Streaming TV via a '90s analogue satellite box

Bringing a mid-nineties Sky Analogue receiver back to life in the age of Netflix

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Analogue satellite television, once the future of broadcasting, has been dead since 2012 across the UK and Europe. Official analogue satellite broadcasts to the UK ended a decade earlier, when Sky became a fully digital service in 2001. That means there must be an awful lot of analogue satellite receivers gathering dust in British cupboards with no particular purpose.

I came up with an idea to reuse an analogue satellite receiver as a 'channel switcher' for a simple Raspberry Pi streaming media centre. In my first setup, the RPi would intercept the IR signals from the receiver's remote, changing streams on the Pi as I changed channels on the receiver.

My next idea is a bit more elegant, and involves using the LNB socket voltages (originally used to switch between H/V polarisation) to tell the Pi which stream to select, by wiring the LNB socket(s) to the Pi via a Power Management HAT and a bit of coax.

***This bit describes my initial, okay-but-inauthentic IR remote-based approach***

I have connected a Raspberry Pi Model B's composite video/analogue audio outputs to the Decoder SCART on the receiver, and I've made a very simple (one-wire) modification to fool the receiver into thinking the PC's video output is a decoded PAL satellite picture.

I stream the TV channels via Streamlink, using VLC full-screen in command-line mode.

Then, using an Arduino Pro Mini, an IR sensor and a bit of Python code, I've taught the Pi to respond to the Amstrad's remote control handset, so it changes channels in the VLC playlist in time with my button-presses. This setup currently sits alongside the receiver - though I reckon I can mount it inside with a bit of ingenuity.

The setup is a bit clunky at the moment, but it works, and the vintage '90s OSD graphics from the receiver make it a wonderfully retro way to watch streaming TV. In particular, the channel names change on the Amstrad (roughly) in time with the actual channel changes in VLC, roughly as they would have done had I been watching them via real analogue satellite, back in 1993. I'll upload a video at some point to show this in action.

I'd like to add a teletext signal output from the Pi's composite video port, as I have an (unconfirmed) hunch that the VBI time data included within a teletext signal will set the SRD510's on-screen clock to the correct time, which would be a nice finishing touch. Also, it'd be cool to press TEXT and get (the brilliant) NMS Ceefax service displayed on top of my television picture.

  • 1 × Raspberry Pi Model 1B The original one from 2012 with the RCA yellow socket
  • 1 × Amstrad SRD510 analogue satellite receiver
  • 1 × IR sensor module (for Arduino) This will receive the IR signals from the Amstrad's remote control, to be sent to the Pi via the Arduino
  • 1 × Arduino Pro Mini, 3.3V version This will decode the IR signals from the Amstrad remote and send them to the Pi via the UART GPIO pins

  • New thoughts on repurposing old satellite receivers!

    James Fossey03/04/2024 at 23:03 0 comments

    After a few months away, I've just thought of a more elegant way to repurpose an old, redundant analogue satellite receiver as a 21st-century 'channel switcher' for a Raspberry Pi streaming TV media centre.

    My original 2023 idea (see previous logs) involved intercepting the IR signal from the receiver's remote. This did work, but it was a bit unreliable and felt inauthentic, because the streams weren't 'hard-wired' to particular channels on the receiver (e.g. using front panel buttons to change channels on the receiver would not change the stream - you had to use the remote).

    My new 2024 idea is to instead use the switchable voltage from the receiver's LNB socket(s), piped through an analogue-digital converter (ADC), to tell the Pi which stream to select. Allow me to explain!

    Most analogue satellite receivers can output two different voltages from each LNB socket: 17-ish volts and 13-ish volts, to receive 'horizontal' (H) and 'vertical' (V) polarised signals. In the analogue days, when you tuned your receiver to a specific channel (say, Sky One) you needed to tell the receiver which polarisation (and hence which LNB voltage) to use.

    Later analogue receivers (mid-90s era) allowed two LNB connections, meaning two LNB sockets, and therefore you needed to specify one of four possible 'voltage combinations' to tune a particular satellite channel in the receiver's menu...which gives four voltage combinations:

    Channel tuning setting in receiver menu
    Voltage coming out of LNB1 socket
    Voltage coming out of LNB2 socket
    LNB1, V polarisation
    13 volts
    0 volts
    LNB1, H polarisation
    17 volts
    0 volts
    LNB2, V polarisation
    0 volts
    13 volts
    LNB2, H polarisation
    0 volts
    17 volts

    So, let's say I connect each LNB socket to a Raspberry Pi, via a suitable ADC converter**.

    By programming 4 different 'dummy channels' on the receiver using each of the above LNB settings, and 'training' the Raspberry Pi to read the voltages from the two LNB sockets, I could use the analogue receiver to switch between four different streaming TV services depending on which voltage combination is being read by the ADC.

    I haven't explained my thinking well, but I'd be curious to try it on a later analogue satellite receiver!

    PS: Other ways of further doubling the number of unique possibilities may exist: e.g. specifying which decoder socket to use (on a receiver with two or more DECODER SCARTs) or adding an LNB 'tone' which was often controllable in the tuning settings.

    **stepping down the voltage appropriately to avoid a massive 17-volt-induced bang

  • Mission accomplished...sort of.

    James Fossey09/19/2023 at 21:16 0 comments

    A belated update...It worked, though there were a few minor issues.

    I got hold of a Pi 1B+ and connected it to the Decoder SCART socket of the Amstrad analogue satellite receiver. 

