Saturday, December 06, 2008

Having posted a vintage bulletin on aerial placement, I have my own reception quandary. When I moved into my current house, it had 2 satellite dishes. One on the front, aimed at Astra 19.2E - home of the old Sky analogue transmissions and numerous continental stations, and one at the back, for receiving Sky Digital. I've kept the front dish aimed at 19.2E, because stations like BR-Alpha and 3Sat show more live jazz in a week than the BBC deigns to shove out in a year. Those who are thinking 'Yeah right, I bet that's not the sort of jazz he's interested in' will be disappointed to hear that the free-to-air porn is very tame and mostly obscured by ads for on-screen phone lines, and does not justify the presence of a large, ugly piece of metalwork on the facade of my abode. The prospect of an hour of archive John Coltrane every now and again, however, does.

As for the digital minidish on the back of the house, I've kept it for ready access to the BBC and ITV regional opt-outs. There's very little difference between them these days, but it was always nice to be able to dial into Puffin's Pla(i)ce if the mood took me. Also when a programme started later in Northern Ireland, it acted as a +1 option. However, the installation came into its own on New Year's Eve, allowing the Swiss Family Cheeseford to tap into BBC1 Scotland for the Still Game Hogmanay special and a rather jolly celebration of the New Year with Caledonian current affairs' top Marti Caine lookalike, Jackie Bird. The other satellite box also gets a bit of a pasting on NYE, what with Dinner for One and all that.

However, in recent months, the signal quality on the 28.2E installation has dropped, making reception very intermittent. Reading around on the Internet, I worked out that the old LNB (the bit on the front of the dish) had started to fail. I had a spare LNB, bought in Lidl many moons ago, and today I finally summoned up the enthusiasm to replace the old device. The problem is that the dish is on a part of the roof that can't be accessed readily without duckboards and considerable risk to life. As dishes require very fine adjustment to give of their best, staying at a safe distance and prodding it round with a broom handle doesn't really work. I spent most of this morning up a ladder, cutting cables to length and titting around with the brackets, but to no avail. The new LNB's on there, it's picking up something, but it's off-kilter. I had to give up as the light was failing, and I'm going to have another prod with the broom tomorrow, but I can't help but think that with minidishes going for £20-odd on eBay, I should just buy a new one and put it somewhere that I can get at it. Fair enough, but then comes the question 'Can I justify £20 plus P&P, then an afternoon up a ladder making everyone anxious, simply for one night's television a year and the occasional glimpse at Gordon Burns on North West Tonight?'. These are straitened times, and with perfectly adequate Freeview, plus whatever I can swipe from the Germans, and numerous other repair jobs ahead of this in the financial queue, I'm inclining towards 'No'.

STOP PRESS: No joy with day 2 of Operation Broomprod. I think I can, however, run to an auxiliary bracket costing less than a tenner that allows me to receive 19.2E and 28.2E on the same dish. Sorted.

4 comments:

Gary said...

This might make your dilemma a tad easier - there's no Still Game this festive season :( Falling out between Ford Kiernan and Paul Riley, apparently...

Incidentally, there's a little more regional activity on the third channel now, as STV have opted-out of the network's FA Cup & England internationals coverage. This led to an unusual Saturday line-up a few weeks back, when The X Factor was preceded by a 1981 Agatha Christie TV movie, starring The Incredible Hulk's Bill Bixby.

Kecske said...

You don't smell funny and you don't hurt children's faces, so don't kill yourself trying to get better reception either.

LF Barfe said...

Is that Glasgow's own Gary Rodger? That news makes life a little easier. I'll just dig out the Scotch and Wry tapes.

Ha, Kecscke. As I clung onto the guttering for dear life, whacking the LNB arm this way and that with a broom and trying not to pull my VHF dipole off the wall, Rod Hull was at the front of my mind. In adulthood, I realise that the smell might have been the bird, but the pain was all Rod's work. Wouldn't have missed it for the world, mind.

Gary said...

Hi Louis, it is indeed. That's just what the Beeb are doing (now in their lovely, open plan building at Pacific Quay) - getting out not just the S&W tapes, but also clips of Naked Video, A Kick Up The Eighties, and Laugh? I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee for a Hogmanay classics compilation. Should turn up on UKN in the first minutes of 2009.