How to Receive Satellite Signals On A Computer


Check Your existing Computer Hardware:Check if there are unused High Speed (2.0) USB ports. Open the computer (after shutting down) and check for unused expansion slots and type. Most common slot types in modern PCs are PCI and PCI Express. An unused AGP slot will not be suitable. Use the image below to help identify slots.

PCI Express x1, PCI Express x16 and the original PCI slots on modern PC motherboards.

PCI Express x1, PCI Express x16 and the original PCI slots on modern PC motherboards.

Two USB Ports on the back of a PC next to network jacks. Full Speed (1.1) jacks are OK for analog SDTV signals.

Two USB Ports on the back of a PC next to network jacks. Full Speed (1.1) jacks are OK for analog SDTV signals.

Analyze the existing outputs of cable or satellite set top box:
If using a cable or satellite converters to provide TV signals, inspect the back of these devices. There will likely be a range of output jacks from which to choose. Use the image to help identify the jacks listed below:

  • Coaxial or RF – This provides a single threaded jack that usually produces both a 480i Standard Definition (SDTV) video and audio (mono) signal on TV channel 3 or 4. This jack looks like the one used to connect cable from dish or cable company to the set top box.
  • Composite – This is a single yellow jack and can output an SDTV video signal only.
  • S-Video – This single jack output provides video signals of slightly better quality than coaxial and composite.
  • Component – This is a red, green and blue jack output of 480i SDTV and 480p EDTV (Enhanced Definition), 720p, 1080i and 1080p HDTV (High Definition) video only.
  • HDMI – This single jack provides uncompressed resolutions of SDTV through HDTV video signals and high quality digital audio (though not Dolby Digital 5.1 signals) in a single cable.
A cable set top box with a large variety of output choices. Click on the image for a larger version.

A cable set top box with a

                                                                                                large variety of output choices.
Locate an NTSC (or newer, ATSC) Tuner / Capture card (referred to as a “tuner card” forward). Obtain a tuner card with a matching (a) slot type (PCI or PCI Express) and (b) matching input signal / jack type to the cable or satellite output / jack type.

PCI slot TV tuner card.

PCI slot TV tuner card.

USB TV tuner and antenna.

USB TV tuner and antenna.

Use a USB tuner if no slot is available or it is desired to not enter the PC case. Disregard matching the slot type if using the USB interface. Only the coaxial jack (or RF) includes both audio and video over the same cable (the HDMI jack will pass both audio and video as well, but as of this writing, no such tuner card offers HDMI inputs). In all other cases, separate audio cables will be required to patch from the set top box into PC sound card (or tuner if equipped). This is done by connecting the set top box’s red & white (to provide left & right stereo audio signals) into the computer sound card, or connecting a SPDIF jack (either fiber optic or standard styles) if installed on both the set top box and the computer. The SPDIF connection will provide 5.1 Dolby Digital audio signals out should be used if the computer has more than just two speakers, otherwise inexpensive stereo cables will work nearly as well. Currently, tuner cards support one or more coaxial, composite and s-video jacks. An inexpensive NTSC tuner card is all that is needed for any of the arrangements described above. The tuner card is not limited to receiving only cable or satellite set top box signals – any compatible source and jack combination may be connected such as VCR, DVD, Video Camera, etc., with matching connectors

Consider an ATSC tuner card if you are able to receive digital broadcasts via antenna from a nearby digital TV broadcaster. ATSC tuners are the new TV standard in the US after February 2009, when analog TV signals are scheduled to cease. Older, NTSC tuner cards will become cheaper as retailers try to rid their shelves of obsolete products. But, most ATSC tuner cards are backward compatible to NTSC, and will allow viewing of the new, digital (and HDTV) signals. If equipped with the necessary jacks, it will allow input of any of the other signal sources listed above. An ATSC tuner connected via USB should not be connected to the older, slower “Full Speed” (version 1.1) USB ports. High Speed (version 2.0) ports connected directly to the motherboard or expansion card are ideal (do not use a multi-port hub).
Install the tuner hardware and software in the PC. Install as per the manufacturer’s instructions to complete installation.
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