CabSat Report

 I visited the Cable & Satellite Show  (Cabsat'98) at earls Court2 last
 As promised,here are some bits & pieces I noted that might interest
 some of you.


   There was a distinct absence of twin universal LNB's with C120
   The usual names (like Grundig,Cambridge & Echostar) all said they
   have them within 3 months or so.I would expect general availability 
   around October -my best guess.
   I did manage to get my hands on a new Eurostar twin C120
   are being specially imported by SMS in UK,retailing at about 69 UKP.
   I saw several combined C/Ku band LNB/scalar horn combos.None seem to
   available for an offset dish (like mine).

  Sky Digital (& the Pace receiver).

  Sky had an impressive-looking auditorium running a video to announce
the great
  opportunities to the retailer with "Britain's first & best digital tv
  It was exactly the same video & announcement that Sky showed at
another show one
  month previously!
  No specific timescales were given.Details given (& also in their
handouts) were :-

  Sky Movie Multiplexing -5 movies starting every hour.
  Sky Box Office -blockbuster movies,sport & entertainment events.
  Sky Music Choice Channels -up to 50 channels of digital quality music.
  Existing New & Free-to-Air channels -existing analogue line-up,new
ones & up to 15 FTA.
  Interactive Services -access to home-shopping,banking & information
  Electronic Programme Guide - "putting the viewer in control".

  Elsewhere it briefly mentions email & games.
  There's a mock up of the new elliptically shaped black mesh dish -less
than 40cms in
  height.I also saw a Pace & a Grundig receiver -both marked "Sky
  The LNB was from Cambridge.The Pace receiver has 2 card slots-1 for
the dig smartcard
  (NDC Videoguard) & one for a Mondex smart bank-card.
  There's a description of the Pace receiver in the May 1998 Cable &
Satellite Europe
  magazine.This confirms that the video encoder includes Macrovision
7.01 for all composite
  & RGB output signals.Symbol rates covered are 20-30
Megasymbols/second.Also included is
  16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio support,an RS-232 interface,a V32 (with
V42bis) modem and
  2 scart sockets -although Sky's own specification only calls for one.1
intended use of 
  the RS-232 port is to download games to a PC directly from BSkyB.AN
IEEE 1394 (firewire)
  port could allow connection to DVD players.There are 2 RF outputs & 4
MBytes each of
   flash RAM & SDram. 
  Subscription charges are said to be "broadly in line with analogue" &
dealers are
  supposed to have Sky digital equipment to sell "in good time for the
start of the peak
  sales season" when their "massive consumer advertising & promotional
campaign begins in
  early autumn".
  At 1 point the English ex-cricketer Ian Botham appeared as a special
guest on the Sky
  stand.How boring! (for me at least);now if only they'd got Madonna or
even those nice
  ladies from the Playboy Channel!!! 

  My own opinion is that the whole pitch comes across as vague.I don't
see that Sky have
  much alternative until they sort out their differences with BDB
(digital terrestrial)
  over inter-operability of EPG & CA systems.

  Digital receivers (non-BSkyB)

  1) Nokia

  Nokia had a bewildering array of digtial receivers displayed.
  Obviously this included the 9500 -I picked up a leaflet on the "9500 S
Irdeto CA" 
  sold for Italian use.

   Then there was the "9600 S Common Interface CA" for Europe
  (which has 1.5MBytes of flash memory versus 1 MByte for the 9500 S).

  The "9602 S Common Interface" leaflet was marked "Nordic";this lacked
the SCSI port
   of the 9600 but had a V22bis modem.

  The new one (to me) was the "9800 S Multiaccess". This has a lot in
common with their
  9850 T (terrestrial) receiver.The remote control has a new shape -it's
more curvy.An
  SP/DIF output is provided on an RCA (phono) socket.A new 32 bit RISC
CPU is used.
  Does anyone know which processor ????
  Memory is 2 MBytes Ram + 4MBytes of SDram & 2 Mbytes of flash.An RF
modulator has
  been added with loop-through (full UHF band,both PAL B/G & PAL I).
  Power consumption is reduced to 35 Watts (with 3 watts on standby).
   Worth noting is the embedded (built-in) Viaccess decoder which is in
addition to the
   CI CAM interface.   
  The 9850T BDB compatible box appears to be a 9800 S with COFDM tuner
for digital
  terrestrial (satellite uses QPSK).It only supports the 2K carrier
system (which is
  fine for UK).The (more complex) 8K carrier system is likely to be used
in most of
  Europe so I would expect a new version for this in due
course.Mediaguard (SECA)
  is included (which is the encryption system BDB will use) along with a
   connector.An SP/DIF phono output is included along with a V22bis
   2) Echostar

