What is all this FTA stuff about ?


Platinum Member
Username: Lklives

Post Number: 14752
Registered: Jan-06
What is all this FTA stuff about?...c/p

As a non-techie (I still don't consider myself one) with no background in electronics I became interested in hobby testing a number of years ago after being introduced to it by a friend. I found quickly that it does not take any electronic, engineering or software ability to master most of the tasks needed to become a self-reliant tester. It only takes a little curiosity and a drive to satisfying the urge to figure out how to do it. As with most things looking to succeed, you must be willing to take the steps to learn on your own some and you will find when doors are opened for you, your knowledge will expand tremendously, if you do your homework. There is a lot of knowledge out there for the taking and it is all-free if you choose to take advantage of it. Most people enjoy talking about and sharing a hobby they love with others that have a similar interest. I have seen very few people in the hobby say no to someone wanting to learn but have seen many times the spoon taken away from those that have only short term goals with no goal of learning the hobby. This is a reason we see so many slams in some site forums.

Since this forum supports Free To Air discussion, I will discuss a few of the fundamental concepts in general layman's terms to help beginners to get their feet underneath them somewhat to help in understanding the lingo and some of the equipment used in FTA hobby testing.

Free To Air Receivers also known as stb or set top box. Most receivers used for FTA testing are made overseas and are marketed for reception of satellite signals, which are open, not encrypted, and the open signal being more popular in the overseas satellite broadcast markets. We have a few (compared to overseas) channels being broadcast in the clear in the America's and this is generally referred to as True FTA when chasing these signals are discussed in the hobby. The receivers off the shelf will receive the open non-encrypted signals when antenna (the dish) settings are set properly in the receiver and the antenna system is aimed at the satellite that broadcasts the signal. Some people think the primary reason these receivers are produced is to cash in on the ability of the receiver to take a software change (flashing a bin) so they can decrypt scrambled signal sent out by Dishnet or Bell ExpressVu, but in actuality, modified use of the receivers is just a small part of the manufacturer's total sales worldwide. While the manufacturer enjoys the sales, the North American market does not dictate marketing strategy. The manufacturer has nothing to do with making or producing modified bin software and individuals that hold contract rights to export the receivers to North America usually control this. These are the people that have the most to gain from successful sells of the receivers in the North American market.

Are these receivers legal? Yes, they are perfectly legal until you modify the bin software to pick up encrypted signals. Once the receiver is modified it is considered piracy and it is against the law and if caught, you could face criminal or civil penalties. The receivers themselves are passive and do not respond in any way to the provider's signal to tell on you and you should maintain the privacy of your identity at all times to protect yourself if you participate in internet forums where hacking methods are discussed or software is made available. For your own safety, you should be careful where you go and what you say when on the internet as we see many popular fta forums located at on shore servers and within the reach of law enforcement agencies. My suggestion is to make your home with a site located on an off shore sever preferably in the far east, hostile to North American intervention.

Using the receivers or modifying bin software is not that difficult and I will not go into that in any detail as the application and function of many receivers are set out in Guides & Howto Forums for the various receivers. Most are excellent and easy to follow in helping prepare the receiver for satellite signal reception. Where most people struggle (even the old card testers who worked with subscription equipment) is understanding the relationship of the receiver to the antenna (dish) system used. The FTA receiver is definitely not a plug and play device. The fta receivers have multiple settings that can be set for just about any type of antenna system used in the world, including cband, ku fss signal and dbs signal reception. The primary use of the receiver that you will most likely experience as a tester is use of the antenna getting signals from ku fss broadcast satellites and/or from ku dbs broadcast satellites. Ku dbs signals are the higher band than ku fss signals and where the good stuff is such as Dishnet and Bell ExpressVu signal broadcasts. Ku fss satellites have the lower broadcast band than ku dbs and are typically where the True FTA channels can be found that are open with the exception of the Dishnet 105 and 121 satellites, which appear to be in the process of being phased out by Dishnet. Cband has the lowest broadcast frequency of the three. Each broadcast frequency requires its own type of lnbf or lnb to get its respective signal. Typical setting for ku dbs is an local oscillator frequency of 11250 which allows the receiver to pick up all the transponder frequencies in the ku dbs range and for Ku fss satellites the local oscillator frequency of 10750 is required. Another difference to keep in mind is the polarization types of each type signal. ku fss are typically called linear lnbfs that use a horizontal and vertical polarity, whereas the ku dbs uses a circular type polarity called left and right. Ku dbs satellites broadcast with a much stronger signal thus you see the smaller type dishes able to receiver the dbs signal as compared to the ku fss signals which require usually a dish in excess of 30" in diameter. The majority of Dishnet and all Bell ExpressVu signals are received on the smaller dish with circular type lnbf.

Once modified, the receivers become testing devices. In other words, they are not being used as they were intended to be used when sold. As with any testing device, there will be up and downs with the ability to keep running. If purchasing a receiver as a sole source of tv entertainment, you need to reconsider other options.

