Satellite TV at Sea

478. Multiswitch

The multiswitch connects many decoders/receivers to a single LNB.

Each decoder puts out a signal to the multiswitch to determine which band and which POL is required for the TV channel that has been selected by the viewer. A DC voltage of 13V on the coax indicates that it requires a vertical POL signal, and 18V indicates a Horizontal POL signal. The presence of a 22 KHz tone on the coax indicates that it requires the high band and the absence of the 22 KHz tone indicates the low band.

In the case of a European LNB for example, the decoder will put out 18V DC on the coax without any tone, when it requires the Horizontal Low band, and the multiswitch will connect that receiver to the 3rd coax going up to the white connector on the LNB. If the same decoder requires Horizontal High band it will put out 18V as well as the 22KHz tone and the multiswitch will connect the decoder to the 4th coax going up to the black connector on the LNB. The same applies to vertical low and high bands.

The European LNB does not care what voltage it receives. It always puts out the same signal on the same coax. Thye switching is done in the multiswitch below.

Above the multiswitch, each port puts out the same pol and band continuously on the same coax. The tone and voltage signals are used only below the multiswitch to signal the multiswitch which coax to select.
Cable Band Volt 22KHz Band LO Multi
Blue Vertical Low 13V Tone off 10.7-11.7 GHz 9750 MHz 1
Green Vertical High 13V Tone on 11.7-12.75 GHz 10600 MHz 2
White Horizontal Low 18V Tone off 10.7-11.7 GHz 9750 MHz 3
Black Horizontal High 18V Tone on 11.7-12.75 GHz 10600 MHz 4

In the Americas only the first, RHCP(V/L)and third, LHCP(H/L) coaxes are used.
Cable Band Volt Multi
Blue RHCP 13V 1
White LHCP 18V 3
When the DirecTV decoder ( for example) puts out 12 (or 13)Volts on the coax, the multiswitch will connect that decoder to the first coax and also supply the LNB with 12V DC  to get a RHCP signal. If the decoder puts out 18V DC on the coax , the multiswitch will connect that decoder to the third coax, LHCP(H/L) and provide 18V to request a LHCP signal from the LNB.  Unlike the European LNB where each LNB port is dedicated to a band and pol, the American LNBs require 12V for RHCP and 18V for LHCP on either port. The multiswitch will always supply 12V on the first coax RHCP and 18V on the third coax LHCP to the LNB.

Satellite TV at Sea

489. Decoder/Receivers IRD

Integrated Receiver Decoder IRD
Most decoders come in the form of a set top box, with a remote control. It will have a Satellite input from the LNB or multi-switch, and composite video out (yellow) and Stereo audio out (red and white). Many boxes come with HDMI and S-Video outputs as well.

Some have an input for your terrestrial antenna or cable. Some have USB inputs that allow control of the receiver by an external remote system like Crestron.

Most are equipped with an infrared eye to receive commands from the remote control or Crestron.

Satellite TV at Sea

481. LNB - Low Noise Block Downconverter

The LNB converter amplifies the very weak signal that is received by the antenna from the satellite which is 22300 miles above the earth, and converts it from the high band Ku or Ka frequencies down to L-Band (1.5GHz) which is easier to transport on ordinary cables from the antenna down to the decoder below decks. Without the function of the LNB we would need to run waveguide or very high tech cable between the antenna and receiver below.

It is called Low Noise because the signal it receives is weak and high in frequency and it is critical that the amplification and down converting process introduce as little noise to the signal as possible.

It is called a Block converter as it converts the entire block of frequencies (all transponders) that it receives in that polarization or band down to the intermediate L-Band frequency.

Satellite TV at Sea

485. Circular Polarization (US/Canada/Caribbean)

Satellite TV in the Americas uses circular polarization. Instead of transmitting the signal in a vertical or horizontal plane, they somehow manage to send the signal out in a spiral pattern, separating the signals in a left hand spiral or a right hand spiral. This allows them to reuse the same frequencies on the both the Left Hand Circular Pol (LHCP) and the Right Hand Circular Pol (RHCP) on the same satellite, resulting in twice the number of channels.

