FreeSat: Adding Channels

Please note: I do not know if the freesat receivers offer a uniform user interface (like the Sky Digibox) or if the process I describe here is specific to the Goodmans receiver(s).
If your receiver is different, look to see if it offers something that seems similar, even if not identical. But please do not email me to ask for help, I cannot describe something I've never seen!


Why add other channels?

While freesat offers a good number of channels, there are a multitude of other available channels which are not offered (yet?) as a part of freesat. Some of these are +1 versions of freesat channels, while others are content simply not part of the package...
  • Bliss
  'Blissful music'.   11643 V 27500
  • Brit Shorts
  Short films (french channel).   11428 H 27500
  • Horse & Country
  Telly for the well off & horse lovers.   11623 H 27500
  • movies4men+1
  Hour-delayed version.   12523 H 27500
  • movies4men2+1
  Hour-delayed version.   11260 V 27500
  • oMusic TV
  Modern-classical music channel.   11223 V 27500
  • PCNE
  Chinese channel - Phoenix.   11623 H 27500
  • PopGirl+1
  Hour-delayed version.   11643 V 27500
  • Sky News
  International excitable news channel.   12207 V 27000
  • Travel Channel
  See the world.   12560 V 27500
  • Travel Channel2
  See other parts of the world.   12560 V 27500
  • World Movies
  Interesting movies from around the world.   12644 V 27500
  • zone reality+1
  Hour-delayed version.   11261 H 27500
This is only a sample of what is available. There's loads more; especially TV sales, religion (Christian and Islam), and Indian music/movies/culture; if any of that stuff is your bag, baby... you can add it!


Preparing to add channels

Press MENU and select option 2 'Settings':

Now go down to 'Show Non-Freesat Services' and select (by pressing OK) to 'open' the options, then go Down (arrow) to the option Yes and press OK again:

A confirmation on the right, under the mini TV picture, will say "Set: Yes".
You only need to do this once.


Adding channels

We will add the modern-classical music channel 'oMusic TV'.

Open the 'Settings' menu, if you have not already done so (the first step above). Go down to the 'Add Non-Freesat Services' and press OK to open the options, then go down to 'Manual Tune' and press OK again.

You will see the following:

Note - the 'default' settings in the tuning boxes are those of the channel you are currently watching (in my case BBC One South). What your receiver says may be slightly different. It isn't important.

Okay, don't panic! It looks complicated. It isn't really.
The bit you can control is the upper left. If you think about radios, you have a little dial (or buttons) so you can tune into your favourite stations, like 96.4 The Eagle for those in the Guildford area.
Well, the Frequency is the same thing, only we are talking really big numbers - 10817MHz for BBC One South.

The next option, the Symbol Rate, tells your receiver how 'quickly' the digital data is being sent. While there are many possible options, in conventional digital satellite broadcasting this number will be either 22000 or 27500. Don't worry about what it actually means, so long as it matches up, the specifics are not important.

The final option is the LNB Polarisation. In order to squeeze more signals into a rather small space, every transmitter (called 'transponder' in satellite parlance) uses the opposite to that before it, so the sequence is V H V H V H. How and why this works is the sort of complicated physics and maths that could fill a board with seemingly meaningless equations; so like the symbol rate, so long as it matches up...

You will see in the list of example channels above that the necessary information has been provided, for example:

The first number is the tuning, then the polarity, then the symbol rate. This is how satellite channel tunings are usually expressed, you will need to mentally transpose for the freesat receiver asking for the information in a slightly different order.

There are other pieces of information that you may see - FEC, VID or VideoID, AUID or AudioID, PCRID or ProgrammeID, etc. These may be required by some receivers, but not yours. The freesat receiver can scan and find the channels by itself given the appropriate tunings.

