Frequency scan

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In order to be able receive a particular signal with your TV tuner device you will need to tune/set it to the correct radio frequency used by that source transmission. Therefore, you (or, at least, the viewing application you are using) will first want to know which frequencies are used for transmission and thereby are tunable for your receiver at your location of residence. Frequency scanning utilities, listed below, perform such signal detection and, generally, provide a list of the frequencies upon which content is discovered, with which higher level applications can then in turn use for tuning purposes.

Note: Historically, the set of frequencies used under the older analogue systems have differed from one another, meaning that the particular frequencies used across North America, Europe, Asia, etc., etc., will differ depending upon the transmission standard adopted within each nation. When countries began to make the transition to digital TV systems, most have opted to continue to use their old channel frequency schemes so as to make the switch from analog to digital systems as seamless as possible for the end user.

Frequency Scanning Utilities



One of the handiest tools for scanning frequencies is "(dvb)scan", a utility included within the LinuxTV dvb-apps package. (dvb)scan parses the information from a pre-configured initial scan file that is specific to a particular country/region/location/service_provider (many of which are contained within the dvb-apps package as well as being available within the wiki or elsewhere), then tunes into the frequencies and lists the names for all available PIDs.

Comparison of DVB frequency scanning commandline utilities

Note: The differences between scan and dvbscan should be added to this wiki article. The information for dvbscan is still to be completed - please help.

The following table lists the main features of the different command line scanners. For specific information on usage, have a look at its specific wiki article.

feature \ scanner scan dvbscan w_scan scan-s2 dvbv5-scan
download git clone git://
last stable linuxtv-dvb-apps-1.1.1 (outdated, May 2006) ? none / use latest version none / use latest version none / use latest version
comments maintained
DVB-S2 support missing
needs dvb driver with API-3.2 or 5.x maintained compiling needs dvb driver with API-5.0 or higher
usage needs API-3.2 or API-5.x
needs dvb driver with 5.0 or higher
last update 02/2009
needs dvb driver with 5.5 or higher
in development (01/2012)
supported DTV types DVB-S, DVB-C(Europe), DVB-T, ATSC (VSB and QAM), DMB-TH (China) ? DVB-S, DVB-S2, DVB-C(Europe), DVB-T, ATSC (VSB and QAM), DMB-TH (China) DVB-S, DVB-S2, DVB-C(Europe), DVB-T, ATSC (VSB and QAM) ISDB-T,(others? - to be added here..)
initial scan file required
(matching to your satellite or local aerial/cable network)
yes (use dvb-apps hg from yes (use dvb-apps hg from not required yes (use dvb-apps hg from
NOTE: slightly different file format from scan because of additional DVB-S2 support.
yes (other file format)
can generate initial scan file no no yes no no
can generate channels.conf for zap/xine/mplayer/vlc yes (default) ? yes yes (to be added here..)
can generate channels.conf for VDR yes, but hopeless outdated (vdr-1.3 only) ? yes (default) yes (default) (to be added here..)
can generate channels.dvb for kaffeine no ? yes no (to be added here..)

External Links


Digital For some other general sources (which may or may not be that useful) for finding local channel frequency lists, see: