Sky Digibox


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>Please advise on best coax cable for sat installation.

This is an open question - rather like asking "please advise the best car to buy".
All I can tell you is that the *minimum* specification would be type WC100.

>Long run of at least 50 metres from bottom of garden. Will an
>amplifier be required as well?

Possibly but obviously depends on receiver input threshold, LNB specification (gain), dish size and on your location. You'll find out after you install the cable then measure the signal strength at the end of it at various frequencies. If you can't do that then you'll have to ask the manufacturer for his recommendations. Since you are dealing with frequencies in excess of 2GHz it's a rather specialised field. Many so-called "installers" don't understand it. Bear in mind that the wrong type of amplifier or connectors could really screw up a digital carrier. I would personally go the route of a larger dish, rather than get involved in the intricacies of amplifier technology.

Ideally you should do what's called a "linked budget calculation" to determine the dish size etc. This is not something I've ever needed to do (not being an installer) but I'm sure you can find computer software that will take the pain out of it. There are lots of publications that cover this sort of information. Take a look at books by Newnes and by Swift Publications.

>Initially putting up analogue but will possibly be getting digital in
>the future.
>If you sell these items, please let me know cost.

I don't sell these. There are too many others selling them at a tiny profit margin.

Installation is not my field of expertise so I'm happy to let others deal with this - even though most of them don't know what they are doing, either! ;o)

>Many thanks.

Re: Nicam Stereo

>I Have a Fidelity SR950+ decoder which was supplied and installed free,
>some two years ago by Sky. It is a stereo decoder.

I beg to differ. The SR950+ is a budget price Satellite RECEIVER with an internal Videocrypt PICTURE DECODER. It produces Stereo sound channels from its Scart socket. It produces MONO audio with the video from the RF socket.

>It has worked fine but I was always suspicious of the stereo signal.
>I have a Mitsubishi TV and matching video recorder.
>I have always been able to get the Nicam stereo signal indicator on the
>video from the terrestial channels but not from satellite.

The satellite stereo signal is not Nicam encoded, therefore the TV Nicam decoder is not needed and its "Nicam Stereo" light will stay off, even though the TV is receiving stereo signals through the Scart connection.

>Having just purchased a home cinema amp, it is clear that I am still not
>receiving stereo from the salellite but everything else is working fine.
>I and my brother in law, who is good at hi-fi related stuff, have checked all
>the connections and tried several options but to no effect.

Check the Scart connections again and make sure you are tuned to one of the Sky channels broadcasting stereo sound.

>Could it be a faulty receiver and if so where can I get it repaired or
>replaced? Or could it be another problem?

It could be faulty but I suspect that you and your brother in law simply don't have a good understanding of how equipment should be connected.

>I don't want Sky Digital yet.

I don't blame you! The pictures still leave a lot to be desired. The only good thing is the audio (most of the time) but it's not "Nicam encoded - it's MPEG2".


>Al Fraser

Pro-Logic Sound

>Analogue Satellite - Amstrad SRD520
>TV - Panasonic 28" TXW28R4DP
>Ondigital - Pace
>I've recently purchased a 28 inch widescreen television, with Dolby
>Pro-Logic 5 channel surround sound. The analogue satellite is connected
>to the TV via the scart O/P (video only) and phono O/P (audio L/R) to
>the TV AV2 input (scart - video & audio)
>The sound, although better than the RF feed, doesn't appear to give
>surround sound, on any satellite channel (including movies).
>Is this because satellite does not transmit surround sound info?
>The lead is one I made up to scart pin-out information.
>Note that normal terrestrial and ONdigital give rear channel sound.

Some movies broadcast by Sky include Dolby Pro-Logic surround sound encoding
which can be reconstituted by a suitable satellite receiver, such as the MSS500,
Most analogue receivers produce only stereo from the audio outputs
(Scart and Phono) and mono from RF out.

>Does Digital Satellite give surround sound?

As far as I know, the current "free" Digiboxes have surround sound capability.
The Pro-logic signal takes the form of phase-shifted signals within the Left
and Right audio channels so you will have to connect these (Scart or Phono)
to a suitable external Pro-Logic separation and amplifier system.

