But do check if you can that the cable is water-tight at the dish end, and that the connection is well taped against ingress of rain....

And do post back if things get worse,   unless the dish in inaccessible it's relatively easy to restore things to full working order.

I thought it worth pointing out that digital switchover in Britain does NOT affect satellite as you are NOT the only one to make a (false) connection between the two.   If you watch British TV on the Dsat platform then you've already "switched"!

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[quote user="Louise"]  ... Yesterday I lost comletely ITV central & border ...  I cannot believe it is the dish though as everything wlse perfect as usual?
Thanks for ideas.


Louise, I can answer this one for you. ITV1 Central East and Central South have just shifted frequency and encrypted at the same time. You won't be able to view these particular channels on a free to air set top box like your Strong. ITV1 Central West hasn't changed at all so you should still be able to watch that.  ITV1 Border has also changed frequency but has remained free to air ... so you can get that back by doing a Manual Search on 10891 / 22000 / Horizontal . Unfortunately, you are going to need a Remote Control but I'm sure you could buy one if you google your particular Strong model number.

These frequency changes have almost certainly been done to make room for ITV1 HD which will be changing frequency ready for its launch as a permanent channel on Freesat in a couple of weeks time.

Hope that helps,








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I'm puzzled bigdishsat as I checked Lyngsat (which isn't always updated nowadays as quickly as it might be of course) when Louise originally posted as the same thought had crossed my mind.

It shows (even now) no changes to the transponder carrying ITV Border since 7th April 2009,  hence I ruled out ITV having moved things round,   and Louise merely said "Central" as her ITV region lost.

However,   kingofsat does show a change to 10891 MHz on 10th March,  so it does seem to show that Lyngsat is less and less reliable.

Thanks for clearing that one up for me (and us!).

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This all seems to point to the good sense of buying a Freesat box rather than messing around with out of date Sky boxes and cards, particularly if your Sky equipment is playing up and needs replacing.

SD boxes are available brand new for about £30, and HD ones for £67 upwards. You enter a UK postcode and get the right free channels for that locality. No messing around with 'other channels'. Unfortunately if you want Sky subscription channels, you are stuck with Sky.

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I would have agreed with you Will,   until earlier today when it was announced that ch 5 and Sky have done a stitch up where FIVE won't now be on HD terrestrial in Britain but WILL ONLY be on Sky HD FTV.   In other words the HD version will not be on freesat

This means that - like ch 4 HD - Murdoch is the "digital gatekeeper" and has played a blinder.

I'm no fan of the fare on FIVE,  and less and less for that matter on ch 4,  but it increasingly grieves me that I have an HD freesat box and can only get two HD channels.

Of course it looks as though BBC 1 HD and BBC 2 HD may well replace the single part-time BBC HD channel as 24 hour (upscaled  for no HD material) channels but I can't help feeling that Murdoch has yet again outwitted the regulator (so-called) and snatched a chunk of HD from under our noses,  unless of course we're prepared to pay him.

Wretched wretched man.

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[quote user="Martin963"]
Wretched wretched man.

Murdoch apart, can you honestly say that the HD channels look appreciably better than the others, now that you have the ability to compare?  I'm only wordering if it's worth even going down that route at the moment, as I'm happy with the quality of what I have and wouldn't want to give up Chs 4, 5, Fiver and Five US which are the channels are watch the most, by a long way. 

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Funny thing Coops which always brings a smile to my face are the adverts showing the benefits of HD which I watch on my non HD TV, it makes you wonder.

The biggest assumption if you have an HD box and TV is that the program you are watching is actually recorded and transmitted in HD when if fact it is not. Sky has the largest selection of HD channels and of course you have to pay to get them even though they have dropped the price of their HD box. They transmit a lot of sport and in particular football. More normal channels like BBC etc are producing documentaries, natural history in particular, in HD and some drama is also available. That aside the rest of the stuff you get from your HD box is not actually recorded in HD.

