C-Band Big Dish Satellite for Home Theater
Along with the full transponder (transponder=satellite channel) analog Videocipher encrypted channels available on C-band there is also a digital programming service offered called 4DTV. 4DTV equipped receivers offer many additional channels of digitally compressed programming which is very similar to the pre-packaged tier program services from Dishnet or DirecTV. 4DTV compresses many channels into each transponder utilized which allows for less frequent dish movement when changing channels during viewing. However that digital compression somewhat compromises the excellent image quality which is available on other non-digitally compressed/full transponder C-Band satellite channels.
C-Band Historical Overview
C-Band big dish satellite systems have long been a favorite of satellite TV hobbyists and videophiles. The original delivery system of satellite TV signals to the home, "Big Ugly Dishes" or BUDs, were originally targeted toward rural areas that were geographically removed from cable TV distribution systems. Soon afterwards there developed a loosely associated network of satellite TV hobbyists whom were attracted to the wide variety of programming available on the satellite airwaves. I was among those early hobbyists of C-Band Big Dish Satellite TV. I found the assortment of "backhaul" sports feeds, network television show "blacks drawn up" feeds, blocks of syndicated series and even Dr. Gene Scott's rant's wierdly riveting.
I assembled my system from used parts and components scavanged from discarded systems. If I recall correctly, the only things I actually paid for were the pole upon which the dish was mounted and the concrete that I had to pour in the pole's hole to secure it. I recall many nights spent just scanning through the different satellites and channels looking for whatever was "on the bird" at the time.
One of my favorite uses for the big dish was watching the backhaul (the signal sent from the event to the network) of sporting events. Available before the days of digital encryption by the networks of those signals - there was and still is absolutely nothing to compare to the signal quality I received from those feeds. The backhaul feed was directly from the satellite truck at say - the Super Bowl or Daytona 500 - directly to my receiver and then to my TV. No digital compression - straight 525 lines of analog NTSC resolution. The signal quality was simply astounding. One of the coolest thing about backhaul feeds was that when the network went to commercial during a NASCAR race for instance - the cameras continued to follow the race and you could hear the announcers talking amongst themselves during the break - often gaining some very humorous insights about the event. Ahhh - those sure were the "Good 'ol Days".