Like linear polarization, they can transmit two signals, on the same frequency, with one transmitted in a clockwise spiral, or Left Hand Circular Polarization (LHCP) and the other transmitted in a counterclockwise or Right Hand Circular Polarization (RHCP) this doubling the capacity of the satellite.

The advantage of circular polarization is that you do not need to align the LNB with the satellite.

Most US/Canada and Caribbean (Latin America) LNBs use LHCP and RHCP connecting on two ports on the LNB. The POL that the port puts out is controlled by the supply voltage to the port. 12/13 Volts DC supply to either port will produce RHCP signals and 18V to either port will produce LHCP signals. It does not matter which port you connect to. Both ports are capable of either pol, selected by the 13V or 18 V supply.  

With a SeaTel installation one uses the Blue and White connectors which are the low band connectors.

If you only have two TV decoders, you can connect one decoder to each port without the need for a multi-switch. Each decoder will switch the voltage to the LNB for the required polarization signal.

Sky Italia at 13E

549. Sky Italia decoders and packages

You will need a Sky Italia receiver and a subscription card that is available only on an annual (12 month) basis. Receiver Decoders range in price from €150 for a standard receiver to €450 for a PVR receiver.

The basic package is Sky Mondo TV that includes the major English news channels . Note that channels assignments vary and this may not be the line up you receive. 

To obtain Sky Italia in Italy you should normally have an Italian address and a fiscal number. It can take quite a while to complete the process.

For yachts visiting the Mediterranean, some marine companies supply the receivers and host the receiver accounts. The Sky Encoder costs about €180 and a full TV package of Sky Italia prepaid with a 12 month subscription with Calcio (Football) + Sports + Cinema is about €1750 for each receiver.

SeaTel DAC 2202 Satellite Menu

899. FEC: Forward Error Correction

If the DAC has an SCPC (narrow band)  tuner, the FEC must be set to SCPC.

If the DAC has a DVB tuner (wide band TV) then the FEC can be set to AUTO where the tuner will automatically adjust to the correct FEC ratio. You can also enter the specific FEC for the carrier you are tracking if that information is available. This information should be available from your VSAT provider or from the TV listings on websites like

FEC or Forward Error Correction is a special way that data is coded to prevent and reduce errors due to noise or weak signals. This is used in satellite TV broadcast signals and it is important to have the correct setting if you are tracking a TV signal, for the DVB tuner to lock on to the carrier and decode the NID. When set to AUTO, the tuner will automatically identify the FEC ratio, and this is most commonly used. For example, the FEC for 101W is 6/7 and for 95W it is 2/3. The available FEC settings are 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 6/7, 7/8 or AUTO.

You will notice that some FEC settings in the DAC have an asterisk. These are for a special function described later. Scroll through the options until you find the required setting without the asterisk.

SeaTel DAC 2202 Satellite Menu

891. Satellite Menu

The Satellite Menu is accessed by pressing the NEXT button until SAT is displayed.

The Satellite menu contains tracking information for the target satellite. The first screen displays the selected satellite longitude, the threshold, the tracking frequency and the satellite ID decoded from the satellite.