>Eric Beauchamp

>>I have a problem with a Maspro ST8 mk11 and would be grateful of any help.
>> When watching UK Living there is a fluttering noise on sound, if I
>>slightly off tune the frequency it gets better but once stored the noise
>>returns. I haven't noticed it on other channels. I have checked the same
>>program on another system and the sound was ok so its not being
>>Mike Bennett

>Hi, Mike,
>Make sure you have selected the correct audio mode on UK Living.
>Test your receiver on someone else's dish. The only time I've come across
>this type of problem was when a dish was misaligned and was picking up
>interference from a channel of the same frequency on an adjacent
>satellite, 3 degrees away (16'E). Some receiver models are more prone to
>this than others.
>Please let me know if you solve your problem so I can help others :o)

Hi Martin
Thanks for your help with my Maspro ST8 that had a fluttering noise on UK
living. I have access to a Pace system so I swapped receivers and was
surprised that both systems worked ok, but when the Maspro was returned to
its original dish the fault returned. As I don't install systems I have not
got an alignment meter so I covered the LNB with foil and broke a hole in
it and enlarged it until the picture was displayed with slight noise on it.
By moving the dish slightly I was able to get a slight improvement in
picture. When the foil was removed, the picture was as good as before and
the sound perfect. I would not have tried moving the dish as the original
picture was so good.
Thanks for your help
Michael Bennett

(MP: Gosh, I'm good, and I don't even *do* installations...
oh, and I'm modest, too, so they say.... ;o)

>I currently have a Pace MSS1000, an Optimac Dmac decoder on an LH 80cm dish
>with two LNBs, one for Astra and the other for Hotbird. I am intending going
>for a digital and analogue motorised system. My questions to you are, is it
>worth having an analogue system with all that is available on digital or
>should I scrap the old system and buy all new, but if I do have both systems
>how best should I control the dish and what should I do about LNBs?. I will
>not have my Pace upgraded with a motoriser as it is cheaper to buy an add-on.
>Will an H-H be strong enough for gusting winds or should I use a polar mount?
>I am hoping to receive any English language programmes I can so as I live in
>Guernsey what size of dish would you recommend for either the digital or the
>analogue systems?
>Gary Pike

Interesting questions. I think you should definitely keep the analogue system AND buy a free-to-air digital receiver AND buy a UK digital receiver AND pay for the full SKY subscription for both digital and analogue AND buy an Internet set-top box AND buy a Terrestrial Digital set-top box and pay the subscription for that, too. Hook this up to the biggest motorised dish you can afford (remortgage your house if necessary) and buy a Nicam Stereo wide screen TV with matching video recorder and surround-sound amplifier system. Bear in mind that with digital systems you can watch/record only one program at a time. If you want a different program in the bedroom then you'll need a separate digital receiver, CAM and smart card there. You definitely need a separate dish positioner unit and it would be a good idea to double up on the dish as well, in case your wife wants to watch an analogue channel on 19 degrees while you are watching a digital channel on 28 degrees!

Seriously, I can't answer your questions. You must decide for yourself what you want and you must calculate the dish size with a "linked budget calculation" that is available nowadays as computer software.

>I have a Nokia dish 1.4m in composite material painted in grey originally.
>I have it mounted in my garden and would like to paint it in green.

>I have bought the painting in spray and before proceeding I have heard that it may affect the reception performance !!

>Any help is much appreciated.
>Thank you

You can spray a thin coat of paint onto a dish without problems.

There are only three possible problems that I can think of:

1. Paint coat too thick will attenuate signal (and it would have to be *really* thick to do this!)

2. Metallic flake paint will scatter the signal instead of focussing it on the LNB.

3. Light colour or reflective paint can focus the sun's heat on the LNB and damage it.

>Now that winter is upon us, i have noticed a problem that i have with
>my system. I have an 85cm dish with four LNBs aimed at 19 , 13 , 5 east
>and 1 west connected up via a diseqc switch into a Nokia 1800 and a
>Phillips Filmnet D2mac Decoder. Picture quality is great on all LNBs
>except in heavy rain or snow especially 1 west. But i have noticed when
>it is extremely cold outside the picture quality on the weaker channels
>(1 west) deteriorates. This happens especially first thing in the
>morning, even if the sky is clear and there is no sign of frost/water on
>the LNB? Also this problem occurs with Sirius 2 whatever the weather/
>temperature, but as the day goes on the picture clears into near perfect
>at the evening with the exception of the Cyprus Rik channel which is
>perfect all the time. M Robinson Cambridge

Sorry but this does not seem to be a receiver repair question so it's unlikely that I'll be able to answer it. However, some thoughts from an installation non-expert:-

1. Heavy rain or snow is certain to affect signal strength. Read books about calculating dish size.

2. LNB gain is affected by temperature but you just might have a faulty LNB. Try swapping them over.

3. Temperature changes can, in theory, distort the plastic and metal parts of the dish. This can affect alignment and, on a borderline installation, signal strength. Monitor the affected LNB output with a spectrum analyser and, when you see a degradation in signal or an increase in background noise, try realigning the LNB by gently pushing it in each direction.