    DSB-9800 - this is an Irdeto CA-enabled receiver though Echostar's
blurb also says
    "Besides Canal+/Telepiu bouquet the DSB-9800 receives all
free-to-air channels".
    The symbol rates covered turn out to be only 18.5-30
Megasymbols/Second so their
    definition of FTA doesn't include SCPC.The OSD is in Dutch or
English & there's an
    optional V22bis (slow) modem + a 9-pin serial port.Teletext can be
inserted into
    the VBI allowing the use of the TV handset for text.

   DSB-9000 -a more interesting receiver.This one has embedded Nagra CA
(as used by
   Spanish digital channels) plus a CI CAM interface in the same
box.There's a 9-pin
   serial port & a V22bis modem on an RJ11 connector.Symbol rate again
is 18-30 MS/sec.
   so no SCPC reception is possible.Teletext VBI insertion is included.

   DSB-2000 - at last ,true FTA from Echostar -this one does 1-45
MS/second.It uses an SGS
   ST20 CPU & has manual PID entry.Like the 9800 & 9000,there are TV &
VCR scarts.The mains
   power supply allows AC input from 100-220 Volts -the only other
digital receiver I had
   seen that does this is the RSD ODM300 (but I later found the Kathrein
& Pansat do too). 

 3) Xcom

   CD.TV350 -the latest variant of combined analogue/digital box was on
display.The symbol
   rates covered still rule out SCPC reception but the spec. leaflet
mentioned 2-30.5 MS/s
   as an "option".Teletext insertion via VBI is included.

   CDTV115 - this is described as a "Professional satellite digital
IRD".It appears to cover
    2 symbol rate ranges ;1 is 20-30.5 MS/sec whilst the other is 4-6
MS/second.I'm not 
    sure whether this receiver would accept,for example,BET on Orion1
which uses 6116 MS/s.
    This box is designed for professional use (probably at professional
prices) so video 
    outputs are on BNC sockets.

   XCom also showed off a QAM (cable) receiver in a similar case to the

  4) Kathrein

    UFD 501 -at last a digital receiver from this German company.What's
more it's actually
     a combined digital AND analogue receiver -to give some more
competition to the Lemon
    & Xcom combined analogue/digital boxes.
    Unfortunately the symbol rates covered are only 20-30.5 MS/s.It has
2 scarts + an S-VHS                 output socket and a "worldwide" AC
mains input (90-245 Volts).OSD can be in German,
   French,English,Italian or Spanish. Not bad for Kathrein's first
digital market entry.  
   5) Panarex

   Pansat 100A (USA) & 100M (Europe) -these appear to be nothing to do
with Panasonic who
    produce receivers with names like "IRD500".
    The Pansat covers symbol rates from 2-45 MS/s so should be SCPC
comaptible.It has no
    scart sockets which shows its USA origins (Panarex are fron Sun
    It does automatically (says the spec) switch from NTSC to PAL & runs
off any mains
    supply from 90 to 260 volts.The back sports  9-pin RS-232,mimi S-VHS
    for video & L/R audio & a modulated RF output with loopthrough
socket.The mains socket
    takes a standard IEC lead (as used on PC's).
   6) Strong

    The SRT 4000 was displayed on their stand.This version now covers
symbol rates from
    2-32 MS/s so should now be ok for both MCPC and SCPC.It has 1000
channel storage
    There's also a most confusing range of variants of their "2nd
generation" models :-

    The 4100 is a digital FTA receiver with dual IF bandwidths of 25/55
MHz.There are 3 
    scarts & the OSD covers English,French,German,Spanish,Italian and
RUSSIAN (to my
    surprise).Symbol rates cover 2-45 MS/s so good for SCPC too. 1000
channel storage.
    The 4200 is a combined analogue/digital receiver with storage of 500
channels each
    for radio & TV channels.Again ok for SCPC & with 3 scarts + serial

    The SRT 4300 is a digital box with CI compatible CAM sockets,1000
channel storage,
    RJ11 modem socket & full speed serial ports;unusually there's both a
9 pin male
    AND a 9 pin female serial port -downloads from PC use the female.

     SRT 4500 -an IRDETO (rather than CI compatible) version of the 4300
without the 2nd
     serial port or the RJ11 connector & (optional) modem.