Remote Commands

937. STATUS WORD S0000 - Error 8 Decoding [.83]

  Meaning Ref AZ EL CL
@ No Fault 0 0 0 0
A CL 0 0 0 1
B LV 0 0 1 0
C CL+LV 0 0 1 1
D AZ 0 1 0 0
E AZ+CL 0 1 0 1
F AZ+LV 0 1 1 0
G AZ+LV+CL 0 1 1 1
H Az Ref 1 0 0 0
I Az Ref+CL 1 0 0 1
J Az Ref+LV 1 0 1 0
K Ref+LV+CL 1 0 1 1
L Az Ref +Az 1 1 0 0
M Ref+Az+CL 1 1 0 1
N Ref+AZ+LV 1 1 1 0
O Ref+AZ+LV+CL 1 1 1 1
P Stability Limit 0 0 0 0
Q Stab Limit +CL 0 0 0 1
R Stab Limit +LV 0 0 1 0
S Stab + LV + CL 0 0 1 1
T Stab Limit + AZ 0 1 0 0
U Stab + AZ + CL 0 1 0 1
V Stab + AZ + LV 0 1 1 0
W Stab+AZ+LV+CL 0 1 1 1
X Stab + Ref 1 0 0 0
Y Stab+Ref+CL 1 0 0 1
Z Stab+Ref+LV 1 0 1 0
 [ Stab+Ref+LV+CL 1 0 1 1
 \ Stab+Ref+AZ 1 1 0 0
 ] Stab+Ref+AZ+CL 1 1 0 1
 ^ Stab+Ref+AZ+LV 1 1 1 0
    Stab+Ref+AZ+LV+CL 1 1 1 1
Error codes are most easily decoded using DacRemP.  If DacRemP is not available, it can be decoded in the Remote Command menu using the Status word S0000.

To decode an error 8 in the Status Screen without DacRemP, enter S0000 [.83 in the DAC03] in the Remote Command screen, and then press ENTER again to REMOTE MONITOR to read the status word or S word.

It is important to read the result from the REMOTE MONITOR window, (by pressing ENTER a second time) and not the immediate response that one gets in the REMOTECOMMAND window, which is sometimes not complete.

New Status Word Calculator

The third letter or symbol after the S indicates the pedestal error. The @ symbol in the word SIH@ indicates no error. The table shows the fault meanings where AZ, CL, and LV are motor drive limits and Ref indicates Azimuth reference fault or home flag.

The resultant status word can be decoded by the table. A status word of SIHD for instance would indicate that the azimuth drive limit had been exceeded, whereas a status word of SKHG would indicate a fault with all three axes. This will give some indication of what to look for when going to the antenna.

The Stab Limit or stability limit indicates that the antenna is not pointing to the intended position that the PCU has been commanded. This may be the result of imbalance, bearing friction, cable binding, wind loading or a failing motor. A pointing error of more than 0.5 degrees will activate the Stab Limit alarm condition.

Asia Thailand-Malaysia

864. TrueVisions on Thaicom 5 at 78.5E

 TrueVisions uses a Humax IR-H100S decoder
1.5m  1.2m 1.0m 80cm 45cm 

SeaTel DAC 2202 Satellite Menu

901. NID: Target Satellite Network ID

It is very important that this NID is disabled by setting it to 0000, unless you are using the NID received from the satellite as a positive identification that you are tracking the correct satellite.

If the antenna does not receive a matching NID from the satellite, it will assume that it is not on the correct satellite and continue to retarget every few seconds to try and lock onto the correct satellite with the required NID.

If you are tracking a known carrier from a satellite with a known and reliable NID, you can enter the NID here. It is important that all your satellite settings match the satellite you are tracking so that it will decode the NID. 

The NID on this screen is the target NID setting, whereas the NID displayed on the main satellite menu screen (at the top of this page) is the NID received and decoded from the satellite. Make sure that you are receiving a steady and reliable NID before entering anything in this field. The NID is in hexadecimal digits (ie 0-F). For example, the NID from the satellite at 101W is FFFE and appears to be extremely reliable.

This only applies to DVB TV tuners. On VSAT installations the NID must be set to 0000 to avoid re-targeting, and to allow external network lock to be supplied by the VSAT modem.

In SCPC mode the "decoded" NID on the main satellite screen will show up as a pseudo NID of 1234 or ABCD.

Installation Design

968. Service loops allow live equipment removal.

In any rack, the cables should be left long enough so that each piece of equipment can be removed from the front of the rack while it is still connected,and even while the equipment is powered up and operating. Service loops can be kept reasonably short by leading the cables to the connectors on the rear of the equipment in a loosely tiewrapped umbilical loop from above or below and to the side of the rack. 

Many racks appear to have been assembled on the shop floor, before installation on the vessel, with everything neatly tiewrapped and not an inch of slack. This makes simple tasks almost imposible without completely removing the rack. The lack of service loop is often the cause of connectors becoming dislodged. This is particularly evident with TV decoder installations. It would make life so much easier if one could remove each device from the front of the rack, perform whatever maintenance needs to be done, and then reinstall it live in it's position in the rack. 

DIRECTV HD 99W/101W/103W

1011. SWM-8 Single Wire Multiswitch

DirecTV US high definition TV uses 5 satellites with two High Def Ka-band satellites located at 99W, and 103W and 3 Ku Band, standard def satellites located at 101W, with some additional channels on 110W and 119W. Special LNB combinations on special antennas allow one to see Ku 101W as well as Ka 99W and 103W on either side. Some LNB combinations allow one to see all five satellites. 

The SWM (pronounced SWiM) Single Wire Multiswitch allows one to run a single cable which is shared via a splitter by up to 8 receivers. The SWM modulates the selected bands from the LNBs onto 8 channels, one for each receiver. The band/pol selection from each receiver is put onto it's particular channel allowing up to 8 decoders to split off the same coaxial cable. Multiple SWMs can be cascaded for more receivers, but normaly there is one coax run for each 8 receivers.

The SWM compatible DirecTV decoders signal the multisitch using DiSecq, 13V, 18V and 22KHz tone to tell the SWM which satellite and which pol and  it wants to watch. The SWM then modulates the required satellite and pol onto the coax on that receivers carrier that has been assigned by the SWM module.

Satellite TV Antennas

1018. DirecTV HD in North America

The High Definition TV coverage in the Caribbean and Europe is presented on normal Ku-Band satellites that can be acccessed using a standard Ku-Band LNB on almost every brand and model of antenna.

DirecTV in North America is presented on two Ka-Band HD satellites at 99W and 103W and three Ku-Band Satellites at 101W, 110W and 119W. There are some special marine TV antennas that allow one to access HD TV simultaneously on 3 or even all 5 satellites. 

This does add complexity and price to the antenna, but if high definition TV is important to you, then this could be the answer.

It is important to note that you must have a HD TV or display, either connected directly to the decoder via HDMI or DVI cables, or have a TV distribution system that is capable of distributing HD signals to the HD TVs onboard. If this is not the case, having a HD capable antenna will be of little use, as the channels will still be displayed in standard definition.

All of the HD channels on the Ka-Band satellites are also available on the standard definition on 101W so if you do not have HD display capability with your TV system there is not a great advantage in having an HD antenna. You can see a DTV channel listing here.

The Intellian S6HD, S80HD and the KVH HD7 and HD11 are examples of antennas that can receive the three primary DIRECTV satellites 99W, 101W 1nd 103W. SeaTel produced the DTV04 antenna using a domestic style DirecTV dish with a five LNB feed that could simultaneously receive all 5 DirecTV US satellites. I am not sure if the DTV04 is still in production. There are rumpors that Cobham Satcom will be coming out with a 1 meter HD antenna in Septrember 2014.

Smaller TV Antennas

1019. Smaller 2 Axis TV Antennas

These small, 2 axis, entry level, TV antennas, ranging from 12" to 18", are designed for the small boat that wants to watch satellite TV at anchor, in the marina and underway, but well within the satellite footprint in signal strengths between 49 and 51dBW. 

They are suitable for smaller vessels that mostly operate closer to home, or close to the continental seaboard. If you have plans for deep sea passages to exotic horizons you will need to check the coverage maps to determine if these antennas will fit your needs.

The 2 axis configuration will work fine at sea in calmer waters and in port. If you plan to watch TV in rough, high seas conditions you may be better off with a 3 axis antenna. 

