Satellite Of Luck

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Something weird happened today.

I was doing an electronics job, replacing the LNB on a satellite dish. That’s the receiver bit at the focus there; it’s much more than just an antenna though. Controlled by the set-top box, the LNB is actually re-tuned to the particular frequency you’re looking for. The microwave signals are too tenuous to bring down a wire to a tuner, so it has to be done right here. Which is why you can’t watch one satellite channel while recording another, and have to find something on RTÉ to watch instead.

Before I understood this I’d tried to split the signal from a dish into two boxes, with predictably unpredictable results. What you need is an LNB that has multiple outputs. Here we went with four, so you can record two satellite channels while watching two others. Say.

A word of warning if you’re considering doing this – I got the LNB in Maplin. Don’t do that. Maplin are well known to be on the pricey side for some things, but in the case of the LNB I paid at least double what I could’ve got this for online. They provide a great service and I like to patronise them, but that’s a bit much.

Especially as it wouldn’t fit. The current LNB (pictured) has an integral bracket, The new one doesn’t, so I had to go back for one. Also – now that I’d actually done research – some silicone grease and self-amalgamating tape. The former is a jelly-like waterproofing agent in a tube, the latter a strange sort of rubbery tape that melds with itself to make seals for the cable connections. And if the LNB was overpriced, these accessories were eye-watering. The bracket, a small piece of plastic that bends into shape, fetched €16.49. Here’s the same thing for a fiver. The job could have been done for half nothing with a little planning.

But anyway, armed with all the right bits today I climbed the ladder, undid the cable and pulled off the old LNB, pushed in the new one with its bracket, did up the cable, came inside and turned on the TV. And this is where the weird thing happened.

It worked first time. No hitches, no inexplicable problems, no wasted hours figuring out what I did wrong. Swap the units over… TV pictures. I didn’t have to alter the positioning of the LNB, futz with its polarisation angle, re-scan the channels, nothin’. The job was just done.

It’s a strangely uncomfortable feeling.

Second shoe, where are you?