The other important thing (and to some of us who are in to films) is that HD TV sound is broadcast in Dolby Digital 5.1 which is a compressed format where as true HD as found on Blue Ray discs is not compressed and commonly referred to as 'lossless quality', they are recorded in DTS-HD and Dolby True HD. This is where the channels are recorded individually (like normal DTS) and not multiplexed together like Dolby 5.1 and are also not compressed when written to disc. The problem then of course is that you need the right equipment to get any advantage and you are talking serious money. A decent decoder/amplifier is going to cost you around £2k to £3k and then you have the speakers to add which will be another £4k+. Mind you if you ever get a chance to watch a film where this sort of sound system is installed it will simply blow your socks off. I personally use the battle sequence from 'The Patriot' (not the best film in the world, Gibson saving the world again) but the battle sequence half way through where the cannon ball comes straight at you is the one that always has people literally ducking as the bullets and cannons roar and the cavalry charge has the feel of horses galloping across your front room.

So basically if you are not about to update your DVD collection to Blue Ray and are happy with your existing 'kit' then I wouldn't bother upgrading till the next generation of HD TV comes out with true HD sound.

Anyway, off subject I guess so back to no TV channels.

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We finally bought a 19" (fairly cheap) LCD HD TV in the autumn because French TV on the digital platforms looks so ridiculously small on our 4:3 cathode ray tubes following their move to mainly 16:9  (cf most major British channels running at 14:9).

I have put off buying an LCD set for many many years because I had yet to see one that gave satisfactory results on "ordinary" standard def TV.   (Quillan has covered films which I rarely watch).

Our newish TV confirms what I've always felt,   most SD TV as transmitted by broadcasters looks average to truly awful   (BBC News is a good example of the latter).    SD *can* look good,   in the early days in the 1990's it often ran at 6 Mbps which looked stunning,   but the bean counters put paid to that.

In summary,  I have still NOT got used to the LCD TV for SD,   I prefer to watch one of our old CRT's for this.   Confirms my worst fears,  and that's not going to change.   I was planning to get a second LCD for the sitting room once I felt happy with the first,   but that purchase has now been abandoned and we'll stick with CRT's until they blow up.  I'm even considering buying a second-hand 28" 16:9 CRT from a friend to cope with the aspect ratio of French TV.


HD programmes do look STUNNING on the new set,  fed from a HD freesat receiver.    The transformation is rivetting,  you can look right into people's eyes,  you see every strand of hair,   backgrounds don't dissolve into a mosaic of random colours,  it's (at its best) difficult to take your eyes off it it's so good.    All the programmes on the BBC HD channels are actual HD programmes.   Whereas the new ITV 1 HD service will only have some HD progs,  with the rest being "upscaled" to work on the HD channel;  these latter will look good (benefitting from the higher bit-rate) but you can't make HD quality out of a programme that wasn't originated in HD (if you see what I mean!!)

So the question is - are there enough HD programmes to justify having to put up with rubbish SD pictures the rest of the time?   At the moment the answer is no in my case,   I appreciate TF1 SD filling the screen on the LCD but I mainly settle down to watch most other things on our CRT's   (which admittedly are in more "comfy" rooms").

My expertise is sound rather than vision (althouh Quillan leaves me far behind,  I'm happy with stereo!).    Most day to day TV is not Dolby 5:1, it's mono dialogue with stereo FX's and backgrounds if you're lucky, so his very interesting treatise on the subject will only apply to a very few transmissions for the foreseeable future!   I'm entirely with him on bit-rate compression,  but a far greater problem in day to day stuff (particularly sadly on radio) is the "dynamics compression" (or processing) that is applied to the audio signal before it's transmitted.   Digital compression is as nought in this area compared to the (deliberate) damage often inflicted to the audio before it gets anywhere near the transmission digital coders.

The BBC HD channel has already had its bit rate cut from 16 Mbps to 9.6 Mbps,   and if they can cut it once (and arrogantly deny that there has been any degradation) then they can do it again.   In which case HD will be no better than good SD was 15 years ago.   The same thing has happened on DAB digital radio in Britain,   a system that is in fact capable of excellent sound quality has been prostituted in the name of more channels and cost savings.

So until it becomes clearer what is going to be truly FTA for HD,   or unless you're prepared to pay the aforementioned wretched wretched man,  I'd sit tight!

Just my penny's worth...... 

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