This, incidentally, leads to an interesting question: Where do you find out tuning information?
It is possible that the channel's website may list the information, if they see themselves beyond Sky/Freesat numbering (i.e. don't bother looking in RadioTimes). Specialist satellite listings magazines often contain a list of channels and frequencies at the back. Failing all of that, although it is rather scary-looking, the Lyngmark site will provide obscene levels of detail. You are looking for Astra2/Eurobird at 28 degrees east.
Oh, and in case it needs to be stated... don't waste your time trying to tune in to a Sky channel. Those that are encrypted won't work even with all the correct tuning information...

Anyway... In the Frequency box, tap out 1 1 2 2 3 with your remote control:

The preview screen (mini-TV) may go blank, and the level/quality meters will disappear and read 0. This is expected.

Press Down (down arrow) to go to the Symbol Rate, and tap out 2 7 5 0 0.

There will be no preview, but the level/quality meters should have come alive. If they do not, you have have the wrong polarisation, that's next...

If the polarisation is not Vertical, then press Down to go to the LNB Polarisation and then use either Left or Right as suits you to alter the polarisation.

Press Down to highlight the Scan Stopped state, then press the Right button to begin the scan:

Start will change to Started, and the preview mini-TV will appear saying Please wait.

After about five seconds, the scan will stop and you will see PTV Global in the preview. You can also see how many services were found and how many were added. Don't worry if there is a disparity, the receiver won't bother with Sky's encrypted channels, so finding more than are actually added is not unusual:

To assure ourselves that the desired channel was added, press Ch - until you can see oMusic TV in the preview:

Something that you will need to get your head around, and the reason for some of the 'clunky' wording in parts of this document, is that a 'tuning' is not a specific channel. Instead it is providing the receiver with a digital datastream which can contain a number of 'channels'. For example, if you look up at the list of example channels you will see Horse & Country and PCNE have the same tunings. There are actually more channels (sometimes as many as a dozen for television, and up to twice that for radio) broadcast from each transponder - a transmitter on the satellite operating at a specific frequency/polarisation.
You may not be aware of this, as the freesat receiver does its best to hide all of the technical stuff from you, leaving you with a menu where 101 is your local BBC, 103 is your local ITV, 300 is FilmFour, and so on.

Oh, and it would appear that the channel 'type' (to the right of the channel name) has only two possible values: Fre for Freesat channels, and BSk (as in BSkyB) for everything else. Something of a misnomer really, "FTA" would have made more sense?


If you wish to add any more channels at this time, simply go back up to the 'Frequency' and enter new tuning information, and repeat this process for the new channels. Otherwise, press Exit to return to normal viewing.


Selecting and managing non-Freesat channels

Press CH LIST to open the list of channels:

Now press SWAP to go to the non-freesat channels. If you do not seem to have this option, refer to the Preparing to add channels section at the top, as non-freesat channels are inaccessible by default.

In order to remove unwanted channels, go to the channel you wish to remove and press Right. You will be prompted to Enter Delete Code. Unless somebody has been fiddling with your box or you have set parental lock, the PIN is 0000.
Repeat as necessary to tidy your channels.

Highlight the channel that you want to watch, then press OK:

The channel will appear. Ignore the four-digit channel number, you cannot access non-freesat channels by number. Also not that the only information you will be told is that the channel is not part of the freesat lineup. Almost every channel available broadcasts the industry standard Now&Next information, along with a description of the current programme. Sadly the freesat receiver completely ignores this.

In order to choose a regular freesat channel, tap in the three-digit channel number at any time. To return to the added channel(s), or choose a different non-freesat channel, it is CH LIST then SWAP then select it then press OK. A bit clumsy, but slightly more direct than the Digibox!


Something to note is that channels are assigned a number when they are added, and that number sticks, so after tidying up, the numbers will jump around:

Oh, and before you try... the BBCi streams (which are broadcast 'in the clear') are set to be inaccessible on the freesat receiver, as is also the case on the Digibox.
For those with a generic FTA receiver - 12441 V 27500.


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Copyright © 2009 Rick Murray