This article is from the Satellite TV FAQ, by Gary Bourgois firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
This depends on where you live, what size dish you have, and how low you can
"aim" your dish to the horizon. Playing with the Intelsats, Panamsat, and
the Russian Statsionar birds is something that folks on the East coast of the
USA do all the time. You should have a LARGE dish though, 16 to 20 feet to
really do the job, though people HAVE picked up signals with dishes as small
as 7 1/2 feet from as far west as Minnesota. With the average 10 to 12 foot
dish you may do just fine. To receive the signals, you will need a few
modifications to your system. You will need a circular feed, as unlike
Domestic USA birds that are Horizontally or Vertically polarized,
International satellites use Right Hand, or Left Hand Circular Polarization.
If you have a monster dish, you can get by without the proper feed, but you
will loose at least 3 to 5 db of signal. Chaparral makes a special feed for
international satellites, at a cost of around $325. As an alternative, there
is a plastic insert you can obtain that will convert your feed to circular.
This item is quite cheap, about $20.
However, I have found from my own experience that the ADL feed, at least when
used with my ORBITRON SST-10 does a good job of discriminating on circular
signals with no degredation of domestic reception as might happen with a
circular modified feed.
International birds have a LOW look angle, very close to the horizon, so a
horizon to horizon mount is recommended if you are serious about receiving
foreign programming. The AJAX H/H mount is a worthy investment. You will
also need a multistandard TV, or some means of viewing PAL and SECAM signals,
which are different from the NTSC system used in the USA. If you don't mind
black and white, though, a B&W TV is easily adjusted to pick up the European
signals, and is suitable for the experimenter and tinkerer. The Panasonic
AG-W1 VCR has a built in standards convertor, which will allow you not only
to view these international channels, but also to record them (you can not
use your USA VCR to record PAL or SECAM signals). Much of the international
stuff is on KU band, and the European KU band is different than the American
band, so you need a frequency agile receiver, and the ability to store and
program the various frequencies. Even the C band signals are not quite the
same channels as a domestic satellite receiver expects, so you may have to
adjust your video fine tune to receive them. This aspect of the hobby is
exciting, and if you are interested in NEWS events LIVE, or cultural variety
the cost is minimal. While the east coast is the place to be for the best
international reception, good signals can be picked up on intelsats in the
midwest using a 10 foot dish. There is limited access to Pacific Satellites
on the west coast.