In my opinion you are expecting too much from a compromise installation with a relatively small dish. At best, only *one* LNB can ever be at the correct focal point of the dish so the others will be wrong by definition.
Salora 5914 D2Mac

Thank you for enclosing stamps with your letter.
It would be quite impossible to diagnose specifically the cause of the intermittent decoding which you describe in your letter so all I can do is to make a few suggestions:

The card itself may be faulty. Ask your supplier to confirm that it is compatible with your receiver model. If it's a "pirate" card, don't bother. "Pirate" cards generally have soldered contacts. These can react badly with the gold-plated spring connections inside the card slot and, long term, can cause damage, as can the abrasive sharp edge of the "card" which should always be filed off. Pirate cards are also prone to problems due to action by the programme service provider which is specifically designed to "switch off" the card or to cause annoying problems such as those you describe! Pirate cards can also damage the card reader chip by introducing static electricity from your hand, through the copper tracks, into the decoder.

A signal which is too weak or too strong can cause problems. Check the signal strength. Some receivers have a built-in signal display facility. Some require an external meter. If the signal is too strong you will have to fit an attenuator.

I get the impression that your problem "crept in" gradually. In that case, I would suspect one of the chips in the decoder. However, the cause could equally be one or more electrolytic capacitors. You would need an ESR meter to test these so it is easier and cheaper simply to replace them with new capacitors of the correct type. Capacitor problems are very common in equipment more than 12 months old -- especially if the equipment has not been kept cool. Electrolytic capacitors have a limited design life which may be, for instance, 4000 hours at 85 C. Since the internal temperature will typically be over 30 C in a unit which is overheating, the actual life may be 11,000 hours or less. This equates to just under 16 months. Higher rated 105 C capacitors would last around 14,000 hours which equates to around 19 months. Since the circuit will run happily with seriously defective components, the actual fault may not occur for several years.

>>Subject: Amstrad SRD500 receiver
>>the problem / problems are as follows-
>>1) when the unit is in s/by the through channels are ok. when the unit
>>is switched on the through channels go low gain.(bbc1,2 etc)
>>2)we have no test signal or rf o/p only a wishy washy blank raster which
>>our philips monitor set struggles to locate on tuning search.
>>3) no video or audio emerges from the scart connector.
>>our initial feelings were a faulty rf convertor / amp but the lack of
>>video from the scart seems to add a twist to the situation.
>>unfortunateley we havent a manual or much experience on this model.
>>have you by any chance come across such a problem or could you point us
>>in the right direction ?

>I think the BIG clue is that the RF terrestrial loop-through is OK in
>standby but poor when the receiver is on. Since there is no function
>built into the receiver that could do this, it HAS to be a power supply
>fault. The PSU is probably just managing to supply enough power in
>standby but the voltage drops when it tries to power the whole lot, hence
>the RF mod is starved of power. That's my guess.
>If I'm right, my next guess is that this receiver has been "cooked" and
>all the electrolytics have failed. If so, you need to replace them with
>the correct Ultra-High Reliability types. Any other type will exacerbate
>the problems. You need my RELKIT4

-- Martin. Many thanks for your advice.
We removed all the electrolytics in the power supply & checked them on our
capacitance meter. Some were worse than others. Replacing them all with 105'
types in your kit provided a cure.
Thanks once again.

> >Subject: Pace MRD920 d2mac

> >From:
> >
> >Thanks for a superb site. I have a Pace MRD920 d2mac sn paaaavf0009244.
> >I can't tune in any mac decoded broadcast but pal is ok . The signal from
> >lnb is ok. I have checked it with a another decoder. I have also lost the
> >main menu but I can still tune frequency, audio, lnb menus. The lnb lo is
> >10.769 I use lnb 1 on the decoder tuned in dbs band. I live in Pajala
> >Sweden and I point the dish against Thor 1W.
> >with regards
> >
> >ps sorry for typos

> Dear Johan,
> Nice English! :o)
> Unfortunately, I can't help you to fix your D2Mac receiver. The fault is
> often caused by one of the surface-mount ICs which are *buggers* to
> desolder!
> However, I would recommend that you replace all the power supply
> electrolytics (use 105 deg C. type) and those which lie in the video path
> (especially those close to the hot tuner module). This might help.
> Kind Regards,
> Martin Pickering

