Dirona has a KVH M7 satellite TV system installed. When we left Hawaii, we cancelled our satellite TV subscription with Dish Network and haven’t used the system since. We knew we had some work to do to get the system running outside the US, and it hadn’t been a priority. It also wasn’t even a possibility until we got to New Zealand and in range of the television satellite there.
The only time we’d really missed it was for live sporting events. We were in Fiordland during the Superbowl and, with our 64kbps data connection, we had trouble getting a reliable audio feed, let alone a video feed. We made do, and actually had a great time, “watching” the game over a mobile play-by-play app. We’re not sure if this was a step backwards to a time before television, or a step forwards, but as Seahawks fans it definitely was among the most enjoyable Super Bowl we’ve ever watched.
Since we plan to be in Australia for over a year, getting the system functioning here felt worth the time investment.
The first stage was to climb the stack to replace the circular Low Noise Block (LNB) at the satellite television antenna with a linear LNB. Circular LNBs are used in the US, Canada, Latin America and some parts of Asia. Linear LNBs are used in Mexico, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. We had purchased a linear LNB when we bought the satellite TV system–this was among of the last few pieces of equipment that we carried for worldwide cruising but had not yet used.
While up the stack, we also adjusted the skew angle on the LNB. Periodically, in different parts of Australia, we’ll need to repeat this adjustment. Circular LNBs don’t require this adjustment, and newer M7 models can automatically adjust the linear LNB skew angle.
The next stage was to install an Australian digital receiver. The Australian government has established a free commercial satellite system: Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST), for viewers in remote locations or those who cannot receive terrestrial services after the digital switch-over. Travelers, such as those in RVs or boats, also are eligible to use the system.
The satellite frequencies had changed since our system was delivered, so we needed to reprogram them into the satellite dish. This allows the VAST receiver to find the satellite.
At this point in the process, we still couldn’t display anything on our TV. The VAST receiver outputs a PAL-format video signal, the standard used outside the Americas, whereas all our AV equipment requires NTSC. We ordered a Orei XD-1090 PAL-to-NTSC converter from Amazon with an expected delivery time of two to three weeks. While we waited for the converter, Mark Mohler of N62 Gray Matter next door lent us his PAL-format television so we could test our setup end-to-end. The receiver quickly found the Optus C1 satellite and successfully established a connection.
With a single satellite to find, this stage was much faster than the Dish Network satellite TV system we’d used in the US. We’ve spent way too much time with the “Searching for Satellite” screen up as the Dish receiver struggled to locate one of the multiple Dish satellites. We soon had the system running end-to-end. Spitfire seemed to be particularly missing TV.
The last piece of the puzzle, an Orei XD-1090 PAL-to-NTSC converter, finally arrived. And amazingly, it just worked. Equally amazing, Amazon shipped the unit to Brisbane from the US in less than two weeks for only $8 shipping.
In summary, to get our US-installed satellite TV system working in Australia all we had to do was:
- Climb the stack and
- Swap the circular LNB for a linear LNB
- Manually adjust the LNB skew
- Program the new satellite frequencies into the dish
- Install a Australian digital decoder
- Install a PAL-to-NTSC converter.
Basically plug-and-play :).