How to Hack an FTA Receiver

By Greyson Ferguson

Updated September 28, 2017

FTA satellite receivers do not function without the connected dish.
i Satellite TV image by Bryan Crowe from

FTA satellite receivers, also referred to as free-to-air receivers, are devices that receive unscrambled satellite signals from an attached dish. These stations differ from those received by pay-to-use services (DirecTV, Dish Network), although you are going to obtain the same local station information (this information is free to any digital television). FTA is different from standard over the air (OTA) antennas as these antennas only give you local stations, while FTA satellite equipment is capable of receiving any unscrambled satellite signal from around the world, regardless of the system's current location. In order to obtain these stations, you need to reprogram, or "Hack" the FTA receiver. Doing so is legal, as you are not stealing any content. In fact, there are satellite receiver websites that provide you with the programming codes required to perform the task.

Look on the FTA receiver's user manual. Here you are able to find the brand of the FTA receiver, and the exact model number. You need this information to obtain the correct files. Because it is the digital receiver that accepts the FTA satellite signal, you are able to use any satellite dish, including those designed for DirecTV and Dish Network. There are several specific FTA satellite receiver manufacturers, including Viewsat, Coolsat and Prosat.

Open an Internet browser, and navigate to the FTA satellite receiver's manufacturing website. Once on the site, select the model receiver you are currently using.

Click the download link next to the most recent FTA file link. This is usually listed at the top of all available downloads (the release date is printed next to the link).

Right-click the download file, and choose "Extract" (the files download in a .zip format). This loads the extraction application onto the computer, usually on the desktop. Follow the prompts to unzip the data from the downloaded file.

Plug a USB flash drive into a USB port on the computer, then click "Start," "Computer" and double-click the flash drive icon. Once the window opens, click-and-drag the extracted FTA files into the open window. Close the window, and remove the USB flash drive from the computer once the files have finished copying.

Power down the FTA receiver, and plug the USB flash drive into the USB port, located on the rear of the device. Turn the equipment on, and the FTA data files upload to the receiver, programming ("hacking") the device in order for you to receive the latest FTA stations.