It gets even more interesting when you also consider that lnbfs also come in two different type versions for linear and circular lnbfs. The older standard called Legacy and the new standard called Dishpro, exclusive to Dishnet lnbfs. Without getting into the pros and the reasons why the Dishpro was introduced, I want to point out the history of use with fta receivers and the difference between legacy and dishpro systems. Legacy lnbfs use the the old standard horizontal or vertical transponders or in the case of circular lnbfs, left or right polarization, which to the receiver it doesnt care, it recognizes both types for what they are. In other words, the lnbf will pass both types of polarization to the receiver and it will be understood as long as the correct frequency is used with correct polarization regardless how expressed. However, with the Dishpro a conversion takes place in the head of the lnbf to take advantage of a technique developed by Dishnet called stacking which takes the horizontal polarity and converts it to a vertical polarity and an adjustment of the old horizontal polarity frequency is changed to a new frequency number for the new converted vertical polarity. FTA receivers are basically legacy type receivers and unless the transponder data is changed in the channel bin data to match the new converted vertical frequencies sent from the lnbf, the receiver will not recognize the signal. This was the old way until newer bin software was written providing for Dishpro lnb support that can be set in the receiver lnb type setting in the dish setup menu that now allows this conversion process to be done by automatically by the receiver. Other than testing it, the one sure way to know if you have a dishpro lnbf is to look at the housing of the lnbf. If it is a Dishpro lnbf, it will say so on it, except for Superdishes which are all dishpro lnbfs.

Switches: These come in several different types and flavors being Diseqc, 22khz and SW legacy....Switches are used to route signals from lnbfs to the receiver and signal paths must be set in the antenna settings of the receiver to route the signal. FTA receivers come off the shelf supporting 3 types of switching command code schemes. None, Diseqc and 22khz. None (Diseqc Off) is used to run from 1 lnbf to the receiver and no switching is needed.

Diseqc switches of many kinds can be found, with the most common being a 2x1 or 4x1 switch. Diseqc switches are used to route the signal from different lnbfs to the Diseqc switch with each lnbf having a cable running to an in port on the Diseqc switch which acts as a junction to control which port is the open port to pass the signal on to the receiver. A lnbf aimed at a particular satellite must be matched the same as the in port used on the Diseqc switch in the satellite receiver setting for that satellite in dish setup. Diseqc will be On, with committed being the matching port number on Diseqc switch used by the lnbf aimed at the satellite. Remember.... this is very important in understanding basic switching, a Diseqc command code will not pass no further than the first Diseqc switch in line. In other words, you cannot use two Diseqc switches in the same cable run. This is of importance when dealing with Dishpro twins with internal switches that respond like a Diseqc switch with FTA receivers.

22khz switches are probably the most stable of switches and these switches use a signal tone signal to switch from one lnbf to another when used to connect two lnbs to a receiver with switching control set to Diseqc Off and one satellite set to 22khz Off and the other to 22khz On. A cable from each lnbf goes to the switch with one cable running to the receiver. This is a very useful switch to cascade beyond a Diseqc switch and will allow you to add an additional lnbf that can be joined so that two lnbfs can be connected to the same in port on a Diseqc switch with both sharing the same port setting with Diseqc On and 22khz Off for one and 22khz On for the other satellite.

Internal switches you will run across. Legacy Twins and Quads use an internal SW type switch. FTA receivers on their own will not support this switch but recent bin modifications for most receivers now have SW support in lnb type setting for the internal switch and Legacy SW support for the external SW21 switch used to join two different lnbs. For the internal switch, switch control is done with the Lnb Type setting in the dish setup window. You simply run one cable to receiver set Diseqc Off, 22khz Off and for 119 you set lnb type to Twin legacy Lnb 1 and 110 to Twin Legacy Lnb 2. For the external switch you use the appropriate Legacy SW selection with Diseqc Off and 22 khz Off. Depending on Lnb Type, if Legacy or Dishpro will determine to use single or OCS-DP in the Lnb Type Setting when using external SW switches

The Dishpro internal switch. As noted early, the Dishpro switch will respond the same as a Diseqc switch. For a twin lnbf, simply run one cable to the receiver and set lnb type to OCS-DP (It will also work on single or standard, but the lnb type tells the Dishpro conversion to wake up for frequency conversion to all vertical) set Diseqc to On and 119 is committed to 1 and 110 is committed to 2. 119 on 1 and 110 on 2 is the standard default setting of the Dishpro switch. However, you may want to add an additional lnb to the twin....Remember what we said about two Diseqc switches will not work in a row in the same cable run? We need to tie that other lnbf into the antenna system and the only way we can do it is by a adding an external Diseqc switch. This can be done with the Dishpro internal switch by fooling it and making it work off its default settings of the switch with 119 on 1 and 110 on 2 for port settings. All you need to do is run a cable from 119 side of lnbf to port 1 and then run a cable from the 110 side of the lnbf to port 2 and then 3rd or even 4th lnbf to remaining open ports. Diseqc is set to On for all satellite lnbfs and the ports matched accordingly for each in committed.