     SRT 4700 -this is (confusingly) a CABLE receiver with QAM16/64
demodulator,2 smart 
     card slots,9 pin serial port & an IEEE 1294 (consumer "firewire")
25 way.
     It has 2 scarts and,according to my spec. leaflet,a qpsk
demodulator also.There's
     an RJ11 socketed V22 modem with V34 as an option.

     SRT 5000 -another FTA receiver from Strong.This one adds SECAM
outputs (the others do 
     PAL & NTSC).Other features are much like the 4100.

     SRT 7400 -a confusingly numbered box (easily mistaken for the 4700
which is in the 
     same style case).Again does SCPC & MCPC but comes with a 925-2175
MHz tuner (the other
     DVB receivers are 950-2150 MHz).has 2 scarts & optional Viaccess

     I now declare the Strong range as confusing & fragmented as Nokia's
     rumoured to cost less than the Nokia boxes. 

  7) Humax
     Humax are,I believe,Korean but have set up a facory in Northern
Ireleand recently.
     The Humax F1 - 1000 channel storage,SCPC & MCPC DVB box.Has PID
insertion & DiSEqC
     lnb control.The CPU is a MIPS RISC processor.Memory consists of
1MByte flash,2MByte
     RAM & 16KByte EEPROM.There's the usual 9 pin serial port & 2 scarts
+ an RF modulator
     (PAL B/G/I).
     The Humax F1-CI is similar,has an extra 1MByte of flash memory &
sports a CI CAM 

   8) Lemon

    This oddly-named German company was highlighting their Volksbox
which is a
    combined digital,analogue & ADR (Astra Digital Radio))
receiver.There are 
    separate lnb inputs for analogue & digital,3 scarts + serial
port.The latest version
    is supposed to be SCPC compatible but I don't expect this to be
available until
    late summer of 1998.This is the Volksbox Alpha.

    They're also working on a "Volksbox Beta" series ;I believe there
will be a digital 
    only receiver as well as a "twin" receiver -probably FTA only.
   9) The Manhattan ST-1000 

    This receiver is being marketed by the distributor Eurosat in Europe
& the parts of
     Africa that Eurosat reach.Elsewhere in the world it may appear with
a different
     model number.
    It was designed in UK & production is in Korea.It covers 2-45 MS/s
symbol rate range
    & uses a 3rd generation LSI Logic demodulator;in fact the board also
appeared on LSI
    Logic's stand at the show.
    It seems to lock signals that Nokias have difficulty with.There is
teletext insertion 
    in the VBI & the software features some clever ideas.As an
example,it will store 
    multiple EPG information from different bouquets which makes for
easy channel-surfing.
    There's both an express & a custom (or enthusiast's) setup mode.
    At the back are 2 F-sockets with IF loopthrough,2 scarts,S-VHS
socket,9 pin serial
    port,4 phonos (audio mono,audio L/R,composite video),an IEEE1284
(consumer firewire)
    port & UHF/VHF TV output with loopthrough.
    Like the analogue Manhattan range,I would expect the retail price to
be competitive.
    I'm hoping to get a chance to review this receiver -in any case I'm
sure TSI magazine
    will cover it in the near future.

     Satellite Internet

  There were "Internet via satellite" cards on many stands.Most of these
are now PCI-based
   but are also expensive to buy & run.
  As an example,DirecPC has monthly charges from 15-1750 UKP.
  15 pounds gets you only 30 free MBytes/month , any more costing
  The 1750 UKP ("Professional 5G") option gets you 5GigaBytes -but still
an extra 35 pence
   per MByte above this limit. In both cases you need their PCI card &
software at around
   500 UKP. This is acceptable for many businesses -but not the

  Digital Terestrial TV

 There was an area devoted to this known as the "DTG" or Digital TV
Group.The stand also
 represented "The Digital Network" & "DigiTag" -the European sister of
DTG.There was a
 Hitachi widescreen TV  with digital terrestrial tuner on demo.The
actual tuner board used
 could be seen on the stand of Eldon Technology (design consultants).
  Digital tuners & chips for them were also highlighted on the SGS & LSI
Logic stands.    

  Anyway,that's a long enough description of a very tiring day at Earls
  Was it worth it -yes !!!
  I hope to do the same next year.

  Please feel free to post any comments news or criticisms on the
list-server for
  all subscribers to see (email to "sat-digital-uk@tags1.dn.net").
  Some of the info above will be added to my next upgrade of the digital
satellite faq

  Chris Muriel,Manchester,UK  (chris.muriel@analog.com)


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