    To get the receiver to display the picture coming in through the Decoder SCART (as opposed to the snowstorm being received by the tuner, due to us living in the 21st Century) I had to bridge pin 8 of the Decoder SCART with pin 8 of the TV SCART with a length of wire. This was quite simple. I then connected the TV SCART socket of the Amstrad to a normal television, tuned it to AV1, and switched on the receiver.

    As expected, the receiver displayed the video signal coming in through the Decoder SCART from the Pi, no matter what channel I selected on the receiver. My little modification fooled the receiver into thinking 'ooh, this person wants to watch a descrambled signal coming out of a decoder' when in fact the descrambled signal coming our of a decoder was a VLC stream coming out of an RPi.

    The tricky bit was getting the Pi to change streams when I changed channels via the Amstrad's remote. I tried tapping the remote IR receiver on the Amstrad's circuit board, but had no luck in getting the signal into a Pi or Arduino in usable form. In the end, I used an Arduino Nano with its own infrared LED to do this. The Nano interpreted the remote control signals (e.g. the hex code for 'button 4 pressed') and gave instructions to the Pi (e.g. 'change to stream 4'). It was very basic; only channels 1-9 were supported and all other buttons were ignored, except the useless 'Authorise' button on the remote which I programmed to shut down the Pi.

    I mounted the Nano and its IR receiver carefully in the Sky viewing card slot of the Amstrad. This meant that it was *just* possible for the Nano to live inside the satellite receiver, yet still receive the IR signal from the remote control - provided I pointed the remote in exactly the right direction! It was a bit of a faff.

    I then programmed all the channel names into the Amstrad, so pressing button 4 would cause the Pi to start streaming 4Music through VLC, and simultaneously, the Amstrad's 90s-retro OSD would show '04 4MUSIC' as though I was watching it via Sky in '92.

    The only finishing touch would be to power the Pi via the Amstrad's unused LNB voltage output via the F-connector, with a suitable step-down transformer to drop the 12/17V to 5V. I think the current supplied would be just enough to run the Pi...maybe I'll give it a go one day.

  • Using Streamlink to open streams directly in VLC

    James Fossey02/23/2023 at 12:27 0 comments

    Yesterday I discovered Streamlink, a command-line program that can be used to open video streams from various free streaming services directly in VLC or other media players. I was pleased to see that Pluto TV and BBC iPlayer are included (you need a BBC login and a UK TV licence to access iPlayer) as this means I can add a few movie channels, and possibly the main BBC channels to my Amstrad setup.

    Previously, I could only access Pluto TV either via the website ( or via Kodi, but I found the website very overblown, and Kodi is a bit tricky to run via the command-line, so this came as a very welcome discovery.

    I might order a second-hand RPi Model 1B, as UK availability of new Pis remains very limited, and the Pi 1 has a proper 'yellow phono' socket for ease of connection to the Decoder SCART socket on the SRD510.

  • Modifying the SRD510 to play external video/audio

    James Fossey02/18/2023 at 19:31 0 comments

    My SRD510 arrived, and the first step was to modify it to permanently display video and audio received at the Decoder SCART.

    In the olden days of analogue satellite TV, a lot of channels were encrypted. Most PAL programmes intended for UK audiences (e.g. all the Sky channels) were encrypted using Videocrypt. Given that the SRD510 was intended for the Sky-viewing UK public, it has an in-built Videocrypt decoder. Snazzy.

    But...some people wanted to watch more exotic transmissions, encrypted using different standards and often not intended for UK viewers. To satisfy them, Amstrad included a Decoder SCART socket round the back of the SRD510. The idea was that the scrambled video received by the receiver would be fed out to the external decoder, the decoder would work its magic, and then would send the unscrambled video/audio back to the SRD510 - all via the Decoder SCART. To 'tell' the Amstrad to play the decoded video/audio, the external decoder would output 12 volts to pin 8 of the Decoder SCART socket.

    So...merely connecting the PC's video output to the Decoder SCART wasn't enough. I tried it, turned the PC on, checked my HDMI-to-RCA converter...but the screen remained blank. I needed to find a way to 'pipe' 12 volts to pin 8 of the Decoder SCART socket. Luckily, the (archived) SatCure website came to the rescue, suggesting that I solder a wire from pin 8 of the receiver's TV SCART socket (which is always at 12 volts - presumably to tell the TV that the receiver is powered on) to pin 8 on the Decoder socket. I did this, and hurrah! The screen flickered into life, and I was staring at my PC desktop via a 30-year-old satellite receiver in slightly fuzzy 576i.

    Next step - to get the PC to respond to the Amstrad's remote...

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sigmundwehner wrote 03/26/2024 at 05:52 point

Thanks for the blast from the past with the '90s Sky Analogue box! It's amazing how technology has moved on, making those old analogue satellite receivers obsolete.

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timmyack649 wrote 11/18/2023 at 11:54 point

Hey there! Thanks a ton for the nostalgic trip down memory lane with the '90s Sky Analogue box. It's incredible how technology has evolved, leaving those once-beloved analogue satellite receivers as relics of the past. Your mention o <a href=>Loklok app provides us with a platform for watching videos </a> is a fantastic suggestion! For anyone with a dusty analogue box looking for a modern streaming fix, this app could be the perfect solution. Let's embrace the future of entertainment while cherishing the analog memories. Cheers! #StreamingRevolution LoklokMovieApp

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