They can be purchased at your local marine store or electronics dealer and are mostly simple enough to bde installed by the local dealer or by  the owner themselves.  Some of them come bundled with a TV decoder for the DirecTV or Dish.

TV Picture Pixelating

1077. Tracking on sidelobes


The parabolic dish reflector in the antenna focuses the beam from the satellite toward the LNB receiver. In a perfect world, this beam focus would be just a single beam from the satellite to the center of the dish, but in the real world the dish has more than one lobe of gain toward the satellite. In fact there are several lobes spirallng off from the center of the dish. 

With larger antenna sizes of 1 meter and above, and with strong satellite signals, it is possible for the antenna to begin tracking the satellite on one of the sidelobes. 

If the threshold is set too low, the antenna could happily track the satellite when it is actually pointing a few degrees away. If the signal is strong enough, you could even get a good picture on some of the stronger channels, but the picture will break up into pixilation on some of the weaker channels. 

When tracking on sidelobes, one usually sees the AGC drop from a normal ~2100 down to about ~1800 and the quality of the signal on the decoder signal strength meter drops down to about 50 or 60 percent. 

To confirm this, go to the AZ-EL Antenna menu on the DAC and use the up, down and left, right buttons to drive the antenna in azimuth and elevation and watch the AGC to see if there is a stronger signal within a few degrees of where the antenna is tracking. 

Imagine the above illustration in 3 dimensions with the sidelobes in a donut around the main beam, so the main beam could be above or below, or left or right of where you are tracking.

If this is the case, it is necessary to set the threshold above the sidelobes, so that the antenna will continue to search to find and track the main beam. This can be done by increasing the auto threshold in the setup menu from the default 0100 to about 0120 or 0150, or in extreme cases set it to 0000 to go to manual threshold and adjust the threshold manually  in the Satellite menu so that it is above the sidelobe AGC but still below the real, mainbeam AGC.

Installation Design

1103. Mount TV decoders vertical to save space

Most TV decoders are narrower than a 19" rack, and waste a lot of space when mounted horizontally on a shelf. The most efficient use of rack space is to mount the decoders vertically, like books in a bookshelf, allowing ventilation room for the heat to rise between and above the decoders. 

If the decoders are held in place by friction, and have a long enough service loop, they can be easily removed, one by one, from the front of the rack for maintenance purposes. 

DirecTV Latin America (Caribbean)

1151. Note Baud rate on 95W 22500 not 20000

Most documentation shows the BAUD rate on the standard def channels as 20000.

I found that changing BAUD on 1039 to 22500 it will decode the NID of FFFE.

DirecTV Latin America (Caribbean)

1188. LHR 22 High Definition DVR

The LHR 22 is only for Latin America (Caribbean), the L standing for "Latin". I do not know if regular HR22s will work in the Caribbean. 

This is a regular high definition digital video recorder with two satellite inputs so that you can record one show while watching another.

The output to the TV is HDMI, Component (not composite) and S-Video. 

Since there is not much HD content in the Caribbean, you would only need this decoder if your TV did not accept a composite input from the standard definition L14 decoders, or if you required the DVR function to be able to record shows. 

DirecTV Latin America (Caribbean)

1187. L14 Standard Definition Decoder

The L14 Decoder is tiny, and easy to install.

This is only for Latin America (Caribbean). The L is for "Latin"

It has an adapter cable with composite video out to the TV (yellow) and left and right stereo audio (red and white).

It comes with a standard DirecTV remote control. 

Most of the TV channels on 95W for Latin America are in standard definition, so there is no need to purchase HD decoders, unless your TV display will not accept a standard composite video input, or if you want the DVR recorder function.

Some vessels purchase one or two DVRs for, perhaps for the owners suite and the salon, and the rest of the decoders as standard definition L14s. 

Despite their tiny size, these decoders have been shown to provide perfect results.