Whoa hound, how the heck I know what lnbf is pointed to what? Which side is 119 and which side is 110? Easy enough, from the rear of the dish 119 will be on your left and 110 will be on your right. The lower satellite location will be the most eastern in the sky. Example 82W is located further East than 91W. However, lnbf placement looking back towards the dish is opposite the satellite location in the sky because of the "bounce" coming back to the lnbf off the dish which some people call signal cross over.

One of the items you will see referenced and used in the flashing of the bins is the data transfer cable used to transfer data (the bin software) from your personal computer to the receiver. The most common is the RS232 cable, which comes in two types being the straight and crossed (null modem) cables. As the name of cable type implies, the straight cable uses a straight pin-to-pin connection and the cross cable has crossed pin connections. The null modem (DM9) is used when "handshaking" communication is used between the devices. Your receiver type will dictate which type of cable to use and most guides and howto's will also let you know which to use. Most bin flashes that will not start are traced back to the wrong type of cable being used for the receiver. If you run into this problem, do not assume you have the correct cable just because it came with the receiver. The wrong cable being shipped does happen since the Dealer usually throws in a cable and diseqc switch as part of the sale. Some of the newer personal computers, specially laptops will have no serial port for the RS232 connection but this is resolved by using a USB serial adaptor that will allow you to connect to your USB port with the adaptor allowing you to connect to the RS232 cable needed to connect to the receiver. If you have to resort to an USB serial adaptor be sure to buy one that comes with the necessary drivers and installation instructions to get it to work on your personal computer. Most loader tools will work and recognize transfers going through COMM Ports 1-4 only.

One word of advice I will pass to newcomers is be patient and let processes finish and know how to recognize your transfers are finished. Take a minute to verify what and where you flash to on data transfers and you should have no problems in flashing data to your receiver or uploading data from your receiver to your personal computer. Know the difference between the receiver being in the off mode and power off mode. There is a difference between the two and most flashes will take better when the receiver is in the receiver off mode but power is on to receiver. Some receivers even go far as to everything is turned off and the loader tool is enabled and then turning on power to the receiver to start the flash process. Each receiver may differ from others and you should review your loading guides before starting to familiarize your self with the process. As with any electronic devices and specially when using in line switches in your antenna cable runs, always turn off power to the receiver before making any connects or disconnects in any cables connecting to your receiver. Diseqc type switches are very vulnerable to power surges and many beginning testers have learned the hard way to turn off the power to protect their switches.

This is just some of the simple stuff and hopefully when you digest this, some of the other more advanced and in deeper depth material will make sense with some reference point to begin with.

Platinum Member
Username: Lklives

Post Number: 14753
Registered: Jan-06
All these sites ALWAYS have the latest files, bins, how to's, manuals, guides, dish pointing calulators and tips, hardware info, jtag info, newbie and getting started sections, actively moderated with a no troublemakers and no bashing allowed policy.. and are free, and only require a simple free registration...Your email info is kept private, unless U specify differently..and U will be notified via email of any replies to any questions U may ask (or U can shut that feature off, if U like)..and your IP is sacred and never released..

Many of these specialize in particular FTA receivers as noted next to their links..USE those for your particular receiver manufacturer..

If U want real info, trouble free, no costs, friendly help, no hassles, latest files and manuals, then use these...these are well established, and have a long history, and are the best known sites throughout the entire DSS community now...

Ecoustics is NOT a Dss site, since is has NO files, no manuals, no guides, little info, no specific categories, and is almost impossible to find anything because every thread here has been allowed to be hijacked (because no mods are active) and the Subject does not relate to the posts within it....also Ecoustics is basically an Electronics site for home audio, television, DVDs, stereo's, and things of that nature, NOT FTA satellite information .

So again I highly recommend using ANY of these sites BELOW!....U pick one and use it for fast , friendly info and files, and many of these also have a LIVE chat area what U can get an IMMEDIATE response from reliable knowlegeable sources!...U will save yourself much time, especially if you are a newbie to this hobby!...and most all also will have the latest keys posted as well, and the keymaster, keyripper, key grabber utility files to download as well....and if plastic is your thing , some also have an area for that as well as FTA..Good Luck and enjoy this hobby!

FTA View
[link removed] (all receivers)
Data Viewing Sequences
[link removed] ( Conaxsat and all receivers)
FTA Bins
[link removed] (C00LSAT and All receivers)
FTA For All
[link removed]
[link removed]
[link removed]

or get Keymaster 4.0 here free and NO registration is required...
[link removed]

Best TV Guide site

New member
Username: Vanticano

Post Number: 7
Registered: Aug-06
who will read all this? duh!

Platinum Member
Username: Lklives

Post Number: 14756
Registered: Jan-06
Either READ or subsctibe...reading is a small price to pay...if ya can't take 3 minutes to read thgis, then ya shouldn't be in this hobby...

I know many people who have been in this hobby for 6 months who still don't read and ask silly questions that are answered here in 3 minutes..

Gold Member
Username: Oleg1474

Florida Usa

Post Number: 1046
Registered: Aug-06
LK !! Thanks...
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