Hello Martin thanks for your email. I tried to find faulty soldering and bad electrolytics but nothing helped, so I swapped the receiver with my friend to a better Pace MRD920 or less broken. Now I could receive d2mac a few seconds at time when the set was hot. So I ordered a big bag of 105c electrolytics and heated up my solder pen. I changed a big heap of electrolytics in psu, after psu, round tuner module, even the small one in the module. On the mac board only thing that happened was the picture got better when the mac pleased to show a picture. The final solution to the problem was c52.c27.c25.c30.c65.c58.c42. Which one was the black sheep I don't know and I don't really care. I got the picture which was my goal. Thanks again for your time to try help me. I hope this is a help for you. With regards Johan Kangasmaa and I'm still sorry for my English.

>I have a MSS508/IP and a Nokia Palplus WS TV.
>I have a nasty problem.
>The screen of my LNB cable seems to float at 110V ! ! I spoke to Pace and
>they just suggested grounding it. Have you seen this before? I can assure
>you I got quite a tickle off the LNB, and I am concerned that my 18 Month old baby
>might just do himself some damage with this.
>Alun Jenkins

This is common. Pace receiver chassis (and other makes) are not connected to anything. They are "floating" and rely on a ground connection through your other equipment. If that, too, is floating then you must connect a ground somewhere as charge tends to build up through whatever leakage paths are available.

The current available from this 110v "float" is minimal and, presumably, within safe limits but I wouldn't like it on mine because, as you say, it can surprise you - especially if you are up a ladder holding the LNB!
In Europe, the dish itself must be grounded so this problem does not arise. Grounding the dish can eliminate problems caused by static charge, too. A 1 metre copper rod hammered into damp soil is ideal but a cold water pipe (NOT gas pipe) is OK.

Hi, after browsing your web site I have come to the conclusion that you guys know where it's at. So I am sure you will be able to help me with a technical problem.
Or steer me to someone who can.

I am the despondent owner of a UNIDEN UST 92 D2MAC DECODER connected to a PACE MSS1000.
The pictures, the sound the decoding the connections all work happily together until there are large bright areas, flashes, or that sort of thing on the screened program; the decoder then decides to stop decoding and the picture and sound fall back to a raw state of lines and silence until the picture content changes. Then its OK until the next one.
This can happen once an hour or once a second dependent on the type of program being screened.

I have tried changing some of the service engineering options and, although sometimes there does appear to be an improvement, I have turned things down so much that the picture quality is unwatchable. Plus I'm not really sure what I am changing and usually end up back with default values.

I'm sure sombody out there knows the cure for this problem and it is
probably simple,

Please Help

Reply to geoffrey_harkness@

Dear Martin,

Thanks for your reply.
I carried out the scart mod that was suggested in the article SW12.htm with the 27 ohm and 47 ohm resisters to reduce the signal level coming from the MSS1000 on pin 19, and I'm very happy with the results. :o)

Thanks for your help on this matter. Your website has proved invaluable
to me and probably loads of other people. Keep up the good work.

Hi, just thought you might like to know a fault I have found:

Model pace VC100
Symptom: No graphics/no decode
Cure: change Cl04 (1 uF @50v )

The same fault was found on a Technisat VC2002S . This cap is on the decoder board. I hope you can use this.

Thanks for the great web site!

nic say

I have some problem with filmnet BBD901 decoder. I am using 16c84 24lc16
wafercard and program M.Stegen 2.14 and I have no picture. do you know what
program that works ???


I am very sorry but I can not answer questions about Pirate Cards.

Hallo Martin. I replaced the micro in the Nordmende with a 809-8661020 and I also added R550.

I removed R551 and fitted a 24C16 EEprom. I now have a receiver with 199 channels, background colour switching, fav. channels and 10000Mhz 9750 Mhz switching.

Thank you very much for your kind help. thanks ! Peter Willett.

Re: Philips STU804/02g
>Fault dark Vertical band moving from L to R across screen ( like a hum
>bar but flowing horizontally ) Picture is fine but graphics when
>superimposed on picture are distorted, when superimposed on blue screen
>are o.k I get a similar problem on my D100 after a power cut and a reset
>cures it But I don't know the procedure for this model .
>any help appreciated

Use a hair dryer on the capacitors around the Nicky chip and the tuner.
There's a 1uF non-pol which used to give this effect. It was upgraded to a
multilayer ceramic (which this model ought to have) - C96 I think. Hair
dryer will show it up if an electrolytic is at fault.

