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Sunday, 17 June 2007

The Sky is the Limit

Two Sundays ago (3rd May) my Son was watching a program on our Sky Digital satellite system when it suddenly lost its signal. After much fiddling about we managed to get the signal back, but it didn’t last for more than about 20 minutes. Sometime ago I was given a spare Digital Box, but when I connected it up I had exactly the same fault. I therefore assumed that the problem was most likely to be either the cable to the dish or the LNB (receiving head on the dish).

I searched out a new LNB on the internet and found a company in Dorset that would sell me one for £12 including P&P. However, a colleague of mine said that he had a spare one that I could borrow.

The following day (Monday 4th) the fault seemed to have gone away, so I thought it must have been some kind of atmosphere problem and decided to leave the existing LNB where it was. It continued to work without any interruption until the following Friday, when it started playing up once more. On the Saturday morning I rushed round my colleagues house to take him up on his offer of borrow his spare LNB. I felt a bit guilty when I realised that I had got him out of bed, but I got what I wanted.

I rushed home to replace the LNB on the dish and all seemed good once more. However, within and hour the problem had returned. I spent the rest of the morning moving our terrestrial Digi-Box from the bedroom to the lounge. It was quite a fun operation as we managed to damage the aerial lead when we laid the new carpet earlier this year. Yet another job that I hadn’t got round too. It was quite urgent as we wanted to watch the F1 Grand Prix qualifying, which for some reason has been moved to ITV4.

By last Sunday I was missing all those hundreds of TV channels that I have become used to over the years. To be honest terrestrial digital TV is quite limited in its choice and all the channels I wanted to watch. It’s fine if you want to watch Big Brother or similar low intellect programmes, but not if you want to watch motorcycle racing. I was not a happy bunny. I phoned Sky to inquire about having the system checked and repaired. It was going to cost me £65 just to get an engineer out and on top of that I would have to pay for any repairs required. So I decided to take the plunge and get upgraded to Sky+ instead.

I’ve been interested in the Sky+ technology for quite a few years now, but I was always put off by the £10 monthly fee to use the service. However, as of the 1st of July this year Sky are dropping this charge. The timing couldn’t be better.

Last Thursday the engineer turned up and replaced the dish, all the cabling and installed my shiny new Sky+ Digi-box. While he was here, he told me that the fault with the old system was infact the digi-box and not the cable or LNB as I had thought. LNB faults usually present themselves as missing channels and not total loss of signal. It’s most likely that the decoder in the digi-box has failed. The whole installation process took less than an hour and very impressive it is to.

I now have the ability to record two different channels at the same time, while watching a previously recorded programme. I can also pause live TV when my Mum phones up at the most inopportune moment, which she regularly does. No more will I miss the last 10 minutes of an hour long drama series. I can now go to bed instead of stay up to the wee small hours watching a film I’ve got into. No longer will I have to wrestle my son for the remote control when I want to watch the local news while he’s watching the Simpsons.

The only problem I have now is finding the time to watch all those recorded programmes.


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