We subscribe to a satellite service that enables us to receive all the UK TV channels and radio stations so Sue can listen to the Archers and watch Corny Street to her hearts content.
An antique Sony TV came with the ship so we brought it up to date with a new JVC 28" LCD TV and a Pioneer DVD recorder with a 80gb disc drive that lets us record over 30 hours plus removable disks. As a final touch we added a JVC 60w mini Hi-Fi system and plugged the TV/DVD into it to improve sound quality.
We already had a USB TV plugged into the back of the laptop sitting next to the satellite receiver in the wheelhouse whereas the new TV and DVD were in the saloon some 10 metres remote. The problem was how to remotely control the satellite receiver and connect it to the TV. We did not want to traipse backwards and forwards to the wheelhouse each time we wanted to change a channel and running wires between would have been both technically and physically difficult.
The solution was a cunning bit of Dutch kit from a firm called HQ in 's-Hertogenbosch. It's a 2.4GHZ Wireless audio/video transmission system which can deliver sharp audio and video up to 30 meters through walls and integrates an UHF remote control extender. This means we just plug the transmitter unit into the sat box using a Scart cable provided. A second remote control cable from the transmitter unit has three sensors connected at intervals along it in series, so you can position one of these next to the infrared sensor on whatever device you want to remotely control, in our case only the satellite receiver but we could add any device that has an IR sensor if we wished. The receiver unit is plugged into the DVD which is connected to the TV, all with Scart cables. We can now sit in our saloon, change channels on the satellite box and watch TV with a wireless connection. There is supposed to be a small deterioration in picture quality but it is not noticable. Unlike our internet connection to the computer, this new technology worked first time!
The only problem with satellite communications is that we are on a ship which moves. In the harbour at Hasselt we moved so much, with wash from other ships on the Albert Canal, that it was impossible to keep the sat dish trained on the correct bearing. Of course we could invest in a proper marine system that keeps the bearing in a force 10 but we do not have money to burn so we must put up with the odd problems, another of which is trees, so we try to moor up with an eye on clear sky in the direction or our satellite. I first align the dish roughly to the co-ordinates using a compass. Then I have a satellite finder meter connected in the cable between the dish and the receiver which I hang out of the aft wheelhouse window. This indicates the strength of signal enabling final adjustment of the dish.