The LNB is a combination of low-noise amplifier, frequency mixer, local oscillator and intermediate frequency (IF) amplifier. It serves as the RF front end of the satellite receiver, receiving the microwave signal from the satellite collected by the dish, amplifying it, and downconverting the block of frequencies to a lower block of intermediate frequencies (IF). This downconversion allows the signal to be carried to the indoor satellite TV receiver using relatively cheap coaxial cable; if the signal remained at its original microwave frequency it would require an expensive and impractical waveguide line.
The LNB is usually a small box suspended on one or more short booms, or feed arms, in front of the dish reflector, at its focus (although some dish designs have the LNB on or behind the reflector). The microwave signal from the dish is picked up by a feedhorn on the LNB and is fed to a section of waveguide. One or more metal pins, or probes, protrude into the waveguide at right angles to the axis and act as antennas, feeding the signal to a printed circuit board inside the LNB's shielded box for processing. The lower frequency IF output signal emerges from a socket on the box to which the coaxial cable connects.
The LNB gets its power from the receiver or set-top box, using the same coaxial cable that carries signals from the LNB to the receiver. This phantom power travels to the LNB; opposite to the signals from the LNB.
The signal received by the LNB is extremely weak and it has to be amplified before downconversion. The low noise amplifier section of the LNB amplifies this weak signal while adding the minimum possible amount of noise to the signal.