DIY Friday: HDTV Free-to-Air Box

So you’ve finished your Quantum Eraser Experiment from last week, and are ready to spend the weekend kicking back and watching a little TV.

But there’s nothing on the cable, and what you really want is to watch your favorite show from overseas.

Enter today’s DIY project — an HDTV Free-to-Air satellite receiver.

Back in September, we wrote about the Lyngbox Free to Air receiver, which promised up to 50,000 storable channels and global functionality:

Most “satellite people” are very familiar with the Lyngsat Web site. It could very well be the world’s most complete database of accurate satellite ladder charts. Pick a satellite and you can view all the channels available for viewing. For example, the AMC-4 satellite carries a number faith-based and international channels in North America. On another site, LyngSat Address, select a country and you can find out which satellites their channels are using for broadcasting – in their home market and internationally. TV Prima Romania, for instance, is using several satellites over Europe, Asia and the Atlantic.

At the time, the Lyngbox seemed imminent, but then we began to hear that they were looking for additional start-up funding and, whatever the case, the Lyngbox has yet to come to market.

Beating them to the punch, however, is the Fortec Star Passion HD Satellite Receiver. And doing-it-yourself (ie, hooking it up) promises to be quite easy: 

 The PASSION HD satellite receiver can connect to your HD-ready television using the HDMI output connection. The component (YPbPr) output can also be used. For analogue connectivity, SCART jacks, composite and S-Video outputs are provided. In addition to the analogue audio RCA jacks, PASSION also provides for digital audio output. For software loading, the USB port can be used. It is conveniently located behind the front panel door next to the two common interface slots.

And this puppy is loaded:

 # MPEG-2, MPEG-4 H.264 HD/SD Digital Video Decoding
# DVB-S2 and DVB-S compatible
# PCMCIA interface (2slots) according to DVB Common Interface standard
# DiSEqC 1.0, 1.2 and USALS (1.3) compatible
# HDMI, Component, Composite, S-Video, Digital Audio (SP/DIF) and SCART outputs
# Multiple output resolution modes: 1080i, 720p, 576p
# 16 bit True color On-Screen Display (OSD)
# Variable Aspect Ratio (4:3, 16:9)
# Multilingual Audio and Menu Text support
# Saves 10,000 channels (TV: 7000 CH, RADIO: 3,000 CH)
# VFD Display (Vacuum Fluorescent Display) for Channel Number, Name and Time
# Full Picture-In-Graphic (PIG) support
# SCPC/MCPC channel receivable from C/Ku band satellites
# Simple Operation through On-Screen Display
# Electronic Program Guide (EPG) for on-screen service information

Fortec is ready to ship, and their website includes a great set of instructional videos, including this explanation of free-to-air channels that is a must-see for anyone who doesn’t understand what it is we’re talking about. (Though we suggest turning down your volume before watching the video, as the music is terrible.)

So what are you waiting for? With cold air in the West, thunderstorms in the MidWest and rain throughout much of the East, this is a fine weekend to stay indoors and watch your favorite TV shows from around the world.