If you can find one of the older, 24" round, StarChoice dishes you would be able to pick up some stuff. I have one myself. The small dishes used these days by ExpressVu and StarChoice would most likely be too small to pick up anything other than, well, ExpressVu or StarChoice.
Something else to note: there are two satellite bands: C band (3,700 to 4,200 MHz) and Ku (11,700 to 12,700 MHz). Note that C band frequencies are much lower than Ku band, so a much larger dish is needed. Those 10-ft dishes that you see can pick up C band signals. The smaller dishes (anything less than 6-ft.) can only receive Ku band signals.
A good website to check out is www.lyngsat.com
. It has charts of what channels are on what frequencies on what satellites. It may look confusing at first, but surf the net and learn what it's all about!
For equipment (in the GTA at least), a number of computer stores are starting to include FTA satellite equipment. Check out ads in Hub magazine.
With regard to hacking encrypted channels: forget it. It is illegal.