>Hi again , I have already replaced nicky IC + C96. (This cap usually gives a
>"line pairing" effect as well ). Correct multi layer type was already
>fitted. Hair dryer shows up nothing . Is there a reset code for this
>model ? as I feel this will cure the problem .

>I'd be surprised and delighted if a reset cures your problem.
>If replacing C96 failed to cure it then you probably have a leaky transistor in that area. Possibly the FET (surface mount). Try aiming the hair dryer at the underside of the board.

Let me know how you get on. This is an unusual one! I guess it might even be the tuner at fault.

>Hi for the third time
>The running bar fault was indeed cured by replacing the FET Q15 this
>left me with a perfect picture, however I then noticed that when menus
>selected, they were displayed displaced about 1 inch to the left with
>a black bar to the right. Scoping comp sync in on p30 to the graphics
>chip ch 1 and pin 12 vid out ch2 when menus selected showed that the
>graphics sync was running free. Replacing the u10 cured the fault.
>We have recently had some very violent storms, I can only put the two
>unrelated faults down to this.
>Thanks again for the help
>Martin Chappell, Spain

>Subject: Philips STU 824
>From: Paul Brigham,

>Dear Martin,
>I've got a Philips STU 824 in for repair from an in-law (yes I know) with
>the following fault:-
>There is a blank raster (snow) on all channels. Furthermore, I discovered
>that the remote controller didn't work or rather the receiver didn't
>respond to it. This was cured by attending to some dry joints at the IR
>sensor within the receiver itself but it didn't cure the reported fault. I
>later read a couple of fault reports in TELEVISION magazine describing similar
>faults which go on to describe a cure. This being to temporarily swap the
>micro over with that from a PACE unit until the EEPROM is re-programmed
>then replace the original micro back again. I think I also remember reading
>a report from yourself which suggested replacing the EEPROM with a blank
>one to cure the fault.
>The questions I ask are:-
>Am I on the right tracks with regard to the fault and could there be
>another possible solution?;
>What is the PCB reference for the microprocessor?;

MP: Dunno. It's an 809-8661019.

>If a possible cure is to replace the EEPROM only is this the 24C16 device?;

MP: Yes.

>If the fault is that the EEPROM has lost its memory or has become corrupt
>some how can you supply the source code or the assembled file so as I can
>re-program the EEPROM myself.

MP: It simply needs to be blank. The receiver will reprogram it.

>Finally, I have used this quite extraordinary and brilliant service you
>provide FREE OF CHARGE once before and received impeccable advice and I
>would like to thank again for that and also in anticipation for your advice
>on this fault.
>Yours faithfully,
>Paul Brigham.


Dear Paul,

With compliments like that, how can I refuse??? :o)
Here's an previously unknown trade secret:
Locate the EEprom 24C16.
With an insulated screwdriver, short together pins 6 and 7
(counting anticlockwise from the notch).

Plug in the mains power and the *instant* you see "-E2" in the display,
pull out the screwdriver.
The receiver should reset to normal after a few seconds.
The problem is partly caused by the dry joint which you found.

Let me know how you get on :o)

Kind Regards,

Martin Pickering

>Dear Martin,
>You finished your message with "let me know how you get on", as if there
>was any doubt that your information would be anything less than
>spot-on. Yes of course it worked, thanks very much Martin.
>P.S. I hope my bit about your providing this unique and excellent
>service wasn't too over the top as I genuinely meant it.
>Thanks again

Hi Martin,

Sorry to trouble you, but I've just purchased a Samsung Vortec Galaxis
SAT500 ORD digital receiver and have a slight problem.

I wonder if perhaps you could help me with regard to the PIN number
required to gain access to the 'IRD SETUP' menu ..?

I've contacted Satellite Scene (who I bought the RX off) but have yet to
hear back from them.

The set works perfectly, its just that [at the mo] I can't get to the
appropriate menu[s] to change the frequency, polarisation ,symbol rate
etc :-(

Many thanks in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide,

Ray Woodward
E-mail :

Ray, Mike Hancox of Satellite Scene tells me that the pin number is 9949.

Kind Regards,

Martin Pickering

Martin Pickering can be contacted for advice about satellite receiver repair via the Internet:
You should first read the Frequently Asked Questions files before filling out the questionnaire.
help.htm Questionnaire page

Be sure to state make/model of ALL equipment and describe the fault symptoms, history, tests you have made (swapping receiver, LNB etc.) and voltage measurements (LNB voltage). Technical advice can not be given by telephone.


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