Last year, I subscribed to SelecTV, a newish satellite pay-TV provider, because it seemed like the easiest way to get news stations like BBC World and Euronews that I watched quite a bit when I lived in Amsterdam.
The thing I liked about SelecTV was that their service is set up so that customers can use commodity equipment to receive their signal – that is, any DVB-S receiver with Irdeto encryption. This means that their customers own their equipment, there’s no contracts, so they can cancel the subscription whenever they like … and most importantly, it can be used with a home-brew PVR – unlike Foxtel, where it’s necessary to fork out a couple of hundred dollars for an iQ box, which has to be returned if the service is shut off.
SelecTV is broadcast from the Intelsat 8 satellite. Before I subscribed, I went outside and took a few ad-hoc measurements with a compass … and found that the path between my house and the satellite was blocked by the huge, ugly housing commission building down the road from me; the same building whose construction was responsible for the demolition of the lovely (or so I’m told) old house that my grandfather had been born in. Politicians and architects of the 50s, 60s and 70s have a lot to answer for.
Not sure whether the building would present a problem, I wanted to be certain that it all worked (and it did) before I paid any money, so I decided to go with the SelecTV-provided equipment; satellite dish, LNB and a UEC-990/DSD990 DVB-S receiver. This is an entry-level receiver, and it is somewhat lacking in features. Furthermore, it is locked to SelecTV’s signal, by default. This is somewhat annoying, as there are a number of free-to-air signals on that satellite from other providers, and I wanted to see them.
I’ve been trying to find out for quite a while if it is possible to unlock it, and if so, how to do it. finally today, I found an answer, at the end of this forum post. I’ll repeat the steps here, in case the forum disappears:
- Press the Menu button, go to Advanced Options
- Choose Change Dish Installation
- Enter a PIN of 9949
- Choose Signal Setup, and then enable each of the Signal Setup options 2 – 6
- Go back to the Change Dish Installation menu and choose Tune and Rescan
That’s it. Once it was done scanning, there were dozens more channels – although most of them were encrypted, and hence not available without the correct card. The extra free-to-air channels were mostly Arabic stations, with a couple of Chinese stations and one from Bosnia … and also Deutsche Welle TV, which broadcasts alternate hours of English and German. I’ll find that very handy for a bit of language practice.
My next step is to buy a three-way LNB holder, a second LNB and a diplexer, so I can get the free-to-air broadcasts on the Optus B3 satellite; BVN is available there, broadcasting in Dutch, another language which I’d like to get more practice with.