Computers, Entertainment, Technology

Sky TV without a Sky box

At the moment I have a Sky subscription with a Sky box. The Sky box outputs to my computer which is running Media Center which can change channel on the box using an IR blaster. This isn’t ideal and also means that I’ll never get HD since the Sky box only sends an SD signal out of the scart/composite output. Surely there must be a way to connect the computer directly to the computer and receive TV that way?

Well there is. But there are issues. Firstly you need a DVB-S card. These are just digital TV capture cards that you can plug the cable from a satellite dish into. If you stop there you will be able to receive all the free-to-air channels. Oddly enough though that won’t get you all the free channels.

To get the encrypted Sky channels you will need a CAM – Conditional Access Module – with a card reader. In theory you just put your card in and set up your DVB card to use it. Of course anything to do with decrypting commercial stuff is never that easy. You see there are many different encryption methods and most CAMs don’t support them all (and some only support one). What’s even worse is the method used by Sky is VideoGuard from a company called NDS (which is owned by News Corporation, the company which owns Sky). And guess what? You have to pay a license to use it. That doesn’t mean you can’t physically use it though. There are a couple of CAMs (literally two from what I’ve read) that can decrypt VideoGuard signals but the legality is questionable. Which is silly since generally speaking you’ll still have a (paid for) Sky subscription card in the reader.

The other issue is Sky’s Terms and Conditions on this issue. They say that the card must stay in the box the whole time, that you can’t use the card for unauthorised purposes and that the card needs to be paired to a specific box. However it doesn’t actually say you need to use a Sky box and the very first thing it says is that you are bound to the conditions once you put the card in the box. So surely if you never do that you aren’t bound to the conditions..?

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6 thoughts on “Sky TV without a Sky box

  1. I have read this article with interest as i am also looking at methods of recording sky via PC onto my own hard drive rather than the usual sky + method. I think theyve covered all the angles to blatantly monopolise satellite broadcasting in the UK and its an outrage that people didnt see this was going to happen a few years back. More than one broadcaster would have made the whole thing competative and more importantly CHEAPER! Who in their right minds would accept that paying a combined annual licence fee/sky + of £730 just to watch a few hours of TV a week. God! I would need to watch the damn thing 24/7 to get my moneys worth!!
    I have used a dvtv adapter usb and discovered that my 2 year old laptop struggled enormously even with a half decent graphics chipset. Even then in Devon where i live the digital signal is weak so I’ve still got to hook up to a rooftop aerial and booster.
    As usual with these devices the software was awful and has caused system freezes so thats another item consigned to the drawer!
    at present ive decided the cheapest option is to get the sony hard drive recorder with freeview built in. Retails for £325 and i can drop the recorded data onto a plug and go handheld media player which lets me watch the programmes i would normally miss at work! Would still like to get sky recordable though!
    Balance this against the £600 adquate spec media centre i would have to build to do the same job and thats not too bad. Cheers.

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  2. Have you actually set up or even seen a box with a DVB-S card and a CAM?

    I’ve read that it’s pretty difficult, but I’d be interested in more info.

    I’m getting Sky installed at the end of the month, and I’m going to feed it’s s-video output into my mythtv box via a Hauppauge PVR-150. I already have two DVB-T cards on the go.

    I’d love to get a digital sky signal into my myth box, but at the moment it’s beyond my ken.

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  3. Not yet, and it’s beginning to look like it’s more hassle than it’s worth. Apparently the normal subscription channels work fine but the premium channels (movies and sports) stop working after a while. It seems the keys to decode the channels are changed and custom software on the Sky box is necessary to update the card. It would still be possible to make it work by putting your Sky card back in the Sky box when it stopped working but you’d probably only notice after you missed a recording.

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  4. There is a easy way of doing this.
    Buy a dreambox sattelite tuner..
    This box runs on linux and is offcourse Open source.

    you can use software emulated CAM on these boxes.

    I can comfirm that it works.
    Be aware: the process of making it work is time consuming and requires some computer skills 🙂

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  5. hello there i am also interested in the sky sub channels on the dream box i know that you cant say much but can you point me in the right derection…thankyou this would help…

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